April 01, 2017

Yadi Molina: A #Cardinals icon for life or not?

Yadier Molina
Yadier Molina, iconic St. Louis Cardinals catcher for a decade, may, or may not, be with the team past 2017.

This year is the last guaranteed year of his contract. He has a team mutual option for 2018.

Update, April 2: The Cardinals and Molina inked a deal.

He and GM John Mozeliak have been discussing a new deal — and per a Molina-imposed deadline, to avoid regular-season distraction, they have until Sunday to get it done.

Both the Post-Dispatch and ESPN indicate progress has been made. ESPN rumors it's for three years at more than $18.5 per. (The PD and Fox say it could top $60M, or $20 per, with incentives.) At the same time, Red Satan notes that means Carson Kelly takes a back seat for three more years in addition to this one, unless Mike Matheny starts giving Molina a few more days off, period, and a few days at either first or third base. (That's actually not a bad idea, and might come more into play, at third, with the presumed disappearance of Jhonny Peralta after this year.

So, should Redbird fans have hope? Good question. Per the screengrab at right, a highly nonscientific poll here indicated that, a month ago, a majority of respondents did NOT expect Yadi to be wearing his birds on bats after 2018. (I was one of the "no" voters.)

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

The 2018 option is a mutual one, not a team one; Molina's indicated he plans to opt out. Unless he has a bad injury that would change his mind, that 2018 vote, even, might be optimistic.

That said, which way does that hope cut? Which way should it cut?

ESPN also notes, in its contract notes, this would be more than the much younger Buster Posey gets and would also seem to partially undercut Mo's stance toward Albert Pujols several years ago, an even more iconic Cardinal than Molina.

And, 37 would be old for a catcher. ESPN notes Johnny Bench was retired by that age, which would be what Molina would be at the end of a 2018-2020 contract. At the same time, it does note that Molina might age relatively slowly for a catcher, citing Ivan Rodriguez as an example. But even with Pudge, age 35 was the last year he had more than 500 PAs. Maybe the original Pudge, Carlton Fisk, is an even better comp for aging catchers. That said, Pudge 1.0 was more known for his bat than Yadi, as one reason for him to hang longer, and he played in the AL, which meant he could DH as well as playing non-catcher field spots. (Fisk broke the 4-WAR mark in a post-40 season.)

I think it's a likely overpay, and will be the team's second this season after Dexter Fowler. (Among other things, I would have given him EITHER five years OR the guaranteed no-trade but not both. And, I strongly believe last year was a career year for him, and given that he was signed in part for his D, 30-plus CFs are naturally on the downslope.)

Maybe Mo could front-end it, like Peralta's, and make the third year a player option, and tack on a fourth team-option year to sweeten it more?

The Cards do have a new TV contract that starts in 2018, but, an overpay is still an overpay, if that's what it is. Mike Leake may turn out to be another example even as the Cardinals have to decide whether to keep Lance Lynn from leaving in free agency after this year.

Sidebar: If the Cards do pay up, what's Jonathan Lucroy's ask a year from now? 5/$125?

March 31, 2017

Albert Pujols, eyeing 600 dingers and records

Albert Pujols: what's ahead
for 2017 and beyond?
Albert Pujols, aka Phat Albert, Prince Albert and other monikers, will never reach his St. Louis Cardinals level of skill.

Nonetheless, he keeps moving up various baseball milestone ladders. So, what's ahead for him for 2017 — and beyond, with a full five years left on his contract, shy of Arte Moreno doing an A-Rod-style buyout. (Or a Josh Hamilton-style semi-buyout, referring to Moreno's and Pujols' current team!) It in part depends on how healthy he can stay this year and otherwise, how much he generally has in the tank.)

Per the header, he's just nine taters away from a career 600. (ESPN projects that to happen on May 20.)

He would be the ninth to pass that. He'll have a chance to move up the career rungs this season, too. Sammy Sosa at 609 and Jim Thome at 612 should easily be surpassed; Ken Griffey at 630 may have to wait until next year.

Another milestone also lies ahead. Currently at 2,825, Pujols is eyeing 3,000 hits. (That said, Pujols hasn't had 175 hits since 2010 —though he was close in 2011 and 2012 — so this may wait a year.) He should, though, at a minimum, pass the likes of Pudge Rodriguez, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds and move into the 35th-place slot on the career hits list. (Passing Bonds by 1 would be 111 hits.)

Career in that department? Even allowing for nagging injuries and continued decline, he should get at least 3,550 hits, which would put him past Tris Speaker into fifth all time. (That's on an allowance of 155 hits this year and an average of 145 per year over the four remaining contract years. Another 81 — which might be a tough challenge — would give him 3,631, and Cardinals fans know who that's about.)

On career homers, let's give Pujols 29 for this year for a career total of 620. While I don't see him catching the big three of Bonds, Hank Aaron and Ruth, that still gives him a good shot for passing 700 with 20 a year for the rest of his contract, and 24 a year would push him past Ruth. At a minimum, after Junior Griffey, he'll catch Willie Mays, then should pass A-Rod.

And, Albert still has a decent shot at one all-time career record. Right now, he's 480 short of The Hammer on the career RBIs mark. Throwing out his injury-plagued 2013, he's met or beaten that mark every year with the Haloes. Ruth is in second, just 398 ahead of Pujols. Barring serious injury, Albert catches him. Even with more injury problems, he's just 270 RBIs away from passing A-Rod into sole third place.

Aaron's mark for career extra-base hits is also a possibility. Pujols needs to average 54 a year. Outside of the injurious 2013, Pujols was well over that mark until last year. If he can't catch Aaron, second place, at least, is almost guaranteed, with about 47 XBHs a year needed to pass Bonds, and third is a cinch.

He likely wont catch Aaron on career total bases, but should pass everybody else for second.

Oh, and while he's not the fielder he once was, and accumulating injuries have moved him more and more to DH, he's still and already 11th in career assists by first basemen. By the end of his career, there's still a chance he passes the likes of George Sisler to move as high as sixth place. (that said, coming off his latest foot surgery, he will start this year solely at DH.)

Marlin ISD, slouching further toward Gomorrah

About 18 months after I wrote my last major post about the beleaguered school district, including how its previous superintendent may have turd-polished some of his accomplishments then cut and run before the house of cards collapsed (maybe other small-district superintendents do this too and this is why they move every three years) the current holder of the job is how holding a bag of ever-thinner old wineskin without any new win to fill it.

Michael Seabolt is moving most the district's special ed program back to a county co-op, less than five years after the district pretty much left the co-op, among other things. He's also putting some staff on mandatory paid leave because the state-appointed board of managers won't let him fire them. He's trying to caulk a $1 million deficit that surely won't be helped by the Texas Legislature's next budget.

In turn, that's because the last locally-elected board bumped teacher salaries by up to $15K in early 2016 as a recruiting / retention incentive. (Or other things.)  I mean, $50K to teach in Marlin? Why not give Seabolt money to buy some Glocks instead? Would be about as effective.  Would-be new teachers know salary scales and would smell desperation of some sort from a mile away. Seriously, you're going to tell a teacher: "We're paying you $10K more than Waco," and they're going to look around at the housing stock and streets in Marlin and tell themselves, "I don't know exactly what the hell is up, but something has to be up."

That said, how Seabolt has handled the paid leave situation, and some apparent friction with the president of the state-appointed board (which is still local residents) may mean that he did his own degree of turd-polishing with the reporter who was with the Waco Trib at the time of my last blog post. (Said reporter has now gone to the dark side, doing PR for the Harmony charter school chain.)

Survey says? Seabolt's looking for a new job and takes any position offered this summer that's not a totally desperate move. That's even though he has a three-year contract extension. After all, despite his bright talk, the district remains under the state gun on standardized test scores and other assessment.

Survey also says that the Waco Trib probably focuses this much effort on Marlin ISD because it's easy hard news to sell in Waco, just like the Rio Grande Sun, in Española, New Mexico, perversely overhypes (IMO) that city's own drug problem to sell extra papers at rack and store dealers in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, which likely are maintained for just that reason.

I mean, a 9-month-old story about a possible buyer for the old Falls Hotel and former Marlin VA hospital is the only positive story about anything in Falls County, other than a submission piece about Marlin VFD, in more than a year.

And, that, folks, is why I use a cookie-blocking extension like Ghostery, as well as AdBlock Plus. And, no, Waco Trib, if you paywalled and the paywall was hard enough I couldn't beat it, I wouldn't subscribe.

==

Sidebar: Marlin isn't the only central Texas school district in hot water, either. TEA Commissioner Mike Morath wants to put Hearne under state management due to board-superintendent squabbles mixed with its own academic struggles.

March 30, 2017

#Hillbots vs #DevinNunes on #PutinDidIt

Subtitle for this brief post could be "Dumb Fuck and Dumber Fuck." And, the two protagonists could be flipped on which

Nunes has now clearly violated the everyday, real-world definition of ethics, whether he's violated any federal laws or not. And, we now have the names of Dumber Fuck-in-Chief's staff members who helped him.

On the other hand, you have the Guardian's US division, running light flak for Hillbots. Any time one has a story which links to a story in which Cuck Buchenwald, I mean, Kurt Eichenwald, figures prominently, you're probably skating on thin ice anyway. And, Spencer Ackerman, while perhaps not exactly a Hillbot, isn't outside the

And, on the third hand, in a sidebar, higher-ups in the Obama Administration may have kept FBI head James Comey from coming out in the open last summer about concerns he already had then.

Will Hillary throw a lamp at Barry next time they're both in Chicago, or next time she sees him kitesurfing with Richard Branson?

#Philosophy can't justify a dumb war, whether just or not — Libya six years later

That said, the issue of just war is itself problematic, and has other "baggage," even if its separated today from its religious roots.

French bombing damage in Libya. / Wikipedia
This is adapted from an old post at my second blog, adapted and deeply extended, of a 6-year-old piece critiquing and downright criticizing philosopher Massimo Pigliucci's argument for bombing Libya. (I came across it while going through posts at that blog for other reasons, and knowing this is an anniversary of the start of that campaign, and given that Massimo remains pretty much a Democrats-only conventional liberal in terms of U.S. politics, while I'm a left-liberal and beyond, I wanted to update it for this and other reasons.

You can slice and dice logical arguments to support all sorts of claims. That includes what evidence you include as warrants vs. what countervailing empirical evidence you exclude from discussion.

Especially in real-world informal logic, how you frame the parameters of the argument is another way of slicing and dicing an issue to an already-held conclusion.

Sure, in a vacuum of Libya and no other foreign policy worries, might be great. But, why Libya and not Yemen? Or, why not Cote d'Ivoire a year ago? That, in turn, is ignoring how "problematic" civil wars are in general, and the Libyan Civil War was certainly no exception.

Massimo Pigliucci
Massimo goes on, in what is nearly 100 posts down the list, in response to me, to say he has non-humanitarian reasons, as well, to support intervention in Libya. I've asked what they are, because I don't see any that aren't either directly or indirectly related to oil. Terrorism? Since we intercepted the ship with nuclear supplies headed to Libya several years ago, Gadhafi had become "our guy," so scratch that, even if Massimo makes that claim.

Massimo also limits the parameters of the argument by saying his support for air strikes doesn't mean support for intervention. But, given criticism of the Obama Administration, that it doesn't have an exit policy, and that our British and French allies have pushed going beyond air strikes, if necessary, that "restriction" might work in formal logic, but, in a real-world political situation, doesn't.

Massimo also, basically, tried to claim in his last comment to me that I didn't know what I was talking about on just war. Actually, I do. But, since he apparently cares not to read Walter Kaufmann's "Without Guilt and Justice," which I highly, highly recommend, he doesn't really understand where I'm coming from. (Should Massimo see this, I'll leave it to his personal judgment as to whether or not he was trying that hard to understand, wanted that much to understand, or wanted to try that hard to understand.

That said, I'm going to further deconstruct, or just plain refute, some of his claims.

March 29, 2017

Beto O'Rourke, Matthew J. Dowd, or Ted Cruz?

Beto O'Rourke
As of this time Friday, we could be two-thirds of the way to a three-person general election showdown for the pimply prepubescent Ted Cruz's Senate seat.

Congressman Beto O'Rourke, El Paso Democrat, has just said he plans a big announcement on Friday. The cat's not being further let out of the bag, but it's widely believed he'll have a formal campaign launch. He's indicated his interest in the seat, and you don't puff an official non-campaign like this.

He's got some good bona fides — favors marijuana legalization, opposes much of the War on Drugs. He's also, as of Tuesday, House co-sponsor of the "No PAC Act," designed to bar Congresscritters from taking PAC money. Overall, he'd at least be left of the center of today's Democratic Party, per On the Issues. And, he was a good enough campaigner to topple Silvestre Reyes.

On the other hand — and to riff on Idries Shah, we normally need more than two hands, because there are more than two sides or views — per this graphic, O'Rourke has yet to become a co-sponsor of John Conyers' HB676 Medicare for All bill. The Berniecrat type folks at the Down With Tyranny blog (one of the trio is a spinoff from a Digby blogging assistant) would puff Beto's work on the No PAC Act while not noting he's failed to co-sponsor HB676.

Matthew Dowd, former Shrub Bush strategerist [sic — think about it], has indicated some interest in an independent run, and specifically as an independent, calling the two so-called major parties "dinosaurs." But he still seems to be in the mulling stage and not beyond.

Per what I just said on Twitter, he probably needs to officially shit or get off the pot soon. It takes a lot of money for a Senate campaign in Texas. True, Dowd won't have spend money on a primary, but, that's less costly than the general. That's especially true, if per the first of the two links about him, Dowd is serious about a "bottom-up" campaign. Beyond and before teevee, that's a lot of gasoline driving around the small towns of The Great (and great big) State of Texas.

Also, as far as that bottom-up? Dowd's not really associated with Texas these days. That may hurt, too. And, per this piece, he's got a lot to answer for that is BushCo related, like why did he wait until 2008 to hop off the GOP train? And, was that in part to land a juicy media job?

Frankly, his earlier hop from Dem to GOP in 1999, combined with this, has a heady whiff, or stench, of positions-lite political opportunism. How much that will hurt him in the general public's eyes, I dn't know, but personally, I'd trust him even less than the average politician.

And, O'Rourke's road trip to DC with GOP Congresscritter Will Hurd may give him some small leg up over Dowd among those independent voters.

Especially if Dowd takes a quick campaign announcement crap, that means others need to drop their drawers or get out of the race soon.

No. 1 would be Joaquin Castro. Per the Stateless, he promises to shit or get off the pot before the end of April. However, he also has baggage for us true liberals, left-liberals and beyond — he also hasn't become a co-sponsor of Conyers' bill.

No. 2 would be Michael McCaul or any other would-be GOP challengers to Rafael Edward Cruz. And I think I may start calling him that more, just like the Lite Gov of Texas is often identified in these pages as Danny Goeb.

(Sidebar: Per Rafael's Wiki page, take note that his first government political appointment job of this wingnut states'-righter, was a federal one, and was in the administration of Slick Willie. Just saying. Also note that the parents of this godly Dominionist Christian, including his godly Dominionist Christian father, divorced in 1997.)

==

Brains has a very good additional take, from which I've updated mine; also take a look at Charles Kuffner. Somewhat per the two of them, and definitely my take, Dowd might enjoy being a Mario Cuomo Hamlet character more than actually running.

That said, I'll slightly digress from Brains on one issue.

I think Dems DO need a contested primary. First, speaking of shitting or getting off the pot, one or the other of O'Rourke and Castro would almost certainly have to come out for single-payer to distinguish himself from the other.

Second, though I'm not a Dem, thinking in Dem mindset, a contested primary might boost interest, and thus turnout in the general election. As Kuff points out, and as we regular followers of Texas politics know, Democratic turnout in midterm elections sucks donkey dongs — obvious political pun quite intended.

I expand my call for a contested primary here.

Kareem, Jacobin and NCAA athletes: Watch out what you're asking for

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:
Socialist, or rather,
Capitalist in disguise?
Confused socialist?
Because, per the old phrase, you might just get it — with that phrase's implication that you might not like it, either.

Jacobin, the hot new mag for boutique socialism, has given Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a spot calling for a variety of things related to the NCAA money pie.

Some, due to the Ed O'Bannon et al lawsuit against the NCAA, from his college days, will likely be settled in court, to athletes' favor, in a few years. An appeals court has already indicated the athletes should get something; now the question is if either the athletes, or the league [sic, more below] don't like this. (Other lawsuits, over antitrust issues, have less chance of any level of success, in my opinion.)

Some (more in a minute) are noble, but likely won't be addressed by paying Bama Tide or Oklahoma Sooner tailbacks money.

Others? Will likely benefit participants in two NCAA men's sports, possibly in one NCAA women's sport, and hurt most other sports.

In short, Jacobin has given Abdul-Jabbar a venue to talk about a possible witches' brew of capitalism, socialism and general activism — and the three may be at loggerheads with each other.

Time to dive in.

Abdul-Jabbar speaks primarily from his experience as a men's basketball player at UCLA. Beyond that, when one things of dollar signs and college athletes, football most likely comes up.

And, in fact, a study done by the NCAA itself claims that only 20 Division 1 schools make money on football. I find that kind of hard to believe, and to the degree it's real, Abdul-Jabbar has the solution — stop paying coaches and ADs so much.

That said, this is a HIGHLY contentious topic. The Washington Post, in a long piece, notes that top schools are taking in more money than ever — and paying out more than ever. Solution? The one Abdul-Jabbar mentioned — share the pie more, and more equitably.

This, from that piece:
“College sports is big business, and it’s a very poorly run big business,” said David Ridpath, a business professor at Ohio University and board member for the Drake Group, a nonprofit advocating for an overhaul of commercialized college sports. 
“It’s frustrating to see universities, especially public ones, pleading poverty . . . and it is morally wrong for schools bringing in millions extra on athletics to continue to charge students and academics to support programs that, with a little bit of fiscal sense, could turn profits or at least break even.”
Is the centerpiece.

Of course, college athletic departments aren't alone. The neoliberalization of academia means that colleges and universities in general are big business — and often about as poorly run. 

There's a related issue — if one school makes $150M off athletes and another only $50M, will one school pay more than another to players? Right now, the NCAA's various conferences are kind of like the NFL, with at least partial revenue sharing. (Way back in 2008, for Twitter friend Howling Wolf, the Bama-Vandy gap in revenue was $123M/$55M, per an ESPN spreadsheet.)

Does Abdul-Jabbar want to end this? Does he want a more unfettered capitalism?

March 28, 2017

Time to move the #DemExit from the national level to the #txlege

In a nutshell, the Texas Senate's 31-0 vote approving a state budget that actually cuts spending from 2015, along with being bullshit-full of accounting tricks that might not be constitutional, is why we need Green Party candidates running for every state Senate seat, and especially those of incumbent Democrats.

John Whitmire's halfway a Republican anyway. Jose Rodriguez of El Paso reportedly, per the first link, "spoke critically" of the proposed budget — then still vote for it.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jane Nelson, who got elected, what, 25 years ago, in part due to a campaign against term limits, proves herself to be an ever-bigger political whore slouching toward Gomorrah.

And, I don't care if Comptroller Glenn Hegar officially supported the budget gimmicks.

Hegar would support his mother getting screwed in downtown Austin, or even in East Austin, if it kept peace with Lite Guv Danny Goeb and his tea partiers.

Back to Senate Dems.

No, "primarying" isn't good enough — and might not be done anyway.

Sylvia Garcia? Needs a Green opponent. Hey, Brains, are you in her Senate district? In Whitmire's? In Borris Miles'? (Hopefully not in Bettencourt's.)

Kirk Watson? Needs a Green general foe, to keep Austin Weird and to keep Dems from making assumptions.

Carlos Uresti, Juan Hinojosa, Judith Zaffirini, Jose Menendez? Need Green challengers — and I know there are Hispanic Greens.

Miles and Royce West? Maybe a couple of good African-American Greens — and at least one at the Congressional level, for Eddie Bernice Johnson, while we're at it.

This isn't even token opposition, and the fact that Joe Straus and the rest of the Texas House is almost certain to reject the Senate budget as it currently stands is no excuse.

Update, April 12: If this is because Goeb is threatening to hold your pet bill hostage, that's still not an excuse. First, it might not pass his Gestapo state senate anyway. Second, all that does is further enable him. Third, it also enables crackpot Sen. Jane Nelson, who has long exceeded her shelf life.

==

As for Whitmire and West, their sponsorship of some have turd-polished as "comply, then complain" bill to teach high school students how to interact with traffic cops when pulled over is yet another reason to DemExit, in my opinion. The bill itself is "nice," but not so nice when it doesn't include other elements. These could have included:
1. A statewide ban on "pick a friend" grand juries, notorious in Harris County for no-billing cops even if they would screw Glenn Hegar's mother on Westheimer Street.
2. Stiffening the state law on abuse of public authority.
3. Stiffening West's pet law from a decade ago, the annual racial profiling report, to require video verification of all stops.
4. Requiring schools to teach something like the ACLU rights when stopped as part of the bill's main portion. While West says he met with civil rights leaders, somehow, I'll bet that's not in the bill.

Recession ahead?

Now, first let me caveat that the Peterson Institute is largely "Hooverite" in its stance on fiscal issues. Nonetheless, it's nice to see that someone like Adam Posen agrees with me that a recession is likely by the time of the 2018 midterm elections.

He's saying so for the same basic reasons I have — bubblish growth, which was already starting to be the case the last two years of the Obama Administration, will continue for another year plus before a normal business correction takes place.

But, will it be "normal"? After all, none of the Obama Administration's "recovery" trickled down (I see what I did there, neoliberal Democrats, with your neoliberal president who said he loved Reagan) below the top 5 percent of Americans and a fair amount of that stayed with the top 1 percent. "Heterodox" economist Michael Hudson, in this long piece, discusses this rentier recovery. (And much more.)

Can the lower 95-99 percent stand more of a crunch? Will they have that bad of a crunch, less than in past recessions, or worse than past recessions, precisely because of the uneven recovery after the Great Recession even by recent standards.

That said, Republicans, including Donald Trump, his populist hand-waving aside, tilt very much 1 percent, and national-level neolib Democrats pretty much do.

But, as with the failed Ryancare / Trumpcare, before at least Jan. 3, 2019, this recession will be entirely a GOP baby. And, yes, they'll force the 95-99 percent to eat a shit sandwich. That includes YOU, TrumpTrain riders.

In a sense, stepping back inside the duopoly's framework, it will be "nice" to see the GOP deal with a recession on its own watch.

That said, other than head fakes to the 95-99 percent for electoral purposes on Nov. 6, 2018, Democrats won't try to fight the next recession with much more than a "kinder, gentler shit sandwich." (I see what I did there, even if Obama didn't offer express admiration for Poppy Bush.)

March 27, 2017

If a tree fell on Greg Abbott, would he make a sound?

The governor of our Pointy Abandoned Object State™ doubled down on his normal level of wingnut Teh Stupidz this last week.

He told a Corpus Christi audience, and indirectly, the Texas Legislature, that he thinks it would be much better if the Lege passed a law, a blanket law, claiming the right to nullify any local ordinance with which it does not agree.

Abbott, whose antipathy to federal oversight of Texas stupidity is long known in his "I go to the office, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home" comment from his days as the state's A(sshole) G(eneral), nonetheless thinks the state should do a far more draconian version of the same to its tens of thousands of home-rule cities and even more cities without home rule. Rather than individually fight Denton's fracking ban and Austin's nix on plastic bags, follow the Red Queen and "off with their heads"!

But Greg went even further.

When called out as a hypocrite, he said that ultimate control belongs with the individual.

So, no state tort laws for lawsuits, right, gov?

When a private individual has a tree that falls on a jogger, there's no need, nor should there be any recourse, for legal action, right, gov? (Ignoring that you've helped nearly eliminate that recourse already, along with the even more numbnuts state Supreme Court justices that Rick Perry found to follow on you.)

No multimillion lawsuits by an eventual state Supreme Court justice, AG and governor with a then-implacable hostility to such suits, right, gov?

(This ignores, of course, the whole issue of women having individual control over reproductive choices, doesn't it, gov?)

The StartleGram documents yet more problems Abbott's idea would cause.

TX Progressives scattershoot #Trumpcare / #Ryancare, #txlege, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance promises to repeal last week's roundup and replace it with something better and cheaper this week. It'll be easy.


 SocraticGadfly sees Greens and other left-liberals talking libertarian-style about getting rid of the Federal Reserve and offers them a reality check about it, with suggestions for proper reform, while noting its neededness.

 CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme warns Texas Republicans on track to destroy local rule, another anti-democratic war on citizens and war on voters.

 It was another lousy week to be a Republican as Trumpcare went down in flames, the Russian problems flared up again, and the TXGOP started fighting with each other right out in the open. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs managed to cram all the action into one blog post, with some crow left over for the Democrats.


 ================

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

 Beyond Bones provides a road trip map from spring breaks of yore.

 Lone Star Ma encourages you to set up a meeting with your Congressperson to discuss your opposition to the AHCA.

 Better Texas Blog reminds us why school vouchers are such a lousy idea.

 Streetsblog highlights five good transportation bills in the Lege.

 Jennifer Mercieca identifies the real harm of Trump's conspiracy theories.

 Michael Li shows what a redrawn CD27 might look like.

 Teddy Wilson investigates the state's contract with the anti-abortion Heidi Group.

 Juanita has one last laugh over the AHCA debacle.


March 26, 2017

New season of The Biggest Loser starting now — reality TV, DC style

The three main characters in the new season are Mitch the Turtle, Sieg Heil and Eddie Munster, as pictured from left.

The season, at the start, revolves around the plot twists over Obamacare, Ryancare, Trumpcare, the Affordable Care Act, and the American Health Care Act.

Besides the three mail main characters, waiting in the wings as the possible real Biggest Loser, all along, has been the American public. Within it, the potential Biggest Loser was a TrumpTrain core — older, lower-income white voters.

And, our story line develops from there

Besides reminding us of a classic classic rock song, here with a new cover by Reservoir Dogs:



"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, Here I am, stuck in the middle with you" isn't totally true, per the pic, which I saw, with this caption, from a TrumpTrain rider on Twitter. Trump is actually as much a clown or joker than either of them.

And, he got punked, in part because between Nov. 8 and Jan. 20, he never stopped to realize that health care is indeed hard. (Well, if you have a single-payer system, with one set of rules, it's not quite so hard.)

Now, per some of the inside-the-Beltway chattering class postmortems, Trump may eventually learn more of a political game. Or, he may remain like a more narcissistic Ross Perot, thinking he can be CEO to Congressional mid-level business execs, with him just snapping his fingers and getting results. (That igmores that when Trump snapped his fingers in the business world the results were often bad, except in cases where he often allegedly had the help of organized crime.

But, Trump's going to have to do a lot more political learning.

His threat to primary House Republicans who wouldn't get on the Trump Train basically got laughed at by the likes of Gohmert Pyle and other teabagger members of the House Freedom Caucus. More quietly, House GOP non-wingnut conservatives (please, don't call them "moderates") laughed at Trump their own way.

Speaking of the House GOP, Speaker Paul Ryan has already been labeled a poseur and dilettante by the chattering class. More clearly, he's now damaged goods. Will he be considered damaged enough that Gohmert Pyle and other Freedom Caucus members threaten him with a leadership challenge, just like they did with John Boehner? It wouldn't surprise me. Breitbart already has out the long knives; stay tuned for what Faux News says in days and weeks ahead.

Question No. 2 and related — if this drumbeat against Ryan increases, will he stop kissing Trump's ass and try to find his own long knives? Or more subtle anti-Trump sicarii?

Next loser? Rinse Penis, that is Reince Priebus, is already getting dinged. Besides GOP civil war, Trump staff civil war will surely increase.  Eminence grisé Steve Bannon is already pulling out some long knives there, but more toward Eddie Munster, which is surely what's fueling Breitbart. That said, Bannon, contra his nominal buss Trump, is being honest that this was a big defeat.

Related to that, Bannon reportedly wanted to force a public vote, so that he had his own "enemies list" over the issue in the House.

Trump himself is reportedly boo-hooing over letting Ryan do the bill-writing. But, that's simply bullshit. Congressional GOP has been calling for more action, more leadership, from Trump for some time. If Bannon wants to play this game, at least some in the House are more savvy than Ryan in knowing who they're dealing with.

Winner of sorts? The Turtle. The bill never got to the Senate. He never had to threaten a nuclear option requiring actual stemwinder filibustering from Senate Dems. And, he can now play himself up to Trump as elder statesman, vs. Ryan. And, Bannon knows (I think) that even he can't mess with McConnell.

Tom Price, Trump's new HHS secretary, has been named in that last link above, as another loser. If so, that shows every Trump cabinet member who came from Congress is on some sort of hot seat. Given his role in many spots, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney shouldn't sleep easy.

Loser again? Trump. His own aides are all but calling him an idiot for trying to put blame on Dems for the bill's failure.

Loser again again? Trump. That info above is coming from a flood tide of leaks inside his staff.

That said, I disagree with the likes of Washington Monthly when it says Trump didn't care. No, he did care a lot — as long as it was easy. As soon as the going looked tough, and it looked like he could still blame Ryan et al, and not take too bad a hit himself, he bailed.

Don't forget, WM is part of the neoliberal wing of the Beltway chattering class — the type of folks who agreed with Hillary Clinton 12 months ago on trying to promote Trump's candidacy over other Republicans.

Mixed loser/quasi-winner? House Freedom Caucus. Trump himself called it a loser, as noted here, where its head, Rep. Mark Meadows, thinks O-care can still be defeated. That intensifies the loserdom, if he's that clueless. (And he is; none of the Freedom Caucus members chair any committees, let alone one in position to put forth O-care repeal bills.) But, it's a quasi-winner to its diehard wingnut supporters.

Meanwhile, the American public, even though not the Biggest Loser, remains a loser.
  • The Congressional GOP stands officially exposed as having no desire to make Obamacare actually better;
  • A full 25 House Progressive Caucus members have yet to cosponsor HR 676, John Conyers' single-payer bill;
  • Bernie Sanders has yet to introduce a similar bill in the Senate, and his last excuse has now been removed.
None of these three will change soon. Sorry. Blogs like Down With Tyranny will keep looking for ponies while continuing to refuse to #DemExit. And nothing will change.