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.)

Why?

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.

A third advantage is that if you mute a person, not block them, and don't announce the muting, they can't brag that "I've been blocked by Tweeters X, Y, and Z."

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.