SocraticGadfly: 10/2/16 - 10/9/16

October 06, 2016

#Cardinals post-mortem — Needed: a right fielder

Time for a break from political blogging. And, it's time to start this as the Cardinals, for the first time in the Mike Matheny era of field generalship, have failed to make the postseason.

Per the header, I'm starting the post-mortem with a focus on the outfield and specifically on right field.

Matt Holliday is, of course, gone. There's too much a logjam at 1B to bring him back as a combo 1B/OF and he's probably headed to the American League to DH.

Mike Matheny, Cardinals
managerial sub-genius
The Cardinals wouldn't be in this situation had they done what I wanted a year ago and signed Denard Span.  Hey, Birds fans, league average season and veteran leadership with that contract the Giants gave him? You'd take that for sure, wouldn't you?

So what rabbits will John Mozeliak pull out of his hat? Or not?

What is NOT the solution?

First, Kolten Wong is not an outfielder. Matheny needs to stop that nonsense now.

Second, Stephen Piscotty is not a right fielder, as I see it. With Holliday gone, move him to left.

Third, Brandon Moss is not a full-time OF. If he's an OF at all, it's in left, which would leave Piscotty stuck in right if the Cards resign Moss.

Fourth, Cards fans who think either Tommy Pham or Jeremy Hazelbaker is the long-term answer? Wake up and smell the coffee. Oh, and the minors-level options below that are worse after the Charlie Tilson trade. Seriously, there's no boat-floater who started the year at Memphis. Harrison Bader or David Washington may be that person in Springfield/Memphis, but most likely not until 2018.

Fifth, free agency this year, for all OF positions, is slim. Joey Bats is the biggest name, but his decline this year likely portends more.

Matheny would be the type of person to (shudder) want Mark Trumbo — a slow lumberer who's not a great baserunner in general and who just turned in a career year. He'll probably price himself out of Mo's market, though.

I would be willing to consider Carlos Gomez if the price is right. Or Jon Jay — if the price is right. Ian Desmond intrigues somewhat, too. (That price would be no more than the 3/$33 Span is set to get the next three years.) Desmond, especially, somewhat Gomez, and lesser yet Jay, would add speed to the lineup.

A trade is certainly possible. Moving Wong back to second means a surplus of infielders, especially with the rise of Aledmys Diaz. A low-cost veteran Jhonny Peralta might draw offers back. (Oh, and while we're at it, Peralta is not a 3B.)

We haven't even talked about pitching staff, the infield — or above all, Matheny and his coaches deterioration, if that's possible, of managing the team's baserunning.

October 05, 2016

Who's the bigger tax cheat — Donald Trump or Marc Rich? Eh, #Hillbots?

Marc Rich
Donald Trump
Many Clintonista types know about the perfectly legal (as far as I know), yet highly sleazy, 1995 tax filings of Donald Trump, as reported by The New York Times.

Far fewer, especially if much younger than me, know about the highly illegal tax cheating, bribery and more of FOB Marc Rich, given a midnight pardon (actually, per Hillary, almost a 3 a.m. pardon!) by the Slickster – reportedly at the urging of Madame Slickster, in part, per Counterpunch.

Seriously, there's no comparison.

Donald Trump has done many unethical things, but he's never, ever, been indicted for federal crimes for any of his financial shenanigans. (Beyond that, as Ken Silverstein shows, there's questions about the leaked partial tax return of Trump.)

I don't know whether Trump or Rich is the bigger cheat, legalities issues aside. But, Slickster and Madame Slickster would, per my poll at right. They know both well enough. Hillary has shown that by helping tax avoiders like UBS.

So, go vote yourself! (And, if Counterpunch isn't enough, read Wikipedia's page on Rich.)

Ralph Nader, myths and realities

First, I'm not talking about the myth that Ralph Nader caused Al Gore to lose in 2000. If you really believe that, you need to see friend Brains. Or Jim Hightower.

And, if you still believe that, then you need to stop visiting this blog.

What I am talking about is other things, though, people.

Two Green-leaners on Twitter, seeing my Trump parody profile, and either too stupid to recognize parody or too lazy to investigate possible parody, claimed I was a Trumpist agent provacateur when I said Nader wasn't all he was cracked up to be.

Fact is that, in 2000, Nader, via his Fidelity Magellan mutual fund holdings, owned Big Oil and other objectionable stocks, including Halliburton. Here's the skinny:
“The Occidental projects are so beyond the pale about what’s reasonable and moral in this modern era,” says Patrick Reinsborough, grass-roots coordinator for the Rainforest Action Network. Reinsborough says that his group has been primarily targeting Gore and Fidelity Investments in general, Fidelity Magellan being part of the Fidelity Investments mutual funds network, as well as the one with the largest quantity of Occidental stock.
“We have called upon Ralph Nader — as we would call upon any citizen — to either divest from Fidelity or to participate in shareholder activism,” Reinsborough says. “Gore has much more long-standing links to Occidental Petroleum.”
But even if Fidelity were to divest its holdings in Occidental, it holds shares in so many companies Nader has crusaded against, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Nader’s participation in the fund is supremely hypocritical. The fund, for example, owns stock in the Halliburton Company, where George W. Bush’s running mate, Dick Cheney, recently worked as president and COO. The fund has investments in supremely un-p.c. clothiers the Gap and the Limited, both of which have been the target of rocks by World Trade Organization protesters, as well as Wal-Mart, the slayer of mom-and-pop stores from coast to coast.
Nader spokeswoman Laura Jones says that only the candidate himself can answer questions about his personal investments. Nader could not be reached for comment.
In a June interview with the Washington Post about his millionaire earnings — much of which he has donated to his public interest groups — Nader said the stocks he chose were “the most neutral-type companies … No. 1, they’re not monopolists and No. 2, they don’t produce land mines, napalm, weapons.”
But this is not true. The Fidelity Magellan fund owns 777,080 shares of Raytheon, a major missile manufacturer. And this isn’t the only example of his rhetoric not matching up with his financial investments.
“I’m quite aware of how the arms race is driven by corporate demands for contracts, whether it’s General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin,” Nader told the Progressive in April. “They drive it through Congress. They drive it by hiring Pentagon officials in the Washington military industrial complex, as Eisenhower phrased it.” The Fidelity Magellan fund owns 2,041,800 shares of General Dynamics. 
Yes, that's pretty damning. 

And, Nader's fiscal holdings have surely only grown since then.

A year ago, playing faux populist, he complained about Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen keeping interest rates low. Her response is here.

The reality? Nader is a millionaire several times over, certainly richer than Bernie Sanders. He was worth several million way back in 2000.

There's nothing wrong with being a millionaire.

There is something wrong with being a faux populist one.

For the record, he was worth more than $3 million in 2000, and more than $4 million today. (In other words, including adjusting for eight years of inflation, he had almost 4x the net worth of Bill Clinton when he ran in 2000 vs. Bill's initial run in 1992.) Sure, he donates much of his investment income to charity. Per Wiki, he spends $25K a year on bills, which means he's taking in more than that in NET income.

And, he gets tax writeoffs, to the point that he probably pays close to zero income tax. Plus, he has the financial security of all that investment income. Also, most of that charitable contribution is to nonprofits he founded.

And, I don't know if he still, directly or indirectly, owns oil and defense stocks today. I do know that 2000 was some 35 years after he burst on scene, and that "ethical investments" already existed in 2000.

Nader has, overall, been a net force for good, especially when he focuses, and we focus on this focus, on consumer safety.

He's not a real environmentalist, though, and he's not a real economic left-liberal.

And, I didn't vote for him in 2000, due to the above, and due to the perception that his ego was (and still is) bigger than that of Al Gore or George W. Bush.

There. There's the real Ralph Nader.

And, you thought this was going to be about refuting the myth that Nader cost Gore the election in 2000!

But, but ...

That does lead to another Nader issue — trust.

He ran in 2000, officially pledging to various state Green parties and the fledging national party, that he would run a "safe states" strategy — and then broke his word. Some Nader nutter claims this HNN story proves otherwise and, no it doesn't.

Nader also refused, despite multiple requests, to give the GP his donor list. He was either clueless about, or else lied about, the issue. (In case you haven't guessed, I believe the latter.) Read this Nation piece for more.

Frankly, I oppose the strategy, and have ever since my first Green vote in 2004.

However, Nader pledged his word, and then broke it.

And, that then tied in with a national Green Party coalescing more, and, going to a national convention based on state caucuses. Jeff St. Clair tries to spin this as some type of anti-Nader conspiracy. Nope. It was just a party taking a stance and expecting it to be backed. (Like Jeremy Corbyn with British Labour, which is why I oppose him being re-elected as party head — nothing to do with his politics, everything to do with his word.)

Anyway, Nader ISN'T all that many crack him up to be. And, I've just showed again that I take voting far more seriously than duopoly lever pullers.

October 04, 2016

The MSM halfway catches up with me on #Obamacare

It's long been clear to me that Obamacare is at least semi-broken. (Well, that's setting aside another issue that I've repeatedly blogged about — we don't even have "Obamacare" since Dear Leader himself, its namesake, has delayed implementation of several of its major portions — some delayed repeatedly.)

Well, the Old Gray Lady has finally weighed in, at least in part.  
The nut grafs are buried near the end, in two quotes, especially the second:
Dr. John W. Rowe, who was the chief executive of Aetna from 2000 to 2006 and the president of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York before that, predicted that “the insurance market will stabilize in two or three years.”

“We are not in a death spiral,” Dr. Rowe said. “If this were a patient, I would say that he’s not in intensive care, but he’s still in the hospital and requires careful monitoring.”

But that does not mean the act will heal on its own, said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University.

“Even the most ardent proponents of the law would say that it has structural and technical problems that need to be addressed,” she said. “The subsidies were not generous enough. The penalties for not getting insurance were not stiff enough. And we don’t have enough young healthy people in the exchanges.”

The big issue is that these were issues largely known in 2008. Hillary Clinton called Obama out for not having any sort of penalty in his plan. That, in turn leads to not enough young people enrolled. These could have been fixed as part of the original law — which also could have been less complicated, especially in its not-yet-implemented areas.

The lack of subsidies? That's on Obamacare vs. single-payer.

(In turn, that ignores that the profit motive, and a hypercapitalist version, may be so ingrained in the American medical system that we need a British-type NHS.)

As for the public option, the devil is in the details.

Contra Bernie Sanders, I think it should have deductions and co-pays similar to single-payer systems in other developed countries. 

At the same time, it should be more generous in psychiatric coverage than current private insurance.

Meanwhile, in your hypocrisy alert of the day, the Slickster is calling O-care "the craziest thing in the world." And Madame Slickster has also, despite wrapping herself in the flag of O-care vs. Bernie Sanders, has made recent similar cracks. Indeed, the flag-wrapping included her claim that O-care was originally H-care.

And, an update, as the Big Dog tries to walk it back, including:
(T)he insurance model "doesn't make sense" and "doesn't work here."
So, he now backs single-payer?

As for differences between O-care and Hillarycare, the small businesses the Slickster claims to defend opposed Hillarycare because it would have forced them to provide coverage. Politico has a thumbnail sketch of the few differences between the two.

TX progressives have #debate thoughts and second thoughts

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows it picked a bad week to quit snorting Dristan, and one of its members wonders if Tim Kaine will do more death-penalty flip-flopping in the Veep debate, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the sharp increase in voter registration numbers around the state.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is thrilled to learn that Houston area taco truck owners are registering voters. Houston Taco Trucks Serve up Tex-Mex and Voter Activism.

Back to Ohio for PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, along with some words from Hillary Clinton about Sandernistas from behind closed doors, and a few voting provisos for those in Harris County.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is sick of Republicans siding with the rich and powerful over the health and well being of Texas citizens.  Look to the Texas Legislature to be the great corrupt fixer.

Socratic Gadfly tackles the claim that third-party voters claim there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats, and finds it wanting.

Neil at All People Have Value offered his artist's statement as public artist in Houston and America. APHV is part of

Bay Area Houston goes after Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart over his Voter ID claims.


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

Grits for Breakfast discusses the stupidity of Texas Sen. John Whitmire's new idea about teaching kids how to respect be afraid of cops.

The Houston Press catalogs Ken Paxton's obsession with LGBT issues.

Lone Star Ma focuses on the 13th of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):  Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Better Texas Blog calls for a renovation, not a complete teardown, of Texas' school finance system.

BOR interviews Stephanie Chiarello Noppenberg, the creator of the political satire variety show Over the Lege.

Eileen Smith watched the debate so you didn't have to.

Space City Weather declares Texas' hurricane season (probably) over.

Texas Election Law Blog discusses the travail of voting by mail.

October 03, 2016

No, Hillary Clinton didn't have to do corporate law work in Arkansas

From the way Hillary Clinton talks at times, you would think that without her tireless work at the Rose Law Firm, 1980s Chez Clinton was one step above the Jed Clampett family and one step away from the poorhouse.

Let's look at reality, via Politifact and the L.A. Times, setting aside the two years the Slickster was out of office.

His salary? $35,000. Per the Department of Labor's inflation calculator, $35,000 in 1989 is worth $68,000 today. In 1983, when he started as governor, it was worth nearly $85,000 today.

His expense account of about $20,000 per year would be $40-$50,000 today. That's surely enough to cover the official entertaining needs of a small-state governor.

Plus, free living in the Governor's Mansion. True, it's not an owned house (but home equity isn't all it's cracked up to be). But, let's value it at the equivalent of a $1,000 a month private rental in today's dollars, while again stressing that Little Rock has a low cost of living. (And that's surely underestimating its value.)

And, to be more charitable yet, let's use the 1989 inflation-adjusted salary AND throw out Bill's expense account.

Bill Clinton was still hauling down 80 large a year in low-cost Arkansas. And that's ignoring any money he was getting (and he was getting it, yes), from speech honoraria, etc.

Plus, Hillary makes it sound like she and the Clampett husband were "raising a village" (I see what I did there) on his salary.

Wrong. They then, as they do today, have and had one child: Chelsea. (Unless Bill's been making child support payments that are VERY buried.)

They easily, Hillary's Tammy Wynette sneer aside, or, even more, her cookies and tea sneer, could have been a one-income family. Oh, and Bill became governor more than 15 years after both graduated law school; I'm assuming student loans were nearly if not completely paid off.

And, even if Hillary thought the family needed more money, ANY additional money would have been gravy. She could have worked for a nonprofit or something. Or, if she wanted to use her law degree, she could have been a defense lawyer for the likes of Ricky Rector. (I see what I did there.)

She most certainly did NOT have to work for Rose Law. Nor did she have to serve on Walmart's board of directors.

Yes, he may have been the poorest president at the start of his tenure since Harry Truman, but those two are still miles apart.

UPDATE: Let's frame this another way. The actual $35,000, plus $5,000, we'll say, for honoraria, plus, $6,000 in worth then for the governor's mansion. Set aside the entertainment budget entirely, though that helped pay for Clinton family meals. That's $46,000. As of the LATE 1990s, nearly a full decade after my calculations, that puts them in the top 15 percent of Arkansas family incomes. Or, as of the 1980 Census, Bill's salary alone put them in the top 10 percent of family incomes in Pulaski County (Little Rock.)