December 14, 2018

Andrew Sullivan hits new pseudointellectual low

In what I see as possibly his greatest feat of anti-intellectualism since denoting an entire issue of The New Republic to touting the pseudoscientific insights of The Bell Curve, Sully is now hoisting high the old canard that atheists are really religious, too.

I have myself said that Gnu Atheists, in some sociology-type ways, show a mindset similar to fundamentalist-type Christians, and have thus called them atheist fundamentalists. But, I've never claimed that they, let alone non-Gnus, are religious.

He then followed with teh stupidz of claiming religion is in our genes.

Neither one is close to true, in reality. The fact that Sully is arguably a very good representative of the Peter Principle in mainstream media, especially thought and opinion media, on the other hand, is almost ironclad as an argument now.

But, I couldn't let such arrogant, arrant nonsense go unchecked.

Here's a few thoughts I posted on Twitter, with interspersed comment:
In short, per his Bell Curve love, on B, Sully seems to be doubling down on the pseudoscience of Ev Psych. A Scott Atran or Pascal Boyer will easily steer clear of this while offering much more plausible theories about the origins of what eventually became religious belief mindsets.
From there, it's off to the land of false analogies, refuted by this:
The real problem is Sully's willful ignorance on a fair amount of philosophy. I note that here
and here:
Finally, Sullivan shows his misunderstanding of the political movement he claims to represent.
Tosh. Both here and in Europe (and the Anglosphere across the world), many politicians and political thinkers are both classical liberals and irreligious.

December 13, 2018

Beto2020 — the Kool-Aid is poured
and many are chugging it (with updates)

The amount of Kool-Aid that's already being poured for a presidential run for ConservaDem Beto O'Rourke is mind-boggling. So is the amount of people — including Texans who I thought were either better thinkers than that or better informed than that — who are willfully drinking.

A few thoughts:

1. Were I voting in the 2020 primary (let's assume I am still in Tex-ass and that I figure Greens have no chance of a successful ballot access petition) while Bernie Sanders' age (if he runs again) would concern me, I would vote him over Beto in a heartbeat. Per what I have seen on Effbook, Beto as a younger, if not totally progressive, than allegedly not ConservaDem, option to Bernie, is nonsense.

2. Among the national neoliberal chattering class (Neera Tanden at Center for American Progress et al) Beto is clearly taking more shape as a stop-Bernie possibility.

2A. Both the 1 and 2 camps tout "winnability." In other words, "lesser evilism." Currently, that's more a lesser evilism from ignorance than willfulness in Camp 1, but it's willfulness more than ignorance in Camp 2.

3. It is true that, because of his near success against Havana Ted Cruz, that wingers and fellow travelers fear him. As I've noted, two such fellow travelers have lied in claiming that Beto is a single-payer guy as part of claiming he ran a bad campaign. The lie is obviously a placeholder to extend nationally Havana Ted's smear. The bad campaign claim is shown to be untrue by the fact that, while he lost, Beto finished closer to Havana Ted than the best poll predictions. (Per Real Clear Politics, only one outlying Emerson poll showed a race closer than 3 percentage points and none ever showed O'Rourke with a lead.)

4. In light of Point 2, while Beto will face a few "takedown" pieces if he leans more toward running, he'll also get plenty of national media puff pieces like he did this year. After all, John Nichols at The Nation showed his hackery by writing a puff piece on someone who not only is not a DSA rose, but actually was non-endorsed by some local chapters of Our Revolution. Anne Helen Peterson's gushing for BuzzFeed is a bit more forgivable on account of biased laziness; Nichols knows better, or at a minimum, he has a history and body of work that shows he should know better.

4A. For at least some of the people in Point 4 writing puff pieces, or attacking those like David Sirota, or little old me further down the list, as with people on Book of Face, the lesser evilism claim of "winnability" will get touted, and the fear of wingers I list in No. 3 will get cited as proof of that.

Meanwhile, Beto, obviously taking a page from Sanders getting a bad rap, has already met with both Dear Leader and Al Sharpton.

That said, there's other Kool-Aid already out there besides Beto.

Kamela Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand are both being image-buffed. Donut Twitter will probably throw both out as women along with complaints that Bernie is anti-woman. Women's issues will remain important, though the rough edges of MeToo will fade in a year.

Anyway, I vote based on foreign as well as domestic policy.

Who is, say, under 65, or better yet, under 60, three-quarters or more as progressive on domestic policy in Dem ranks as Bernie, and even close to him on foreign policy? No Democrat that I see. Elizabeth Warren is over 65, self-damaged goods in some ways, and already criticizing of BDS.

That said, no "name," presidential-aspirant Democrats are great on foreign policy. Bernie's the best of a bad lot. Beyond being iffy himself on BDS, he's dabbled in the collusion Kool-Aid, speaking of that beverage. And, an alleged Texas socialist at Splinter claims its best he should step aside and try to nudge Warren leftward. Jacobin just torpedoed that. And, don't claim Tulsi Gabbard, who remains an Islamophobe as well as a friend of India's semi-fascist BJP and more fully fascist RSS.

Riffing on David's comment:

Dan Derozier, Houston DSA elections committee chair, in a Chronicle-run retrospective, notes clearly that Beto stood for Beto and little else. So true. Even worse than Obama, he left little "apparatus" to build on. (Derozier dodges Beto's stance, or lack thereof, on specific positions, though. Beto is just criticized as a values-free campaigner without noting WHAT values he was free of. I.e., his dodges on single-payer aren't specifically mentioned. Per that, I wonder if he's trying to work intra-DSA factions on Betomania.)

==

This piece, like my original ConservaDem piece, will get updates as warranted.

Dec. 23, 2018: Jonathan Allen and Alex Seitz-Wald, the former long known as a semi-lazy "inside baseball" political writer and the second as simply a hack, have written an opinion piece masquerading as a news story attacking David Sirota above all as representative of a "Bernie-world" move against Beto. I set them straight, or offered to set themselves straight by noting my ConservaDem piece began nine months ago, long before David uttered a word about Beto, among other things, and that as a Green-leaner, I'm not part of any "Bernie-world."

Jan. 3, 2019: David Brock of Mindless Mullets for America is doing the same.

December 10, 2018

TX Progressives talk cooperation, vote turnout, more




The Texas Progressive Alliance knows the value of cooperation as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff made two last attempts to find a relationship between straight ticket voting and Democratic likeliness to "drop off" from long ballots.

As winter meetings arrive, SocraticGadfly switches from politics to baseball to applaud the Cardinals for the Paul Goldschmidt trade.

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texas Monthly introduces its 31 power brokers.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze says the latest Trinity River plan is “Six Flags for rich people.”

Stephen Young notes that, despite Betomania, Texas voting turnout, at least in midterms, STILL sux.

Texas Observer runs the syndicated Jim Hightower column that his syndicator, Creators, wouldn’t.

Better Texas Blog warns of the dangers of short term health insurance plans.

Paradise in Hell wants to see that Confederate plaque in the Capitol banished.

Texas Vox takes a first look an environmental bills for the 86th Lege.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that funding schools is the state's responsibility.

Juanita always takes the time to marvel at the wonder of Louie Gohmert.

The Lunch Tray explains the latest USDA announcement on school mean nutrition policy.

David Bruce Collins takes aim at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders.

Two possible Cardinals trades?

The first is pretty straightforward. The Indians have indicated that Cory Kluber and possibly Trevor Bauer might be available via trade. Carlos Carrasco had also been mentioned earlier but he's now off the market with a contract extension. Also, the Bauer possibility seemed more speculation by other teams than anything hard from the Tribe as he still has two years of arbitration control. The resigning of Carrasco, fairly cheaply, means that the team might move Kluber, though.

(Update, Dec. 18: MLBTR says the Indians are still open, at least on Kluber.

Update, Jan. 7, 2019: I would be OK without Bauer; Deadspin reminded of his MAGA-type nuttery.)

The Cardinals, with their own Paul Goldschmidt trade, discussed by me here, have some room to deal now.

Jedd Gyorko is superfluous with the presumed move of Matt Carpenter to third. Jose Martinez has a great bat plus a stone glove and so is ideally an AL DH guy, and the rise of Tyler O'Neill means outfield room is needed, at least if he's ready for a full-time role. I'm not saying Gyorko plus Martinez swing the deal by themselves, but, it's a start.

(That said, MLB Trade Rumors reports on Jan. 3 the Cards are, according to Ken Rosenthal, less and less likely to trade Martinez this year. Let him DH in interleague games in AL parks, cut Goldy a day off every two weeks and play once a week at a corner OF spot [more if unfortunately necessary] and you get him, what, 150-200 ABs and limit his glove damage. Given that he's a year away from even entering arbitration, makes sense, if he's not a part of any good trade talks.)

This lets the Cards have another arm to help move beyond Adam Wainwright, unless he has a major rebound in 2019, and to decide more how much to pay Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha a year from now. (Any contract the Cards give Wacha should be cash-low and incentive-high based on his injury history.)

I don't know who besides Gyorko and Martinez would make a package, but it's worth further thought. I would be willing to include a pitcher back as long as its not Mikolas, Carlos Martinez or Alex Reyes, and not the hottest of minors prospects.

For Cleveland, they could use Jose Martinez this year as a corner outfielder, since Melky Cabrera's a free agent not likely to be resigned unless as a cheap fourth OF, and Michael Brantley (who may be resigned?) is also a free agent. Martinez could mix this with first baseman and DH. They could then, a year from now, buy out Edwin Encarnacion's option for 2020 and let him walk, while rebuilding their outfield.

(Update, Dec. 17: Brantley has reportedly inked a deal with the Astros.)

Should a trade like this come off, or even if not, I don't think Derrick Goold has the correct Cardinals lineup by batting order.

Assuming Kolten Wong is injury-free and mentally rejuvenated on a full year free of Mike Matheny micromanaging him, I put him at the top of the lineup. Harrison Bader (if he cuts his strikeouts) second. Carp, another lefty, is third. And he needs to get a mindset. Goldy is in cleanup. Yadi fifth. That gets you L-R-L-R through the first four spots. Of course, it's righty-heavy after that. (Yes, a certain Bryce Harper would fix that, but I don't see that happening. Michael Brantley would also fix it. So would Nick Markakis, but I think he had an Indian Summer year last year.) Another option is shoving all the above people up a spot and dropping Marcell Ozuna somewhere in 2-5, but then slotting Wong no lower than sixth. Or dropping him to eighth and if Dexter Fowler is still here, putting him in one of the top three slots as a switch hitter IF he reverts to 2017 or earlier.

Speaking of ...

==

The second trade, that I've seen suggested elsewhere? A salary dump swap. Fowler goes back to the Rockies for Wade Davis. Salaries are just about dead even. Both might benefit from change of scenery, and the Cards are still in the look for a closer.

Rockies might have a hole to fill. Would be tough for Dex to move past Gerardo Parra and Charlie Blackmon, but the free agency of Carlos Gonzales leaves right field open. David Dahl has looked decent for them in cups of coffee in 2016 and a partial season in 2018, but they might still want another outfielder.

That said, if that trade happens? Geez, we're a righty-heavy team at the plate.

And, it very well could not happen. Mo says he's OK with Fowler as his starting right fielder.