November 14, 2015

Dear #ConcernedStudent1950: Mike Middleton might not be "the answer" for #Mizzou

New Missouri university system interim chancellor
Michael Middleton
It was announced last week that Michael Middleton, an assistant chancellor at the Columbia campus, has now been named interim president of the Missouri system; he is also one of the founders of the Legion of Black Collegians.

Activist groups like Concerned Student 1950 may be applauding this move. However, given that Middleton has been assistant chancellor of the Columbia campus for a few years, and probably played some academic politics to get there, he may be part of the problem, not the solution, even if he has a copy of the 1969 LBC demands in his desk.

For why he might be part of the problem, we need to look at this very insightful essay on the corporatization of the modern university by Fredrik deBoer. It was actually written two months ago, but it has perfect timing for now.

DeBoer actually has the "nut grafs" near the end, but it's a magazine essay building to a conclusion, not a newspaper news story.

Near the start of the piece, he notes that the modern university is becoming more and more like the modern K-12 public school district:
It’s not unheard-of for colleges now to employ more senior administrators than professors. There are, of course, essential functions that many university administrators perform, but such an imbalance is absurd — try imagining a high school with more vice principals than teachers. This legion of bureaucrats enables a world of pitiless surveillance; no segment of campus life, no matter how small, does not have some administrator who worries about it. Piece by piece, every corner of the average campus is being slowly made congruent with a single, totalizing vision. 
No, I'd prefer not to see that. The university as quasi-Panopticon is mind-bending.

And, this has actual results.
Current conditions result in neither the muscular and effective student activism favored by the defenders of current campus politics nor the emboldened, challenging professors that critics prefer. Instead, both sides seem to be gradually marginalized in favor of the growing managerial class that dominates so many campuses. 
And, bureaucrats are always the ones who interpret the rules, then write up the paperwork. As noted above, and a bit more in the NYT piece about his hiring, Middleton has spent his share of time on the university bureaucracy. Let's see if he's been co-opted, whether to ignore the neoliberal corporatization, or shunted aside and head-faked to see almost all Mizzou problems in terms of racism or similar social justice lenses.

DeBoer goes on to note that corporatized universities have reasons for that. Like this:
Yes, students get to dictate increasingly elaborate and punitive speech codes that some of them prefer. But what could be more corporate or bureaucratic than the increasingly tight control on language and culture in the workplace? Those efforts both divert attention from the material politics that the administration often strenuously opposes (like divestment campaigns) and contribute to a deepening cultural disrespect for student activism.
Hence my note that Middleton might be on a tight leash on effecting real socioeconomic change — if he even supports making such change. Maybe he’s already been co-opted.

And, without even noting that the corporatized model is part of what’s behind the cutting of tenure-track faculty positions, deBoer goes on to note:
Professors, meanwhile, cling for dear life, trying merely to preserve whatever tenure track they can, prevented by academic culture, a lack of coordination and interdepartmental resentments from rallying together as labor activists. 
Indeed. Corporatization as Balkanization. So, students, per the 1969 LBC demands, rather than demanding that Mizzou meet the pay demands of black professors no matter what the cost, I suggest that you support more tenure-track faculty positions of all ethnicities along with an insurance of equal pay and worth for any minority professors.

Finally, the end result:
That the contemporary campus quiets the voices of both students and teachers — the two indispensable actors in the educational exchange — speaks to the funhouse-mirror quality of today’s academy.
That’s another weapon for conservatives.

Meanwhile, this causes, or can cause, a clusterfuck:
I wish that committed student activists would recognize that the administrators who run their universities, no matter how convenient a recipient of their appeals, are not their friends. I want these bright, passionate students to remember that the best legacy of student activism lies in shaking up administrators, not in making appeals to them. At its worst, this tendency results in something like collusion between activists and administrators.
Besides, “the enemy of my enemy” is often no more than a short-term ally of convenience, not a friend.

Meanwhile, we get to a big related issue, one I’ve blogged about before. Campus drunkenness, with many women refusing to take responsibility for their own drunkenness when it leaves them open to sexual assault, or using said drunkenness, per Ken White of Popehat, as a sword not a shield when they have sex they later regret.

DeBoer comes at this from a different angle.
As a result, our campuses are becoming simultaneously too safe and too dangerous, with every safe academic space balanced by a space of socially desirable danger out of activists’ reach. Our students emerge from classrooms that, we complain, have been sanitized to the point of ridiculousness, and then spend their evenings in Greek houses and dorms that are in a state of perpetual alcoholic fugue. (And let us not be so naïve as to doubt that universities quietly cultivate their reputations as party havens, knowing how essential such a reputation can be to attracting potential students.) 
As noted on my first piece about Mizzou, Click, in her Twitter profile picture, looked like she'd been out for a night on the town, getting hammered with Rebecca Watson.

Somewhat like deBoer, I want to improve campuses, not destroy them. Conservatives — or certain strains of libertarians/liber-conservs, a la many of Popehat’s followers — who lament Melissa Click are only the most temporary of allies if their goal is to make the modern university even more a place of rote and regurgitative learning. I know that religious conservatives want that; critical thinking, and access to the information to do that, threatens all of their religious views.

Hence, my "short term ally" comment. If incidents like Mizzou, Yale, Clarement, Wesleyan, Vanderbilt etc., lead to instances where conservatives as well as SJWs become more vocal for changing the current university, I'll welcome their help in pushing for change while just as much rejecting their ideas about specifics of change.

As said on my first piece, I reject the likes of Jonathan Haidt and his seemingly deliberately flawed reasoning, and Greg Lukianoff's apparent cohabitation on such ideas, just as much as I reject the SJW world. And, per a Twitter exchange, I reject conservatives who claim to have little use for philosophy, or a philosophy professor who has documented such flawed thinking.

November 13, 2015

Maoism on the Missouri from #ConcernedStudent1950

New Missouri university system interim chancellor
Michael Middleton
As I saw the so-called Concerned Student 1950's demands of former Mizzou president Tim Wolfe in my original blog post about the mess at Mizzou, my first thought was that points 2 and 4 aren't too bad, though they could be nuanced more.

(Update: Michael Middleton, an assistant chancellor at the Columbia campus, has now been named interim president of the Missouri system; he is also one of the founders of the Legion of Black Collegians.)

Point 3? I didn't originally know what was asked in 1969 by the Legion of Black Collegians, but I'm going to get to that in moment. Points 6-8 generally sound pretty good.

Point 1? Sounds like an exercise in Maoist indoctrination. And, it spoils everything else for me.

And, now that I found the actual 1969 demands, no, I think I'll pass on Point 3. Even if Middleton keeps a copy in his desk, at the story says.

That said, let's first go back to Point 1 of the list of demands for today by Concerned Student 1950. It sets the tenor for the whole situation, and per the old cliche, "first impressions make lasting impressions."

I quote:
We demand that the University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, writes a handwritten apology to the Concerned Student 1-­9-­5-0 demonstrators and holds a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center reading the letter. In the letter and at the press conference, Tim Wolfe must acknowledge his white male privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exist, and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1-9-5-­0 demands. We want Tim Wolfe to admit to his gross negligence, allowing his driver to hit one of the demonstrators, consenting to the physical violence of bystanders, and lastly refusing to intervene when Columbia Police Department used excessive force with demonstrators.
Maoism on the Missouri, overall. And, a horrible first impression, as already noted.

I'm going to give a serious take, but one with a heavy dose of snark mixed in.

First, for digital-first Millennials, what? An apology Tweet wasn’t enough? A Facebook post? Not even a Word document with a scanned JPG facsimile of Wolfe’s signature? No, a handwritten confession. How 1960s!

(And so much for the idea that digital is better, eh?)

Second, what, not have him talk about why he’s resigning? Just reading the letter verbatim? That’s where we get into Maoism on the Missouri. A confession. A pleading of ignorance. I'm surprised that he wasn't asked to request the privilege of re-education. That he wasn't told he needed to ask to be sent to a labor camp out in the provinces.

Third, a protest of students around Wolfe drew counterprotestors, yes. Whether he “consented” to them or not is a different story. As for whether or not excessive force was used or not, I don’t know. And I assume it was Mizzou police, not city of Columbia police, involved.

As for other protests, via CNN?

In 1969, only the man, Jonathan Butler (see link near bottom of page)
would have been allowed to present the demands being presented today
under the spirit of 1969. (Screen grab from CNN link above.)
I find the Michael Brown "parody" disgusting. But, it's protected speech. Now, if "a local club" is a university fraternity, the U can — and should have — suspended its operations, IMO. But, if "a local club" is something different, it's probably out of Mizzou's control, period. Per the story, it appears to be the latter. Yes, college students don't know every in and out of the First Amendment. However, "teaching moments" cut both ways. If you're truly liberal-minded, it's the opportunity now to learn more about the First Amendment.

Unfortunately, per my first blog post on this subject, adult professors at Mizzou like Melissa Click, who should know better, don't. Or don't care to know better, which I honestly think is more likely.

But, back to the actual 1969 demands and seeing what was demanded.

Now we’re going to get interesting.

Point 1:
There will be the set up of a $300,000 contingency fund to supplement the salaries of potential Black faculty, staff, and other professionals. This fund is to be used in the event that the University or a particular University department cannot meet the salary request of a Black applicant. For example: A Black applies to be a professor in the chemistry department and asks for a salary of $20,000 annually; the department can’t pay him but $15,000; therefore, the extra $5000 would come from the aforementioned fund.
What if he wants $20,000 for a $15,000 position? Is the U still supposed to pay up? After all, per 538, even if there weren't a "supplemental fund," today, Mizzou would have a long ways to go to have a 10 percent black faculty.

The link, seriously, is good for other data, noting that graduation rates for black students have been slumping even as those for other ethnicities rise. I suspect that spiraling academic costs, which may lead more minorities to need to work more, or face more loans, is part of the problem. But, how much of this is a blacks-only issue and how much is a class issue, and why?

And, secondly, yeah, it’s the 1960s, but didn’t feminism exist back then? Where’s “he or she” instead of “he”?

Point 2(c):
Job positions will be rearranged ·to accomodate [sic] Blacks. For example: A white instructor can teach 20th Century History and 17th Century History; and incoming Black can teach only 20th Century History; there is an opening in the 17th Century position; therefore, even though the white professor is in the 20th Century position, he will be moved to the 17th Century thereby creating an opening to accomodate [sic] the Black.
What if the shoe were on the other foot?

Or, per above, a white woman were looking for a professorship and a black male was blocking her?

The rest of Point 2 is in similar vein. I have always supported affirmative action breaking ties on equally qualified candidates. I have supported affirmative action as part of remedies for past redresses.  But, to use it to shunt aside, demote, or otherwise ... Balkanize, can't help but say it, current white professors is a different story.

Take 2(c). Let such a black would-be professor start as an instructor.

Point 3 is halfway acceptable or more, but again, fails to look at women's issues.

Points 4-5 are OK. Point 6 would be OK if it squared with funding levels of other similar campus organizations.

Point 8? Now we’re back to nonsense:
There will be the set up of an academic bankruptcy program for the entire campus. This program will allow a student to drop an entire semester from his records for justifiable circumstances. These circumstances will be determined per case by the council described in point #3 for Blacks and other non-white students.
I would disagree with this for students in general. I would explicitly disagree with it for minority students potentially getting extra-favorable handling.

Now, in 1969, minority struggles on college campuses were more dire than today, not to discount them today. Such a demand might have been acceptable then, or might not. Today? No.

There’s nothing major wrong, and certainly a number of things right, on Points 9-15.

Besides the big issue of carve-outs, and the arguably even bigger (and petard-hoisting) issue of the 1969 demands ignoring women, I have another concern, or issue.

That's that the protestors couldn't even bother to update this. It's like boilerplate. I have no idea how many of the original demands were met or not.

Per a column in the Omaha World Herald about protest leader Jonathan Butler, I would expect more thoughtfulness and more thoroughness.

How many of the women in that screen grab are aware of the males-only stance of the 1969 demands? How much is Butler aware? Is this something that's simply attained mythic status among black students at Mizzou?

Santayana springs to mind once again in my life.

Meanwhile, I'm not going to give a race-baiting mag like The American Conservative the time of day by posting here. Yes, I wish I had the money Butler's family does. Yes, I wish (and still hope) that someone like him would look beyond "race" to socioeconomic status; he might actually help his cause more. Given that his dad is an executive vice president for marketing and sales, I might wish that he asked his dad, or his mom.  And, on the privilege angle, money has its own privileges; Tim Wolfe might have come from a much poorer family than Jonathan Butler

Otherwise, on black culture, I've never sung "Lift Every Voice and Sing," but I have sung "We Shall Overcome" many a time, at black-themed and black-majority events.

Next, speaking of such things, and that column one more time, I wish that more black secularists step up to the plate of supporting all calls for full protection of black civil liberties, a both firm and reasonable use of the tools of affirmative action, and more, within a realistic, but non-dilatory, framework.

Finally, with Middleton's appointment, especially if it becomes permanent, let's hope that
A. He has a somewhat more nuanced view than at least some Legion of Black Collegians may have had in 1969;
B. As a lawyer who's worked for the Department of Justice, he has a firm understanding of, and firm support for, all aspects of the First Amendment, including both freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Behind bits of my snark here and there, this is a serious post.

And, contra many conservatives, I don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater at today's higher ed. I don't want remote regurgitators trained. I want critical thinkers trained. If that's "anti-conservative," so be it. If your political ideas can't stand the light of critical thought, that's your problem. The same goes for the New New Left.

As for conservatives, beyond the fact that there's no systemic anti-conservative bias in the actual teaching and thinking of academia nearly as much as there is an anti-academia bias in the lack of critical thinking of many conservatives, the whole issue of corporatization of the American university is a serious issue. It is another one that Middleton needs to address, but that is probably unbeknown, or even unconsidered by, Concerned Student 1950. It's also one where Middleton probably has a short leash, even if he does think it's a concern.

What is arguably Fredrik deBoer's nutgraf is buried almost two-thirds of the way down his piece:
Current conditions result in neither the muscular and effective student activism favored by the defenders of current campus politics nor the emboldened, challenging professors that critics prefer. Instead, both sides seem to be gradually marginalized in favor of the growing managerial class that dominates so many campuses. 
He goes on to note that corporatized universities have reasons for that. Like this:
Yes, students get to dictate increasingly elaborate and punitive speech codes that some of them prefer. But what could be more corporate or bureaucratic than the increasingly tight control on language and culture in the workplace? Those efforts both divert attention from the material politics that the administration often strenuously opposes (like divestment campaigns) and contribute to a deepening cultural disrespect for student activism.
Hence my note that Middleton might be on a tight leash on effecting real socioeconomic change — if he even supports making such change. Maybe he’s already been co-opted.

And, without even noting that the corporatized model is part of what’s behind the cutting of tenure-track faculty positions, deBoer goes on to note:
Professors, meanwhile, cling for dear life, trying merely to preserve whatever tenure track they can, prevented by academic culture, a lack of coordination and interdepartmental resentments from rallying together as labor activists. 
Indeed. Corporatization as Balkanization.

Finally, the end result:
That the contemporary campus quiets the voices of both students and teachers — the two indispensable actors in the educational exchange — speaks to the funhouse-mirror quality of today’s academy.
That’s another weapon for conservatives.


(And, yes, there will be another follow-up piece. Much of it will be a more in-depth look at deBoer.)

November 11, 2015

'Journalism' vs 'mass communication,' the #FirstAmendment and #SJW world

I don't have a J-degree myself, let alone from a renowned J-school. But, I knew the basics, and a bit more, of the freedom of the press portion of the First Amendment when I got my first newspaper job. And, I grew in knowing its details, and my interpretation of it, since then.

That's why — despite my support of Mizzou students' right to protest, and even to not talk to the media — I find it appalling that a professor from Missouri's mass communications school tried to physically restrain an ESPN videographer. (And, asked for help from others in doing this.)

See also my new post about "Maoism on the Missouri."

That said, I do NOT find it surprising.

Update: And, apparently, neither has a board of curators at Mizzou, which on Feb. 25, 2016, fired her. She did apologize, yes, however her apology was about bad tactics first, and bad decisions second. And, it never mentioned the snarky, condescending approach a mass communications prof had about the First Amendment. Click the link for the embedded video, and you'll see that. Transcript of the relevant portion is on page 24 of this PDF.

So, even though the firing was a bit outside of normal channels, and under financial pressure from the Missouri Legislature, I still don't feel totally sorry for her. The social justice warrior movement, even if overstated, has become a problem within academia. And, it would be bad enough were a professor of biology at Mizzou helping feed the beast in an anti-First Amendment way; it's a lot worse for a communications prof to do that.

Given that she also claims to have been afraid of videographer Mark Schierbecker, even to the point of worrying he allegedly might have a gun, she's continued to double down on the indefensible. As for the small size of his camera? Smartphone cameras have exposed police brutality. Click appears to be trying to have it both ways.


M. Schierbecker (R) w. MO GOP gov candidate Peter Kinder
At the same time, while Schierbecker isn't a wingnut himself, he's at times associated with them, undermined his claims to objectivity by posing for pix with a GOP gubernatorial candidate, and more. True that he has occasionally Tweeted info from people of different points of view, but, OTOH, hanging out with the likes of quasi-reactionary troll "Sargon of Akkad" really brings his credibility into question to some degree. It certainly brings his common sense into question. That said, he's reportedly autistic; while not wanting to make excuses ...

Anyway, I Tweeted Schierbecker, with Kinder's account as well, about the photos. I'll see if he responds. I've spent enough time in the Internet weeds. Kinder looks like the stereotypical modern conservative Republican.

Update 2, March 19, 2016: He has not responded. Nonetheless, he is identified with an expressly conservative student journalism association, and a prof he cites favoring Click's dismissal has been called, in student ratings, "Mizzou's Rush Limbaugh." Therefore, I'll assume that he's willingly politicized himself, and won't allow alleged autism or other things as a defense against this. And, that's problematic itself, because defenses of the First Amendment should not be politicized.

2A: He has now responded, but didn't get that such a photo op, just before a primary election (remember, Missouri was part of "Second Tuesday" on March 15) could look like an endorsement. He then posted a link about another journalist arguably being unethical. I actually agree, but ... two wrongs don't make a right. A third person who jumped in the conversation on Twitter also didn't get that, claiming:



Not arguing that, either, Mr. Tock. But, apparently you either didn't read this blog post, or else, if you did, you too have problems with journalistic ethics.

I would never pose for a lifestyles-page shot with a gubernatorial candidate a month before a primary election.


Update 3, March 19, 2016: And now Click claims "my inexperience with public protests" made her act that way. Given that she's on tape as being at two different protests that we know of, that's approaching a lie right there. Second, even if true, that's not a defensible excuse. Third, per my first update, her apologies continue to be apologias in the old academic sense as much as apologies, apologizing for nothing more than bad tactics.

And her complaints about "shaming" seem pretty hypocritical; shaming is a two-edged sword, eh, SJWs?

That said, I, like the AAUP, do have questions about administrative due process in this issue. At the same time as that, I reject that she's being used as "a scapegoat," per her own claims.

Back to the original ...

First, per my header, and per the demise of journalism, "mass communications," and departments or schools thereof, are not the same as "journalism." They're often a training ground for public relations, or in today's day and age, various "social media" positions.

Speaking of social media, Melissa Click has not one but two but two Twitter accounts. (Why? Is your life really Twitter?) On the second, she repeatedly uses the old social justice warrior shibboleth "microaggression."

And, in the SJW world, microaggression always trumps the First Amendment.

Click demonstrates that in her own apology. Contra CNN, no, she doesn't appear to be an unlikely candidate for this. I bet she thought she could control the situation better. Micromanage microaggression?

Melissa Click: The academic face
of microagression judo?
But, that's not all. Retweeting a group Twitter account professing to represent protesting students, we have:
That was on Monday, before her apology. Does the apology cover that as well?

Also, on the first Twitter account, in her profile picture (at left) she looks like she's been out drinking with SJW queen Rebecca Watson.

It appears she started the second account after getting flamed too much on her first one.

(Note: The second Twitter account is an apparent parody. It's now deleted, so no way of proving it's an actual parody,)

Understandable, and sad if any flaming went too far verbally, let alone leading to more than that. So, no, you men's rights types, your actions aren't welcome either. (Fortunately, one person has been arrested for nuttery; let's hope this is both a deterrent to future nuttery, and leads to arrests for already committed nuttery.)

But, as I mix personal and professsional observerations, back to Click.

On her new account, yesterday, we have:
I love a white professor talking about white privilege. And, someone who at that time, at least, didn't seem apologetic. (The quote is real, even if the account is a parody.)

But, it gets better. This is the subject of her Ph.D. dissertation. per her CV:
Communication, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Dissertation: It’s ‘a good thing’: The commodification of femininity, affluence and whiteness in the Martha Stewart phenomenon.
Yeah, Martha Stewart let herself be passively commodified all the way to laughing all the way to the bank.

Click the CV link; that's only scratching the surface of the New New Left.

And, if the mainstream media, especially its inside the Beltway and inside the Mopac versions, has Peter Principle, then modern academia's got it in spades in the humanities. It's no wonder conservatives turn their gunsights on much of higher ed. And, it's no wonder that folks like Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt draw flies to their bullshit.

More below the fold, including describing why I am not a stereotypical conservative vis-a-vis higher ed, per that last line above.

Do college students accurately predict #FeelTheBern? A #skeptic view

This story has been making the rounds of the Internet, about how students at Western Illinois University predict that not only will Bernie Sanders win the Iowa caucuses, he will then go on to beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. And then, he'll win the general election, with detailed Electoral College predictions per the map.

(And then he'll become Tsar of All the Russias, or Pope of All the Catholics, or the Lubavitcher Rebbe, or something.)

How realistic is this?

Well, here's the nutgraf:
Dr. Rick Hardy and Dr. John Hemingway have been leading Mock Presidential Elections since 1975. During that time, students who have participated in these mock elections have chosen the winning party with 100% accuracy and have an astonishing record in selecting presidential winners. 

Interesting. 

First, there's a time for every streak to be broken. Ask the 18-0 New England Patriots of a few years back, for example.

Second, even if Clinton's support continues to weaken, and looks thin, even if wide, I simply cannot believe he'll win by a 3-1 margin.

Period and end of story.

Third, it predicts Jeb! will win the GOP nod. Erm, uh sure!

Fourth, a Sanders-lovers website was reporting incomplete primary returns from the mock elections. Here's the actual, for analysis.

Some of these are just laughable.

ZERO Clinton delegates in Colorado? ZERO for Sanders in Kansas or Kentucky, conservative as they may be within their Democratic as well as GOP parties? But a 31-8 split for Sanders in even more conservative Oklahoma? ZERO for Clinton in inside-the-Beltway, Democratic side, Maryland? As well as ZERO for O'Malley? Yes, Martin O'Malley may be out of the race by late April. Or, he may not. ZERO Sanders delegates out of the People's Republic of Madison, and the rest of Wisconsin?

Oh, and Republicans winning Hawaii, per a Facebook friend? Or, Democrats South Carolina?

So, no, I'll pass on these predictions. More below the fold.

November 10, 2015

No, the customer is not "always right"

This nuttery is no more true than the "we're all in sales now" line.

If you're 'Sen. Cathouse,' you as customer
most certainly aren't always right!
I've heard "the customer is always right" a lot in the newspaper biz. Hey, inside the Beltway or inside the Mopac folks, this is yet another reason why you should try working at a real newspaper sometime, per Charles Pierce.

I know this has also been muttered to retail store clerks by their bosses for decades. In the newspaper biz, though, it doesn't just come from bosses; it, or the idea, at least, comes from many of those customers.

And, it's just not true.

The customer IS always entitled to a reasonable level of respect and courtesy. And, that's it.

I was contacted last week by a customer about misspellings of names. (She did later welcome me to the community after noting I was new, and also after complaining about the local radio mispronouncing names. That probably says something right there.)

As best I can tell, of the two names she mentioned, yes, I got one wrong (in a story-obituary, but not the deceased's name), but did not get the other wrong. At least she didn't claim I had his age of death wrong; I did not, despite hearing that "some people" might call right after that story came out.

Lady in question is a realtor.

So, madame realtor, a rhetorical question: Let's say you're listing a house at $100,000, and a customer says, "That's worth about $65 grand." Is the customer always right?

Thought so. Or, thought not.

MLB has its 2016 HOF ballot out; #Cardinals chances?

For Jim Edmonds,
is the HOF in the
'Cards' for him?
Here's the ballot, with all the statistical goodies, at Baseball-Reference.

Some hot takes by me while lamenting that the Little Gritmeister won't get 5 percent of the vote ...

First, here's my look at a few top first-year players, looking from what I guesstimate as a voters' point of view.

Remember that voting eligibility has changed; writers removed from active baseball coverage for more than a decade are no longer eligible to vote.

That's a good thing, in general, and will bring sabermetric issues into play.

That said, here we go.
1. Ken Griffey Jr. is a slam dunk, of course.
2. Trevor Hoffman will be a good test of what younger writers think about closers. Billy Wagner will be a lesser test.
3. Jim Edmonds? As a Cards fan, I loved to watch him play, just like Larry Walker,  even if near the end of Walker's career. That said?

Larry Walker: Can
he gain traction?
Walker is a dozen WAR points ahead of Edmonds, and 13 WAA points. I expect Edmonds not to draw more than 30 percent on the ballot. True that he was flashier with the glove than Walker, and played center, not right. Walker has a lot of "black ink" that Edmonds didn't, and Edmonds didn't crack either 2,000 hits or 400 HRs.

Personal thoughts on these and more in a minute. Larry Walker leads me to look at returning players, as my Eckstein joke aside, nobody besides the above, among first year eligibles, is a HOFer or even on the borderline of the borderline.

So, without further adieu?

Selected returning players
1. Pizza Man gets in.
2. Jeff Bagwell stays about where he is. That said, HE will be a good test himself, of what younger, more involved writers believe, or do not believe, about roids-related innuendo.
3. Tim Raines has a slight uptick, but still below 60 percent.
4. Mike Mussina breaks 35 percent, and this will be the start of a generally upward trajectory that gets him in the HOF. That's a prediction, indeed.
5. Alan Trammell falls well short, in his last year of eligibility. Edgar Martinez continues to tread water, with his vote total being a good test case of what younger writers think about career DHs. (That said, he was a semi-career DH; but, pay attention, David Ortiz.) Walker makes a moderate move upward, but stays below 15 percent.
6. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens move to 40 percent, but not more. They will be good tests of what younger, more involved writers believe about roids-related actuality.
At the same time, related to that, I expect Sammy Sosa to drop off the ballot after getting less than 5 percent of the vote. Another former Cardinal, Mark McGwire, may join him, next year if not this.
7. Will Curt Schilling's chances continue to "evolve' (heh, heh) or not?

I'll have more detailed pull-outs on these and other players, many of whom I've addressed in detail in the past, in days ahead.

That said, some snapshots now.

As I said in the past with yet another Cardinal, Lee Smith, closers in general aren't HOFers. Neither of the two current candidates are.

Edmonds? Hall of the Very Good, but not HOFer. (Walker is, though, in my book.)

Piazza, Baggs, Tramm should all have already been in. So should Moose. Raines, I lean yes, but not quite as strongly as the above. Martinez, I lean no, for DH-related reasons.

My thoughts about roiders, and the ideal of more formal confessions from them, MLB, and their managers (including last year's inductees Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre) has been stated on multiple occasions. They shouldn't be in, and neither should the three managers.

Note: I am definitely pretty much of a "small Hall" person. For those who claim that cutoffs for a "small Hall" are arbitrary, ANY such cutoffs are arbitrary. Ditto on the 10-vote rule, which "big Hall" people hate. Whether a rule is imposed from outside, or internally developed, unless you believe in divine command theories of ethics, and your "ethics" extends to rules in general, rules of this nature are arbitrary. That includes yours, because you have an arbitrary cutoff rule for your "big Hall," too.

If you claim you don't, I'll ask you why Eckstein isn't a HOFer. You have arbitrary rules, too.

Deal with it.

I see no divinity running around; as for the arbitrary rules, for the ESPNers and a few others who want a "big Hall"? Start your own, if you don't like the rules of the current voting.

Otherwise, the claim that "but my rule is different" is the surest indicator of special pleading and oxen being gored.

November 09, 2015

#InsideTheMopac media will go in the tank for the #TPP

For the unfamiliar, or those missing my post of earlier this morning, the Inside the Mopac media is the Texas state-level version of the Inside the Beltway media. I'll be blogging about it more and more in the future, Peter Principle and all.

In fact, in Dallas, the Snooze is already doing it, writing a puff piece about how much ranchers will like the Trans Pacific Partnership. The piece mentions none of the potential problems for the TPP, whose full text is here.

Among things the Snooze doesn't mention is that Japan is still reserving agricultural "safeguards." We've seen how restrictive Japan has been on exports in the past. If this opens the door to other countries doing the same, then it's not much advancement. And, per that link, Japan at least isn't cracking its doors open a lot.

And, the intellectual property rules could allow genetic research on livestock improvement to become more bottled up and pricey than now.

TX Progressives talk climate change, bigotry, racism, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds everyone that runoffs matter too as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff gives his advice for how to re-approach the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Stace at Dos Centavos has his take on Houston elections.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos wishes to thank Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, former Harris Co. Republican Party Chair Jared Woodfill, eminent homophobe Dr. Steven Hotze,  Republican smear artist Jeff Norwood and the Houston area's prominent minister, the Rev. Dr. Ed Young, for bringing out the absolute worst of Houston. How the Good ol' Boy Republicans, Bigots, Preachers Sold Hate in Houston.

SocraticGadfly takes a look at recently revealed Chinese cheating on carbon emissions claims ahead of Paris climate talks.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is sick of Republicans making life miserable for everyone but their rich friends.  Destroying sanctuary cities and the war on public education just to name two idiocies.

The Travis County judge who was threatened by Rick Perry was shot in her driveway late Friday evening.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs believes the former governor should be considered a suspect in the attempted assassination.

Neil at All People Have Value said that everyday kindness and right behavior can be a revolutionary course of action. APHV is part of NeilAquinio.com.


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

Lone Star Ma supports Sustainable Development Goals.

The Current highlights Rep. Diego Bernal's ability to deal with bullies.

David Ortez recaps the Houston elections.

Carson Lucarelli explains how he lives carless in Houston.

Randy Harvey remembers his sportswriting colleague, transgender pioneer Christine Daniels.

Jobsanger taks about how polls show a clear majority of Americans support closing background check loopholes at gun shows.

Saying no to the #InsideTheMopac media

Fellow Texans of a political bent, especially fellow bloggers, will, I hope, get the meaning of the hashtag.

Texas has its state-level version of "inside the Beltway" media. The Mopac freeway doesn't run all the way around Austin, but, as the original bypass, it's a handy symbol for calling out the Austin bureaus and the state-level political analysts at Texas' main seven-day daily newspapers for their suckupitis to Austin's ruling class.

I am including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News and the Austin American Statesman. I'm not as familiar with the El Paso Times, but since it was bought by Gannett earlier this year, which since then bought Corpus Christi and other Journal Sentinel papers, I'll mark it down as an expected suck-up for the future. Anything smaller than these falls under the state-level version of regional papers (Corpus, Laredo, the lower Valley, Lubbock, Odessa, Midland, Beaumont, Amarillo, Waco, Wichita Falls and even smaller.)

On constitutional amendments? I suspect the Lege could put forth a bill to constitutionally enshrine goat-fucking and the inside the Mopac media would all solemnly sign off on it, and offer reasons to support it.

I know this well with the Snooze; having lived in metro Dallas most of the previous decade, there's not an establishmentarian ass that paper won't kiss. I am 119 percent sure that, within the city of Dallas, if the Dallas Citizens Council said, "We support goat-fucking," the Snooze would do the same, on a dime. The Startlegram, I have enough familiarity with it from my time in the Metroplex to say that it's only better by the soft bigotry of low comparisons.

The Chron? I know less about it, but not nothing. It seems to me to tank pretty well itself. The Express-News, especially with bureau consolidation, just follows its lead.

The Stateless? The paper's not as liberal as traditional Austin, and tilts left-neolib to some degree in deference to "new Austin." Plus, in print, it's barely a seven-day daily newspaper anymore, and if Cox can't sell ads into it on Mondays, why keep pretending?

The EP Times? Already checked that box; it's a Gannett paper.

And, per this follow-up post, expect to see more and more "tanking" on the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the Inside the Mopac media.