SocraticGadfly: 6/3/18 - 6/10/18

June 09, 2018

Colangelo, Sixers and LeBron

First, with the resignation of former Sixers GM Bryan Colanegelo, speculation has heated up that ownership might target former Cavs GM David Griffin and hope that he could land LeBron James, assuming the King leaves the Cavs.

ESPN breaks the numbers down.

They can easily get into Paul George range cap space and hope LeBron would sign for a stretched deal. Not likely. With one more trade or player renouncement, though, that gets them into LeBron territory.

So, what would that team look like?

To get to the first level of max-contract room, one level below that of George, the team would have to renounce free agents J.J. Redick, Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, Amir Johnson and Demetrius Jackson.

They have full Bird rights on none. Other than Jackson, who was on a two-way contract and in just his second year, all would be over 30 next year. Redick and Johnson both had the same win shares, within half a point, as Joel Embiid. The others are lower down the scale. Johnson has some positional versatility and Redick a high three-pointer value.

Trading Jerryd Bayless as well, without taking a player back, to a team that can do that, would get them into the second, Paul George, max contract tier. He'll be 30 next year and no loss. It would hurt the Sixers mildly, though, if they had to include, say, a second-round draft choice to make another team eat his one remaining year.

ESPN then adds that trading Justin Anderson, under the same provisions as Bayless, gets them near, maybe into, the third, LeBron max contract tier.

With that, all the key core players from this last season remain, except Redick, right?

Problems, though.

That's not a great three-ball team, though it's not horrible, either. Despite #TrustTheProcess clips, Embiid is not that efficient of a three-baller, and he regressed from the year before. Dario Saric is good, tis true. Markelle Fultz sucks from downtown until proven otherwise, though. We know Ben Simmons sucks from out there until otherwise proven; the Celtics proved that in the East semifinals. Robert Covington is actually not only much better than either of them, he's a skoosh or two above the Process. BUT! ... Covington could well be the current starter who loses the most playing time.

Observation: Covington is on an incredibly cheap deal considering his three-ball skills, his solid rebounding from the 3 position and playing at least OK defense. In fact, he should fire the agent who got him to sign his current contract last year, in my opinion.

Questions: How do Simmons, who is like a junior LeBron with no outside shot, and LeBron himself co-exist? How does Covington, or Saric, whomever, like the bench, assuming Fultz replaces Redick at the 2? Or should he? Do you instead start a VERY big lineup of James, Simmons, Covington, Saric and Embiid?

Also, how does LeBron affect chemistry on a team that, setting aside Redick, was otherwise young among all its starters last year? How does that relate to how he and Simmons try to work together as playmakers?

That said, I put that team ahead of this year's, but would NOT, at first thought, put it ahead of next year's Celtics if Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are both at or near 100 percent.

And, speaking of all this, what do the Cavs look like without LeBron? Did their spitballing of Kyrie trade possibilities that increased his desire to leave come from LeBron, not just ownership/management? ESPN ponders the first, talks about the spitballing but not the second question, here.

Finally, if it's necessary to "stretch" LeBron's contract, does he agree to that? And, for how many years? And, with him already in the top 20 in career regular season minutes and No. 1 in career playoff minutes, how long do WANT that to be? I'm leery of more than three years and very leery of more than four.

Sidebar: Speculating on the fall of Colangelo, on an ESPN roundtable, Royce Young thinks it unbelievable that whomever tipped off Ben Detrick at The Ringer couldn't have been some anonymous Twitter dude.

Really? Mr. Young is obviously unfamiliar with the late prolific Twitterer and self-proclaimed campaign finance guru ActualFlatticus, known IRL as Chris Chopin. (This assumes that Chopin was indeed a one-person operation on Twitter and that he didn't get undue levels of assistance from his A-team Washington lobbyist sister. But, on Twitter as on Reddit, there's deep-state level geeks aplenty.)

June 08, 2018

Gig economy not a "thing" after all?
Doug Henwood offers thin anachronistic evidence

Yesterday, Henwood claimed that a new study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the gig economy claimed to have grown so much in the Great Recession actually hadn't.

I saw it first on Twitter via a notification to one of my multiple accounts, where Henwood tweeted a link to the BLS study.

Problem? Yes. The previous study was in 2005. A bell curve on contingency jobs could have happened in, say, 2010-11. Just a little bit of a problem.

So, via one of those other accounts (since Dougie has me blocked on my main account) I checked to see if he had more. And he does, at his LBO website.

But not a lot more. And, it's problematic. He says that a 2015 Freelancers Union survey wasn't scientific and was biased.

He then says that the well-known Katz-Krueger 2016 report, based on RAND information, had its own problems:

That paper was based on an online survey conducted by the RAND Corporation The survey was small—fewer than 4,000 respondents—and its sample wasn’t very representative of the overall population, a flaw the authors corrected through vigorous statistical handiwork.
Sounds to me overdone. First, 4,000 is not THAT small. Second, he doesn't detail how it wasn't very representative. Third, he seems to provide a link only to the original report, which I linked above. I hovered my mouse cursor over the pull-quote graf above and saw no link to a URL for a revised paper.

Beyond all that, Henwood knows the survey in question was backward looking, to the height of the Great Recession, where that possible bell curve might be. It was a snapshot. It's fair to bust people claiming that we're all in the gig economy today; it's not fair to distort what a paper was about as part of that claim

Shock me.

Henwood likes playing on being contrarian at times; as one myself, beyond being blocked by him, I have no problems giving him a minor chops-busting here.

And, I have done so! Including in the header. Given what I said about the previous BLS study being 2005, and possible bell curves, his blog post is, indeed anachronistic. It's "out of time."

Given his contrarianness, Doug probably won't accept this riposte, even if he sees it.

Looking more at the future of the Green Party

Yes, the party in its various state incarnations faces hurdles such as ballot access issues.

But, many of its problems are self-inflicted.

Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report looks at one set of them.

He mentions two main issues.

One is lack of organization. He doesn't specifically mention the decentralization plank of the party, one of its Ten Key Values. For me, he doesn't have to. It's obvious to me that it contributes to lack of organization. He does mention different state parties doing different things, which is a "tell" about that decentralization plank.

Among those things is rapid promotion of 90-day GP wonders. I'll go beyond Dixon and wonder if, in parties that don't have dues-paying members, but are semi-feudal, if some of this isn't deliberate.

The other big issue with him is "tokenism." I don't totally agree, no more than I totally agree with the likes of Doug Henwood and Adolph Reed that all race issues ultimately reduce to those of class. But, I do halfway agree, and as Henwood is fond of saying, have no white liberal guilt about that.

Behind the first point, he calls on the party to be more "leftist." That itself is an issue, as many Greens reject the idea, and some still dream of a Green version of red-brown alliances.

There's also this:
(T)he Green Party’s vague and wooly politics actually inhibit attempts to do political education beyond the simple notion that there are bad people in office and electing good ones will make things better.
Totally agreed there, whether it's wooly-headedness on alt-med, or lack of focus, or whatever.

And, that leads to the North Star, which recently tried to persuade DSAers to move beyond Democrats.

Let's start here:
Decentralization and localism operate in contradiction to serious and viable political organizing
 Indeed, and this ties with Bruce's pull quote in part, plus my own feelings on that issue.

It's part of a bigger issue, and the second sentence in a paragraph, actually.

TNS's board says Greens need to run fewer candidates. Stop spreading resources thin. Send donations to GP national and let it make the call of "picking winners." This would also bypass more feudal state Green parties, like the Ohio one with which Lause is stuck.

Next, this whole paragraph needs quoting:
There needs to be rules and accountability in any new political party:  The New York State Green Party, arguably the best Green Party in the entire country, passed a resolution in the mid-2000s banning the state party from supporting Democrats and Republicans. A similar proposal came before the national party and it was not adopted. All of this occurred after the disastrous 2004 Cobb “safe state” campaign. Partly because the New York State Greens were not fearful to actually lay down a political identity and impose some actual rules on who their party can support, they have run some of the strongest campaigns in the country. Compare this to the South Carolina Green Party that runs Democrats on their ballot line and openly advertises this. One of the South Carolina delegates attempted to raise funds for a Democrat running on a Green ballot line on the Green National Committee forum over a year ago. Would such be tolerated in the Democratic or Republican parties? Would Debbie Wasserman Schultz allow Democrats to raise funds for Republicans or Greens? Such is tolerated in the Green Party, where there is really no accountability on any level.
That's AccommoGreens Cobb, and Stein, in action for you. And it's still a problem. 

Finally, TSN attacks the focus issue:
While there needs to be rules and accountability, a new political party should not have a position on every single issue.
 Agreed; again, similar to Bruce. Stein was bad at this as a prez candidate, pandering all over the place, IMO.

Both Dixon and the Black Agenda Report, and North Star members, were at the Left Forum.

David Bruce Collins offers his own take on both pieces.

Finally, speaking of Stein, I've already noted that her lack of transparency and lack of accountability on her no-longer-a-recount are troubling. But not totally surprising. I'll speak more in the future about her possible end game/next move.

Also, please read this blog post of mine about the need for third parties, which takes a look at the SPUSA as part of that.

June 07, 2018

Two-siderism and 'deep state' blather

I finally decided to pull these thoughts out from a separate piece I did about six months ago about deterioration at Consortium News after the death of founder Robert Perry.

Ray McGovern
Former CIA agent Ray McGovern has been the biggest offender there, willing to rebroadcast almost any claim by Rep. Devin Nunes as gospel truth. He ran multiple articles both before and after the infamous 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.” 
Another way of putting it would be via Ron Chusid at Liberal Values Blog. The header of one piece, excerpted below, says:
Nunes Memo Provides Reminder Of Republican Hypocrisy And Democratic Dishonesty.
That's about right. But the twosiderism folks can't or won't accept that.

McGovern was soon joined in this by that tireless promoter of leftist union with the alt-right, Caitlin Johnstone. In her piece kicking off her contribution to two-siderism, 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, or, if not, angling for his impeachment. There could be more.

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.

The Steele dossier was, and still is, problematic as to how much in it is true or half true. It's also problematic as to how much Steele might have been played. Its political optics are both problematic and interesting. Remember, Jeb Bush was the one who first wanted this, before he dropped out of the GOP race. That could amplify "deep state" claims, or could amplify claims of how many people were concerned about Trump and how early.

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. (Hang on to that thought. Gowdy, as the chief peddler of Benghazigate, is a wingnut of some sort himself. If he's not sniffing half of the Nunes glue, you know it's bad and we'll discuss it further. And, while he peddles the glue here, he doesn't everywhere.)

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 at that time, and both them and York still trying to push a two-sides argument.

Eventually, on this point, Nunes crumpled. He has since 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. (And since I've now removed it from my blogroll for other reasons beyond the ones in this piece being the last straw, I don't really care. But, that link? Led me to suspicion yesterday ... and yep — Ray McGovern is a JFK assassination truther and beyond that and as well, he's also a 9/11 truther.)

It's gonna take a while, at least with McGovern. If he reframes himself at all. Six weeks after that initial Consortium News blog post by me, he wrote 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.

Since then, as of mid-May the 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.

Outside of Consortium News, other writers like ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller now have contributed to this boneyard of nuttery. On CN, Daniel Lazare is now part of the problem.

Update, Nov. 22, 2019, related to that and Crowdstrike:

Back to the original.

I don't know if this is costing, or will cost, Consortium News some readers. Since I will be one of those lost readers at that point, I won't care, either.

Meanwhile, back to Gowdy, at the end of May. Gowdy has for a full month or more being less and less inclined to play ball with Nunes' most partisan antics, like Nunes' attempt to squeeze classified info about the FBI informant who investigated members of Trump's campaign in 2016 out of Assistant AG Rod Rosenstein.

As much of a Hillary hater inside Congress as 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.

Let's quote Gowdy:
“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said Tuesday during an interview on Fox News.
And, not just Gay Trowdy. Dracula himself, Andrew Napolitano, agrees.
Trump's claims "seem to be baseless," he said. This "is standard operating procedure in intelligence gathering and in criminal investigations."
At the same time, Gowdy said Democrats should be, and have been, specific, that the investigation isn't about Trump himself.

That may or may not be true. Mueller's writ is broad. Now, if he's talking specifically about the FBI informant, he seems to be quite correct. This investigation was not targeting Trump himself.

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

No more than Gowdy being a voice of reason.

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. (Or maybe toward Russian botistan; and "shock me" that as of late 2019, Consortium News has slouched further toward Gomorrah by having its Elizabeth Lea Vos as a regular contributor.)

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

McGovern went on another idiotic rant in mid-April 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. So much a nutter that he touts an action that even Nunes wouldn't do.

Worse yet? He says, per Wiki, that he voted for Stein. Tis true; here's his official endorsement on his website. So, theoretically, he shouldn't be engaging in two-siderism. That said, his quasi-conspiracy theory take makes him a good fit as a Green voter.

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

Besides and the bottom line? The fact that Trump has twice tossed cruise missiles into Syria and continues to toady to Gulf Arab states says that he's either been turned by the deep state or that projectionism, like denial, is not just a river in Egypt.

June 05, 2018

#RFK50 brings out whack jobs, as I see it

Busboy Juan Romero trying to help Robert F. Kennedy
after he was fatally wounded.
(Photo by Bill Eppridge
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
For the unfamiliar, the hashtag is for the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination by Sirhan Sirhan.

And, by whack jobs, I refer not to Sirhan Sirhan, but by assassination conspiracy theorists, many of whom are — of course — also JFK assassination conspiracy theorists.

I had forgotten that today was the 50th anniversary until one of those whack jobs, Jim DiEugenio, was given not one but two opportunities, to pontificate at Consortium News about how Sirhan Sirhan didn't do it, how Bobby was the greatest thing since Jack's Camelot sliced bread, and more.

Moldea, had I read through his piece, I would have seen that he's now rejected RFK conspiracy theories. I apologize sir, per your comment.

All bullshit, of course.

We have good evidence on Vietnam that Jack wasn't leaving until he had a proven victory — and no, not the declare victory and leave schtick. We also have good evidence that the military ramp-up LBJ called into play after the Gulf of Tonkin was already on the Pentagon books well before Jack's assassination. It was probably detailed enough that he had semi-intimate knowledge of it.

DiEugenio's JFK is a puzzler in many other ways.

He's a genius on civil rights legislation, not only on how and with what timing to work Congress, contra the WTF? at that time of LBJ, but on how strong a piece to craft, despite neither LBJ nor MLK trusting him that much. As far as knowing how to work Congress, would you believe The Master of the Senate, per Robert Caro, or The Absentee of the Senate? No brainer in my mind.

Yet, this same genius, strong on how strong to be on civil rights, is also not only too weak to say no to the Bay of Pigs in early 1961 but also too weak to say no to the Diem coup just weeks before his assassination.

Well, if you'll believe that, it's no wonder you'll believe, and promulgate, conspiracy theory bullshit.

But, this is ultimately about Bobby, not Jack.

First, Bobby's 1968 political future.

Per this Politico piece, Bobby had about zero chance at the nomination. It reminds us only 14 states had primaries back then. The other states, through caucuses and conventions, were still largely controlled by "machines." LBJ made sure they stayed Humphrey.
Almost three-fifths of conventional delegates were selected by county committeemen, state party officers and elected officials, and those officials were squarely behind Humphrey.
In fact, that's why some were wondering if LBJ wasn't going to parachute into Chicago and elbow aside Hubert. And, had Bobby not been shot, he might just have done it.

And, on the ballot, Humphrey took two-thirds, not three-fifths, of the vote. Sure, some of Bobby's delegates went to him, instead of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, or somebody else. But, Bobby wasn't going to win, period.

(Also, there's the myth that Eugene McCarthy couldn't win Democratic primaries in minority-heavy states, which itself isn't so true, as the results show him beating Bobby in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Yes, it's true Bobby contested none of those, but that may be because he knew he couldn't win. And, Bobby was FROM Massachusetts, too. At the same time, Wiki repeats the Camelot 2.0 myth, claiming the antiwar movement was kaput with Bobby's death, which would be news indeed to McCarthy and many of his backers. [Note: He never would have released pledged delegates to Bobby, anyway. Never.])

At the same time, showing Wiki's problems with lack of editing uniformity, but further undercutting DiEugenio, in his first major campaign speech in 1968, per Wiki's piece on his campaign, he admitted:
"I was involved in many of the early decisions on Vietnam, decisions which helped set us on our present path."
Original quote from this piece, among others. Not quite either Camelot 1.0 OR 2.0. (DiEugenio accuses me of trolling in another comment to one of his pieces. If telling the truth is trolling, so be it. And, I'll get to that in a bit.)

The Politico piece also notes that if Bobby had somehow pulled off a miracle in Chicago, he might have had almost as much a George Wallace problem as Humphrey did.

Now, the Ambassador Hotel.

Sirhan Sirhan has gun in hand. He was in the right position to fire the fatal shot. He admitted the shooting. He described why he shot Bobby — over his support for Israel. (His journals are quite explicit as to all of this, too.)

Sirhan Sirhan?

Or, some lame conspiracy, or set of them, as, although less wild than with JFK, multiple RFK assassination conspiracy theories exist.

Occam's razor.

It was those four paragraphs above, with the third being simply "Or, some lame conspiracy theory?" that led DiEugenio to accuse me of trolling.

Oh, and I don't give a fuck that RFK Jr. claims that Sirhan Sirhan didn't do it. Bobby Jr. is an antivaxxer in particular and a believer in conspiracy theories in general himself.

And, some of the specific claims, like Sirhan Sirhan was given post-hypnotic suggestions and other stuff? Crazier yet.

That said? Per an essay by Moldea, Sirhan Sirhan had fired about 400 rounds with the revolver before he shot Bobby. Per Jeff Greenfield, what set him off was seeing Bobby wearing a yarmulke at an Israeli Independence Day celebration. And, that's not alt-history. The Jewish Press confirms it, complete with photo.

Original AP photo, May 26, 1968. Just a week before
his assassination on June 6, 1968, Senator Kennedy,
then a candidate for the presidency, wears a traditional
yarmulke in his appearance before a Portland synagogue.
Anybody who doesn't believe in conspiracy theories about Bobby's death but has read much of Sirhan Sirhan's numerous parole hearings and other things will realize he'll say whatever he thinks will get him parole. (At other parole hearings, he's admitted shooting Bobby, while blaming booze or something.)

Wouldn't you?

And, the conspiracy theories, including but not limited to Manchurian candidate ones with hypnotic suggestion, have even less credibility than the JFK ones.

Even more interesting, but perhaps because it would be self-undercutting, no conspiracy theorist that I know of has proposed the most reasonable one.

And that is that some Palestinian organization — whether PLO, PFLP, or someone else — put Sirhan up to it. The undercutting would be that that would still mean he did it, unless combined with one of the actual conspiracy theories like a two-gunman idea.


Oh, although he doesn't explicitly endorse a JFK conspiracy theory in his uncle's death, RFK Jr's new book, which is a total teh suck of high-octane mendaciousness, basically claims the CIA did it.

TX Progressives tackle gunz and Greens

The Texas Progressive Alliance wonders, with the start of a new hurricane season, if anyone will ever be held accountable for the tragedy in Puerto Rico, or if anyone will hold John Cornyn responsible for a Corps of Engineers Ike Dike boondoggle attempt, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Meanwhile, Abbott on gunz in schools, and several takes on the Green Party and organization, and related lefty political issues, top this week’s issue.


Grits for Breakfast looks at Greg Abbott’s new pandora’s box from raising the age of accountability to 18 on gun owning but keeping it 17 elsewhere.

Texas Monthly calls Abbott’s gun “safety” plan “regressive.” (Editor’s note: Even many small-town school districts in red-meat red-voting areas are rejecting armed teachers.)

RG Ratcliffe at the same mag criticizes Greg Abbott's "too little, too late" response to school shootings.

Sanford Nowlin collects a list of things other than guns that Republicans blame for school shootings.

Texas Observer decries the over-militarization of the border. The additional gunz, along with drones and other things, actually makes many residents feel less safe.

Greens and related

SocraticGadfly analyzes a Daily Beast story about Jill Stein's post-recount transparency issues while speculating that she may have some sort of end game for this.

David Bruce Collins links to Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report to note how the Green Party still struggles to get traction, including failing on its ballot access petition drive in Texas. (Like David, I largely agree with Bruce.) And so does The North Star. (I will have a future blog post about this.)

Pages of Victory calls for an authentic left.

Brains and Eggs discusses how many Democrats don’t want to discuss party disharmony.

The rest

Off the Kuff interprets an optimistic poll of Harris County.

The StartleGram details how former fetus Jonathan Stickland and his money Texas Observer decries could push the Texas House further right.

In the face of pushback from doctors, Blue Cross / Blue Shield held up on a proposed controversial elimination of out-of-network ER payments.

G. Elliott Morris ponders the effect of candidate quality on quantitative election forecasting.

Space City Weather answers your early-season hurricane questions.

Therese Odell grapples with the Samantha Bee controversy.

June 03, 2018

#SinglePayer national health care vs
continuing corporate feudalism and serfdom

If single-payer national health care cut today's massive cost difference between health care in the US and that in other advanced nations by just one-quarter, you and I would both rejoice.

And, not only would we save money, so would our employers.

Additional taxes on the corporate as well as the individual side would be needed for national health care, of course. But on the corporate side, even more than the individual side, they would be offset by not paying private health care insurers even more.

So, why aren't companies pushing for single-payer?

In reality, I don't think most of them buy the "it's socialism" line.

Rather, private health care lets them keep employees in a state of feudalized serfdom.

Since you and I don't have national health care that travels with us wherever we go, it's not really "our" insurance that we actually goet — it's our company's. We don't own it.

This is one reason I intend to either undervote or find a write-in candidate in the Texas U.S. Senate race rather than vote Beto O'Rourke. The man's "access for all" isn't good enough.

Think about how American employers talk about "bennies" as being as precious as Gollum's ring. Do workers in other advanced economies act that way? Not that I'm aware of, and it's not just health insurance vs national health care. It's guaranteed paid vacation time that puts the US to shame. Family leave time, also paid.

Serfdom or late-stage capitalism? Become more and more the same.