June 10, 2016

John Horgan, NECSS, #skepticism, #tribalism, #scientism, ox-goring

Many people involved with "movement skepticism" are probably familiar with the recent contretemps over John Horgan's speech to the New East Conference on Science and Skepticism.

Here's a summary of the speech, by Horgan. Here are two of the most heated responses, from Orac and from Steve Novella, both medical doctors of some standing.

Then, here's Horgan's response. And a second.

I don't necessarily agree with everything he said, nor every bit of the style. I do agree with a fair amount, though. (I have also read, and favorably reviewed, a couple of Horgan's books. I've also read, and largely agreed with, broadly similar takes on "movement skepticism" by the likes of Massimo Pigliucci.)


I had a more specific question, though. How much of the reaction from a few — well, specifically, Novella and Orac, as far as longer reactions — does anybody think comes from "ox goring" over Horgan's comments about medical care in the US?

The nut of my issue is this.


A semi-rhetorical question, as I called it in a comment on Orac's site ... how much of the heat of criticism is due to ox-goring re Orac and Novella over what Horgan said about modern medicine, including overtesting driven in part by the fee-for-service model?

Theoretically, the two of them are above such money-grubbing. I think. Maybe they make extra money off consultancy fees or something, though. (That, mutual backup consultancy agreements with other doctors, is an ugly part of modern American medicine indeed.)

And, even beyond the money, it's their profession, not movement skepticism in general, that they could be upset about as an ox being gored.

To be fair, in his link, Orac himself says he and Novella have both written about cancer overscreening.

To which I note: To what effect? There's plenty of doctors who still do it, and plenty of skeptics who still don't write about it.

Plus, overscreening for cancer is but one of several types of overtesting.

And, when it's in one's own skeptical house, as with Dr. David Gorski and mammograms, he may raise one skeptical eyebrow ... but still give one thumbs up.

So, contra people who think this trio, and others, from the medical world are actually mad because Horgan allegedly got a lot wrong, I don't think so. (Skeptics™ folks can tell me if any of the trio has called for single-payer national health care with limits on fee-for-service payments.)

Otherwise, especially on people criticizing Horgan's attack for movement skeptics not looking at things like war and economics?

Related to this, Horgan has touted the Cochrane Collaboration as promoting medical research "free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest," per its website. (Horgan just posted that link recently, but the site and movement's been around some time, and he obviously has a few years' familiarity with it.)

Guess what? No link to it on "Science Based Medicine," the skeptics'-driven blog which has Orac, Novella and Gorski among its main contributors.

And, back to, if not money, then reputation. I got a bit snarky about the "Science Based Medicine" website when it was created ... wondering if we'd have skeptics' medical products for sale or something. No, that's not happened, but per Orac above, it has not commented more about overtesting in general. Nor has it commented about the issues behind that — loose p-values and other statistical standards that it's high time were made more rigorous. Where's the Orac/Novella call for that?

First, I agree with him and have already said so. Steve Pinker's book on the subject was pretty much crap. Of course, Pinker's a Pop Ev Psycher, and the book came in part from that pseudoscience direction.

Probably, a bit of the ox-goring is involved there, too. Pinker himself's not a leader in movement skepticism, but he's simpatico with its work. And, a LOT of movement skeptics still believe in the unfalsifiable, sexist pseudoscience of Pop Ev Psych in general.

Second, it was impolite at best, possibly martyr-feeding at worst, for Jeremy Ian Swiss to not allow Horgan a Q&A time, since he'd deliberately made his speech short enough to allow for this.

Third, sorry Orac, but Horgan's spot-on about tribalism, and you're only exemplifying it. I am sure you care nothing about little old me, but nonetheless ... per the old cliche, I'd put the shovel down and stop digging.

Fourth, I don't think Horgan is "clueless about skepticism," Orac. (See tribalism, holes, and shovels.)

Fifth, I'm surprised that he didn't directly name "scientism" as a problem with movement skeptics. It is, and Horgan's written about the subject, in relation to the humanities, before. (In a Tweet, he noted he's called out Jerry Coyne for it — a link I didn't click because "Coyne.")

That said, John could have mentioned science hype as part of scientism. I'm not anti-GMO, but I am anti-hype when GMOs don't deliver. And, no, scientism-type movement skeptics, they don't always deliver.)

All of this is why, like Pigliucci, who used to be more involved with the "movement," but has drastically distanced himself in the past few years, I take a Marxian (Groucho) type eyeball to it.

I noted above that I don't agree with everything Horgan says.

Above all, I think studies about the possible harms of psychtropic medications — antidepressants, etc. — are somewhat overblown. Not totally, but somewhat. I do agree that we probably need more caution with their use than is practiced today.

(I don't know if Orac, Novella or other MDs at NECSS or in movement skepticism have written about this at all or not.)

It also should be remembered that the first antidepressants were discovered in the 1950s, as was Thorazine for schizophrenia, long before Big Pharma was quite as big as today. And, even if a placebo effect was part of it, they were a godsend to many.

Related to that, I don't think Horgan, or others with his mindset, think about the emotions involved in seeking relief from mental health afflictions. And, if I'm correct in questioning the claim that, on average, they're positively harmful, some relief is better than none until our options become better.

In turn, I encourage general practitioners/internists to become more enlightened on this subject, since they're often, not psychiatrists, the ones providing the pharmaceuticals. Likewise, I encourage them to become more enlightened about addiction, including anti-craving medications. (I sure as hell hope Horgan doesn't have a problem with them.

Next, it's funny, if not sad, to see Novella and Orac both accuse Horgan of creating strawmen. I see them, in their replies, doing exactly that.

Finally, Orac showed a degree of "true colors," I guess. Lumping Horgan in the same piece as Mike Adams qualifies as an ad hominem in my book. And, there was no need for it. None.

June 09, 2016

#Cardinals and Matheny may hit new level of cluelessness (updated)

Mike Matheny, Cards'
managerial genius - NOT
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's plugged-in Derrick Gould, here's manager Mike Matheny's plan for the Cardinals' roster once Jhonny Peralta comes back off the IR.

Peralta to third.

Matt Carpenter to second.

And Aledmys Diaz the primary guy at short.

Erm, wrong!

Carpenter's the most steady player; he's tied for first with Matt Adams as highest OPS among starters. Why mess with his mind by having him switch positions? Especially since this may also hurt team D. (Given that Matheny was late to the table on things like defensive shifts, that probably hasn't crossed his mind anyway. Still ...)

Diaz, after a hot start, is slumping. He may need time off; the team may need to have that time to figure out how pitchers are catching up to him and how to help him adjust.

That leaves wobbling incumbent Kolten Wong, offseason acquisition Jedd Gyorko and call-up utilityman Greg Garcia to fight for time at second, with the latter two also looking to back up SS and third as needed.

None of this addresses other problems, which include:

1. A slow team, next to last in the league in stolen bases, with with a negative effective success rate of just 62.5 percent so far — with the most caught stealings in the league.

Update: I got B-Ref's No. 15 in caught stealing wrong. It actually means they're the best. But, per commenter Salvo, that's because they don't steal.

However, the success issue is still problematic, even if we paper over low attempts.

Per ESPN, the Cards rank No. 25 among all 30 MLB teams in success rate. And, as regular watchers of the team know, beyond steals, it has a history of stupidity as well as slowness in general baserunning, one that Matheny AND his staff have never addressed well, probably because they've never focused on it. Maybe that's because Matheny and Jose Oquendo are top coaching honchos.

So, the gist of my comments still stand; I've occasionally blogged for 2-3 years about general baserunning issues.

2. The struggles — almost as bad as Wong's — of Randal Grichuk. I was one of the naysayers in the offseason about GM John Mozeliak standing pat in the free agent market other than making a pitching overpay for Mike Leake (even if he may be one of the team's best starters this year).

It's small comfort to note that the similarly overpaid, in my book, Jason Wayward is performing just as poorly in Chicago, arguably more so, both offensively and defensively, although he does have half as many swipes, and at a better rate, than the entire Cards roster. (And, he probably would have been worse yet if the team's regular CF.)

I had argued to take a flier on Denard Span. He's not setting the world on fire, but he's doing reasonably OK out in the Bay. And, on the contract terms the Giants gave him, he could have prepared the Cards for some transition to a post-Matt Holliday world.

==

To summarize my thoughts from comments below:
1. Diaz, while not having been slumping enough to deserve benching, might well need more situational starts.
2. It's been a while since Carpenter played 2B, and that was before he was an All-Star. I don't like messing with established players.
3. Related to that, the fewer pieces you move at one time, generally the better.
4. Beyond comments below, Peralta's not played a single game at third since 2010.
5. This all reinforces my observations above about Matheny and semi-cluelessness about infield defense.

Hillary 2008 vs Bernie 2016 — the dragged-out denouement?

The old gray lady today chides Bernie Sanders for not "moving on," in a news analysis piece, even though in a straight news piece from eight years ago, it laid out how she pretty much did the same.

That said, she did officially concede three days later.

So, let's see what happens by Saturday. I think we've seen enough

In the meantime, Obama has officially endorsed Clinton, and while not endorsing her, Sanders followed by saying he was ready to work with her on beating Trump.

So, except for Clintonistas who WRONGLY expect some immediate groveling, we probably don't need to wait until Saturday.

Until then, it's not officially a deal inside Democrat-land, but de facto, it really is. After that, and especially if we go past the whole weekend, it might be "a deal."

That said, if it further tears down the current national Democratic shithouse, it could be good — but only if it leads to Sandernistas heading to Plan B (Bernie himself won't). If it leads to Sandernista hand-sitting or something, then it's not so good.

June 08, 2016

Finally, the damn Democratic thing's over

First, Sandernistas, it IS over. And, no excuses. Outside the South, Bernie lost three open or semi-open primaries in the last three days.

Puerto Rico doesn't count in the general, but California's very Democratic and New Jersey leans that way. The "he's more electable" claim took a Battleship-sized hit last night, especially with the margin of loss in California. But, take some solace.

He didn't do too badly, especially given self-imposed gags on Clinton's email problems, self-imposed gags on much of Clinton's foreign policy, and possibly shooting himself in the foot by making himself sound more like a socialist than he actually is. (More on this below.)

Second, Clintonistas, put a sock in your smugness.

Beyond Jill Stein and before her, Cynthia McKinney, being women to get presidential nominations, Victoria Woodhull did back in 1872. If you don't know the name, your tribalism is shallow indeed. If you say "major party," then isn't that a reflection on gender problems in the Democratic Party?

Put a sock in it for another reason.

Sanders was nowhere near the opponent Obama was in 2008, and got a later start than Dear Leader did, too. And you still almost couldn't beat him.

Third, whether you choose to put a sock in it or not, I'll be posting "a sock" .... or two or three ... on Twitter regularly until Nov. 4.

Fourth, per part of the above, really, it's a sad state of affairs that a lifelong grifter with oodles of cash and connections struggled to put away a not-socialist who handicapped his own campaign and may, in his mid-70s, have faced health problems down the road that we now won't know for sure.

We do know that this says a lot about how weak the modern national-level Democratic Party is. I've been saying that for some time.

For Democrats pointing at the weakness of the GOP to nominate Trump, you've got three fingers pointing back at yourself.

Fifth, unfortunately, in some ways, the damn thing probably isn't over, and we're in for more weeks of Sandernista excuse-making and Clintonista smugness. (And, if Sanders does anything more than a pro forma fight for the handful of delegates DC elects next week, more acrimony, too, past what should have been the last battlefield outside of platform-related fights.)

Sixth, that said, Sandernistas or Bernie-backers or whatever?

If you're under 30, OK, a couple of days of lament. If you're over 30, time to put on your big boy or big girl pants now.

You've got three options for the future:
1. Vote Hillary
2. Vote Green
3. Sit out.

If "option 4" even thinks of crossing your minds, you've got problems indeed.

As I've said before, I want you to vote Green. But, per friend Brains (and yes, there's still time a-plenty) I'm kind of skeptical about how many of you will make that choice.

Otherwise, no, the Green Party isn't winning this year's presidential election. But real, true change in the US political system will take time and heavy lifting from top down and bottom up. Getting state legislators changed. Getting state election laws more friendly to third parties. Getting the US to be at least a modicum more like a parliamentary government and dethroning the imperial presidency. Voting rights. More.

That said, the same three apply to Sanders himself. He can tell his followers — with various degrees of either resignation or enthusiasm, and either directly or between the lines — to:
1. Vote Hillary
2. Vote Green
3. Sit out.

I suspect he'll do No. 1, with about as much enthusiasm as Ted Kennedy in 1980. Which is too bad.

Ted didn't have a Green Party — where he wouldn't have fit, anyway — or a national level Socialist party as an alternative, and he was even more ensconced inside the Democratic Party than Sanders is.

Bernie's ensconced himself enough, though, that — sadly — I'll give you odds right now that we'll not get an option 2, a clarion call to Vote Green, from his lips.

So, that's why I'm making it.

June 07, 2016

RIP to Ponzi scheme grifter Aubrey McClendon (updated)

Aubrey McClendon
A day after being indicted by the feds for on oil and gas lease fraud, Chesapeake Energy founder and former CEO Aubrey McClendon is dead in a horrific one-vehicle accident that certainly looks like suicide by vehicle.

(Update 1, March 15: More proof on that end comes from OKC police. Per USA Today, he was traveling as high as 89mph, and after light brake-tapping, hit the embankment wall at 78mph, after suddenly veering left.

Update 2, June 7: In a narrowly circumscribed report, OKC police say now they can find no proof he intended to commit suicide. Yes, and absence of evidence isn't the same as evidence of absence.

Per the first update, the "barely tapping" on brakes looks suspicious, like a man trying to put a veneer over a suicide that would still let family inherit life insurance, pension, etc. See the lower part of the original piece, in the bullet points, for more on this.)

The indictment involved Chesapeake and an unnamed (for now?) company B allegedly involved in bid-rigging for federal oil and gas leases. That said, one of my newspaper peregrinations had me in the southwest corner of the Dallas side of the Metroplex, at the edge of the Barnett Shale. I've covered meetings of Chesapeake folks with local city councils. And blogged about its denialism on fracking earthquakes.

And, yeah, that fish rotted from the head down. He carried his Ponzi scheming (it was, as documented years ago) over to American Energy Partners. In light of this, I even wrote a Beverly Hillbillies spoof about Chesapeake.

As for the Ponzi scheme label?

No, he wasn't ripping off outsiders. But, it's related to what got him indicted. Both at Cheseapeake and AEP, he was essentially chasing new leases and new gas to pay for old after the success of fracking kneecapped him, kind of like Aaron Kutcher and newspapers at the Orange County Register. So, not Ponzi scheme in its conventional sense, perhaps, but I'll stand by use of the phrase. The fact that he had taken a personal stake in Chesapeake wells, then used that as a mix of loans collateral plus payment to himself for the cost of well-drilling, per the NYT, is an even more conventional Ponzi scheme.

EE News, in a long piece, has more about how he bubbled himself, then Ponzi-schemed his own company, then all of us (since We the People are the owners of federal lands).

So, I'll call him a Ponzi schemer. And laugh at his protestation of innocence, in hindsight. As Forbes notes, he didn't deny anything; he just boo-hooed about being singled out.

McClendon's totaled 2013 Tahoe.
First, a sidebar. This isn't the first case of suicide by vehicle that I've heard about. The first was in the city of my first media job, about a year after I moved. In that case, the person drove off an uncompleted ramp for a bridge for a new highway routing. Small town, construction had been going on; not likely to have been an accident, and there were arguably reasons for his decision. So, I have a bit of background in professionally understanding such things.

So, such things happen. And, the latest update on the accident makes clear that he intended to hit the embankment.

Why on this?

First, the mechanics of it possibly being suicide by vehicle?
  • One-vehicle accident
  • Very high rate of speed
  • Head-on collision with a very immovable object, a bridge abutment.
Second, the why?
  • He's under indictment, and thus avoids testifying. 
  • Because of that, the feds will find it harder to claw back money from his family than from him, since he never goes to trial.
  • And, because suicide by vehicle is hard to prove as suicide, family gets life insurance money, etc. And, given that he was still being paid by Chesapeake and still even covered by a Chesapeake life insurance policy, as well as any personal life insurance, etc., yes, his wife stands to get a bunch of money.
So, per lawyers?

"Goes to motive, your honor."

And, as follow up, on the legal angle:
  • Will the feds indict anybody else?
  • Will we learn the identity of "company B"?
  • If anybody is convicted, for manipulating oil and gas bids, will they get more than the 21 months of Tim DeChristopher?
And, will Gang Green enviros become any more repentant of their embrace of the gas business? That's as Russell Gold, though not as in-the-tank as in his 1-starred book, writes a largely laudatory paean which surprised me not one bit when I saw the name. The fact that Gold says the Department of Justice is about to dismiss the indictment without mentioning that's because you can't put dead people on trial, as if he's insinuating DOJ overreached, says enough.

#Sandernistas and delegate counting

Per a nice overview piece by Vox, whether we go by "pledged" delegates plus "publicly committed" superdelegates, as the AP did in calling Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee, or by "pledged" delegates only, or by popular vote count from Democratic primaries and caucuses only, Hillary Clinton has the lead — with an outright majority — on Bernie Sanders.

Sorry, but period and end of story.

Maybe we could count left-handed Albanian-American independents who voted in open primaries and find that Sanders won, but that's not the way things work.

Whether by the AP's nose-counting, per the one method that does matter, or the two reasonable surrogates, Hillary Clinton is the winner.

As for the idea of clawing away superdelegates? Barack Obama did that eight years ago, yes, but AFTER he took a lead in pledged delegates, something Sanders has never had.

Even if he wins California, he's not likely to swap superdelegates to his side if he loses New Jersey by 15 or more. That's especially true since New Jersey, like California is a "mixed" primary. No, not totally "open" but closer to "open" than to "closed." Losing it will undercut his campaign's claim about his strength among independents.

Beyond that, in general, a California split plus a clear loss in New Jersey will not be a strong selling point. And, given that New Jersey has more delegates on tap than all the "lesser" primaries tonight, I expect Clinton to expand her lead in "pledged" delegates by 50 or so.

So, the lead Clinton already in election-derived delegates I expect will only increase tonight. Holding your breath until your face turns blue won't change that, Sandernistas. And, you know what? In 2008, Obama didn't have a majority of total delegates from only his elected delegates total; he, too, needed superdelegates to go over the top.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders' other biggest enemy is Donald Trump. Yes, Sanders may still poll better against the Donald than does Clinton, but, as Trump enters new rounds of self-destructiveness, Clinton too is expanding her polling lead against him. That, then, undercuts one of his last claims to try to get superdelegates to move to him.

I love Sanders as a disruptor of the current Democratic Party establishment, to the degree he is. I love the enthusiasm of Sandernistas, even while deploring the willingness of some to engage in conspiracy thinking. (That includes Glenn Greenwald. Note to Glenn: private phone calls, emails or whatever by AP writers to ascertain superdelegate voting plans is NOT "secret conversations," except in conspiracy-land.)

But, even if I feel the need to state it ever more bluntly, as part of my selling the need to vote Plan B, Green Party in the general election, Sandernistas need to start facing reality.

Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee. Period and end of story.

As for you, you can decide if you want to actually try to revolutionize American presidential politics or not, see friend Brains' latest installment on this issue for some good thoughts. I hope you do — but, to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if, in the end, there is no huge surge to the Green Party. Sad but true.

Clinton-Sanders: Let that be your last battlefield

Sorry, couldn't, or wouldn't, resist the reference to Star Trek: The Original Series. Not saying who is Lokai and who is Bele. (Speaking of, the origin of the Lokai name seems obvious; I'm not sure where Roddenberry dug up Bele.)

Back to the non-Star Trek world.

OK, the lesser states are all chaff.

It's California and New Jersey.

Latest polling, per Real Clear Politics, as of Monday evening, had Clinton up just two points in the Golden State, but crushing it with a 27-point edge in the Garden State. Sorry, Sandernistas, I'm just reporting the numbers.

Who's Lokai and who's Bele? People like me would argue it's
just two flip sides of Democratic establishmentarianism.
Sanders has shown a fair amount of ground-closing in California. Before the last 10 days, taking all polls from the start of April through late May, and throwing out both the two closest and the two furthest, he was averaging about 10 points behind.

There's been a lot less polling in New Jersey, but per what RCP has, and throwing out one poll at either extreme, Clinton still has a 20-point lead.

Even if he wins California, he's not likely to swap superdelegates to his side if he loses New Jersey by 15 or more. That's especially true since New Jersey, like California is a "mixed" primary. No, not totally "open" but closer to "open" than to "closed." A California split plus a clear loss in New Jersey will not be a strong selling point. Given that New Jersey has more delegates on tap than all the "lesser" primaries tonight, I expect Clinton to expand her lead in "pledged" delegates by 50 or so.

And, in any case, the announcement last night by the AP that Clinton had apparently clinched the nomination won't help. That said, as written, per CNN, it's true. No, Glenn Greenwald, private phone calls to ascertain superdelegate voting plans is NOT "secret conversations," except in conspiracy-land. (Sidebar: This is why he's a quasi-journalist.) And, if not true Monday night, it sure as hell would be true after tonight's races. (Sorry, Sandernistas, but Clinton already has a lead in election-derived delegates and it will only increase tonight. Holding your breath until your face turns blue won't change that. And, you know what? In 2008, Obama didn't have a majority of total delegates from only his elected delegates total; he, too, needed superdelegates to go over the top.) And, as for the timing? Well, yes, it came just before a batch of primaries tonight. But, it came just after Puerto Rico's primary Sunday night. Is that supposed to be ignored?

And, speaking of polls, Bernie Sanders' other biggest enemy is Donald Trump. Yes, Sanders may still poll better against the Donald than does Clinton, but, as Trump enters new rounds of self-destructiveness, she too is expanding her polling lead against him. That, then, undercuts one of his last claims to try to get superdelegates to move to him (which ain't happening).

(Sidebar: I have nothing against closed primaries, or caucuses for that matter, and have said so in the past. In a parliamentary system, a party leader is selected entirely by a national caucus or similar.)

Now, what comes after that?

In 2008, Clinton officially (and suavely) conceded to Obama within a week after California.

As a Green-leaner, I'm fine with Sanders NOT doing that ... depending on how much he pushes for platform items in the party planks. That said, I'm no idiot; I know platform statements often aren't worth the paper on which they're written.

As someone venturing inside Sanders' head, I know that if he pushes too far, he'll be cut off even more than Ted Kennedy was in 1980. I've drawn parallels to that year's Democratic hootenanny before.

It's all Bernie's call.

Actually, per what I said yesterday, and have kind of said in a few blog posts of the last month or so — it's very much Jane O'Meara Sanders' call, too.

That said, I have multiple times in the last month said "Bernie's too good a Democrat to do X," with specific cases of "X" including saying he wouldn't sue the Iowa Democratic Party over the caucuses and he wouldn't mention the support of Hillary Clinton for the Honduras coup. Oh, sure, yesterday he halfway raised one eyebrow about the Clinton Foundation, but Ken Silverstein wrote a takedown on it seven months ago.

So, if backstory rumors are true, Bernie's private olive branches will (albeit a bit grudgingly) become public by, oh, June 15 or so. But, Clinton's going to have to do some outreach.

Meanwhile, I will continue to preach the gospel of Green to the Sandernistas.

At the same time, I salute Sanders for showing the true colors of others.

Like alleged left-liberal Todd Gitlin, comparing Clinton, and supporting the lesser of two evils votes, to LBJ 1964. And, opposing the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement against Israel.

June 06, 2016

TX Progressives look at flooding, water, legacies

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the life and achievements of Muhammad Ali as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff wonders if Dan Patrick will ever take the time to meet with a transgender person.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos  sharply notes that while Houston drowns the state's top GOP leadership remains fixated on potty rooms. Earth to the Three Texas Stooges: People don't drown and die in bathrooms.

SocraticGadfly, with the death of Muhammad Ali, blogs about a new book about his relationship with Malcolm X.

Regular monsoons (and decisions made long ago by fossil fuel companies and real estate developers) aren't the only things lately making Texas a terrible place to be.  A Republican party held unaccountable by their voters, and a Democratic Party that suffers generational battered wife syndrome, contribute to what PDiddie at Brains and Eggs calls the misery that is Texas.

What's the matter with Corpus Christi's water supply?  CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders.

Neil at All People Have Value completed 8 days of jury duty this past week and was glad that he did. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com


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

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

Space City Weather breaks down the latest major flood events in the Houston area.

Expat Texan Elise Hu-Stiles sees freedom from a different perspective these days.

Scott Braddock considers the Trump effect on legislative races.

The Lunch Tray looks back on six years of blogging.

Iris Dimmick reports on Pride Month activities in San Antonio.

Ashton Woods and Monica Roberts respond to a homophobic op-ed in the Houston Forward Times.

Michael Hardy contemplates the Sugar Land Selfie Statue.

Make West Texas Great Again has a talk radio challenge for Dan Patrick.

Is Bernie Sanders an egotist?

There have been three main claims leveled against Sanders by Clintonistas and other Democratic establishmentarians.

One is that he doesn't have enough specificivity on issues. That one's been pretty well knocked down.

Second is that he's not a real Democrat. I've crushed that one.

Third is that he's got an ego.

Well, let's examine that more.

First of all, about all politicians have big egos.

That said, some have bigger than others, like Jon Edwards and covering up being a baby daddy. Or Ralph Nader, who in 2000 had a bigger ego than either Bush or Gore. This includes Mr. "Clean" and Mr. "Green" [actually, not totally on the former, not a lot on the latter] holding oil stocks during the 2000 election under either the theory that Dems wouldn't find out, or that Nader's Raiders types wouldn't care.) (His ego was enough of an issue, and these specific issues enough of an addition, that I didn't vote for president in 2000, and it's a choice I stand by today.

Well, a Rolling Stone interview with Sanders raises this issue.

So, let’s look at a few specifics from that interview.
So how do you do it? (How do you get your program passed?) What are the specifics that allow you to—
What are the specifics about how I, personally, all by myself, do what nobody in American history has done? 
Well, yes, that DOES sound a bit egotistical.

Abraham Lincoln kept the border states in the Union, wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, got Congress to send the 13th Amendment to the states, and won the Civil War before being assassinated.

LBJ got Medicaid, Medicare and the largest civil rights acts since Reconstruction. So, you may doing something that, in some narrow level, is different than anybody else in America has ever done. But, especially given that the Republican party started as a third party, no, you’re not doing more than Lincoln did. Or the likes of LBJ, for that matter.

That said, I want to go to other stuff.

Closed primaries aren’t “dumb,” Bernie.

If we had parliamentary government, like I advocate, you’d be nominated by the equivalent of a party caucus. Until primaries were invented in the 20th century, that’s how presidents were nominated here. And, smoke-filled rooms aside, they weren’t all corrupt, and they weren’t all bad in general.

Third, per another comment he makes, about superdelegates, it confirms my belief that Jane Sanders has been his eminence grise.

In other places, like later in the interview, Bernie can shift from precise to vague on a dime. Does he have a majority of under-35 black voters?

I did brief Googling. In South Carolina, Clinton won evenunder-30 blacks by 56-43

I would venture that in all states, making allowances for his weaker showing among Southern blacks, but bumping that age to 35 instead of 30, it’s probably a 50-50 split.


Finally, his talk about being a social-democratic candidate who had to build his campaign machinery from scratch?

Tosh. You’re a Great Society, or New Deal 2, Democrat. There’s Democratic consultants out there who would respect your message, yet brought oodles of experience. In reality, this is about crafting a mix of insurgent/outsider imagery, and you (and wife Jane) wanting pretty tight control of the campaign, I think.

I've theorized vaguely for myself, and even more vaguely on this blog, that Bernie decided to run to create a "legacy." (Whether this means that he planned to run for the Senate again in 2018 or not, I don't know. I still don't have clue about that.) I also venture that this was in part Jane's idea; at a minimum, without her being 100 percent in favor, he wouldn't do this.

And, I still think he's gotten a pass on a few occasions. Like Janes's management of Burlington College. And, I do think she took on that massive debt load in part based on the idea that her husband's name would serve as a rainmaker. Not totally; a lot of things in life are multicausal. But, partially, yes.

That said, I've seen stupider decisions at other colleges.

Or now, something new.

It's great that Sanders is (mildly?) raising questions about the Clinton Foundation.

But Ken Silverstein wrote about it 4 months ago. So why didn't Bernie talk then?

Anyway, let's take this back to legacies.

I think this is why Bernie took so long to jump in, specifically his apparent wait on Warren. If she had come in later, it would have made him possibly look not progressive enough. That and the fact she probably would have outdrawn him on votes would have hurt that legacy.

Survey says, in conclusion: Yes, he's an egotist in ways. Probably no more than an average US presidential candidate, but contra any turd-polishing, probably no less, either.