SocraticGadfly: 5/20/18 - 5/27/18

May 25, 2018

Amy Chozick puts Peter Principle of MSM
on full display with 'Chasing Hillary'

Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass CeilingChasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling by Amy Chozick
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book had hit the one-star level WELL before the finish line, but I slogged through so you don't have to. This is going to be an extended version of what I originally posted on Goodreads.

First, no index? Any nonfiction book, other than something like a self-help manual, without an index, even one written as breezily as this, without an index? Automatic loss of a star. That's in part because I do that in general with no-index books, but here in particular, the lack of an index undercuts the book's claims to seriousness.

Second, that breeziness. (And, that doesn't count the personal bias in political reporting, nor the way that personal bias is waved like a wet dishrag. Nor does it count that [although the title should have given this away, I guess in hindsight] that this is part of the book being about Chozick as much as Clinton.)

Now, let's get to the real mistakes, and the biggies, that torpedoed this baby.

First, her "Berniebros"? I'm not saying Chozick didn't get some of the Tweets she claims. BUT! ... She makes it look like about EVERY Sanders backer was one of these strawman stereotype Berniebros. Beyond that, post-election at least, donut Twitter has enough vileness in it that it probably doesn't have much to learn from the alt right.

All of this, in turn — the reality vs. Chozick's framing — gets back to the bias above.

Second, a clearly proven error. In chastising Robbie Mook for being a tightwad, she claims on page 152 that the Clinton campaign gave some of its leftover money to Jill Stein's recount effort.

This made me say "huh?" in part because I'm a Green voter and had never heard of such a thing.

I checked around with Green friends, and sure enough, untrue. Clinton's campaign had talked about sharing some data/data crunching, but I'm not sure it did that. NEVER gave money.

And, really, couldn't give much anyway.

Federal Elections Commission says that one political campaign CANNOT give another more than $2,000. Amy, took me a 30-second Google to find that.

Third, the Clinton Foundation has had actual ethics problems, and even more than other people at your paper have reported, Amy.

Fourth, yes, incomes for the middle class as well as the upper class did go up under Bill Clinton. But, income inequality still increased. Hell, middle class incomes went up under Shrub, too. And income inequality increased, and more than under the Slickster. This is also easily verifiable, and the way Chozick made her statement came off as PR first, journalism distant second. (At least, real journalism.)

Fifth, Chozick has several cover-ups by omission on foreign policy issues. She has no mention that Bill Clinton broke the promise of Poppy Bush, Helmut Kohl and other NATO members not to expand NATO eastward. She also doesn't mention Clinton's interference in Russian elections. (Sidebar: Perhaps, and far more subtly than with sacks of money, Shrub Bush and Obama did more of the same that we don't know about yet.)

Sixth, nothing but a brief mention of Clinton's emails, and nothing of her private server. Related? Chozick takes her paper's default stance on "Russiagate."

Seventh is the "reveal" by Chozick of how the Times was in the tank for Clinton, despite Bill claiming an anti-Clinton conspiracy by the Times. The "reveal" is keyed by the Times holding a story about the clusterfuck of our intervention in Libya until after the South Carolina primary. (Nothing new there, though; remember, it held a story about Shrub Bush's snooping on Americans until after he was re-elected.)

The reveal itself is nice. There's no real critical take on this bias by Chozick, though. Nor does she critically examine her own bias, starting with fawning over the idea of the "FWP," as she routinely abbreviates First Woman President.

As for her claim to be an agent of Russian intelligence by reporting on hacked emails? First, the first emails were likely stolen by Seth Rich or someone else inside DNC, not hacked by Russians. Second, per a good piece by Jack Shafer, any Russian activity was only background noise. Plus, the NYT reporters who got the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg weren't agents of North Vietnam or whatever, Shafer notes.

My take on this point? Chozick's trying to extend her Warholian 15 minutes of fame. Of course, that's the big picture point of the whole book, isn't it?

With all of those major, and minor, errors, it was easy to one-star.

That said, she does give us an occasional look at the NYT background, like the snooty arrogance of people at the home office seeming to assume that there's only one time zone in the US.

As for my subhead? Per the likes of Charles Pierce at the Esquire, plenty of real journalists, reporters and editors at newspapers out in the heartland, could do a better job than Chozick, and probably than several others, at the Times. I am personally sure of this.

Anyway, it's clear that that the Beltway/Acela Corridor MSM has problems. This is a good illustration but still the tip of an iceberg.

And, The Slickster and Failed Would-be President (Chozick's FWP) still think the Times hated them? When they had a Hillary-token feminist reporting? (Chozick is smart enough to recognize that Hillary's feminism, like that of most her Hillbot supporters, is selective. She also notes the Slickster deliberately went Sister Souljah on Black Lives Matter. Must give credit for something. She gets half credit for noting sexism and even sexual harassment on the Clinton campaign trail by the "guys" who ran her campaign; misses full credit for not reporting it in live time. Not reporting it because she believed in Hillary as FWP, even while noting Hillary tolerated this, cuts it to one-quarter credit.)

Meanwhile, the Times panders to Clinton supporters, then to counterbalance that, foists the likes of Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss on all of us.

View all my reviews

May 24, 2018

Loopy Lupe Valdez craps the bed again

Sorry, can't put a politer title on the post than that, after learning that she owes $12K in back due property taxes.

But wait, that's not all!

On her financial disclosure forms, she failed to list one property and has incorrect names for two companies.

But wait, that's not all!

She says she's paying off the taxes on a monthly basis —

Because she can't afford to pay them all at once. On her $139K sheriff's salary until she resigned in December. 

And that's not counting what she makes off any of these companies. Or any investments, federal pension, etc.

And, speaking of portfolios, we have another Democratic candidate who, on financial issues, isn't that populist:
Online property tax records show Valdez personally owns or has an interest in 15 properties — including her two-story Oak Cliff homestead and several other houses along with several vacant lots — and has not fully paid taxes on six in Dallas County and one in Ellis County.
And, the "vacant lots" could lead to a quasi-slumlord question.

Meanwhile, for properties listed in her personal name, not whatever companies she has, Dallas County Appraisal District says they're not worth that much. The Snooze claims two of the properties, 2608 Bakersfield and 2635 Chalmers, are the same property with two different address listing, according to a Valdez spox. But DCAD has them listed with vastly different values. At a minimum, the Snooze needs to do an explainer ASAP on whatever folo it has. There's also the one property where her partner, Lindsay Browning, is listed first, but they're listed as 50-50 owners for what is their primary residence. (Also interesting is that that property is listed as 711 Edgefield, but the couple's address is listed as 707 Edgefield, which means DCAD may indeed be a bit goofy at times.) A bit more about their relationship is here.

(Update, May 28: As far as I can tell, the Snooze has no explainer or update on the two addresses, allegedly same property, but different valuations issue. And, with its semi-hard paywall, it is harder for me to search than before.)

Ellis County Appraisal District lists one property in her name at approximately $82,000. And on descriptor, lists her mailing address as the Dallas office of the Texas Veterans' Land Board, presumably due to a VLB mortgage or similar. The C/S after her name is presumably for conditional sale.

But, that's not all.

This is just another example of 14 years of craptacular political management.

Lew Sterrett out of compliance longer under her than under Jim Bowles et al.

Her showboating CNN on a Lew Sterrett tour when it was not yet in compliance and not giving political patron John Wiley Price or the rest of the Dallas County Commissioners Court a heads-up.

Those events and more I witnessed during my years at suburban Dallas newspapers, as I noted when she announced her candidacy. That includes getting sued for false imprisonment.

And that Snooze link has the same Valdez spox, Juan Bautistsa Dominguez, claiming he had the same late payment issues in 2015.

That's not a defense; that's a further admission of incompetence.

And, it didn't stop when she announced her run for governor. (See two polls at top right for how you think she'll do in the general election.)

She's had plenty of misstatements and stumbles during the Dem primary.

She's now blaming all of this, via Dominguez, on Greg Abbott having too high of property taxes, when property taxes aren't even set by Austin.

Her seeming cluelessness about how government works if she really believes that. (And, about half of her taxes would be city and county, NOT school district, therefore she can't even blame Abbott indirectly, for not funding schools, for half of this, if she's honest.)

Dominguez also claims property taxes are "unpredictable."

Yet another plea of incompetence, or of Valdez being out of touch with local government. And, if it's a veiled protest that property taxes in the Metromess are "unpredictable" because valuations rise so quickly, THAT is playing right into Abbott's hands on calls for valuation rate hike caps.

This also goes back to Texas Democratic Party head Gilberto Hinojosa.

Shouldn't he, by now, have forced some "handlers" onto the Valdez campaign staff? She IS his handpicked candidate. And, she couldn't do Oppo Research 101.

Per the timing on this information coming out two days after the runoff, if it is in part a tempest in a teapot, her handling of it doesn't make it look that way.

And, as for getting suburban independent voters in Texas' big cities? Forget it.

Many such voters, seeing that she was an officer in the Army and management-level as a federal detective, will probably wonder if she got Peter Principle advances due to tokenism.

I don't think that's true, but ... IMO, we're at a level where I have to say that it's not unreasonable for people to wonder such things.

And, that's another reason I'm a leftist not a liberal and that I try not to have too much white liberal guilt, per Doug Henwood.


And, disagreeing with Kuff, I think her campaign might be a small boat anchor on Beto. I note he framed that issue narrowly, so I'll say now it will be a bigger anchor on Lege races.

May 23, 2018

Tired of trying to understand conservatives?

A number of people have recently written about that.

My take is different.

A certain amount of red-state "everyday" conservatives are easy to understand. I get fears of your economic future. I also "get," while rejecting, bashing immigrants for doing jobs that white Americans won't — or bashing Obama as a secret Muslim, etc.

It's called being a mudsill, which I have written about here, here and here. (I have at least one further installation, and probably two, if not more, already planned.)

I halfway get believing in trickle-down economics. You've been brainwashed over nearly 40 years now, and you've also been brainwashed to think the only reason it hasn't worked better is because of Clinton, Obama, Mezzcans and some black Americans.

Well, you let yourself be brainwashed at some point.

I get the intersection with neocons. Both of you believe that America is a Christian nation, unless you're a Jewish neocon, in which case you believe it's good that others believe this.

That's not going to get you 'everydays' a better job. It might get one of your kids signing up for another unnecessary war because he or she can't get a better job. It will get you more taxes, because the rich big-biz conservatives aren't going to pay for more bombs, more weapons and more wars themselves.

The big-biz conservatives are more cosmopolitan on social issues. Of course, they, as they shade into full-on libertarians at one end and into right-neoliberals at the other, are internationalists who don't care if America crumbles more as long as their stock and hedge fund portfolios continue to ride high.

What I do not get, the two-dimensional picture above (a generalization, but NOT a stereotype), is why some libruls (not leftists!) think listening tours or whatever are necessary. Like Arlie Russell Hochschild with "Strangers in Their Own Land." Conservatives in general will by no means become more open-minded because of this. And, they're certainly not going to reciprocate on open-minded listening tours.

So, why try?

I guess librulz think this is what they're supposed to do. And, they think that after understanding comes "respect." Wrong. And in the MSM, at the WaPost, surprisingly, Paul Waldman totally gets that that's a mug's game.
The right has a gigantic media apparatus that is devoted to convincing people that liberals disrespect them, plus a political party whose leaders all understand that that idea is key to their political project and so join in the chorus at every opportunity.
And Waldman is NOT some leftist. Maybe some librulz halfway get it.

Many don't, though. 

And, that's another reason why I'm a leftist.

Isaiah's "Come, let us reason together" applies to all parties, not just selectively.

And, the Trump Train doesn't want to reason. In many cases, it wants to play the martyr.

And, per Jaguar's comment and my response, that's the bottom line as I see it. And Trump's vocalness on both bigotry and misogyny has given them even freer reign to do this.

Beyond that, the real issue, which I failed to note?

Lack of reciprocity.

Show me a conservative, especially stereotypical Trump voter, who talks about trying to understand liberals, or beyond.

And, given that, I'll probably do a follow-up, with different header, and that idea, after my next couple of mudsills posts are in the hopper.

Sometimes, conservatives don't want to be understood, because they don't want to understand, or accept, reality.

Take Harley-Davidson, getting a ton of Trump Tax Scam breaks, then turning around and closing the plant in Kansas City, while announcing plans to open one in Bangkok.

Here's welder Tim Primeaux:
“I blame the company more than I blame the president," he said in the NBC News interview.
 I think the church has a blessing about this. Oh, yes –

"The self-willed ignorance that passes all understanding."


Update, March 8, 2019

is yet another reason this leftist, contra Arlie Russell Hochschild and fellow librulz, doesn't do "listening tours."

And actually, Trump autographing bibles (did he sign the first page of "Two Corinthians"? did he get his "cracker" [of the many crackers there]?) is only half as vulgar and one quarter as irreligious as the people who asked him for the autographs.

And, it's not just "the left" calling Trump out, contra fellow travelers at Red State:

That said, if Obama also did it, even for MLK's family, it's still theologically grotesque in my corner of the world.

But, that's Merikan Xianity.

May 22, 2018

TX Progressives talk Santa Fe shooting, runoffs

The Texas Progressive Alliance's heart wants actual action on gun control, male entitlement and cultural violence for the people of our state after the Santa Fe shooting as it brings you this week's roundup.

SocraticGadfly called out Greg Abbott for both hypocrisy and egotism after the Santa Fe shooting.

Casey Fleming, a teacher and grandparent of a gun violence victim, is tired and frustrated about all of the school shootings.

No More Mr. Nice Blog calls out the New York Times  for perpetuating myths about Texans’ attitudes toward guns.

Other progressive bloggers offered takes on other issues in this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at the potential for online voter registration in Texas in the wake of the "motor voter" lawsuit.

Jobsanger looked at early voting in the runoffs, while nationally, Five Thirty Eight offered its assessment.

The TSTA Blog says we should worry more about fake "education reform."

Pau Gasol pens an open letter about female coaches.

Jim Schutze laughs at the idea that Dallas’ new Trinity Forest golf course, new home of the just-concluded Byron Nelson, will get rich whites of north Dallas to get involved with south Dallas development.

Better Texas Blog warns of a lose-lose situation in the individual market for health insurance.

Jeff Balke has had it with the excuses drivers make for all of the fatal crashes with bicyclists.

Nonsequiteuse knows there's only one way we're going to bring about real change going forward.

Zachary Taylor called out the MSM for giving protection covereage to political thugs.

David Bruce Collins salutes the Senate’s reinstating of Net Neutrality but says it will be a tougher sled in the House.

May 21, 2018

Robinson Cano, the HOF and roiding

Robinson Cano
Three years ago, I wrote a piece about how Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano might have been overpaid in his big free-agent contract, with the first signs of slippage that weren't uncommon to second basemen, given that they suffer more defensive pounding than anybody except catchers.

I noted that Roberto Alomar's last good season was at age 33. Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker, both of whom should be with Alomar at Cooperstown, were only part-timers at the second sack after 35. Ryne Sandberg's last really good year was at age 32, his last semi-good one at 33, and his first retirement one third of the way into his age-34 year. Rod Carew had more WAR at second, but moved to first at age 30. Frank Frisch's last good season was at age 33, and last decent one at 36. Plus, between days off and time at third base, he was a 3/4 time second baseman by 33.

Even the cream of the cream in the Hall aren't all immune. Rogers Hornsby hit the wall at the end of his age-35 season. Nap Lajoie had a terrific year at 35, but was a two-thirds time player after that.

Cano eventually righted that slippage boat and looked like he might join  Eddie CollinsJoe Morgan and Charlie Gehringer by playing into his later 30s, though even they had a harder decline before age 40.

And now we know why Cano started looking semi-ageless.

Last week, he got an 80-game suspension for a masking agent used to cover up the use of various performance-enhancing drugs. And MLB waited until it thought it had proof of intent before issuing the suspension.

Cano's old Yankees teammate, Mark Teixeira, says we shouldn't be surprised. Tex listed Cano's connections to Biogenesis, which helped both Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera, both of whom got suspensions themselves. Tex goes beyond saying we shouldn't be surprised to strongly hinting that he thinks Cano did it.

Before this, Cano seemed to be punching his ticket for not just the HOF, but first-ballot entry to Cooperstown.

Has he now joined the likes of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez? Jerry Crasnick says very possible. Smarter HOF voters who, like me, know the generally early age-out history of second basemen, will likely see Cano's post-32 numbers as proof he was roiding, and taking good stuff.

I would agree. And, in light of the points Tex noted, now I'm not surprised, either. And, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that the Yankees didn't come close to matching the M's offer, either.

Speaking of, at the time I wrote that old piece, Jonah Keri didn't have Cano's deal in his list of worst contracts for teams. At that time, I questioned that. Now I know he should have.