SocraticGadfly: 4/3/16 - 4/10/16

April 09, 2016

April 14: A #DemDebate I may not watch

I've skipped most of the recent GOP debates and town halls because I need them like another hole in my head.

But, I've caught at least part of all debates, and selected town halls.

Why am I likely to take a pass on the one scheduled for April 14 in New York City?

Oh, several reasons, while noting that Sanders' definitive Wisconsin win will make it more exciting.

1. At this point in the campaign, and in a two-person race, do we really need two full hours? I think not, but maybe CNN wanted round-hour length.

2. Short of breaking FBI news, Sanders is going to say nothing new about Clinton's email problems.

3. Short of having a gun put to his head, he's not going to talk about Clinton's backing a coup in Honduras, etc.

4. Neither one of them will mention the Panama Papers other than to say, "Hey, no Americans," or, in Sanders' case, to excoriate free trade, which he already has, which has nothing to do with international tax dodges, shadow banking, etc. Well, Sanders may somehow turn that around to Citizens United, but that's leading to point No. 5.

5. What new will Sanders say in domestic policy proposals? Probably not much.

That said, given the new Clinton campaign fireworks over gunz, maybe I'll watch this one after all!


That all said?

Unlike many pearls-clutching Americans, I have no problems with debates being hard-hitting. Would that we had parliamentary government to sharpen differences between parties, and do better about refining stances within parties while we're at it.

Oh, I may actually watch it, or watch/listen in the background — to see if I'm proven wrong on any of the points above. I doubt I will be.

April 08, 2016

What, Bernie can't defend himself in a gun-fight with Hillary?

Pun very intended over a hard-hitting new online Twitter video.

Accompanying language says:
.@BernieSanders prioritized gun manufacturers' rights over the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook.

Well, it's arguable he did just that, as the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred AFTER Sanders voted to give gun manufacturers lawsuit immunity.

Now, it's also arguable, and plenty of arguing has been done about it, that the bill might not have done that much to prevent things like Sandy Hook, as Sanders himself again hinted at, in response to the daughter of Sandy Hook's elementary principal. But, of course, it had high symbolism.

Besides, let's be honest, Sandernistas, anti-Hillaryites, left-liberals like me in general, or beyond.

Sanders has a number of other gun-friendly votes. That includes overturning a decades-old ban and supporting loaded guns in national parks. (Sadly, under the "two wrongs don't make a right," half of Senate Dems agreed with him — in early 2009, before election worries.)

And, beyond that, although Sanders did say in January he was ready to take another look at the immunity bill, he caveated the hell out of his statement. 

Bernie also supported airline pilots packing heat after 9/11, even though most pilots said no way in hell they wanted to.

I'll even admit to calling him a gun nut; within Democratic party parameters, I stand by that.

And, for the amount of anti-Clinton heat coming from Sanders backers Down East ... guns are a big deal in New York, especially New York City. And Bernie knows that. So, why shouldn't this be a hard-hitting issue in the last 10 days before the New York primary?

Geez, it's like some people think Bernie can't defend himself.

It's also like, out of anti-Hillaryism if nothing else, tribalism is rearing its political head again.

He can present counterarguments, if they are, like her foreign arms deals, himself.

Besides, the Clintons got their own struggles, like The Slicker finding a second Sister Souljah moment yesterday.

You know, I look at this Democratic race, and at times I think Bernie's a false flag to deflect people from real change and from really looking outside the Democratic party. Then, I wonder if the Slickster has hit early senility, taken Clinton Foundation payoffs from Donald Trump or similar, or who knows what.

April 07, 2016

Break up banks, or nationalize?

A new Bernie Sanders press release has corrected the lack of specificity from his New York Daily News endorsement interview about how to break up "too big to fail" banks.

But, in some cases, a better option exists: Nationalize them.

Krugman was for it in 2009. So was Harold Meyerson, while noting Sanders' push to cap credit card rates at the time as "something." So were other economists.

Beyond that, per this piece, the FDIC has long nationalized banks that fell more under the depository side of the old Glass-Steagall division.

That piece also gets at other issues.

Yes, Sanders has talked about postal savings banks, but he hasn't been as specific as he could on directly tying this to boosting the future fortunes of the United States Postal Service. And he hasn't really talked at all about getting other states to follow in the lead of the Peace Garden State with the Bank of North Dakota. Both of these are ideas I support.

The title of that piece is the tell: "The Revolution: Bernie and Beyond." There's specifics in that piece.

And, a quick teh Google has plenty about Sanders wanting to break up banks. It has nothing about him backing the idea of nationalizing them back in 2009. (Contra a commenter on the second to last link, nationalizing, while it may lead to bank break-ups, may not, and they're not necessarily the same thing. Nationalization, even if just for a "quick rinse," is a more radical option.)

And, that's an idea I supported at the time.

Again, Bernie Sanders is certainly a New Deal Democrat. Arguably a Great Society Democrat, and beyond, with "Medicare for all."

A socialist? No.

My 2016 Masters predictions

I'm not going to go through some elaborate ritual of crossing off some candidates, like ESPN does before every golfing major, confusing statistical and causal correlation.

Instead, let's just throw some names out, from the whole list.

Bubba Watson: Two-time winner, plus lost out to Martin Kaymer on playoff in the 2010 PGA. I think Hank Haney was probably partially right, even if not totally so, that the last "Tiger-proofing" of Augusta made it favor lefties.

Is it true? Well, per ESPN, Tiger-proofing started after his second title in 2001. It finished, pretty much, by 2006.

And, who's won since then? Lefty Mike Weir was the first lefty — in 2003. Philly Mick took the first of his three titles in 2004. The other two have come in 2006 and 2010, after the Tiger-proofing was theoretically completed.

And, Bubba twice.

So, again, if Haney is even half right, you can't count Bubba out of the mix. Indeed, Bob Charles in the 1963 Open was the ONLY lefty winner of a major — any major — before Weir. Others agree, saying modern club technology — much of which came along after the start of Tiger-proofing — has added to this.

Besides, like the San Francisco Giants of well-known lefty Madison Bumgarner and manager Bruce Bochy, it's an even numbered year, right?

And, maybe not Philly Mick? For all things considered, he's playing relatively well lately.

But, "all things considered" is that he'll be 46 this June. Jack's the only older Masters winner. Throwing out Old Tom Morris from the haze of golf yore, Julius Boros is the only other majors winner to do so at an older age.

Besides, if I want to root for an older player, I'll root for my man Vijay.

And, while we're on this line, Bubba is 37. And, 35 and younger wins three-quarters of majors. And, he was 35 two years ago.

Louis Oosthuizen: Don't sleep on Shrek, especially if he's sleeping on a good mattress. And, at 33, not too old, but moving toward the edge more.

Jason Day: The hot hand of recent. Doesn't mean everything, but he does seem to have his confidence groove back.

Rory McIlroy: Focused enough to skip the Par-3. But, all that really matters is can he putt.

Adam Scott: Seems OK with not anchoring the putter. And, he's done it before. Pushing the age window at 35.

Jordan Speith: Not rounded into full mental shape, perhaps, with a sophomore slump.

Players not to bet against from the field would include Branden Grace. Just Rose, at 35, is pushing the age edge. And, I like Henrik Stenson's game, but at 40, he's definitely outside the prime age window.

Not a fan of Rickie Fowler. Definitely not of Dustin Johnson. Win one first to make me less skeptical of you in other majors.

So, per the above?

Without any odds being offered, Day's my first choice.

Don't get me wrong; I'd love Rory to wrap up the Slam. But, the scores of his so far this year have been very yo-yo, and I'm doubting he's got the new putting stroke fully in hand yet.

And, there's another reason to worry about that stroke.

Winds are predicted to be at least 15-20mph, possibly up to 30mph, on Friday and Saturday. By Saturday afternoon, those greens are going to be even slicker than Gary McCord's infamous bikini wax. Not good for someone adjusting to a new putter grip.

Meanwhile, the same winds, and some chilly early morning temps, may produce the highest winning score since Zach Johnson's +1 in 2007. And may open the door to unlikely winners.

Updates after the first round: Speith looks like the man to beat now, eh? Day really slumped off near the end of his round and Rory gave away a shot at 16 and then another at 18. Well, Sergio's close enough to the lead to provide heartbreak possibilities. Tom Watson outshot Bubba. And Bernhard Langer looks almost ageless.

For the challengers, their hope has to start with the weather being at least as bad as predicted for tomorrow — starting in the afternoon, since Speith goes out late on Friday.

April 06, 2016

Is it unfair to ask for SOME "specificity" from Sanders?

While the New York Daily News Sanders endorsement interview may have been a bit of hit job from the start, at the same time, Sanders, either on his own or from a staff briefing, should know whether or not Dodd-Frank gives the executive branch statutory authority to "break up banks." (It actually places such authority with the Fed's Board of Governors, per a link in the story to the actual editorial, which is in turn subject to a 2/3 vote of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury.)

And, no, I don't expect Sanders to be a policy wonk. However, on one of his three signature ideas — the second being the related overturning of Citizens United and the third being single-payer — I would expect some grasp of a fundamental.

Even if it's Camp Clinton attacking him on this.

After all, she was right in 2008 for calling out Obama for not having an individual mandate specified in what became Obamacare.

I mean, "free college for all" is further down on his list, debatable as to what level of college should be covered, etc. But, "break up the banks," like "appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn Citizens United," is both specific and fairly narrowly targeted.

Oh, and no, CEPR's idea of putting a market cap on banks then inviting them to think of how to break themselves up isn't a good idea, either. It's only a good idea for seeing how creative banks could be in creating holding companies and shell corporations.

As for the larger lament of CEPR's post, erm, two wrongs don't make a right. I don't care how much Paul Ryan lacks specifics.

As for the whys on this, and on early campaign stumbles, along with what type of campaign he should run and spin about that? I'll blame, in part, the other person in the room with him on that endorsement interview, wife Jane. (Theory? She saw him making a "white knight crusade" campaign run as a legacy-builder or something.)

I've participated in a few endorsement interviews of candidates at small dailies. Never saw a spouse of a candidate asked — or allowed — to be part of the process.

And, that opening paragraph? That was a rhetorical trope.

As CNN notes, the NYDN has been relatively favorable to Sanders. Certainly, unlike the NYT, it hadn't made up its mind months ago. (The Daily News has yet to endorse anybody.)

Otherwise, this is about more spinning. Dems of all stripes, let alone those further left, never let Ronald Reagan get away with sounding like St. Ronald of Reagan.

And, as I get to know Doug Henwood more, I guess being a fanboy of Freud (unconscious urges) and Marxism (economic determinism) could be seen as part of why he doesn't "need" specifics from Sanders.

And, no, Bernie may not have been totally in that territory, but ...

That said, Carl Beijer also weighs in on Bernie's behalf. So does Liberal Values. I may be partially persuaded, but not fully. The flip side is that the NYDN interview was exactly that. Sure, the MSM may have done its share of spinning, but, an educated, relatively unbiased layperson can tell it doesn't look 100 percent good.

And, if the NYDN editorial board honestly didn't know that Obama had reversed policy again on who controlled drones, then that couldn't be a "gotcha." A gotcha question can only occur when the asker has knowledge the interrogatee does not.

No, the MSM isn't perfect. Yes, per Beijer, it's ever more cramped for time, though an editorial board is an exception to the time-crampedness of staff writers. And Liberal Values is wrong on its first pullout. The Fed, by definition, is NOT "the administration."

Finally, per the link to the actual editorial about the endorsement interview, it appears the NYDN still hasn't met with Clinton, and has yet to endorse anybody.

The last graph:
Over to you, Secretary Clinton. Your turn to speak.

Therefore, at least in terms of proof, there's no known overall "gotcha" that exists at this point.

There IS one thing the NYDN got very wrong, though, that it got very wrong, and I'll venture very deliberately wrong. It shows some clear and deep Zionist tilt in this editorial comment claiming that Sanders would totally reset the Middle East piece process. On that, the whole thing is a tissue of lies.

And, on those grounds, though it has not formally endorsed Clinton, can there be any doubt?

April 05, 2016

So, Bernie wanted to 'send a message,' and then fold?

That's the bottom line, Sandernistas, from this NYT piece.

First, most the strategery fails it mentions? It falls short of being thorough on the missteps Sanders did make. I noted several last month that the story missed, from being a late entrant into the race through calling himself a "socialist" when he's not. (I'm more of a socialist than Bernie is — except for things like corporate welfare for Big Ag.)

Back to that piece, though.

Yes, he's brought up, finally, her speaking fees. But, he thought he could "send a message" without that?

No, he hasn't brought up her email problems, let alone her support for coups, and no, Liberal Values blog, not even the emails, let alone Honduras or other foreign policy issues outside the bipartisan box, will get mentioned on April 14. Five bucks says nothing about the "Panama Papers" comes up, either, speaking of open government. CNN will take a powder, and so will Sanders. After all, a piece in The Week, which linked to the NYT piece, itself took a powder on any foreign policy issues, let alone any major differences, expressed or not, between the two. (Neither does the NYT piece, for that matter.)

Speaking of, let's get back again to the NYT piece and wrap in my header. This:
All those decisions (including not mentioning the $675K speaking fees) stemmed in part from Mr. Sanders’s outlook on the race. He was originally skeptical that he could beat Mrs. Clinton, and his mission in 2015 was to spread his political message about a rigged America rather than do whatever it took to win the nomination.
More on that here:
Sanders, hunched over a U-shaped conference table, rejected it as a personal attack on Mrs. Clinton’s income — the sort of character assault he has long opposed. She has the right to make money, he offered.
Well, hell, if you were skeptical about winning, wouldn't you be even more hardcore about spreading your message? 

I would think you would — especially if you're not a Democrat. But, of course, despite spinners, usually establishmentarian ones, as shown here in Texas ...

So, whatever message he wanted to send wasn't really revolutionary. If it were, he would have started by criticizing Obama for not nationalizing some banks back in 2009, as deemed necessary. (This, too, is another way in which I'm more of an actual socialist than Sanders, giving it a bit more discussion here.)

More evidence that he is a Democrat:
(H)e was disheartened with the Feb. 20 caucuses in Nevada, where he lost by five points. In an interview, he said he had strong support from voters there but — because of time, resources or other factors — his campaign could not turn them out.
“In Nevada, we knew where our support was,” Mr. Sanders said. “We brought out significantly less than we should have, and that’s the difference.”
Well, not totally.

Harry Reid made sure it was easier for Clinton to bring out her supporters. And, even though you’re finally mentioning her speech money, you’re still pulling punches on Harry Reid.

As for not resigning his Senate seat and being a part-time campaigner early on? Hell, Bob Dole recognized in 1996, at least for the general election. Should Sanders get lucky with the Democratic nomination, does he intend to not do that, even?

I think that what we're seeing in part is Sanders campaign spin.

He's trying to look like he's not a "politician," even though he has been for 35 years, in part.

Sanders claimed he decided to start raising the issue after learning in January that Goldman Sachs had dodged harsh financial penalties on some issues. Please. There was plenty of reason to worry specifically about Goddam Sachs, from its original shenanigans to its attempts to co-op renewable energy out West and all sorts of points in between, long before this January.

On Clinton's emails, Bob Kerrey puts it well that it was an attempt to avoid accountability.

Let’s now listen to Sanders adviser Tad Devine:
“The central complication with Bernie is that he never wanted to cross into the zone of personal attacks because it would undercut his brand,” Mr. Devine said. “Is there another candidate who could have run a tough negative campaign against her from the beginning and been effective? Sure, but it couldn’t have been Bernie. That’s just not who he is.”

The Bernie Sanders who yelled at people who said he was a sellout on Palestinian issues? The Bernie who’s yelled at people over the F-35 criticism? The Sanders who’s been called a curmudgeon and worse by Vermont media?

Ahh, such sweetness and light.

Well, Devine was right — Bernie’s been selling a brand.

And, since he said from the start he would support the eventual Democratic nominee, he either decided to run until he got beat, then sell out his supporters in the claim that his message had been heard — and received, or else he's decided to modulate a selective, targeted message as an actual politician — and then fold if not nominated, like  Just.Another.Politician.™

Take your pick.

Beyond that, one may start revolutions in a theoretical sense, but one doesn't actually push a revolution by negotiating with those who have their hands on the levers of power. One does so by seizing the levers of power themselves.

Kasich has good reason to stay in GOP race

John Kasich
Of the 17 remaining GOP primary events, nine are proportional in some way, seven are winner-take-all and one, today's Wisconsin, is winner take most — the winner is guaranteed a certain percentage, but the overall divvy of the other delegates is at least somewhat proportional, according to that first line. Per Wiki, New York, Connecticut and Washington have 20 percent thresholds, but Kasich, I'll venture, has a good shot at the threshold in Washington State, at least a decent shot in Connecticut, and who knows in New York State? That said, Wiki says Wisconsin is WTA, not WTM. 270 to Win notes that it's WTA for 18 statewide, then a separate WTA for three delegates per Congressional district, and, that's plurality wins, no absolute majority needed, for both the Congressional districts and statewide.

Kasich could win a congressional district or two, and thus still rack up a few delegates. As long as he does that, he arguably keeps some degree of viability until April 19. And, who knows how much Trump could implode until then.

Cruz and Trump are in a virtual tie there.

And, after Wisconsin, there's nothing in the hopper until the April 19 New York et al. So, why drop out just because of one primary? Beyond the delegates Kasich has, Rubio still has his.

Meanwhile, the Democratic side is a big test for Bernie Sanders. Open primary in a state that's largely white outside metro Milwaukee. On the other hand, Ohio and Missouri, both somewhat similar and both open primaries, were both won by Clinton. But, not totally similar ... both those states have twice the African-American population percentages as Wisconsin. Of course, Michigan of his narrow win had an even slightly higher black population.

Polling remains split in the state.

April 04, 2016

TX Progressives discuss Trump, Maddow, insurance, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance is buying some peanuts and Cracker Jack as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the potential redistricting effects of Texas' continued population boom.

Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos discovers that Trump's Presidential candidacy is proof that the GOP is, in reality,  a Neo-Confederate Party. The Dixiecrats are still in charge. The Bigoted Party of Jesus, Bait and Switch Deserves its Devils.

Lawyers figured out how to monitor late payments from insurance companies.  Who's at fault?  The people who found the problem?  Nope.  The lawyers.  According to the people who are paying late.  CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows we live in an oligarchy.

Socratic Gadfly found yet more reason last week to be disappointed with Rachel Maddow.

In developments in the special election to fill the vacancy on Harris County commissioners' court, PDiddie at Brains & Eggs notes that interim appointee Gene Locke has broken his word and decided to run for the job, and state Sen. Rodney Ellis and his long career as a municipal bond lawyer has come under scrutiny.

Neil at All People Have Value said that even worse than Trump's comments on punishing women who have an abortion, is the fact that in Texas women seeking an abortion are subject to the state-mandated rape of the forced sonogram law. APHV is part of


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

Chuck Smith decries the current wave of discriminatory politics.

The Lunch Tray is not loving McDonald's latest attempt to get into schools.

Tamara Tabo explains why the Planned Parenthood video fraudsters really did break the law.

Austin Eater reports that the gas station used as the set for the Texas Chainsaw Massacreís barbecue restaurant will soon be opened as a "horror barbecue resort".

Abby Johnston wades into the sweet tea debate.

A bloodbath at the Orange County Register due to a bad DOJ decision

AP photo of the Register offices via Poynter
I understand antitrust law, and even with today's version of the newspaper media world undercutting some of the need for it, its need there hasn't totally gone away.

So, I didn't reject out of hand, at least, the Department of Justice putting the kibosh on Tribune taking over the Orange County Register. L.A. Times plus the OCR plus Riverside plus the San Diego Union-Tribune would have been a behemoth in the Southland's 20 million. Picture the New York Times owning both the Daily News and the Observer, along with Newsday on Long Island, with only the Post and the Brooklyn Eagle left independent among dailies of any size (not counting Jersey), in New York City. (The WSJ being a special case.)

At the same time, everybody who knows the newspaper business knows that, even within the newspaper business, Digital First Media is a "Chainsaw Al" operation.

And, with the only other bidder on the Register's carcass being a consortium of current and former Freedom Communications staff, after the Trib deal was nixed, it could offer a lowball. And did.

And, then, immediately revved up the chainsaws.

Meanwhile, antitrust issues aren't much less with DFM. It already owned the L.A. Daily News and the San Bernardino Sun, and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

If the DOJ were REALLY concerned about monopoly, it would have required Freedom's carcass to be parted out, and specifically, the Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise to go in different directions.

Now, all three parties involved might argue that it would have brought less money that way. I don't think so. Both the Trib and DFM would have had to do some guessing as to whether Riverside or the OCR best fit their needs and how much to pay. Meanwhile, the third bidder, the Mirman team, might have had a better shot at one or the other of the two.