June 09, 2017

Mo commits the Birdland Bloodbath of the #STLCards

Johnny Peralta, soon
a likely ex-Cardinal
St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak finally tired of the Birdos ever-more-rapidly spiraling the drain of mediocrity this month, and the latter part of May, and said Friday: Time to shape up or ship out.

Some shipping out was done immediately. Notably, Jhonny Peralta has been DFA'ed. Mo admitted he didn't even want to take the time to look for a potential trade partner, even one that would offer a AA player and the Cards eating most the remaining contract. That said, somebody's space needed to be opened for Kolten Wong to come back off the DL.

And, that also may be a signal to Birds' skipper Mike Matheny: Play Wong, somehow, and deal better with other personnel issues. We went through this in 2014 when Mo finally traded Allen Craig because Matheny wouldn't stop playing him. Ths is nothing new, as many Birds fans know and as I've blogged before.

Jeff Gordon says Mo's repeated "four to six weeks" comments should make it clear that's how much time Matheny has left. Gordon, in his best writing in some time, notes Peralta also shot himself in the foot by refusing to learn to play first base and add to his late-career versatility. If he is picked up, it will probably be by an AL team looking at him as an extra DH as well as utility infielder.

Jedd Gyorko notes here that it's a wake-up even for players who have been doing better.

That said, it was Mo himself who overpaid for Dexter Fowler. He clearly had a career year defensively last year, and some suggest that it was not only the smaller outfield in Wrigley, but new Cub Jason Heyward, no matter the suck of his bat, soaking up massive defensive expanses of right field. I said myself that both offering five years instead of four, AND a full no-trade, was too much. One or the other. Not both.

Randal Grichuk is clearly in Mo's sights next. However, it's to be hoped that the change in assistant hitting coaches, as well as his training-level rehab, fixes some of his issues. His contract is still cheap enough to keep him at Memphis and/or the big club, even if he has to sit behind Tommy Pham and / or Magneuris Sierra, whose time may or may not have come — remember Small Sample Size effects — but is certainly bidding for that.

Jose Oquendo: Next
Redbirds skipper?
Speaking of coaching changes, Gordon, on a hot streak, suggest that hitting coach John Mabry is next on the clock. And, I'm sure that if push came to shove, Matheny would push to save himself.

And, if Matheny's own egg timer runs out? Gordon, getting the trifecta, already starts the speculation ball rolling by mentioning the old "Cardinals secret weapon," former third-base coach Jose Oquendo, as top of the list. The team could do worse. At a minimum, he'd be a great interim for the rest of this year.

And, beyond that, we need to get the ball rolling about serious discussion for a Matheny replacement. I wanted to have Mo hire Terry Francona as Tony La Russa's replacement at the time, but, unfortunately, that didn't happen.

And Mo, at least for PR purposes, put himself on the clock, too:

"I think everybody, including myself, is not in the most secure situation right now." 
Of course, this may NOT be just PR purposes. Bill DeWitt might have said a word or two, for all we know. Per this piece, specifically, the photo, DeWitt's been known to stick his head in the clubhouse.

But, really, this is about Matheny. Per that second-to-last link, Jose DeJesus Ortiz's column, a lot of this is ultimately about Matheny. Too many Cardinals have been too sloppy at baserunning since he took over. Of course, one could argue that some of that bounces back on Oquendo.

Greg AtLast on Trump v Comey, #TrumpTrain and #Hillbots

Now we know why ex-Eff Bee Eye head Comey wouldn't tell Congresscritters that Trump impeded his probe.

Not only did that not happen, but given Comey's extended string of laughers today, he would have only further hoist himself by his own petard.

Today's highlights — other than learning that John McCain is more brain-dead than Dan Patrick after a hot day in the sun — include the two biggies:

First, Comey leaked emails to Columbia Law prof friend Daniel Richman to try to force appointment of a special counsel.

Second, Comey claims then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, after committing Tarmac with Slickster Bill Clinton last summer, pressured him to downplay his Hillary Clinton probe. YET, he did NOT leak emails at that time to force a special prosecutor call out of her.

That's called petard-hoisting. Especially when everybody is hurling obstruction of justice allegations at Trump and it's arguable Comey did the same thing, at least in letter if not spirit.

My thought is that Comey was trying to play both electoral ends against the middle from July on, rather than doing his job.

Of course, that means it's time for a quick visit from friend GregAtLast. Greg talks about Trump and Comey both being delusional, and how their delusions have infected many others.



With all this, Hillbots were shattered enough before over Comey. They might be jumping off bridges now. And, no, I didn't think there was a conspiracy behind Trump firing Comey a month ago. Still don't now. And I stand by Hillary causing this, Hillbots, even as Comey has shown himself less deserving than ever of sympathy. He's changed his story before; what's to say it won't happen again?

With clusterfucks like this, all Vladimir Putin has to do is stay out of the way.

June 08, 2017

#Hillsplaining and gubernatorial slave labor

If you've been #woke on Twitter the past 24 hours, you know that old comments by Hillary Clinton, about her and Bill having the Arkansas governor's mansion maintained by slave labor, have been making the rounds. They've done so primarily for her patronizing — or would that be matronizing? — Hillsplaining.

Also noted on Twitter has been that James Earl Carter had similar care when guv of Georgia. However, his story is different. A female inmate who cooked for the mansion once asked for $250. Eventually she told him that she still owned $750 in fines and would be released when it was paid, and that she had $500 already. Whether loan or gift, she got the other $250 from Carter.

So, let's assume every post-Civil War governor who went on to become, or seriously run for, president, had inmate labor — the one type of slavery the 13th Amendment still allows — maintaining the big house.

What would they say?

Rutherford Hayes — "I know you're inmate labor, but could you also become a presidential elector? I need just one more!"

Grover Cleveland — "I'd love to pay you, but I'm running for president on a campaign to end free silver, so I cannot."

Teddy Roosevelt — "That's a bully job you're doing there. If you'd like, I can get you into the Army and serving in Brownsville. I'll forget about you when you're dishonorably discharged in a decade."

William Howard Taft, as governor-general of the Philippines: "I must thank MacArthur for subduing these folks."

Woodrow Wilson: "I'm the governor and you're the slave, I mean, inmate. Be grateful I'm not wearing my Klan robes."

Calvin Coolidge: "I'd really prefer a white slave. Can't we arrest some of those Kennedy Irish? Oops, I've said too much for me."

FDR: "You have one job — hide Lucy from Eleanor. Fail, and you're back to being a field slave."

Ronald Reagan: "Aren't you Stepin Fetchit? I know I saw you on some movie back lot."

Bill Clinton: "Wait until Hillary comes home! Boy, are you in trouble then. And what was your name? Rector? Ricky Rector?"

George W. Bush: "Shape up or I'll make you cackle like Karla Faye Tucker."

More seriously, it's neither a laughing, nor a -splaining, matter, especially not for modern Democrats. It undercuts true rehabilitation goals. It undercuts outside paid labor. And, all of this is doubly true of private prisons.


June 07, 2017

Dr. J and Magic Johnson are wrong; so is Riles

Steph: Would he and
Warriors top all teams
from any era?
Both Magic Johnson and Julius Erving have claimed their early-to-middle 1980s teams would have beaten this year's Warriors with Steph Curry and the rest of the gang.

Magic Johnson: The
greatest ever? Not
likely in today's game.
Maybe, under rules of their era. Today? No. And, under today's game rules, sorry, Pat Riley, but Magic wouldn't rank in the top five. Not a great 3-ball (that shot-put shot would be swatted today), actually not THAT fast, and not that great of a defender. He might work as a point forward instead of a guard.

With the 1985 Lakers, Magic says, who would guard Kareem? I respond, who would be recharging his oxygen tanks, because he would be totally gassed. Michael Cooper would be solid in today's era — he'd play fast and shoot even more 3s while still doing defense. Byron Scott would still be good. Jamaal Wilkes, with lack of rebounding and no 3-ball to make him a stretch 4, along with little defense, would be on the bench today.

James Worthy would have been the interesting one. A decent ballhandler for his size, he was not a great playmaker, shot-blocker or 3-baller. He couldn't have done the stretch 4 either.

The Doctor claims that Moses Malone could run the floor. Not like that, he couldn't. Andrew Toney of "Boston Stranger" infamy might have shot the 3 today with more frequency. Mo Cheeks was not a 3-baller. Neither was Doc. Nor Bobby Jones. And Malone was never a good, nor a frequent, passer out of the post.

One team from way back that just might have beaten today's Warriors? And under today's rules? The 1971-72 Lakers. Huge points differential per game. Wilt was still in pretty good shape, and recognized he didn't need to shoot a lot, but when he did, hit 65 percent.

Jerry West: Would
The Logo & Wilt have
beaten Steph et al?
Picture that team in today's era for this reason. Both The Logo and Gail Goodrich would have bombed the 3-ball today. Keith Erickson and Flynn Robinson would have popped a few. Jim McMillan might have too. Hell, even Magic's coach, might have gone downtown on occasion.

Versus today's Warriors? West, underrated on D, could have gone mano-a-mano with Curry, IMO. Ditto Goodrich and Klay Thompson. Results wouldn't have been perfect, but it would be better than this year's Cavs, from what I see. And, both Steph and Klay would have to play D back on two bombers of their own.

So, this year's team might well have beaten last year's 73-win team. But, the Lakers of that era would have had nobody match up well with Kevin Durant. That said, if he were playing center, maybe Wilt could halfway hang with him. It would be tough.

Finally, for the leprechauns? The 86 Celtics. First, Kevin McHale would be riding the pine with Worthy and some of the Lakers. Robert Parish might have had limited minutes. Dennis Johnson, ditto, as he didn't have a 3-ball.

Danny Ainge? Might have played OK today. He had a 3-shot and was a better defender than is credited.

Larry Bird would still
rock in today's NBA.
Finally....

Larry Legend. Bird would indeed be balling today, with even more freedom. A point forward, a stretch 4 and more.

But, that Celtics team as constituted in 1986? Nobody was as old as Kareem, and it was overall better as a 3-point team, but still would have lost.

But Larry would be rocking.

Cardinals at the one-quarter pole

Well, we're just past that point, actually, but now is a good time to take stock of this year's El Birdos.

So far, it's been up-and-down. A mid-May surge, with a brief visit to the top rung of the NL Central, made it look like the Redbirds were in the catbird seat. I thought that my own personal prediction in the polls at right — second, wild card, win the division round after the WC play-in, while falling in the LCS, might have been right on target.

Now, not so much. Although pitching remains strong up front, with Carlos Martinez finding his groove, Adam Wainwright bouncing back from a slow start, Mike Leake chugging along (until last Saturday) and Lance Lynn seeming to have bounced back well from his Tommy John, other problems abound.

The biggie? Bats are still, generally, slumping. And, although I blogged about the "ideal lineup," a month ago, as listed below, I think only a tire fire would radically help at this point.

Update, June 9: GM John Mozeliak apparently agreed. He just ignited a medium-sized tire fire and hinted he'll do a bigger one if necessary.

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

Gyorko is the only position player with more than 1 WAR so far, and the second-highest ranking position player is a sub, Tommy Pham. Dex, while a great clubhouse presence, not only is struggling somewhat with the bat, he's also regressed from his career-year defense of a season ago. And, given the ongoing struggles of Grichuk and slightly lesser ones of Piscotty, I don't know why GM John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny haven't huddled and said "Do we need to move Pham ahead of both of them"?

Middle relief has of course been a problem at times. Why Mo hasn't DFA-ed Jonathan Broxton I have no idea. He's not only tied for worst in that group, but he's the oldest.

Looking longer-term, Mo's going to have to decide how seriously to pursue Lynn in free agency, and how much to pay Waino after 2018.

June 06, 2017

Texas government, officially privatized

A think tank and attached PAC suing the feds on behalf of Penis Bush. Shouldn't be happening, and it deliberately misconstrues the Endangered Species Act.

Anyway, here you go:


TPPF Files Lawsuit to Delist Golden-Cheeked Warbler from the Endangered Species Act Action
Defends Texas' right to land management

AUSTIN - Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation filed a lawsuit to delist the golden-cheeked warbler from the endangered species list on behalf of the Texas General Land Office.

"Leaving a species on the endangered list after its recovery is not only ineffective, it's irresponsible," said Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. "The restoration of the golden-cheeked warbler population is a success story worth celebrating by removing it from the endangered list and restoring the rights of Texas landowners to effectively manage our own properties."

As Texas Land Commissioner, Bush oversees investments, including more than 13 million acres of state lands, which earn billions of dollars for Texas schoolchildren. The population of the golden-cheeked warbler population is now 19 times greater than estimated when the species was first listed.

"The golden-cheeked warbler is a recovered species and should no longer be regulated by the federal government under the Endangered Species Act," said Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "As the purpose for listing the species has been accomplished, respect for private property rights demands the very language of the act be followed in delisting the warbler from further regulation."

Ted Hadzi-Antich, senior attorney in the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, stressed the importance of limiting the Endangered Species Act to its intended purpose.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service should not use the Endangered Species Act to protect individual species without considering the impacts on the overall human environment," said Hadzi-Antich. "Otherwise, the act becomes a general, federal land use planning tool that effectively keeps humans out of the environment. Congress never intended that result." 

Erin Wilcox, attorney for Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, asserted that continuing to protect the golden-cheeked warbler could negatively affect other species.

"The best, most up-to-date science shows that the warbler is out of danger," said Wilcox. "Now it's time for the federal government to celebrate that victory and direct resources within its constitutional authority to species that are truly endangered and need protection, not double down on outdated data that has been proven wrong."

Commissioner Bush reiterated the importance of environmental stewardship that is managed close to home.

"Texans have a strong tradition of land conservation," said Commissioner Bush. "Texas ranchers, homeowners, and other landowners are in a much better position to protect these environments than federal bureaucrats in DC."

To view the lawsuit and associated documents in full, please visit: http://txpo.li/2rDhyWl.

June 05, 2017

Ladies and gents, I present the brilliant US national security establishment

Reality Winner, ex-NSA noob
In the wake of the recently announced documents leak arrest, these initial observations about "Reality Winner" and in turn, reflections on the state of the American establishment in general.

  1. The National Security Agency, due to both sides of the duopoly and their hypercapitalist fetish for privatization, has to use ever more private contractors. (Remember, Snowden was one.)
  2. These contractors, in their own idiocy, hire ever more younger employees, and in turn give ever more of them Top Secret clearances (remember Snowden) on the thinnest of grounds and at pre-30 ages when they can’t have earned them.
  3. In this case, the idiot, with the charming name of Reality Winner, was dumb enough to email the Intercept from a work email. She was also dumb enough not to realize the document she sent really wasn’t worth all the trouble to which she went.
  4. Sidebar — If the NSA itself weren’t that dumb, I’d almost believe it wrote a fake document to see what “Putin Did It” noob would bite. (FYI, the actual document doesn’t move any actual “Putin Did It” findings one iota forward. Allegedly penetrating 100 election officials out of 3,000-plus county, parish and independent cities that conduct elections? Nothingburger. Plus, the piece is caveated beyond that from here to Sunday.)  Don't believe me? Here's the Intercept's story. Yes, the NSA unequivocally claims the GRU was hacking, but, within that, it's caveated all to hell. Beyond that, the hacking, to the degree it did happen, was after early voting was done in most states that have it. And a bigger derp? The piece quotes Alex Halderman, the Michigan prof who gulled Jill Stein into her recount.
  5. Top this all off by one of Glenn Greenwald’s minions at the Intercept, Winner’s media target, sending a photocopy of the document itself back to the NSA when asking for comment. The folds on the doc are what helped lead to Winner’s arrest. Worse? Glenn's staff numnuts also asked another NSA contractor about the doc, Justice says. And, per the Washington Post, that contact burned them; I'm assuming the contact's claim the docs were fake was itself a ruse. Of course, the Intercept ain't alone in being stupid in this way. I present The New York Times outing a CIA officer. Meanwhile, some wagon-circlers on Twitter are claiming this couldn't have been handled any other way. Tosh. Snowden himself might have pointed out some of the mistakes, if he'd been asked, and had wanted to. And an ooops that this isn't a first-time deal: Speaking of Snowden ...
  6. Regional readers of this blog should remember that I’m not 100 percent convinced of Snowden’s bona fides, anyway. Likewise, I wasn't convinced of Glenn's brilliance on all matters related to this, either. Look up some stuff online from Mark Ames and / or Yasha Levine for more. None of the four bylined reporters are fly-by-night newbies. This is a fuck-up, pure and simple. I mean, I've never heard of sending back a physical copy of an actually leaked document like that. NEVER. Smartly, Greenwald himself is pretty much keeping his yap shut.
  7. Does all of this add up to a suggestion for more skepticism? I think not. This is a 20-something Dem voter who surely bought lock, stock and barrel into DNC claims that "Putin Did It." Snowden had more brains than that, though more deviousness as well. Glenn's staff, beyond the dumb shit above, should have read the document more carefully and vetted her background better. Any NSA leaker who normally post to "public" on Facebook is an idiot anyway. But, like Snowden, she's at least a small-l libertarian; at a minimum, she doesn't recognize that Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders aren't that close politically (and neither are Sanders and Ted Cruz; always suspect people with incoherent political beliefs), that Bill Mahar is a racist as well as an idiot, and other things.
  8. Sadly, the fact that one of the Intercept's advisers on the story was Halderman now has Stein doubling down on "yes, my recounts." And the Green Party retweeting, just as party staffers had Bob Fitrakis write an uncritical account of the recounts a month ago, about which I blogged. I swear, I get ever closer to moving my official third-party allegiance to the Socialist Party USA.

TX Progressives wonder if #txlege actually had last Sine Die, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance is still debating whether it's pronounced "cov-fee-fee" or "cov-fay-fay" as it brings you this week's roundup, and salutes the latest accomplishment of Texas baseball fans’ favorite ex-St. Louis Cardinal.

 Off the Kuff notes the final passage of Voter ID 2.0, which does not and cannot address the issue of the original bill's discriminatory intent but which will make the Texas GOP feel a little better about itself.

 There's a case to be made for Russian involvement in the 2016 election; it's just not a convincing one, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

 SocraticGadfly sees Hillary Clinton's latest blame-passer about the election and wonders, among other things, if some of the latest complaints about sexism couldn't apply to her own comments.


 Neil at All People Have Value does not understand why citizens of Houston litter at Stuebner-Airline Park. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Vox salutes the extension of the Texas Emissions Reductions Program.

Lewisville Texan Journal profiles would-be Democratic challengers to Congresscritter Michael Burgess.

Dos Centavos wonders why Houston hasn’t joined the SB4 lawsuit. (Note: This blogger wonders what’s holding Dallas back.)


 ===================

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

 The Dallas Observer names their best and worst legislators from this past session.

 Better Texas Blog complains that the Lege is out of sync with Texas values and needs.

 Linda Cuellar applauds the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans.

 The TSTA Blog lets Matt Rinaldi have it.

 Space City Weather gives a primer on when to avoid breathing in Houston. Will it help all the newcomers moving there that Culture Map Houston reports? And, are either of those blogs, or others, passing out Houston flooding maps?

 Grits for Breakfast asserts that Texas gets more credit than it deserves for reducing incarceration rates.

 Rep. Cesar Blanco is not going to be silent in the face of bigotry.

Texas Observer has in-depth analysis of the finally-settled racial pollution lawsuit between EPA and TCEQ. Shorter version? Too little, too late, on EPA’s part, but that that’s nothing new.

-->

Six quick hot takes on the Six-Day War and Zionism

It's been 50 years since Israel either acted in self-defense, launched a totally pre-meditated war, or used legitimate Egyptian proclamations to up the ante into a pre-emptive war which we know how as the Six-Day War.

Zionism, especially in its harder core, first reared its head to American public visibility at this time.

But, it was nothing new, including in its dirtiness.

Per Scott Anderson's "Lawrence in Arabia," already in 1917, shortly after the Balfour Declaration he helped engineer, Chaim Weizmann said that Zionist settlers would behave properly at first, but would soon push Palestinians off their land. No, this was not him sadly predicting a terrible wrong; it was him laying out a course of action for imperialism — 21 years before Kristallnacht and 25 before the Final Solution. In other worse, Weizmann was calling on Zionists to be rapacious without excuse. He and other Zionists, like non-Jewish Brits, viewed Palestinian Arabs as "wogs," like the Brits did with Indians and American whites did with American Indians.

One cannot have an honest understanding of the war without that background. Another way to phrase it? Some 30 years before the Arab nations vowed to push independent Israel into the sea, Zionists vowed to push Palestinians across the Jordan.

Second? For Zionists, their American Religious Right allies or others decrying "Islamic terrorism" today? Menachem Begin was a terrorist, too.

Third? Israel did provoke that war more than it was provoked; at best, Option 3 at top, not Option 2, is true. Just a year later, Yitzhak Rabin admitted that the troops Egypt moved into the Sinai weren't enough to launch an attack. Speaking of Begin, he admitted the same, per that link, immediately after the war.

Fourth, the war itself can't be well analyzed without honesty about Israel's deliberate attack on the USS Liberty. It was deliberate, per a new revision of a book by a staff officer on ship. And Moshe Dayan wanted to sink it. Don't believe any Zionists who pooh-pooh that by calling it a conspiracy theory. The attack, even without the sinking, was part of the "pivot" to attack Syria fully enough to capture the Golan Heights and prevent US interference.

Fifth, the war sealed a US tilt that had been happening for some time. Ike had arguably been neutral over the whole Suez Canal issue in 1956. (Which was better than his spinelessness of about the same time when Hungarians, taking his administration's words at face value, actually revolted against their Soviet masters.)

But, Jack Kennedy, beginning with ignoring what Dimona's nuclear power reactor was really about, led the US tilt to Israel. Per the link about the Liberty book, LBJ was looking at arms sales to Israel as part of why we agreed to its whitewash on the Liberty.

Sixth and lastly? Most Americans of the right, and most Democrat-type librulz, don't know any of this. Some Zionist Americans in both halves of the duopoly will deny it — either because they don't want to look at the details, or, with some in high positions, they know some of the actual facts and help to keep burying them.

Same is true for many everyday Israelis, who are no more than "get along" moderate Zionists.

==

Note No. 1: And, remember — and refute those who claim otherwise. Anti-Zionism is NOT anti-Semitism. For Americans who make that claim, whether Jew or goy, my response is always, in part, to say, the capital of my country is Washington, not Tel Aviv, let alone not Jerusalem. At Mondoweiss, though British not American, Tony Judt, from the past, reflects on these issues.

Note No. 2: The war is not an excuse for Islamic terrorism, and I never said that. Nor have I made other statements of "moral equivalence," for the types of people in Note 1. (At the same time, I don't reject that some Israeli actions are morally equivalent to some on the Arab side, or even possibly worse.)

Note No. 3: None of this excuses the government of Israel's hypocrisy in doing official, but black-market, business with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states.