July 20, 2018

My take on the Green Party's "decentralization" key value

Note: I had submitted a version of this for the Green Party's Green Pages. Unfortunately, I have been told that it is short-staffed on its editorial committee at this time.

I was going to publish some version here anyway, but wanted to get something out before the GP National Convention is done, so here we go.

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"Decentralization."

It's one of the Green Party's Ten Key Values.

But, beyond that, for many Greens, it's a shibboleth.

Should it be?

I think not.

In fact, along with some other Greens, such as Bruce Dixon, Mark Lause and perhaps Howie Hawkins, among others (my opinions are ultimately my own, though), I think it's as much impediment as party benefit. 

That's both on matters of party organization and on how to implement particular issues, should Greens gain major state or national offices.

I'm not a pilgrim. I've voted Green for president every election this century. I've voted Green in most state races where I've had the option in Texas. I've been to Green state conventions. When I lived in Dallas, I was semi-involved with local meetings. I've signed ballot access petitions.

That said, I've probably learned more about the Green Party, in details of its polity, organization and history, in the past two years than in the dozen-plus before that.

I've heard comment about things such as the GPUS being "the 51st state party" and similar. And, I think even if a sketch, it's not a caricature, and it's more true than false. (Sadly, one reason it isn't totally true is that several state parties are semi-defunct, so it's more like "the 37th state party.")

The 2004 presidential nominating process is arguably one example. Different state parties' stances on fusion candidacies if their states allow them, or not, is another. Whether to have dues-paying membership is another.

I'm not arguing for abandoning the idea entirely. Centralization is no more a shibboleth for me than decentralization. I do think it needs to be dropped as a "Key Value," though. Along with that, the national party needs to be more empowered for creating greater unity across state party positions. It also needs to include clear positions forbidding state party delegates or administrators from engaging in activities to boost candidates of other parties or candidates of other parties. Lause notes the New York state party pushed for such an issue for the national party to adopt in 2004 and it didn't happen. That needs to be revived. Standard minimum requirements for state administrative positions would also be good. Per Dixon, the lack of centralization, and lack of organization that goes with it, arguably contributed to problems at the 2017 national meeting.

On political positions, de-emphasizing decentralization would also be good. Greens need to look national-first for many issues, starting with core issues of environmental concern. Other regulatory issues, including financial regulation above all, are also not amenable to decentralization.
Yes, many Greens will note that the description of decentralization doesn't make the party's focus on that absolute. However, from what I've seen on social media, many "in the field" Greens take it as at least near-absolute.

Per Lause, Dixon and others, better organization and clarity at the national level would not only trickle down to the state level, but promote better political focus there, too. Both, and others, discussed these and other issues at the recent Left Forum in New York City.

Will Rogers once said, "I'm not a member of any organized party; I'm a Democrat."

What would he say of today's Greens?

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Note: I have blogged before about all Ten Key Values.

Independent Political Report has select meeting highlights. Here's the GP's annual meeting subpage.

Margaret Flowers, now a national co-chair, wrote about some issues the party faced back in late 2016 and reposts it now. That includes, though she doesn't use the word, AccommoGreens, though she does mention the safe states strategy.

July 19, 2018

The 80-20 rule, online commentary and Popehat

The 80-20 "rule" has several variations, like 20 percent of an organization's members do 80 percent of its work or similar.

My adaptation here? If I agree with on on about 80 percent of political philosophy, and that 80 percent for both of us is, in America, at times outside the beaten political, sociological or legal path. we'll probably disagree a lot on the other 20 percent.

Take Ken White, the libertarian-leaning lawyer and former federal prosecutor known as Popehat.

I was curious on his take on end-of-term Supreme Court cases for this year. Specifically, the travel ban, NIFLA (the California anti-abortion clinics) and Janus (the public sector employees' mandatory donations case).

So, I perused his Twitter.

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.

Per other comments on Twitter, I held off on this to see if he would actually do a blog post about any of the three cases, since he said his tweets weren't necessarily about his personal take.

And, other than two posts that were briefs about his podcasts, no, his first full post was about Brett Kavanaugh and free speech. And, Ken, you are simply wrong about political money as free speech. (It's also an area where Glenn Greenwald is wrong. Glenn has pronounced himself perturbed or similar by Citizens United but has yet to repudiate it, let along the Buckley decision that started this nonsense.) Political speech is ultimately parallel to advertising, though not exactly the same.

Finally, Ken, judges like Kavanaugh, and constitutional law scriveners like you, engage in "results oriented jurisprudence" just like anybody else. Stop pretending with the slapping of labels on others.

July 18, 2018

Kawhi to Toronto

Well, the Malcontented One (and Uncle Dennis) are now out of the hair of Gregg Popovich and the rest of the San Antonio Spurs.

It's a blockbuster. Kawhi Leonard PLUS Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and 2019 Toronto first-rounder.

Winner? Not immediately sure who wins long-term if Toronto pulls off the unexpected and resigns Kawhi, but even then, it's not a slam dunk.

Winner for one year short-term? Toronto, especially with LeBron gone from Cleveland.

Kawhi Leonard (top)
DeMar DeRozan 
Especially in the postseason, this gives them a better set of competitors.

Winner long-term if Toronto can't resign Kawhi?

Spurs, of course, but not necessarily hugely. DeRozan does have one more year on his contract — two years, plus a third year player option — left. But, he's only two-thirds of Kawhi's value on Win Shares and one-half, if that, on VORP. If Pops can get him to play better D, that ups his value. But, that remains to be seen if it can be done.

Green is a moderate loss to the Spurs. They'll have less three-point shooting, but, he might have left the team as well after next year.

Poeltl is not a stretch 4 and never will be. But, he's a good rim defender and an efficient scorer. That said, a two-bigs offense with him and LaMarcus Aldridge would likely congest the floor and won't get too many minutes. Still, he gets out from a logjam with Jonas Valanciunas and others.

The draft choice is fairly highly protected, on slots 1-20. It reverts to two seconds if it is in that slot. Also interesting that Pops didn't get — didn't want?? — Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby.

Red Satan has a timeline of the whole process, saying the quad issue may go back to late in the 2015-16 year. From that year to 2016-17, his last full year, his 3-ball percentage and rebounding go down, his free throws go up. Minutes per game unchanged. He had a career year on 3-balls in 2015-16, so maybe don't read too much in that. How big was his left shoulder injury? Unknown, since it was his left.

Did Tony Parker inflame Spurs-Leonard tensions with his "my injury was worse" comment? Possibly, but by then Uncle Dennis was running the Kawhi Show, and maybe this needed to be said. That said, in this San Antonio Express-News detailed breakout of the end, it's clear that Manu Ginobili was calling him out about as much.

Red Satan tackles this in a more detailed backgrounder. It spells out — no real shock if one was reading between the lines — that Kawhi and Uncle Dennis think Pops "used" TP et al, even at that players-only meeting?

Did he? Somewhat, at times, I'm sure. But, the players called their own players-only meeting. Even if Pops was already pushing the needle a bit, these are veteran players on a veteran team. From the Spurs' POV, ESPN says they wish that, if Kawhi and Uncle Dennis were that worried, they'd have decided to take the whole year off, and do so from the start. In that case, of course, the team could have asked for a medical exemption and gotten a replacement. They wouldn't have pushed Kawhi as much — either Pops or the players — with that. But, Leonard refused, when asked multiple times.

Is Pops blameless? No. That said, I think he carries no more than, oh, say, a 25 percent burden if you're going to try to put percentages on it. And, I think he would fess up to that much. At the same time, I doubt that Uncle Dennis would fess up to even 25 percent, let alone more.

Deadspin adds gas to the fire with this semi-serious, semi-snarky take. Perhaps Uncle Dennis, as well as Kawhi himself, held himself out of much of the year to protect his free agent value. Doubling down on Deadspin, maybe they decided to have Kawhi play a few games, then a few more, so that he didn't look TOO injured.

And, will Manu be back for one more year? I think so. And, with Green gone, his 3-balling will get used.

Overall predictions?

Toronto wins Atlantic Division and No. 1 seed in East — at least, if Kawhi plays either halfway happy or contract year energetic.

Spurs stay in playoffs in West, probably about 4-5 slot. Pops may not be done wheeling and dealing yet, etc.

ESPN disagrees greatly. In its latest NBA rankings, it puts San Antonio ninth in the West. Gotta disagree. Nuggets haven't improved that much. Neither has Utah. Nor the JailBlazers. Green will be missed, yes. Red Satan overrates Kyle Anderson. And, DeRozan, barring his own injury, will be playing for a full season, even if at a lower level than Peak Kawhi.

Give Toronto a B-plus overall on the trade and give the Spurs a B for getting as much as they did when no market materialized with other teams. But, if the Sixers offering was legit and firm, per Red Satan's analysis, give the Spurs no more than a B for not taking it, as I think it was a better offer.

Give Kawhi and Uncle Dennis a C-plus. Maybe a B for legit medical concerns but a D-plus/C-minus for how they handled this.

And, long term? Who knows who's speaking for Kawhi when he says he doesn't want to go to the Lakers to be second fiddle to LeBron? I suspect Uncle Dennis. I suspect that this may be taken into consideration next year by some GMs dealing with his free agency.

Speculation the Drakes will flip Kawhi to the Lakers? Unlikely. A healthy Kawhi gives them a shot at the NBA Finals. Whatever package the Lake Show would offer back does not.

Could Pops have gotten better? Probably not. Despite early speculation, it appears the Sixers offered only one player — Robert Covington — along with multiple draft choices. I like Covington, and think he's a better all-around player than DeRozan, but, I can agree with Pop's point of view that that felt more like a rebuilding trade. (Oh, and I Googled well enough for this info that whatever Red Satan has behind its insider paywall about other trade possibilities is now no longer of interest to me.)

July 17, 2018

TX Progressives talk Trump, death penalty, pollution

The Texas Progressive Alliance is old enough to remember a time when Republicans thought cozying up to Russia was a bad idea (your blogger will have an updated report on the "12 Russians" indictments and the Trump-Putin summit next week) as it brings you this week's roundup — and as one member celebrates the Cardinals firingMike Matheny.

Off the Kuff reviewed the prognosticator projections for Texas' Congressional races.

SocraticGadfly talked about how the latest animal research seems to partially refute some ideas of Elizabeth Loftus' claims about how memory can operate.

Neil at You Need To Act Right Now detailed steps he was taking to defeat Trump and Trump's wickedness. Everything we do in this regard has value.

The NAACP had its annual convention in San Antonio and talked about getting out the black vote and continuing to fight disenfranchisement laws.

State Rep. Joe Moody calls for the abolition of the death penalty in Texas.

The Texas Trib notes how Greg Abbott is building on Rick Perry in consolidating trhe governor’s power.

State Rep. Joe Moody calls for the abolition of the death penalty in Texas.

Sanford Nowlin frets about the state of local media in San Antonio, though his worries apply to most metropolitan areas.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer describes the politics behind why Texas is likely to continue to oppose Medicaid expansion. The Texas Observer notes that, for similar reasons, automatic voter registration, ie, "motor voter," same-day registration and other ideas, won't happen.

Erica Schommer decries the planned reopening of the Willacy County Detention Center.

Equality Texas responds to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Greensource DFW says bacteria could decompose those nasty paper bags — and produce electricity in the process.

Downwinders at Risk stumbles on an old clean air fund and asks questions about it while suggesting it could be repurposed.

Backstory — your blogger was in Lancaster at the time, and trongly supported the coalition’s work to block coal-fired power plants. He does remember, and notes, that Cedar Hill and Duncanville refused to join Lancaster and DeSoto among Best Southwest cities. Back to you, Rob Franke.

July 15, 2018

Cardinals can Mike Matheny while flailing at midseason

I've been wanting the Birds to say sayonara to Mike Matheny as manager for years. Hell, I wanted John Mozeliak to hire Terry Francona instead of Matheny to fill the Tony La Russa retirement in the first place.

And, now he's gone. Along with hitting coach John Mabry and his assistant Bill Mueller.

I was going to do a midseason update blog in the next day or two anyway, and now I have the perfect additional reason.

Matheny, as Bernie Miklasz said recently, even with Mike Maddux as his new pitching coach, still hasn't learned how to manage a bullpen. Or starters at times. And, even with Jose Oquendo back coaching, the team is still boneheaded at times on the basepaths.

So he needed to go. But ... a midseason firing is very rare in St. Louis. The last time? As the Red Satan noted, more than 20 years ago, when Mike Jorgenson, as an interim, replaced Joe Torre.

But ... Bernie halfway predicted this Friday, including Mabry going, too. Mueller may have been collateral damage or a "message." Sunday, DeWitt said the team needed "a fresh voice and some new leadership." (Per that piece, Mark Budaska comes up from Memphis to replace Mabry.)

And, the biggie, as Red Satan notes? The team winning percentage has dropped each year from 2015 on.

This is the typical stir-up-the-team midseason firing. Will it work?

Probably not. Fangraphs has the Cards' playoff odds at 20 percent, and that was before Saturday night's loss to the Reds. (Back to back stinker home losses to Cincinnati probably contributed to the trigger being pulled.)

Dexter Fowler, the second bad FA signing by Mozeliak after Mike Leake — who is sucking more for Seattle this year than the Cards last year, if that's consolation to some fans who saw his post-trade 2017 peak with the Mariners — was followed by Marcell Ozuna as a bad trade instead of the team waiting out the Marlins (if Derrick Goold is passing on true dope on that) and signing Christian Yelich instead, may be a permanent dead weight thanks to Mo throwing him under the bus.

Matheny's reportedly using Bud Norris as a bullpen snitch, if even half true, has poisoned things there.

Injuries to Yadi Molina and Paul DeJong hurt, but not THAT much. If you're leaning on your 35-year-old catcher and your second-year shortstop to be that much of the offensive spark, you got bigger problems.

Sure, there may be a mild bump, but ... the team is not that good. Ozuna may still have shoulder problems, Tommy Pham may not hit last year's peaks, and who knows elsewhere?

As for "next year"? Mike Schildt is clearly an interim (I think).

But, maybe Schildt should NOT be an interim. I don't know if Yadi is the best batter on the team right now or not, but Schildt put him in the 2-hole for Sunday's game, and modern analytics says that's where the best guy should hit. (Actually, he's not, and Matt Carpenter should be in that slot, not leadoff, going by OPS+. Also, without totally throwing him under the bus, Ozuna should be moved down one spot, or more, from cleanup.)

Goold said Joe Girardi will be among those considered, passing on a tweet from Jon Heyman. That's the fricking kiss of death. Pass, unless Girardi has fixed whatever issued led the Yankees to fire him. If I recall, Girardi was analytics-resistant, and not always regarded as friendly to younger players. Definitely not the right fit.

Speaking of firings and fixings, maybe it's time to move on from Mozeliak. Bill DeWitt, feel free to pull a trigger. A year ago, when he did a sort of midseason shakeup, or threatened to, Mo said he believed in being held accountable himself. Good. Get rid of him.

As DeWitt said in the Bernie "decoder" piece, the offense sucks. DeWitt thinks it has potential to do better. Is it more that, or does it actually suck due to talent issues, in which case a new president or super GM is needed as much as a new manager?

A new PBO, or whatever title you give him, with Girsch, might bring new angles to on-field management, minor-league development and free agency.

St. Louis has declined as a destination for top-level free agents. So, look for more mid-level ones and use incentive-heavy contracts.