SocraticGadfly: 6/22/14 - 6/29/14

June 28, 2014

#Plato sells his soul to #Google at the Googleplex

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go AwayPlato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away by Rebecca Goldstein

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I finally went with a 2-star rating for this book. I will note that Goldstein did stimulate my thought at times, albeit half the time to take notes on how she was wrong, and did get me to modify somewhat the harsh take I’ve had on Socrates since reading Izzy Stone, but, the book is still not that good.

First, a couple of overarching issues.

I am discomfited by a professional philosopher diving into the tank of commercial toutery. Plato can’t just have a laptop, he has to have a Chromebook. He can’t just like the Internet, he has to like Google for searches rather than using a generic term for Internet search. He has to like Google’s cloud-based services. He has to like Google so much that, per one chapter that gives the book its title, he does indeed visit Google’s Googleplex, where much of the chapter’s dialogue is taken up by a Google PR flak.

Frankly, it made me want to vomit. Strangely, even among “negative” reviewers, I’m seemingly the first to hit that much on this issue.
The second overarching issue, is despite all the puffery on the blurbs and on some five-star reviews, Goldstein is not that good of a writer in my opinion. The book lacks some coherence, including exactly how she’s trying to make Plato relevant for today and why. Plus, some specific writing tricks do not float my boat.

On page 192, she says in a footnote: “I’m not sure whether Plato is just managing Munitz here or is really implying that she’s guardian material.” Bulls***. Don’t go Stanley Fish on me. You know full well what your conscious intention was with the passage you footnoted.
I'm skipping around a bit, in part to get more feel for the book, and in part because it hasn't floated my boat that much so far, despite all the advance touts it's gotten.

First, Goldstein, while noting Whitehead's observation about all later philosophy being but footnotes to Plato and Aristotle, then noting many modern philosophers disagree, doesn't explain why she, essentially, comes down on the side of Whitehead. And, as a philosopher, she knows that for a philosopher not to “argumentatively” justify one’s decision or stance on something like this is …. Unphilosophical!

Second, some of her specific stances related to Platonism are ones that are also contentious. The idea that there’s no single character in Plato’s dialogues that truly represents him? I know that’s nowhere unanimous. One need not believe that Socrates is Plato’s sole voice to nonetheless believe that he is his primary one, and certainly so in his early and middle dialogues.

Third, she buys wholeheartedly and blindly into Plato’s description of who the Sophists were. Plenty a critic of this position has noted that the elitists like Socrates, and arguably, Plato, disliked the Sophists not because they proposed to teach “sophistry” in its modern English terms, but because they proposed to, relatively inexpensively, teach the basics of rhetorical tools that would help level the social and legal playing field between the rich and the non-rich.

Related to that, even if Plato's description of Socrates isn't the be-all and end-all of who Socrates was, she certainly seems to take at face value Plato's presentation of Socrates as a straight shooter, never engaging in sophistry himself. Nor does she ever entertain the idea that, if Plato is a mouthpiece or tool of Socrates at times, in turn, his "opponents" are just straw men for positions they never actually held.

Fourth, she’s not proven at best, possibly wrong at worse, on the background of “Ivriim,” which may be the root the Hebrew word for “Hebrew.” Yes, it does mean “pass over,” or “pass through,” in its verbal root, but, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Hebrews applied it to themselves as “over the Jordan.” First, no ancient people are likely to define themselves this way, in terms of another culture or nation’s geographic point of view. Nor are the Jews likely to have said this about themselves because their mythical ancestor came from Transjordan and beyond. And, her interpretation starts with the noun form.

Better understandings of the root of this word are that as people “passing through,” it can mean immigrants, without geographic reference. Again, though, would a people likely refer to themselves that way? Interestingly, the verb is used in Genesis 15, where the torches pass between the cuts of meat during the Abrahamic covenant ceremony. That is one possible alternative etymology.

Another? “Hebrews” may well instead be a patronymic from alleged ancestor Eber (same consonantal Hebrew). And, the older attempts to connect them to the Egyptian “Hapiru,” while left by the wayside today, may not be totally dead.

Anyway, the fact that Goldstein, in a book about Plato, feels the need not just to talk about “Hebrews,” but the Hebrew etymology more than once, and possibly getting it wrong each and every time, is also disconcerting.

That’s from the first chapter.

On talking about the Republic, she made me realize that, of course, Plato’s ideas for youth education founder on Piaget’s stages of development. Pre-adolescents wouldn’t have been ready for his program. Surely, somebody else has mentioned that somewhere. But, she doesn’t.


I just realized that Plato's Allegory of the Cave has two holes in it as an analogy. First, if all we see our shadows, each of us has to be in our own cave; we can't be in one common cave because, of course, other people have to be shadows, too. Of course, to write it that way would wreck some of its force. Second, Plato talks about one person being freed then compelled to re-see things. Plato doesn't mention a personal agent, but the language sure implies one. And, of course, no other person can compel new knowledge. Even if an agent is not intended, the passivity of the allegory, the "being freed," is just wrong.

Also, one need not agree with Izzy Stone’s attributing Socrates’ death entirely to legitimate politics to nonetheless say that it was part of it.

What I got from all of this is a Goldstein who largely believes in the largely idealized picture of Socrates that Plato has handed us.

So, I guess she stimulated my mind to reject the Whitehead idea that the rest of philosophy is but footnotes to Plato and Aristotle.

Besides the Googleplex chapter, one other one rings very false. That’s the one about Plato appearing on a would-be Fox News with an ersatz Bill O’Reilly.

It all adds up to the fact that she is NOT a skilled writer, period and end of story, despite the fluffy touts from A.C. Grayling and many another. She needed an editor with a good understanding of both philosophy and classics, and a firm and heavy hand, and got none. (Sic semper the decline of the modern book industry.)

Finally, from all this, no matter my interest in philosophy, I won’t be reading another book of hers.

I'm not sure which bothers me most — the commercialism itself, the commercialism without warrant (philosophical or otherwise), the failure to defend the modern relevance of Plato before jumping in to chapters, or the failure to justify her interpretation of Plato.

In any case, it's a failure. There's also, in a Gertrude Stein sense, no "there" there. There's not a lot of unification between chapters.

Update: Now I know more of why it's bad: Goldstein is Steve Pinker's wife.

View all my reviews

June 27, 2014

100 years ago today, madness began at #Sarajevo for #WWI

Most world history or western civilization books will date the death of the "ancien regime" to Jan. 21, 1793, the date of the execution of Louis XVI of France.

And, they'd be wrong.

Twenty-one years later, his brother was on the throne as Louis XVIII. All the other crowned heads of Europe, with exception of a few minor princelings in Germany and Italy, were also back, and not only back, but stronger than ever.

Was it 1848, then? Non! Four years later, France had another emperor and nothing had changed elsewhere.

It wasn't the whistle of a guillotine on the Place de la Concorde on a gray day in wintry Paris that spelled finis for old Europe. Rather, it was a whiff of gunpower on a street corner in a backwater of the Balkans, Sarajavo, annexed Bosnian territory, Austria-Hungary.

Franz Ferdinand, not a rock band yet, but just the heir to the throne of the autocratic Dual Monarchy, lay dying in his automobile along with his wife, courtesy of the lucky gunshots of Gavrilo Princip after the Grand Duke's chauffeur missed a turn.

On such bits of fate do the wheels of world history sometimes turn.

To compare 1914 to 1793? France was not permanently a republic until 1871, with allowance for the Vichy years. A crumbling, non-imperial Holy Roman Empire had been replaced by a shiny autocratic German Empire, with that area, even in part, not permanently seeing democratic government until 1949.

The Hapsburgs were forced to split power within their realms between Austrians and Hungarians after the 1867 revolution that followed the Seven Weeks War, hence the Dual Monarchy. However, on the exterior, at least, it was as autocratic as ever. On the inside? The Hapsburg predilection for schlamperei, really, like schadenfreude, not having a single-word English equivalent, but, in Austrian German, meaning something like "insouciant inefficiency," was on the rise.

The Romanovs and Russia, despite a nominal parliament, were as autocratic as in 1793, albeit with emancipated serfs, and more powerful as a country. The Ottoman sultans had lost most of the Balkans and North Africa, but still held autocratic power in their homeland. One of the minor Italian houses, Savoy, had unified Italy into a kingdom.

No, other than with the post-Prussian French republic, and some democratization in Britain, the ancien regime was still in place in 1914.

That said, Gavrilo Princip didn't just help topple the ancien regime.

With the help of one Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the ancien United States crumbled, too.

I've said time and again, and people who read my reviews of WWI related books on Goodreads or Amazon know this to be the case, that we the USofA had no dammed business getting involved in the not-so-Great War.

First, Britain's blockade by extension was just as illegal under international law as German submarine warfare was. But, Wilson never really  protested the former, and Germany, in usual Wilhelmine fumbling, failed to adequately organize neutral powers on the issue. (Don't forget, the Netherlands and Denmark, both bordering Germany, were uninvaded neutrals during WWI.)

With the alternative history of either 1912 Speaker of the House Champ Clark getting the Democratic presidential nomination, or the 1870s federal government listening to an ancillary idea from Horace Greeley of "Go west, young man" fame and moving the national capital to St. Louis, we either would have had a truly neutral president or else the capital removed from the Eastern establishment with Midwestern isolationists regularly protesting Wilson.

But, we didn't. Wilson, myths aside, tilted pro-British from the start. He was enamored of the British parliamentary system, and his book, "Congressional Government," was based on the work of British political scientist Walter Bagehot. Beyond Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt and others of the Eastern Establishment (and yes, there was such a thing back then, already) hankered for war with Germany.

Just as Wilson wasn't truly neutral, the Lusitania wasn't an innocent passenger ship. It was carrying ammunition and other military munitions for the Allies, and it was armed with 4-inch guns, big enough to easily sink a surfaced submarine. (WWI subs had far shorter travel distances underwater than did WWII models. They had to surface frequently to recharge batteries. Also, torpedoes of that era were less accurate, and sub commanders liked to use their own surface guns when possible, instead.)

Was Germany innocent? No ... it did invade neutral Belgium. (Whether Britain would have entered the war without that is an interesting question. The Conservatives very much favored that, but they were on the outside; the ruling Liberals, before Belgium gave them a casus belli, leaned against the idea.)

What would have happened, had the US not entered?

On the Eastern Front, things would have played out just as they did, except that Germany, knowing the US wasn't coming, would have leaned harder on the new Red government in early 1918, as far as peace term severity.

In the West? Let's assume that British, recognizing their blockade by extension hurt Germany more than German subs hurt them, in the face of a truly neutral American president, would have kept up the blockade. A truly neutral president would have allowed loans to both sides, as actually happened, but would have made sure not even the appearance of government backing of the loans happened. British loan rates would have gone higher.

With all that in mind, the 1918 Kaiserschlacht would have faced a worn-down France, and a tiring Britain, even as all three countries neared bankruptcy, too.

Maybe Germany still would have had the Kiel naval mutiny. But, Paris would have been under threat in November 1918 in this scenario, but probably not besieged, rather than the German army under retreat. Maybe German mutiny might have spread to front-line Army troops ... and then to French, maybe even British ones.

A Leninist dream would have seen in the verge of realization ... red Europe.

What next? Would Germany, Britain and France come to their collective senses and negotiated a quick treaty that called for no changes in borders in the west ... a status ante quem, like that of the Seven Years War?

It's hard to say. But, if something like that happened, Hitler wouldn't have. Wilhelm might still have had to abdicate in favor of his son, and the Social Democrats might have insisted on constitutional reform. With massive new territories in the East, Germany would have dominated a Mitteleuropa. Probably, the Dual Monarchy would have shattered anyway. Some Germans might have talked about absorbing Austria, and today's Czech Republic lands, as a state of the German Empire, just like Prussia, Bavaria or Baden. Emperor Karl would be Archduke Karl, if he could hold on to that; if not, the Austrian province would have other government within the Second Reich.

With the price of unsecured loans coming due, the British and French colonial empires would have become iffy even without a second world war. Britain, France and Italy might have formed a Triple Alliance, warning Germany that, as long as it looked east only, and kept a lid on the Soviet Union, it could have peace. Shades of 1814 Paris, the triple allies might even have tried to put a Romanov back in power in Russia.

As for Sarajevo, Bosnia, Serbia, Yugoslavia, etc.? Could the results have been any worse for most of their residents in this counterfactual history than in reality? Probably not.

Do the feds finally have the goods on John Wiley Price?

Our Man Downtown, closer to a new "seat" somewhere?
John Wiley Price, "Our Man Downtown" to hundreds of thousands of African-Americans in South Dallas who salute him as the first, and still the only, black member of the Dallas County Commissioners Court, while ignoring the fact that he's become ever more a part of the Dallas "system" over the years, helped by the plenty of exercise he's given his pit bull dog, Shake Down, over the years, may finally be nearing the end of his rope.

He has an "invitation" to meet with federal prosecutors next week. He's already received a "target letter" from the U.S. Attorney's office.

Our Man's attorney, Billy Ravkind, foolishly thinks a plea deal is unlikely. However, the fact that he even mentioned that that's what this meeting is surely about means Our Man's facade is crumbling a bit, doesn't it?

This all said, for the Snooze to call this an "exclusive" is a bit of puffery. Jim Schutze over at the Observer has been on JWP's butt well before the Snooze was. After Our Man Downtown stopped throwing his elbows too much and learned his place at the table, even while redefining it a bit, the Paper of Dallas Insiders' Record accepted him as an insider.

That said, we still don't know exactly what bag of goodies, or multiple bags, the Eff Bee Eye has been looking at. As I note here, it could be skimming from Kwanzaafest, it could be his alleged shakedown of commercial developer Richard Allen of Dallas inland port plans for south Dallas and the Best Southwest suburbs, it could be some zoning-related scheme we don't know about or more.

After all, even when not engaged in clear illegality, JWP's done other bigfootery, of both hired and elected officials, in furtherance of his own goals.

Update, July 3: JWP decided not to show for the meeting. If he had, here's what likely would have gone down. Looking at that, I'd expect the feds to offer Downtown and Ravkind one round of negotiations to reschedule a meeting. If not, and men in black have some solid charges, expect an indictment before Labor Day.

Comments at that link are interesting. Do the duo think they can  actually pull off jury nullification if a case goes to trial? It's barely possible if it's Richard Allen and the Inland Port, I supposed. But, if Downtown has been grafting Kwanzaafest and the feds connect the dots, not a chance.

Related to that is, who could JWP snitch on, if he were in a mood to do so? If it's Kwanzaafest, probably he's near the top of the food chain. Inland Port? Ross Perot Jr. comes first to mind for me and many others. Or, Royce West. Or Eddie Bernice Johnson. Or a trifecta.

More and newest thoughts on the #Cardinals chasing David Price

I first blogged during spring training about the idea of the St. Louis Cardinals making a deal to land Tampa's lefty ace, David Price, and added more refined thoughts a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to revive and update that now, since we now see more of where the Cardinals are at, knowing that the Rays are out of the AL East running, and knowing what the Cards look like in the minors, as well as knowing that the Cards have two of their most recent starters now moved to the DL, with Jaime Garcia presumably out for the year and Michael Wacha out until the All-Star Game break.

The Cards' offer back starts with what I suggested in March. Either Lance Lynn or Shelby Miller, plus an outfielder — likely one of the hot prospects, whether Oscar Taveras, Randal Grichuk, who have had initial shots in St. Louis, or Stephen Piscotty, as Jon Jay doesn't likely offer enough remaining contract control to interest the Rays. So, one of the young gun OFs, starting with Piscotty and then working up, as negotiations require, is part of the mix. I'd throw in Greg Garcia, if necessary, as Tampa can use him to back up Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, even eyeing him as Zobrist's replacement in 2016. (As I blogged here, the increasing use of infield defensive shifts by other teams, catching up with the pioneering Rays, probably explains why the defensive rating of Zobrist, and other Rays infielders, has declined this year, or at least, it is a serious part of such an explanation.)  Given where Tampa is at on contracts and age and costs at both corner OF spots and 1B, I don't see them wanting Allen Craig. More on that, especially at 1B, below.

I would consider Alexander Reyes as a part of any deal. I would NOT consider Marco Gonzales. He's moved a lot further up the ranks, shown a lot more actuality, not just potential, at least at his various minors levels, and, he's a lefty.

That's doubly true with Gonzales now being called up, based on what Mike Matheny said about him, in favorably comparing him to Wacha.
“His composure. His demeanor,” Matheny said. “There are a lot of things we saw in spring training. How he could command the plate but also the corners of the plate. There are some things that he was doing that first of all got our attention to where he would be a first-round pick and the same things we’ve seen as he progressed through the system. It all lines up well for him to come up here and help us do what we need to.”
As for minors position players, Aledmys Diaz, like Gonzales, is not for sale on this deal. And, I'm venturing that on him and Gonzales, this is John Mozeliak's stance, not just mine.

Now, from a Cards' point of view, if it's either Lynn or Miller, which do you give up? Miller's got more upside touting, but, he's regressed from last year. At the same time, he's further away from arbitration, which makes him more appealing to the Rays. (It's unclear how Miller's back woes are going to affect anything.)

Regular readers here know I'm no Lynn fan, but, if keeping him for another year is part of the price of Price, then that's what it is. And, I'm less of an anti-fan than I was a year ago. At the same time, Lynn has reportedly solved a problem with tipping his pitches.

Let's just say, for the sake of coming to a conclusion, that the Rays want Miller over Lynn. So, let's say it's a package of Miller and Tavares for sure (if Piscotty or Grichuk aren't enough), with Reyes and/or Garcia for sweeteners.

Lowball? Homer offer? I think not. And, even if it is, I'm not alone, as this blogged offer of Miller/Piscotty/Gonzales indicates. At the same time, my offer avoids the Gonzo trade.

And, Bernie Miklasz cautions not to overpay for Price, too. As does Ken Rosenthal.

First, in response to a commenter on my previous blog post on this subject, Price IS getting moved. (Sorry that it's got you in a bad mood, too, David, but it's reality.) And, per the teams listed by a local beat writer, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, it's, relatively speaking, a buyer's market, not a seller's one.
It has become increasingly obvious that the Rays likely — if not absolutely, positively — are going to trade Price over the next 51/2 weeks until the July 31 deadline. They can't afford to keep him long term. They're not going to win with him this year (the thought that they would was part of the reason he wasn't dealt over the winter). And every five days they wait to trade him reduces his value because that means one fewer start he makes for his new team.
Just as I said, so says Topkin. And, if you'll look at what he mentions as possible deals with non-Cardinal teams, you'll see that what I mentioned is in no way a lowball offer.

In fact, let's take a look at these:
Angels: 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Alex Yarbrough
Blue Jays: RHP Aaron Sanchez, RHP Alberto Tirado
White Sox: 2B Micah Johnson, RHP Erik Johnson, RHP Chris Beck
Yankees: C Gary Sanchez, RHP Luis Severino, C Peter O'Brien
Braves: LHP Alex Wood, RHP Lucas Sims, additional pitching prospect
And, let's analyze.

Angels? A decent prospect 2B plus a just called-up 1B/DH when Rays 1B James Loney is under contract for two more full seasons and primary DH David DeJesus is signed for one more full year plus a team option. (See what I noted about the Cards; a 1B or 1B/DH is not likely to entice the Rays; young pitchers, either alone or in combo with position players at other positions, will. The Rays could "make this work," but I think they'd only say yes if part of a larger package, which, ultimately, would have to include pitching, which the Angels don't have a lot of down at the minors, or in Anaheim.)

Jays? Two prospect pitchers, one of whom, Sanchez, may, or may not, be ready for the big top in 2015, and the other who may, or may not, be ready a year later. It's not a big deal that Sanchez isn't ready for this year, since the Rays are in rebuild mode; however, the fact that his numbers so far say he's not a guarantee for a big-league spot is a bit more problematic.

ChiSox? Micah Johnson is a cut below Yarbrough of the Angels system. Erik Johnson? OK in the minors, unimpressive two years straight at the big show. Beck? Still a AA prospect. This, like my proposed Cards offer, has quantity with a third player, but that's about it.

Yankees? Sanchez could be OK at catcher. Severino? Unknown quality prospect at low minors. O'Brien? Has power, but, why would you trade for two catchers? For that matter, Mr. Topkin, given the Yankees' strapped farm system, why would they trade away two catchers? Plus, the idea that the Rays would trade in-division is iffy, so just nix this one.

Braves? Alex Wood has some potential. Call him a younger Shelby Miller, or younger Lance Lynn. Lucas Sims? Low-minors prospect. If Topkin thinks the Braves would throw in a third pitcher, but he doesn't even have a name to offer, that's weak tea indeed.

None of these is better than what I suggested the Cardinals offer. If Cron is the real verschnizzle with the Angels, it's the only one in the same ballpark from where I sit, and even it comes with caveats. The Rays? Tampa would like two pitchers, but it would like one of them to be closer to MLB-ready.

Again, the Cards offer would have a mix of an MLB-tested pitcher plus a solid, or above-solid OF prospect, and a decent AAA add-on.

The option I propose offers a mix of an established major leaguer, an initial call-up, and a AAA prospect. It offers two pitchers. It offers plenty of cost control.

So, Tampa fans, if you're expecting more than this? You're the "homers," and one of your own sportswriters has said so.

This all said, I don't expect a trade by the Rays, whether to the Cardinals or elsewhere, until closer to the deadline.

The sneaky hand of The Umpire may lie behind SCOTUS ruling on #carbon

On the surface, it seems like the Environmental Protection Agency got, if not everything it wanted on the right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, then 83 percent of a loaf, as Justice Antonin Scalia declared on reading his decision, as I blogged about earlier this week.

But, upon further reading of his decision, I say: "Maybe not."

That's because, per the Texas Tribune, it's seemingly a kind of illogical win. The three conservatives who opposed the EPA's "tailoring" of emissions levels for greenhouse gases, nonetheless stood by it having the authority to regulate GHGs even though GHGs aren't specifically mentioned in the Clean Air Act, just unenumerated future pollutants.  If Congress is assumed, by the three "swing conservatives," to have given the EPA the authority to figure out what seeming pollutants, per post-1970s analysis, need regulation, then surely Congress gave EPA the same authority to set the standards for what counts as pollutants or not.

Even though Scalia read the decision, at heart, I'm seeing the sneaky hand of The Umpire, aka Chief Justice John Roberts, the same sneaky hand that was behind his switch on Obamacare, a switch done with the side benefit of killing off forcible Medicaid expansion, forcing the Obamacare non-user tax to be called a tax and not a few, and killing dead a highly expansive reading of the Commerce Clause.

One should never, ever, underestimate why The Umpire switches away from his seemingly "normal" side.

What would Roberts, et al, gain here?

First, putting in a box certain expansive readings of the Clean Air Act. Now, any other "future pollutant" the EPA deems worthy of regulation will have to be (on paper) regulated at the same standards as the original pollutants who had pollution levels specifically spelled out by Congress. This would be a smaller-scale version of his Commerce Clause tack on Obamacare.

Second, per the Trib piece, the EPA simply can't regulate every facility it seemingly now needs to regulate for GHGs. Instead, and in order to avoid suits, or at least avoid losing them, it may go to a cost-benefit analysis. And conservatives smile whenever a federal regulation can be forced into a cost-benefit analysis straitjacket.

I'm probably just scratching the surface of some 11-dimensional chess The Umpire is playing. I suspect that what happened is that Kennedy wanted to switch first. Roberts realized there was no way of stopping him, and wanted to go along, but with a controlled ruling like this. He persuaded Nino of the diabolical factor, and things went from there.

So, in reality, my original thought that EPA largely won this case may not be so true.

June 26, 2014

Liberals: Soft-pedal the Howard Baker eulogies, OK?

Yes, Howard Baker was good in running the Senate as its majority leader. But, now that he's dead, liberals who are offering up hagiography over one, or both, of two political incidents aren't making themselves fully aware of the history.

Yes, Howard Baker, during Watergate, said: "What did the president know and when did he know it?"

That same Howard Baker, once he started finding out just what the president did know, strangely didn't want to learn a lot more. Indeed, as the Wa Post notes, the question was a rhetorical one, trying to give Nixon space. He did agree, as vice chair of the Senate Watergate Committee, to take Nixon to court over his tapes, but that was political window dressing. And, he was one of the last Senate holdouts in saying that he would vote guilty if the House impeached Richard Nixon.

But, didn't he clean up the Reagan White House after Iran-Contra?

Well, actually, he probably engaged in the spirit, at least, of obstruction of justice. Knowing that he had an aging Reagan, he played the sympathy card repeatedly. He also played on older House and Senate Democrats' fears of looking too political. He also did everything he could to hide looks at Reagan's diary, and other things. And, after that was over, he showed he otherwise wasn't White House chief of staff material.

Yes, he was OK on the environment. So were other GOP senators of his day and age. Yes, he might be considered a moderate today, but that's only because the GOP keeps driving further and further into the right-hand ditch. He wasn't considered other than a moderate conservative, if that, during his Senate days. He just happened to not be a wingnut, and not be an obstructionist. It's called the "Overton Window." If not for Watergate, it would be possible, if one wanted to, to give the "New Nixon" of presidential days the same encomia.

And, as a dithering moderate conservative, rather than a hard-liner, he cost himself a spot on the Supreme Court. Instead of William Rehnquist. So, liberals, there's yet another reason not to eulogize him.

Oh, and once again, in today's Internet age, it's not "too soon."

#FreeSpeech gets another win from the Supreme Court

I agree with The Nine in killing a Massachusetts law severely restricting conversations around abortion clinics. SCOTUS did not invalidate its previous ruling upholding a Colorado law with "bubble zones," which Massachusetts used before 2007.

It was also sad, but not surprising, to see the ACLU on the wrong side of this case. That said, today's ACLU probably would not defend neo-Nazis marching through Skokie, Ill. It certainly would not defend anti-gay rights activists marching through the Castro district of San Francisco.

Yes, the old bubble-rule law required more police work. Aren't Constitutional liberties worth it?

SCOTUS has also decided Canning vs. NLRB, the case over whether Obama could use presidential recess appointment powers during "pro forma" Senate sessions. A majority ruling said "no," while leaving open the possibility that if pro forma sessions every three days cover longer periods of time, they'll relook at the issue.

On the other hand, the pro-forma sessions in the case at hand covered a two-week period, per the Times. How much longer of a period Senate obstructionists would have to stall out with pro-forma sessions to trigger Stephen Breyer's concerns, I don't know.

Nino Scalia, vaunted alleged "originalist" interpreter of the Constitution, in a partially concurring opinion, shows that his "orginalism" blows with the wind, like much of the hot air out of his mouth, per the first link on this story:
"The majority practically bends over backward to ensure that recess appointments will remain a powerful weapon in the president's arsenal," he said. "That is unfortunate, because the recess appointment power is an anachronism."

What a liar he is.

It would be nice to think he might feel the same way were Obama a Republican. But, I don't believe that.

That said, I, overall, think the ruling was right. As the Times notes, the partial filibuster reform Harry Reid rammed through makes this somewhat, but not totally by any means, nugatory.

The Hobby Lobby vs. Obamacare case looks like its ruling is on hold for one more day.

#Atheists: Maybe you're using the wrong amendment?

Come again?, you might be saying to yourself, if you are an atheist, especially if atheism and civil liberties are important to you.

I'm thinking of the most recent Supreme Court ruling related to that, Town of Greece v Galloway, of course.

But, I'm also thinking about recent federal district court rulings, and now an appellate one, on gay marriage.

All of these have been decided not on individuals getting married in a state that already had gay marriage, and asking for the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution to protect them, but on the 14th Amendment, namely the Equal Protection clause.

It might be hard for an atheist to argue that she or he were "losing anything" from public prayer before city council meetings, but, would it be impossible?

Without abandoning a primary focus on the First Amendment, would it be possible to bring in the Fourteenth as a supplement? 

At the least, atheists could argue that without atheists having the right to publicly lead a "moment of silence," they are being deprived of an equal psychological and sociological atmosphere at public meetings.

Yes, per Kennedy's lead opinion in the case, where he noted:
“To hold that invocations must be non-sectarian would force the legislatures sponsoring prayers and the courts deciding these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech,” Kennedy wrote for himself and the conservative members on the court. Lawmakers and judges would otherwise have to police prayer, he wrote, involving “government in religious matters to a far greater degree than is the case under the town’s current practice of neither editing nor approving prayers in advance nor criticizing their content after the fact.”
Well, not having prayer of any sort would let government avoid that, Justice Kennedy! Besides, what if the original plaintiffs, or similar plaintiffs in other cases, start keeping documented records that show that conservative to fundamentalist Christians are disproportionately getting the podium in Greece?

Beyond that, Kennedy's stance is a clear example of the "tyranny of the majority" that some of our Founding Fathers warned against.

So, atheists? Next time, stay with the 1st Amendment, but add the 14th. Arguably, it's been "federalized" more than any other.

June 25, 2014

#Boehner says that he will sue Obama ...

He'll sue him for "being the President."

That's not Washington RedFace's quote (hey, Danny Boy Snyder, there's another new name and mascot for the team I will call the Washington Hymies when your name is in the same sentence and not give a mascot to otherwise), but, it's the reality of what he's saying.

This is another It's OK If You're A Republican, of course, because RedFace never talked about suing Shrub Bush, who wrote more executive orders than Obama ever did.

But, let's let RedFace speak for himself:
"This is not about impeachment -- it's about him faithfully executing the laws of this country," Boehner said.

The speaker alleged that the president not only has ignored the law but "brags about it," decrying what he described as "arrogance and incompetence."

Boehner had been weighing such a lawsuit in recent days, over concerns that Obama exceeded his constitutional authority with executive actions.
Now, let's translate. I've already addressed paragraph No. 3.

This isn't about impeachment, because RedFace remembers 1998 and the Clinton impeachment #fail.

"Brags about it?"

While Obama is insufferable at times, what president had "Mission Accomplished" on an aircraft carrier, even though it wasn't then, never has been and never will be? Years later, when he finally realized that about Iraq, what president then said, "Bring it on"?

I'll take "George Wingnut Bush" for $1,000, Alex!

Now, let's translate more.

After Eric Cantor's upset loss earlier this month, and Thad Cochran nearly losing his Mississippi Senate seat in a primary runoff last night, after pandering for black Democrat voters, RedFace is running scared of the Tea Party. So, anybody who says the teabaggers are losing steam, think again. Well, at least the fear of them inside the GOP isn't losing steam.

Here's the details:
The decision to sue still would have to be formally approved by a group of House leaders. Presuming that step is cleared, the suit is expected to be filed in a few weeks.
See, RedFace butters up new Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy et al.

As for the chances of such a suit? If Nino Scalia, Clarence "Uncle" Thom(as) and others really are originalists or strict constructionalists, they'll tell RedFace that the Constitution prescribes impeachment as their political route, and dismiss the suit, with prejudice.

Failure in "faithfully executing the laws of this country" would certainly be considered a high crime or misdemeanor, as it would be violating his oath of office. Therefore, per Article I, Section 2:
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
You're that Speaker guy, you idiot.

It's a big day for news, even if news of teh stupidz.

Meanwhile, since turnabout is fair play, I've tweeted Rep. Alan Greyson and asked him to sue Boehner for benig Speaker of the House.

Lower courts almost overshadow SCOTUS on #gaymarriage and #WarOnTerror

Two big rulings today, from two different appellate courts, each almost as big, relative to the level of the court, as the Supreme Court's cellphone privacy ruling.

First, a federal district court judge in Oregon said the no-fly list is unconstitutional because it violates due process of the Fifth Amendment:
Previously the government has argued that because other modes of travel on land and sea are available, there is no right to travel by air and no need to change the no-fly list procedures.

“Such an argument ignores the numerous reasons that an individual may have for wanting or needing to travel overseas quickly, such as the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, a business opportunity or a religious obligation,” District Judge Anna J. Brown wrote. “A prohibition on flying turns routine international travel into an odyssey that imposes significant logistical, economic and physical demands on travelers.”

Now, Team Obama's likely response, if it loses this case at both appellate and Supreme Court level? Expand this to a no-train, no-bus zone, I'm sure. Given that Dear Leader is a Bushie or worse on privacy rights and the War on Terra, what else would you expect?

More seriously, given that an appellate court remanded this back to district court after saying it was improperly dismissed, I'm sure the Justice Department is working up a tweaked version of the no-fly list, so that The Most Transparent Administration in History™ will make it easy to get their names removed if they are there inadvertently.

Oh, was that not serious enough, either?

And, the first appellate court to rule on the matter says that Utah's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. The 10th Circuit, in Denver, upheld the district court's ruling.

This is what I'm sure Anthony Kennedy, in his hair-splitting ruling on California's Proposition 8 and the feds' Defense of Marriage Act all of a year ago was hoping to avoid ... a stampede toward gay marriage bans being tossed.

But, it's happening.

OK, the #Cardinals roster moves officially befuddle me; but Remember the #KozmaLine

I know the team had to find a spot on the 40-man roster when it called up Marco Gonzales. But, moving Joe Kelly to the 60-man, which was only the second-strangest move of two today.

OK ... why not Keith Butler, and last week? That was what everybody was assuming would be the move when Marco came up. As to why Pete Kozma have to be DFA-ed as well, I initially had a brain fart, and was only counting space on the 40-man roster, not the 25-man active big-league roster. Anyway, I've edited some parts of this post to reflect that.

A spot had to be found somehow, and although the Cards first looked at sending down a pitcher, they didn't want to do that, after the recent bullpen work. By the time they had to find somcbody, it was too late to just run Kozma through waivers, so they had to designate him for assignment.

Derrick Gould has details. Although the decision not to send down a pitcher started for other reasons, it surely became more expedient because of uncertainty about the degree of back problems of Shelby Miller, which Gould also discusses.

Miller says it's not a big deal, his back, and if he's telling the truth, then such a move isn't needed. But ... if he's not?  Couldn't the team have waited a day or two to make sure it didn't need yet another pitcher call-up? Couldn't it have scrounged together a one-start fill-in and taken its time on thinking through other moves? I'd say yes, including with why Shane Robinson was recalled before Kozma (or, a theoretical Greg Garcia) in the first place.

The whole roster seems to be in both flux and confusion right now. And, although the 60-day DL can be backdated to include all 15-day DL time, still, does this mean that Kelly is even further away from 100 percent health than we've been told in the past week or so? This is why a lot of fans lambaste Mozeliak's lack of transparency, even compared to other GMs at times.

However, through the twists and turns, Bernie Miklasz has faith in the leadership of Mike Matheny. So, Bernie-haters on NBC et al? Listen up.

And, with Kozma getting the DFA, Cards fans, if you want to immortalize him, spread the idea of the Kozma Line, a sabermetric version of the "Mendoza Line," named by me after Mario Mendoza and his struggles to bat more than .200 for several different years in his career.

That said, Kozma has cleared waivers (and he was still recalled instead of Greg Garcia?) and it's off to Memphis.

SCOTUS brings 4th Amendment into digital age, supports #digitalprivacy

The Supreme Court has ruled that police need a search warrant to look at your cellphone.

The first big "takeaway" is that this is a unanimous ruling. While I'm not going to turn cartwheels, that's generally good news for digital privacy cases coming before the court in the future.

That's specifically because the Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling that said:
“Today, many Americans store their most personal ‘papers’ and ‘effects’ in electronic format on a cellphone, carried on the person,” Judge Norman H. Stahl wrote for a divided three-judge panel in Mr. Wurie’s case, quoting the words of the Fourth Amendment.

Roberts took the opinion. He notes:
Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life.
He even, per Scotusblog, compared ideas of police wanting to do warrantless cell phone searches, to British writs of assistance that were a factor leading to the Revolutionary War.

This is indeed a new "bright line."

And, the Nine rejected the Obama Department of Justice's request for broad latitude on when a warrantless search can be conducted. It said that only exigent circumstances, i.e., along the lines of "clear and present danger," allow for that.

But, the reason I won't turn too many cartwheels is that this same court, essentially the same, ruled a few years back that police can arrest you for a moving violation as a driver.

Still, let's celebrate this as a definite win.

Second big SCOTUS case? Judges said the individualized antenna service, Aereo, DID break copyright, etc., and was in essence like a cable company. That case gets remanded back to district court. I disagree with the ruling, which is a clear loss for Aereo. Not sure how much I disagree, or how much weight it gets.

Aereo has a simple solution. Charge for the service. Figure out a way to charge customers less than for cable, and you're still a winner.

The Hobby Lobby/Obamacare case was not decided today.

But, two important lower court rulings were also favorable to civil liberties.

June 24, 2014

It's a bad week for #GregAbbott, and it's just started

And, it's only Tuesday morning!

First, as I blogged yesterday, he officially sued Obama again, and lost again, this time over the EPA's right to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The Texas Trib has more on just what this means, including the fact that AG StrangeAbbott and Gov. Backache may sue over the EPA's attempt to regulate greenhouse gases from new power plants. They'll never learn, will they?

Second, speaking of never learning, after a judge allowed one whistleblower suit against AG StrangeAbbott to go forward last week, the AG has decided to appeal a whistleblower case he already lost. And, per a Wendy Davis spokesman, one does have to wonder how many more of these cases might be in the closet.

Third, Abbott has lost yet another legal maneuver. Last week, he tried to have District Judge John Dietz removed from the school finance lawsuit he is rehearing, claiming Dietz is biased. That fell like a cheap souffle, and the story's author gives Abbott a brief lesson in Civil Jurisprudence 101, no less:
State Judge David Peeples of San Antonio dismissed allegations that Dietz engaged in improper communications with attorneys for school districts suing the state. At a hearing Friday, lawyers for the attorney general’s office said that Dietz had exchanged multiple emails and coached school district attorneys while he was working on his final judgment in the lawsuit. ...

It is common practice in civil suits for a judge to receive input from attorneys on the prevailing side in writing a final judgment in the case.
Note that second graf. It's saying: "Greg Abbott, you're a money-wasting idiot who knows better."

And, he IS a money-wasting idiot; he's the biggest one in the state.

Dear AG StrangeAbbott: Please be honest with the Texas taxpayers you claim to want to represent and tell them how much money you've wasted so far. A decent estimate is now up to around $5 million.

P.Diddle has more on the Dietz issue.

June 23, 2014

Politico air kisses #WendyDavis, kicks her to curb at same time

The air-kissing story is here, talking about what a good political future Davis likely still has in front of her after her presumed loss to our beloved state attorney general, Dr. StrangeAbbott, in the general election.

But, the hype from state Democrats is a bit "breathy." Like this:
Jason Stanford, a Texas-based Democratic consultant who worked on the unsuccessful re-election campaign of Gov. Ann Richards in 1994, said he didn’t want to speculate on Davis’ next steps — but, he added, “after Ann lost, she didn’t know what kind of future she had. It turned out she became even more influential than she had been as governor. Wendy Davis doesn’t even know what her options are right now — a lot depends on where the campaign goes.”
First, Ms. Ann had actually been governor. And, she had held other statewide office before that. And, Democrats had at least partial control over the Lege for nearly a decade after that. So, she and Davis aren't remotely comparable.

But, her present doesn't look so bright, which is noted in the other piece, where Politico kicks her to the curb. Davis said she sees plenty of "energy" out there, but, so far, energy hasn't moved the needle in closing the gap in early-season polls.

And, Texas Democrats, not just Davis herself, are trying to keep up appearances, even in the face of national Democratic skepticism:
“That kind of mindset from national Democrats makes me want to pull my hair out,” longtime Texas Democratic consultant Harold Cook said. “…Nobody really knows for sure whether any of these Democrats have a chance, but they are awfully good candidates, and national Democrats signaling they don’t think they have a chance becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If national Democrats want to continue to have a can’t-do attitude, the hell with you, stay out of Texas.”
Cook, responding to Democratic Governors Association Chairman Peter Shumlin, of course has good reason to work to keep up that smiley face. That said, Abbott's got a well-oiled and well-funded machine.

Realistically? This piece at the Texas Trib is right. If Davis wants to have a viable political future after this election, she has to finish closer to Abbott than Bill White did to Rick Perry four years ago. Because doorknob knows that she's more dynamic than White, let alone Chris Bell in 2006. Hence my poll on the right-hand column here.

My guesstimate? She will finish closer than White. But, that's not saying that much. By 2010, a fair amount of folks were tired of Perry. Hell, they were in 2006, which is why Pistol Packing Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman both entered the race as independents.

More realistic yet, and a better target, per Charles Kuffner, would be Leticia Van de Putte breaking 46 percent against The Stinking Anglo Formerly Known as Danny Goeb™, aka Dan Patrick.

If Texas Dems can't get voters to turn out in a midterm year against a candidate that vile, and especially if they can't get Hispanic voters to turn out in a midterm year to support a Hispanic lite gov candidate against a candidate that vile toward Hispanics, they're pretty hopeless indeed.

#Cardinals season not over with Garcia and Wacha injuries

The St. Louis Cardinals certainly don't like losing two of their starting pitchers, but it's not the end of the world. Jaime Garcia is not that unexpected, to be honest. And, he had only been with the team a minority of the season so far.

Michael Wacha is a bigger deal, especially when GM John Mozeliak says the team is in unexpected territory:
“It’s disappointing to learn of this,” Mozeliak said, “but he’s too young and valuable to take risks with. This is not a very common injury to pitchers and one that we don’t have a ton of experience on how to deal with it.”
Given how the team, from Mo on down, played coy with the status of Shelby Miller during last year's postseason (ultimately fooling nobody and wasting a roster spot in the process), who knows how to "translate" Mo-speak here?

A conservative but not horrific guesstimate is that Wacha stays on the shelf until the All-Star break as a precautionary move, and is held on a 90-pitch limit for at least his first three starts after coming back.

Carlos Martinez was already tentatively slated to give Wacha one turn out of the rotation. That said, who picks up Garcia?

Short term? Probably Nick Greenwood, called up recently to help "stretch out" Martinez' first couple of starts. And, to help stretch him out, Eric Fornatero was called up ... along with Pete Kozma for some weird reason, who was NOT called up along with Greenwood last week when Kolten Wong was put on the DL. Instead, Sugar Shane Robinson (why?) got that call-up.

Mozeliak is coming close to following Mike Matheny into Sub-Genius Skipper™ territory with head-scratchers like this.

OK, so who's the longer-term fill-in for Garcia?

Well, that was Joe Kelly's spot until he forgot he's a pitcher, not Billy Hamilton, and hurt his hammy, and then had 3 weeks of expected down time approach 2 months.  He's still not 100 percent ready, and in my guesstimate, may only have a 50-50 shot of being ready when what would have been Garcia's second turn comes up.  There is Tyler Lyons, and the less said about him, and the less seen of him in St. Louis, the better. I prefer giving Greenwood another shot, if Kelly's still not ready.

And, in a bit of a surprise, at least to me, the Cards have now called up AA lefty tout Marco Gonzales. I say this removes him from being part of Price trade talks. Others might say, "It's to showcase him." I disagree. Rather, if you're trusting a pitcher to accept a midseason jump from AA to the big show, you're thinking he's got a certain maturity level, and you don't like to trade that away. Matheny noted that, in comparing him to Wacha:
“His composure. His demeanor,” Matheny said. “There are a lot of things we saw in spring training. How he could command the plate but also the corners of the plate. There are some things that he was doing that first of all got our attention to where he would be a first-round pick and the same things we’ve seen as he progressed through the system. It all lines up well for him to come up here and help us do what we need to.”
And, you just don't readily trade that away.

This also somewhat scrambles the Cards' pursuit of David Price from the Rays, about which I recently blogged. Until the Cards have a firmer handle on Wacha's status, I don't see them trading for Price, especially if the Rays want two pitchers back in the mix, until they have more of a handle on Wacha's status.

With 83 percent loaf, SCOTUS OKs EPA carbon controls at power plants

Subhead: Greg Abbott sues Obama again, loses again!

After a base ruling, on 5-4 majority, following up on a 2007 ruling that said the Environmental Protection Agency had the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, the Supreme Court said that the EPA had overstepped its bounds on how it could regulate greenhouse gases from electric power plants. The court also said that it could not require a permit for greenhouse gases only; rather, such permits could only be required of plants that needed other pollution permits.

The main issue at stake here is that the EPA can't set different limits on greenhouse gases tahn on traditional pollutants, the court said. Because of that, the net effect will be that the EPA will be targeting relatively small as well as big emitters. And thus, it could see its efforts spread thin. The majority said that, even though GHGs are emitted at different levels than traditional pollutants, the EPA didn't have the right to adjust said levels itself, without an act of Congress.

But, after that, SCOTUS today broadly agreed with the EPA's right to regulate said emissions from electric power plants in general, as announced in a program earlier this month. The ruling does impose a few limits. The main one, per this piece, is that the EPA cannot force individual plants and companies to evaluate different ways to meet carbon goals, at least with any plant expansion that would increase carbon emissions.

Scotusblog separates out all the details of what the two rulings, together, mean.

With that first rebuke aside, it was pretty much a slam dunk, not only in scope, but in broadness of court backing:
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, said ‘‘EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case.’’ Scalia said the agency wanted to regulate 86 percent of all greenhouse gases emitted from plants nationwide. The agency will be able to regulate 83 percent of the emissions under the ruling, Scalia said. The court voted 7-2 in this portion of the decision, with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas saying they would bar all regulation of greenhouse gases under the permitting program.
Kennedy joining in the majority is not a total surprise. This is a monetary issue, but where money meets social issues, he has a small corner of "social justice" Catholicism in his heart. Roberts is more surprising, and Nino Scalia, writing the opinion, no less, is more surprising yet.

Per commenters at the second-linked NYT piece, while this is purely a legal issue, it may mean that, beyond the legalities, at least some of the court's conservatives believe global warming is a real issue and of real concern.

And, it's a slapdown to wingnuts of the like that, cockroach-like, cover the ground here, per the third-linked story:
The utility industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 13 states led by Texas asked the court to rule that the EPA overstepped its authority by trying to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the permitting program.
So,  take THAT, Greg Abbott.

Also of note is that SCOTUS declined to review its 2007 ruling when taking this case.

Polico made a hash of this story, other than noting the initial 5-4 ruling. Its top-linked story doesn't even mention the second, 7-2 opinion which is, really, the more serious one, and I have to wonder if it's deliberate.

That said, as I wrote at that time, that carbon regulation program is relatively lax and has half of its end goal already met. So, while this victory is nice, it doesn't mean that much environmentally, rather than legally, until and unless the EPA does more than it currently plans to do.

Meanwhile, back to that subhead, and the last pull quote.

I immediately tweeted the Abbott campaign, reminding him that he had just sued again and lost again. (That said, I'm sure he'll somehow try to spin the initial 5-4 vote as a win of some sort. I'm sure that he will NOT learn his lesson from the "main" 7-2 vote, and will continue to sue the EPA at the drop of a hat. Moron.)

He's not officially "spun" yet, but, per a Christian Science Monitor piece that takes a more skeptical view in general of just how much leeway SCOTUS gave the EPA, other conservatives are spinning. Oh, and I disagree with the CSM take on the ruling. Among other things, its story doesn't even mention SCOTUS' refusal to revisit its 2007 ruling, which was, itself, a defeat for the wingnuts. Scotusblog also agrees that this is generally a solid win for the EPA.

And yet, per the Texas Tribune, it's seemingly a kind of illogical win. The three conservatives who opposed the EPA's "tailoring" of emissions levels for GHGs nonetheless stood by it having the authority to regulate GHGs even though GHGs aren't specifically mentioned in the Clean Air Act, just unenumerated future pollutants.  If Congress is assumed, by the three "swing conservatives," to have given the EPA the authority to figure out what seeming pollutants, per post-1970s analysis, need regulation, then surely Congress gave EPA the same authority to set the standards for what counts as pollutants or not.

Even though Scalia read the decision, at heart, I'm seeing the sneaky hand of The Umpire, the same sneaky hand that was behind his switch on Obamacare, a switch done with the side benefit of killing off forcible Medicaid expansion, forcing the Obamacare non-user tax to be called a tax and not a few, and killing dead a highly expansive reading of the Commerce Clause.

One should never, ever, underestimate why The Umpire switches away from his seemingly "normal" side.

June 22, 2014

As Texas gets drier, the Brazos gets bleaker

A great story here on the future problems of the heart of Texas' river, by the Dallas Morning News.

The big issue? Despite the fact that, as the story notes, the Brazos' water may already be overallocated, the Brazos River Authority wants to built yet more water reservoir dams.

But, the Morning News fails to mention one problem with that ... or with building more water reservoir dams in general.

Texas is not Arizona or other Southwestern states, where reservoir lakes can fill in deep canyons. (Set aside the environmental holocaust of Glen Canyon Dam; I'm merely focusing on a water issue.)

Texas? It's all flat. So, water reservoirs are flat and shallow with lots of surface area.

That means lots of evaporation in the summer. Which will get even worse as Texas gets hotter with global warming.

The Morning News story is good, as far as it goes, but it didn't go far enough.

That said, see its sister paper, the Denton Record-Chronicle, for a series of pieces on Texas' water problems.

On the Brazos, the Brazos River Authority actually has implemented plans for a watermaster; the News is a touch behind the curve. However, said water master's authority would only cover the area below Possum Kingdom Lake, excluding one of the three large damned reservoirs already in place. That said, arguably, even though the Lower Colorado River Authority has greater powers, without control of upper stretches of the river, it faces somewhat similar problems. The real issue is that control of riverine water by such authorities does not extend to adjacent, interlocking groundwater. Given Texas' "pump until it's dry" mentality, this is a recipe for future tussles.

And, Texans should not rely on a likely to be weak El Niño to be "the solution," either. Nor should the somewhat surprising mid-June showers fool anybody.

More here on water issues in the state in general, in a brief checklist, and a great long read here, primarily about Texas' Colorado.