February 03, 2018

RIP Bob Parry and RIP Consortium News too?
#NunesMemo stance undercuts credibility

Robert Parry, founder of
Consortium News. Is he now
turning over in his grave?
Robert Parry, a lead investigative reporter of both the Iran-Contra arms smuggling and related violations of law as well as Reagan's October Surprise in 1980, died unexpectedly last month and rightly received plenty of tributes for his work.

That said, one ongoing and one new contributor at the site are — for me and some others — wrecking its legacy already over the Nunes Memo.

Before I dive in, let me explain that I largely accept CN's overall claims that Russiagate — in terms of the initial claims that Putin-orchestrated hackers were trying to directly meddle in our elections, and that these hackers were behind the initial Democratic National Committee emails run by Wikileaks — is largely a nothingburger.

Now, to points at hand.

I don't know how tight or loose of an editorial rein Bob kept over other contributors before he died, especially before last December and the start of his health issues. I have no idea now if son Nat is running the show there, or whom, and how much editorial control is being run at all.

But Ray McGovern has run multiple articles both before and after the Nunes Memo's release arguing for a simplistic "Deep State vs Trump" take on the memo and refusing to read Idries Shah and note there's more than two sides to this.
“To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.” 
He's being joined in this by that tireless promoter of leftist union with the alt-right, Caitlin Johnstone. In her piece last Saturday, she even admitted the content of the memo was a nothingburger but said that didn't matter anyway.

Johnstone did not start contributing to the site until Bob's passing. I suspect that an alive and healthy Bob would have kept her a non-contributor.

The "more than two sides" would accept that recent data deletions by the FBI and NSA are a problem while noting they in no means obscure that the Nunes Memo was in fact just the latest in a string of partisan hackery by Devin Nunes ever since Trump was sworn into office.

It would also develop the "third side" (there's really four or more) of not only Nunes' level of hackery, but details of the political issues at hand with this memo. We all know them — possibly setting up the firing of Rod Rosenstein is obvious. There could be more.

Devin Nunes: Hack and idiot both
The "more than two sides" would note the clear omissions from the Nunes Memo, above all that quarterly renewal of surveillance requests on Carter Page were based on material besides the Steele dossier. Per Liberal Values, the memo does let that cat out of the bag at the very end, but both McGovern and Johnstone refuse to even mention the name Papadopoulos. It would also note that while Rod Rosenstein signed off on Mueller's wanting to make the quarterly requests, he did not examine the individual filings.

Byron York jumps in to say that the FBI surveillance requests appear to have had four sources — Steele, a Yahoo story based on Steele, Papadopoulos, and a previous 2013 investigation of Page, plus the general worry over Russia environment as a backgrounder. He then tries to claim the dossier was nonetheless "essential." He also references, on Twitter, Trey Gowdy engaging in ersatz mind-reading of a judge to try to prove that point.

I respond back that without the judge's comment, which of course will not be forthcoming, we have no way of knowing that, and that if Nunes wanted to show what York and flacks like Gowdy claim, he should have mentioned all sources in the memo in the first place.

Instead, Nunes comes off as still looking like a hack, and Gowdy still looking like a flak, and both them and York still trying to push a two-sides argument.

Update, Feb. 5: Nunes has now admitted that the FBI told judges all along that they knew of the political backstory of the Steele dossier.

Meanwhile, per North Star, none of these alt-Trumpistan folks have put the Nunes Memo and Trump's support for it in larger context of Trump's personalized attacks on law enforcement that don't agree with him.

So, Liberal Values needs to have an extended excerpt to show just what a smart "third side" looks like:
There certainly might be grounds to question both the initial surveillance and the continued renewal of FISA warrants for the surveillance of Page (as is required every ninety days).  However, if the Republicans see abuses re FISA, why did they overwhelmingly just recently vote to renew it and expand surveillance? It is hard to take seriously Republican concerns today regarding surveillance when they have been such strong supporters of mass surveillance. 
It is not even clear if Carter Page is very significant with regards to Robert Muller’s investigation considering he is not one of those who have been indicted or who has entered into a plea agreement with Muller. 
The release of the memo does serve as a reminder of the dishonesty of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, which had denied for months their role in paying for the Steele dossier. They very well might have violated federal election rules, and should be investigated for this. However, that is a separate matter, and is hardly enough to discredit investigations into money laundering and obstruction of justice within the Trump administration. On the other hand, the attempts by Democrats to fabricate a case, contrary to all the evidence to date, that the election was stolen from Clinton due to a conspiracy between Trump and Russia, is likely to ultimately help Trump distract from his actual crimes. 
The real significance of the Nunes memo is not the content, but how it is used. If it is used to reform mass surveillance it could be a good thing–but that is very unlikely to happen by the hypocritical Republicans. The greatest fear is that Trump will use the Republican spin not only to undermine the credibility of the investigation but to justify another Saturday Night Massacre.
I presume the Consortium News'nothingburgers over a nothingburger will die down at some point. How long that will take, I don't know.

Ray McGovern
(UPDATE, Feb. 19: It's gonna take a while, at least with McGovern. He's got a new piece still calling the Nunes Nothingburger delicious. Specifically, he uncritically praises Nunes' threat yesterday of prosecuting FBI agents and others connected to the Mueller investigation. It's laughable to compare Nunes to Otis Pike. I'm sure that he [and Ray] are NOT concerned about civil liberties violations of the indictment, unlike me.

Additional update, May 17: Senate Intelligence Committee on this issue shows more intelligence than Nunes [and hack lieutenant Mike Conaway] has and than McGovern is currently demonstrating)

I also presume that we're likely to get new nothingburgers over new nothingburgers soon enough.

I will finally presume that Consortium News will lose readers over this. Whether the importation of Caitlin Johnstone groupies (or possibly even more, if other writers like ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller are asked to contribute to the boneyard) offsets that, I don't know. (And Haller now has.)

Since I will be one of those lost readers at that point, I won't care, either.

Unfortunately, I now notice that someone who SHOULD know about third sides, 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, has chosen at Counterpunch to pretty much frame this in terms of two-sided "Deep State vs Trump" as well. That said, this is not the first time Baraka has "struggled for separation" on an issue like this.

Disobedient Media is another glue-sniffer.  That said, Per MediaBias FactCheck's analysis of it, that doesn't surprise me. (That, OTOH, is a good website.) Its information content is general factual, but its framing of this is usually biased, if not highly biased, and definitely toward Wingnutistan.

Plus, like some other of these "gnu media" places, its name is simply fucking pretentious.

I have a few Twitter friends who retweet it. I haven't yet decided whether or not to mute it.

The Anti-Media is another one with a pretentious name. And, not for wingnuttia, but simple lack of factual information, plus a dollop of conspiracy thinking framing, its reputation is even worse.

Sadly, that's another that a few friends at least used to retweet.

Update, April 19: Ray McGovern goes on another idiotic rant, saying that 11 random House GOP Congresscritters (not united by coming from House Intell or any other single committee) throwing shit at the wall by making criminal referrals to strawman people, a list which has now been expanded to include Sally Yates, should be taken seriously, that the "corporate media" are slacking even more than normal, and in conspiratorial dulcet tones, asking "Will the Constitution hold"?

My response:
Well, given that Cohen has withdrawn his suits against Fusion and BuzzFeed (which Ray conveniently omits), which in turn may give credence that Mueller does have proof that Cohen was lying about not going to Prague. (Update: McClatchy hasn't offered confirmation on that, no other major media has followed it, and today's McClatchy is NOT that of 10-15 years ago.)
And, we've already been down the "mislead the FISA Court," Ray. 
And, also along those lines, the 11 Rethugs can make all sorts of "referrals." Nice to pull Sally Yates in the mix. (If she's actually guilty of anything, it's of telling Dear Leader not to pardon or even commute the sentence of Leonard Peltier before he left office, and I'm sure nobody in the House GOP gives a damn about Leonard Peltier.) 
The "corporate media" is probably silent because this is even nuttier than Nunes. It's not the Rethug majority of House Intell or any other House committee. It's just 11 random Republicans throwing shit at a wall. 
There. Fixed it for you, Ray.
God, he's a nutter at times.

Worse yet? He says, per Wiki, that he voted for Stein. Tis true; here's his official endorsement on his website. So, allegedly, he shouldn't be engaging in two-siderism.

All we need now is one of these 11 going Dan Burton and shooting watermelons in a backyard.

Update, May 30: As much of a Hillary hater inside Congress as Trey Gowdy now says that McGovern, Johnstone, ShirtLost DumbShit Zach Haller, Jared Beck and the many others practicing two-siderism are simply wrong on one specific issue connected to Nunes' brain fevers. Gowdy says the FBI informant seeking info from inside the Trump campaign on Russia connections issues was perfectly proper.

Of course, the glue-sniffers may claim that Gowdy's been "turned." And no, that wouldn't surprise me.

==

Sadly, two-sidesism at Consortium News appears to be growing. Sharon Tenison's attempted normalization of Putin, and the commentariat there, are laughable. You write a whole piece like this without the name of Litvinenko? Oh, and Sharon? "Russian culture" is not the same as "Vladimir Putin."

Here, "Idries Shah-ism" would point out things I already know:
1. The US manipulating Russia's 1996 Yeltsin re-election
2. The US shock wavers manipulating Russia's economy
3. Clinton breaking oral pledges by Poppy Bush not to expand NATO eastward.

It would at the same time note Putin's poisoning of Litvinenko, Putin's failure to fully control Russian alcoholism problems (despite Tenison trying to claim he has) and attending continuing decline in male life expectancy, his tight control over Russian society (Tenison also didn't mention the Pussy Riot arrests, the "bracketing" of Navalny and other things) and the fact that he's made himself a president-for-life.

These are all basic facts on the ground.

And, from inside Russia, Putin has been a skilled bureaucratic infighter since his first election in 2000. In fact, it was that same bureaucratic infighting that let him shove aside previous favorites of Yeltsin and emerge as Boris' final fair-haired boy. The relatively non-Russophobe Christian Science Monitor reflected some of these same current bureaucratic changes, namely, Putin's rapproachment with siloviki, back in 2015.

Other than confusing Vladimir Putin with Russian culture, I almost wonder if Tenison didn't get a bit of Potemkin village treatment.

Meanwhile, Parry fils had a post after this with more stuff about the "new" Consortium News. Said they'd been getting trolled on Twitter. I said I hadn't trolled, but that I had commented both there and on Twitter about them engaging in two-sidesism and how I had no real use for Johnstone.

And, this is obviously part of the Deep State's conspiracy against Trump:
Denying these poor people security clearances!

February 02, 2018

#WayTooSoon hot take on 2019 Cooperstown eligibiles

Now that Chipper JonesJim ThomeVladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman have been voted into the Hall of Fame, with my take on that here, what lies ahead for those on the 2019 ballot? (If David Schoenfield can offer his take on next year this, so can I.)

Starting with returning players, first, let's take the "gold dust twins," or "roid shot twins," Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both were in the mid-50s this year, up just a couple of percentage points from last year. Don't expect either to break 60 percent next year.

Other returnees who had been on the ballot already?

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

Mike Mussina approached 65 percent. With five years of eligibility left, he seems a good shot to make it, and possibly next year. I'll put 60-40 odds in his favor for 2019 and that may be conservative.

Now, let's look at who will be new on that ballot.

Mariano Rivera is a lock next year, but if you look at first-year candidates on next year's ballotRoy Halladay is the only other semi-possible one I see. Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte are the only two other players with 52 WAR or more.

Helton, like Larry Walker, may face anti-Coors Field bias even though WAR does park neutralization. Plus, he had an early decline for playing a "light" position like 1B.

Pettitte has never struck me as HOF material. But, if Jack Fricking Morris can get veterans to vote him in based on one game, and ignoring sabermetrics, maybe Andy can get voters to do the same because he's a Yankee with lots of postseason games. If he's above 37 percent, he's got a shot with the voters.

Speaking of?

Mr. 37 percent of this year, Omar Vizquel, has too much uncritical love from the aforementioned Schoenfield and other writers. I worry what that portends for a Hall candidacy that is little more worthy than that of Jack Fricking Morris.

Two other first-year players on the ballot will return for 2019. Former Cardinals and Reds third-sacker Scott Rolen barely broke the 10 percent mark. 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.)

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. With a weak class of 2019 first year players, he and Rolen will stick for another year. And, for people who question modern calculations of total zone runs and defensive runs saved, does he really have more than Ozzie Smith or Mark Belanger? (He's also hurt by playing his last full season at age 30 and having less career offensive value than the Wiz.)

Beyond Halladay, Helton and Pettitte, I don't see any other first-year players of next year breaking 5 percent. (Sorry Big Puma Lance Berkman.) If the gold dust twins stay steady, besides the trio I expect to enter Cooperstown, Curt Schilling likely benefits the most, possibly passing both of them to 60 percent.

And, on the alleged self-enhancers, otherwise?

Baseball purists will note that the Hall of Fame has a morals clause as justification for keeping them out.

Their defenders will note the morals clause is selective. Besides past players like Ty Cobb with less than stellar characters (although Cobb almost certainly was NOT the racist his first biographer made him out to be), three managers who ran teams with likely steroid users on them — the Joe Torre who managed Clemens, along with Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox — are already in the Hall. So is former Commissioner Bud Selig, who presided over the whole steroids era mess.

Ideally, I'd like to see Bud and the Three Managing Amigos all booted. In reality? Yes, the commissioner and managers overlooked this, but the players made their choices first. Big Mac was roiding, in all likelihood, well before the 1994 strike. And here's someone who agrees.

Per George Mitchell himself, the gold dust twin had their chance to try to clear their names when mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Both declined, and Clemens even went on to lie about that.


January 31, 2018

Texas Progressives discuss pre-primary #txpolitics

The Texas Progressive Alliance bets you failed to be as bored by the State of the Union address AND the official minority response as it was brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff shakes his head at the lawsuit filed by Republicans in Dallas County to knock 128 Democratic candidates off the primary ballot.

SocraticGadfly takes a look at recent issues surrounding Chelsea Manning and suggests she might be a celebrity candidate, social media and cyberworld division.

Brains and Eggs offered up Part 4 in his Resistance vs Revolution series.

Neil at All People Have Value wondered how it came to be a big giant gun out in the open is fine, but sticks on a banner need to be addressed by law enforcement. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Dos Centavos notes that Dreamers as well as the Wall are in the middle of a big tussle.

Lewisville Texan Journal notes that a self-identified former conservative Republican has become some sort of progressive Democrat to run for a state House seat.

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

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

At the Dallas Observer,  
Tory Gattis finds nothing to panic about in Amazon's rejection of Houston for its HQ2.


Offcite writes on the intersection of immigration and food.

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez demands immediate action on DACA.

The TSTA Blog calls out Greg Abbott's lousy job on dealing with the special education limits.

Grits for Breakfast fact checks claims about the incarceration rates of 17-year-olds.

Texas Vox discusses climate change and the upcoming primary.

-->
Pro Publica looks at alleged kickbacks for building a Texas section of Trump’s fucken wall.

January 29, 2018

#Cardinals crickets over Brew Crew moves

First, a friendly reminder to John Mozeliak that the Cardinals did not finish second in the NL Central last year.

They were THIRD — also behind the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Birds made a good move with trading for Marcell Ozuna (with a decent give-back to Miami of Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra, Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano). Unfortunately, either Christian Yelich (who I preferred) either wasn't available at the time, or else Mo wouldn't pay the asking price.

Also, unfortunately, the Brewers have now done that (which sending a good package of prospects, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Isan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto back to Miami).

They've now topped that with signing Lorenzo Cain as a free agent. While some folks at places like MLBTradeRumors are wondering if it's an overpay, I don't think so. While it does take the team one year deeper into Cain's age than the Cardinals' similar contract with Dexter Fowler a year ago, it's for a bit less money, has only a partial no-trade at the end of it —

And Cain is a better player.

I suspect that Derek Jeter did offer Yelich already a month ago. Price might have been a bit higher than now, but not that much. And I suspect Mo took a deliberate pass. I'm not sure what names would add up to equivalent value from St. Louis but I rank the Brewers' package for Yelich about 25-03 percent or so higher than what the Cards gave for Ozuna.

Ryan Braun still has a decent bat and is available to the Brew Crew for three more years plus a team option at $15M. In short, the Brew know what they've got out there for years to come and can build elsewhere. (Or — and with his willingness — Braun can move to first base. That presumably means Eric Thames, with a relatively low contract, gets moved, presumably for pitching. Of course, that presumes Keon Broxton will improve that much in the outfield.)

Meanwhile, Official.Cardinals.Media.™, aka the Post-Dispatch, has nothing in its own analysis of the move, or of Mo's comments a week ago that the team was generally satisfied now, and if that's still the case. No interview with Mo. Bupkis. Indeed, in Slide 12 of this slideshow, Jose de Jesus Ortiz claims that with Yelich, but not yet with Cain, the Cards of 2018 were still better than the Brew.

Update: Rick Hummel, who generally continues to fall lower in my estimate of P-D writers and columnists, claims the Brewers' pitching problems will keep them behind the Cards. This is even while admitting Mo is standing pat on a staff in flux in St. Louis. He then claims Cain and Fowler are "similar players." Cain has three 5-WAR years; Fowler has none. And, while Cain showed some decline in center field last year, he's still a plus defender, and Miller Field, being smaller than Kaufman, will help him extend his career there.

Hummel then goes on to claim the Cards have the best pitcher in the division. Yes, Carlos Martinez may have better stuff than Jon Lester or Kyle Hendricks, assuming Jake Arrietta doesn't return to Chitown, but he hasn't translated that into results yet.

Also, if one values consistency, he's wrong about Ozuna being better than Yelich.

Bernie Miklasz, while thinking the Crew overpaid somewhat for Yelich, also indicates he thinks the Cards may now be looking up again.

And, one of Bernie's ESPN Radio compadres, agrees with Bernie even more strongly. Indeed, Kevin Wheeler thought the Brewers were even with the Cards BEFORE the Yelich and Cain moves. Interestingly, Wheeler also expects Cain to go to right and Yelich to play center. I can see that in another year, but think the Brewers don't want to shuffle that much this year, and Cain is still a plus defender. (In his career, Yelich has been modestly above average in left, and modestly below average in center.)