December 09, 2017

#Cardinals look to Plan B after Stanton spooks out

Giancarlo Stanton 
So, Miami Marlins $295 million albatross Giancarlo Stanton won't waive his no-trade clause to come to St. Louis, even while remaining clueless about the lux tax — especially since it gets tougher in some ways in its new version and not realizing that it is highly unlikely either the Dodgers or the Yankees are going to trade for him — unless, as appears, Brian Cashman has done a volte face on lux tax issues in Gotham, with Great Red Satan reporting that Marlins-Yankees talks could be near fruition.

So, what's next in St. Louie?

The Plan B of some sort that informed fans have always known was on the back burner of the Hot Stove League and now is on the front burner.

And, let's at least be thankful the Iron Galoot said no before the start of winter meetings, so Mozeliak and Girsch are already in position to deal.

Marcel Ozuna
Christian Yelich
One portion, or one fork, of that Plan B is looking at Stanton's current outfield running buddies Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. For a mix of reasons, from adding a lefty bat to seeing his peak potential dampened more by Miami's stadium, to seeing a steadier player, and seeing one under club control for five more years, the Cardinals reportedly lean toward Yelich. (I expect Ozuna to attract something in the $10 million range on arbitration this year, or at an absolute minimum, more than the $7 million Yelich gets next year. Yelich is also a year younger.

But, that's not the Cards' only option.

Florida's other low-budget baseball team (and more on that later), the Tampa Bay Rays, could also become a trade partner.

Evan Longoria
The Cardinals have already hinted at Alex Colomé being a trade target to be their new closer. More recently, the Birds have also hinted at asking about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.

If the ask by Miami, in turns of return players, isn't too, too high for Yelich or Ozuna, it's certainly possible Longoria could also be a target. His next three years are at or under $15 million. He goes to $18M and $19M after that, with a $13M team option in the sixth year left on his contract. Yelich has a $15M team option that same year. Even without exercising his opt-out, Stanton himself, at $29M, would be making a million more in 2022.

So, yes, both are affordable in terms of salary, Yelich, or Ozuna possible, plus Longoria.

Now, are they affordable in terms of trade, of players?

Let's think. For Yelich or Ozuna?

Either Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty for starters. Either Yelich is in left, and Tommy Pham is your likely center fielder with Dexter Fowler in right, or Ozuna is in right and Fowler in left. (Though he needs to be out of center, I'm OK with Fowler in right.) Add other players as necessary without breaking the prospect bank.

For landing Longoria? Cards third baseman Jedd Gyorko would of course be redundant. As with the Miami OF trade, add other players as necessary. Gyorko is somewhat cheaper, with the Pads picking up $3M of his contract each of the next two years, and a bit younger. After that, the Rays could pick up his team option, and after that, decide whether to give him a QO or just let him walk. Throw in a mid-level prospect to sweeten the pot, maybe, or otherwise add players as necessary.

Especially if the Cards made both these trades happen?

Giancarlo Grifter, if we throw out 2017, while at the same time normalizing his previous years, with their injuries, to 162-game stats is a 5-WAR guy who doesn't walk a lot and isn't that fast.

Yelich + Longoria are 6 WAR or better. And, they have more stable stats, generally, than Stanton, or Ozuna.

But, the Cards may need to temper their thoughts on Yelich or Ozuna. If Jeter is successful in dumping Stanton for no bigger salary back than Starlin Castro, as is being rumored, he may not have a major urgency in moving other players.

Of course, there's a different path in Plan B, too.

Josh Donaldson
On Twitter, James Cameron suggested a week ago he thought this was better for the Cardinals. He has a proposed trade on Fangraphs: The Cardinals send Gyrko and current first baseman Matt Carpenter to Toronto for top-flight third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Pluses? Donaldson has higher performance than Giancarlo Stanton, and certainly above Yelich or Ozuna, and about what one of them plus Longoria have combined in WAR.

Minuses? A free agent after this year. And, Donaldson is four years older than Stanton, and several years older than Yelich and Ozuna. and at a position where people don't play much after 35. Plus, in the first version of Plan B, Longoria's available for a lot less.

And on contracts, remember the last one-year player for whom the Cards traded? Jason Heyward crashed and burned here, then got the Cubs to overpay him.

So, I'm against Cameron. But, it is theoretically an option.

Now, an additional word or two on the lux tax. The Dodgers are miles over. The Yankees are a fair bit over. We should note that tax is based on salary on the 40-man roster, too, not the 25-man roster. It also includes about $11 million in pension and medical benefits. PLUS — starting next year? If a team is more than $40 million over the cap, its first pick in the First Year Player Draft, per MLB, gets kicked down 10 spots. ALSO, the new tax includes surtaxes, in addition to repeater rates. These aren't too bad for each dollar in the $20-$40M overage, but each $ over $40M is hit at 42.5 percent — the first year. A repeater rate for that is at 45 percent.

So, through the life of the current CBA, through 2021, there's two numbers to watch. One is whatever the lux tax line is, and the other, even for richer teams, is that number plus $40 million. The draft choice penalty kicks in every year that's exceeded, not just for repeater teams.

Cashman in New York WAS under orders to get below the lux tax line. The Yankees were not too far over the threshold last season and are now losing the old $25M/yr contract of CC Sabathia. The Dodgers would, at a minimum, I think, like to get below that $40M-plus threshold for 2018, and absolutely for 2019.

But, if Cash Man makes this trade, they're possibly still above the lux tax and at the multiple repeater 50 percent rate. (This was written before the Yanks dumped Chase Headley for a scrubbini.) In fact, they're probably at the smaller 12.5 percent tax level at the $20M-plus mark. And, when others want their paydays in the future? Almost surely at that $40M-plus threshold. They're lucky to still have two pre-arb years on Aaron Judge. Wonder if MLBPA is going to use his case to ask to further address arbitration-related issues down the road.

More details on some of those issues at this post of mine.

If both Ozuna and Yelich get traded, and the Yankees deal falls through, that lets the Iron Giant play with a team full of AAA players next year. It should fall through, but Manfred won't investigate it.

Sidebar — When are more people, including Commish Rob Manfred and those around him, going to admit that Central/South Florida just ain't good MLB territory, and not make excuses for Tampa-St Pete that don't wash?

December 08, 2017

Screw you Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton 
So, Derek Jeter, the public face and everyday executive of new Miami Marlins ownership, is trying to dump salary, as already shown with the Dee Gordon trade, and with hinting to $295 million albatross Giancarlo Stanton that if he won't waive his no-trade clause, more salary will have to be traded away elsewhere.

Well, the Iron Giant still believes in tooth fairies in either the Bronx or Chavez Ravine, apparently, as he has refused trades to both the Cardinals and the Giants.

OK, let's look and see just how delusional Stanton's Yankees and Dodgers hopes are.

First, the Yankees.

Well, no, first, a word or two on the lux tax. The Dodgers are miles over. The Yankees are a fair bit over. We should note that tax is based on salary on the 40-man roster, too, not the 25-man roster. It also includes about $11 million in pension and medical benefits. PLUS — starting next year? If a team is more than $40 million over the cap, its first pick in the First Year Player Draft, per MLB, gets kicked down 10 spots. ALSO, the new tax includes surtaxes, in addition to repeater rates. These aren't too bad for each dollar in the $20-$40M overage, but each $ over $40M is hit at 42.5 percent — the first year. A repeater rate for that is at 45 percent.

So, through the life of the current CBA, through 2021, there's two numbers to watch. One is whatever the lux tax line is, and the other, even for richer teams, is that number plus $40 million. The draft choice penalty kicks in every year that's exceeded, not just for repeater teams.

NOW, the Yankees.

Brian Cashman is NOT trading Aaron Judge. And likely not Aaron Hicks. So, that blocks two outfield spots right there. Jeter is not taking back Jacoby Ellsbury and three more years of $21 million per if he's trying to dump salary. He's probably not taking back two years of Brett Gardner at roughly the same salary as the just-traded Gordon. So, that blocks ALL starting outfield spots. Besides, Cashman is reportedly under mandate to get below the $195M lux tax line. (The Yankees were not too far over the threshold last season and are now losing the old $25M/yr contract of CC Sabathia.) Besides, the Yankees went to the ALCS last year with a young team and a manager disconnected to some degree from many players. They don't really need you.

I stand by that as of this time even in the face of Great Red Satan reporting that Marlins-Yankees talks are heating up. In a note on the Yankees' webpage at ESPN, Andrew Marchand admits it would have to be a convoluted deal, with the Yankees trying to shove salary down Jeter's throat, which he's already indicated he won't do, with the Gordon trade. Plus, Marchand also reminds that Ellsbury had a no-trade clause of his own. Is he going to Miami? Nuh-uh. (Oh, and note to Buster Olney? If the Dodgers ain't interested, there's no "leverage" for the Marlins to gain.)

Now, it might be just possible for Cashman to do a three-team trade, but he'd probably have to send at least a couple of prospects of some sort to that third team, then.

Update: Apparently Cashman pulled off his deal. Either he's worse on lux-tax math than he would appear to be, or else he's dumping more salary back to Miami besides Starlin Castro, or else there's going to a modern America version of income inequality on that team. Per Cots, with relatively low estimates (I think) on what the Yankees' arb-eligible and pre-arb players will get offered, swapping Stanton's contract for Castro's puts them at $170M. Add $11M or so for medical/pension contributions and you're at $181 without accounting for the 15 players not on the 25-man but who are on the 40-man. At a minimum, it's not going to be as easy-breezy as Andrew Marchand seems to present it.

Next, the Dodgers, for whom Miami talking to the Yankees is NOT a stalking horse.

First, they've got the highest payroll in MLB, well over the luxury tax line. They got down to "just" $241M last year, after $249 in 2016 and $271 in 2015. And, Clayton Kershaw has an opt-out on his current contract after this year. They could dump Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig after next year, but their two contracts combined will be less than Stanton's out-years one. (Technically, the Dodgers do have a year of arb control with Puig in 2019, though his current contract ends after next year.) The team would surely love to get below the tax line in 2019 (it almost surely can't this coming year) to get a reset from being a repeat offender, as they're paying a 50 percent tax on the overage rate right now, and that's without the surtaxes and draft spot punishments in the new version of the tax.

That's not to say the Dodgers won't consider nosing around next year, if they're willing to pay the repeater tax again, but on salary of no more than $235M, to get below that higher surtax level.

For shits and giggles, since he's from the Southland, let's talk Angels. No dice. The Ghost of Albert Pujols' contract has four years left. (Supposedly, Phat Albert is working to slim down this offseason, but we shall see. For my take on him in the middle of last summer, go here.) At the same time, they have just three years on the Mike Trout deal and will want to extend him. Plus, there's Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron and just-signed Shonei Ohtani to play the outfield. Besides, Arte Moreno is more averse to the lux tax than his cross-town rivals, and adding Stanton, unless he could dump a certain amount back on Jeter, would push him just a bit over.

So, the Cardinals will move on to Plan B. With Miami, that includes looking at Stanton's outfield running buddies Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. For a mix of reasons, from adding a lefty bat to seeing his peak potential dampened more by Miami's stadium, to seeing a steadier player, and seeing one under club control for five more years, the Cardinals reportedly lean toward Yelich. (I expect Ozuna to attract something in the $10 million range on arbitration this year, or at an absolute minimum, more than the $7 million Yelich gets next year. Yelich is also a year younger.

Bonus? If the trade price in players isn't too high, his salary is low enough that the Cards can ask about Evan Longoria from the Rays, who has a quite club-friendly contract for the next couple of years, and then a neutral one at the tail end, as a package with desired closer Alex Colomé.

Some other teams may nose around for whichever outfielder the Cards don't get of Yelich and Ozuna.

That lets the Iron Giant play with a team full of AAA players next year. Have fun, dude.

You're now with an owner who fired a staffer last month while he was in the hospital!

#ActualFlatticus — A Chopin duet

I have had several people ask me over the past several weeks if they thought that Florida lawyer Chris Chopin's famous, infamous, notorious, interesting, thought-provoking and more Twitter account Actual Flatticus was run by him alone. The amount of time tweeting, the hours of when Tweets were made, the speed of reactions and more all seemed almost superhuman — which was an attraction to his groupies.

But, what if it were a tag-team with his sister, lobbyist and media spin doctor Alexandra Chopin / Wise?

I found her shortly after Flatty died, on LinkedIn and company website, based on facial features and her getting her undergrad and law degrees both at Chris's undergrad alma mater, Emory. Given that during her time with Patton Boggs and post-merger Squire Patton Boggs, her CV says she's done so-called "Congressional appearances" (lobbying) and media work for candidates (spin doctoring), arguably, Chris should have been as angry at her as at his Trump-loving, Jeb Bush-loving before that, dad. However, given that she, not his wife, took over his sacrosanct Twitter account after he died, that apparently wasn't true.

Let's repeat and rephrase this.

She's a lawyer for Squire Patton Boggs, per the "company website" link. A PARTNER, no less! Yes, THAT Patton Boggs. White shoe law firm to the DC insider grifters. Per Wiki, it's the third-largest lobbying firm in the US! And, it says she has past experience with political campaign media, too.

And, this is the sister of Flatty, the attacker of campaign finance and hater of corruption.

Now, the time of posting? A one-person Twitterer can do that ahead with Tweetdeck.

The information involved? Not THAT difficult, in most cases, if you know the FEC donations website and Open Secrets. It still goes faster the higher the degree of familiarity.

Nonetheless, Alex's expertise would help a lot with this.

Given that during her time with Patton Boggs and post-merger Squire Patton Boggs, her CV says she's done several presentations on social media, social media and privacy and related issues, she has relevance there as well as relevance on the numbers and figures Flatty posted.

And, as she currently is two time zones separated from Florida, there would be that angle, too.

As for quickness of responses otherwise? There's always the possibility of deliberate softball questions and other things.

My suspicions about this were HIGHLY raised earlier this month.

While not smearing either Chris Chopin or his sister, note that this new Tweet, from ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller, responded to by Man from Atlantis (who lies in claiming I doxxed Chris), in essence says that the Church of Flatticus is being founded on Twitter. It specifically cites family involvement, which would be his lobbyist and political media flack sister, Alexandra.  I have posted a screengrab in case that Tweet is hauled down or your account is blocked.

Given that she appears to be running his Twitter account, and is working with professional IT type people, it increases my suspicion level, and further makes me wonder just how much of a Dem sheepdogger, or even agent provacateur, Flatty was. The fact that this is released as an "official family statement" is another eyebrow-raiser.

Let's just read through this more.

First, they're getting (presumably paid) IT pros to help with special archiving beyond the normal. Will there be a tip jar for that?

Second —protecting the privacy of the family?

Puhleeze.

We know all about L. Frank the daddy and Alex the sister. Several people before me, even, wrote about L. Frank Baum Chopin, the Chopin family Wizard of Oz, as soon as Chris's name was connected by more people to the Flatty Twitter account. I think I may have been the first to explore what Alexandra was about. There's no privacy to protect on those two, and not a lot on his brother and mom.

Chris's wife is not interested in any of this, at a minimum, I would venture. And, I can only speak for myself, but as far as I know, nobody is invading her privacy. And if Lawyer Killer on Twitter is right, they had arguments about his Twitter work from its early days — as in, around the time of his domestic battery case.

Besides that, hell, per his obituary tribute card, Chris card about his dog more then did his wife.

This actually sounds like Cosa Nostra type bullshit. "It's the family!" Chopin pinkie handshakes all around.

Third — "trying to figure out how to put our lives back together"?  Sounds like stereotypical cult groupies. Next line sounds like it comes from an AA meeting.

Trust me, there's going to be more manipulation of emotions down the stretch.

By people — whether family or paid outsiders — who know how to do it.

I had said, in the last or next to last Flatty post before this, that I was probably near the finish line.

Well, that was before groupies decided to enshrine and deify him and his family decided to exploit that. Speaking of, Flatty's original account has "like" a couple of tweets by Twitter friends. The person apparently behind the two #RIPActualFlatticus legacy aggregator accounts has followed me on Medium.

And, even if Twitter groupies like ShirtLost DumbShit initiated this, the statement specifically says it's from his family.

Oh, this effort costs money. And, this is officially becoming a religious cult.

So, expect a tip jar, or a PayPal button, or something somewhere, as the online version of an offering plate.

Besides, AFAIK, there's no need for this anyway. I don't think Twitter deletes inactive accounts. If it did, Alex has the log-in info anyway. She could just send out a "ping" account once every 90 days or whatever.

So, no, I'm not going away. Neither are my "what" and "why" and "who" speculations.

December 06, 2017

Quick take on Trump-Schumer-Cardin-Bibi and Jerusalem

So, declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Even if President Trump is not (yet?) planning on moving our embassy?

First, President 2 Corinthians has shown willingness to pander to the Religious Right — except when he palmed the Saudis' Palantir earlier this year. So, in one sense this isn't surprising. (Note: Per another piece of mine, most of the Religious Right is actually OK with his racism.)

It's also not surprising because he loves the narcissistic attention of controversy.

It's also also not surprising because anything that makes a "splash," especially if it's reaching across the political aisle at times just to confound the old guard GOP establishment.

It's also also also not surprising because he thinks this is actually going to do something diplomatically, when, short of causing a war, it won't.

But why now?

One guess.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas had been working on rapprochement for one unified government over both Gaza and the main Palestinian lands of the so-called West Bank. And it looked like something was going to happen. Some things, like the PA running Gaza border crossings, have already been done. On the other hand, within the last week, key parts of the agreement weren't agreed upon, forcing a delay in the big schmeer.

Now, Donald Duck himself is too dumb for this. But, his aides? Not at all. And certainly, Bibi Netanyahu would like to do anything he could to get American attention focused his way.

Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin? (Where's Sen. Betty Crocker, aka Dianne Feinstein?)

Other than truly being Zionists, I'm not sure what their angle is on backing Trump right now, or even encouraging him from the get-go. With Schumer, though, I'm sure he's working some angle. He may be circling back to the DACA issue, though the House GOP has already told one of its own, Jeff Flake, that's a dead letter. There may be some bankster-related issues vis-a-vis the #TrumpTaxScam. Or it may really be existential angst over Iran, which is bogus.

At times like this, the atheist portion of me takes over.

I think, why can't Kim Jong Un lob one of his warheads at Jerusalem? Obliterate the Wailing Wall, the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre all three?

Or, if that's too bloody?

Where's Brother Maynard and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch?



Maybe it could wipe out those three religious sanctuaries and from there, we declare it a religious neutral site.

More seriously yet, where is Riyadh? Where are the Saudis? Trump played grabby with King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman's Palantir. And, the Saudis have had off-the-record business and quasi-diplomatic dealings with Israel for years, even with Bibi in power. But, surely this is way too far. MBS surely has to be saying something somewhere in private now. If he's not, his Wahhabi clerics surely are going to go ballistic soon and ruin his image of modernization. (The Old Gray Lady claims MBS has, outside of the Jerusalem issue, signed off on a Palestine peace plan that kneecaps Palestinians.)

Meanwhile, here's the history, on the US side, behind Trump's proclamation, and promises that such a proclamation would be made as soon as Congress stopped semiannual waivers.

It might also be appropriate here to link to my review of Shimon Peres' biography, just to remind people that Israel is the only state in the Middle East with nukes.

Lupe Valdez is OFFICIALLY in the ring for Texas governor (updated)

Lupe Valdez, fmr Dallas Co. Sheriff
What was rumored a couple of weeks ago now seems official — Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has announced she has resigned to run for governor.

UPDATE, Nov. 30: The Texas Trib says there appears to have been some gun-jumping by North Texas media last night, whether out of enthusiasm for her candidacy or misinformation by the Dallas County Democratic Party. She has NOT officially resigned as of Thursday morning.

UPDATE 2, Dec. 6: It's now official, per announcement.

On the surface, this seems to  check all the boxes that Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa and allies could want in terms of visibility. (The Chronic notes that she's reportedly his personal choice.) Beyond local, regional and possibly state visibility, she is also "connected," connected enough to have been named to the Democratic National Committee in 2010. (Meanwhile, it's funny AND weird that Gromer Jeffers says she's expected to officially file "as early as next week." Gromer, she's only got 12 days left, and you know the calendar.)

Beyond that, she checks the right boxes on social issues, and, in the wake of Senate Bill 4 on sanctuary cities, checks the right box on that, too.

Indeed, that's part of her story. She was born the child of migrant farm workers, so she knows the immigration story. As is being lesbian along with a woman. No arguing that. (Also no doubt that in her first run for re-election, she faced definite right-wing smears, led by then-Dallas Snooze op-ed "pundit" Rod Dreher.)

In fact, in 2015, looking ahead a couple of years, I said the party, at a minimum, could do far worse. (Andrew White, this year, certainly comes to mind.)

I've met Valdez in the past, when I lived in the Metroplex. Never did an actual interview, but talked with her at one community event in the Best Southwest suburbs. Besides her "story" she is generally personable, no doubt about it. And, per that link immediately above, her story, unlike that of Wendy Davis, needs no "polishing."

But, she's got baggage.

That starts with the failed state jail inspections in years past at Lew Sterrett. Yes, that started under her GOP predecessor Jim Bowles. But, it continued under her. Even if we assign the 2005 fail, as well as 2003 and 2004 to Bowles. she still, with 2006-09 failed inspections, had one more than him.

John Wiley Price, Our Man Downtown, took her to the proverbial woodshed in the middle of that period, for not keeping him in the loop — whether she was legally required to or not. Worse, the "loop" was having the Discovery Channel film improvements at Lew Sterrett — improvements that still weren't good enough for the state of Texas for two more years.

That was the same year that she got sued for false imprisonment. (Update: It was eventually denied a hearing in the federal system.) The "whys" of what led to the suit speak of an ongoing lack of organizational skills in the department, and fish rot from the head down.

As noted, I said in 2015 that she could be a good candidate, because of visibility issues and she might be less of a DINO than some in the past. Hell, she'd surely turn out the Hispanic vote better than fake Dem Tony Sanchez did in 2002.

But, that 2015 post was before Tom Wakely threw his Stetson, or Panama , whichever it is, in the race.

Beyond support for LGBT rights, and presumably reproductive freedom, and the right of sanctuary cities to be sanctuary cities to illegal immigrants, what sort of a platform will she have? Wakely's already on the record about supporting not just single-payer health care, but wanting a Texas state level version of a National Health Service, with the state of Texas having government owned health clinics around the state. And more. He wants to legalize pot. He's tough on climate change. He wants stronger gun control.

Until I hear Valdez flesh out some actual policy positions, assuming that Greens either don't run a candidate or don't run someone better than Brandon Parmer, Wakely's got my support. And per Brains' take earlier on initial rumors, how much of a "law-and-order Dem" is she? Specifically, versus Wakely on legalizing pot? Remember, she had years and years at Homeland Security, pre-merger Customs before that, and the federal prison system before that. What's her take on decarceration? Fifth Amendment issues? More? Remember, contra Democrats at the federal level who say "Oh the SCOTUS," that even "liberal" Justices don't always support civil liberties in the face of "law and order."

==

Personally, this is the most interested I've been in a Texas Democratic gubernatorial race since being eligible to vote in Texas.

Note: In 1994, I had moved here too late to vote vote Miss Ann, as I presume I would have, against Shrub. With me being a leftist of sorts, not just an evolving liberal, today, I surely still would have voted for her if I had 1994 choices with no Green Party and no viable, interesting independents. In 1998, I'd moved out of state by the general. Not sure I would have voted for Gary Mauro or not. I bought the idea of some state Dems and many national ones to let Shrub have a cakewalk. OTOH, "Democratic" Lite Guv Bob Bullock had already given Shrub a cakewalk path to the presidency. He' the second worst Texas ConservaDem of the last 20 years, behind only John Sharp. Sharp is worse for being less competent. And, speaking of?

Sharp's hand-corralled "dream team" candidate of Tony Sanchez in 2002 was barf-inducing. I can't remember if I voted for Dan Morales in the primary or not.

The late-entered Chris Bell was a bleah choice in 2006, and since then has proved that his "good government" schtick is bullshit. I voted for him over even worse choices in the primary, and over Kinky Friedman, who threw away a semi-serious chance at getting elected.

Bill White in 2010 was only slightly less bland than Bell, and a Dem insider neoliberal. And, with a Green option, I voted Deb Shafto in the general. Since Greens already had ballot access, I can't remember if I voted in the Dem primary or not.

Wendy Davis certainly wasn't bland in 2014. But, between her and Green pseudocandidate Brandon Parmer, I undervoted.

And Wakely's already been co-campaigning with Lite Gov candidate Tom Cooper, more of a dream team than Sharp's. Fortunately, they've not had Beto O'Rourke in their loop; Brains says (and I'm with him) that he's too much of a squish and that Sema Hernandez is the best Dem in that primary.

Speaking of Greens? The state party is reportedly still deliberating whether to seek ballot access. For petition-signing purposes, it had better have a decision before the start of early voting, and if it's a "go," announce it loud and clear. Wakely's got a platform that's as solid as many a Green candidate would put together. And, Valdez may well not be bad.

I'm not just talking about governor, though; what I'm getting at is that this governor's primary is quite possibly going to draw in a bunch of left-winger Dems who can't sign Green petitions if they vote in the Dem primary. And, that then means that if a ballot access drive is started tardily, downballot Greens suffer.

Hat tip to Brains for noting the non-resignation AND for noting how Valdez would very likely boost turnout and jazz up down-ballot Democratic races.

That said, if Greens do decide to do a ballot access drive (which they had BETTER do if Dems don't fill up their CCA card) I'll have to sit out if I want to sign it.

Why the #ReligiousRight backs Trump, racism, sexism and all

Many people of the center or liberalism wonder how many people of the Religious Right, including ministers such as Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr., could embrace Donald Trump, and not only embrace him, but do so openly, not at arm’s length.

A constellation of reasons converge, with the ultimate answer being —

IT'S IN THEIR CULTURAL DNA.

(Update: The website Religion Dispatches largely agrees, from somewhat inside the movement.)

One, the Religious Right has made it’s bed with the GOP, so that’s where it’s going to sleep, period.

Related to that is the simple element of tribalism. Go, they’ll swallow hard and accept his sexual shenanigans.

Many of them accept his ideas and treatment of women in general, without, in theory, supporting extramarital sex or Trump’s brazenness. That said, the almost totally male faith leaders of the Religious Right also support Type A males acting like stereotypical Type A males in general.

As far as the racial elements of Trumpism, and the Religious Right’s acceptance of that?

This piece shows that the protestations of the Religious Right, or those who claim to be affiliated with it, of "no true Scotsman" re the likes of Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffress endorsing Trump, simply don't ring true. The racist, or quasi-racist, background of a large chunk of the Religious Right runs pretty long and pretty deep. (I would complain about the header; per the body of the story, Trump did no "hijacking.") 

Related to that is the idea that many everyday Trumpists are part of the Religious Right, but in a different way. Many of these people may not go to church that often, but they have their own version of tribalism. They identify with a cultural “Christianism” that in many ways parallels Islamism, the para-Islamic set of beliefs held by many conservative Muslims in its heartland.

So, they’re fine with the Falwells et al cozying up to Trump even if they see the Falwells as being less “of the people” than some of them still think Trump is.

And, back to that link. The people in the pews, the people not in the pews but in the culture, and the faith leaders all, like Trump, surely still see blacks as “uppity” in some way.

And, that’s how things tie together.

And, there’s a deeper history behing this.

The Atlantic spells out the long history of American and white nationalism, with a bright line from Duke to Trump. It’s a long, long read, but a good one, connecting the sociological (NOT socioeconomic) thread from Duke to Trump. I make that careful stipulation in noting that, contra the Adolph Reed types, this is an issue where racism is the ultimate driver, with little of the element of class issues. 

So, at bottom line, there is an element of hypocrisy for the Religious Right. The hypocrisy is in a largely false image, not in going against core realities.


In more recent times, this spilled out into the religious affiliation of many private "academies" in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. It also is reflected in how White Citizens Councils gave cover to religious and non-religious alike who didn't want to look as crude as Klansmen. And, before that, the bible was used, not just antebellum to justify slavery, but after that to justify segregation.

And, it's not just Baptists in the South. Remember that Mormons barred blacks from the priesthood until 1978.

December 05, 2017

Texas Progressives weekly wrangle:
True crime, crappy politicos, more!

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone Treason's Greetings, and a #BoomerSooner in the CFP, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff is doing his best to keep up with filing news.

SocraticGadfly discusses three big bits of political news from around the Metroplex area. First, he offers his initial take on Lupe Valdez's possible entry into the Democratic gubernatorial race. Second, he says good-bye and good riddance to Helen Giddings. Third, he offers a bigger good-bye and good riddance to Smokey Joe Barton.

EgbertoWillies.com wants us all to be on the streets and more engaged in combating the Republican tax cut scam.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez had a false start to her gubernatorial campaign last week, and once her bid for the Governor's Mansion is official, it will help carry a lot of downballot Democrats to victory, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Harry Hamid went to the Harris County Green Party’s most recent monthly event but was forced to stage an unintentional walkout — while noting the “toxicity.” David Bruce Collins decided he would rather not attend the meeting in the first place, for similar reasons.

Neil at All People Have Value suggested that personhood be taken away from human beings and extended to guns and bullets instead. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

ProPublica looks at the number of polluted military facilities in Texas and elsewhere.

Jim Schutze discusses a true-crime podcast on Commerce’s public radio station. Schutze also offers a big salute to Dallas' new city manager.

Therese Odell reacts to the Matt Lauer news and the reaction to the Lauer news by Donald Trump.

The Lunch Tray asks you to comment on USDA school nutrition standards.

The TSTA Blog keeps pushing back against school privatization untruths.

RG Ratcliffe stuck a fork in Smokey Joe Barton. The StartleGram notes Smokey Joe’s former chief of staff got to the head of the line to replace him.

Bill Barker urges haste in adopting a Climate Action Plan.

Keep Austin Wonky offers his proposal for a 2018 City of Austin infrastructure bond.

December 04, 2017

What Happened? Hillary Clinton tried to write a book and wrote a novel

My review of "What Happened":

What HappenedWhat Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My 2 cents, or 2 stars worth

I didn't rate it 1 star for two reasons.

First, in a few rare instances, like discussing sriracha sauces, Hillary Clinton does allow peeks at what is presumably her real self.

Second, it deserves a second star because it reflects what Hillary Clinton believes about the 2016 campaign, and its backstory.

That said, much of what she believes, especially related to "Putin Did It," is simply wrong. (Note, I am writing from a leftist, not a GOP let alone Trumpist, angle. That said, many of the "Putin Did It" claims have been either PROVEN wrong or else withdrawn or modified. So, let's dig in!)

Here's a list of the major problems, by page number.

20. Did Hannah the Wisconsin election worker later / elsewhere get mad about Clinton not visiting the state?
35. Tries to triangulate between Obama as previous Dem president and Obama’s sluggish recovery.
47. Well-respected Clinton Foundation doesn’t mention Frank Giustra/Russia/uranium, nor does it mention Haiti and its less than totally reputable operation there
72. Calls emails — without mentioning a “server” — “one boneheaded mistake.” No deliberation, especially on server, not just account, mentioned.
74. Blames Bernie for not exiting the campaign sooner. Doesn’t mention parallel with her slow withdrawal in 2008.
112ff. Never mentions, in discussing her childhood, that she was a “Goldwater Girl.”
226. Falsely claims Bernie’s a socialist. She knows better.
229. Repeats stereotypes about BernieBros online harassing people. Never mentions online harassment of likes of Peter Daou.
229. Claims Bernie’s not a Dem. He is, de facto; Dem party has “cleared the field” for him since second House run. He is also, in a sense, de jure a Dem.
234. Obamacare is “universal” only on paper. For many, they can’t afford to buy anything other than the cheapest plan, and then they can’t afford to use it except in catastrophic cases.
239. Clinton claims that, deep inside, she favored a financial transactions tax and even basic income. Yeah, right. No post-election news stories about that.
254. Obama claimed that nobody in history was more qualified than her for White House. Reality? Setting aside Washington, there’s Adams, Jefferson, Quincy Adams, Van Buren, Buchanan, FDR, and Poppy Bush, on paper, at least.
289. Narrative about personal email >>account<< doesn’t mention server until 297, and then only in passing.
328. On matter of Putin’s being upset about NATO expansion, doesn’t mention that hubby Bill broke Poppy Bush’s oral pledge to Yeltsin that, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, NATO wouldn’t move east.
338. Wrong on Guccifer 2.0. Wrong on citing Crowdstrike as primary evidence.
341. Wrong on Russia hacking DNC emails vs a Dem insider stealing them.
352. Repeats the rejected “17 agencies” claim on Russia hacking DNC emails.
354. References the Steele dossier, now pretty much discredited, AND knows to have been paid for in part by the DNC, which Clinton also doesn’t mention
363. Many of the “21 states” she claims had state elections agencies that were Russian hacking targets now say that not only were they not compromised, as faras they know they weren’t targets.
411. Takes Jill Stein out of context, ignoring that the Obama-Clinton semi-coup in Ukraine that now has neo-Nazis in power is something that Stein rightfully complained about.

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And, in a big picture on all of the “Putin Did It” claims, ignores that Crowdstrike either ignored or was unaware of poor security of NGP VAN, didn’t catch the DNC emails theft, as theft it was, and missed the Podesta phishing for months.

View all my reviews


Addendum to the review, for this blog post.

I feel kind of sad for her, and not in a patronizing way. I think she really believes most of what she (and one or more ghostwriters?) put in this book, even and especially the stuff about a Tobin tax and basic income. (Feel free to let me know if she's actually given speeches or anything about this.)

In reality, of course, this, along with her triangulating off Obama, shows that even by modern American political standards, there's no "there" there. Hillary Clinton is the Oakland of the Democratic Party, to riff on Gertrude Stein.

But, the modern Democratic Party seems to kind of like presidential candidates like that. Barack Obama didn't have much more "there" in 2008 than Clinton. And, post-presidency, banksters are paying him even more than they did her. But, many "resisters" who dislike, or even loathe, Hillary Clinton still fellate Barack Obama any chance they get. The reality is that they projected a lot of hopes and dreams on him. You didn't have to be a Green like me, or Green-leaner, to know that. All you had to do is note Obama's flip-flip on warrantless spying and giving a free pass to telecommunications companies in the summer of 2008.

The Slickster, of course, started the idea of triangulation, at least in modern form. He, of course, perfected the idea of "punching down" inside the modern Democratic Party.

Jimmy Carter was by no means perfect. He was the first neoliberal Democratic president, in many ways. (In some ways, JFK was.) But, in a number of cases, especially environmental issues, he was willing to take stances. Of course, his own party rick-rolled him in Congress for his pains.