November 08, 2014

Feel some new #schadenfreude for Glenn Greenwald

Why might you be tempted to feel schadenfreude?

Because Glenn's current journalistic landing post, libertarian billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is imploding, Ted Rall says.

First, though, I have to clear up one factually incorrect statement by Rall.

Glenn Greenwald is NOT a "liberal." And, Ted Rall is smart enough and informed enough he should know better. And yes, I emailed him about this. I told him that, specific to economic issues and specific to income inequality, not regulatory system unfairness vis-a-vis the banksters, I'd eat my hat if Rall could prove GG was a liberal.

Well, he's emailed back, snarkily asking "Who's got a hat?"

To which I replied, knowing that he's worked with Pando before, that Yasha Levine would get an even bigger laugh than I did about Rall's claim.

Rall then responded that he'd call GG a left libertarian.

Still incorrect, Ted, about as incorrect as a missing Malaysian Airlines flight having been hijacked to Kazakhstan!

That said, back to the good stuff.

Rall first tells us that Omidyar's original $250 million pledge of financial support has shrunk to $50 million. Oops. Better cash that paycheck now, Glenn.
It amazes me that people as savvy as First Look’s top editors didn’t insist, before leaving respectable publications like the UK Guardian and Rolling Stone for a start-up, that Omidyar put the $250 million (or $50 million, or single-digit millions now) in escrow, or at least under the control of a group of trustees of whom Omidyar would be just one, and would include top editorial staff like Greenwald. 
I met with a high-level First Look official during the summer to discuss the possibility of working together. I asked: “Where’s the $250 million?” He didn’t know. He couldn’t say. 
More serious, more funny, and more weird all at the same time, Rall tells, via this linked NYMag piece, that as of last month, Greenwald had never met Omidyar.
“To this day,” Greenwald says, “I’ve never met Pierre in person.” 
Ted ... it is amazing. But, precisely because of that, maybe, at least outside their narrow area of focus, we shouldn't call these folks "savvy"? And, Matt Taibbi has never totally floated my boat anyway. That said, if he doesn't go back to Rolling Stone, let's see if he finally has the cojones to report about corner suite nepotism there. (That said, I will give credit to First Look for openly reporting Taibbi's departure, including his full side of the story.)


And, with brilliance like this:
That morning, Greenwald had published an Intercept column excoriating Obama’s move to bomb ISIS in Syria, suggesting he was intentionally driving recruits to the terrorist army. 
Can we really call GG savvy in all of his political analysis even? Wow, that's as crazy as some Tea Party stuff.

Survey says: No. And, survey also says that for most libertarians, there’s a conspiracy theorist somewhere in their closets.


And, Greenwald's own personality surely ads gas to that fire:
“I think the concept of adversarial journalism is a limited and flawed one,” says Steven Aftergood, the author of Secrecy News, a respected blog that has received past Omidyar Network funding. “It is not an impartial search for truth as much as it is a combative attempt to defeat a perceived adversary.”
Bingo.


GG probably still would make a great trial lawyer, whether civil or criminal, whether prosecutor/plaintiff or defense. But, he probably makes an a-hole human being at times, as well as a needlessly adversarial reporter.

Omidyar? Survey says of him, via that NYMag piece more than ever, that he's a stereotypical Silicon Valley libertarian, hating government snooping but loving him some private tech company snooping.

Anyway, Omidyar's got billions to burn. First Look Media in general and The Intercept in particular won't die. But, they will become more and more irrelevant.

As for Greenwald? My first thought, re Omidyar's cheapness, was:

"No duh — that's how libertarian billionaires got to be libertarian billionaires."

My second thought spun off that and was about GG and petards in the background.

As for Rall? Getting past his misconstrual of GG, he's right about First Look's problems. That includes them cheapskating him. And, his own schadenfreude.

As for Taibbi? He's back at Rolling Stone, which means he still won't write about Jann Wenner's nepotism. (I asked him before he left.)

November 07, 2014

Before using social media to fan controversy flames ...

Read Ken White's "Ten Short Rants about Gamergate." They apply to far more than that.

Moving somewhat beyond his immediate circle of targets, Ken's observations, his 10 points, apply to a lot of situations, especially ones where social justice warriors, or SJW folks are involved, and especially ones where doctrinaire anti-SJW folks are also involved, not just Gamergate.

As for that next circle of hell?

Without being offensive just for the sake of giving offense, other people shouldn't be passive, either.

Spades can and should be called spades, or, per Ken:
I'm going to call out idiots and assholes and thugs.
And, per Ken, and the particular issue at hand or related ones, both social justice warriors, or SJWs, and men’s rights advocates, or MRAs, have a fair amount of people fitting at least one, if not all three, descriptors. I’ve “met” online people in both groups who do that. And, to the degree either SJWs or MRAs are organized, they do a shitty job of self-policing. Both of them.

And, I myself have experienced being called an MRA just because I won't cosign every line of SJW bullshit. And still am, right now, by an SJW on Hardball Talk, NBC's sports blog.

That person claimed that SJW:MRA was like ACLU:KKK.

That's laughable on two counts, as I said.

First, neither the ACLU nor the KKK was created in the Internet era, per Ken's link and my header.

Second, the SJW movement is in no way equivalent to the ACLU. (And, welcome here, anybody clicking on my name at Hardball Talk. I deliberately redated this post to pin it at the top of my blog.)

And, having run into said person before, I know that they know that I'm not alone in these observations. But, it's part of the martyrology to act like anyone who doesn't 100 percent agree with you is your enemy.

Beyond that, as a Facebook friend of mine said, they really should be a kind of "user's manual" for anyone posting anything online, especially in social media.

That's because, as this screen capture about third-party trolls in Gamergate shows, there's trollery everywhere. Let's all get better at not abetting it, at cutting it off at the pass, and at reporting it. And, let's patronize websites, etc., that do that themselves.

The Internet wasn't originally "built" to be a libertarian cesspool of foul-mouthed, foul-minded, "gotcha" thinking and writing any more than it was meant to be a hypercapitalist cesspool of ads bombardment, putting a dollars cost on everything, virus-bombing URLs and other things. Unfortunately, it's become both.

Like the worldwide eradication of smallpox, getting rid of, or even just adequately containing, both problems won't be easy and it won't be quick. But that's no excuse not to do what we can.

November 06, 2014

#KeystoneXL, Obama and the GOP

Faux News, in a half-correct piece (any talk that Mitch the Turtle has made about repealing Obamacare isn't real) says that the KeystoneXL pipeline will be front and center among talking points between President Obama and House and Senate GOP leaders tomorrow.

A final White House decision on Keystone was punted past Election Day, of course. Regular readers of this corner of the Interwebz know that that was no surprise to me either, of course.

So, what will Obama do?
1. I say there's a 40 percent chance he approves it straight up before the end of the year.
2. Or there's a 40 percent change he OKs it with some face-saving "concessions" from the GOP.
3. There's a 20 percent chance he kills it. And, that may be a high guess.

Your thoughts? Hit the poll on the right.

(Nov. 19: That "concessions" could include a straight-up OK of Keystone but with bargains on other legislation. That said, if I'm Dear Leader, I get some advance guarantee on those concessions.)

And, what will he do on other items?

Related to Keystone, he'll "double down" on his "all of the above" energy strategy, insisting on some crumbs still going to green energy. When red-state senators are reminded that many of them are in sunny areas, those who are OK with pork will agree.  And, per the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo buying up green power as soon as it becomes available, there are things to show any GOP Congresscritter who's not totally in the nutbar tank.

After all, Google, Microsoft, Walmart and Mars (the candy folks, headquartered here) have bought green power in Texas. Google's bought green power in Jim Imhofe's Oklahoma.

Is that what he should do?

I'm actually of somewhat mixed minds.

First, tar sands oil will continue to be mined, and continue to be exported, anyway. Jobs on pipeline building aside, a fair amount of it will be exported to U.S. oil refineries.

That said, because Obama didn't do the Senate heavy lifting in 2009 on a carbon cap-and-trade program, which of course isn't enough by itself to control what's staring us in the face, it's doubtful he'll take a strong stand against Keystone.

Second, with all the worries about pipelines, if that oil is coming here, it's safer coming via pipeline, even with the risk of leaks, than via rail. Related to that? Building the pipeline would reduce some horrific freight rail congestion that affects not only Amtrak, but grain from farmers and other things.

Third? Stephen Harper's Conservatives don't look like they're leaving office any time soon. Either in Ottawa at the federal level, or at the provincial level in Alberta. Right now, they hold 161 of 305 seats federally. It's doubtful that the next Canadian federal election will cut the majority to a plurality; the Conservatives have lost five seats in by-elections since 2011. And, if it does, rather than letting Harper run a minority government, I have little doubt that Justin Trudeau would put his liberals into a coalition to get a few crumbs of power.

Short of a change in Canadian government plus a carbon tax and tariff in the U.S., the on-the-ground dynamics of Alberta tar sands aren't changing.

As this piece spells out, those dynamics are huge. They include the federal and provincial governments treating Canada's First Nations as badly, if not more so, than the U.S. has treated our Native Americans in the past. Tribal divisions result from that. And, the relentless tar sands mining continues.

And, unless somebody can point out to me a 2016 U.S. presidential contender within the Democratic party who will come within 100 miles of a carbon tax, that's not changing.

So, approve the pipeline with concessions is the best realistic choice.

Immigration?

Any executive actions he take will be weak tea.

And, environmental organizations asking me to sign petitions to ask Congress to block Keystone? IT won't work,  of course, and this is really just baseball for environmentalist group fundraiisng.

Texas and national #Election2014 postmortem

Let's start with Texas, since I did a long national roundup yesterday.

Short and sweet to start? Per friend Perry, it was a blowout — across the board.

Wendy Davis probably had little shot at beating Greg Abbott, but she ran a semi-crappy race in multiple ways.

While I wasn't looking for her to campaign about abortion all the time, she ran away from her August 2013 state Senate filibuster like the plague. She may have thought that that would have kept her protected from epithets like "Abortion Barbie," but it didn't.

Beyond running away from that, she then, already last December, started pandering for moderate (alleged moderate, really) voters, as I discussed in detail. Next, her endorsement of David Alameel, the most ardently (well, the only) pro-life candidate in Democrats' U.S. Senate primary, had people further scratching their heads. It turned out not to free up that much more general election Democratic money for her, I would venture, and at the time, it had two negative results, at least from this quarter.

The first was wondering how few her principles were. (That said, I knew she wasn't that liberal in general, but reproductive choice was the issue that got her into the campaign, after all.) The second was wondering if it wasn't a bit arrogant to be endorsing another Democrat in a primary race when she

Next, Rick Perry (albeit not running for office) looked more enlightened than her, at least initially, on marijuana decriminalization. And, she was a bit late to the party on gay marriage support.

That reflected another problem with her campaign — too buttoned-up and too buttoned-down. Jim Moore gets into this in detail, though I think he's a bit harsh in some ways, and a bit generous in one other way.

Part of that problem stemmed from her state Senate personal and past campaign staffers, but some of it surely came from Battleground Texas and its imported DC handlers. (Moore is too generous in blaming only DC folks for this.)

Battleground Texas, per a piece by Jonathan Tilove, also inflated many Texas Democrats expectations way out of reason, especially when connected with Davis' abortion filibuster:
(S)aid political scientist Joshua Blank, who manages both the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll and the Texas Lyceum poll, that very excitement also loosed many Democrats, in Texas and around the country, from a more sober appreciation of the enormity of the task at hand. 
“Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas created a set of expectations that were wildly unrealistic and probably helped the Republicans re-energize their coalition in ways they might have had trouble with after a grueling primary and runoff and fissures within the party over just how conservative to be,” Blank said.

Well put. BGTX also buttoned her down more when her original campaign appeared disorganized, but by then, it was probably too late even for a better candidate.

Meanwhile, whether BGTX wants it or not, by directly hitching its star to that of Davis, including with campaign finance/fundraising commingling, has put itself under the gun earlier than it probably planned to do. No excuses; if these are DC pros, they should have vetted Davis' electoral chances better before jumping in the shark tank with her.

Perry and I will have to disagree here. He thinks that this piece by Dave Mann at the Texas Observer is pretty much off the rails, while I think it's pretty much spot-on. Mann discusses this same issue, the entwinement of Davis and BGTX.

Here's Mann's wrap:
But the facts are these: The filibuster forced Davis to run, but also left her forever associated with abortion, a difficult issue for Democrats in Texas. Now, the Democrats have seen one of their once-rising stars discarded to the pile of failed statewide candidates. They’ve also lost a Texas Senate seat to a tea party candidate. And, perhaps worst of all, they’ve seen the image of Battleground Texas severely tarnished. That may hamper future fundraising and damage Democrats’ efforts to turn Texas blue.
Fifteen months ago, the energy produced by the abortion filibuster offered Texas Democrats hope for the 2014 election, hope that the filibuster might kickstart a Democratic resurgence. Instead, in a dark irony, the filibuster likely did just the opposite: It may well have set back a Democratic resurgence for years to come.
Exactly what I've been saying. And, since the filibuster did, in reality, force her to run, while not making reproductive choice the centerpiece of the campaign, again, she could have done more than run away from that filibuster during the campaign.

The other part also seems true. The Abbott campaign was spitting raspberries at BGTX all throughout the campaign and will do so again in 2018.

Anyway, for whatever reasons, the seeming original mission of BGTX, get out the vote?

Since, as adjusted for population, voting turnout was BELOW that in 2010, that's strike one, especially since the dropoff was all Democrats. (Abbott got about exactly the same numbers as Rick Perry in 2010.) It's still a bit early to say whether that was more its fault, or rather, it was doing the best it could against an upstream tide of disenchantment by many women, minorities and liberals.

What the answer is, I'm not sure. I'd love to see more openly socialist politics. That said, it's got to be sold better than either state or national Democratic insiders have sold the last detritus of neoliberalism.

Back to turnout.

And, locally, the minority turnout in midterm elections issues? Anecdotally reinforced for me firsthand. In the county where I live, the most minority-heavy county commissioner precinct, with probably half of the county's total minority population if not more, had a turnout of only about 60 percent that of the other three precincts.

Whether it was state and national office candidates running away from Obama, as seems to be one talking point, or what, I don't know. But black, and possibly Hispanic (even compared to their normal "baseline") voters didn't turn out in my county.

And, as Perry notes in another piece, in Texas, Abbott won the woman's vote over Davis, and in general, nationally, Democrats lost some of their previous advantage with women.

Elsewhere, I don't know whether this is because some women thought some Democrats' campaigns (Mark Udall) were too single-issue focused to the point of condescension or what, I don't know.

Other strikes are ahead. Per Tilove's piece, Hispanics in Texas aren't as reliably Democratic as in some states, and to the degree they are, their turnout is even worse in Texas than other states.

Demographics won't be a savior otherwise. Millennials aren't as much in the tank for Democrats as they have been thinking, contra demographic-based hopes and wishful thinking.

I blogged in detail already last fall "warning" Democrats (as if any are listening to the likes of me) not to make such glib assumptions.

Beyond this all, I think BGTX has to figure other things out.

Is it primarily a get out the vote group? Primarily a candidate development incubator? A quasi-PAC? A bit of all of the above?

And, re the second option for what it does? I'll tackle that below.

Looking ahead?

The 2016 elections, with no major statewide races (no top state positions, no U.S. Senate seat), may be a time for Democrats in Texas to lick their wounds, regroup, and figure out what's next.

Right now, it seems that what's next is not a black Democrat for statewide office, and is not either  Castro brother for statewide office. Good thing 2016 has no statewide races, because as of right now, Texas Democrats don't have a deep "bench."

And, while Tricky Ricky Perry was a bit wrong Tuesday night about it being 25 years (actually, 20, with Bob Bullock "hanging on" in 1994) since a Democrat won statewide office, it's essentially been 25 years.

If BGTX envisions its future as being in part a candidate incubator and developer, it had better have hit the road yesterday. Not today, not tomorrow, yesterday. Much short of that is little different than putting some new DC deck chairs on the Titanic.

This ties back to Davis. Friend Perry is probably right that she was the most available candidate, as well as the best candidate within that group. Take that statement as it is.

Looking ahead, Part 2?

Via what I've seen in comments at new media websites, there's plenty of old white Democrats who are, if anything, even more conservative on modern social issues than Bullock was. Well, they claim they're still Democrats. Democratic candidates should learn to treat them as Republicans and, based on Tuesday's results, to treat independent voters as Republicans, too.

Get out your base, strengthen your base, run a good campaign, make a play for independents only on issues that don't compromise your core, and go from there.

Or else?

Maybe Greens will figure out how to make more noise.

Speaking of ...

One bright spot is Jim Chisolm getting 9 percent of the vote for Supreme Court Place 8, Judith Sanders-Castro getting 10 percent of the vote for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4 and George Joseph Altgelt getting 9 percent of the vote for CCA Place 9. With just one of those three candidates above the 5-percent mark, Greens have ballot-wide party line access in 2016. Now, can and will they build on it, for then and for 2018? Please, no more Brandon Parmers running for statewide office, OK? Like Democrats, start doing more work to recruit candidates.

Brief national wrap, based on yesterday's post with brief updates, below the fold.

November 05, 2014

Patterson hates Denton #fracking ban, sues city

A gas well fracked in March sits less than 400 ft from a home
in Denton, which just became Texas' first city to ban fracking.
Neill Cooper/Texas Tribune

With all the other blues for "blue" news in Texas last night, there were a few highlights.

No. 1 was Denton voting to ban oil and gas fracking in that city.

Not so fast, says Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson (and the hogleg in his boot?).

From a Land Office release:
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson wasted no time in challenging an unconstitutional ban on hydraulic fracturing approved by Denton voters Tuesday. By 7:51 a.m. Wednesday, attorneys for Patterson had filed a lawsuit in Travis County courts seeking a permanent injunction against the “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” prohibition. 
 “This ban on hydraulic fracturing is not constitutional and it won’t stand,” Patterson said. “If it were allowed to be enforced it would hurt the schoolchildren of Texas, who earn hundreds of millions of dollars a year on oil and gas production on Permanent School Fund lands. 
 Patterson argues that the prohibition is in violation of Article I, Section 16 of the Texas Constitution, because it prohibits him from performing his duties. Patterson is constitutionally charged with the solemn fiduciary obligation to maximize revenues from leasing public school lands. See Coastal Oil and Gas Corp. v. Garza Energy Trust, 268 S.W.3d 1, 34 (Tex. 2008); Rutherford Oil Corp. v. General Land Office of State of Tex., 776 S.W.2d 232, 235 (Tex. App.–Austin 1989, no writ). Also, according to Texas law, no home-rule ordinance shall contain any provision inconsistent with the general laws enacted by the Legislature of this State. TEX. CONST. art. XI § 5. Therefore, Patterson argues that the prohibition may not be enforced against lands or mineral interests owned by the State of Texas, including lands or mineral interests owned by the State of Texas for which GLO is the lessor. Finally, Patterson states that the Prohibition is Preempted by State law. 
 Patterson filed the lawsuit in defense of the state’s mineral interests. The General Land Office deposited a record $1.2 billion into the state’s $37.7 billion Permanent School Fund for fiscal year 2014. These record earnings are in large part due to the revolution in hydraulic fracturing technologies, which has private companies competing to outbid each other for access to Permanent School Fund lands that previously were of marginal value. Lease rental income on Permanent School Fund land was up more than 653 percent in 2014, and lease bonus income rose by 86 percent over 2013. 
 “The law is clear, the Railroad Commission regulates oil and gas in Texas, not local municipalities,” Patterson said.

The nut graf is the third one.

I don't know if Denton has any old public school lands with oil and gas potential and lease rights that pay out to other entities. (Such things do exist; Falls County, where I am, gets driblets of money from old public school land leases in Archer County, for example.)

That said, especially in an urbanized area like Denton, this is easy to combat.

Land development prices and values will be higher, arguably, without fracking. And, if this baby really drags on, we'll get dueling petroleum geologists duking it out over proven and provable reserves, and especially with gas, we'll get to talk about just how "bubbly" the Barnett Shale is.

I think Patterson's wrong as rain, but, in two months, it won't be his baby.

P. Bush, the young, suburban, nicely Hispanic-tinged face of the Texas GOP — (hello, Julian and Joaquin Castro), gets to handle this baby next year.

So, let's just see how Bush P's on us, OK? Especially since, as the Observer notes, he has personal financial reason to push the suit.

Per the top link, with the O&G industry also threatening to sue? (And now, the Texas Oil and Gas Association has done just that.) The ban on fracking isn't that much more restrictive than Dallas' not-quite-a-ban that really is, and the O&G industry decided to do nothing there.

At the same time, with then Railroad Commission chair Barry Smitherman and commissioner David Porter claiming the Russkies were behind the push for a ban (no, really, click the link just above), these suits will enter the land of whackadoodle.

#Election2014 postmortem — Dems wrestle with 'Bill Clinton problem'

Wake up Dems and meet Congressional newcomer Mia Love,
the first black woman GOP Member of Congress.
I may get in more detail about why Democrats lost the U.S. Senate, lost a couple of tight governorships, and in general kind of imploded last night, in a long post I'm already working for tomorrow on a Texas, Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas postmortem, but, I'm going to dive briefly into the big picture now.

No, Bill Clinton wasn't on the ballot, and of course, neither was Barack Obama. But, in a sense, he was.

As Gary Younge notes at The Guardian, Obama's ineffectiveness (actual as well as seeming) was what was on the ballot, as much as anything he actually stood for.

And per that, on to the header.

Democratic senatorial and gubernatorial candidates seemed to wrestle with how to address him the same way that Al Gore did with Bill Clinton in 2000, and hence my header. This time, it was complicated by some states doing the Medicaid opt-in part of Obamacare and others not, but those statewide race candidates, in several swing states, seemed to struggle with just how much to try to distance themselves from Dear Leader but yet, especially in states with large black votes, still get his help, like Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and North Carolina Senator Kay Hagen both launching election day pitches from Obama on radio stations with largely black demographics.

Note that I said "black" and not "minority," especially not "Hispanic."

That's point the second.

I don't know what the final national numbers will tell, but I'll venture it's a significant dropoff in Latino voting for Democrats. The failure of the Dream Act, the failure of Obama to take immigration-related executive actions in the past few months, will likely "tell." That said, I don't expect this year's elections to show a big pickup in GOP Hispanic votes, just a big dropoff in Democratic ones. And, at least one House and one Senate Democrat have been publicly critical of Obama for not using executive orders.

Per Howard Dean, a lot of Hispanics probably did feel Obama was taking them for granted.

Third?

Per Alison Lundergan (say it three times fast for the pun) Grimes, as poster child No. 1, Dems had crappy candidates running crappy campaigns. Wendy Davis for governor here in Texas. Arguably, Mark Udall in Colorado. (A fetal personhood bill lost there by a fair margin, so maybe he should have gone after Cory Gardiner on other issues.)

That said, per friend Perry, in some cases, perhaps some neolibs caught cleaned out of Democratic positions and hopefully more heads will roll in the future.

Fourth?

Refuting "narratives" about women who vote GOP voting against themselves, and blacks who vote GOP voting against themselves, I present the first black woman Member of Congress, from Utah of all places. And, she took Utah's one Democratic seat, replacing the retiring Jim Matheson. Yes, she's an "outlier," and for that reason, got a lot of national GOP money. Still, it's a wake-up call. (Love, per the link, challenged Matheson two years ago, too.)

Just as racism and sexism are problems in corners and pockets — but not all — of the Republican Party, condescension is a problem in corners and pockets of the Democratic Party. See my Dean and Obama note above.

Fifth?

This is a second-term (for a president) midterm election. Remember 2006? That's why I expected some of this, though I thought (and more, hoped) the Senate would be a 50-50 tie.

Sixth?

Democrats who now talk about how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have to "govern" or "compromise" or whatever?

Wake the hell up, and what planet are you on?

Like Speaker John Boehner, he'll first have to wrestle with keeping his fire-eaters in line and halfway placated.  Think Rand Paul wants to "compromise," let alone Ted Cruz

Seventh?

Hillary Clinton seemed to have no better coattails when stumping for candidates than did Obama. Part of that relates to Point Five, but it may just give the likes of former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer more encouragement to run. And, even with his own flaws, in my eyes, he would definitely enliven the race.

Eighth?

As I'll cover in more depth in my Texas roundup tomorrow, this election SHOULD disabuse Democrats that they have a baked-in demographic edge, if not today, then tomorrow. Whether it WILL do that is another question entirely.

And, locally, the minority turnout in midterm elections issues? Anecdotally reinforced for me firsthand. The most minority-heavy county commissioner precinct, with probably half of the county's total minority population if not more, had a turnout of only about 60 percent that of the other three precincts.

Flip side?

Democrats DID have good candidates running good campaigns — and winning in red states.

Charles Pelkey got elected to the Wyoming state House supporting reproductive choice and marriage equality.

#Cardinals start look at offseason possibilities in #HotStoveLeague

Andrew Miller
Via Hardball Talk, Derrick Gould says the Cardinals are seriously looking at Orioles reliever Andrew Miller.

My thought? Ain't gonna happen. Miller's agent will surely pitch him as a closer, and the Cards have a much cheaper one in Trevor Rosenthal. Also, until recently, Miller was not a high-K guy.

He'd be nice as a non-LOOGY lefty upgrade over Randy Choate, but he's not going to be available at that price range of $5M per year, max.

(Update, Nov. 13: That's especially true if he wants a four-year deal for top-level closer money, as is now being reported.

Update Nov. 17: With the four-player trade, discussed here, with the Braves bringing back Jordan Walden as well as Jason Heyward, I think Andrew Miller is probably off the Cardinal map.)

Besides, Marco Gonzales has arguably already shown himself to at least be worthy of future consideration as a potential non-LOOGY lefty middle-relief guy/spot starter.

The Cards have other, more pressing needs, anyway.

They include:
1. Looking for an upgrade over Tony Cruz at backup catcher;
2. Deciding on their long-term plans for Jon Jay and what to pay him;
3. Even more, megadittos on that with Lance Lynn (I've already said buy out his three arb years plus first free agency year for 4/$50M);
4. What to do in the right field area with the tragic death of Oscar Taveras;
5. A right-handed power bat to back up Matt Adams at 1B (a right-handed power-hitting backup catcher could fill both this and Need No. 1).

Dave Schoenfield of ESPN offers some thoughts on Point No. 4. Rather than wait to see what Randal Grichuk's potential is, he suggests the Cards trade for Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzales, mentioning Carlos Martinez as part of any trade package. He says that Michael Cuddyer getting a QO from the Rockies may be a signal that CarGo is up for sale. Ken Rosenthal confirms that CarGo is on the block.

Carlos Gonzales
I'm kind of lukewarm on the idea. That's a lot of extra salary, especially with his contract taking a $5.5M jump for 2015, $1M for 2016, and $3M for 2017 to top out at $20M. For someone who has more than 130 games/550 PAs just once in the last four years, and had definite injury problems and decline this year, I'm wary.

That said, if the Rockies ate $10M total of the $53M they're paying him, I'd consider it.

Or, run this one by your eyeballs.

Matt Holliday has the same per-year, roughly, and one less year total on his contract. And, he's six year's older.

Now, he'd have to waive his 5-and-10 no-trade rights, but, if he would, would the Rockies accept a straight-up trade? (Interestingly, the two were part of a trade for each other back in 2008.)

I'd make that trade and even throw a small amount of money back Colorado's way. I know that readers of Hardball Talk don't like this idea. Whether it's more Rockies fans, more Cards fans, or more people just not liking me posting a blog link, I don't know. Anyway, I think it's a win-win.

Cardinals would be gambling, yes. But, given Holliday's age-related declining, it's not that big of a gamble. Rockies get out from one year of CarGo's contract, or equivalent. Holliday moves to a power park where he's played before and gets a chance to fluff his numbers.

November 04, 2014

Alison Grimes: Misinformed? Twit? Family political pawn? Just.Another.Neoliberal Liar?

Alison Lundergan Grimes, waving bye-bye to her own campaign
Updated Nov. 4, 6:30 p.m. Mitch the Turtle is already projected the winner in this race. It's too bad, but not surprising given the campaign that Alison Lundergan (say it three times fast) ran while going down the White Rabbit's (her daddykins) rabbit hole of an inept campaign.

And, given one Democratic troll I ran into on Raw Story, I don't feel sorry (well, not THAT sorry) for Kentucky Dems.

And, now that it appears Republicans have taken control of the U.S. Senate, I'll add that Grimes is a poster child for the mix of bad campaigns and bad candidates in many Senate Democratic races.

Meanwhile, your original post.

The Kentucky Democrat challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch "The Turtle" McConnell may be politically smart to distance herself from President Barack Obama during the campaign, but then claiming Hillary Clinton has any significant political differences from Dear Leader is a laugher.
If one race reveals the depth of the divisions between Democrats this cycle it is in Kentucky, where the party’s Senate nominee still refuses to say whether she voted in 2012 for President Obama, whom she endorsed and served as a convention delegate. But on Monday, Alison Lundergan Grimes took the next step forward into the chasm when a debate moderator asked her the difference between her, a self-styled “Clinton Democrat” and an “Obama Democrat.” Grimes was quick to respond: “It’s growing the middle class in the right way.” 
Yeah. sure. 

Especially when it's a claim that "poor Hillary" of White House departure days understands, or by extension, cares about the middle class any more than Obama. This is also the same Hillary Clinton who supported the Slickster in taking tax deductions on underwear (dunno if they were boxers or briefs) he gave to Goodwill and elsewhere.

Hillary Clinton has some special sauce for "growing the middle class the right way." Not. Unless it involves underwear at Goodwill.

Also, per this piece, given the great success of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in Kentucky, her worries about The Turtle scoring political points over her vote for Obama, which we all know she did (because, if she actually didn't, she'd answer the question "no") undercut potential political gains.

The piece also brings in the other angles. Her daddy's a big Friend of Bill's, and she's banking on the women's vote, even though she's not earning or retaining a big edge on it.

There's more nuggets, speaking of Grimes' daddy, to unpack from that quote.

First, did she ever, post-marriage, still go by the name of "Alison Lundergan," then realize that, like Hillary, she needed to officially take on her hubby's last name to succeed in a Southern state? (Not to be confused with seceding in a Southern state.) Did she, at some later point, then decide she needed to trade on her family's last name, and thus then change her name from "Alison Grimes" to "Alison Lundergan Grimes"?

And, did she, at some point in this campaign, realize that Lewis Carroll wasn't giving her "Alison Lundergan" (yeah, I went there) any ending but going down the White Rabbit's madhole?

What seems up is spillover from the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. Daddy Lundergan and cronies are still steamed at Obama in some way, and steamed enough to lose an election over it.

I know that Ashley Judd, had she not been worried about The Turtle's staff digging up trash on her,  or Kentucky Dem powerhouses chickenshitting on her either from being in Grimes' corner or what's left of Big Coal's corner, couldn't have done worse.

So, if Grimes loses, Kentucky Dems? You danced with them what you brung, and she couldn't dance her way out of a wet paper bag.

#Obamiac smoking gun alert: Shirley Sherrod vs. Just.Another.Politician.™

Dear Obamiacs —

Don't mean to further dampen already dampened spirts, what with Howard Dean saying this weekend that Dear Leader has taken Hispanic votes for granted, but ..

A "smoking gun" in the case of summarily fired U.S. Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod indicates that Just.Another.Politician.™ also apparently was taking African American votes for granted in 2010.

To refresh your memory, Sherrod had, earlier in 2010, made a speech at an NAACP event in which she condemned past racial bias in USDA lending practices and other things. After Andrew Breitbart posted a selectively edited version of the video to try to make her look like a racist, the NAACP headquarters "bit" on the Breitbart theme. That led to Team Obama pressure, and her eventual resignation, as described on Wikipedia.

The first three grafs from that smoking gun are worth quoting in full:
A 2010 email from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his department was "waiting for the go-ahead" from the White House before accepting the resignation of employee Shirley Sherrod, according to newly released documents, despite Obama administration assertions that her ouster was Vilsack's decision alone. 
The email, which was made public Friday in an ongoing federal court case over the matter, shed more light on the evening of July 19, 2010, when the USDA hastily asked Sherrod to resign after a video showing her making supposed racist remarks surfaced on a conservative website. Her dismissal turned into a racial firestorm after it became clear that the video had been edited and her remarks were meant to tell a story of reconciliation. 
Both the White House and Vilsack have repeatedly said the agriculture secretary made the decision to ask for Sherrod's resignation without White House input. The emails, along with earlier emails obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act in 2010 and 2012, make it apparent that Vilsack wanted Sherrod to leave the department and ordered her resignation. But a newly-released email sent by Vilsack himself suggests he was awaiting a decision from White House officials on how to proceed.
In short, Tom Vilsack lied on behalf of top minions of Barack Obama, who were almost certainly directly doing his bidding.

We also have further proof that Obama meets Teddy Roosevelt's description of William McKinley and has the backbone of a chocolate eclair. We also see that the NAACP is little different than most liberal interest groups.

Unfortunately, though, the tawdry sewage of Breitbart is behind this latest story, too.

Sherrod filed a defamation suit against Breitbart, with his wife named as defendant in his place after his death. The emails are being touted by her legal team as proof against defamation.

Let's hope this doesn't hold up in court. Obama's a coward and Vilsack's a toady par excellence, but they both acted that way because Andrew Breitbart, already then having a known reputation for slime, deliberately edited a video in a way so as to defame Shirley Sherrod.

November 03, 2014

Barack Obama writes his "Dear Latina" letter

People who aren't Gnu Atheists, or opponents of social justice warrior martyrdom probably won't get the reference to Elevatorgate, but here goes.

On MSNBC's "Weekends with Alex Witt," former DNC Chairman Howard Dean promises Democrats aren't taking African-American votes for granted.

Of course, in "discussing" issues with Kay Bailey Cheerleader, a kinder, gentler John Cornyn, it should be like shooting fish in a barrel, right?

And, of course, KBH is wrong; to the degree there is voter fraud, it's old white folks committing (or having committed in their name) vote fraud on absentee ballots by mail.

Indeed, a Shrub Bush special commission said so. Here's all the ways that vote fraud with absentee mail ballots can be done. And, those old white folks, and their enablers, ain't pulling the D lever.

That said, let's go to the header. At just past the six-minute mark on this video, Howard Dean says that Democrats, while not taking African-American votes for granted, may have done that to some degree with Latino/Latina votes on immigration reform:



At least Dean mildly called out Obama on the issue.

But, speaking of things, back to that header, and the Elevatorgate link. Richard Dawkins, for the unfamiliar, gave Rebecca Watson this response:
Dear Muslima 
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with. 
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . . 
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin. 
Richard
It drew immediate howls, and an eventual apology of sorts from Dawkins.

So, back to Howard Dean, and the man he mildly chastized:
Dear Latina: 
I know you're on an elevator, and it's late at night, and you barely know me, and it's been a long day at this conference. 
But, I really need ... 
Some money. 
Please, just five minutes with your checkbook, and I'll be "satisfied." 
I promise, those emails are true, too. 
You actually do have a chance to see me in person. 
If you contribute enough money, and contribute it now. 
Only your money can help me pass that comprehensive immigration reform that I want to pass. Only your money can stop me from having to pander to Republicans and swing voters. 
So, please? Five minutes? A quickie? 
Sincerely yours,
Barack Obama
Sadly Dear Latina never did get to see Dear Leader.


A few skeptical thoughts about Tim Cook of Apple "coming out"

Photograph by Ashley Gilbertson for Bloomberg Businessweek
Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook made national headlines by publicly "coming out" that he was gay.

Let's start with this statement:
So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.
This would be whose god? The god of conservative versions of the world's three monotheisms, whose members think that gayness is some sort of sin?

The god of liberal versions of those monotheisms, whose Santa-kind lovingness is powerless, I guess, to keep believers in conservative versions of those monotheisms from being hateful?

And, that's part of what's wrong with the mush god of liberal monotheism.

And, if gayness is a "gift," then so is straightness, right?

That's at the heart of the statement on Facebook (and Twitter) by philosopher Peter Boghossian:
I've never understood how someone could be proud of being gay. How can one be proud of something one didn't work for?
It's not PC, but it's true IF one has a certain definition of pride. And, in that case, why not "straight pride"?

Even if "gay pride" is in one's status, and not in achievements to become gay, then why is "straight pride" wrong, especially if it includes surviving in today's world of social justice warrior slings and arrows?

This gets back to another criticism of mine of social justice warriors, namely that "no one knows the misery they've seen." The martyrdom hand to back of forehead, etc.

Of course, the social justice warriors are all agog over this statement. I saw this being tut-tutted over by Gnu Atheist SJW Greta Christina, because a Facebook friend had commented on Christina's Facebook post about her blog post. Sorry, even with the ability to put a "no follow" in the HTML, out of principle, I try not to link to hardcore SJWs except when really necessary.

But onward, because I'm nowhere near done with Cook yet. He later says:
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life.
Really? So, there's a "gift of gayness"?

Erm, wrong!

I've said time and time again that being an atheist is no guarantor of intellectual superiority or better critical thinking skills. I guess I will now have to add that being gay or lesbian is no guarantor of superior empathy or emotional depth.

Need I mention that paragon of gay emotional sensitivity J. Edgar Hoover?

Anyway, I'm moving on from skeptical thoughts to cynical ones.

Cook notes that people at Apple have known this for years. So, why "come out" now? After all, gay marriage is legal in California. Beyond that, how hard is it, really, to "come out" when you're the CEO of the company? Doubling down on that, how hard is it, really, to "come out" when you're the CEO of a tech company in Silicon Valley?

And, that photo? Is it merely coincidence that there's a sundog in a position to almost give Cook a secular, nay a gay-pride rainbow, version of a halo?

Since Ashley Gilbertson does NOT work for Bloomberg, but for a photo agency, survey (of one) says: Not a coincidence. If you're a professional photographer of that level, something like that doesn't happen by accident.

Per a mobile Net joke, I could say, "There's an app for that," but of course, that would be a cheap and tawdry joke.

Besides, to be non-jokingly cynical, with the CEO of a company with post-Steve Jobs stock price turbulence, etc., there actually may be an app for that. And, an Apple product for that.

Apple Gaydar, on sale soon at your nearest Apple store.

And, I am hoping this gets read enough for SJWs to go agog over that statement, too.

November 02, 2014

Pre-election roundup and observations

First, if early voting is any indication, Battleground Texas' get out the vote push is a big fat flop.

And, with that as a baseline, we can go on to an overview of Texas' elections likelihood, which is largely similar to what friend Perry says.

First, in the main Texas race? Rick Perry beat Bill White 55-42 in 2010. Based on the turnout news above, what I'll take as semi-scientific findings from my reader poll on this race, at right, and other information, I'll be surprised if Wendy Davis narrows that gap by more than 2 percentage points against Greg Abbott. I'll also be surprised if Abbott widens it more than two percentage points. Unless Dems field a truly godawful candidate, I think 40 percent for a statewide non-judicial race is probably a Democrat baseline.

In addition to not bolstering turnout, BGTX and Dems in general, in Texas and beyond, are finding more and more evidence that demographics, whether of age or minorities, will NOT be their savior. I've blogged about this myth, especially re Hispanic voters, for a full year or more. Latest confirmation comes in the age-related issue: Millennials are moving more away from Dems.

Post-mortems on why BGTX couldn't get more people out, and why Davis didn't run better, will be saved for when the death is officially pronounced. Per Tiger Beat on the Potomac, the semi drive-by hit nature of the piece aside, the post-mortems of the two will be connected, and will be judged on two things: overall turnout and the percentage point gap.

Second, I'm sure Perry's right that no House seats change hands. Per the turnout info, he's also probably right that the GOP may actually add a few states in the Lege. If so, doorknob help us with Abbott as gov and Dan Patrick as lite guv.

That said, if there's any chance of preventing that, or of bolstering the Green Party as it looks for better candidates, here's my endorsements and suggestions.

There's also one constitutional amendment on the ballot. In a separate piece, I say why I think you should vote No on it.

Briefly, national numbers and races. I expect the Senate to be either 50-50 or maybe 51-49, counting any independents who may get elected as caucusing Democratic. Per Perry, we may not know for sure until some December runoffs. I expect Rick Scott to lose narrowly in Florida but Scott Walker to stay on in Wisconsin. And, in a major state initiative, I expect, for both better and worse, that Oregon will pass a GMO labeling law.