December 14, 2017

Hoops polls — more Lebron and destinations:
Rockets maybe? Lakers maybe? Sixers NO

LeBron James
Per respondents in my first poll, as many of you think LeBron James will stay in Cleveland next year rather than join Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, et al in LaLa Land. Only one thinks he'll go to the other side of LaLa Land with Blake Griffin and the Clippers. (OK, I confess, that was me.)

I think the likelihood of him moving is now less than when I ran the poll. But, I'm not yet 100 percent convinced he'll stay.

I personally was the one Clippers voter. But, with Blake injured again, and the team facing some tough choices, I think that option is gone. I mean, Austin Rivers is their top offensive option right now.

Meanwhile, the latest story says the Lakers aren't likely — but the Rockets may be. Of course, there's no way they can give LBJ a max contract right now. James Harden plus Chris Paul block that. Plus, the rising Clint Capela will want more.

There's a sidebar to all this, and that's his mileage. Yes, the King is having an incredible year this year. But, by the end of the year, he should be in the top 20 all time in career minutes. And, he'd probably be in the top 15 by the end of next year. The "finish line" is surely getting closer. How well will he make a transition to no longer being, at least not all the time, the alpha male on his team? He's been a great passer so far, but, at some point, there may be a point where he's simply no longer the best crunch-time scoring option.

That could certainly be the case if he went to the Rockets. Harden would be the first option in most cases.

And, per this story, why would I want LBJ in Philly? The Process, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric et al? Why screw that up with an aging LBJ who will want to be the center of action?

December 13, 2017

OK, Texas Greens — it's ballot access petition time
(Update: That's if it does any good)

The Texas Secretary of State reports no Democrat filed for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 8.

Assuming some Green DID file for that spot, that's an obvious chance for the party to get 5 percent in a statewide race and have automatic party ballot access in 2020. (I left a message on the newest post on Texas GP's Facebook page, and I've already tagged it on a Tweet.

Update: No Green did file for that race. Sadly. Unbelievably.

When the Greens have maintained their 5 percent in the past, it's ALWAYS been because of a CCA race. When they lost it in 2016, it was because of a CCA race.

The party had four applicants, three of them for statewide office. Jan Richards is far more qualified for governor than Brandon Parmer of four years ago. Her platform is not bad, but as of right now, it appears to fall short of Democrat Tom Wakely's. Jamar Osborne is running again for AG, as he did in 2014. George Reiter (the UH physics prof?) is running for the Railroad Commission. And, James Partsch-Galvan is running for CD 29.

A week before the filing deadline, Dems announced a slate of state Supreme Court and CCA candidates. At that time, CCA Place 8 was the donut hole. And state Greens couldn't get anybody to run for it?

The skinny on petition driving? The party will need about 48,000 valid signatures. Petition drive time period is March 14-May 27, 2018. More details here and at links on that page.

I live in a highly conservative small town area. Plus, arguably, it wouldn't be ethical for me to run a petition drive.

That said, not only will I sign a petition, if asked, I'll tell people where they can go to sign, if somebody like Dallas Greens announces a date in advance.

Update: I think. Because, barring Justin Nelson as the Dem for AG or either Chris Spellmon or Roman McAllan for the RRC being a clusterfuck, the Greens aren't getting 5 percent. (Sorry, Ms. Richards, but you sure aren't against either Wakely or Loopy Lupe Valdez. I might well vote for you if Loopy Lupe is the nominee, but 5 percent of voting Texans won't join me.)

This presumes the state party says yes to a drive, which it sure as hell should do, given the info in the first paragraph.

Update: Well, maybe not. If it couldn't think ahead and recruit ahead on the legal races, will it have a good, organized petition drive? And, if it does, and gets on the ballot, to what end? Three candidates to be listed in most the state. And an almost certain loss of ballot access again.

Rob Manfred and Giancarlo Stanton trade:
Where's the Bowie Kuhn action?

Giancarlo Stanton: The Yankees' fire-sale Christmas present
When I read the ludicrous trade return that Miami Marlins hack pseudo-GM Derek Jeter got back from the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton I was outraged. I mean, Starlin Castro plus A-ball low-tier "prospects" Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers? Odds are Guzman never sees a major league stadium from the inside unless he's buying a ticket. Jeter arguably got a better deal from the Mariners for Dee Gordon.

Not just because I'm a Cardinals fan, but because of the ludicrousness of the trade in general. After all, the Giants made a better offer than did the Yankees, and the Cardinals, even if they haven't made the playoffs the last two years, have had winning records, undercutting Stanton's using his no-trade to steer the trade there.

First, last week, Commissioner Rob Manfred promised to investigate the Shohei Ohtani signing to make sure there were no under-the-table offers. So why isn't he investigating a fake trade with over-the-counter shenanigans?

There IS precedent.

I'm old enough to remember when Bowie Kuhn voided the trades that A's owner Charlie O. Finley made of Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue. (I disagree with Kuhn voiding a later trade of Blue to the Reds for prospect players.) They were just as lopsided as this, and Manfred should take the same action, or at least look into it. As far as I know, he still has the power to do so.

In another sport, there's more modern precedent. Then NBA-Commish David Stern voided the three-way trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers from the Hornets for Lamar Odom, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Pau Gasol moving to either the Hornets or the Rockets.

As for Jeter and his gutting of the team even more than Jeff Loria slimed it? If he's honest about the team losing, not just money in general, but THAT MUCH money? Then, commish? You need to either move that team or contract it. Ditto on the Rays. You need to be honest about owners books for the fans, and for the players at the next collective bargaining talks.

Add up that the Yankees have dumped Chase Headley on the Padres for scrubini Jabari Blash, who has no chance of OF playing time with Stanton there. (Yes, the Padres also got Bryan Mitchell, but he's a sucky set-up reliever who the Pads are surely overvaluing.) Seriously, the Yankees are being allowed to get away with this shite, since Brian Cashman may now get under the lux tax line with dumping Headley PLUS the Fish eating part of Stanton's contract?

In reality, Manfred has no cojones and will do nothing.

I don't begrudge Stanton his no-trade clause. Nor his exercising it. I said that in my piece about the trade. I do begrudge Brian Cashman acting like a vulture because of it, because of the Jeter group's overpaying for the team and because of how he's handled the team since then.

And, above all, I begrudge Manfred for not addressing it. And, Stanton? With the full no-trade, YOU made the decision to jump in the Marlins' boat in the first place.

Also, when are more people, including Manfred and those around him, going to admit that Central/South Florida just ain't good MLB territory, and also stop making excuses for Tampa-St Pete that don't wash?

December 12, 2017

TX Progressives wrangle about state election filings, Jerusalem, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance wonders if Donald Trump has ever heard of Krampus as it brings you this week's roundup.

The actual progressive Texas Democratic candidates -- as well as the ones pretending to be -- are in PDiddie at Brains and Eggs' latest post.

SocraticGadfly offered his take on Trump, with egging on from top Democrats, naming Jerusalem the capital of Israel.


EgbertoWillies.com covered Indivisible Houston's tax protests and Net Neutrality protests.

Neil at All People Have Value said even if the external world is in disorder, we can still move up and up and up. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

As Texas Leftist slowly makes an effort to get back in the saddle for 2018, heís thankful for the incredible work of all of his blogging colleagues. Before we leap into next yearís political hopefuls, itís worth note that a former Texas elected official made a big move this week. Get ready to see and hear more from Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker in 2018.

Dos Centavos is looking forward to the 2018 Democratic primary.

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

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

Texas Standard notes that the Texas Legislature approaches a day of reckoning over sexual misconduct by lawmakers.

Texas Vox wants part of the Volkswagen settlement with the state to go to electric vehicles.

Chuck Smith breaks down the Colorado bake shop/same sex marriage case that was argued at SCOTUS.

The Bloggess is once again spearheading a grassroots effort to help people in need for the holidays.

Dwight Silverman has some advice for people who are looking for gifts for their techie friends and family.

Better Texas Blog explains how the Republican tax cut bill threatens local and state public services.
Mean Green Cougar Red tries to wrap his min around flat earthers.

Free Press Houston interviews Silky Malik, one of the candidates to replace Ted Poe in the Second Congressional District.

Paradise in Hell applauds the selection by Sports Illustrated of JJ Watt and Jose Altuve as co-Sportspersons of the Year for 2017.

December 11, 2017

Hoops polls — LeBron, Knicks

Per respondents in my first poll, as many of you think LeBron James will stay in Cleveland next year rather than join Lonzo Ball et al in LaLa Land. Only one thinks he'll go to the other side of LaLa Land with Blake Griffin and the Clippers.

I think the likelihood of him moving is now less than when I ran the poll. But, I'm not yet 100 percent convinced he'll stay.

I personally was the one Clippers voter. But, with Blake injured again, and the team facing some tough choices, I think that option is gone.

Meanwhile, the latest story says the Lakers aren't likely — but the Rockets may be. Of course, there's no way they can give LBJ a max contract right now.

There's a sidebar to all this, and that's his mileage. Yes, the King is having an incredible year this year. But, by the end of the year, he should be in the top 20 all time in career minutes. And, he'd probably be in the top 15 by the end of next year. The "finish line" is surely getting closer. How well will he make a transition to no longer being, at least not all the time, the alpha male on his team? He's been a great passer so far, but, at some point, there may be a point where he's simply no longer the best crunch-time scoring option.

That could certainly be the case if he went to the Rockets. Harden would be the first option in most cases.

==

Next, the Knicks-Thunder trade of Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter. Only one of five thinks the Thunder won this now or will win it in the future. Two called it both a short-term and a long-term win for the Knicks, while I and one other called it a short-term draw, long-term win.

I wasn't specific, but I meant short-term to be this year, not the first one-quarter of this year.

At worst, from the Knicks POV, I think it's a short-term draw, and may wind up being a short-term win. If they make the playoffs this year, it's definitely a win. Ditto if, even if they don't make it this year, the Thunder don't get past the first round out West. Kanter and Unicorn Kristaps Porzingis are playing pretty well together — when both are healthy.

December 09, 2017

#Cardinals look to Plan B after Stanton spooks out

Giancarlo Stanton 
So, Miami Marlins $295 million albatross Giancarlo Stanton won't waive his no-trade clause to come to St. Louis, even while remaining clueless about the lux tax — especially since it gets tougher in some ways in its new version and not realizing that it is highly unlikely either the Dodgers or the Yankees are going to trade for him — unless, as appears, Brian Cashman has done a volte face on lux tax issues in Gotham, with Great Red Satan reporting that Marlins-Yankees talks could be near fruition.

So, what's next in St. Louie?

The Plan B of some sort that informed fans have always known was on the back burner of the Hot Stove League and now is on the front burner.

And, let's at least be thankful the Iron Galoot said no before the start of winter meetings, so Mozeliak and Girsch are already in position to deal.

Marcel Ozuna
Christian Yelich
One portion, or one fork, of that Plan B is looking at Stanton's current outfield running buddies Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. For a mix of reasons, from adding a lefty bat to seeing his peak potential dampened more by Miami's stadium, to seeing a steadier player, and seeing one under club control for five more years, the Cardinals reportedly lean toward Yelich. (I expect Ozuna to attract something in the $10 million range on arbitration this year, or at an absolute minimum, more than the $7 million Yelich gets next year. Yelich is also a year younger.

But, that's not the Cards' only option.

Florida's other low-budget baseball team (and more on that later), the Tampa Bay Rays, could also become a trade partner.

Evan Longoria
The Cardinals have already hinted at Alex Colomé being a trade target to be their new closer. More recently, the Birds have also hinted at asking about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.

If the ask by Miami, in turns of return players, isn't too, too high for Yelich or Ozuna, it's certainly possible Longoria could also be a target. His next three years are at or under $15 million. He goes to $18M and $19M after that, with a $13M team option in the sixth year left on his contract. Yelich has a $15M team option that same year. Even without exercising his opt-out, Stanton himself, at $29M, would be making a million more in 2022.

So, yes, both are affordable in terms of salary, Yelich, or Ozuna possible, plus Longoria.

Now, are they affordable in terms of trade, of players?

Let's think. For Yelich or Ozuna?

Either Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty for starters. Either Yelich is in left, and Tommy Pham is your likely center fielder with Dexter Fowler in right, or Ozuna is in right and Fowler in left. (Though he needs to be out of center, I'm OK with Fowler in right.) Add other players as necessary without breaking the prospect bank.

For landing Longoria? Cards third baseman Jedd Gyorko would of course be redundant. As with the Miami OF trade, add other players as necessary. Gyorko is somewhat cheaper, with the Pads picking up $3M of his contract each of the next two years, and a bit younger. After that, the Rays could pick up his team option, and after that, decide whether to give him a QO or just let him walk. Throw in a mid-level prospect to sweeten the pot, maybe, or otherwise add players as necessary.

Especially if the Cards made both these trades happen?

Giancarlo Grifter, if we throw out 2017, while at the same time normalizing his previous years, with their injuries, to 162-game stats is a 5-WAR guy who doesn't walk a lot and isn't that fast.

Yelich + Longoria are 6 WAR or better. And, they have more stable stats, generally, than Stanton, or Ozuna.

But, the Cards may need to temper their thoughts on Yelich or Ozuna. If Jeter is successful in dumping Stanton for no bigger salary back than Starlin Castro, as is being rumored, he may not have a major urgency in moving other players.

Of course, there's a different path in Plan B, too.

Josh Donaldson
On Twitter, James Cameron suggested a week ago he thought this was better for the Cardinals. He has a proposed trade on Fangraphs: The Cardinals send Gyrko and current first baseman Matt Carpenter to Toronto for top-flight third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Pluses? Donaldson has higher performance than Giancarlo Stanton, and certainly above Yelich or Ozuna, and about what one of them plus Longoria have combined in WAR.

Minuses? A free agent after this year. And, Donaldson is four years older than Stanton, and several years older than Yelich and Ozuna. and at a position where people don't play much after 35. Plus, in the first version of Plan B, Longoria's available for a lot less.

And on contracts, remember the last one-year player for whom the Cards traded? Jason Heyward crashed and burned here, then got the Cubs to overpay him.

So, I'm against Cameron. But, it is theoretically an option.

Now, an additional word or two on the lux tax. The Dodgers are miles over. The Yankees are a fair bit over. We should note that tax is based on salary on the 40-man roster, too, not the 25-man roster. It also includes about $11 million in pension and medical benefits. PLUS — starting next year? If a team is more than $40 million over the cap, its first pick in the First Year Player Draft, per MLB, gets kicked down 10 spots. ALSO, the new tax includes surtaxes, in addition to repeater rates. These aren't too bad for each dollar in the $20-$40M overage, but each $ over $40M is hit at 42.5 percent — the first year. A repeater rate for that is at 45 percent.

So, through the life of the current CBA, through 2021, there's two numbers to watch. One is whatever the lux tax line is, and the other, even for richer teams, is that number plus $40 million. The draft choice penalty kicks in every year that's exceeded, not just for repeater teams.

Cashman in New York WAS under orders to get below the lux tax line. The Yankees were not too far over the threshold last season and are now losing the old $25M/yr contract of CC Sabathia. The Dodgers would, at a minimum, I think, like to get below that $40M-plus threshold for 2018, and absolutely for 2019.

But, if Cash Man makes this trade, they're possibly still above the lux tax and at the multiple repeater 50 percent rate. (This was written before the Yanks dumped Chase Headley for a scrubbini.) In fact, they're probably at the smaller 12.5 percent tax level at the $20M-plus mark. And, when others want their paydays in the future? Almost surely at that $40M-plus threshold. They're lucky to still have two pre-arb years on Aaron Judge. Wonder if MLBPA is going to use his case to ask to further address arbitration-related issues down the road.

More details on some of those issues at this post of mine.

If both Ozuna and Yelich get traded, and the Yankees deal falls through, that lets the Iron Giant play with a team full of AAA players next year. It should fall through, but Manfred won't investigate it.

Sidebar — When are more people, including Commish Rob Manfred and those around him, going to admit that Central/South Florida just ain't good MLB territory, and not make excuses for Tampa-St Pete that don't wash?

December 08, 2017

Screw you Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton 
So, Derek Jeter, the public face and everyday executive of new Miami Marlins ownership, is trying to dump salary, as already shown with the Dee Gordon trade, and with hinting to $295 million albatross Giancarlo Stanton that if he won't waive his no-trade clause, more salary will have to be traded away elsewhere.

Well, the Iron Giant still believes in tooth fairies in either the Bronx or Chavez Ravine, apparently, as he has refused trades to both the Cardinals and the Giants.

OK, let's look and see just how delusional Stanton's Yankees and Dodgers hopes are.

First, the Yankees.

Well, no, first, a word or two on the lux tax. The Dodgers are miles over. The Yankees are a fair bit over. We should note that tax is based on salary on the 40-man roster, too, not the 25-man roster. It also includes about $11 million in pension and medical benefits. PLUS — starting next year? If a team is more than $40 million over the cap, its first pick in the First Year Player Draft, per MLB, gets kicked down 10 spots. ALSO, the new tax includes surtaxes, in addition to repeater rates. These aren't too bad for each dollar in the $20-$40M overage, but each $ over $40M is hit at 42.5 percent — the first year. A repeater rate for that is at 45 percent.

So, through the life of the current CBA, through 2021, there's two numbers to watch. One is whatever the lux tax line is, and the other, even for richer teams, is that number plus $40 million. The draft choice penalty kicks in every year that's exceeded, not just for repeater teams.

NOW, the Yankees.

Brian Cashman is NOT trading Aaron Judge. And likely not Aaron Hicks. So, that blocks two outfield spots right there. Jeter is not taking back Jacoby Ellsbury and three more years of $21 million per if he's trying to dump salary. He's probably not taking back two years of Brett Gardner at roughly the same salary as the just-traded Gordon. So, that blocks ALL starting outfield spots. Besides, Cashman is reportedly under mandate to get below the $195M lux tax line. (The Yankees were not too far over the threshold last season and are now losing the old $25M/yr contract of CC Sabathia.) Besides, the Yankees went to the ALCS last year with a young team and a manager disconnected to some degree from many players. They don't really need you.

I stand by that as of this time even in the face of Great Red Satan reporting that Marlins-Yankees talks are heating up. In a note on the Yankees' webpage at ESPN, Andrew Marchand admits it would have to be a convoluted deal, with the Yankees trying to shove salary down Jeter's throat, which he's already indicated he won't do, with the Gordon trade. Plus, Marchand also reminds that Ellsbury had a no-trade clause of his own. Is he going to Miami? Nuh-uh. (Oh, and note to Buster Olney? If the Dodgers ain't interested, there's no "leverage" for the Marlins to gain.)

Now, it might be just possible for Cashman to do a three-team trade, but he'd probably have to send at least a couple of prospects of some sort to that third team, then.

Update: Apparently Cashman pulled off his deal. Either he's worse on lux-tax math than he would appear to be, or else he's dumping more salary back to Miami besides Starlin Castro, or else there's going to a modern America version of income inequality on that team. Per Cots, with relatively low estimates (I think) on what the Yankees' arb-eligible and pre-arb players will get offered, swapping Stanton's contract for Castro's puts them at $170M. Add $11M or so for medical/pension contributions and you're at $181 without accounting for the 15 players not on the 25-man but who are on the 40-man. At a minimum, it's not going to be as easy-breezy as Andrew Marchand seems to present it.

Next, the Dodgers, for whom Miami talking to the Yankees is NOT a stalking horse.

First, they've got the highest payroll in MLB, well over the luxury tax line. They got down to "just" $241M last year, after $249 in 2016 and $271 in 2015. And, Clayton Kershaw has an opt-out on his current contract after this year. They could dump Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig after next year, but their two contracts combined will be less than Stanton's out-years one. (Technically, the Dodgers do have a year of arb control with Puig in 2019, though his current contract ends after next year.) The team would surely love to get below the tax line in 2019 (it almost surely can't this coming year) to get a reset from being a repeat offender, as they're paying a 50 percent tax on the overage rate right now, and that's without the surtaxes and draft spot punishments in the new version of the tax.

That's not to say the Dodgers won't consider nosing around next year, if they're willing to pay the repeater tax again, but on salary of no more than $235M, to get below that higher surtax level.

For shits and giggles, since he's from the Southland, let's talk Angels. No dice. The Ghost of Albert Pujols' contract has four years left. (Supposedly, Phat Albert is working to slim down this offseason, but we shall see. For my take on him in the middle of last summer, go here.) At the same time, they have just three years on the Mike Trout deal and will want to extend him. Plus, there's Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron and just-signed Shonei Ohtani to play the outfield. Besides, Arte Moreno is more averse to the lux tax than his cross-town rivals, and adding Stanton, unless he could dump a certain amount back on Jeter, would push him just a bit over.

So, the Cardinals will move on to Plan B. With Miami, that includes looking at Stanton's outfield running buddies Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. For a mix of reasons, from adding a lefty bat to seeing his peak potential dampened more by Miami's stadium, to seeing a steadier player, and seeing one under club control for five more years, the Cardinals reportedly lean toward Yelich. (I expect Ozuna to attract something in the $10 million range on arbitration this year, or at an absolute minimum, more than the $7 million Yelich gets next year. Yelich is also a year younger.

Bonus? If the trade price in players isn't too high, his salary is low enough that the Cards can ask about Evan Longoria from the Rays, who has a quite club-friendly contract for the next couple of years, and then a neutral one at the tail end, as a package with desired closer Alex Colomé.

Some other teams may nose around for whichever outfielder the Cards don't get of Yelich and Ozuna.

That lets the Iron Giant play with a team full of AAA players next year. Have fun, dude.

You're now with an owner who fired a staffer last month while he was in the hospital!

#ActualFlatticus — A Chopin duet

I have had several people ask me over the past several weeks if they thought that Florida lawyer Chris Chopin's famous, infamous, notorious, interesting, thought-provoking and more Twitter account Actual Flatticus was run by him alone. The amount of time tweeting, the hours of when Tweets were made, the speed of reactions and more all seemed almost superhuman — which was an attraction to his groupies.

But, what if it were a tag-team with his sister, lobbyist and media spin doctor Alexandra Chopin / Wise?

I found her shortly after Flatty died, on LinkedIn and company website, based on facial features and her getting her undergrad and law degrees both at Chris's undergrad alma mater, Emory. Given that during her time with Patton Boggs and post-merger Squire Patton Boggs, her CV says she's done so-called "Congressional appearances" (lobbying) and media work for candidates (spin doctoring), arguably, Chris should have been as angry at her as at his Trump-loving, Jeb Bush-loving before that, dad. However, given that she, not his wife, took over his sacrosanct Twitter account after he died, that apparently wasn't true.

Let's repeat and rephrase this.

She's a lawyer for Squire Patton Boggs, per the "company website" link. A PARTNER, no less! Yes, THAT Patton Boggs. White shoe law firm to the DC insider grifters. Per Wiki, it's the third-largest lobbying firm in the US! And, it says she has past experience with political campaign media, too.

And, this is the sister of Flatty, the attacker of campaign finance and hater of corruption.

Now, the time of posting? A one-person Twitterer can do that ahead with Tweetdeck.

The information involved? Not THAT difficult, in most cases, if you know the FEC donations website and Open Secrets. It still goes faster the higher the degree of familiarity.

Nonetheless, Alex's expertise would help a lot with this.

Given that during her time with Patton Boggs and post-merger Squire Patton Boggs, her CV says she's done several presentations on social media, social media and privacy and related issues, she has relevance there as well as relevance on the numbers and figures Flatty posted.

And, as she currently is two time zones separated from Florida, there would be that angle, too.

As for quickness of responses otherwise? There's always the possibility of deliberate softball questions and other things.

My suspicions about this were HIGHLY raised earlier this month.

While not smearing either Chris Chopin or his sister, note that this new Tweet, from ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller, responded to by Man from Atlantis (who lies in claiming I doxxed Chris), in essence says that the Church of Flatticus is being founded on Twitter. It specifically cites family involvement, which would be his lobbyist and political media flack sister, Alexandra.  I have posted a screengrab in case that Tweet is hauled down or your account is blocked.

Given that she appears to be running his Twitter account, and is working with professional IT type people, it increases my suspicion level, and further makes me wonder just how much of a Dem sheepdogger, or even agent provacateur, Flatty was. The fact that this is released as an "official family statement" is another eyebrow-raiser.

Let's just read through this more.

First, they're getting (presumably paid) IT pros to help with special archiving beyond the normal. Will there be a tip jar for that?

Second —protecting the privacy of the family?

Puhleeze.

We know all about L. Frank the daddy and Alex the sister. Several people before me, even, wrote about L. Frank Baum Chopin, the Chopin family Wizard of Oz, as soon as Chris's name was connected by more people to the Flatty Twitter account. I think I may have been the first to explore what Alexandra was about. There's no privacy to protect on those two, and not a lot on his brother and mom.

Chris's wife is not interested in any of this, at a minimum, I would venture. And, I can only speak for myself, but as far as I know, nobody is invading her privacy. And if Lawyer Killer on Twitter is right, they had arguments about his Twitter work from its early days — as in, around the time of his domestic battery case.

Besides that, hell, per his obituary tribute card, Chris card about his dog more then did his wife.

This actually sounds like Cosa Nostra type bullshit. "It's the family!" Chopin pinkie handshakes all around.

Third — "trying to figure out how to put our lives back together"?  Sounds like stereotypical cult groupies. Next line sounds like it comes from an AA meeting.

Trust me, there's going to be more manipulation of emotions down the stretch.

By people — whether family or paid outsiders — who know how to do it.

I had said, in the last or next to last Flatty post before this, that I was probably near the finish line.

Well, that was before groupies decided to enshrine and deify him and his family decided to exploit that. Speaking of, Flatty's original account has "like" a couple of tweets by Twitter friends. The person apparently behind the two #RIPActualFlatticus legacy aggregator accounts has followed me on Medium.

And, even if Twitter groupies like ShirtLost DumbShit initiated this, the statement specifically says it's from his family.

Oh, this effort costs money. And, this is officially becoming a religious cult.

So, expect a tip jar, or a PayPal button, or something somewhere, as the online version of an offering plate.

Besides, AFAIK, there's no need for this anyway. I don't think Twitter deletes inactive accounts. If it did, Alex has the log-in info anyway. She could just send out a "ping" account once every 90 days or whatever.

So, no, I'm not going away. Neither are my "what" and "why" and "who" speculations.

December 06, 2017

Quick take on Trump-Schumer-Cardin-Bibi and Jerusalem

So, declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Even if President Trump is not (yet?) planning on moving our embassy?

First, President 2 Corinthians has shown willingness to pander to the Religious Right — except when he palmed the Saudis' Palantir earlier this year. So, in one sense this isn't surprising. (Note: Per another piece of mine, most of the Religious Right is actually OK with his racism.)

It's also not surprising because he loves the narcissistic attention of controversy.

It's also also not surprising because anything that makes a "splash," especially if it's reaching across the political aisle at times just to confound the old guard GOP establishment.

It's also also also not surprising because he thinks this is actually going to do something diplomatically, when, short of causing a war, it won't.

But why now?

One guess.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas had been working on rapprochement for one unified government over both Gaza and the main Palestinian lands of the so-called West Bank. And it looked like something was going to happen. Some things, like the PA running Gaza border crossings, have already been done. On the other hand, within the last week, key parts of the agreement weren't agreed upon, forcing a delay in the big schmeer.

Now, Donald Duck himself is too dumb for this. But, his aides? Not at all. And certainly, Bibi Netanyahu would like to do anything he could to get American attention focused his way.

Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin? (Where's Sen. Betty Crocker, aka Dianne Feinstein?)

Other than truly being Zionists, I'm not sure what their angle is on backing Trump right now, or even encouraging him from the get-go. With Schumer, though, I'm sure he's working some angle. He may be circling back to the DACA issue, though the House GOP has already told one of its own, Jeff Flake, that's a dead letter. There may be some bankster-related issues vis-a-vis the #TrumpTaxScam. Or it may really be existential angst over Iran, which is bogus.

At times like this, the atheist portion of me takes over.

I think, why can't Kim Jong Un lob one of his warheads at Jerusalem? Obliterate the Wailing Wall, the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre all three?

Or, if that's too bloody?

Where's Brother Maynard and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch?



Maybe it could wipe out those three religious sanctuaries and from there, we declare it a religious neutral site.

More seriously yet, where is Riyadh? Where are the Saudis? Trump played grabby with King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman's Palantir. And, the Saudis have had off-the-record business and quasi-diplomatic dealings with Israel for years, even with Bibi in power. But, surely this is way too far. MBS surely has to be saying something somewhere in private now. If he's not, his Wahhabi clerics surely are going to go ballistic soon and ruin his image of modernization. (The Old Gray Lady claims MBS has, outside of the Jerusalem issue, signed off on a Palestine peace plan that kneecaps Palestinians.)

Meanwhile, here's the history, on the US side, behind Trump's proclamation, and promises that such a proclamation would be made as soon as Congress stopped semiannual waivers.

It might also be appropriate here to link to my review of Shimon Peres' biography, just to remind people that Israel is the only state in the Middle East with nukes.

Lupe Valdez is OFFICIALLY in the ring for Texas governor (updated)

Lupe Valdez, fmr Dallas Co. Sheriff
What was rumored a couple of weeks ago now seems official — Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has announced she has resigned to run for governor.

UPDATE, Nov. 30: The Texas Trib says there appears to have been some gun-jumping by North Texas media last night, whether out of enthusiasm for her candidacy or misinformation by the Dallas County Democratic Party. She has NOT officially resigned as of Thursday morning.

UPDATE 2, Dec. 6: It's now official, per announcement.

On the surface, this seems to  check all the boxes that Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa and allies could want in terms of visibility. (The Chronic notes that she's reportedly his personal choice.) Beyond local, regional and possibly state visibility, she is also "connected," connected enough to have been named to the Democratic National Committee in 2010. (Meanwhile, it's funny AND weird that Gromer Jeffers says she's expected to officially file "as early as next week." Gromer, she's only got 12 days left, and you know the calendar.)

Beyond that, she checks the right boxes on social issues, and, in the wake of Senate Bill 4 on sanctuary cities, checks the right box on that, too.

Indeed, that's part of her story. She was born the child of migrant farm workers, so she knows the immigration story. As is being lesbian along with a woman. No arguing that. (Also no doubt that in her first run for re-election, she faced definite right-wing smears, led by then-Dallas Snooze op-ed "pundit" Rod Dreher.)

In fact, in 2015, looking ahead a couple of years, I said the party, at a minimum, could do far worse. (Andrew White, this year, certainly comes to mind.)

I've met Valdez in the past, when I lived in the Metroplex. Never did an actual interview, but talked with her at one community event in the Best Southwest suburbs. Besides her "story" she is generally personable, no doubt about it. And, per that link immediately above, her story, unlike that of Wendy Davis, needs no "polishing."

But, she's got baggage.

That starts with the failed state jail inspections in years past at Lew Sterrett. Yes, that started under her GOP predecessor Jim Bowles. But, it continued under her. Even if we assign the 2005 fail, as well as 2003 and 2004 to Bowles. she still, with 2006-09 failed inspections, had one more than him.

John Wiley Price, Our Man Downtown, took her to the proverbial woodshed in the middle of that period, for not keeping him in the loop — whether she was legally required to or not. Worse, the "loop" was having the Discovery Channel film improvements at Lew Sterrett — improvements that still weren't good enough for the state of Texas for two more years.

That was the same year that she got sued for false imprisonment. (Update: It was eventually denied a hearing in the federal system.) The "whys" of what led to the suit speak of an ongoing lack of organizational skills in the department, and fish rot from the head down.

As noted, I said in 2015 that she could be a good candidate, because of visibility issues and she might be less of a DINO than some in the past. Hell, she'd surely turn out the Hispanic vote better than fake Dem Tony Sanchez did in 2002.

But, that 2015 post was before Tom Wakely threw his Stetson, or Panama , whichever it is, in the race.

Beyond support for LGBT rights, and presumably reproductive freedom, and the right of sanctuary cities to be sanctuary cities to illegal immigrants, what sort of a platform will she have? Wakely's already on the record about supporting not just single-payer health care, but wanting a Texas state level version of a National Health Service, with the state of Texas having government owned health clinics around the state. And more. He wants to legalize pot. He's tough on climate change. He wants stronger gun control.

Until I hear Valdez flesh out some actual policy positions, assuming that Greens either don't run a candidate or don't run someone better than Brandon Parmer, Wakely's got my support. And per Brains' take earlier on initial rumors, how much of a "law-and-order Dem" is she? Specifically, versus Wakely on legalizing pot? Remember, she had years and years at Homeland Security, pre-merger Customs before that, and the federal prison system before that. What's her take on decarceration? Fifth Amendment issues? More? Remember, contra Democrats at the federal level who say "Oh the SCOTUS," that even "liberal" Justices don't always support civil liberties in the face of "law and order."

==

Personally, this is the most interested I've been in a Texas Democratic gubernatorial race since being eligible to vote in Texas.

Note: In 1994, I had moved here too late to vote vote Miss Ann, as I presume I would have, against Shrub. With me being a leftist of sorts, not just an evolving liberal, today, I surely still would have voted for her if I had 1994 choices with no Green Party and no viable, interesting independents. In 1998, I'd moved out of state by the general. Not sure I would have voted for Gary Mauro or not. I bought the idea of some state Dems and many national ones to let Shrub have a cakewalk. OTOH, "Democratic" Lite Guv Bob Bullock had already given Shrub a cakewalk path to the presidency. He' the second worst Texas ConservaDem of the last 20 years, behind only John Sharp. Sharp is worse for being less competent. And, speaking of?

Sharp's hand-corralled "dream team" candidate of Tony Sanchez in 2002 was barf-inducing. I can't remember if I voted for Dan Morales in the primary or not.

The late-entered Chris Bell was a bleah choice in 2006, and since then has proved that his "good government" schtick is bullshit. I voted for him over even worse choices in the primary, and over Kinky Friedman, who threw away a semi-serious chance at getting elected.

Bill White in 2010 was only slightly less bland than Bell, and a Dem insider neoliberal. And, with a Green option, I voted Deb Shafto in the general. Since Greens already had ballot access, I can't remember if I voted in the Dem primary or not.

Wendy Davis certainly wasn't bland in 2014. But, between her and Green pseudocandidate Brandon Parmer, I undervoted.

And Wakely's already been co-campaigning with Lite Gov candidate Tom Cooper, more of a dream team than Sharp's. Fortunately, they've not had Beto O'Rourke in their loop; Brains says (and I'm with him) that he's too much of a squish and that Sema Hernandez is the best Dem in that primary.

Speaking of Greens? The state party is reportedly still deliberating whether to seek ballot access. For petition-signing purposes, it had better have a decision before the start of early voting, and if it's a "go," announce it loud and clear. Wakely's got a platform that's as solid as many a Green candidate would put together. And, Valdez may well not be bad.

I'm not just talking about governor, though; what I'm getting at is that this governor's primary is quite possibly going to draw in a bunch of left-winger Dems who can't sign Green petitions if they vote in the Dem primary. And, that then means that if a ballot access drive is started tardily, downballot Greens suffer.

Hat tip to Brains for noting the non-resignation AND for noting how Valdez would very likely boost turnout and jazz up down-ballot Democratic races.

That said, if Greens do decide to do a ballot access drive (which they had BETTER do if Dems don't fill up their CCA card) I'll have to sit out if I want to sign it.

Why the #ReligiousRight backs Trump, racism, sexism and all

Many people of the center or liberalism wonder how many people of the Religious Right, including ministers such as Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr., could embrace Donald Trump, and not only embrace him, but do so openly, not at arm’s length.

A constellation of reasons converge, with the ultimate answer being —

IT'S IN THEIR CULTURAL DNA.

One, the Religious Right has made it’s bed with the GOP, so that’s where it’s going to sleep, period.

Related to that is the simple element of tribalism. Go, they’ll swallow hard and accept his sexual shenanigans.

Many of them accept his ideas and treatment of women in general, without, in theory, supporting extramarital sex or Trump’s brazenness. That said, the almost totally male faith leaders of the Religious Right also support Type A males acting like stereotypical Type A males in general.

As far as the racial elements of Trumpism, and the Religious Right’s acceptance of that?

This piece shows that the protestations of the Religious Right, or those who claim to be affiliated with it, of "no true Scotsman" re the likes of Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffress endorsing Trump, simply don't ring true. The racist, or quasi-racist, background of a large chunk of the Religious Right runs pretty long and pretty deep. (I would complain about the header; per the body of the story, Trump did no "hijacking.") 

Related to that is the idea that many everyday Trumpists are part of the Religious Right, but in a different way. Many of these people may not go to church that often, but they have their own version of tribalism. They identify with a cultural “Christianism” that in many ways parallels Islamism, the para-Islamic set of beliefs held by many conservative Muslims in its heartland.

So, they’re fine with the Falwells et al cozying up to Trump even if they see the Falwells as being less “of the people” than some of them still think Trump is.

And, back to that link. The people in the pews, the people not in the pews but in the culture, and the faith leaders all, like Trump, surely still see blacks as “uppity” in some way.

And, that’s how things tie together.

And, there’s a deeper history behing this.

The Atlantic spells out the long history of American and white nationalism, with a bright line from Duke to Trump. It’s a long, long read, but a good one, connecting the sociological (NOT socioeconomic) thread from Duke to Trump. I make that careful stipulation in noting that, contra the Adolph Reed types, this is an issue where racism is the ultimate driver, with little of the element of class issues. 

So, at bottom line, there is an element of hypocrisy for the Religious Right. The hypocrisy is in a largely false image, not in going against core realities.


In more recent times, this spilled out into the religious affiliation of many private "academies" in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. It also is reflected in how White Citizens Councils gave cover to religious and non-religious alike who didn't want to look as crude as Klansmen. And, before that, the bible was used, not just antebellum to justify slavery, but after that to justify segregation.

And, it's not just Baptists in the South. Remember that Mormons barred blacks from the priesthood until 1978. 

December 05, 2017

Texas Progressives weekly wrangle:
True crime, crappy politicos, more!

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone Treason's Greetings, and a #BoomerSooner in the CFP, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff is doing his best to keep up with filing news.

SocraticGadfly discusses three big bits of political news from around the Metroplex area. First, he offers his initial take on Lupe Valdez's possible entry into the Democratic gubernatorial race. Second, he says good-bye and good riddance to Helen Giddings. Third, he offers a bigger good-bye and good riddance to Smokey Joe Barton.

EgbertoWillies.com wants us all to be on the streets and more engaged in combating the Republican tax cut scam.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez had a false start to her gubernatorial campaign last week, and once her bid for the Governor's Mansion is official, it will help carry a lot of downballot Democrats to victory, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Harry Hamid went to the Harris County Green Party’s most recent monthly event but was forced to stage an unintentional walkout — while noting the “toxicity.” David Bruce Collins decided he would rather not attend the meeting in the first place, for similar reasons.

Neil at All People Have Value suggested that personhood be taken away from human beings and extended to guns and bullets instead. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

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

ProPublica looks at the number of polluted military facilities in Texas and elsewhere.

Jim Schutze discusses a true-crime podcast on Commerce’s public radio station. Schutze also offers a big salute to Dallas' new city manager.

Therese Odell reacts to the Matt Lauer news and the reaction to the Lauer news by Donald Trump.

The Lunch Tray asks you to comment on USDA school nutrition standards.

The TSTA Blog keeps pushing back against school privatization untruths.

RG Ratcliffe stuck a fork in Smokey Joe Barton. The StartleGram notes Smokey Joe’s former chief of staff got to the head of the line to replace him.

Bill Barker urges haste in adopting a Climate Action Plan.

Keep Austin Wonky offers his proposal for a 2018 City of Austin infrastructure bond.

December 04, 2017

What Happened? Hillary Clinton tried to write a book and wrote a novel

My review of "What Happened":

What HappenedWhat Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My 2 cents, or 2 stars worth

I didn't rate it 1 star for two reasons.

First, in a few rare instances, like discussing sriracha sauces, Hillary Clinton does allow peeks at what is presumably her real self.

Second, it deserves a second star because it reflects what Hillary Clinton believes about the 2016 campaign, and its backstory.

That said, much of what she believes, especially related to "Putin Did It," is simply wrong. (Note, I am writing from a leftist, not a GOP let alone Trumpist, angle. That said, many of the "Putin Did It" claims have been either PROVEN wrong or else withdrawn or modified. So, let's dig in!)

Here's a list of the major problems, by page number.

20. Did Hannah the Wisconsin election worker later / elsewhere get mad about Clinton not visiting the state?
35. Tries to triangulate between Obama as previous Dem president and Obama’s sluggish recovery.
47. Well-respected Clinton Foundation doesn’t mention Frank Giustra/Russia/uranium, nor does it mention Haiti and its less than totally reputable operation there
72. Calls emails — without mentioning a “server” — “one boneheaded mistake.” No deliberation, especially on server, not just account, mentioned.
74. Blames Bernie for not exiting the campaign sooner. Doesn’t mention parallel with her slow withdrawal in 2008.
112ff. Never mentions, in discussing her childhood, that she was a “Goldwater Girl.”
226. Falsely claims Bernie’s a socialist. She knows better.
229. Repeats stereotypes about BernieBros online harassing people. Never mentions online harassment of likes of Peter Daou.
229. Claims Bernie’s not a Dem. He is, de facto; Dem party has “cleared the field” for him since second House run. He is also, in a sense, de jure a Dem.
234. Obamacare is “universal” only on paper. For many, they can’t afford to buy anything other than the cheapest plan, and then they can’t afford to use it except in catastrophic cases.
239. Clinton claims that, deep inside, she favored a financial transactions tax and even basic income. Yeah, right. No post-election news stories about that.
254. Obama claimed that nobody in history was more qualified than her for White House. Reality? Setting aside Washington, there’s Adams, Jefferson, Quincy Adams, Van Buren, Buchanan, FDR, and Poppy Bush, on paper, at least.
289. Narrative about personal email >>account<< doesn’t mention server until 297, and then only in passing.
328. On matter of Putin’s being upset about NATO expansion, doesn’t mention that hubby Bill broke Poppy Bush’s oral pledge to Yeltsin that, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, NATO wouldn’t move east.
338. Wrong on Guccifer 2.0. Wrong on citing Crowdstrike as primary evidence.
341. Wrong on Russia hacking DNC emails vs a Dem insider stealing them.
352. Repeats the rejected “17 agencies” claim on Russia hacking DNC emails.
354. References the Steele dossier, now pretty much discredited, AND knows to have been paid for in part by the DNC, which Clinton also doesn’t mention
363. Many of the “21 states” she claims had state elections agencies that were Russian hacking targets now say that not only were they not compromised, as faras they know they weren’t targets.
411. Takes Jill Stein out of context, ignoring that the Obama-Clinton semi-coup in Ukraine that now has neo-Nazis in power is something that Stein rightfully complained about.

==

And, in a big picture on all of the “Putin Did It” claims, ignores that Crowdstrike either ignored or was unaware of poor security of NGP VAN, didn’t catch the DNC emails theft, as theft it was, and missed the Podesta phishing for months.

View all my reviews


Addendum to the review, for this blog post.

I feel kind of sad for her, and not in a patronizing way. I think she really believes most of what she (and one or more ghostwriters?) put in this book, even and especially the stuff about a Tobin tax and basic income. (Feel free to let me know if she's actually given speeches or anything about this.)

In reality, of course, this, along with her triangulating off Obama, shows that even by modern American political standards, there's no "there" there. Hillary Clinton is the Oakland of the Democratic Party, to riff on Gertrude Stein.

But, the modern Democratic Party seems to kind of like presidential candidates like that. Barack Obama didn't have much more "there" in 2008 than Clinton. And, post-presidency, banksters are paying him even more than they did her. But, many "resisters" who dislike, or even loathe, Hillary Clinton still fellate Barack Obama any chance they get. The reality is that they projected a lot of hopes and dreams on him. You didn't have to be a Green like me, or Green-leaner, to know that. All you had to do is note Obama's flip-flip on warrantless spying and giving a free pass to telecommunications companies in the summer of 2008.

The Slickster, of course, started the idea of triangulation, at least in modern form. He, of course, perfected the idea of "punching down" inside the modern Democratic Party.

Jimmy Carter was by no means perfect. He was the first neoliberal Democratic president, in many ways. (In some ways, JFK was.) But, in a number of cases, especially environmental issues, he was willing to take stances. Of course, his own party rick-rolled him in Congress for his pains.

December 02, 2017

A few quick notes on the #TrumpTaxScam
and the #resistance

First, it's really, of course, a GOP Tax Scam. That said, I doubt they'd try it with Shrub Bush in office. I know they wouldn't with Poppy Bush and probably not with Reagan.

Of course, while Reagan was already trying to whittle away at America's safety net, it was around the edges, and he probably wouldn't have asked for that much with this Congress.

But, when the executive branch is led by an infant, with his on-the-ground Veep pandering to the worst of the Religious Right, the children are going to play in Congress, too.

And, the children got elected after Obama got elected.

I blame, for that:
1. Shrub, Poppy, and consiglieres of both for not calling out Tea Party Congressional candidates, or the entire movement, quickly.
2. Dear Leader for continuing to try to sing "Kumbaya" with them after more and more of them got elected to Congress specifically in backlash to him, and often in race-driven backlash.
2A. Preznit Kumbaya a second time for gutting the Democratic National Committee and doing nothing to help Democratic congressional candidates in 2010.
3. The few alleged GOP adults already in Congress.

Speaking of, vag-hat-wearing #Resistance folks, how do you feel now about your "normalizing" of both Schmuck Talk Express John McCain and Jeff Flake in the past few weeks?

Your "movement" is as thin as baby oatmeal with both of them, with Shrub Bush aforementioned, and others.

It's also as thin as oatmeal for those of you who rightly reject much of what Hillary Clinton stood for but still uncritically accept Obama. He rightfully earned the Dear Leader moniker for reasons like this.

I'll confess that I had some hope McCain would vote no, based on his Obamacare repeal stance. That said, this just proves again that he can be almost as much a weathervane as Trump himself at times.

December 01, 2017

Your genes and your corporate enemies

I saw a story recently in my Twitter feed that major genetic personal research companies like 23 and Me and Ancestry had agreed to honor warrants from law enforcement agencies to hand over personal genetic information.

I found this troubling. Having done a filing with 23 and Me, in conjunction with a relative, I decided to close my account. I found the appropriate link and filed to close the account. Its reply made me double down on that decision. That email, in part, says:
Under certain circumstances, Personal Information may be subject to disclosure pursuant to judicial or other government subpoenas, warrants, or orders, or in coordination with regulatory authorities. 
We treat law enforcement inquiries, such as a valid subpoena or court order, with the utmost seriousness. We use all legal measures to resist any and all requests in order to protect the privacy of our customers. 
To date, we have successfully challenged these requests and have not released any information to law enforcement. You can view the number of requests 23andMe has received from law enforcement on our transparency report at: (here). 
And:
23andMe and the contracted genotyping laboratory may retain your Genetic Information as required by local law, pursuant to the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 and California laboratory regulations. 
I first found the additional reference to “in coordination with regulatory authorities” disconcerting. WHAT regulatory authorities? Why? What “coordination”? And, in regard to law enforcement, WHAT “orders” beyond warrants?

And, how much do you resist? Remember, Apple refused to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone under warrant.

That, like this, is a Fifth Amendment case of “persons and papers.”

The transparency report also says nothing about 23 and Me contacting ME whenever it should get such a request. I assume it does NOT. And unlike the dead San Bernardino shooter, I would still be alive.

Had 23 and Me said differently, that it WOULD contact me at the time of request, it might be different. But it’s not.

And, company policy on something like this is always subject to individual interpretation.

And, that last paragraph is disconcerting itself. What local law? Etc. It's clearly California state law, but, whereas "Hugh" from 23 and Me can cite federal statute to his advantage when it is to his advantage, nothing here.


-->
Beyond that, I’d already been less than totally fond of 23 and Me’s number of “upselling” offers. “Genetic basics? Would you like some fries with that”? (I assume Ancestry et al operate similarly.)

So my advice?

Close your account if you have one with any of these agencies.

Never start one if you haven't yet.
-->

November 30, 2017

Smokey Joe Barton — GONE

Well, not until January 2019, as he will serve out his current term, but he Ennis Congresscritter has announced he won't run for re-election in light of his sexting scandal.

Leave it to the Dallas Morning Snooze to try one last time to normalize Barton. Todd Gilman claims that, outside the current sexting scandal, nobody would say that Barton was less than "honorable"?

Really, Todd?

Snooze nemesis Jim Schutze earlier this week reported on Barton's nepotism and shakedown work. He also refudiated the Snooze's attempt to portray Barton as having little Religious Right connection, as it just did again today.

Barton is a flamboyantly self-professed champion of something called Republican family values, and he is an arch-foe of LGBT rights.
And, maybe he wasn't as flamboyant as a Gohmert Pyle, aka Louie Gohmert, but he mentioned it enough. And Jim's got the details:
In his career in Congress, Barton has voted against any federal family planning assistance that includes abortion. He has voted to ban all federal health coverage that includes coverage for abortion. He has voted in favor of a ban on transporting minors to get abortions. He has voted in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortions. 
Barton has voted to exclude all funding for family planning from U.S. foreign aid. He has voted yes to make it a crime to harm a fetus during commission of another crime. 
Barton has voted to ban gay adoptions in Washington, D.C. He has voted in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He has voted in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. He has voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He has voted against including anti-gay crimes under federal hate-crimes protection. 
Closer to home, in 2005, Barton created the Joe Barton Family Foundation, a tax-exempt nonprofit with a stated goal of providing “substantial support to select charitable organizations within Texas’s sixth congressional district to enable them to achieve aggressive goals that would have been otherwise unattainable.” He announced right off that he would use his foundation to provide almost a million dollars to a local Boys and Girls Club and a local Meals on Wheels program.
Bingo.

Rod Dreher, Mr. former Snooze homophobe columnist, also refudiates the Snooze's fake narrative attempt. As part of that, he notes that Barton repeatedly ran for office on "conservative family values." Dreher also rejects the idea of a Snooze editorial that this was just "poor judgment."

Back to Schutze's piece.

Jim goes on — go read it — about how much of the money for the foundation wasn't donated by him, or friends, but "friends" in the oil and gas big biz world. (More on that from the Washington Post; it triggered an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation.)

Barton also took a Religious Right stance on climate change:
He opposed wind energy on biblical grounds, warning, “Wind is God’s way of balancing heat.” Wind turbines, Barton said, “would slow the winds down” and increase global warming. He once barked at congressional colleague Nancy Pelosi, “You can’t regulate God!” which is probably true.
You can't make this stuff up, and Snooze folks, you can't make it go away, either.

And, it doesn't stop there. Wiki notes, as referenced as an aside by Schutze, the nepotism angle. Smokey Joe's daughter-in-law was the executive director of his foundation, also noted by the WaPost. Wiki also notes that his then-wife and daughter got paid for campaign work. And the New York Times, on the foundation nepotism, had him listed among top Congresscritter grifters.

He threw autistic kids under the bus in the name of Big Oil. He was well known as a witness-bullier during Congressional hearings.

Also per Wiki, Barton had been primaried the last three elections. Guess more and more fellow Republicans found him less than "honorable," Todd.

Meanwhile, I remember well how Smokey Joe got the Snooze to fire Jim Frisinger and Timothy O'Leary off its op-ed staff because of their environmental editorials about things like Midlothian cement plants. Folks like Downwinders at Risk remember, too. And Todd Gilman knows that too.

And, as far as less than honorable?

Buying gas wells from a lobbyist surely counts. Hell, Gilman's own paper reported that.

As does using Katrina aid funds to cut a blank check for Big Oil.

That's all from my blog, but I had plenty of opportunity to see Barton professionally during most the previous decade. I was, long ago, less impressed with his honor than is Gilman.

==

Speaking of the infamous firings, both Frisinger and O'Leary have moved on from their original landing spots. Frisinger, who went to the op-ed desk at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is now the Fort Worth district spox for the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps has gotten a shade greener than it was a decade ago, but that's still less environmentalist than his stance long ago.

O'Leary went to the UN in Geneva. Can't remember what agency he went to. He's now a freelance journo in the Philippines; I tweeted him to ask if he wanted to comment at all.

==

There is a sidebar to this. With its changing reader demographics and other things, maybe the Snooze's ongoing attempt to normalize Smokey Joe will push it further over whatever fiscal cliff lies ahead. There's been ever more speculation about a JOA with the Fort Worth Startlegram looming in the future. The ST at least has the corporate backing and strength of the McClatchy chain, while after selling the Denton Wrecked Times, all the Snooze has left in the Belo hut is itself, Al Dia, and its "vaunted" digital marketing shop. The fact that Voice Media still keeps the Observer operating in print as well as online, and with regular staffers, even as it has gutted the Houston Press and LA Weekly, probably is another sign of Snooze market weakness.

And, yes, this does look like a coordinated attempt to normalize Smokey Joe. Whether it comes from the relatively new (but not THAT new) executive editor and managing editor, or whether it's staff oldsters like Todd selling coals to Newcastle, I don't know, but it's there.