SocraticGadfly: 4/9/17 - 4/16/17

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

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. (Ted Postol, a weapons expert in academia 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. On the other hand, the UN backed up his earlier claims about Eastern Ghouta.)

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

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.