April 28, 2017

Jane Sanders under investigation

Jane Sanders, via Burlington College
No word if it's still ongoing or not — though it very likely IS — but the wife of former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders, was part of an FBI investigation into financial matters at non-defunct Burlington College, detailed at VTDigger.

No real surprise to me. Sorry, Berners, Berners thinking about becoming Greens, etc.

I had speculated on these pages more than once last year if Jane, when president of the college, was trading on Bernie's name when trying to raise a big loan for glorious dreams of the college's future. And, given it closed suddenly last May, Bernie's lucky he wasn't nominated; media might have started nosing around this issue more at that time.

As for that investigation? It's unclear and unknown if it's still ongoing or not, what future actions might result or not, etc. I would venture there's still loose ends since the principals involved won't say there aren't, per quotes in the piece. Getcha popcorn!

It is interesting that the investigation, per Burlington's board president, appears to have started before the college's official announcement of closure. Bradley Toensing's records request must have been treated fairly seriously from near the start — which could bring in a Barack Obama angle and/or a Hillary Clinton one, as well as the GOP one driven by Toensing — getcha popcorn, round two!

Also per these pages in the past, I've suspected Jane was a fair part of the impetus behind Bernie's run, and in addition to his own political animalism, may have been part of the impetus behind his political shifts from the 1980s to today.

Politics is blood sport, per James Stewart. Bernie's deal-cutting with the Vermont Democratic Party in the past shows he knows this well.

That said, do I think she did anything illegal? Very likely not.

Something unethical, whether by official college ethics standards or everyday ones? Possibly.

Something fiscally dumb, and that she knew it at the time? Yes.

April 27, 2017

The lineup the #STLCards need right now

Two keys.

First, per Derrick Goold, and other Cards fans besides me, Matt Carpenter needs to be in the No. 2 hole, right behind Dexter Fowler. (And, it looks like Mike Matheny may start doing that.)

Second, everybody and their grandma knows the gig is up for Jhonny Peralta. (With his front-loaded contract, John Mozeliak may be able to get something for him in trade value, especially if he's sent to an AL team where he can also DH.)

Depending on whether its Jedd Gyorko at 3B instead of Peralta, and Kolton Wong at 2B, or Gyorko at second and Greg Garcia at 3B — or the occasional Garcia/Wong lineup — that leads to this.

Lineup 1:
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Matt Carpenter, 1B
3. Jedd Gyorko, 3B (for now)
4. Stephen Piscotty, RF
5. Aledmys Diaz, SS
6. Randal Grichuk, LF
7. Yadier Molina, C
8. Kolton Wong, 2B
9. Pitcher

Lineup 2:
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Matt Carpenter, 1B
3. Jedd Gyorko, 2B (for now)
4. Stephen Piscotty, RF
5. Aledmys Diaz, SS
6. Randal Grichuk, LF
7. Yadier Molina, C
8. Greg Garcia, 3B
9. Pitcher

This ignores the Garcia-Wong days on the IF, and days when Grichuk spells Fowler in center, or Jose Martinez takes an outfield position (for the love of god, Matheny, no Matt Adams out there, and learn more strategery in general), etc.

Longer-term, assuming Diaz moves BA and OBP to where it was last year, and Gyorko falls back to where he was last year, the two of them flip spots. If Grichuk gets his package together, he could even move to No. 5. I still like him ahead of Molina, because of both power and speed.

The batting stuff, otherwise, I expect the team to get past shortly — though I still consider the Fowler contract to be a long-term overpay, in its mix of five years rather than four, a full no-trade, and unlike Peralta's, not being front-loaded. Per a Goold comment, the empty seats at Busch late last year really must have scared the team.

April 26, 2017

'Our Man Downtown': John Wiley Price HAS BEATEN the rap (so far)

Having lived in Dallas — specifically the Best Southwest suburbs — most the previous decade, I'm familiar with John Wiley Price. Indeed, as a newspaper journalist, I've met him a few times, and reported on a few events in which he was involved, as part of my suburban newspaper group was in his county commission precinct.

Regarding his current federal trial, do I think Price has done some ethically slippery things? Hellz yes. Do I think they're legally slippery? Also, ditto.

(Update, April 28: Hung jury on the tax charges, and acquitted of the bribery and mail fraud charges that Judge Barbara Lynn said she was likely to dismiss anyway due to prosecutorial incompetence or worse.) ‡

That said, there IS the irony of D Magazine's piece about him, "The Hustler," written by later Dallas mayor Laura Miller, who turned out to be pretty much of a hustler herself, although not one likely committing illegalities.*

As for the claims about business shakedowns, or trying to force people to use JWP-connected businesses for certain things, let's just say that, off the record, I've heard stuff myself. Stuff related to freeway expansion and bridges.

Beyond what the Observer, in this piece about five key trial points, and the Snooze have reported on Richard Allen's Dallas Inland Port ideas, I heard some bits myself about the port. The stuff in the paragraph above relates to development a couple of years before that.

And it's not racial. JWP will, from what I've read, heard, and seen, hustle you no matter your race.

And, per a quote he gave the Snooze after Judge Lynn officially killed the trial on the hung charges? Yes, he will be so transparently hypocritical as to be laughable:

That's worse than Jesse Jackson's Seuss-speak. And JWP's only god, at least in this world, is JWP.

Do I think what he was on trial for is illegal in the actual legal sense of the word? No. As in, I don't think the prosecutors have the goods on him beyond a reasonable doubt.

And, that was even before their most recent clusterfuck on discovery issues last week. It's part of a whole series of prosecution clusterfucks. Frankly, I think Judge Barbara Lynn should have gone ahead and pulled the plug last week with a mistrial ruling. It would have done both Price and the feds a favor — and hopefully would have done southern Dallas County voters, and Democrats, a favor as well. Don't forget that Dwaine Caraway's lawsuit against JWP is still working its way through the court system.

Our Man Downtown could have reviewed his defense strategy. He also could have started doing reflections about not running for re-election again. Meanwhile, Dallas County Dems could also start talking about nudging him out, and/or recruiting a primary opponent if he won't leave peacefully. That's the favors for everybody else. There's three full years until his next election year. If Dems won't recruit somebody, that shows their own problems in Dallas County. And they've got them. For years, despite repeated evidence she's nothing but a neoliberal hack, nobody's primaried Eddie Bernice Johnson. That said, with things like Kwanzaafest, JWP's a better retail politician.**

Meanwhile, the feds could figure out if they've got a viable case against OMD, and if they don't, then drop it. If they do, then devote the manpower to ironing out their presentation before the next trial. And get new prosecutors involved.

But, since Judge Lynn didn't do that, a jury starts deliberations Tuesday, after closing arguments. Price's lawyer was brilliant not only in not calling him to the stand, but in wrapping up his case on Thursday, giving jurors plenty of time to think about the feds' incompetence. At a minimum, if JWP is convicted, he's got clear grounds to ask for a new trial. Lynn would have been better having everybody start over for that reason, even though this case has drug on for years already.

Judge Lynn first gave JWP a partial break, saying she will likely toss the six mail fraud charges even if the jury convicts. If she does, in my non-legal opinion, I'm not sure how the conspiracy charge stands; that leaves "only" the tax evasion.

And, ADA Simonton's response sounds like foot-stomping, further indicating how weak the gummint's case is.

A way out of the thicket might be, if Lynn's not going to do the mistrial route, for JWP to take a nolo on one tax charge, agree to cut the appropriate check to the IRS, and agree to immediate resignation in lieu of serving any time in the clink.

But I doubt Price would take such a deal. And, maybe he shouldn't.

The prosecution's closing argument was as weak as its trial presentation. Katherine Miller, to my eyes, essentially argued that Price should be tried for violations of county ethics police. If County Judge Clay Jenkins and two other votes on the Commissioners Court want to censure Price, go for it. Not Katherine Miller's job, though, if OMD didn't commit criminal offenses. Such censure, with the rest of the court 3-1 Democrat, and Jenkins still giving no clear appearance that he's anything more than Price's water boy, is not likely.

‡ The feds have one month, per Lynn's mistrial order, to decide whether or not to retry him on the tax charges. Whether they will or not depends on how much they indulge whatever mix of stubbornness, frustration and embarrassment prosecutors feel right now.


* Laura Miller's legal hustles have basically involved being suck-ups to much of the Dallas business class she excoriated when working at the Dallas Observer, then doing that in spades after leaving the mayor's office.

** Now that Eddie Bernice's district goes out in the 'burbs more and more, not just city of Dallas, somebody smart from said 'burbs, which she never visited until my last month on the job, would be the ideal candidate to challenger her.

(While we're at it, Yvonne Davis is another long-term south Dallas black politico who needs to leave or get pushed out, as this year's performance in the Texas Lege shows.  And don't even get me started on Helen Giddings.)

Did you know there are TWO Green Party organizations in the US?

Indeed. And, kind of like splits between various Socialist groups in the last 50 years, the interlocking parts of the histories of the Green Party USA and Green Party US (the folks that you're normally voting for if you vote Green) is fairly contentious.

Wiki, in its piece on the GPUSA, has a bit more on this split, and its fallout, and more on its piece on the history of the GPUS.

The GPUSA, in turn, has a long, fairly bitter piece on the split. The GPUS, in its history piece, only refers briefly to "tensions." It details more to the split between Naderites and others in 2004. (From what I know of that issue, there were problems on both sides. The GPUS had established a more formal nomination process in 2004; if Nader didn't want to go through that, that was his problem. On the other hand, even more with more insight and more backstory, David Cobb's, er, "accommoGreen" strategy isn't one I totally agree with. It's no surprise he's close to 2016 Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, who carried the idea to new, generally bad, levels. The GPUSA, in turn, alludes to some of that, noting the GPUS formed out of the previous Association of State Green Parties in 2001 and alleges that this was in part due to reaction to the Nader campaign.

If the GPUSA piece is correct, the GPUS, or "Green Party," has some transparency issues. Of course, so did the gentlemen in Philadelphia 1787.

I understand some of the GPUSA bitterness. On the flip side, it had done nothing to organize a national party, from what I can tell. On the flip side to THAT, the GPUS would probably argue that a national party wasn't necessary.

On the third hand, and related to that, Green Pages News, the GPUS official newsletter, in its generally good history of the US movement from 1984-2001, notes that many Greens, over the issue that state parties differed on the issue of requiring dues payment or not, felt the GPUSA was non-representative by excluding some state parties.

In turn, re Nader, that piece notes that he ran a limited-funding campaign in 1996 under a Green invite in order to avoid Federal Elections Commission campaign finance filings. (The more and more I've read about Ralph, and even more, what I've heard from his own mouth on things like lamenting low interest rates in his investment income, the more I say, I'm glad he's not a Green. And, related to that, in my judgment call, the GPUSA might have an extra degree of rigor, but I think it's also butt-hurt over 1996-2004 political and organizational events.)

The above pieces combined also shed more light on things like the "Ten Core Values" of Greens. Those are listed on Wiki's GPUS page.

1. Grassroots democracy
2. Social justice
3. Ecological wisdom
4. Nonviolence
5. Decentralization
6. Community-based economics
7. Women's rights
8. Respect for diversity
9. Global responsibility
10. Future focus

One alleged factor in the increasing split between the two, according to the GPUSA, has been that GPUS officials and candidates, over things like the Iraq War, haven't fully honored the nonviolence principle.

Although admitting that the "just war" concept can itself possibly be a slippery slope, nonetheless, if nonviolence is an absolutist principle ... I don't totally back it.

The other principles?

I support decentralization only to the degree it's actually beneficial, and definitely not as a one-size-fits-all policy. After all, another phrase for "decentralization" is "states' rights." Or, per the top half of this piece, yet another phrase for "decentralization" is "GPUS vs GPUSA discord."

Beyond that, things like air and water pollutants cross city, county and state lines. Deregulation, beyond the degree where it's actually beneficial, can't address the needs of the modern regulatory state.

I support many of the key ideas of "community-based economics" even less. Many communitarian organizations fail, for various reasons, first. Second, the use of local currencies means that you're self-isolating. Nobody will accept anything like that, whether it's "Community Bucks" or Bitcoin, if it's not accepted by banks. Third, contra organic-world myths, organic farming promoted by such groups can't outperform conventional agriculture.

To the degree such communities fully succeed, do you really want to be like them? To put it another way, do you want to be Mennonite? 

Also, communitarian groups are ripe for exploitation by gurus. And, while that, or other leadership issues, don't always become a problem, they do at times.

On the other hand, this piece on the Ten Key Values offers a somewhat different look at them. I don't agree with everything there, but it's worth a read.

Overall, I've learned more about the Green Party in the last 12 months than I had, or tried to, might put it better, in the previous 12 years. That said, per Sergio Leone via Plato through Dostoyevsky and The Brothers Karamazov, it's certainly been a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly on what I've learned. We'll see what the next 12 bring, up until about the 2018 Texas state convention, and then the next 18-24 after that.

April 25, 2017

#Muting vs #blocking on Twitter

Per the suggestion of a friend, when I get tired of someone on Twitter — as in that level of tired — I usually mute them rather than block them.

And, especially when done without any pronunciamento, it's more fun that way. And that's whether it's wingnuts who refuse to stop mouth-breathing and start thinking before uttering another Tweet-babble, on one end, or left-liberals and leftists who either abandon critical thinking or else get huffy when their own ox starts getting gored enough.  (That said, I did block one such person, but I've now changed that from a block to a mute.)


The second advantage is that, if it's a mute not a block AND it's an unannounced mute, said mouth-breathing wingnuts and said high-horse lefties alike will see, and continue to see, what I write, especially if they're searching by hashtags. (The header didn't originally have them; that's why I added them.)

Including this very screed right here.

Deal with it.

That said, I wish Disqus allowed muting as well as blocking. (That said, I am glad to discover it allows blocking.)

April 24, 2017

TX Progressives write about #EarthDay, #txlege, town halls, more

Type your summary here Type rest of the post hereThe Texas Progressive Alliance knows why the alligator crossed the road as it brings you this week's roundup.


Off the Kuff analyzed the Texas Lyceum poll of attitudes towards Trump and 2018 races.

Easter Lemming remarks on the great Houston Chronicle endorsement for Pat Van Houte for Pasadena mayor and tells you a bit about city election political funding.

SocraticGadfly writes about — with photos — Earth Day 2017 and climate change reminding readers that time is running short, and that a carbon tax, a strong carbon tax, must be the baseline of any solution. (See related links, below.)

The popular political drama from the last decade The West Wing turns out to be a lousy model for the Democratic Party, observes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Texas Leftist talks about the latest Texas Legislature redistricting ruled unconstitutional — state House districts.

Texas Sharon takes a look at Apache Corporation's apparent shameful bullying out in West Texas — on Earth Day, even.


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

Better Texas Blog looks favorably on school finance bill HB21.

Kyle Shelton looks at the different kinds of density in Houston.

Dan Solomon introduces us to Student Body Armor.

Paradise In Hell attended the Ted Cruz town hall.

Lone Star Ma presents an Earth Day-themed reading list.

David Bruce Collins wants his Earth Day back from the March for Science.

The TSTA Blog isn't having it with Dan Patrick's spin on the budget.

Lisa Gray eulogizes longtime Houston preservationist Bart Truxillo.

Michael Li compares the 2011 and 2013 State House maps in the wake of the Fifth Circuit ruling that the 2011 map was passed with discriminatory intent.

Purple City says goodbye and leaves us with a few of the ideas it didn't get to finish exploring.

April 22, 2017

#EarthDay 2017 — how much hope?

Pinkladies ultrawide 2

Here we are at another Earth Day. Looking at the nice pretty flowers isn't good enough.

Little was known about details of anthropogenic climate change in 1970 at the first Earth Day. Plenty is known now.

We know that we're already halfway to the 2°C temperature rise beyond which things are deemed, if not fully unacceptable, at least somewhat so. We also know that in all likelihood, we're going to bust that by 2100, and there's a shot we bust 3°C. We also know that the UNPCC's estimates on climate change run from somewhat conservative to quite conservative.

These glaciers in Glacier National Park, behind Many Glacier Lodge:

Glacier - Many Glacier - lodge at sunset

Are almost certainly doomed by 2050.

And, this glacier at Canada's Jasper National Park (yes, you can walk out on it!)

Jasper - Athabasca Glacier - me on it 2

is probably gone by 2100; at a minimum, the portion below the crest in the photo is gone by or before then. (And, the center of this glacial system, in Jasper and Banff national parks in Canada, feeds the North and South Saskatchewan river systems, among others, on the Atlantic side, and the Columbia on the Pacific side.)

But, there are many things — glaciers, polar ice, flora, fauna, and more — that we can save.

But, we need to realize some things.

"The market" won't do it, because it thinks short term, as does instinctual human nature. Carbon cap and trade schemes in the European Union have already shown it.

Only a carbon tax, by an economy as big as the US, the united EU, or China, when combined with a carbon tariff to force everybody on the same page, can do it.

We can't stop 2°C. Only a carbon tax + tariff gives us a puncher's chance of stopping 3°C.

And, as I've written before, this carbon tax cannot be fully redistributed back to the public with rebates or similar. It must have teeth enough to force changes in behavior. And, readers should be skeptical of corporate carbon tax proposals like eXXXon's.

April 21, 2017

Facts, allegations and strawmen on Syria

Bashar al-Assad
As the dispute continues over who was behind a sarin attack earlier this month, what form that attack took and more, and as I've gotten more involved with some question-answering on Quora, all three of the items in the header are coming into play.

There's three — and only three — incontrovertible facts related to this issue at the most macro level, although surely there's many lower-level facts we could state. Those three biggies are:

1. Syria is in a civil war;
2. One or more parties in that war have used sarin on one or more occasion.
3. Identifying a "signature" for a particular sample of sarin in order to trace its origin is pretty damned hard.

With that, let's get to those allegations and strawmen.

Allegations, or assertions?
1. That Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been behind all sarin attacks.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Reality on this? Obama's "red line" attack of 2013 was very likely done by rebels, rebels backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It took a couple of weeks for this to start being questioned, a couple of months for good evidence, and deduction from it, to weigh against the "Assad did it" line, and several months for that all to be pieced together to point a fairly solid finger toward somebody else. See this recent post of mine for details. See also the link at Fact No. 3.

1. Claiming that it's likely Erdogan did it is the same as "he did it," on the 2013 incident. I've tried to be careful on that, although I have occasionally slipped, I'm sure.

Allegation or assertion
2. That on the attack earlier this month, "this time," "we" (whoever "we" is) have the goods on Assad.

2. Claiming that offering multiple different possible objections to that is weaker than offering one objection. (It's not; try learning modern logic.) Claiming that "we" have the goods on Assad when that was exactly what was what was claimed after that 2013 Ghouta attack, per my blog post linked above. Or, per Atlantic, the UN itself backtracking after a May 2013 attack.

Assertion or allegation
3. Claiming that raising objections to "Assad did it" is defending Assad.

Actually, of course, that is ...

4. Claiming that raising objections to "Assad did it" is defending Assad.

Assertion or allegation
4. Claiming that attacking those raised objections to "Assad did it" is not acting as defense for all the various rebel units.

Actually, of course, that is ...

4. Claiming that attacking those raised objections to "Assad did it" is not acting as defense for all the various rebel units.

Assertion or allegation
5. Assad has used chlorine, barrel bombs, torture, and more as well as sarin.

5. The unspoken (and highly untrue) idea that ONLY Assad has done all this.*

Assertion or allegation
6. It's sarin, so it had to have been Assad.

6. Independent actors can't make sarin. In reality, also per SciAm, like the issue on the difficulty of tracing a sarin signature, it's not that hard.

Assertion or allegation
7. The rebels have managed to take control of the majority of Syria and inflict major losses on Assad's force while causing minimal civilian casualties.

7. This is of course a strawman to booster the "purity" of at least some rebels in the hopes that this will pass ill-informed Americans' smell test. Mondoweiss crushes it. Via Mondoweiss, N+1 has more detail on how there have been mistakes galore, starting with Assad but about equally by the fractious oppositions, that have led to today's point.

Assertion or allegation
8. That one can talk about how bad Assad is while ignoring the issue of, "if he's that bad, then don't we need to take him out"?

8. Such questions and issues don't exist in vacuums — despite at least one person on Quora trying to pretend they do.
8A. Presumes Assad is the worst option to rule Syria that's currently out there and reasonably attainable.

Assertion or allegation
9. That, on the issue of "cui bono," Assad benefits from launching such attacks more than anybody else.

9. Making that claim without analyzing other actors, as I did with Erdogan.

Assertion or allegation
10. That you have to have followed the Syrian Civil War 24/7 for six years.

10. That if you haven't, you're an uninformed idiot, who needs to defer to smug, asserted national-security establishment defenders.

Assertion or allegation
11. (Tacit, from No. 8) Really, air strikes can take him out, just like Libya.

11. The idea that this will work; the idea that this will put someone better in his place. (See "Libya" and "slave markets therein.")

Assertion or allegation
12. (Tacit, from No. 8) That, if we do take him out, we'll have somebody better lined up, and this will be easy. Also tacit from No. 8 — that "we" have learned from Libya or Iraq.

12. The idea that President Donald Trump and his national security establishment could do anything that sane.

The real issue here?

Are neocons, on one side of the coin, and liberal hawk interventionists, on the other side of the same warhawk coin, hoping they can manipulate a mercurial President Trump into a greater degree of intervention?

Survey says yes.

Anyway, when presented with these strawmen, whether tacit or spoken, demand that the hawks put up or shut up on what they actually want to do with Assad and how.


* This also ignores that if barrel bombs are terror weapons, then Israel and the US (shock me) are the first terrorist nations to use them. (That said, I have no good evidence

April 20, 2017

French and British election #schadenfreude hopes

Prime Minister Theresa May
Now that Jeremy Corbin has once again (shock me) not listened to people inside his own party and British Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a snap election has been approved by Parliament,* it's time for some schadenfreude!

* In case you're wondering, as was I, the "Fixed-Term Parliaments Act" was passed in 2011; it was sponsored by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and was one of the stipulations to enter coalition with David Cameron and his Tories. Conservatives plus Labour had more than a two-thirds majority in the Commons, preventing the Lib Dems or Scottish Nationalists from playing spoiler on the dissolution vote.

OK, on to our schadenfreude, British division.

The most fun would be if the SNP mops up all remaining votes in Scotland whilst (hey, we're writing about British elections, so, British English!) the Lib Dems have a surge big enough to knock the Tories off the majority and also to ding Labour at the same time.

The LDP says it already has at least 400 candidates lined up. Obviously, it's not taken May at her word.

That said, LDP leader Tim Farron is a nutter. (Still British English!) Specifically, a nutter enough to think the European Union will agree to a "soft Brexit" if he's in No. 10 Downing.

To quote US President George H.W. Bush, as portrayed by Dana Carvey? Not. Gonna. Happen.

That said, if Farron can sell enough others into thinking it will happen, the LDP might just win enough seats to knock May off her slim five-seat majority. Per Wiki, here's the current makeup of the Commons; see also graphic at left.

Let's say Farron gets 30 new seats, a net plus-8 from the Tories and a net plus-22 from Labour.

That means May has to coalition with somebody, which undercuts why she called the election.

What next?

First, May gets bounced as party leader. That's obvious. Second, the Tories scramble to find a "soft Brexiter" as new party leader.

Third, a loss of 22 seats should be enough for the Labour central committee to finally turf Jeremy Corbin as its party leader, no matter the degree of his hard-line union support. "Should be" is not "will," though.

Odds? Oh, about 40 percent, if I were a British punter.

Let me give you option B.

Ferron gets 40 new seats, but its plus 30 from the Tories and plus 10 from Labour. Labour loses all remaining seats in Scotland to the SNP. At the same time, it gains enough elsewhere, laughable as that sounds, to help the LDP knock Labour 35 seats short of a majority.

Now, the Tories need a third coalition partner along with the Lib Dems. Or else, Labour needs everybody but the Tories.

If you're British, or a good American Brit-watcher, you know neither happens.

Hung parliament.

Odds? Oh, about 2 percent, if I were a British punter.


That was schadenfreude No. 1.

Marine Le Pen
Off across the Channel to No. 2 — Saturday's French presidential election.

This could be even more fun.

This one is looking bunched ever and ever tighter. And here would be the most fun.

The top two emerge as Marlez-vous Francais and ...

Jean-Luc Mélenchon!

Quelle horreur, to parlez-vous Francais!

A far-right nationalist vs. a Communist!

That said, in reality, Mélenchon is more a Socialist than a Communist, or at least, what Americans think Communists are. But, versus former Socialist, and fake socialist investment banker Emmanuel Macron, and even versus actual Socialist Party member Benoît Hamon, he's a real far-left Socialist.

National Front was doused in the second round in 2002 after making the cutoff, and fell short in both 2007 and 2012, so a dead dog could probably beat her in Round 2 if she makes it. Still, the contrast would be fun; and it would be

April 18, 2017

TX Progressives salute spring, wait for Trump tax returns with poetry, round up #txlege

The Texas Progressive Alliance has nothing to hide in its tax returns as it brings you this week's roundup, while encouraging you to enjoy spring flowers that are still around.

Pinkladies ultrawide 2

Off the Kuff contemplates a contested Democratic primary for the Senate in 2018.

SocraticGadfly, with apology and hat tip to T.S. Eliot, offers up some snarky Trump poetry.

The Texas House will give a committee hearing to their version of the 'bathroom bill' this week, in a nod — or something more — to the concerns of rural and exurban members, representatives of those Texans least likely to encounter a transgendered person anywhere, much less a public restroom. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wishes tolerance and love was something taught in the state's churches on Easter.

Neil at All People Have Value attended the great big Houston march and rally to demand that Trump release his taxes. We must oppose Trump each day. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Lewisville Texan Journal notes that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has approved Farmer's Branch expanding its landfill.

John Coby attends a Bay Area Democratic Resistance Movement meeting and reports back that he likes what he saw.


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

The Texas Election Law Blog sums up the latest voter ID ruling.

Gerry Hebert and Danielle Lang do the same from their perspective as private plaintiffs' counsel in the lawsuit.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that retired educators need more than kind words and fond memories.

Raise Your Hand Texas highlights the dangers of special education vouchers.

Space City Weather documents our crazy warm winter.

The Lunch Tray eulogizes Dana Woldow, longtime advocate for better school food.

Cort McMurray laments the "Erasing Texas History Act".

Anastasia Hansen explains Houston's German heritage.

Scott Elliff imagines a future day at the county courthouse.

Texas Observer reports on Texas House conservaDems wanting to repeal the franchise tax.

April 14, 2017

Is Yadier Molina of the #STLCards legitimate #HOF material?

Yadier Molina
Now that the Cardinals' long-term catcher Yadier Molina, known baseball-wide for his defense, pitch framing and pitcher handling, has signed a new three-year contract with the team, per Great Red Satan, with more details from the hometown paper of record, that will keep him in a Birds uniform most the rest of his career, that's a legit question.

And, contra Adam Wainwright, but in agreement with this blogger, I think that Molina is not a likely Hall of Famer.

Right now, he's at 33 WAR and change. An absolute minimum of 50 WAR, with the exception of the injury-shortened career of Roy Campanella, is what you need.

In other framing, Ted Simmons, the last catcher really beloved in St. Louis, had 50.1 WAR and he's still on the outside of Cooperstown peeking in. (I think he should be on the inside, but I cite him as a benchmark.)

Heck, to be honest, and speaking of injury-shortened careers, I don't expect Yadi to catch the 46.9 WAR of Thurman Munson. And, arguably, he, like Ted, should be in Cooperstown. Do you really expect Yadi to get 13.5 WAR over the next four years, or even the next five if somebody gives him a one-year deal at age 38? I don't.

Among today's catchers, Buster Posey is definitely the most viable HOFer. After him, and sorry, Cards fans, but I put Russell Martin No. 2, though I think he will also fall short.

(While you're here, Cards fans, feel free to hit me up on the two polls at right for your guess on regular season and postseason finish.)

And Yadi is nowhere near the likes of Johnny BenchIvan Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, or Carlton Fisk, among HOFer maskmen of the relatively recent past.

Buster Olney at Red Satan makes a pitch for Yadi in Cooperstown based on the old "what's not in the stats sheets." Couldn't similar claims be made for others? Actually, beyond his actual stats, such claims were indeed made for Yogi Berra and Yankee pitching success. (That said, Yogi had 60 WAR beyond such claims.) Beyond that, Buster, like most the baseball folks at Red Satan, is a "Big Hall" guy.

Throwing out Campy, and guys who clearly shouldn't be there, like Rick Ferrell and Ray Schalk, the only catcher below 45 WAR is Roger Bresnahan, who semi-clearly shouldn't be there. Ditto for Ernie Lombardi. To rephrase, if Ted or Thurman aren't the bottom-line cutoff, Buck Ewing is. And, looking ahead, especially if Olney is trying to set up a Yankee bank shot, Jorge Posada is also .... not a  HOFer.

I'm a Cards' fan, but I'm also a realist and s small Hall guy. Yadi's not a HOFer, Buster.

And, no, Yadi Molina, while we're at it, Waino's not a HOFer either. Phat Albert is the only Cardinal of the last decade-plus who definitely is one. And, yes, I liked me some Jim Edmonds, but he wasn't a HOFer either, and I think the BBWAA got him right. Scott Rolen, starting this year, will be interesting; he's a borderline yes in my book.

April 11, 2017

Once again, let's slow-walk Syria

Your possible Syrian gas-passer? Turkey's President Erdogan.
In my blogging about the 2013 chemical attacks in Syria, the ones that allegedly crossed President Obama's red line, only for him to do nothing, I at first signed off on the UN report, proclaimed loudly by American mainstream media, that Assad — or at least, Assad's military — were pretty red-handedly guilty.

Well, not so fast.

By spring of 2014, Sy Hersh was pretty much demolishing that claim, as well as exposing the whole geopolitical and military background behind it. (In the current geopolitical climate, it's worth noting that someone from Russian intelligence gave British intelligence the chemical samples that led the Brits to tell Obama — "Assad did NOT do it.")

Also claiming "Assad did NOT do it"? The country's most interesting sub-5-foot politician, Denny the Dwarf, also known as Dennis Kucinich.

Denny has one other good point — there's a difference between Assad having chemical weapons, and Assad using them, whether sarin, or the relatively mild raw chlorine gas. (ISIS, by the way, has been accused of using mustard gas, scourge of WWI battlefields.)

And, even before the end of 2013, the Old Gray Lady had backed off its initial claims based on vector analysis of the rockets' paths, mainly because they had too short of a range to be traced back to Syrian army units. On the other hand, at least one could be traced, on the same vector, to a rebel unit that was within range to have used them. (And, the cheapness of the rocket warhead also is an indirect argument against Syrian military firing.

Robert Parry, a recognized former investigative reporter for the AP, has further analysis of both the NYT and Hersh pieces.

His conclusion? Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan was behind whichever group of rebels — and he believes it was rebels — who launched the 2013 attack.

Also claiming Assad did NOT do it? Erm, the UN itself over an earlier 2013 strike.

As for the current airstrike, it seems ever more clear that this was the Syrian Air Force attacking a rebel ground site that had the sarin. (An MIT prof is now claiming another option — that this was a false flag by rebels. That, I doubt. First, I'm not an explosives expert, but I think it would be hard to tell, under current Syrian situation, the difference between a deliberately set explosion in the ground, on the one hand, or an impact explosion by a bomblet or a rocket, on the other. Second, I'm not a conspiracy theorist in general. I know Theodore Postol was among those who refuted "Assad did it" in 2013. But, there's a more conventional refutation of "Assad did it" for this attack already out there. And all Postol says is "more likely," in contrasting this to the MSM option of aerial Syrian gas attack; he doesn't even consider the option of Syrian rockets hitting buried sarin.)

That said, there's other contra-indications to "Assad did it."

Some people note the alleged difficulty of producing or storing sarin. I counter with Aum Shinrikyo and the Toyko subway attack. And, no, contra the "Assad did it" crowd, sarin, if in a relatively crude state, is not that hard to produce. (This ignores the possibility of government-produced sarin stolen by one group of rebels or another.)

Some talk about the claims of the White Helmets about what they've allegedly seen Assad done, and how they're apolitical. First, most White Helmets claims have not been verified. Second, they're not apolitical.

Next: torture and extra-judicial murder have all been documented by most players in the war. Use of chemical weapons has been alleged of most. Don't let neocons or liberal warhawks claim any of this is unique to Assad. Don't let them claim that pointing this out makes you an Assad defender.

Finally, if they truly believe in regime change, ask them what they think the reasonable price is in "boots on the ground" — not reasonable for US public support first and foremost, but reasonable for getting the job done, not just to replace Assad, but replace him with someone better.

The strawmanning from the mix of neocons and liberal hawks has gotten bad enough that I created a new blog post about it.

Make to the main thread.

If Parry et al are right on 2013, given Erdogan's own lurch toward authoritarianism having increased over the last four years, this makes Syria dangerous indeed. Yes, Erdogan has cuddled up more to Vladimir Putin's Russia in the past four years. At the same time, while not a full-blown Islamic fundamentalist, he has certainly exploited Islamic fundamentalism for his own political ends, and his personal inclinations surely tilt that way to some degree. In other words, Putin is feathering his bed with an asp.

That said, in Erdogan's case, cui bono? I don't have an immediate answer, and any potential angle may be at least as tangled as Syrian ethnic and religious political issues. In general, though, if he can limit the flow of refugees to his country, he can shake down the EU for more financial support, keep Syria destabilized enough to be weak, shake down the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf for money to do that, and cozy up with Putin enough by offering him help against more extremist Islamicist movements inside Russia.

And, that is 11-dimensional chess indeed.

(That said, this all sets aside who was behind the production of the chemicals that Assad's air force bombed in the recent issue. It also sets aside whether or not Assad, or Russia, or other players knew these rebels, whomever their backers are, knew that they had sarin, etc. That, in turn, makes Syria even more dangerous.)

For more on this issue, not only on how Erdogan stands to benefit, but on how Bashar al-Assad and Syria 2017 are similar to Saddam Hussein and Iraq in 2013, pre-Bush invasion, read below the fold.

Poetry: The self-love song of J. Donald Trump

With apologies, or none, to T.S. Eliot:

As I get older,
After I dare to eat a peach,
I shall lead a life of noisy desperation. ..
Is it the dye from Trump’s hair
That makes me so dare?
But I shall part my coif in kind,
As if covering a big behind.
I shall wear overlong neckties
And blink my eyes as if full of sties.
I am not Hillary Princess,
But come from the dead, I am Lazarus.
I shall preach a life of noisy socialism.

In the room cheap help come and go
Talking of no one else, o great gringo.

Let us go then, you and I, 
While the American public
is etherized in the sky.
Let us go, through resistant streets,
The sophistic retreats
Of endless days in too-long think tanks
Filled with neoliberals, friends of big banks.
Do not ask “Why do they?”

Just tell them to stay away.

In the room cheap help come and go
Talking of no one else, o great gringo.

The odious fog that infiltrates Beltway air
Oozed by otiose mouths from everywhere —
Nothing can stanch it; nothing can blanch it;
It oranges both friend and foe there.
Time for you and time for me
Time for both of us to flee
From this political wilderness
Such wilderness paradise not-at-all.

In the room cheap help come and go
Talking of no one else, o great gringo.

April 10, 2017

TX Progressives look at #Syria, #txlege, #WWICentennial, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance really just wanted to celebrate the return of baseball as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff has a bunch of updates about various Texas voting rights-related lawsuits.

SocraticGadfly took note of the centennial of American entry into World War I and noted why, in detail, we never should have gotten involved.

The 59-Tomahawk Tweet Trump sent to Syria isn't paying off in polling dividends just yet, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value commented on the Republican access for all plan for basketball. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Leftist thinks the GOP is cracking up.

John Coby of Bay Area Houston takes a swipe at the Harris County Republican Party.


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

The TSTA Blog reminds us that private school vouchers remain a really bad idea.

Better Texas Blog gives us ten things to know about the House budget proposal.

Paradise in Hell has a few choice words for former Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss.

Raise Your Hand Texas introduces us to Mr. Voucher III: The Frankenvoucher.

Lila Mankad explains why the Legislature should let cities regulate plastic bags if they choose to.

Michael Li has the latest updates in the Texas redistricting litigation.

Pro Publica gets out the longform and takes an in-depth look at Texas' hate crime law.

April 07, 2017

#STLCards: My season preview for the #Cardinals

OK, we're a couple of games into the season already, but nothing big.

I've already blogged about the new contract for Yadier Molina and the transition as No. 1 pitcher (though the team still won't say "ace") from Adam Wainwright to Carlos Martinez. (Red Satan has a new piece on that here.) Martinez got a contract extension in the off-season, too, of course.

So, with two major contract distractions eliminated, and the addition of Dexter Fowler to shore up outfield defense and add speed on the bases, what else do the Cards have locked up and locked down, and what could be problematic?

Corner infield slots should be good. I think Jhonny Peralta can make the defensive adjustment at third, and has the incentive of being in a contract year. Matt Carpenter will rake, wherever he's at. The D? Well that opening day error is a bit of cause for concern. (And error it was; Carp did field correctly, but bobbled the ball when thinking of second; one can't assume double plays, of course, but he never tried to go to second, so IMO, it's still an error, not a Jason Heyward hit.)

That, in turn, had other issues. On that same play, both Seung-hwan Oh and Kolten Wong committed mental/hustle errors by being slow to the bag at first.

And that leads us to the middle infield. Wong seems to be one of those "you gotta play to hit" guys. That said, even without manager Mike Matheny breathing down his throat (plus Matheny's dumb-ass idea of moving him to the OF last year) Wong needs a page from football, to pull an Aaron Rodgers and R-E-L-A-X more. His high intensity, mainly when guilt-tripping himself, is an issue. Between that and an inconsistent spring training, Jedd Gyorko has earned the semi-starting spot. Let's see exactly how Matheny, not known as a managerial genius, handles the details of the platooning.

Aledmys Diaz should be at least as good fielding shortstop this year as he was from May on last year, if not better. He may slip from last year's plate performance, but not that much. Gyorko and Greg Garcia offer solid backup here, as Garcia does at short and third.

The outfield? Dexter Fowler's personality and chemistry should help the Birds as a team do that Rodgers-type relaxing that Wong needs. He'll also bring speed to a lineup that had none outside of Wong last year.

I think Randal Grichuk will feel more comfortable this year, and a .270 or better, with .330 OBP or better, with 25 or more HRs, is certainly possible. I also expect fewer Ks. Those are both needed. It' called plate discipline; Grichuk is 25, and not quite yet too late to learn more of it.

Stephen Piscotty? Let's see how well he bounces out of whatever batting funk he's in.

The rotation? I "expect" 5 WAR out of Martinez. I'll gladly take 2.5 WAR from Waino, and 2 WAR each from Lance Lynn, Mike Leake and Michael Wacha et al.

The pen? I'm still not totally sold on Oh as closer. His splitter was a bit off in the opener and it looked like the Cubs were deliberately laying off it. If he was a bit of a 2016 phenom, I guess the first option is moving back to Trevor Rosenthal.

And, of course Matheny's managerial yips have often been worst in his bullpen use.


Where will the Cards finish? I've already voted in the polls at right — second in the division with a wild-card. I don't see them catching the Cubs, but I see definite improvement from last year, to the tune of 88-89 wins, perhaps a touch more. I expect them to win the wild-card game, then the division series, before losing the LCS. Hit me up with your votes.

April 06, 2017

#100YearsAgo — US enters #WorldWarI — with no need to be in #WWI

World War I was not the greediest or most imperialist war in American history. The Mexican War — or our post-treaty breaking wars with American Indians — are at the top, followed by the Spanish-American War.

But, as for the stupidest war in American history, I'll take it ahead of even Vietnam. And you should too, if you know the big picture. That includes knowing that the U.S. had even less national interest, in Realpolitik terms, in World War I than any other imperialist or non-imperialist war in history.

In case you're wondering, beyond the Luisitania or "unrestricted submarine warfare," what the final tipping point was, especially away from the British-tilting East Coast and especially in the Southwest, read this piece.

First, President Woodrow Wilson was NOT neutral between Aug. 4, 1914 and April 6, 1917. His first secretary of state, William Jennings Bryan, knew this. That's why he resigned over post-Lusitania events. (Well, Wilson was pushing him, actually.)

Related? The Lusitania was "technically" a passenger ship. It was also carrying small arms, ammunition and other munitions and that was known to people in a position to know in the U.S., British, and German governments. It was also armed with guns big enough to sink a submarine that tried to follow the letter of international law and surface and halt it.

Second, and speaking of? The British "blockade by extension," blockading the Netherlands, Denmark, etc., to keep them from importing goods above peacetime levels and reselling them into Germany, was as illegal under international law as was Germany's declaration of submarine warfare and sink-on-sight submarine blockade zones. In fact, matters similar to this are why we had gone to war with Britain 100 years earlier. But for Wilson, freedom of the seas was selectively enforced.

Here's how it worked, in the rough, from this Aug. 4, 2014 blog post of mine. If Denmark imported, say, a total of 100,000 pounds of wheat a year, on average, from, say 1900-1913, then in 1915, that's all Britain allowed. It couldn't import an additional 500,000 pounds, with the presumable intent of then exporting the surplus to Germany.

Third, there was no "bad guy" like Hitler in World War II. (That said, we had a "bad guy" on our side in Stalin then!) The most repressive governments? As in WWII, one was on each side — Tsarist Russia before the March Revolution, for the Allies, and the Ottoman Empire for the Central Powers. Pre-war, Hohenzollern Kaiser Wilhelm II was moderately authoritarian, but no more than moderately, and certainly not totalitarian.

Now, the Germans did burn the library at Louvain, Belgium. They did shoot franc-tireurs. Both illegal under international law. Bayoneting babies? Allied-American propaganda. They did also, tis true, shoot Edith Cavell. And? She had been duly convicted of being a spy. And she WAS a spy. Bad PR for the Germans? Of course. Unlawful? Not at all.

As for the "German war guilt" the Allies pinned on it afterward? Bullshit. Basically, Austria-Hungary and Serbia roughly tie for first on causing the war, with Germany running a somewhat distant third on what was a highly overdetermined conflict, as I note at the bottom of a roundup of some of the best — and some of the worst — books about World War I.

National interests? We had none. Germany never could have gained the type of mastery that Hitler aspired to, or that Napoleon briefly had. And, realistically, they weren't aiming at that level of control. Sure, they had greedy eyes that got bigger as the war lasted longer, especially in the East. But, already going back to Venezuela in the 1890s, Wilhelm had basically tried not to tangle too much with the Americans. And, without tanks, with artillery all still horse-drawn, they couldn't have done a Blitzkrieg to get to that point of domination.

Yes, it's true that Germany had various agents in Mexico during that country's revolution, per the story at the top link. But, until the time approaching the Zimmerman Telegram, they weren't planning to foment an invasion of the U.S.

Finally, this was the first, but far from the last, fateful plunge into "entangling alliances" that George Washington had warned about in his Farewell Address.

Related to that is some Realpolitik. We had one vital national interest in World War I. And that was letting the Entente and the Central Powers beat each other fucking senseless as long as they were determined to so do.

What would have happened had we stayed out — specifically, if Wilson (or a better President; he ranks below average in my book for many reasons, and Scott Berg's bio of him is atrocious) had warned Britain early on to stay away from the blockade by extension?

Probably, Britain would have gone ahead, gambling it could starve out Germany before Germany could do the same to it.

A truly neutral president would have then forbade American-flagged vessels from traveling into any war zone, and let the Allies and Central Powers beat each other senseless.

Assuming the Germans still smuggle Lenin into Russia, on a sensical view, the British double down on the blockade in 1918 while sending out peace feelers at the same time. France gets dropped a British hint and reluctantly falls in line. Germany decides to play defense rather than fight the Kaiserschlacht that Ludendorff and Hindenburg call up in 1918, with no Americans to face. That, then means more German farm horses still in place, and the British blockade doesn't bite as much. But Austria, war-weary, pushes it, and Germany sees Lenin trying to export the revolution, as he actually did. Italy and the Turks are both exhausted.

With luck, everybody heads to the table, and on the western and southern fronts, accepts a treaty like the Treaty of Hubertusburg that ended the Seven Years War. In the southeast, they agree to toss the Karađorđević dynasty in Serbia for the old, pre-1903, Austria-friendly Obrenović house.

And, in Russia, now the USSR? They do something about as dumb as actually happened.

Option two is much more pessimistic. Nobody lays down their arms. Lenin uses diplomatic immunity — or other means — to start the revolution in France and Britain, just like in Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Still, that revolution, even if successful all across Europe (doubtful) wouldn't have toppled the American government.

In either scenario, the U.S. isn't further glorifying citizen war in general and World War I participation in particular with Armistice Day, later Veterans Day. Americans wouldn't have absorbed the British romanticizing of the not-so-Great War, either. That romanticizing tends to overlook things like shell-shock, PTSD of a century ago before we knew what PTSD was.

That said, per all the above, World War I is fertile ground for alternative history buffs. Here's a sample of mine related to the Caribbean. Here's a much longer one, related to Sarajevo and Gavrilo Princip.


At the same time, per the old song, "How ya gonna keep em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" it was indeed true.

See how military service transformed veterans from a small county in north Texas.

April 05, 2017

Organizing against Trump — #IndivisibleTeam has #TeaParty based ideas for suckers, by Dem sheepdoggers (updated)

Sounds great, huh? Take some ideas that the Tea Party used to fight Obama, do a little intellectual judo, and use this new set to fight Trump? (They have a new Web version now, which is no better.)

Erm, not so fast, Cochise, or rather, not so fast Jeremy Haile and compadres. There's a bit more, and a bit less, to the situation than what you claim. Haile worked for Lloyd Doggett, so he KNOWS some of the things that I'm going to list below are true. Levin also worked for Doggett and I suspect that Angel Padilla has similar Texas connections. In other words, per items they list, and my responses below, they know better.

First, they don't tell you that Preznit Kumbaya, by continuing to sing from the Kumbaya playbook, helped shoot some of his own plans in his own foot.

Second, they don't tell you that Preznit Kumbaya was and is a neoliberal who, initial statements aside, hated people trying to "push him" from the left.

Third, they don't tell you that, even though a fair amount of the Tea Party movement did start at the grassroots, much of it became corporately co-opted by people like Dick "Dick" Armey.

There's more here, part of it as noted in a screengrab of I sent Haile.

And, that part about Eddie Bernice and Jelly is true, true, true. Sorry, folks.

Shit, in my current district, where I've not been for too, too, long, but way too long, my Congresscritter hasn't even had a staff member visit. Nor has he announced a visit of even a staff member to my town, or the nearest town of over 25K, in local media.

Update, April 5: I'm sure the "team" doesn't want the general #resist idea-makers wondering why the hell, nearly three months since they organized, their mentor, Doggett, per the graphic at right, has yet to sign on to John Conyers' "Medicare for All" HB 676 — Conyers' bill for single-payer national health care.

And, if you look at the graphic? Ted Cruz challenger Beto O'Rourke, and possible O'Rourke challenger Joaquin Castro, are both among non-supporters. So too is wasted space Eddie Bernice Johnson, the Texas House Dems' hot young gun Mark Veasey and others.

That's eight in all, or almost three-quarters of Texas 11 Democrats in the U.S. House. Guess the Indivisibles need to look inside themselves on this whole advocacy schtick.

As for grassroots advocacy stopping Obama? Nooo, he helped with that himself, not to mention the moneybags co-opting of most Tea Party groups.

Dear Leader undersold and underfunded his stimulus plan, and part of its projects weren't shovel-ready. TARP et al were used to insure banksters got money even on defaulted mortgages that were shite in the first place. The "quick rinse" bankruptcy for Ford and GM pissed off others. And, failure to put banksters through any sort of nationalization, or close to that pissed off yet more people from Dear Leader's left — the types of people he said he wanted to "push" him, then bitched when they did.

And, Larry, Moe and Curly above know that, too.

As for Tea Partiers pushing their own members in the GOP? Well, that's true.

When was the last time you saw a left-liberal Dem primary a Rahm Emanuel Blue Dog, though? Larry, Moe and Curly know that, too.

Claiming, in essence, for Congresscritters that there is no such thing as a "safe district" is even more laughable.

Besides, the authors undercut themselves by admitting that Congresscritters don't care about deep-thinking voters:

MoC Cares a Lot About
MoC Doesn’t Care Much About
Verified constituents from the district
(or state for Senators)
People from outside the district
(or state for Senators)
Advocacy that requires effort - the more effort, the more they care. Calls, personal emails, and especially showing up in person in the district
Form letters, a Tweet, or Facebook comment (unless they generate widespread attention)
Local press and editorials, maybe national press
Wonky D.C.-based news (depends on MoC)
An interest group’s endorsement
Your thoughtful analysis of the proposed bill
Groups of constituents, locally famous individuals, or big individual campaign contributors
A single constituent
A concrete ask that entails a verifiable action - vote for a bill, make a public statement, etc
General ideas about the world
One single ask in your communication (letter, email, phone call, office visit, etc)
A laundry list of all the issues you’re concerned about.

Note No. 4 on the right-hand list:
(Member of Congress) doesn't care much about ... your thoughtful analysis of the proposed bill.
In other words, he/she allegedly, contra No. 3 on the right, DOES want something social-media like. BUT, they also contradict No. 2 on the "does like" side, to a degree. This would apply to groups as well as individuals.

(This also ignores using a "cutout" address within a Representative's district, or Senator's state, to get around the verification issue at the top of the left-hand side of the list. For former Congresscritter staffers, we don't have the brightest people in the book.  That said, the whole piece looks like it's written at Citizen Engagement 101 level, if not remedial level.)

As for occupying a Congresscritter's office. mentioned elsewhere? Our Democratic snowflake sheepdoggers, if they don't know the answer, need to be told that someone as "librul" as Bernie Sanders will arrest you for trespassing. My soon-to-be-former Congresscritter, Gohmert Pyle, aka Louie Gohmert, would sure as hell arrest people in his quite safe, very non-swing, district, for that.

Update, Jan. 24: Ted Cruz's staff called the cops on people at his Houston office.

And, the sheepdoggers know that. (Update, Jan. 26: And Trump, taking a page from Cruz, has shut down the White House phone line. But, as this story notes, you can call his businesses instead.)

More naivete, or bullshit, follows in the next chart: