SocraticGadfly: 1/21/18 - 1/28/18

January 26, 2018

Please, Bernie, no

Bernie Sanders is reportedly deliberating a 2020 presidential run.

First, if he does, these questions:
1. Will he take a foreign policy stance outside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment in general?
2. Will he comment in favor of Boycott, Divest, Sanctions, or BDS?
3. Will he condemn Democratic coups and semi-coups, like Honduras and Ukraine, as much as Republican ones? Erm?
4. Will he be honest about voting to bomb Libya?
5. Will he be honest about F-35s? Drones?
6. Will he tell you that while he voted against the Iraq War, he voted for the Patriot Act?

For readers of this blog, you know those are of course all rhetorical questions, and you know what my rhetorically expected answers are.

So, let's add a sixth.

6. Will he condemn the Russiophobia that still lingers around Mueller's Trump investigation? (That's not to say that Trump and family may not have laundered money with Moscow — or Beijing. It is to say that I don't believe the "Putin Did It" line of alleged election meddling.)

You know the answers to that.

Other questions.

First, now that the Sanders Institute is established as a fairly conventional mix of a think tank plus political incubator, plus the lack of transparency and related issues, such as the clearly dark money of Our Revolution, combining for a Sanders money machine, will Berners call out Bernie if when he starts acting like Just.Another.Politician.™? And, if that does happen, how will Bernie handle it? And, in 2018, with Bernie officially raking a million in 2017 for the second straight year, he could funnel money to Our Revolution.

Second, if the Jane Sanders bank fraud investigation is still in some sort of media res 18 months from now, how will Bernie handle THAT?

Third, if Berners start thinking about foreign policy and non-rhetorically asking him those questions above, how will he handle THAT?

Fourth, if Berners start thinking about the full reality of his legacy and then asking questions, how will he handle THAT?

Finally, his one-note trumpet campaign style of 2016 probably will wear thin quicker in 2020. And, age will be a legitimate question for a man who would turn 80 in 2021, not just with him alone, but with that age showing the overall gerontocracy level of national Democrats.

I'm sure that a certain amount of Berners, reading something like this, will accuse me of accusing Bernie of moral equivalism. No, but within the lesser evilism framework, from a leftist perspective, on foreign policy, he's on the same trajectory overall as most Dems.

January 24, 2018

#HOF quartet — thoughts on Baseball Hall of Fame 2018:
Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman

Last November, I semi-confidently predicted that all four gents would make this year's class at Cooperstown. Now, a bit more of a hot take on them, and those who fell short.

Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones was a no-brainer. He's a clear top-ten, and almost top-five, third baseman, and that's a spot underrepresented in the Hall. (JAWS ranks him sixth all time at the hot corner.) Jones had the 11th-highest vote percentage plurality, which I also find interesting, and a bit too high, if we use vote percentage as a guide to judge voters "level of HOFness" for a player.

However, it may well remain a bit underrepresented for a few years. Former Cardinanls third-sacker Scott Rolen barely broke the 10 percent mark, per official BBWAA announcement. I think he suffers from three things — a direct comparison to/overshadowing by Jones, a relative lack of counting stats that ties into that, especially on the power issue, and a number of nagging injuries in his career that are part of why he doesn't have some of those big counting stats. (He had 2,000 fewer PAs than Chipper.)

Jim Thome
Jim Thome I wasn't totally sure about, even with 600-plus homers, on getting in this year. He's never faced steroid whisperers, but being on a number of different teams, and spending half his career away from Cleveland, I thought that meant he could have less writers' loyalty than some. He also had a rap on defense, but he wasn't THAT bad. However, he got just about 90 percent, finishing third of the four.

One other note about Thome, for better or for worse. Before the phrase "three true outcomes" became common, he exemplified it. He's still second on the career strikeouts list. He's seventh on the career walks list, with an OBP 126 points above his batting average. And, of course, eighth on the career homers list, without "adjusting" Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.

In second? A second year returnee, Vladimir Guerrero. In my preview, I said I consider him a borderline candidate, or maybe even borderline of borderlines. Nothing's changed. When he announced his retirement in 2013, he cited bad knees. The Jays gave him a semi-shot the year before, but he didn't make the big club before opting out. Yes, per the commenter below, he had an arm as well as a bat — and a stone glove, too. And, that SI link in this graf? Story's by sabermetric guru Jay Jaffe, who has the same take as me.

Among right fielders, Larry Walker is a better overall batter, has about as good an arm, and unlike Vlad, didn't have a stone glove on the opposite hand from that arm. Despite all that and a higher career WAR, he languishes with low vote percentages. I think lack of counting stats hurts Walker. Just as Vlad is below 3,000 hits and 500 HRs, Walker is below 2,500 hits and 400 HRs. Plus, I think HOF voters aren't sure how much to weight modern outfield defense. More on that below.

Note: I'm not sold on Walker for those reasons myself. I use him as an indicator of why I'm not sold on Vladdy.

No. 4 in this year's class is third-year candidate Trevor Hoffman, who was just one percentage point off last year. Voters and informed fans are still trying to figure how to judge closers. Five Thirty Eight's "goose egg" is a good starting point, and certainly a better one than saves. Going by it, one can call Hoffman deserving while noting that Lee Smith may be missing out.

Omar Vizquel should not be in, won't be in this year, but may have enough people fooled into thinking he's Ozzie Smith when he's actually more than 20 WAR below the Wizard, to eventually sneak in. There's a gap of 30 overall WAR and 15 dWAR. Vizquel is NOT a HOFer, but is already at work fooling too many people with 37 percent of the vote.

Otherwise, yes, Vizquel has the record for most career games at SS. And? Ozzie could have played another two-three years, but was tired of getting rat-fucked by La Russa in St. Louis, wanted to retire a Cardinal, and didn't want to play two-three years of half-time work.

Oh, lest I be called a Cardinals homer for touting Rolen and Walker while putting down Vizquel at the expense of the Wiz, I have repeatedly said that — roiding aside, too — Mark McGwire is NOT a HOFer.

Looking at other players of note. Andruw Jones played some great defensive CF at his peak. But, is it enough? Just barely — he got just over 7 percent of the vote and is the only other first-year candidate who will get another cup of coffee. Several recent stories have questioned whether thing like ultimate zone runs favor the defensive valuation of modern players, especially in the outfield, where we have total video coverage from the mid-1990s on, versus a mix of guesswork and video for older players. It's a good question.

Beyond that? He just doesn't meet my eyeballs test.

Returning candidates?

Edgar Martinez, in next-to-last year of eligibility, fell just 20 votes short. There will be a push for his name next year.

Mike Mussina approached 65 percent. With five years of eligibility left, he seems a good shot to make it, and possibly next year. He already should be in, I think.

Mariano Rivera is a lock next year, but if you look at first-year candidates on next year's ballot, Roy Halladay is the only other semi-possible one I see. (David Schoenfield offers his take on next year as well.)

What does that mean for other returnees?

Believed roiding twins Bonds and Roger Clemens both were in the mid-50s, just like last year. No new movement. Curt Schilling entered the 50s from 45 percent last year. All three have four years of eligibility left.

This year was just the fourth four-player election in history. I'm not expecting lightning to strike again next year, so two for sure and likely three in next year's election. And, just like I campaigned for Bert Blyleven for the Hall, I'll continue to campaign against Vizquel.

The "gold dust twins" and the HOF?

I've expressed my stance many times.

Joe Morgan, vice president of the HOF's board, had various numbnuts, most of them young punk sportswriters, combined with a few old guard of keyboard clatterers, shitting bricks over his "no roiders wanted letter. I'm with him on where to draw the line on Hall of Fame entry.

Chelsea Manning — the Kinky Friedman of Maryland? The Oprah of anarcho-celebrity?

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Before deconstructing Chelsea Manning's Senate run, I MUST TELL YOU that FOUR people — as in three not named Chelsea Manning – are primarying Ben Cardin.

Second, see mid-February updates at bottom.

Now, on to how Chelsea Manning seems to have screwed the pooch last Saturday, what's behind that, and how she's appearing to tell post-event lies.

Just days after announcing she was going to challenge incumbent Ben Cardin in Maryland's Senate Democratic primary, Chelsea Manning attends an alt-right party set up by Mike Cernovich, though he was not in attendance. Others of that ilk, though, were, like allegedly alcoholic nutbar Charles McInnis and Cassandra Fairbanks, allegedly a long-time pal of Manning's.

First, on her appearance? Her own Tweet:
Second, on her being inside? Besides invited attendees, liberal to left-liberal journos not at Buzzfeed, specifically Jared Holt, say she was there, also giving an after-event analysis Tweet.

Buzzfeed's story does have some problems. The biggie seems to be using unnamed second-hand people as sources, and Fairbanks is claiming she was misquoted. But, beyond that, and beyond Holt, one of the organizers, Mike Cernovich himself, twice talks about Manning being there. Here's the Twitter account of Charlie Warzel, one of the two Buzzfeed reporters.

So, let's go from there.

Left-liberal journos like Ken Silverstein and Tina Desiree-Berg, or Twitter friends like Socialist Taco, what if she WAS there, and not (primarily) to protest, but to be at the event? (Which seems to have been a mix of semi-loon rightists, full-on loon rightists, and unclassifiable anarchist types, who, in turn, would be most likely to be closest to Manning.)

And, not recognizing that not everybody at that event may have been there for fascist reasons is part of the problem. I again reference Idries Shah, that there are always more than two sides to an issue, at least a complex issue like this. And, if your choice is based on two-sided compartmentalization, you'll tribalize. At the same time, I also reject Slate's narrative. Although I've found some elements of the far left that will overlap with the far right, including in my Twitter feed, the majority of people I know online who vote further left than Democrat do no such thing.

Now back to Manning's bridges to nowhere.

Well, other than true leftists and true rightists both disliking the national security state, I, as a true leftist of sorts, don't see other gaps that I want to bridge.

As in this homophobic video by McInnis:
Going inside, even if she wasn't there when McInnis spoke, and doing a weak "thumbs down" afterward, does NOT strike me as "protesting." Yet other non-Buzzfeed news reports she was "mingling" during a couple of hours inside.

This becomes even more true with the note that she hung out with some of the same folks in DC not too long before this.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice???

So, was Manning there in some degree of sincerity, but even higher degree of naivete about what she could accomplish, not only with the extra burdens of this event, but just in bridging these gaps at any time? Or was she there for yucks and semi-trolling?

I didn't post this blog as a Monday hot take because I told Desiree-Berg, Silverstein and others that I wanted to give Manning time to make, oh, at least a partial disavowal.

As of Monday afternoon, she failed. Instead, she offered a new excuse for Saturday night:
"Gather intel"? As if you don't know who these people are already? And, you didn't do enough of that in the pre-Christmas DC event? Besides, some of the people who do attend these events are friends with people at least as thrown off as McInnis — people who reject your sexual identity and more.

As for some of her friends claiming lefty friends? (That's you, Cassandra.) Well, it's possible, if they're strictly non-political friends. As for CF's claim that she hides that so they don't face lefty persecution? I do a #smh, not an attack, at left-of-center people I know on Twitter who befriend someone writing for one of the dumbest of fucks in the wingnut blogosphere, Jim Hoft.

OK, back to the rhetorical question, and back to Manning instead of Fairbanks — is this more naivete, or more yucks and celebrity campaigning?

The two aren't mutually exclusive, and I'll go 60-40, maybe 65-35, in favor of celebrity campaigning.

In that, per the header, as Texans will know, she reminds me of Kinky Friedman and his 2006 gubernatorial run.

Kinky, a laugh a minute when on a roll, broke the ice on a deadly stale campaign that featured Rick Perry running for re-election, "grandma" Carole Keeton Rylander / Strayhorn running as an independent from the comptroller's office perch, and Dems struggling to even get anybody to run, before ConservaDem milquetoast Chris Bell stepped to the plate.

Kinky modeled his idea of running on Jesse "the Body" Ventura, who'd run for, and been elected as, governor of Minnesota on the Reform Party platform.

Kinky had a few problems, though.

One was not having an actual party as a base, unlike Ventura.

The second was that, unlike Ventura, he never would (and maybe never could) move from cracking wise about government problems to offering non-yucks government solutions.

The third was thinking he had a "base" that could be based on people who both wanted to restore organized prayer to public schools and make pot legal.

Manning's running on the left half of the duopoly's party line, so that's one difference.

The second and third issues? So far, she seems a lot like Kinky Friedman.

Anyway, she has articulated some issues in her first post-announcement interview, with The Guardian.

Making all health care free? That's more a left than right issue, though some at the semi-fascist end support it.

Open borders? That's a gap she ain't gapping with the wingnuts. Period.

Closing all prisons, period? No, that's not flying with a lot of people who aren't centrists. I favor ending much of the war on drugs, lessening incarceration, and closing all PRIVATE prisons. But, closing all prisons? That's nutbar.

She goes on to call her politics "radical anti-authoritarianism." That ties in with the anarchist element at Night of Freedom, to square this circle. (And, her announcement video, per Newsweek, comes off as Trumpian in its dystopian framing.)

Some of the other stuff in the Guardian piece sounds yet more clueless.

Claiming that Twitter freed her? Nope. Obama did. If Twitter were that powerful, Mumia abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier would also be free.

Claiming that she can do better than the 2 percent Deray McKesson got in a Baltimore mayoral run because Deray wasn't plugged in enough, even though he's a Baltimore native? I'm not sure whether that one is more naive or more egotistical. Manning herself lived in greater DC with an aunt for little over a year before joining the Army. That was her only pre-prison release connection with Maryland.

If she wants to seem different, and serious, ball's in her court. This is NOT the first time she's been naive to the point of clueless. In her old website, she says that she didn't enter a plea deal with the Army because:
I believed the military justice system would understand my motivation for the disclosure and sentence me fairly. I was wrong.
You were wrong indeed. Welcome to the real world. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Oh, and something else the normalizers aren't mentioning? She's coming off as a celebrity candidate in a race where FOUR Dems are primarying Ben Cardin. One of them, Debbie Wilson, ran against Steny Hoyer two years ago, and thus has a political leg up on Manning.

Speaking of old website, she doesn't even have a campaign website yet, it seems. AFAIK, Facebook doesn't allow Paypal links on groups or causes pages. Right now, she's apparently just collecting money through Act Blue, which is pretty conventional. And, other than interviews, not doing much to promote a platform. (The primary isn't until June 26.)

Beyond this, the Maryland Green Party still has time to field one or more candidates, too.

And, "normalizing" and tribalism? Happens among indy media just like the MSM.

Sorry, Ken Silverstein and others. You need a rethink, from what I see. Start with the Idries Shah "more than two sides."

You may just realize then that Manning isn't who you wish she was.

For those who aren't from Texas and don't know Kinky, I offer up my second rhetorical question to end this piece. Or if you are in Texas, think Lupe Valdez.

Like other celebrity candidates, so far, Manning seems longer on celebrity than she does on stances on issues. "We Got This" is a nice slogan but no more than that.


Update, Feb. 21 — Note this tweet and date:
Combined with this:
Gee, wonder why the break? That would have been less than 10 days about getting called out for attending the alt-right/anarchist party and having less than believable excuses.

That said, that was preceded by this:
And this:
So ... we're back to naive Senate candidate more than celebrity one.

January 23, 2018

Kaepernick to Raiders via blackmail?

Colin Kaepernick
The Fritz Pollard Alliance (and its namesake, were he alive) and about anybody else with a brain, a sense of racial justice and a follower of the NFL not named Roger Goodell thinks the East Bay Raiders of Las Vegas broke the Rooney Rule in hiring Jon Gruden to be their new head coach. The, "hey, Reggie McKenzie is our GM" or "hey, Tom Flores is the first minority coach to win the Super Bowl" or "hey, Jim Plunkett is the first minority quarterback to win the Super Bowl" count for nothing when Davis is on record as wanting Gruden and agreeing to fire Jack Del Rio only after an "I'm in" from Gruden and before interviewing anybody.

Well, via Tweetstorm as reported by USA Today, John Freeman of Bleacher Report says something is at work behind the scenes.

And that is that Goodell gave Mark Davis a Rooney Rule pass on the Gruden deal if —

The team signs iconic protest quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

From Goodell's POV, if this speculation by Freeman (along with any leads or tips he is getting) would make sense.

If Kaep signs, it undercuts the lawsuit he has against the NFL, Goodell surely figures. The NFL comes off, in his eyes, as looking better. And so do the Raiders.

Just a few problems with this.

One is that the Raiders already have a decent, starting, quarterback in Derek Carr. And, is Chucky Gruden going to give Kaep a fair shot?

That's just the playing side.

Outside the lines? 

This is tokenism, pure and simple.

It's just a high-salary way of treating Kaep as a Kentucky slave to be sold down the river to Mississippi.

Only Goodell would be dumb enough to think that Kaepernick would agree to this, or that this can even be proposed without the league getting an even bigger black eye on this issue among minorities than it already has.

Well, no, let me take this back.

Some owners, like a Jethro Jerry Jones, are as dumb as Goodell on an issue like this.

But, yeah, whether on his own or with feedback from the likes of Jethro Jerry, I can see Goodell actually pondering something like this.

TX Progressives scattershoot #shithole worlds and more

The Texas Progressive Alliance remembers the just-passed 45th anniversary of Roe v Wade while admitting your guess is as good as its on shutdown issues.

 Off the Kuff expresses skepticism about a "loose coalition" of business and education interests aiming to weaken Dan Patrick by aiming at his Senate enablers.

SocraticGadfly talks baseball. With Cardinals icon Yadier Molina announcing he'll retire when his current contract ends, is he a Hall of Famer or not? said that many Democrats seemed to have believed that because Trump is unpopular they would coast to a Blue Wave. Those who warned were attacked as pessimists not reading the data objectively. The double-digit Democratic generic poll lead evaporated. There is work to be done.

Neil at All People Have Value shared a picture from the weekly John Cornyn Houston Office Protest held each Tuesday 11:30 AM to 1 PM at 5300 Memorial Dr.

Brains and Eggs goes Blackie Sherrod and does some scattershooting of shitholes.

Ted at Jobsanger says merit-based immigration is actually unfriendly to immigrants.

David Bruce Collins attends Our Revolution Texas, Gulf Coast, and merit-based immigration touts its candidate slate — with caveats on foreign policy.


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

Jeff Balke writes all your driving-related New Year's resolutions.

S. L. Wisenberg grapples with the art of men who do despicable things.

Michael Li interprets the latest SCOTUS action on Texas redistricting.

G. Elliott Morris gives a short course in poll tracking.

Therese Odell says we should ignore Trump's "Fake News Awards", but we still have to take them seriously.

The Bloggess celebrates Eeyore Day.

Stuart Williams urges Texas Democrats to compete in rural areas.

In These Times says post-Harvey rebuilding of Houston is being done with exploitatio of immigrant labor, including wage theft.

Texas Standard talks about why Texas might be better off with an outside insurer for state property rather than “self-insuring” by legislation on request.

The Texas Observer says rural health care sucks in the state. (Last year, Texas became about the last state in the nation to approve treating telemedicine just like other medicine.)

January 22, 2018

The shutdown will be Tweeted
#TrumpShutdown or #SchumerShutdown?

The revolution, unfortunately, won't be televised because America will never have a left-wing revolution even if it needs it.

First, it's not Schumer. Given that a few Senate Republicans also voted for the shutdown, Mitch McConnell needed to get 15 Dems  or so in favor.

Second, if we want to call it Schumer's tactically, it's still McConnell's strategically. He's made the first post-shutdown deal offer, and it's little different than what Paul Ryan rammed through the House GOP.

Update, Jan. 22 — Call it the Schumer Shutdown because Chuck and other Senate Dems are going to cave on reopening while getting little back other than a vacuous McConnell promise.)

It's also his until he forces somebody in Team Trump to be the point man for the White House.

Nobody has been so far, and now, somebody there has decided to pour gasoline on the fire by calling Democrats accessories to murder.

McConnell knows better from Obamcare and his Senate failure there.

I don't expect a solution today, and would be surprised if we get one by the end of the week.

So far, talks about a short-term extension, even if they set the stage for further talks on Dreamers, aren't saying anything about a better extension of CHIP than has recently been discussed. Beyond that, as Lindsay Graham has said, per my notes above, as long as Stephen Miller is the point man for the White House on immigration, ain't much of nothing happening. But it doesn't look like that's changing immediately. John Kelly is reportedly joining with Miller, and he's almost as hardcore, albeit without open flirtation with racism.

So, even if this short-term extension passes, prepare for another shutdown in three weeks. (Unless Schumer caves again.)

If that's the playout, Schumer and other Democrats need to get smarter than his and others' recent ideas.