July 08, 2017

#OTD — #Roswell was attacked by an Air Force spy balloon

That's what happened July 8, 1947. Roswell, New Mexico was "attacked" by a top-secret United States Air Force spy balloon loaded with high-tech sensors crashed. Specifically, as Wiki notes, it was loaded with nuclear sensors.

The Air Force wasn't going to tell the media that. It kept mum at first, while various different rumors spread, most actively and deliberately. (For details on the Project Mogul snooping, go here.)

An interesting sidebar is that, even though the public face of the burgeoning U.S. "national security establishment" said in 1947 that the Russkies were a long way from getting "The Bomb," we were otherwise acting like that wasn't such a long ways away, as the sensors were in that balloon for one reason only.

In fact, that's a lot more interesting than "aliens" claims about Roswell in particular or anything related to Project Mogul in general. In fact in fact, I wonder if anybody's written a book just about the start of Mogul, and how much government worries in private did not square with government jauntiness in public.

But, Roswell Army Air Force base public information officer Walter Haupt, for whatever reason, mentioned a "flying disc" after the government got to the site. Then, rancher William "Mac" Brazel (corrected on first name), possibly "primed" by this, claimed to have seen such a disc.

Eventually, "aliens"!

No, not at all.

For more on a properly skeptical stance toward the incident, see this by CSICOP.

That said, I "admire," in a sense, the city of Roswell for continuing to tout the mythical version of the incident, as peddled by the Roswell UFO museum at that link.

I do NOT admire either the city of Roswell, nor Chaves County, when either gives any money to the museum. No more than I would Ken Ham's Noah's Ark museum. In this case, there's no First Amendment issues. It's just the same level of pseudoscience.

And, folks, I've BEEN to the Roswell museum. And heard a curator, or docent, or whatever (maybe it was one of THEM) just say, "You have to believe!" (I think he was possibly responding to a sotto voce comment by yours truly.)

No, I don't "have to" do anything.

As for claims that two dozen people saw aliens? Paul of Tarsus says 500 people at one time saw a resurrected Jesus. I don't believe that one either.

Besides, as with JFK conspiracy theorists, there's at least half a dozen different competing alien theories. I prefer Occam's Razor as an additional guide to the truth.

Per the "admire" in scare quotes? If not for that museum, New Mexico Military Institute and a branch of Eastern New Mexico University, Roswell would have half its population and twice its boredom factor. Oh, there are places to the west that are scenic indeed, around Ruidoso and Sacramento. But, Roswell itself? It's at the farthest stretch of the High Plains without having the scenery of the desert, let alone mountains.

And, yes, it draws the tourists. I lived about 90 miles away in 1997, the 50th anniversary year, and we had spillover hotel bookings because Roswell was sold out.

Interestingly, though it's the birthplace of John Denver, there's about zero promotion of his life there. I know, he was a military brat and didn't live there long. Still, you could do something.

And, someday, the Pecos is going to be a creek not a river, and the last bits of groundwater's going to go away, and the dairy farming and cheesemaking will follow.

Other than it being a retiree area for NMMI alums and other ex-military, I'm not sure why it continues to grow in population today.

July 07, 2017

Donald Trump Obama meets Vladimir Putin Bush

So, after day one of the G20 summit, Donald Trump allegedly, according to Secretary of State Wayne Tracker, "pressed" Vladimir Putin on alleged Russian hacking of last year's U.S. elections — and then "moved on."

And, the MSM and the MSM commentariat class, like Politico and Anne Applebaum, is storming with fury.

Why?

Isn't this exactly what Dear Leader did in 2009? After having previously flip-flipped on warrantless snooping by telecommunications giants, just in time to get nice campaign finance money from them during the 2008 election, then said, even before taking office, that "we" (that wasn't ME in that "we") "need to look forward as opposed to looking backward."

And, hence the title of this piece.

Per the Politico piece, the parallels continue.

The weakness that Trump showed Putin? That's the weakness that Obama showed a defense of human rights.

The refusal to recognize the U.S. and Russia don't have similar interests? That's like Obama refusing to recognize that his mythos and his actions — in foreign as well as domestic policy — had different interests.

But, "look forward" meant the bipartisan foreign policy establishment saw that Obama wouldn't undercut American Empire.

Yglesias worships at the Church of Bernie Sanders; WTF?

Matty touts Bernie Sanders as the leading contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination. He says, in support, that Bernie is doing the things he wasn't prepared to do in 2016, and that he's building up an "organization." Interestingly, for this, he notes Our Revolution but never mentions the Sanders Institute.

He does mention one other item.

Bernie turning more conservative.

In fact, it makes up a major chunk of his think-piece. (Matt calls it "moderating." Besides "turning more conservative," I could also call it "sheepdogging," among other things.)

Of course, on foreign policy, Bernie was already too conservative for me.

That said, I don't buy that Bernie didn't have enough room, or more, enough time, to "pivot" to a broader campaign.

He started raking in money even before fighting Iowa to a draw. He could have hired a couple of foreign policy advisors right then to broaden beyond the Iraq War on outflanking Clinton. But, to do so, to really do so, he would have had to attack some of Team Obama's foreign policy.

And, that "turning more conservative"? Includes the Sanders Money Mafia in general, IMO, but that part is ultimately Jane's baby more than Bernie's.

Nice attempt to "frame" by Matt. But a fail.

Just as is calling Bernie "A true hero of the left." Hey, Matt, there may be "librulz," even "progressives," in the Democratic Party. The Left, though, is not to be found there.

Otherwise, he's gone more conservative. Especially on environmental issues. And, that's the main reason that I'll stay Green. (Assuming I'm in Texas in 2020 [please deliver me!], that the Greens don't have a successful ballot access petition drive in 2018, and that he's on the 2020 ballot, I couldn't even vote for him in the primary, unlike as I did last year.)

Sidebar: It's interesting that, according to the Y-ster, Nina Turner, not Sherrod Brown or Elizabeth Warren, is Berniecrats' most-wanted backup to Bernie if he doesn't run himself.

Apparently many are either ignorant of, or willing to forgive and forget, her 18 months or whatever at Hillary Clinton / David Brock shop Correct the Record.

That said, per this piece in The Nation, she's positioned herself well, being named the new president of Our Revolution.

I'm not a Dem, so no skin off my back on her or Bernie. That said, it's interesting The Nation's writer calls out Our Revolution for spending plenty of money in the Montana special congressional election but not the Kansas one.

==

The second part of the header? WTF is the deliberately named Win the Future. But, it deserves the WTF, as in WTF? for two things.
1. Thinking that many Democrats are that guillible for its message, its model and its leadership.
2. Likely being right about that, that many of them are that gullible.

WTF is the brainchild of two tech-neolibs. Marc Pincus co-founded old Facebook game addiction Zynga and Reid Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn.

In otherwords, Obamiacs. Is there really THAT MUCH diff between that group and Hillbots? I'd argue not.

I'm tying this together for a couple of basic reasons.

First, would Bernie be hip enough for these folks? Besides his not having a Clinton/Obama type organizational ground game, frankly, he got grating later. And, even with a broader expanse of topics, he remained grating.

July 04, 2017

TX Progressives celebrate #FourthOfJuly, #FlagCode and more

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone has a good Fourth of July as it brings you this week's roundup, while encouraging readers to call out wingers who violate the US Flag Code, no matter their motives.

Off the Kuff is outraged at the State Supreme Court trying to find a loophole in the Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

SocraticGadfly takes a look at Sy Hersh's latest investigative work ó about Trump's lies about an alleged, but non-existent, "Syrian gas attack," and thoroughly endorses it as well as Hersh and others responding to his critics, with a reminder that other alleged "Syrian gas attacks" also didn't ring true.

It was not a particularly good week for Russian conspiracy theorists.  Or Nancy Pelosi.  But Sylvester Turner's week got a little better at the very end of it, all of which was noted for the record by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value attended a Service Workers International Union protest for fair wages for janitors in Houston. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Bay Area Houston issues a Be On the Lookout for, or BOLO, about 36th District Congresscritter Brian Babin.

Lewisville Texan Journal discusses the online auction of Vista Ridge Mall.

Grits for Breakfast offers his in-depth take on the Miss Black Texas arrest fiasco in Commerce.

===================

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

The Texas Living Waters Project provides eight simple ways to protect rivers and wildlife.

The Dallas Morning News notes three state homes for the disabled have Flint-like lead levels in their drinking water.

Megan Smith considers queer femme identity.

Alex Zielinski celebrates having an LGBT ally in the San Antonio Mayor's office again.

Lone Star Ma wonders why exposure is losing its effectiveness as a remedy for prejudice.

The Texas Election Law Blog reminds us that the state of Texas is legally prohibited from giving vote suppressor Kris Kobach confidential voter information.


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The WAWG Blog Texas Election Law Blog, based on a new book.

July 03, 2017

A look at the Green Party's Ten Key Values

The Green Party stresses its 10 Key Values as important to how the party runs. As I continue to debate continued public support and affiliation with the party (versus an option like Socialist Party USA, or publicly advocating the regular use of non-voting, at least on a selective basis), it’s time to look further at each.

Grassroots Democracy.

Seemingly wrong with this one, on paper. The reality is that several state Green Parties remain little more than personal fiefdoms with oversized power within the national apparatus. And, on paper, it actually might have some things wrong. Direct participatory democracy? Even on a true declaration of war? Referendums? Would that including corporate capture of the process, as in California?

Social Justice And Equal Opportunity.

Certainly nothing wrong here. (Other than Greens resistant to the eco-socialist idea.)

Ecological Wisdom.

PLENTY wrong here, to the degree alleged “ecological wisdom” informs the party’s anti-GMO stance. In reality, GMOs are NOT “Frankenfoods” and face scrutiny and testing of various sorts. Unfortunately, many hardcorers here won’t even accept the validity of the excellent Grist series, “Panic-free GMOs,” discussed in detail by me.

Many Greens also believe that organic farming is uniquely safe when it’s not, that organic farming holds special agricultural hope vis-a-vis farm-based carbon emissions (it doesn’t; no-till conventional agriculture is better) and other things.

Non-Violence.

Nothing wrong here.

Decentralization.

Problematic. First, how is decentralization different from “states’ rights” when in someone else’s mouth. And, bureaucracies are part of the price of a federal government having, on paper, the authority to enforce environmental and other standards. Yes, the federal government may be subject to regulatory capture. You’re assuming a state government wouldn’t be.

Community-Based Economics.

Nothing problematic here as stated. That said, “communalism,” to the degree it’s the mindset behind this principle, should not be assumed to be a magic bullet.

Feminism And Gender Equity.

Nothing problematic here.

Respect For Diversity.

Nothing problematic here.

Personal And Global Responsibility.

Nothing problematic here.

Future Focus And Sustainability.

Nothing problematic here.

I write this wanting the Green Party to get better. I want it to get more science-friendly, more eco-socialist and more professional, while running ever more candidates.

Basically, I want the best party of the left — and I mean that word "left" — to be my voting vehicle. Per my riffing on Mark Lause late last year, and my comment below, if the Greens stop being that, then I will move on if necessary.

And, it's not just the eco-socialist angle. Though Lause doesn't directly oppose it per se, he has no use for how the "decentralization" issue is exploited by state Green parties.

July 02, 2017

The end for Albert Pujols? He's now approached the Kozma Line (with possible correction)

Albert Pujols: the end of
the baseball road?
Has Albert Pujols, one of the half-dozen (or fewer) greatest ballplayers of the last 20-30 years, finally hit the end of the road?

Even for me, who touted the possible career milestones in front of him, it seems it may be that way.

And, that leads to the header of this post.

For those who are wondering, the Kozma Line is named for former St. Louis Cardinals, and current Texas Rangers, non-standout Pete Kozma. I invented the Kozma Line, the sabermetric version of the Mendoza Line named after Mario Mendoza, in his "honor."

It's similar to the Mendoza Line's .200 batting average. But, as I noted, sabermetrically based.

It's a sub-.600 OPS, or on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.

It's bad enough when a banjo-hitter utility infielder who might have some glove falls below it.

But for a hit-first first baseman, or one who's now almost a full-time DH, this is the end of the road, if one is not making $25 million a year, and possibly still drawing fans to the park with his star power.

And, as of the Angels' Sunday, July 2, loss to the Mariners, El Hombre had an OPS of .599. (Maybe I reverse-jinxed him; three days later, he was up to almost .620!)

Possible correction; I may have been eyeballing his BA plus slugging, from the box score in that game, rather than checking B-Ref's actual OPS. That said, even with his walks added in, he was still below .635 or so. In light of that, I've changed "below" to "approached" in the header.

Contra the commenter, though, it still doesn't negate the measuring value of any "arbitrary" point. A .300 BA, or a 1.000 OPS, is still a magic cutoff line. As is a .600 OPS on the bad side.

Back to the post itself.

Why?

Did he roid during his peak years? I've always rejected that.

Did he shave a year or two from his age, first to get into a U.S. high school? I've long wondered. For that alone, he had incentive to do it. Classmates have claimed that he certainly acted like he was actually 16, but, really, how much difference is there between a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old?

Or, did he just peak early, and flame out early.

Anyway, back to his career track.

Will he stay around for all of these possibilities? I think nothing changes until the Haloes get Mike Trout back; more on that here. But, after that? Who knows?

He is still short of Sammy Sosa at 609 and Jim Thome at 612 on the career homers chase. Ken Griffey at 630 may have to wait until next year. If there is a next year.

Another milestone also lies ahead. Currently at 2,896, Pujols is eyeing 3,000 hits. That also will have to wait until next year, if not forever. He passed Pudge Rodriguez and Babe Ruth. He needs 30 to pass Barry Bonds, and has a good shot at moving into No. 35.

Career in that department? Even allowing for nagging injuries and continued decline, at the start of this year, I thought 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.)

But now? Even if he stays for the rest of this year, and Arte Moreno doesn't buy out his contract, that seems unlikely. Anything above 3,300 seems very unlikely.

So do all these other career records I thought he had a shoat at, in the start of the year

I didn't see him catching the big three of Bonds, Hank Aaron and Ruth, but thought he had 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.

Now? Passing Mays seems his best hope. And, speaking of A-Rod, remember the Yankees bought him out.

And, I earlier thought 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 also seemed a possibility. No longer.

I'm venturing Moreno won't even consider doing anything until the end of this year. But, Phat Albert will be looked at very carefully in spring training. See poll at right to state your guess.