April 30, 2015

Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders?

Whether Dr. Stein runs again for the Green Party nomination in 2016 or not, I'm using her as a "cutout" for now, vs. Vermont socialist independent left-of-most Dems Democrat Senator, who reportedly could make a presidential announcement within days.  (Your blogger is on a brief vacation and posted this in advance.)

I know who I'll vote for, if Bernie by some miracle wins the general election.

Jill Stein.

My strikethroughs, snark aside, should tell you something.

Bernie's reputation and reality don't quite match up, especially his F-35 bromance with the military-industrial complex. On other foreign policy, contra some people, he doesn't strike me as a hardcore Zionist; and he did join other Dems in boycotting Bibi Netanyahu's speech to Congress, at a minimum.

And, he was a war lover ever since the original Gulf War. Read that piece. Substitute the n-word into Bernie's take, and he sounds like George Wallace or other White South politicos saying in the 1960s that nobody was going to out-n them. Plus, part of why he probably doesn't like to talk about foreign policy issues a lot is that he's illiberal in general on them.

That said, I think he's got about as much chance to get the Democratic nomination as Stein does to be elected president. He's from a very small state; he's seen as progressive enough on fiscal regulatory issues that he'll scare off some big donors; Democratic insiders (outside of those he's sucked up to in Vermont) may not care for him; and I doubt he has much of a national "apparatus" or can assemble one.

Other possible candidates? I think Martin O'Malley's "tough policing" past as mayor of Baltimore, with the riots now happening, will kill him with African Americans in the party. The declared Lincoln Chafee is to the left of Clinton on warhawk foreign policy, if nothing else, even if he used to be a Republican. That said, he did favor partial privatization of Social Security in the past; that said, the Slickteress' hubby did too.

Jim Webb? Late convert to gay rights; very anti-environmental at least on the magic word "coal." Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has dropped back off the radar screen for now.

April 29, 2015

#SCOTUS on #gaymarriage as teh stupidz burns in the #txlege

First, per SCOTUSBlog, and a hat tip to Perry, I think that a 6-3 decision in favor is possible. Likely? Not as likely as a 5-4 maybe, but more likely than a 5-4 against.

A "tell," on the current reporting, is Justice Kennedy's higher emotional level when asking questions of the plaintiffs (the states where an appellate court said gay marriage should remain illegal) about whether this wasn't disruptive to gay couples with children and other things. (At the same time, this is why Kennedy tilts pro-life, yet I think would oppose any attempt at an outright ban of abortion.)

Otherwise, I think Kennedy, in raising the past history of marriage, was trying to encourage the defendants, gay marriage supporters, to address that issue as part of their narrative. His later questioning showed that what he has elsewhere mentioned as the "dignity" and "sacredness" of marriage is a key issue to him, not the argument for biological procreation.

Meanwhile, in additional current reporting, Nino Scalia must be slipping. In his interrogations today, he never once compared gay marriage to bestiality. Justice Alito at least partially picked up for him by raising polygamy as a red herring.

(Actually, as long as the person already in a marriage informs a potential second or third spouse about said other marriage, I'm OK with that. Make it felony fraud not to do so, and we go from there. Besides, Religious Right, let's not forget that the "Judeo" fig leaf half of your "Judeo-Christian values" was so "down" with polygamy that Jesus' ancestor Jacob married multiple wives, as well as having additional kids by legally recognized concubines. Beyond that, the Judeo was so down with other open marriage ideas that Abraham married his half sister. Good times!)

Roberts, per both those top links above, could indeed "swing," so to speak. Per Perry, he fought against anti-gay discrimination in the workforce and won, on the major Romer case. Per the arguments now, Roberts at a minimum seems to give the Constitution's comity clause — that states should respect each others' laws — a fair amount of weight. If Texas is forced to recognize gay marriages from Illinois, then it's essentially game over anyway.

And, speaking of Texas, our lord high executioners in the Legislature are already seeking to craft various workarounds, at the state level, should the Supremes legalize gay marriage.

Of course, the justices' ruling isn't expected until after the Lege's session ends.

So?

If wingnuts led by Rick Perry called an anti-abortion special session in 2013, you bet wingnuts led by Greg Abbott will consider the same this year. Bank on it. And lawsuits against the feds and more.

After all, Gov. Strangeabbott, despite his alleged fiscal conservative credentials, is our state's chief money waster.

April 28, 2015

A new low in pushing the DH on the NL — with a #hypocrisy alert

Craig Calcaterra, head blogger at NBC Sports' Hardball Talk, usually has more of a brain than he does today, where he argues that Adam Wainwright's apparently blown Achilles and Max Scherzer's thumb being jammed on batting are arguments for making the National League adopt the designated hitter. Scherzer argues for the DH himself, but he's wrong too. (I'll focus on Calcaterra's piece, though.)

First, they're no such thing. Achilles tendons can be blown in other ways. For pitchers, even if batting and pushing out of the batter's box causes the actual injury, surely it starts with the stress of pushing off the mound and rubber. Also, given the rash of dumb spring training injuries, a player like Scherzer could have jammed his thumb in other ways.

(Update: Calcaterra notes that he said in his original post that both were fluke injuries. If so, then why did you use them as the leading argument for your post? If it's a "dumb rule," then don't open your argument based on flukes, maybe? That's especially true since 16 months ago Craig, you said you loved pitchers batting; indeed, you've said that more than once. Also per that post, the NL has stayed with its traditional rule for 40-plus years; who says both leagues have to be the same — after all, Japan's two leagues split on the issue, too. So, why you got on the DH soapbox last week, I have no clue. And, I'm not going to bother trying to find out.)

Second, if Craig's really THAT worried about injuries (not taking his claim that he noted the two injuries of record were flukes), let's avoid Tommy John surgery for pitchers and replace them with machines, or require pitchers to throw underhand or something. Is not this year's injury rash of TJ surgeries "unacceptable" as compared to one major injury that

(Update two: Waino, contra Scherzer, specifically opposes the DH being put in the National League, even after his injury, fluke or not.)

Third, Calcaterra has generally seemed to support efforts to speed up the game. But, the designated hitter is a game slower, even if not the biggest, in baseball and Craig knows that. (Five Thirty Eight claims its only a minuscule one, but, hey, I haven't clicked on a link there in six months and am not planning to start now.)

Fourth, why not go full-on free substitution? Let's start with "courtesy runners" for normally slow-moving catchers, like we have in high school baseball. After all, such catchers trying to find a higher speed than second gear  — let's take a Brian McCann as a stock example — are likely increasing their risk of hamstring pulls. So, Craig, why not let each team have four or five Billy Hamiltons for this? (I'm really surprised Charlie O. Finley didn't push the Claudell Washington idea further in the 1970s.)

Or, per a commenter there, why not just have eight batting spots? No pitcher AND no DH for the pitcher.

As I Tweeted Craig on Sunday, this is arguably the dumbest thing I've seen him write at HBT.

Other things he gets wrong?

The DH was a gimmick. It wasn't done to protect hitters, but to boost offense, after lowering the mound from 15 to 10 inches didn't do enough of that for AL satisfaction. Maybe the American League should have looked at other reasons it was lagging the NL on attendance.

Next, he claims we shouldn't argue for a DH for the shortstop, or other position players, because that's a slippery slope fallacy.

Wrong. Wrong.Wrong.

It's not a slippery slope. Nor is it a twist on a sorities. Rather, it takes the "best batters batting" to its logical conclusion. I think Craig, trained as a lawyer, knows that, too, and that's why he spends so much time trying to knock it down.

As far as practical reasons to have DHs for position players? Erm, I can name Mark Belanger, the 1970s Orioles SS, he of the career .228 BA and .580 OPS, as counterargument No. 1. Pete Kozma, for whom I created the Kozma Line idea, replacing the classic Mendoza Line, is No. 2. Mario Mendoza of said line is No. 3.

That said, on Monday, Craig decided to double down on the stupidity. He went fishing for background on why the NL doesn't have the designated hitter, and the columnist he found got it wrong, according to Wikipedia. (Craig thought so much of this he linked two it twice within a quite brief blog post.)

Craig, via David Moulton, tries to blame the Phillies for the screwup, saying that GM Bill Giles didn't know how owner Ruly Carpenter wanted him to vote, if the DH was going to face a one-year delay before implementation.

First, should we even believe that? It sounds like a "just so" story, kind of like a moderately-liberal Democratic Catholic politician saying "I personally oppose abortion, but ... "

Second, what Moulton gets wrong is not that the owners favored the issue 6-4, not counting the abstaining Phillies, and the co-abstaining follow-the-leader Pirates. Rather, the vote was 4-5-3, with only four in favor and three abstainers, including the Astros. It would have taken all three abstainers voting yes for it to pass. (Wiki doesn't say why the Stros sat out.)

Third, Moulton doesn't mention what Wikipedia says, that Cards' GM John Claiborne was the biggest pusher of the DH, and was fired a week after the vote. (Gussie Busch should have fired him a week before.)

No wonder Craig stopped practicing law. We could start with the fact that, as one commenter notes, Craig claims it's not about Wainwright and Scherzer, then makes the first part of the post about Wainwright and Scherzer.

Finally, per the recent hotheadedness of Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, the National League at least has the possibility of keeping his hotheadedness in check if he has to bat.

==

As for AL or DH fans claiming there's actually more strategy in the junior circuit? Horse hockey.

First, the idea that a rotationally filled DH spot, as more and more teams are doing, rather than one primary DH player, is "strategy," ain't. To quote that great baseball owner, George W. Bush, it's "strategery."

Second, the only in-game strategy it promotes is allowing more in-inning pitching changes, on the one hand, and thus more in-inning batting changes on the other. "Change" is also not necessarily "strategy."

Third, if the AL actually wanted at least a bit of strategy with DH's, it would allow changing a DH to be part of a double switch. (No, you can't do that, in reality.)

April 27, 2015

Texas Progressives roundup for April 27: Medicaid, Citizens United, voting, police, workers

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that Blue Bell can get its act together before it's too late as it brings you this week's roundup, and I will have a blog post on the five-year history of Blue Bell's problems and more later this week.

Off the Kuff cheered on the latest effort by the federal government to force the state of Texas to expand Medicaid already.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos wants voters to know that voting for mean and stupid people, or not voting at all, has consequences.  TX Refusal to Expand Medicaid May Result in Higher Premiums for the Insured.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme noticed a few cases of Texas law officers allegedly acting inappropriately here and here. These cases should be rare, not a daily occurrence.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The "big three" had a breakfast brouhaha this week and Dan Patrick got his feelings' hurt, Hurt Feelings and Thin Skin - Session's Getting Good.

Socratic Gadfly listed three numbers to remember — 67, 3, $10 — in 2016 elections.

Even the lawyer who argued -- and won -- the Citizens United case at the Supreme Court five years ago thinks our political system is broken.  But his solutions for it involve removing even more of what remains of the tattered restrictions on financial contributions, and if you want to know the specifics, "you'll have to pay him for that".  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs knows that this kind of mercenary political adviser is as large a part of the problem as the money itself.

Neil at All People Have Value says it seems there are more reasons than ever for people and corporations to break and ignore our laws. All People Have Value is part of NeilAquino.com.

Nonsequiteuse wants you to watch the video, or read the transcript, of Rep. Jessica Farrar's declaration that she will not yield while Republicans deny Texans human rights and dignity.


===============

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Randy Bear, recently relocated to Arkansas, explains how that state managed to avoid Indiana-ing itself.

The Texas Election Law Blog calls for executive action to mitigate the damage being done to voting rights by the Supreme Court.

Lone Star Q knocks Sen. Donna Campbell for an amazingly hypocritical Facebook status update.

The TSTA Blog says a voucher bill is a voucher bill no matter what its proponents want to call it.

Raise Your Hand Texas presented its testimony against said voucher bill.

Paradise In Hell wonders if the "Texas Miracle" was based on anything other than high oil prices.

Better Texas Blog explains just what the federal government's threat to discontinue the uncompensated care waiver unless Texas expands Medicaid is all about.

Equality Texas urges the city of San Antonio to take seriously the task of enforcing its non-discrimination ordinance.

#BruceJenner vs. Renee Richards, the #SJW world and more

Bruce Jenner/Wikipedia
As everybody in the US not in hibernation probably knows, 1976 Olympic decathlon winner Bruce Jenner is "out" as a transgendered person.

And?

While this is interesting, is it something that necessarily needs huzzahs and handsprings? Maybe, maybe not.

"But he's famous," somebody will say, and that will publicize transgender issues.

He's famous for what?

Per a commenter on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk blog, Jenner has voluntarily been part of the Kardashian circus for more than a decade. Name me something else he's famous for, other than recently killing a person in an auto accident.

In addition, nobody forced him to go on camera. His choice. Per that commenter:
In other words, Bruce Jenner represents a tiny, all but quantum fraction of the total number of transgender patients. He only receives this much attention because (1) he is a former Olympic champion, (2) he has recently been involved in a fatal automobile accident in the media subcapital of the world, but most of all because (3) for the past umpteen years he has been a willing participant in one of the biggest self-aggrandizing, self-promoting media freak shows in history and by his own volition a darling of tabloid dumpculture. 
That might be somewhat harsh. But, is it totally so? I don't think so.

And, while transgender and sexual identity issues are confusing, Jenner seems more confused yet. To claim that he's conservative, Republican and Christian is one sign of that. Many liberally religious people don't have a problem with transgender issues, as the forth initial in the LGBT civil liberties quasi-acronym. However, Christian conservatives have plenty of problems with that. Problems enough that, as the religious right takes stronger hold of the modern GOP, it's perplexing that folks like the Log Cabin Republicans continue to identify as Republican. There are more than two parties in America, you know; you could be Libertarian. But, I guess that the largely two-party duopoly has too much of a hold on you, and you're willing to sacrifice an essential part of your personhood for the Religious Right's agenda.

And, speaking of LGBT? Jenner's claim that he has little need for its rights or it as a movement is even more perplexing. I suspect that, at some point, organized LGBT groups, if they don't abruptly dump Jenner like a hot potato, will at least slowly walk away from him. The social justice warrior types, the SJWs, may be having rapture right now, but probably should think again.

I mean, the NYT, in one article, found his political leanings more shocking than him coming "out."

That NYT piece also notes his circus show background:
This was a coming-out about gender identity and also of television genre. Mr. Jenner tried to disentangle himself from his reality show skin, shedding the slightly goofy, Father Knows Least persona he plays on E! to reveal a more forceful and assertive version of himself. He became exercised – and even sarcastic — when Ms. Sawyer told him that his Kardashian years (she only referred to the series as “that reality show”) made people wonder whether this too was a publicity stunt. “Yeah, right,” he drawled. 
 Instead, he reframed his reality show career as the price he paid to create a platform for his new calling. “Yeah, I know,” he said, referring to what Ms. Sawyer described as “a shameless selling of everything.” He said this was different. “But what I am doing is going to do some good and we’re going to change the world. I really firmly believe that,” he said shaking his finger at Ms. Sawyer. He added, “And if the whole Kardashian show and reality television gave me that foothold into that world, to be able to go out there and really do something good, I’m all for it. I got no problem with that. Understand?” 
 His reality show days aren’t over, however. Mr. Jenner said he was doing an eight-episode documentary with E! that will air this summer but said he drew the line at giving the camera the kind of access he allowed on “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” 
As for that conservative Republican part?
Mr. Jenner described himself as conservative and Ms. Sawyer seemed taken aback. When she asked him if he would ask Republican leaders to champion the transgender cause, Mr. Jenner was full of aplomb. “I would do that, yeah, in a heartbeat, why not? And I think they’d be very receptive to it.”
Yeah, right. You’re either a full-on idiot, totally clueless, or else think you can tame the Religious Right GOP circus just like a Kardashian circus.


And, that’s another reason not to put him on any platforms.

After all, Christine Jorgensen went public with this 60-plus years ago! Renée Richards went public as an athlete still in competition 40 years ago. Both did so less voluntarily than Jenner, but with more aplomb, perhaps; certainly, remembering Richards, she did so without the apparent publicity-seeking of Jenner. So, while Christina Kahrl is partially right to salute Jenner, she shouldn't be going overboard, either. 

As for Kahrl entering the social justice warrior world by chiding Jenner's mom for saying "he" and "him," the New York Times used male pronouns for its story, and offered what was to me a reasonable editorial defense, noting that Jenner had not chosen a female name nor set out for public understanding other parameters of his identity transitioning. And, it would be bad enough to chide other media outlets; selecting Jenner's mom as the object lesson for a "teachable moment" is kind of sad, in my book.

Jenner's second ex also uses male pronouns in writing for Huff Post. She notes that he had started the transitioning before they divorced. That said, he went on to marry Kris Kardashian, not go further down the transitioning road, and join their media circus.

So, shake your finger at Diane Sawyer, or me, or others, all you want, Bruce. I don't believe you're going to convert a bunch of Republicans. I'm not shocked, or even surprised, that you may go back to reality TV as a "pulpit," or a "slimepit." Please, don't push yourself as America's role model for this. 

Meanwhile, this is further proof that there's no omnipotent god or Intelligent Designer behind this world in general or human procreation in particular. Beyond gender identity issues, sexuality also goes haywire during fetal development, due to hormone insensitivity issues or other things. And, we haven't even discussed things like teratomas, as blogged about by me before, or mosaicism, or even the 25-35 percent of human conceptions that are spontaneously aborted due to various abnormalities. As Francisco Ayala, a nominal Catholic and world-class biologist has said, if God's the Intelligent Designer, he's also the Great Abortionist.

Any would-be commenters who mention "original sin" get their would-be comments deleted.


April 26, 2015

No, the #Cardinals are NOT chasing Cole Hamels

Adam Wainwright
The Achilles injury of Adam Wainwright seemingly has the St. Louis Cardinals on the look for a starting pitcher. But, contra the uninformed speculation of sports bloggers like Bill Baer, they are NOT "in" on the Cole Hamels market.

Tim Cooney can fill in for a couple of starts if needed, then either Jaime Garcia or Marco Gonzales will be rehabbed from injury. I'll pass on Tyler Lyons; he hasn't impressed before; if we have to use him, well, "OK," but let's try Cooney first. If he doesn't work, maybe Jaime or Marco will be ready.

Going outside? On Hamels? If the internal options don't work?

GM John Mozeliak might pay the salary price, but his Philly counterpart Ruben Amaro has given no indication of reducing his ask.

Mozeliak said he'll first look at the team's internal market at Memphis before talking to other clubs, anyway. And, Bernie Miklasz speculates that "low hanging fruit" like Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, or even Jeff Szamardjiza, will all be available soon enought Bernie also mentions David Price or Jordan Zimmermann, but I expect the Tigers and Nats to both be in the playoff hunt, therefore ruling them out. (And, both teams owners have no problem spending money to hold on to players in walk years.) Lohse's Brewers are already out, as are Harang's Phillies, but RAJ might want too much back for even Harang. There's also signing Paul Maholm out of retirement as a spot starter/long reliever.

And, other possibilities will open up by the end of May or early June; Mo said he's not likely to look outside internal options before then. So, there's no need for the Cards, or Cards fans, to panic. Mozeliak knows that, and Ruben Amaro will soon learn that. Maybe Bill Baer will too.