SocraticGadfly: 9/24/17 - 10/1/17

September 30, 2017

Cavs at the 2 — Does Wade start? Should he?

Now that the have Bulls agreed to accept $8M of the unearnable $23M they were going to have to pay Dwyane Wade to play this year and let him go Sunday night, and that he's officially signed by the Cavaliers, seems like most people are talking like he's going to be their starting point guard.

Yes, he's a LeBron James running buddy from Heat title days. But, is the the best option there?

Per my previous blogging about the Chicago buyout, maybe not.

The big takeaways from that? Wade is NOT a good three-baller, he's not a good defender, and he continues to lose penetration ability.

So, if not him, who?

J.R. Smith is a more efficient and more prolific three-baller. And, until last year, had a plus rating on offense/defense points. He was injury-riddled last year, and if he's back from that, will likely be back at a plus rating. Kyle Korver, for his age, white man jokes and all, has a better offense/defense rating. No, really. And, he's definitely a better 3-baller. Iman Shumpert is not a defensive addition. Nor a playmaker.

Given that Kyrie Irving was traded for Isaiah Thomas, who won't be back, at least not at 100 percent, until January, what about playing him more at the point?

Well, he'd get roasted on D. But, he can still dish. And, if Derrick Rose is your starter until Thomas is ready, you need somebody playing some minutes there.

I'd bring Wade off the bench where he could either play the point, especially if Korver is coming in off the bench at the 2 at about the same time, or play the 2 in a rotation where LeBron, even more than normal, becomes a point forward. Or, what the heck, make him the oversized point guard.

As for minutes? No more than 28 a game now; no more than 24 after Thomas is back.

Wade may bring leadership skills along with the mindset of knowing how to play with LeBron. Contra the hype, he doesn't bring a full, or probably not even a half-full, gas tank.

As I said in my buyout post, sure, this all looks great on paper. It would look a lot better five years ago.

Otherwise, LeBron, Smith in reality not just paper, perhaps, and Tristan Thompson are the only three players who can be counted on for lockdown D. And LBJ will be 33 this season and Smith 32. There will be some "pacing" involved.

September 29, 2017

Harry Frankfurt: From "On Bullshit" to just bullshit

Harry Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" and the thinking behind it wasn't bad.

His new book? "On Inequality" sounds like ... bullshit, even if insightful philosopher Massimo Pigliucci seems to think it's as good as the original.

For me? First, recognizing that he rejects traditional liberal concerns about income equality is bad enough. Indeed, the LA Review of Books calls "bullshit" on the title, noting that Frankfurt doesn't really care about what he claims to care about. And, that comes from the world of academia, namely, economic sociology.

Another reviewer, this one also academic, and from the world of public policy, accuses Frankfurt (rightly) of strawmanning.

Second, seeing that he's not replaced that with better thinking, above all, apparently not being concerned about the expansion of structural, systemic job loss, and ideas to address that like basic or guaranteed income, make it even more iffy.

And, third, seeing it positively blurbed by George Will, and even more, by Tyler Cowen? Multiple straws breaking that camel's back.

After noting that his missing the boat on this was a problem, and throwing a responsive elbow to Dan Kaufman, I said this:

You made a statement, and in partial response to saying what I thought was wrong in general with the Frankfurt book, I responded. And, am responding again. As far as Frankfurt missing the boat on systemic, structural, job loss, not only is capitalism not the answer to that, but, it’s actually predicated on that happening.

The fact that this is not part of Frankfurt’s book is NOT irrelevant, contra your last comment. Structural job loss is part of increasing economic inequality. It forces more and more Americans into contract labor, with fewer benefits, lesser job security, etc. Those are all directly part of income inequality, ultimately. And, in for a penny, in for a pound — Frankfurt either knows that, and thus is being intellectually dishonest, in my opinion, or else he doesn’t know that, which further goes to alleged value of the book in other ways, in my opinion.

(Oh, and this issue is affecting more and more white-collar careers, not just blue- and gray-collar ones.)

In turn, that gets me back to some of the people blurbing the book, per the Amazon link. I’m sure all American commenters here know who George Will is. Tyler Cowen? Only one of the most ardently libertarian academic economists in America, at the home base of academic libertarian economists, George Mason University. I suspect his only concern with the book is that Frankfurt isn’t libertarian enough. (And, re structural job losses, Cowen has said, more than once, in various ways, “Deal with it,” in essence.)

Massimo then responded to part of that:
Is it really necessary or helpful to accuse someone you don’t know of intellectual dishonesty, just because you would have written then book differently? Or another book altogether?
Well ….

I then came back with this analogy:

Let's say Paul of Tarsus were writing the book of Romans 2,000 years later, and per his comments on homosexuality, I said he either should know better, per the science, and his ignorance undercuts him, or he does know better, and that silence undercuts him — or even shows he's intellectually dishonest.

Is it philosophically necessary to say that? No. Is it, to the degree book critiques are sociologically "necessary"? Probably. Is it sociologically helpful? I think so indeed.

Best analogy to other book critiquing I could think of on short notice. But, the analogy applies to critiques of books in general. No, I can’t PROVE Frankfurt is being intellectually dishonest. But, like the nonexistence of Russell’s Teapot, it’s a reasonable inference to me.

Or, a non-books analogy from the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Either Barack Obama knew, before Hillary Clinton called him out, that Obamacare needed an individual mandate to work and he was intellectually dishonest, or he really didn't, and thus was arguably too ignorant to be proposing Obamacare.

Beyond that, on his Friday links list last week, among his links to read, Massimo had posted an incredibly funny, yet still savaging, critique of a stupid book, getting back to the books angle.

Beyond THAT, the book is, in some way, about ethics, but that’s only partially so, and that’s the only philosophical portion of that.

Beyond that, it’s about economics, and even more, economics sub specie public policy — and per those blurbers, politics as well as public policy.

I have standing there. I have experience there as a newspaper editor.

And, if I think Harry Frankfurt is being intellectually dishonest, I’m going to call him that. And, it’s damned well helpful, Massimo, if it keeps other people from uncritically reading his book. 

I've said the same, or worse, or differently-veined just as bad in reviewing other books. I accused Civil War historian James McPherson of a rush job to capitalize on the Civil War sesquicentennial with a book on Jeff Davis as military strategist that wasn't worthy of much more than an extended blog post, for example. I've called Garry Wills "mendacious." I just recently crushed Robert Wright's new book on Buddhism, in part accusing him of choosing a clickbait title.

So, if I have empirical evidence, and reasoned induction, or even the social sciences level of scientific abduction, that I have conducted, and I determine an author is intellectually dishonest?

Ultimately, it's necessary to people who want some intellectual honesty from me in blog posts and book reviews. And, to myself.

Things were little better on the second installment of Massimo's review of this mini-book. At least Massimo didn't semi-yell at some of us commenters. But, I also guess that some of my snark was too much.

Dan Kaufman said:
Massimo, don’t feel like you are a lone voice in the wilderness here. I largely agree with you — indeed, I may agree with Frankfurt even more than you do — but I’ve stayed out of the conversation largely because my interest in fantasy fiction has waned significantly, since the genre died in the 1970s.
To which I responded:
I'm cut to the quick!
However, under Massimo's moderation, that wasn't posted, as of several hours later, and I'm assuming it's dead.

Over there. 

But not here.

September 28, 2017

#TrumpTaxScam vs. Dear Leader and Democrats on #BushTaxCuts

OK, just with the bare minimum of Trump's tax plan, or the Congressional GOP's and Trump's tax plan, out for public consumption, we all know it sucks at least as bad as expected, if not worse.

The worse is something that even Shrub Bush didn't try — the full elimination of both the estate tax, and worse yet, of the alternative minimum tax.

Doubling of the standard deduction sounds great — until the realization that compressing tax brackets to just three mean that anybody making very much above minimum wage will likely pay more, with the bottom bracket rising by 2 percentage points. The idea that raising the standard deduction would simplify taxes for many may itself be a smokescreen, depending on what the income level is set at to jump to the dramatically higher second tier of 25 percent. (As a sidebar to the top link notes, the plan doesn't say where the new brackets would start at.) And, for middle-class to upper-middle-class people in pricier states, whether red or blue, with more state taxes — property, income, or both — killing these deductions would be a tough sled, the same link notes.

As for this being tax "reform," per a Tweet from the official GOP account?

As I tweeted back, actual tax reform would, at a minimum:
1. Include a corporate flat tax. (You know how much the old flat tax is a scam by the simple fact that GOP Congresscritters have repeatedly proposed one for individuals but never for corporations.)
2. Taxing hedge fund income as regular, ordinary income.
3. Overhauling the pass-through portion of corporate income taxes to eliminate them from being used by big business.

Otherwise, on the big picture side, it appears that there's not even an attempt to gussy this up with "supply-side trickle-down." Rather, in addition to screwing many individual taxpayers, even before we get a CBO scoring, I'm sure this would be at least a $50 billion a year deficit increaser. (Note that the Trumpster and GOP Congresscritters have said nothing, as far as I can see, about this being a revenue-neutral bill.)

And, that's surely not over one year, but the AP says it would have a net cost of more than $2 trillion.

But, you know, Democrats don't have room to crow. First, per the Liberal Values blog, with that nice graphic, millennials don't trust Democrats tremendously more than Republicans, and per one poll, white millennials distrust them just as much.

And, on taxes, they shouldn't.

Remember the Bush tax cuts? The ones that, per the Wikipedia link, had a sunset provision, but Dear Leader and a Democrat-majority Congress extended them in 2012. Then, as part of the 2012 budget staredown, Obama agreed to make them permanent for people making less than $400K?

That $400,000 is a big chunk of income, even in pricier states, unless one lives in Manhattan, or parts of San Francisco, Silicon Valley, or Hollywood. (All blue-ish as far as the Democratic donor class.)

Remember how Obama weaseled out of his original $250K, even though he, and Congressional Dems, could have done differently as final action was taken AFTER the midterm elections, during a lame-duck session when Democrats still controlled Congress?

So what if Senate Republicans blocked cloture? Democrats had the ultimate weapon — that the tax breaks were sunsetting.

Beyond that, Obama never offered up a constructive tax plan of his own. And, never coordinated to do this with Congressional Dems.

That said, even among modern presidents, Obama had a pretty high level of throwing his own Congressional party under the bus. We all know about the 2010 midterm blowouts. They didn't have to be that bad, if Obama had done some targeted campaigning for Congresscritters, governors and state legiscritters. At the state level, that of course led to the current reapportionment disaster.

September 27, 2017

Dallasites, #ConfederateStatues, mountains, molehills and gnat-straining

The Lee statue in Dallas, the day of the big downtown protest at the Confederate monuments site.

OK, some Dallas, or Dallas-area, residents, are reportedly complaining about the $450K or so it cost to remove the Bobby Lee statue from Oak Lawn Park.

(Note to Dallas City Council — keep that temporary reversion to the park's original name and make it permanent.)

You know what?

That $450K is out of a city budget that will spend nearly $1.3 billion next year just out of the general fund. In other words, we have people gnat-straining over THREE-ONE HUNDREDTHS of a percent, written decimally as 0.03 percent.

But, really, it's not Dallas residents who are gnat-straining. It's wingnut talking heads like Tyler O'Neil at PJ Media. As for O'Neil's "but the other driver"?

Big red herring.

The driver of the semi could have crashed into somebody else. After all, HE ran a red light.

Second, shouldn't O'Neil be, instead, repeating the wingnut mantra of "personal responsibility" and lambasting the semi driver? Shouldn't he laud the crane driver for blocking the red-light runner from instead possibly hitting a car and killing other people instead of himself?

Yes, he "should" on the first. And serious, the second would have been quite likely had Murray, the semi driver, not hit the crane.

And, speaking of, contra O'Neil, but vis a vis the federal regulatory state? Was Murray driving over hours or committing other violations? O'Neil never asks.

That's in line with not telling you who died, and that Murray, who did die, was at fault.

See, the likes of O'Neil don't actually care about Murray. He's just a tool, or a "tool," in that sense, to create red herrings and straw men in situation like this.

September 26, 2017

TX Progressives think of Puerto Rico, the UN and more

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges our government to take utmost care of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico — including having Congress seriously consider statehood — as it brings you this week's roundup.

 Off the Kuff documented the requirements for cities to receive state money from the Rainy Day Fund for Harvey recovery.

SocraticGadfly notes Ken Burns' Vietnam series is online, and, given its degree of faults and weaknesses, offers up a stark in-depth critique of Burns' entire oeuvre of work, capped by the current series.

The latest updates on Russia — including Paul Manafort and Facebook — has been posted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Could Be True at South Texas Chisme is angry the GOP is placing a donation suggestion on driver's licenses to pay for the backlog in rape case kits.

Grits for Breakfast thinks public defenders for criminal appeals would better protect civil rights and liberties, save money, reduce backlogs and more.


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

The AP reports that the EPA says it has removed toxic waste from some Texas sites, but won't say what they are or where they came from.

Robert Rivard weighs the pros and cons of Amazon coming to town. It also announced that Beth Frerking is the new editor.

The Texas Living Waters Project sees trouble in the decline in wildlife in Texas' rivers.

Scott Braddock calls on Greg Abbott to take the opportunity to act like a leader post-Harvey.

The Lunch Tray ponders selling coffee and donuts in school cafeterias.

Paradise in Hell translates Trump's UN speech.

Beyond Bones welcomes the start of autumn with a little science.

Writing in Wonkette, Respectable Lawyer demonstrates how he got a stripper-beating Republican mega-donor to back off about the mugshots that Juanita had posted.


September 24, 2017

Dwyane Wade and Bulls take mutual crap on each other (updated)

Should not startOK, the Bulls agreed to accept $8M of the unearnable $23M they were going to have to pay Dwyane Wade to play this year and let him go Sunday night.

The fact Wade paid $8M to get out shows how bad he thinks the Bulls suck.

The fact the Bulls didn't trade him — I'm sure they tried — shows how bad he sucked, at least at that salary. (And, unlike MLB, the NBA doesn't let the old team eat part of a salary.)

The fact the Bulls settled for $8M may reflect claims that Wade is a "cancer." It at least showed some desperation.

So, where does he go? Either before or after reading my analysis below, hit the poll at right. Feel free to also vote on the polls about the Melo trade and where Lebron will be in a year.

Cavs can only give $2.5M, as ESPN now says what each team can pay, except the Rockets. (There's also Woj engaging in some D-Wade turd-polishing about current fitness in the video on that link.)

Update: It's the Cavs, though.

He and Derrick Rose can play two crappy guards together and slow the team down even more. He's at best the No. 4 option behind LeBron James, Kevin Love and Jae Crowder, if he's even that. Tristan Thompson is a better all-around person. Richard Jefferson is probably ahead of him. Hell, Kyle Korver might be. Isaiah Thomas, if healthy, certainly is.

Seriously, if Dan Gilbert does that? Is there any team that looks better on paper as a "greatest hits of classic rock" but that will suck in reality? And so, moving this up from the bottom of the post, where it was:

D-Wade fans? Remember that Carmelo Anthony fans bitched when he was only ranked No. 63? D-Wade was lower than that and still too high.

Seriously. He doesn't have the 3-ball for today's NBA. He's not a playmaker. He can't play D. He struggles with injury. For the past three years, he's been a "minus" player by advanced offensive-defensive stats. (I scratched the "probably" on Manu, below as he's still a "plus" today.) And we haven't even addressed alleged clubhouse chemistry issues. Why would you want him?

Five Thirty Eight also gets Wade wrong. Yes, he may have a decent (though not fantastic) percentage on the corner 3-ball, but, given that he doesn't shoot a lot of 3s period, he certainly doesn't shoot a lot of corner 3s. Nate Silver's outfit then admits that, noting he shot 101 total in the past seven years. That's one corner 3-ball every six games. Wow!

The Houston Rockets have also been talked up. He's behind James Harden, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela and others. Note that most those people are guards. Does Wade get playing time? No. Does he make that team better? No.

The Thunder? He's behind Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Roberson and others. They have just $2.3M.

Spurs? He's behind Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green, Patty Mills and others. He's probably behind the five-years-older Manu. He's behind Rudy Gay if Gay is healthy. Spurs can offer $3.3M.

A Heat reunion? Behind Goran Dragic, Hassam Whiteside, and Kelly Olynyk, and otherwise, not the type of player good for a rebuilding team, and if he wants a ring, he's not headed there anyway. Hell, Udonis Haslem might still have more value. Was that out loud? And also, are fences that mended with Pat Riley or not? Miami has $4.2M.