SocraticGadfly: 6/25/17 - 7/2/17

July 01, 2017

#TrumpTrain riders, #Hillbots and the waaahhhmbulance

Jay Sekulow, constitutional law hack
A former Twitter friend who should know better, and who I thought DID know better, but doesn't, (the now-late, and not so-great, Actual Flatticus) is whining about the Guardian's piece about Trump lawyer friend Jay Sekulow's "Christian" fueled alleged grifting — and possibly grafting, if the IRS chooses to further investigate his brother's work claims. (It's Owl Doctor, mentioned below, not Actual Flatticus, but stand by on that.)

He said it was a hit job because the MSM wasn't writing similar about David Brock. He then claimed it was digging up 17-year-old material.

I had multiple responses to that.

First, while the Guardian's look went back 17 years, it didn't stop there. It said the financial shenanigans are running up to today. So, no, not "digging up old material."

Second, re David Brock, lemme know how many relatives he's paying.

Third, somewhat parallel, USA Today DID report that Bernie Sanders hired relatives for his 2012 Senate re-election campaign. So, the idea that the "liberal media" is attacking Trump is laughable.

Fourth, as I know said person knows, the No. 1 story, on most Google searches, about Frank Giustra and the Clinton Foundation was by the New York Times. And, rightly or wrongly, Camp Clinton complained she had a much rougher ride from the media last year than did Trump.

Fifth, said person has retweeted Prison Planet at least once. And done the same with Zero Hedge. (That also said, I plan on unfriending more "liberal" friends who retweet either one, if they've done it before. And I refuse to use the actual names of either one. And, I have now done so; it was just an unfriending, not a blocking, but I've started doing it.) And, if you want #fakenews, THAT is it. And, in both cases, the specific retweets had specific lies.

Sixth, per my opening paragraph, I think the Christianity façade is as much the story on Sekulow as the Trump connection. Let me know when David Brock invokes Jesus for his fiscal shakedowns. It really looks no different than, say, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker to this pair of eyeballs.

None of this is meant to excuse David Brock. That said, the New York Times has written this about the money he's raked in, The New Republic criticized some of his ethics in his blind Clinton defense. Other MSM articles can be found about his web of agencies.

Besides, it's apples and oranges. If one wants to criticize Brock, there is PLENTY of both Republican-leaning and Democrat-leaning dark money groups to criticize. And, the MSM, and even more, the alternative media, has done that.

Seventh, per me posting that link in response to said person posting Sekulow's wondering, or rather, rhetorical "wondering," why no special counsel is investigating Barack Obama?

The alleged constitutional law scholar (side-slap to Actual Flatticus while I'm here) knows why: We don't have special counsels for cases against private citizens. Therefore, it's a red herring.

It's also a lie. Obama didn't "do nothing," and it's been publicly stated he talked directly to Vladimir Putin about Russia's alleged official government involvement in attempts to hack into U.S. states' election offices. (No word if Putin brought up similar U.S. hacks, and what Dear Leader said back.)

And, no, I don't think Sekulow is a genius. He's been lucky to focus on church-state First Amendment issues at a time when the Supreme Court has drifted ever further rightward, or rather, wrongward. Santa Fe is the only church-state ruling over 30-plus years in the field I find halfway constitutional. Ward's Cove, Town of Greece, Hobby Lobby and many more were wrongly decided, some moderately so, most horrendously so.

We also know he's not such a genyus because he refused to talk to Mueller over trying to untangle some Michael Cohen statements about how he had helped Cohen prepare for testimony before Congress in 2017.

Eighth, Owl saw more than once that I've said that I'm sure Trump didn't collude with Russia. Therefore, he knows, when talking to me, that he's trying to blow smoke up my skirt and failing. (That said, the latest Donald Jr. revelations indicate the Trump team DID ethically collude, if not legally so.)

Ninth, Owl knew at the time that Sekulow is actually under investigation at the state level for his alleged shenanigans. Therefore, the Guardian piece, and others, aren't a "media hit job."

Tenth, said Twitter also either knows, or should know, that many people who aren't Republicans have criticized things like CNN's botched Russian news story.

Oh, and Trump Train and fellow traveler snowflakes? One of the states investigating Sekulow is North Carolina, hardly a hotbed of liberalism.

Eleventh? Paul Waldman notes that Sekulow could get sucked up in the ever-widening vacuum of Robert Mueller's investigation. If Trump Train snowflakes claim this would be unprecedented, I have two words for them: Ken Starr.

Seriously, you Trump Train riders — and Owl Doctor, if you're not one, I'm personally labeling you a "fellow traveler" or something near it — you're as much thin-skinned titty-baby special snowflakes as Hillbots. So, both of you groups, get on the waaahhhmbulance!

As for that particular person? He followed me first, after seeing i was (then) friends with Flatticus, aka Alan Smithee (one of many on Twitter). I followed him back because I found him interesting. I have lots of Dem friends who by being Dems are more conservative than me, and Green or Socialist or unaffiliated left-liberal and beyond friends.

He posted, and retweeted, centrist and some sensible conservative stuff. And, yes, there are "sensible conservatives," at least ones who can often be sensible, and even where I disagree with their economic and other ideas, they present rational thought. Bruce Bartlett immediately comes to mind. Matthew Dowd, who I'd call moderate conservative, not centrist, would be another.

(I've now blocked Owl Doctor.)

Update, Oct. 30: Flatticus later blocked me, when I was getting ready to unfriend him, and is now known as Chris Chopin in real life, after his passing.

Update, Dec. 9, 2020: "Friendly" reminder that Sekulow is also a Seth Rich conspiracy theorist.

June 30, 2017

Dallas as the Mexican food capital of the US? The Snooze makes me laugh

Whether for traditional Mexican food or modern frou-frou, Leslie Brenner's call on Dallas to work for and claim this mantle makes me laugh.

First, on the traditional side, and the first modernization wave, Texans don't know real Mexican, outside of places in and near the Valley. Traditional generic Ameri-Mex foods were largely invented outside of Texas, like the burrito in Tucson. What Texans misspell and call "chili" is laughed at in New Mexico, the home of the oldest Mexican-American culture in the US.

Cali-Mex is, if not better than Tex-Mex by a lot, is by at least a bit.

Plus, Los Angeles can easily top Dallas on the frou-frou side. And per capita, Santa Fe, I mean Fanta Se, surely can.

As far as traditional, early modern plus frou-frou together, I'd take Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Tucson and Denver ahead of Dallas. Through out the frou-frou, I'd take Las Cruces.

Hell, I wouldn't even take Dallas first in Texas. For the whole enchilada of all three timespans together, I'd take San Antonio first. Austin might be second.

Through out the frou-frou, and El Paso is ahead of all. Lower Valley cities probably are, too.

Besides, knowing Leslie Brenner's food review history with the Snooze, I know how many jars of salsa to take this idea with. And, given the snootiness that has sometimes involved, maybe she and her Mexican food aspirations for Dallas are being hoist by the same large petard.

June 28, 2017

Phil Jackson, the Triangle and good-bye to all that

The Chris Paul trade, looked at here by me, was just one of two fun kick-offs to the NBA offseason.

The other?

Mr. Zen Triangle, Phil Jackson, agreed to let Knicks owner James Dolan kick his ass out the door for about $20 million in unpaid contract money.

First, per Deadspin, it's arguable that Phil was kind of BSing about the triangle all along. He had a largely centerless offense with the Bulls, after all. And, the Diesel was not a good passer, but yes, a great shoulder dropper. Only in his second Lakers run did he have, in Pau Gasol, a center who could actually be a triangle-type post player.

Otherwise, one would have to be a semi-idiot not to win titles with peak MJ and peak Kobe.

But, the times had passed Phil by. Zones have negated back-to-basket centers. Tighter foul calls would also affect Shaq today, too.

Red Satan, in reflecting on Phil's bye-bye, has a multiple-choice question.

Per it, I don't think it was a totally bad deal to hire Phil at the time. (It would have been better if he'd been given an assistant who knew the salary cap and who could force Phil to understand it.) I do think it was the right thing to get rid of him now. And, it might have been smart to get rid of him before now.

Melo: A deal too far
Resigning Carmelo Anthony was bad enough. Giving him a new contract with a full no-trade was dumber yet. (The only thing dumber than THIS will be LeBron brainwashing David Griffin's replacement into trading for Melo.)

That said, Phil had some other semi-brainless ideas. Ball Don't Lie lists the top six. That's No. 1. Hiring Derek Fisher is No. 2. Trading for Derrick Rose is No. 3, and I'd buy all of that.

Trying to trade the
Unicorn? Last straw.
But Kristaps Porzingis, the Unicorn? Trying to trade him? That was the last straw. The last straw plus one was Jackson's alleged determination to teach him a lesson after he didn't meet with Phil for the traditional post-season checkout. Phil remained stubborn and clueless both. And, I think he kind of enjoyed that, and playing to his own Knicks player days.

It is funny for Jeff Hornacek to remain non-committal through all of this. I expect him to have the upcoming season "free" but, if he can't do better, he's gone, too.

And, a silver lining for Knicks fans. David Griffin is available. And, I think that if he stomached Dan Gilbert and low pay, he can deal with James Dolan.

CP3 — who wins this trade? Clips, perhaps?

CP3, newest Rocket
OK, first, the big news that Chris Paul of the Clippers is being traded to the Houston Rockets for Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and a first-round draft pick.

Per Deadspin, is the trade actually worth it? First, contra Deadspin, throw out Williams' offense. Almost all of that came with his Lakers time last year, on a team where somebody, theoretically, had to score. Beverly is a good add, and I'll look at that in a minute. Dekker is there for, I believe salary match on the trade and little else.

Adrian Wojnarowski said that both CP3 and The Beard, James Harden, insist they can co-exist. Maybe they can. But, maybe CP3 is past his prime. I think he is now, although not by much. He certainly will be in 2-3 years, after that fat new free agent contract. So, was this all a Morley deal? Or did Mike D'Antoni beg for it?

Will The Beard coexist
with Paul? Will it help
the Rockets be better?
I doubt that D'Antoni really asked for this trade, unless his eyeballs are failing him. CP3 is going to slow down that offense. I mean, he's 31 and has already played 12 seasons.

Five-Thirty-Eight says they should work decently together, but doesn't expect much of a boost for the Rockets.

For the Clips? First, resign Blake Griffin or not? Trade DeAndre Jordan or not?

Blake still has value. I'd try to keep the deal as short as possible, but do it. Jordan is a boat anchor; it's going to be hard to move him and get a lot in return. Teach him to be a better screener for Beverly and Williams and accept you're otherwise stuck with him.

From there, you can still make the playoffs next year, even if you're outside the top four in the West. See how much Beverly offers; he'll definitely give you some defense that Paul wouldn't.

And, in a year from now, you have two first-round draft picks. Package them right, and you're rebuilding OK.

Otherwise, they can now pass on guaranteeing Jamal Crawford past next year, unless he accepts a cut.

So, the Rockets win this trade for the short term. For the long term, especially since Doc Rivers no longer has final say-so on trades? Clips win. And, speaking of, how much impact did The Logo have on this deal?

Speaking of, supposedly the last straw for CP3 was Doc refusing a Knicks offer of Carmelo Anthony plus Sasha Vujacic for Jamal, Doc's son Austin and Paul Pierce.

That said, Michael Eaves, in addition to "last straw" observations, says that CP3 now has Morley's nuts in his hand. Interesting thought.

These 1- and 2-year deals in general are going to try NBA fans' loyalty to their laundry vs loyalty to players.

Next for the Rockets. Are they still in on Paul George? And, what do you trade? I think Clint Capela has to be a part of the Pacers' ask. Otherwise, is there enough left to trade? If the Pacers ask for Eric Gordon, yes or no?

And, finally, the Spurs. Are THEY still in on Gordon?

So The Quitter with a Twitter™ is going to sue the NYT — and surely lose

Sarah Palin has either reached a new level of moral stupitude (riffing off moral turpitude) or else she's that badly addicted to one more hit on the crack pipe of her Warholian 15 minutes of fame.

She's suing the New York Times. But, not over a news story. Over an editorial.

The Daily Caller, the highbrow turd-polisher for the RWNJs who drink tea party tea without their pinky on the cup, has the details.

First of all, it's "interesting" that Peter Hasson, the writer for the Daily Hackster who breathlessly reports this, doesn't link to the actual editorial.

The NYT story on the suit also doesn't link to the editorial. It does note it's been corrected.

And here is that editorial, edited, but without the original text shown, though the general nature of the edits is shown.

Fortunately, the Wayback Machine has the original version. And so I start analyzing, looking at the general gist of the original, and the edits.

Why's she going to lose?

First, Sullivan, in a case involving this very same newspaper. And, Palin is a public person. That's regardless of whether the Times edited the original editorial or not.

Second, the issue of whether Gabby Giffords and 18 other Members of Congress, or their districts instead, were targets, is itself a matter of opinion. It's also true no connection was established, and that Jared Loughner was already mentally ill. But, "absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence."

Frankly, unless the NYT has squeamish lawyers, while I would have made the second correction, about no connection established, I'm not sure I would have made the first.

Third, the Times edited the editorial before the suit was filed. That may, but not for sure, give it an extra cushion.

Fourth, in general, courts have recognized that editorials, as matters of opinion, have an even higher bar of protection in general, whether with public figures or not, versus libel suits.

Proof that comes from here in Texas, when then Fort Worth city councilwoman, later state senator, then gubernatorial candidate, Wendy Davis sued the Star-Telegram. She got her head handed to her on a legal platter, and as a lawyer herself, definitely should have known better.

It's noteworthy that the Times wrote an editorial just a few years ago on the 50th anniversary of Sullivan. We shall see if our courts stand by it.

I'm guessing Palin is hoping that newspapers, having less deep pockets than in the past, might cave for that reason alone.

On the other hand, Carlos Slim is one of the world's richest people, and he might relish a fight back even more than Punch Sulzberger.

Finally, the DC Caller writer probably has a good idea of what "smearing" is based on his own style, in my opinion.

Meanwhile, National Review, in its turd-polishing, seemingly falsely claims James Hodgkinson was Democrat down the line. No, reportedly he loved some Ted Cruz at one time.

June 27, 2017

TX Progressives await next #TrumpTrain wreck, call out #greenwashing, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks lack of compassion should be treated as a pre-existing condition as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff introduces the Democratic candidates in SD10 who hope to recapture Wendy Davis' former seat.

In the wake of a fourth consecutive loss for Democrats in Congressional special elections this year, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs assembled some of the pundits who performed Wednesday morning quarterbacking.

SocraticGadfly tells environmentalists to stop buying eXXXon's PR crap about supporting a carbon tax.

Neil at All People Have Value appreciates all people working to oppose the Bannon/Trump agenda. APHV is part of

Jobsanger tells Democrats  to stop blaming Nancy Pelosi for their problems, while defending party leaders against alleged extreme leftists.

Lewisville Texan Journal has a great piece about an art contest winner whose winning entries memorialize mass shooting victims.

Harold Cook has a great piece for Legiscritters  who are on Texas Monthly’s 10 Best and 10 Worst lists. (Editor’s note: The list itself is kind of craptacular, with its confusion of “Most Efficient” with “Best” on Schaefer, among other things. And I can personally tell you Chris Paddie ain’t all that.


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

Robert Rivard assesses outgoing San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor.

Michael Li explains the sleeper Texas partisan redistricting claim, though it won't be heard by the appeals court at this time.

Better Texas Blog reminds us that the Senate will not make the Trumpcare bill any less mean.

Texas Vox reports on the effort to make Austin carbon-free by 2030.

Glissette Santana wraps up a week of taking transit around Houston for the first time.

Beyond Bones weighs in on the "did T. rex have feathers?" debate.

San Antonio Current offers a preview of some of the legal fight likely in court over SB4.

Texas Redistricting awaits a fall Supreme Court ruling on Wisconsin gerrymandering for possible Texas legal effects.

Texas Freedom Network (yes, sometimes “Freedom” is NOT the tip-off you’re about to read RWNJ news takes a scathing look at Steve Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of Texas.

Could a new method to fight possible vote hacking be near the finish line?

June 26, 2017

Sy Hersh: No, Assad didn't do it this spring

I would never bet against the meat of a Sy Hersh story. He might have bits and pieces wrong at the corners, but the center gist will turn out to be right and stand up against all challenges.

His latest longform investigative piece?

The alleged “chemical attack” in Syria this spring by President Bashar Assad, the one that prompted US President Trump into his first attack on Syria, against Khan Sheikhoun?

Assad didn’t “do it” because it wasn’t actually a chemical weapons attack. Rather, it was the Russians, in a rare handoff, letting Assad use a Russian smart bomb, that appeared to hit agrichemical storehouses and or other chemical storage.

US intelligence agencies said there was no evidence of sarin at the scene. Hersh, working with other news, and his own sources, takes it from there. That includes being cued in on a conversation between a soldier on duty at an operational base key to the attack and a security advisor at an unattributed level.

And, this from said solider:
AS: I guess it really didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump. Fuck.    
Unfortunately, Trump launched the attack of Tomahawks and claimed that it was due to an Assad sarin attack.

And is now lying about the idea that Assad is already planning another attack. Which he isn't.

Unfortunately there, as Hersh notes, warhawk Democrats domestically, and NATO allies abroad, both rallied around Trump's decision, even though it was based on a lie. And, as Hersh also notes, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons never maintained a clear custody trail of evidence since the April attack and also has yet to release official findings.

For people who criticize Hersh for a legitimate use of anonymous sources, Die Welt addresses that too.

As for other people who have stood to gain from known chemical weapons attacks in Syria, like Ghouta? I've already addressed that. Turkey's President Erdogan is high on the list.

I saw the link to the original story from a reporter for Vice, IBTimes and other MSM outlets. In other words, he's buttered his bipartisan foreign policy establishment turd-polishing, to mix metaphors.

Worse yet? Counterpunch says the London Review of Books, which had paid for previous reportage of Hersh's, like how U.S. intelligence had aided in smuggling loose arms from Syria to Turkey, paid for this as well and then refused to run it. That's bad.

And, the best public attack dog to come forward so far is "Bellingcat," Eliot Higgins, who is neither a journalist nor an expert weapons inspector, and has made grievous errors before in the Ukraine war, the Syrian Civil War and elsewhere. And, he's received funding from bipartisan foreign policy establishment hacks Open Society Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy.

And Hersh has now done a takedown of Bellingcat, along with myths of the White Helmets and other things. An even further takedown of Bellingcat, and the White Helmets, is here.

Per that piece's reference to Ted Postal and other serious researchers of the 2013 Ghouta attack and other things, let's remember that other attacks have been falsely attributed to Assad as part of strawmanning him and Syrian Civil War issues. Let's also, also, remember that per Postal, the heavy thumb of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems connected to Ghouta.