June 29, 2018

Is a #recession ahead?

Quite possibly, according to some new news from short- and long-term bond yield convergence, which, as the story notes, is a strong sign of a recession likely ahead.

Now, some economists in the piece caution that, due to the Fed's quantitative easing, an eventual inverted curve between short-term and long-term rates means less today than it did in the past. But, even they aren't claiming it means nothing.

Already back in 2016, I took note of economists, and the signals they were seeing, to wonder if we would have another recession; back then, I even wondered if there might be a second Great Recession.

In a postmortem on the Democratic Party for the 2016 elections, I said I expected a recession by the 2018 midterms had a good probability.

And fifteen months ago, I said that the top-heaviness of Obama's stimulus still kept that possibility likely.

And, now, of course, we have a looming and likely trade war. This is an issue I really don't expect Trump to back off of.

GM has now warned that Trump's tariffs could lead to "less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages." Will Trump tell GM "don't get cute" like he did Harley-Davidson?

Meanwhile, the Trump tax scam and other matters have debt, inflation-adjusted, headed to its highest level since WWII. The percentages, per the L.A. Times, of debt to GDP, could eventually be higher than those that have led the European Union to issue warnings, and threats at least, of austerity, to member nations like Italy. Republicans will, of course, start trashing the "unreliable" Congressional Budget Office.

==

Chris Tomlinson thinks a recession is coming too, but not til 2020.

June 27, 2018

Anthony Kennedy, swing(ing dick) justice on SCOTUS, retires

Sketch art via SCOTUSblog
Up until the current term of the Supreme Court, I might have called Anthony Kennedy something like a "quasi-libertarian" or "moderate libertarian" conservative.

But, after the craptacular set of rulings this week that he enabled, no longer.

Rather, the once-notable "swing justice" is instead a hypocritical swing(ing dick) justice.

Anthony Kennedy is no longer on the bench as of July 31, announcing his retirement after kicking centrism to the curb.

As for why he retired at this moment? A mix of flattery carrots from Trump and sticks from some senior GOP senators appear to have been key, according to the New York Times. It's "funny" how much of a sucker he apparently was for this fairly transparent psychological manipulation, but ... since it involved his precious "legacy," and, even for a justice, he seems to have a degree of vanity about it, it's not surprising.

If Kennedy was trying to cement something for future courts in his concurrence comments this term, he has surely failed. Ditto for whatever version of a legacy he might have thought he established a few years ago. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Janus and National Institutes of Family Life (California pro-life clinics) cases showed a turd-polishing level of hypocrisy, especially given that Kennedy had taken just the opposite stance in 1992 on Planned Parenthood vs Casey, requiring doctors to tell people about abortion alternatives, as Justice Breyer pointed out. SCOTUSBlog, among others, has more on Kennedy's career and legacy.

Dahlia Lithwick lost me when she claims Kennedy tried, then gave up, on courts being a check on the other two branches of government. NO, Dahlia, other than, possibly, on gay rights ... he never really tried. Stop turd-polishing or normalizing them.

Janus proved that, above all else, Kennedy is a late-stage capitalist quasi-libertarian. Going back to Citizens United and from that, to other campaign finance issues, if it was about money allegedly being First Amendment speech, Kennedy was for it.

But, if it was about actual speech? Kennedy could double-parse previous stances on that to reach the conclusion he wanted. As noted above, with National Institutes and with the Trump travel ban cases, he was a hypocrite on the issue of government bias. That said, he was also somewhat the same in Galloway v Town of Greece (my take here). His deference to civil religion showed his civil libertarianism was selective.

Basically, Town of Greece epitomizes much of Kennedy's jurisprudence. The more you digested it, the less substance you noticed it had, like the old joke about Chinese food.

His dissent on Carpenter, last week, showed that his civil libertarianism rarely extended to criminal defendants. He wrote the dissent on that case. And, by that dissent being in part about privacy issues, Kennedy was a hypocrite again, as privacy was part of his Lawrence v Texas ruling saying that criminalizing sodomy was unconstitutional.

Beyond speech, as this term's ruling on credit card fees and related issues showed, if it was about money in general, he was for it.

Five years ago, Tony the Pony gave us fair warning that his vaunted First Amendment concerns were selective as to which clauses he cared about, selective in interpretation and selective in application based on plaintiffs and defendants.

Unfortunately, Popehat loses me at his sixth tweet in a thread that is related to this issue:
I responded:
And, that's that.

No, I"m not a lawyer, but a 30-sec teh Google earlier in the day had already led me to the Abood case backgrounding this, after I read the Janus ruling. I know Ken White knows what Abood is, and that it was adjudicated 41 years ago, so how he can claim that Janus's issues at hand were "new-fangled judge-created exceptions or asterisks to First Amendment protections," I don't know, to put it politely. To put it less politely, I call bullshit, Ken. And, in the wake of NIFLA, several online newsmags mentioned the Planned Parenthood vs Casey and SCOTUS saying, yes states could require doctors to talk about abortion alternatives. (More on Abood and the thread of labor history from there to Janus here.)

Ken, if you want to claim Abood was wrongly decided, that's one thing. (I'd still disagree with you, of course.) BUT, that's not what you claimed. Your statement is pretty clear, and in light of Abood — highly wrong. Deal with it.

In a new Tweet, Ken says:
Which, on my reading of the Abood background to Janus, leads me to stand by my take on last week's Tweets. This isn't Ken just projecting himself into the thinking of a majority of the Supreme Court; it's his personal take.

Ken has the invitation already issued to provide more clarity.

On further exchange of Tweets, Ken admits "new-fangled" is vague, but his admission is in a sense that seems to stand by the idea that Janus is de novo in some way, IMO:
That's my take.

As to whether the big picture is his personal take, or his "projecting" into the thinking of the SCOTUS five, Ken says:
To which, I responded:
And, I'll stand by that as well.

Plus, Ken, you're a lawyer. Even in a brief Tweet, you know something about clarity and precision in language, as I do as an editor.

And, if you wanted to offer your take, you had time on that thread last week. Or, simply, add one tweet to make clear this was your attempt at mind-reading the Court, but that you didn't personally agree with all of it. After all, you weren't retweeting somebody else. And, you started the thread claiming you were rejecting others' interpretations.

So, this is not just reading the mind of SCOTUS with your interpretation. By rejecting other interpretations, I infer you are saying yours is better. And, thus, not just interpreting but taking a personal stance.

Phrasing it another way, and getting rid of the issue of normative, which can mean several things, whether you intend it as a narrow jurisprudence term or more broadly — I read you as saying Janus (and NIFLA, let's not forget) were correctly ruled, were correctly ruled without this being some new conservative legal onslaught (I'll agree; it was Kennedy being his true self more bluntly) and you presenting WHY you think they were correctly ruled. And, on Janus, you're wrong in light of Abood; in NIFLA, you're wrong in light of Planned Parenthood v Casey.

Or, if I'm more generous one way, less another, your interpretation / mind-reading of the Court is itself a fail. That's because, for the same reasons. Obviously Janus wasn't introducing anything new, nor was NIFLA.

(And, this back-and-forth has given me the second most popular tweet of the last 30 days and another in my top 20). I'll probably do a breakout of this into a separate post. Exactly what it says will depend on what Ken says, or does not, on his blog. That said, he has more true-blue libertarians than him among commenters, who probably love Janus; I've seen "taxation is theft" comments semi-regularly. And had people over there attack me occasionally on my Missouri prof and free speech post which got some publicity off Ken.)

Jeff Toobin also calls out the wrongheaded thinking of the Court on Janus, and with that, either the support for such wrongheaded thinking Ken offers, or that he indulges himself.

And, let's transition back to the case in general.

Beyond that, Kennedy has in the past not been a friend to third parties in ballot or debate access cases.

As for what's next? Despite some Twitter rumors like this about Thomas Hardiman:
Rick Hasen, creator of Election Law blog, says he expects Trump to go with someone with Federalist Society imprimatur like Brett Kavanaugh. Sure, one could hope that Trump does a flip-flip, but, given that some prolife groups have already said they'd still back Trump even if they heard he had paid for a woman to have an abortion, not likely.

And, Geoff ... Kennedy was socially liberal on only one issue. Actually, it was more socially libertarian. On reproductive choice, he was socially centrist at best. On most other non-fiscal issues, he was conservative.

And, that's probably who Hardiman is.

This all said, Hardiman is on the same bench as Trump's sister, as noted in this profile. SCOTUSblog has its own profile.

Between the two and his linked-above Wiki page, I'd say Hardiman is even less friendly to the freedom of speech and freedom of religion parts of the First Amendment than Kennedy. And perhaps more hostile to the Fourth Amendment.

This then said, contra NARAL, as reported by Teen Vogue, Hardiman has NOT contributed to National Right to Life. Per OpenSecrets, that's a different Thomas Hardiman.

Vox puts Kavanaugh and Hardiman on a nine-person shortlist. Here's a lead-in to longer list from Splinter. If you're a Green-leaner like me, fire back at the dumb Hillbots in comments. I already have. Except the swinging dicks there didn't post it. So, go straight to the White House press release instead, and Splinter gets a "no-follow" on its link.

Also for the Hillbots, Bill and Hillary encouraged Donald to run. So, STFU, along with GFY, until you own that, too.

Speaking of, I have a new "Oh, the SCOTUS" piece up for Hillbots, or Dems in general, thinking that will convince the likes of me to rejoin the duopoly.

TX Progressives look at the Texas Dem Convention, more

Here is the second part of this week's annual roundup from the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA — and many of its readers — attended the Texas Democratic Party convention last weekend, and the news, blog posts, and Tweets in this week's roundup reflect the variety of takes and takeaways from Fort Worth.

Lily Seglin, Houston Chronicle: Dems have momentum but no coherent narrative to sell.

Christopher Collins, Texas Observer: Texas Democrats want to turn out rural voters, but what’s their plan? (It's true that statewide candidates, other than Beto running for a federal office, are pretty lame.)

Gromer Jeffers, Dallas News: After passionate convention, Democrats look to sway average Texas voters (which, per Brains, means the conservative but not wingnut suburban soccer moms Wendy Davis chased).

Beto O'Rourke, the candidate upon whose shoulders the heaviest hopes lie for breaking the party's 24-year old losing streak, repeated his message about appealing to Republicans by phrasing it as "showing up".  Erica Greider is saying there's a chance this can work.

Texas' Latin@ voters have been an alleged
"sleeping giant" for 50 years now.
Texas Democrats re-elected Gilberto Hinojosa as party chair despite the fact that the long-awaited Latin@ surge at the polls has become something of a 'Waiting for Godot' affair.

(Your blogger five years ago wrote about the unwarranted assumptions on which a Latin@ surge for Democrats was based and predicted Texas Dems would be shut out of statewide office until 2020 or later.)

Grits for Breakfast has the details on the criminal justice reforms undertaken in the Texas Democratic Party platform.

Meanwhile, Texas Dems’ failure to call for the legalization of cannabis, not just the medicinal forms, is a squandered electoral opportunity for the Donkeys. After all, the GOP, earlier this month, called for decriminalization.

Dr. David Brockman, covering the convention for the Texas Observer, attended the Secular Caucus and has some ... observations.

Ted from jobsanger had to argue with party officials for his media credential in order to blog the conclave.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston, blogging busily, complained about "the far left" and Our Revolution in his convention wrap.

Your blog editor followed Brains' Twitter feed enough to be unsurprised about the old guard getting re-elected to all top offices, and about the party taking a pass on marijuana legalization.

==

And, TPA bloggers and others take on other issues

Socratic Gadfly talks about why, if the unemployment rate is so low, there aren't more jobs out there.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer wonders what comes next after the Texas Supreme Court nullified Laredo's plastic bag ban, and thus several similar laws passed by other Texas cities.

The public hearings in association with the plans to reimagine Alamo Plaza were loud and unruly, as reported (in somewhat irritable tone) by the publisher of the Rivard Report.

Red meat allergies are on the rise due to bites from Lone Star ticks, and their range is expanding in the US, reports NPR. 

Texas Vox's Citizen Stephanie went to Washington to testify against the EPA's roll-back of the Chemical Disaster Rule.

Downwinders at Risk reports on the state's first permanent smog monitor overseen by civilians, up and running in Wise County.

Jim Schutze talks about the strange marriage of Dem-leaning teacher union types and tea partiers that has fueled the rise in charter schools.

Finally, the GOP Texas Lege largely won the gerrymander battle at the Supreme Court.

June 26, 2018

Quick hits on the Supreme Court travel ban decision

Wrapping up several things I've said about the ruling on Twitter.

First, Merrick Garland isn't on the Supreme Court. He could have been, had President Obama responded back to Mitch McConnell's obstinance with a recess appointment. But he did not.

Is there a "Biden rule" about SCOTUS nominations in an election year? Kind of sort of, but it really should be called the Thurmond rule.

Beyond that, we don't know how Merrick Garland would have voted.

Beyond THAT, I agree with Eric Levitz that naming Garland was bad Obama strategy.

It was, per my take on Dear Leader on other things, yet one more example of him compromising away a compromise in advance in public.

Update, June 27: Anthony Kennedy is no longer on the bench as of July 31, announcing his retirement after kicking centrism to the curb. If Kennedy was trying to cement something for future courts in his concurrence comments this term, he has surely failed. Ditto for whatever version of a legacy he might have thought he established a few years ago. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Janus and National Institutes of Family Life (California pro-life clinics) cases showed a turd-polishing level of hypocrisy, especially given that Kennedy had taken just the opposite stance in 1992 on Planned Parenthood vs Casey, requiring doctors to tell people about abortion alternatives, as Justice Breyer pointed out. SCOTUSBlog, among others, has more on Kennedy's career and legacy.

Update 2, June 27: I have expanded the paragraph above into a full blog post about Tony the Pony; go here.

Speaking of, I have a new "Oh, the SCOTUS" piece up for Hillbots, or Dems in general, thinking that will convince the likes of me to rejoin the duopoly.

===

Now, to matters at hand on the travel ban.

The ban isn't racist, because religions aren't races.

Nor is it anti-religious, even if Trump has called it a "Muslim ban." It of course doesn't apply to every Muslim-majority country. In fact, Sudan was removed from the original version of the ban last September, which #TheResistance ignores.

And, this ignores that Venezuela and North Korea aren't Muslim-majority, in any case.

Why? Because the ban is actually a petro-geopolitical ban, at heart.

Per that link above, Sudan was removed at the behest of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Sudan's "help" in the war against alleged Iranian proxies in Yemen trumps all. The ban is oriented against Syria and Iran, ultimately.

As to Anthony Kennedy sending a message to Trump, yet concurring? Doing both are possible, and Kennedy faces constraints that a Jeff Flake or Bob Corker don't.

Also, this decision is nothing like the Korematsu case. Not all Muslims are being banned, and none of them that are being banned are American citizens.

On the idea that the travel ban should be judged by Trump's tweets, rather than its content? That's close to something analogous to two different First Amendment issues. One is speech vs acts; the other is prior restraint.

(If Ken White, aka Popehat, writes something on this from a quasi-First Amendment speech-vs-acts angle, I'll link it here. Until then, let's go with some Tweets of his:
And then:
Followed by:
I knew there was a good legal angle, and just couldn't think of the term.

Now, that said, North Korea and Venezuela may just be listed for show. But, with a better written ban than the Bannon-inked, more clearly Islamophobic first one, with both Trump and Bannon talking that way about it, the justices had a reasonable case to apply rational basis and so dodge the issue of trying to divine intent. And, in law, whether civil, criminal or constitutional, judges tend to shy away from divining intent if empirical evidence isn't highly corroborative.

Whether it truly is justifiable on national security issues? I say no. Venezuela is certainly not an exporter of terrorism, though both duopoly parties might try to have you believe otherwise. North Korea is, but Trump is undermining his own Nobel Peace Prize chances in this case. And, the court steered away from that issue.
“We express no view on the soundness of the policy,” Roberts wrote.
That's typical executive branch deference. Read into it what you will.

And, not only is it not sound, contra wingnuts, there are lies by omission as big as Mack trucks within it.

First, there are still terrorists in Saudi Arabia, even if no "training camps" exist. Second, as late as 2016, the government, the kingdom, still supported fomenters of radicalism.
I argue that Saudi Arabia has made considerable progress on counterterrorism in the last 15 years but still has a long way to go. 
In the end, policymakers would do well to remember that Saudi Arabia is a key partner but not a friend: the United States and Saudi Arabia share many common interests, but they do not share common values or a common worldview.
Though that link is 2016, the problems are still current.
Considerable problems remain. As former senior CIA official Bruce Riedel contends, “Saudi sources remain major funders of groups like the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar­e Taiba in Pakistan. Some accounts suggest Saudi money has gone to al­Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, the al­Nusra Front.” Although Riyadh opposes the Islamic State, it sees the Syrian regime, with its close ties to Iran, as a far greater danger and has focused its energies accordingly. Despite greater regime efforts to reduce the flow of fighters abroad, Saudis still have found it easy to travel and fight on behalf of the Islamic State – they are perhaps the largest source of foreign fighters for the group. ... 
Saudi Arabia considers Al Qaeda to be a mortal enemy, yet its military campaign in Yemen has indirectly assisted the group. 
There you go. Syria and Yemen.

But, the Saudis know how to massage both Trump's greed and Bibi Netanyahu.

Oh, that name.

Basically, this is what Bibi would have written.

(As for a G+ commenter telling me to "get with reality" because I didn't explicitly spell out Trump's Saudi business interests? I think that making clear the Riyadh-Tel Aviv axis speaks loudly enough. Besides, Trump didn't write this himself. It was written by neocons wanting another anti-Iran quiver in the arrow, and it wasn't primarily about Trump's business interests.)

And, if Al Jazeera spiked a video because of Qatari GCC member power, well, there you go.

At the same time, on geopolitics, though the travel ban is directed against Syria and Iran, Robert Fisk says on-the-ground signs indicate a US pullback of some sort, if not completely, in Syria. That leads to another question — whence the Islamic State, if Syria gets too hot? Would it really, per Daniel Bynum, slip back into Turkey? Try to regroup in Iraq?

Otherwise, I find the ruling against California's anti-abortion clinics' "script law" more problematic, especially since in Planned Parenthood v Casey, the Court majority, including Kennedy, voted that states COULD require doctors and PP-type clinics to provide information about alternatives.

Oh, and case it's not clear, this is one of those issues where my desire to be deliberately contrarian has easy fodder. The ban is ... ugly. But it's theoretically constitutional —

That said, if the Court had followed its own lead of a month ago in Masterpiece Cakeshop, it arguably would have rejected the travel ban based on the bias of Trump's Tweets.

Volokh thinks the court is justifying using religion as a screening element. I would disagree if that's true, but I think Volokh is misreading — badly. Plenary power may have been involved, but with caveats. It's also interesting that Volokh appears to consider this a "Muslim ban" when it's not (including Volokh ignoring the listing of Iran and North Korea) that Volokh ignored the Korematsu overturning entirely, and in general, cited relatively old case law.

Per my Kennedy retirement link, and Ken White aka Popehat, clearly and consciously blowing part of his analysis, it just shows that constitutional law lawyers are as capable of motivated reasoning as anybody else.

Marjorie Cohn at TruthOut thinks the ruling violates international law, specifically the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Not even close. First, it is applicable to nations regarding people "within its territory and under its jurisdiction." In other words, it prohibits (theoretically) the US (and other countries) from other people inside its borders, whether citizens or resident aliens. It's not about immigration.

Second, Cohn makes the elementary mistake, committed much more often by Islamophobes than others, of considering Islam a race. Uhh, even given that race as currently understood is culturally defined, religious affiliation has never been understood to be a race or even a marker thereof.

==

Finally, the "Oh the SCOTUS" and Merrick Garland, with a full post about that coming up.

As for low turnout in 2014 leading to the GOP retaking the Senate? Well, that goes back to 2010. Sure, you can blame the ruling against Holder on the Voting Rights Act for 2014 stuff. But in 2010 as well as 2014, or even more so, Obama did a piss-poor job of campaigning for Senators, Congresscritters, and also governors and state legiscritters.

TX Progressives look at family separations

Due to a heavy load of links, thanks to Brains' version, this week, the weekly roundup of the Texas Progressive Alliance is being split into two parts. Here's part one, the latest on family separations issues. Part 2 comes tomorrow, with a look at the Texas Democratic Party convention and other issues.

Off the Kuff notes the cowardice and dishonesty displayed by Republican state leadership on the family separation scandal.

RG Ratcliffe calls out Greg Abbott's duplicity on family separations.

News Taco points to Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) as one of Congress' largest beneficiaries of campaign cash from the GEO Group, one of the many companies profiting on child detention.  Another is Southwest Key, which plans to operate the 'baby jail' being proposed in Houston.  In  framing that would make George Orwell spin in his tomb, the company's CEO described its operation as "daycare".  One of SW Key's employees was found to have an arrest record involving child pornography.

Glenn Smith checks some facts on the Trump administration's kidnapping of immigrant children.

Carlos DeLeon tells his immigrant's story.

Bob Libal and Judy Greene call for the decriminalization of immigration.

There are severe mental health-related ramifications associated with forcibly removing young children from their parents, and that does not include instances where the children have been injected with psychotropic medications, as has happened at the facility in Manvel, TX operated by Shiloh, a company that has already received millions in federal dollars to detain migrant children.

Mayor Sylvester Turner  and several city council members have declared their opposition to SW Key's proposed operation in the Bayou City, but the Houston Press has uncovered a very cozy relationship between the City and the owner of the building who is leasing it to Southwest Key: David Denenburg of 419 Hope Partners LLC, a real estate mogul well-entrenched in H-Town's political and social circles.

Here's your blogger's take on Trump's executive order and what's likely to happen next.

Finally, there are nationwide protests against Trump's family separation policy scheduled for this Saturday, June 30.

Related, and trending on Twitter Monday? The Charles Blow column about "white extinction anxiety." From ages 0-9, the U.S. is already a majority-minority nation.

==

And, TPA bloggers and others take on other issues

Socratic Gadfly talks about why, if the unemployment rate is so low, there aren't more jobs out there.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer wonders what comes next after the Texas Supreme Court nullified Laredo's plastic bag ban, and thus several similar laws passed by other Texas cities.

The public hearings in association with the plans to reimagine Alamo Plaza were loud and unruly, as reported (in somewhat irritable tone) by the publisher of the Rivard Report.

Red meat allergies are on the rise due to bites from Lone Star ticks, and their range is expanding in the US, reports NPR. 

Texas Vox's Citizen Stephanie went to Washington to testify against the EPA's roll-back of the Chemical Disaster Rule.

Downwinders at Risk reports on the state's first permanent smog monitor overseen by civilians, up and running in Wise County.

Jim Schutze talks about the strange marriage of Dem-leaning teacher union types and tea partiers that has fueled the rise in charter schools.

Finally, the GOP Texas Lege largely won the gerrymander battle at the Supreme Court.

June 25, 2018

Here's a blockbuster trade idea:
LeBron for Kawhi, straight up + tidbits as needed

The San Antonio Spurs are not one of the teams favored to land LeBron James, should the King opt out of his current contract with the Cavs, according to Vegas books. That hasn't stopped Spurs fans or Alamo City sports columnists from making noises about landing him.

(Don't forget to vote in my poll at right while you're here.)

And, why wouldn't it? Yea, it's not a high-shine city, but, it's a team with a high reputation. And LeBron's marketing power goes anywhere.

At the same time, what if the team's relationship with Kawhi Leonard turns out to be broken, as I have indicated I think it is, and Alamo City folks hope it's not? (It's broken, to the point Bruce Bowen is ripping Kawhi.)

To me, the solution is simple, if he would agree. Sign Kawhi to that supermax and then trade them, straight up, with LeBron opting into his contract, or rather, signing a new one that must, from the Spurs POV, be at least two years long.

From Leonard's POV, it gets him to a new place, one where he can be a clear team leader, and in the weaker Eastern Conference.

For the King? Simple. This Spurs team is better than his current Cavs one. (That's assuming that Cavs GM Altman's "make nice" claims don't pan out.)

Simple comps show that.

And, even though we are pretty sure now that Kawhi won't agree to an extension, I still make this deal if I'm the Spurs. (If I'm Pops and R.C. Buford, I stop believing that, unlike LaMarcus Aldridge a year ago, I can sweet-talk Kawhi back.

Danny Green is a younger, starting, better defending version of Kyle Korver, or a better version of George Hill. (But he may go FA; he has opted out.

Aldridge is a much better scoring, even rebounding, near-even defending version of Tristan Thompson.

Tony Parker becomes a shoot-first combo guard with James and is a smarter version of JR Smith. Parker, like Green, has opted out, but I think he'll find the offers aren't there.

Manu Ginobili, assuming he stays unretired with the chance to play with LeBron, is a smarter, more levelheaded Rodney Hood.

And Pau Gasol is a poor man's Kevin Love on offense, and no worse than him overall on D. (That said, Option B is throwing in Gasol to make salaries match if there's no Kawhi extension.)

And, Pops stays coaching to run that team.

If the Cavs insist on a pot sweetener? Either next year's second round pick, or next year's first for next year's Cavs second if that's not enough. (Those are just starting points for negotiation.) Or a back-end player who's not pricey, like, say, Dejounte Murray, if salaries stay within 125 percent, if Pau's not  part of the deal.

As for the Vegas sports books thinking the Dubs are odds-on to land the King? That's stupid. Whether through massive salary dumps for a free agency signing, or massive trades, that would be a huge chemistry change.

OK, if Kawhi won't do an extension, and LeBron just does a new one-plus-optout, does either team do this trade?

If I'm the Spurs, yes, because, contra current-level Pops and RC, I admit it's broken. And, I'm hoping that LeBron will extend.

If I'm the Cavs, yes, especially if I can throw another contract of my own back if Pau is included with Kawhi, and I can get a draft choice, too. I do this if it's the best way to tank.