SocraticGadfly: 7/22/18 - 7/29/18

July 27, 2018

Beto O'Rourke-Ted Cruz real debate preview

Per the Texas Trib, Sen. Havana Ted McCarthy Cruz (R-Canada) and his challenger, Rep. Robert Francis Beto Kennedy O'Rourke (D-Hyannisport) may be near a set of debates. To save you and many Texas non-voters the worry about sitting through a five-debate scrimmage, I've giving you a preview of the after-event event happening.

I mean, why sit through all that trouble? Especially when these debates, as currently scheduled, will interfere with the fun of Friday Night Lights?

Update, Sept. 14: They've agreed to a three-debate set. Ted gets two of the three to be moderated format vs one town hall, so he wins that compromise. Beto gets two moved off Friday, and the one that is Friday is a 6 p.m. start, so he wins that.

(Update, Aug. 1: A new Lyceum poll shows a statistical dead heat, which is going to up the ante for these debates. Cruz staff is already trashing it, but it stands up to my eyeballs, with both voters and likely voters, and with Abbott leading Valdez by 20 percentage points. However, a Quinnipiac poll Aug. 2 shows Havana Ted with a 6-point advantage.  PPP then splits the diff at 4 points. And, even among college-educated whites, it shows that Beto's unknown factor is two-thirds that of Valdez. Interestingly, by percentage points, the gap is almost as big with Hispanics as with whites; it's closest with black voters. Plus, counting 22 percent as either unaligned or third party, Lyceum claimed respondents were otherwise split, 39 percent each on Doinks and Rethugs. That's an eyebrow raiser there. This is all why the likes of Kuff are wrong in relying on registered voter, not likely voter, feedback, tho Lyceum has Beto-Bob within two points on BOTH.)

Unfortunately, Twitter still doesn't embed each individual Tweet in a moment, nor will it embed the whole set of Tweets in a thread, just the one parent immediately above each, so we have to do it this way.

The first Tweet in the thread introduced the Trib's story, with link, so we'll start with No. 2.
The "born with a silver shopping mall in his mouth" is my riff on a line from this blog post by Brains, which is why I tagged him. Wasn't sure I had enough room in the Tweet for the URL.

Tweet No. 6 kind of connects with Tweet No. 3. Beto opposed both Conyers' HB 646 in the House, and Bernie's Senate bill. I kind of get Beto on Conyers; I've said myself that nonprofit hospitals aren't necessarily better than for-profit ones.

But, he screwed the pooch on saying why he didn't like Bernie's bill either — it didn't make Americans (beyond any needed tax increases) pay enough. Spoken like a true neoliberal who believes in Obama-Sunstein "nudges."

Let's also tie that back to Tweet 2. As part of the late-stage capitalism rentier class, I'm sure Beto knows that many businesses don't want single payer even if it saves money because they'd rather keep their employees serfs to "benefits."

Tweet No. 3? Outside of marijuana, and, on House voting records from the past, since federal marijuana decrim or legalization has never been a Congressional bill, Beto IS a ConservaDem. Sorry, Team Beto staff and volunteers, but it's out there in black and white.

Tweet 5? Paris IS toothless, and both President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinpeng wanted it that way. Climate-neoliberal Democrats like O'Rourke who bash Trump for withdrawing from the Paris Accords won't admit that.

Tweet 4? If you want to know why I'm not part of the duopoly, remember that foreign policy counts on my national votes and start there.

The names? To expand on the Kennedyesque (looks and ConservaDem-ness both) of Beto, I did that myself. Lots of people call Cruz "Havana Ted," of course; I figured the "McCarthy" (Joe, not Gene) rounded it out.

And, Brains weighed in yesterday, incorporating my Twitter thread. Per his piece, we need to see where tariffs are at when the debates start, on Tweet 5, to see how much traction Beto gets. Snark aside, rather than Russiophobia, O'Rourke attacks Cruz on cotton, sorghum, steel, gas and petroleum getting kicked, if the kicking is still happening.

Since Havana Ted still has the presidential bug, and doesn't want to risk offending the MAGA-heads, pinning him to Trump on this is O'Rourke's one chance, as I see it.

Yes, as a leftist for America, I targeted Beto the ConservaDem more than Havana Ted in my Tweets. But, I smacked Ted enough.

As for debate style, etc.? I've already called Havana Ted a "smarmy ... schoolmarm lecturer" and a "junior high teacher's pet." Nothing's changed there. Robert Francis O'Rourke will be earnest and bipartisan throughout. That said, beyond pinning the tariffs on Ted, personality — sad as it is in modern American politics — will probably be O'Rourke's one other hope to get significant traction.

Brans reminds me of one other thing.

These are all on Friday nights — and this is Tex-ass, where football is god and god is honored if he does't conflict too much with football mindsets. Aug. 31 is Week Zero of the high school season, so teams will be playing.

It's arguable this helps Havana Ted in non-voting Texas. OTOH, since older people are generally more likely to vote, it gives Beto a shot with improving his numbers with them. (Havana Ted is refusing to come off the Friday schedule, though he has agreed to move one debate site to El Paso.)

With that, partially contra Brains, I don't think Cruz "blinked." He certainly didn't "cave." He "softened." Now, if Beto pushes for Saturday dates, and Ted agrees, THEN he "blinked."


Beyond all this, you and I have at least one option (hat tip Brains) on the write-in ballot. Yeah, a Trot is pretty much out there, but ... better than Beto the Sheepdog.

July 25, 2018

Can the Cardinals fire John Mozeliak next?

John Mozelik, again showing a semi-genius, semi-mystic look
that seems to be an attempt to hide real puzzlement.
Now that St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations and former general manager John Mozeliak has fired Mike Matheny as manager, discussed further here, can owner Bill DeWitt show Mo the door next?

Update, Aug 2: Three-quarters of voters in my Twitter poll want to give Mo the boot.

He's got many GM crimes of his own, and not just with players. For starters, I wanted Mozeliak to hire Terry Francona instead of Matheny to fill the Tony La Russa retirement in the first place.

Now, the players.

Mo got smart in holding a firm line on Albert Pujols. He got lucky the Orioles went higher on Chris Davis, who may be even with Albert Pujols on worst FA contract ever when all is said and done. (Confession: I wanted him at the time.) He got lucky the Cubs and Bosox, respectively, went higher on Jason Heyward and David Price. (Cards fans who lament their passage? Heyward is better than last year, but still batting at replacement level and his defense is starting to decline. Plus the Cubs had intended to make him a center fielder. Price had injury problems last year and is pitching at replacement level this year.)

That said, Mo has had his own flops in both free agency and trades.

Dexter Fowler, the second bad free agent 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 — may be permanent dead weight as far as his contract after Mo threw him under the bus. If he really is some sort of clubhouse problem, that's also in part on Mo for not catching signs of it, if they were there, before signing him.

I was opposed to that, strongly, for three reasons. Two were connected, namely giving Fowler both the fifth year and the full no-trade clause. The other was not front-loading the contract, unlike with Jhonny Peralta, which would have made Fowler easier to move now.

It's not just free agency, though. Marcell Ozuna was 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. And, yes, I would have waited out the Marlins. If they absolutely wouldn't trade Yelich first, they would at least drop their price on Ozuna. And, that trade was made, let's remember, with Mo knowing about Ozuna's shoulder problems.

Let's get back to Matheny, though. From comments Francona made recently, it's clear that Mozeliak wanted a new-school manager who would accept a big picture vision of how to manage a team coming from the front office.

It's also clear that Matheny didn't have that, and has never grown into that. His bullpen management has been horrible. His lineups aren't set by sabermetric principles. Hell, he can't even do good double switches. Meanwhile, Francona, through, certainly understands the concept of leverage for his pen, by the way he has used Andrew Miller in high-leverage situations, rather than being a ninth-inning button pusher.

Now, Matheny didn't have to have previous MLB managerial experience to do this. MILB experience probably would have sufficed. Or modern baseball acuity from the broadcast booth, per the Yankees' hiring of Aaron Boone to replace Joe Girardi. That said, Gabe Kapler still looks "interesting" for the Phillies.

But Matheny had none of that, either.

And, so, John Mozeliak's desire to be a GM button-pusher has ultimately backfired. If Matheny wasn't going to learn after the Allen Craig trade, he wasn't going to learn.

And, thus, with all of this, Mo needs to be shown the door. He's arguably forfeited the trust to pick the team's next field manager.

As for free agency? I think the team needs to look for low-hanging fruit in mid-level free agents and sign them to low-base contracts with hefty incentive clauses. Mo's non-use of incentives is another head-scratcher.

July 24, 2018

TX Progressives say ixnay on overusing 'treason'

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges readers to stay cool and hope for rain as drought intensifies across the state. In the meantime, here’s this week’s roundup.

Socratic Gadfly offers his detailed thoughts on Mueller's indictment of the GRU  12 and what it does and does not say.

David Bruce Collins says don’t water the tree of liberty with hyperbole or false dichotomy in overusing the word “treason.”

Neil at We Must Act Right Now posted about confrontation and civility in our politics and society. 

Somervell County Salon points out the hypocrisy of John Bolton.

The Texas GOP is using a somewhat dubious poll by Markos about the Cruz-O’Rourke Senate race to pump up the faithful.

The Texas fetal remains civil case wrapped up testimony, with written closing arguments due soon. Here’s what the judge is thinking.

Major Texas businesses oppose AG Ken Paxton in his suit to end DACA.

Somervell County Salon points out the hypocrisy of John Bolton.

The black sweat labor that helped give Sugar Land its name comes to light.

Claudia Feldman eulogizes space architect Constance Adams.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze says he’ll take the First Amendment over Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

The Kinder Institute wants us to rethink disaster recovery and mitigation funding after Harvey.

Outgoing State Rep. Jason Villaba calls for impeaching Donald Trump.

Juanita finds the connection between Russian spy Maria Butina and Rep. Louie Gohmert.

Doyin Oyeniyi warns us of the peril of spontaneously combusting tortilla chips.

July 23, 2018

LeBron and Lakers 2019

Now that the dust has settled, what's it mean for LeBron James to go to the Lake Show?

Right now, they're certainly behind the Warriors. Even though they stole JaVale McGee, the Dubs inking Boogie Cousins, Achilles and reputation all, is still an upgrade for a year for the Warriors.

They're behind the Rockets if they resign Clint Capela, and possibly even if they don't. They may be no better than the Thunder with a resigned Paul George. And, the rest of last year's top teams in the West aren't pushovers.

As far as other Laker adds? Rajon Rondo, even as a one-year placeholder, is past prime. Losing Julius Randle leaves the team white bread in other ways. (Randle will, IMO, fit well with the Pellies; he can stay done in the paint, or else pick-and-roll, and not be the No 1 or even No. 2 offensive option.)

LeBron is an iron man, but there's only so much he can do. If they don't land Kawhi Leonard this year, this is a 45-, maybe 48-win team. No more. I don't agree with 538's 52-win projection.

Without 3-ballers, for example, one of an opponent's other wing defenders can drop back as far as possible within the NBA's zone rules, ready to double up if/when James drives from up top.

As others have said, Rondo hasn't shown an inclination to shoot and Lonzo Ball hasn't shown he can. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma, if he's not traded, is the only holdover from last year that can hit the 3. Brandon Ingram was moderately successful on a relatively low shooting rate for a 3.

Ditto if LeBron posts up, which, per ESPN, LeBron smartly wants to do later in his career and is part of the Magic Johnson plan. Since the Lakers don't have two too many 3-ballers OR a lot of reliable post scorers, he can be doubled in many ways. If the rest of the Lakers offense gets stagnant on not making cuts, boy, this is gonna look bad. Seriously, to the degree traditional post games still get run in the NBA, LeBron is better than any holdovers.

No great rebounders with Julius Randle gone.  With Brook Lopez now gone to Milwaukee, they have no rim protectors, though Lopez wasn't a great defensive switcher. In addition, that removes yet another 3-baller from the roster. Rondo and Ball may be good perimeter defenders, but Rondo is past career peak there, too. Moritz Wagner was not a great shot-blocker or general interior defender at Michigan.

And, if Lake Show fans are touting 10-year veteran Michael Beasley, who hasn't had more than 2.5 Win Shares in any of the last eight years, as an integral addition,. we have a team grasping at straws.

In reality, contra Rob Pelinka and Magic, I don't expect LeBron to hugely change his game. With the current Lakers O, there's probably going to be a fair amount of stagnation until midseason. And see what I said above if he does move more into the post.) Besides the biggies, it puts both the Jazz and Nuggets! ahead of the Lake Show. And, the rankings are framed to anticipate possible moves between now and the start of season.

ESPN's hoops staff seems to agree. Showing conference disparity, on July 23 it ranked the Lakers ninth overall, but just sixth in the West.

Next year? Sure, either Kawhi (if he really does leave Toronto) or an opted-out Kevin Durant is a possible. But a given? Of course not.

And, he's an iron man who is top 20 in career minutes and No. 1 in career playoff minutes. At some point, he runs out of gas. (He'll probably be No. 13 at the end of this coming season and probably No. 2 in two years, in regular season minutes. He'll be either No. 3 or 4 after three seasons, depending on how much longer Dirk Nowitzki plays and how many minutes per game.)

I say zero chance of a title this year.

For 2019-20, zero chance without either Kawhi or KD. Maybe 35 percent chance with one or the other.

That said, while the Warriors remain the team to beat, the Rockets losing both Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute may have slipped ..... but who's second? The Blazers? Meh. The Thunder without Melo but with other changes? The JAAAZZZ? No, the Lakers are not moving up to second in the Western Conference.

And we won't look yet at his third guaranteed year.

Nor will we examine, for now, that LeBron chose to move to the Daddy Ball circus.