SocraticGadfly: 4/22/18 - 4/29/18

April 28, 2018

Will Spurs trade Kawhi Leonard?
Here's four possible new locales

Kawhi Leonard — gone
from San Antonio?
Is the San Antonio tenure of all-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard at an end, with his not only not playing in the playoffs but literally not even showing up, as I have discussed in detail?

As Woj noted a few days ago, this is surely the Spurs' No. 1 issue, and one they will likely address as soon as coach Gregg Popovich is at a reasonable point in the process of mourning his wife's passing. The options are three – trade him, keep him but without a supermax extension, or given him the full palooza. (That said, per some new Woj, the relationship may not be broken.)

I honestly don't see a supermax, given what Pops said after game two against the Warriors, linked in my original piece. And, I honestly don't see Kawhi wanting to say without one.

So, that leaves a trade.

(Update, June 15: Kawhi, according to Yahoo's Shams Charania, wants out. On Twitter, Woj says the Lake Show is his preferred destination.

Update, June 19: Leonard and Pops finally had that long-awaited meeting. And ... Kawhi said he'd been deliberately dodging Pops and didn't like either Pops or Tony Parker for comments he felt weren't supportive of him. 

Lemme see ... the TP comments came after that player meeting shortly before the playoffs, the one where he said "my injury's worse"? Well, at least on paper, it WAS worse. Surprised he didn't throw Manu under the bus when Ginobili essentially said "He's dead to me for this season."

This is broken. Trade his ass. If he's hide-bound to go to LA in a year, trade him, even if not to either the Lake Show or the Clips. Get what you can.)

ESPN offers four possible good options, including the one Dwyane Wade first mentioned — the Celtics.

(Update, June 13: Red Satan has now expanded this to seven options in a new post, including two different Celtics trades, and tweaked the suggested return from the Sixers and Lakers.)

The other three? The Lake Show, Wade's own Heat, and the Sixers.

IMO, the Sixers offers the best deal for both teams. Markelle Fultz gets out from potential ongoing scrutiny in Philly and improves the Spurs backcourt a lot, if he gets anywhere near his potential. Dario Saric adds somebody younger to the team, with a fair upside, especially if he can play a stretch 5 in the occasional small ball lineup.. Jerryd Bayless is a nothingburger, really, but would offer additional depth at guard if Tony Parker joins Manu Ginobili in retiring sooner rather than later, and besides, the ESPNers say that Brandon Paul should go back to the Sixers. But, the Lakers' first-round draft choice is big.

I call it medium risk, high reward for both teams. (The revised version has Covington instead of Saric; it would be no worse.)

Second in order of favor? Kawhi and Patty Mills to the Heat.

Coming back? Goran Dragic headlines a package of Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo.

Even more than the Sixers trade, this makes the Spurs younger, setting aside Dragic.

ESPN says he would mesh well with LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as dramatically improving them at the point. Well, yes, but ...

He's never been fantastic on D and he's been in the league a full decade.

Let's look at the rest of the package.

Adebayo, a rookie with upside, would be a nice addition. But, the Heat would have to decide whether they want to trade him given production and mindset falloff from Hassan Whiteside. Winslow is nice, though I'm not as sold on him as ESPN is, and I note he lost minutes this year compared to last year. Not good for a third-year player. Richardson might be a younger, more athletic Danny Green.

Risk is medium to medium-high for the Spurs. Return is probably the same.

Risk is medium for Miami, maybe medium-low if Whiteside can be encouraged to get his act together.

Third? Kawhi to Boston for Kyrie Irving plus Boston's first-round pick, and whatever else Pops can get.

First, though he has no no-trade, would Kyrie like this? More immediately first, his knee has to check out as well as Kawhi's tendon. Second, would Danny Ainge do this?

Fourth? The Lake Show. Kawhi straight up for Brandon Ingram. (The revised version has three players and would be better for the Spurs.)

No. I'm not that impressed by Ingram. Lakers gotta throw me more than that.

From the Spurs POV? Focusing only on desirability, not likelihood, I give the Sixers trade an A, the Heat one a B/B+, the Celtics a B and the Lakers a D.

And, in the spirit of that, I offer a fifth, with two options.

The Pelicans, as ESPN notes here, need to decide whether to give Boogie Cousins a supermax, or some lesser extension, or let him walk a year from now.

Rather than resigning Cousins for a mid-level contract and trading him to another team for a wing player and a draft pick, it would be a resigned Cousins plus the Pellies first-rounder going to San Antonio for Kawhi. If that seems a bit high, the Spurs can throw in somebody like Brandon Paul, or give back their second-rounder.

That drastically changes the Spurs on both sides of the ball, no doubt. They become slower at times on offense, and more problematic defensively.

But, a healthy Cousins could hit the three-ball. He rebounded and blocked shots.

I give this one a C.


Sidebar: I wouldn't be totally surprised if Pops retires. I think odds, to the degree I would estimate odds, are against, but it wouldn't surprise me.


Sidebar 2: ESPN reports on the background of the semi-split. It notes changes in Kawhi's sports agency team are part of the problem. Bigger problem, some might say, is his Uncle Dennis. His rejection of a new Nike contract, for example, to me makes him sound like a junior version of Daddy Ball. And, we all know how brilliant LaVar Ball is. Just ask him.


Sidebar 3/May 9 update: ESPN suggests another trade, with Leonard and Gay going to the Raptors for DeRozan and and other pieces. I would rate this a C.

April 26, 2018

Newspaper bingo – community papers division

A few weeks ago, after Chris Tomlinson and some other staffers at the Houston Chronic joked about it, I did a "newspaper bingo – Texas MSM division" blog post. (I included a bit of radio and TV too.)

Now, in less joking fashion, it's time for what the header says. Here's your bingo card, with explainer below.

(I originally built it with the same color scheme as the Texas MSM bingo. But, when I opened the PDF in Photoshop to j-peg it, I decided to do an inverse as well. I like it enough I'm using the inverse.)

This bingo is inspired by personal reality.

When did it become a "thing" for newspapers to run ads more than the customer desired, then bill them for the extra runs? (Until and unless a customer notices, that is.)

And, in my opinion, to state those magic words, I don't think it's being done by accident. I of course cannot read minds. So it has to remain my opinion, which remains protected by the good old First Amendment.

Look, through laziness or whatever, I can see a classified ad simply staying on a classified page an extra week at a small-town non-daily paper. But, with ad billing software programs, the customer should only be billed for the number of runs purchased. That is of course true assuming the insertion order clearly says "one run," or "1x," or similar.

I know of this happening at one pair of papers. Personal contact with customers. Both classified AND display ads. On the one case, it ran 6x instead of 1x. Been told it might have happened before. Suspect it's happened nearby. Heard that it's not just an issue with one newspaper company.

I can't say anything more, for various reasons.

But, where I know it's happening? I wouldn't do business with that paper, let alone with a sister paper, if you put a gun to my head.


If you're a newspaper customer, and this happens, and you suspect that, in your opinion, or ear to the street, it is part of a pattern? Rather than just fighting to get your money back, consider legal alternatives. Even if you do get your money back and you have the time, the money, and a lawyer willing to do discovery.

Or, better yet? Rather than threatening suit, file a criminal complaint for credit/debit card abuse. Under section (b)(1)(A) there, I believe an offense has been committed in such cases, and mental intent does not have to be legally proven. And, here in Texas, per that link, it's a state jail felony. (That said, intent will be in the center of jurors' mind if that goes to a jury trial, and probably in a judge's mind, too. With that said, good luck getting a county or district attorney to file a case.)

Tip 2? Sure, it's fine for a newspaper, like your grocer, to want to be paid in advance. If you're going to pay by credit card, just pay for that ad. You do not have to leave a card number on file.


If you're a newspaper publisher, or owner of a group, and don't like the possibility of being tarred with a broad brush?

You have two options.

The first is to call out your newspaper peers. Not by name, of course, even for places where you've heard of this practice being done. But, yes, call them out. Not in an op-ed in your paper, of course. That does nothing. Try the TPA Messenger or whatever state newspaper association trade letter exists in your state, or Publisher's Auxiliary or whatever.

The second is to adopt a public policy at your paper, if you're a publisher, or your group, if you're an owner, if this practice spreads at all. Something like:

"We will give you double your money back for any overbilling for advertising runs you did not authorize."

Then, internally, make repeat violations, even if you can't prove intent, a fireable offense.

And, speaking of the TPA Messenger, one could argue for TPA to be more proactive.

At this time, I suspect it's a tiny minority. But, a minority of 1 is one too many.

April 24, 2018

TX Progressives say ixnay to Southwest,
talk elections, Earth Day, Alex Jones

With this week's lefty blog post roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance won't be flying Southwest Airlines for awhile.  Not even for five grand in cash and another G in flight vouchers, thanks.

In that *ahem* spirit, Socratic Gadfly looked at Southwest's fatal engine blowout and sees it as a continuation of past bad practices

High Plains Public Radio reports -- and links to more in the Houston Chronicle ($) -- regarding the Texas gerrymandering lawsuit, with opening arguments before the Supreme Court this morning.  The Texas Observer posits that disgraced former Congressman Blake Farenthold was one of the undeserved beneficiaries of those goofy, and possibly illegal, maps.  And Alexa Ura of the TexTrib, at the SCOTUS today, has the explainer.  (Three weeks ago she reminded us why this 7-year-old-saga has everybody angry.)

To commemorate Earth Day, Texas Vox participated in EarthX in Dallas, with a seminar conducted by Public Citizen's David Arkush, called "Wake Up and Smell the Carbon!" And two leading Green Party members discuss environmental activism at Consortium News.

With the Ted Cruz-Beto O'Rourke faceoff taking center stage, Jonathan Tilove at the Austin Statesman's First Reading broke down some of Cruz's bellicose verbiage.  Off the Kuff analyzed that Quinnipiac poll, then scoffed at some of the more hysterical responses to it.  And Brains and Eggs recommended not betting on Beto this early.

Ted at jobsanger took the Q-poll's current affairs questions and bar-graphed them to reveal how Texas is s l o w l y changing into something a little less conservative.

 Ahead of Lewisville's municipal elections, the Texan Journal quantified the city's Power Voters.

In his weekly roundup of criminal justice news, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast collates the reports about the undocumented necropolis discovered at the shuttered state prison facility in Fort Bend County.

DBC Green blog took down Egberto Willies for that tired binary logic we've come to expect from Democrats with their blinders strapped on too tight.  He also posted Scott McLarty performing the same bodyslam on Robert Reich (who used the word 'siphon', as if elections were zero-sum.  Reich is too smart for such weak logic).

Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly reports on the the defamation lawsuits threatening the media empire of bombastic Infowars host Alex Jones, and Danny Gallagher at the Dallas Observer sees that Glenn Beck's company is tumbling down around him.

In book releases, Bud Kennedy at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram interviews Lawrence Wright, the author of the acclaimed God Save Texas.  And Gregg Barrios at the Texas Observer profiles Jorge Ramos and his manifesto for journalists.

ProPublica looks at Betsy DeVos' U.S. Department of Education spiking an investigation into racial disparity in school suspension.

The Dallas Observer reports Dallas cops continue to target minorities for pot smoking.

April 23, 2018

Ty Clevenger — Joey Dauben with a law degree?

Ty Clevenger, handout picture
In my opinion, that could be one good way to describe the caped-crusading lawyer from central Texas now removed to Brooklyn.

Clevenger, for the unfamiliar, runs the Lawflog blog. From what I know, based on having known of him for several years and having some familiarity with the area, it has a fair degree of accuracy on Hearne and Robertson County issues. (IMO, he's spot on about most of what he writes about the Robertson County News.) That said, as Clevenger is both a lawyer and a former journo, he knows just how far to push something on the side of opinion or speculation while getting close to calling it fact, or on stuff that is fact but controversial, he knows just how much legal footing he has.

Joey Dauben, the erstwhile "publisher" of several online "newspapers" in Ellis County, had a hazier view of such issues. But, he had no money to make it worth suing, though — or some people may have thought that. He was sued successfully over cybersquatting and ordered to pay fines that he probably never coughed up before the Texas Department of Criminal Justice gave him a decades-long seat in one of its Holiday Inns. More on that parallel with Clevinger below.

Speaking of, back to Clevenger.

The further away from Robertson County you get, the less trustworthy he is. He's a gun nut, from what I can tell on Twitter, enough of one to do the "David Hogg Hitler salute" meme and enough of one to call for armed teachers. He's also a Seth Rich conspiracy theorist and a MAGA-head, one who touts right-wing and even far-right-wing blogs. This too would surely parallel Dauben, were Dauben not in the custody of the state of Texas.

On Rich? Clevinger (who is more than too clever by half, I see what I did) has filed an FIOA lawsuit. They don't require "standing," of course. (Update, June 11: He's Ed Butowsky's lawyer, which partially explains his running down this rabbit hole. And, he's now butthurt that Aaron Rich has subpoeanaed his own Twitter account, among other things, as part of his well-called-for defamation suit against Butowsky and other wingnuts. And, with that, I'm wondering if Seth Rich's parents will further expand their suit, too. Per the original suit, Clevenger is attorney for America First Media Group, a total wingnut outfit whose name says something.)

And, Clevenger's butthurtness is self-inflicted, per that last link:
Mr. Rich’s parents filed a suit this week against Fox News, producer Malia Zimmerman, and frequent guest Ed Butowsky. I think that was a serious tactical error. All of the defendants now have the legal right to subpoena documents and witnesses, and you can be sure they will use that power aggressively.
Discovery cuts both ways, and is a bitch, Ty. 

(Update, Aug. 22: The trial court has dismissed the case, claiming lack of specificity. The family plans to appeal.)

Even more disgusting is the patronizing attitude of another wingnut outfit:
I had hoped we had reached a point in the evolution of this case that the family might want to support the discovery of the truth for their dear son.
Hey, Ty? If you had some more integrity, you'd repudiate BS like this. 

But, he's a full-on winger, like speaking at an event called MAGA Rising. (Pseudo-progressive and real wingnut Jared Beck spoke there too.

Of course, our legal beagle has one thing wrong from the start. Since the FBI is NOT investigating the death — that's still with DC Metropolitan Police — it's a non-starter (except to fuel conspiracy theories) to ask it, let alone the NSA et al, for files. Ditto on throwing Hillary in there. (See more on my blog post about Rich's parents suing Fox et al.)

(Per this good Seth Rich events timeline, the law enforcement who first said the FBI was involved withdrew that claim. Rod Wheeler then also withdrew it.)

Also, Ty, it's a false flag to tell Rich's parents "why not ask Wikileaks to turn stuff over." Assange ain't doing that, and you know that. Why don't you ask Assange instead?

It's even more a false flag to claim there's a conspiracy blocking Wikileaks from revealing anything. Really? Since when has Julian Assange felt constrained by anything? The reality is that about half of what Clevenger claimed in his initial filing is simply untrue; Rod Wheeler has said that multiple times.

Stick to Booger County Mafia, Ty. It's more fun watching your personal feud with Dennis Phillips play out.

Idries Shah
Meanwhile, I'm curious why some of the "other side" in Hearne tossed Ty aside after initially successfully using his services. I'm fairly sure that, even in a small town like this, this is yet another example of Idries Shah's famous utterance:
To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.
Unfortunately, the third, and beyond, sides, are usually quiet about their take on issues. And, if they're would-be mediators, they get flamed by the first and second sides. At other places, I've seen third sides and more on issues.

All of this adds up to make him less than 100 percent trustworthy even on Hearne issues, like that, and even given the reality of what I know about Hearne. There, even, he's ... he's Joey Dauben with a brain and a law degree. Or, a more acerbic, low-rent, wingnut Glenn Greenwald.

Clevinger reminds me a bit of Dauben in other ways. Dauben would cybersquat on misspelled versions of website URLs. Clevenger creates websites like "Booger County Mafia" and "Dirty Rotten Judges" then lets them expire after a year or so.

On the third hand, per TPM, as well as the link below, he does take on Republicans as well as Democrats. (On the back of the third hand, though, that's probably selective on the GOP; I doubt he'd ever take on a Tea Partier or Trumper.)

On the fourth hand, his care for women sexually harassed, let alone abused, by judges is hypocritically selective:
On the fourth hand in addition to this hypocrisy, I'm not sure how much in the way of civil rights case work he does, and how broadly he defines that term.

Then, there's other parallels with Dauben. One would be the idea that the law and the rule of law don't necessarily personally apply to him. While part of it may be contempt for being held in judicial contempt, he — he of liking to expose financial irregularities – owed $150K in judicial fines, until he negotiated the equivalent of a plea bargain to pay just $5K and not practice in DC Court any more for the $123K he was sanctioned there. Not sure if that $150K includes this $17K or not. Somebody needs to ask a court to freeze Clevenger's assets. And, beyond the barratry, Clevenger has a past history of legal fishing expeditions and of arguably misrepresenting his domicile, as at the same time he's listed as a Waco attorney in this May 2018 Twin Peaks story, he's been living in Brooklyn for what, a few years?

Related: When a lawyer friend gets a sexual-assault convicted cop off with no jail time, well, in that case, Ty won't break a sweat.

(Also, the $150K link, from the Snooze, started with him getting Denton County to launch a court of inquiry against former Dallas County DA Craig Watkins. It found nothing. Sadly, crusty curmudgeon Jim Schutze packed his own animus against Watkins.)

Yet another parallel, per this snarky tweet, is arguably anti-gay bigotry. I have no idea if, like with Dauben, there's any fire behind that smoke. Yes, he's married; that proves nothing. Ted Haggard was married when his gay sex scandal hit the fan, after all.

And, per tweets like this bashing Black Lives Matter, I'd argue that the fire of racism is behind that smoke. (Clevenger could say, "But, I've legally represented Hispanics and blacks in Hearne." I'd respond: "That proves nothing. You could be doing that just for your pound of flesh. Besides, have any of them seen your Twitter feed?" Beyond that, you represented them as city council members, not as individuals. On the third hand, at times, his representation of a minority appears truly sincere.)

Related to that? One brief pair of paragraphs at the very bottom of one long post is all Ty ever wrote about former Hearne officer Stephen Stem, fired after fatally shooting two civilians, in different incidents, in less than a full year on the job. Nor did Clevenger write a thing about Stem being no-billed by a Robertson County grand jury. Stem eventually lost his wrongful termination suit against the city, which Clevenger also won't tell you. Nor did he write about Stem's prior background.

Lemme know if one of your civil rights cases is for a gay person experiencing employment discrimination.

As for his claim that soon-to-be 82nd District Judge Bryan Russ is a career criminal, Clevenger's being too cute by far. First, he knows that something like a blog is considered a statement of opinion, not fact. (So is a Dennis Phillips column in the Robertson County News, misspellings, bad grammar and all.) Second, Russ and Clevenger seem to have about equal amounts of obfuscation in their backgrounds. Third, if he truly believed Russ — or current 82nd District Judge Richard Stem — were criminal in behavior, he's swear out a criminal complaint. Actually, he went before a grand jury — and lost. That's probably because, as I see it, petition signatures are not a government record. (This is not to say that neither Russ nor Stem isn't "shady" in one way or another. Nor is it to deny that perhaps Russ — like others in either Robertson or Falls counties — has committed civil fraud on real estate dealings. [Clevenger also knows the difference between civil and criminal fraud, and that real estate fraud, if it happened, as in mineral rights issues, isn't criminal fraud.])

Oh, not content with other sneers, Ty has this in one of his Russ screeds:
(A)cademia is better known these days for intolerance and closed-mindedness.
Followed by:
Mr. Russ is and always has been a Democrat, like Ms. Roe and all of the other Booger County Mafia kingpins. 
What, Ty? There's no Republican corruption anywhere, anytime? As for academia? Puhleeze. Christian fundamentalists don't like the open-mindedness of academia, let alone public universities teaching evolution, etc. Guess folks like Talking Points Memo only selectively read about you.

Beyond that, as another example from Twitter, he clearly thinks fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christianity is the only "real" type.

From Falls County, yeah, Ricky Scaman has about zero ethics. That said, I don't think the Pamplins have a lot more. And what a fucking spin doctor he is, as representing the Pamplins, to claim:
The Pamplins also settled their dispute with Scaman. Their settlement agreement included taking down a website Scaman claimed was libelous. 
“Scaman’s lawsuit was bogus, and if I was Mark Stratton, I wouldn’t have settled,” said attorney Ty Clevenger, who represented the Pamplins. “The Pamplins didn’t pay him anything. They didn’t pay him one dime. They just both agreed to walk away. My biggest criticism of Mark Stratton was that he brought a lawsuit with no merit in the first place. The Pamplins didn’t do anything that the First Amendment doesn’t give them the right to do.”
So, Ty, you're their attorney. You signed off on this settlement. Then you turn around and badmouth it? If that's not chutzpah on steroids .... If you really felt THAT confident, you would have countersued, given what I see as your reputation.
And, since this time, Scaman, a Republican, has had SHITLOADS of corruption.

And (this is getting more fun) Clevenger has allegedly smeared a school superintendent among his past legal barratry nefariousness.
After a joint college-district meeting March 2, Cooke said Clevenger approached her to ask why trustees were not yet made aware of his letter. She told him and Saccoccio the letter would be shared at the rescheduled March 4 board meeting. 
"They did not accept this explanation, and the next day began an email and text campaign against me and my board with unfounded allegations," she said.
So, this too means that his Robertson County claims are, to some degree, "he said, she said." AS this link shows. And, in other cases, again, people he represents legally eventually drop him.

I know that Brains, if not perhaps worshiping the ground he walks on, may think more highly of him than I do. (See his comment below.) That's perhaps because, in addition to his "Booger County Mafia" take on Hearne and Robertson County already being familiar to me years ago, some of his other stuff was also familiar to me.

Overall, Clevenger exemplifies my take on an old cliche: "Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my temporary ally of convenience and nothing more."

And, again, the bottom line is — his national-level conspiracy thinking and related undercut his local-level reliability to some degree.

At the state level, his "selectivity" is interesting. Is it because Abel Reyna was otherwise a "law and order" DA that Clevenger never blogged about the Twin Peaks post-shooting legal clusterfuck? (And, he didn't; I searched his blog; he did have that claiming to be a Waco attorney comment above, but that's different.) And, even his actions against District Judge Walter Smith were motivated in part by past politically-driven legal cases.

Relevant to today's political world, too — Clevenger is on record, and cited in a book, as thinking that illegal immigration fosters gangsterism (footnote 229)

Hey, Ty ... you're getting into Actual Flatticus territory now.

But, none of this should be taken as implying that the Phillipses have a high degree of ethics in running papers in Hearne or Marlin. I have enough direct knowledge there, in addition to what Clevenger wrote 3-4 years ago, when he paid more attention to Hearne.

That said, Clevenger didn't write that much about the Phillipses themselves when I was in Marlin before. I might have been more forewarned about moving back if he had.

That's because he doesn't want to, if it's more than low-hanging fruit. I'd given him material ... hints, if not directly. He chose never to run with it.

The reality is Ty Clevenger and Dennis Phillips are kind of made for each other and kind of deserving each other.


Oct. 4: Clevenger is doubling down on Seth Rich conspiracy theories to the point that he tries to get Aaron Rich's attorney to have ex parte conversation with him (a legal term, Ty), and "assumes facts not in evidence" (a legal term, Ty) in claiming Rich-Wikileaks connections. And as of March 2019, he's basically filed a SLAPP lawsuit against Seth Rich's parents attorneys. And then hid his ass by claiming he doesn't have time to blog about it. And the shyster knows there's no federal anti-SLAPP law.

As cheering section support for that, Ty cites an online rag run by people who are in one case, a Christian identitarian, and in another, an Obama birther.

July 24, 2020: Clevenger et al now want to have a totally new round of discovery. Proving that he, and his client, are both Seth Rich conspiracy theorists, they both want that discovery to include a nameless former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who is almost surely Assange toady Craig Murray.