December 21, 2018

Alternative history: Ronnie runs in 1964, not 1980

Note: This and other counterfactual histories ahead are stimulated by the new bio, "Reagan: An American Journey," reviewed by me here. (Spoiler: I three-starred it.)

Picture Ronald Reagan first giving his famous "A Time for a Decision" speech not in October 1964 as a Barry Goldwater fundraiser but a year earlier, for whatever reason, but it getting just as much attention then as in reality.

Many of the SoCal conservatives who backed Goldwater might never have jumped on that train. They would have seen Reagan right then as both more packageable and more charismatic than Goldy. As to people saying he was a political novice? One answer would be the rhetorical "So was Ike." Another would point at his Screen Actors Guild presidency and related items.

How would Reagan have fared?

In my opinion, he would have bombed even worse than Goldwater.

First, he would have made some of the same gaffes as Goldwater.

Remember, he worried that GE would fire him, years before GE Theater's ratings slid and they mutually separated, over his attacks on the TVA — attacks just like Goldwater made.

Remember, already by this time, Reagan had mentioned voluntary Social Security.

And, parallelling Goldy's "Let's lob one in the men's room of the Kremlin," just move back 20 years Reagan's open mic mic-check of "The bombing begins in 5 minutes."

And, Reagan, just like Goldy, opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

With no presidential debates, Reagan's 1980 "There you go again" to Carter would not have been heard. And, had he tried something like that, LBJ would have clobbered him over that.

Assuming he did something like his mic check or even close, LBJ would have run the Daisy commercial. He also would have run some sort of "affable doofus" commercial.

At some point he would have gotten under Reagan's skin, and a public blow-up by St. Ronald would have finished things off.

He would have lost at least as bad as Goldwater.

What if he then tried to repair things by a 1966 gubernatorial run?

Pat Brown — who should have taken him more seriously in the real world — would have been encouraged by LBJ to go for the kill in hopes of kayoing the entire California GOP. So, Reagan loses again.

That means, in 1968, he's not in competition with Nixon for the GOP nomination. He's a frustrated has-been. And American history changes a lot. He fails more than in reality in trying to get the 1976 Republican nomination. He's not even in the picture for 1980. And U.S. conservativism is forced to adapt, as Republicans and Democrats drift closer into neoliberal nuancings.

December 20, 2018

Time for another blogroll cleanup — bye, people

The biggest deletion? Since Massimo Pigliucci has gone to Patreon, which doesn't have an RSS, his old Plato's Footnote is out of the blogroll. That also said, his Patreon site is NOT going into my links list as of this time. A number of small comments issues over the past several months have become enough. That history of comments issues and related items is here. (That said, Dan Kaufman may read and comment less there, too, a silver lining.)

I'll still read him from time to time, since Patreon has email notices. But ... not gonna link him. Not right now. That may change in the future, but not now.

Beyond that, I had usually, on average, already read half or so the Friday links roundup he posted, so,  unless something new popped up, I found it less stimulating than years ago. Also — and I know that, as a blogger, it's hard to avoid this entirely — he's starting to recycle stuff. In August, he wrote his third piece in less than 18 months about what's wrong, in his estimation, with informal fallacies of classical logic.

One linked almost as long? And which will certainly remain delinked? And is the biggest deletion?

3 Quarks Daily had been in a bit of suspension in my mind for a few months. Posting a 15-year-old Harvard Magazine story about Egyptology is the latest in my craw of how it at times is pretentious about how it "curates" seven or eight things daily — then asks for money for this task of awesomeness, then pulls crap like that. (This is the first time I've seen anything THAT old, but I've seen stuff more than a year old before, and from my perspective on matters philosophical, I've seen more crap there — including two Alex Rosenberg pieces in less than a month. (The reality about him can be found in this piece by friend Massimo, "Why Alex Rosenberg is wrong about just about everything.") More recently, it ran with a piece claiming "lefties are dissing evolution." The piece was actually about ev psych, not evolutionary biology, which is a pseudoscience.

And, it has now blocked me from commenting there, since I voiced these complaints there. That is despite its running two philosophical essays I wrote for Massimo, which even made the first cut in a competition, as I note here. And Twitter and FB. So, it's deleted. (It was the comment I had on the ev psych piece, which was total bullshit, plus a followup comment to another commenter about the Egyptology piece, that got me blocked. At least I went out in style.)

I deleted The North Star because, while the previous incarnation of the site had great info from a leftist but not extremist POV, it's been more than 90 days since they started on a promised overhaul and the organizers still have nothing but an "about" / placeholder home page up. I'll add it back if and when the website is actually up and running.

And, I've deleted another. And done other things related to that. And that's that.

One I have added is Carl Beijer. He blogs but occasionally, but, is usually at least half as snarky as he is on Twitter. At the same time ... for someone who worked for Nader twice, but doesn't note in a blog post that the reason Dems flipped so many Republican seats is that they ran a lot of military-industrial complex or spying-snooping complex ConservaDems is a bit of an eyebrow raiser. (Maybe he thinks those people don't go against Democrats' core values; to the degree the Doinks DO have core values, I'd agree with him, but ... he doesn't spell that out.) OTOH,  I would support Beijer's idea of a more socialist Green New Deal than the Roses (or the US Green Party, I think he's right) have offered. Anyway ... he's his own person. And, then, in February 2019, he undercuts himself again by doing a "rally the troops to Bernie" post and ignoring Greens — and Sanders' still iffiness on foreign policy issues.

OTTH (On the third hand) Beijer does a bit of shark-jumping for me when he claims that capitalism inexorably leads to fascism. There, he refuses to call himself a dialectical materialist, but does call himself a "historic materialist."

A difference that makes no diff, Carl. You're claiming to be a Commie, specifically of Marxist variety, not just a socialist. As I've said elsewhere, Marxism is bankrupt both scientifically and philosophically.

Related? I've added Corey Robin, who is somewhere between left-liberal and leftist. He remains more accommodating of DSA Dems than I am, and somewhat more accommodating of the "internal reform" idea, but, he certainly doesn't write blank checks. He posts rarely; I haven't followed him on Book of Face but I do on Twitter.

Another add is PsyPost. It's pop psychology in reading level, but reasonably rigorous in what it reports. And very interesting

A third, which I have read for years, is John Horgan's blog at SciAm.

A fourth is Schneier on Security, who covers all sorts of cybersecurity issues.

A fifth is Smokey the Cat, a Twitter friend and yinzer who is in my general neck of the world politically and has started into the blog world.

A sixth is Bosque Bill. It's not entirely about New Mexico, and it's not entirely about nature, but it's primarily pretty much about one or the other of those.

A seventh addition is connected to the last deletion.

Otherwise, I in general don't keep a long, large blogroll. Seriously, who has time to track 50 or more different ones? Especially if they're all ones about politics? (You'll notice that's not the case with mine.)

December 19, 2018

Texas Progressives talk Betomania and the Texas Lege

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes all its readers have a safe and sane run-up to Christmas as it presents this week’s roundup.

SocraticGadfly takes a skeptical look at the Betomania 2020 Kool-Aid.

Texas Leftist notes the worries of the Texas Vietnamese community in the wake of the latest Trump administration deportation threats.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs and news sites.

The Texas Observer's Joe Nick Patoski has a long-form piece about the idea that, as nationally with the National Park Service, Texans are loving state parks to death. The Observer notes that many of the problems started after 2000, which is a political dividing point in the state, of course. (Editor’s note: A new TPWD system, which will allow reservations for parks, even down to time of entry, will only shuffle the problem around, not make it better, and it may make it worse.)

The Chron notes that many Houston-area residents are NOT sold on an Ike Dike.

A speech language pathologist has lost her job over Texas' most-certainly unconstitutional anti-BDS law; the ACLU is suing in a similar case involving an NPR station employee right here at KETR in Northeast Texas, per Mondoweiss.

The Texas Trib has a news analysis piece on school finance in the coming Lege.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze has a news analysis piece does a call-out of Julian Castro and his presidential plans, and also calls out Dallas’ old black establishment.

The Bloggess presents the Ninth Annual James Garfield Christmas Miracle.

Elise Hu reported on brain-machine interfaces at the University of Houston.

Swamplot has the perfect present for the Astrodome-lover in your life.

Better Texas Blog updates us on where we stand with school finance.

Dan Solomon ponders the demise of the breastaurant.

December 17, 2018

Should the Cardinals just say no to Bryce Harper?

Let's assume the final contract numbers in the Bryce Harper free agency derby are 10/$350.

(See the poll at upper right or click the link to vote on when you think he signs a deal.)

Do you look at the guy with the 10-WAR year and say, yeah, we hope we get even close to that?

Or do you look at the guy with the THREE sub-2 WAR years (and only one of those due primarily to injury) and say "Too much risk factor"?

I am hoping the Cardinals, John Mozeliak and Mike Girsch do the latter.

Especially with the recent trade for Paul Goldschmidt, of which I approve, meaning the Birds have less of a need for Bryce and can focus on their pitching.

So ... (with a new caveated update that includes calling Boras' bluff on Harper's value)

Let's compare Harper to a big contract the Cards were willing to take on in trade just 12 months ago, namely, Giancarlo Stanton, as I've already done this on Twitter in exchange with Bill James.

The 10 years left on his contract, at $285 million, are actually "just" $28.5 million AAV. (Take away his option year, and 9/$260 is approximately $29M AAV.) But, you'd pay him 10/$350 if Bryce is getting that, right? Even if Bryce is 3 years younger?

So, let's look at WAR.

Harper, seven years, 27.4 WAR is 3.9 per year. Stanton, nine years at 39.2, is 4.35 per year.

Let's throw out best and worst years of both and check that.

Harper? 16.3/5=3.26. Stanton? 27/7=3.85.

You've still got that one-half WAR per year difference.

Add in that Harper has, in the past, been valued more highly on defense than Stanton and B-Ref putting him at -3.0 on dWAR in 2018 should be of some concern.

Besides Stanton, the Cards have shown that they're not always cheapskates.

They offered Jason Heyward the highest AAV of any bidder, but lost in part (thanks for bailing us out, Cubs) due to no opt-out. They pursued David Price hard. They offered Phat Albert Pujols 8/$198 (thanks Arte for bailing us out). Just a friendly reminder on that: The Cards could still have him on the books for one more year had the Angels not stepped in.

So, Mo will pay. And overpay. IF he decides to pay.

Hey overpaid for Dexter Fowler, not taking into account how having Heyward next to him inflated his defensive stats. He had a lesser overpay for Mike Leake. He had an overpay in trade for Marcell Ozuna, rather than waiting out Derek Jeter, offering additional players, or whatever was needed, for NL MVP Christian Yelich, who, if he was in St. Louis, would mean we wouldn't be talking about Bryce Harper. And, I thought it was the wrong trade even before Yelich won the MVP, and thought it was wrong WELL before knowing Mo willingly traded for a player with a known bum shoulder. (And, Derek Goold, who I consider a team fluffer even more than Bernie Miklasz was when he was still at the Post-Dispatch, has never given me a convincing background story on that.)

What I am getting at is that Mo could be dumb enough to overpay for Bryce Harper, and that kind of worries me.

Yeah, Mo's made a few decent deals in free agency. Kyle Lohse tops the list, followed by Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran. And he did trade for Matt Holliday. But, he's not a genius (no GM really is) but he's not in the top tier. He's not in the bottom tier, either, but still ...

I probably will have no need to worry. I think the team pivots to pitching with the Goldschmidt signing. I just wanted to add that, given Mo's track record, my reasons for worry are legit.

Otherwise, if the Cards are looking for a relatively low-cost lefty OF to give more left-right lineup balance, Michael Brantley and Nick Markakis are both still out there.  I think Markakis had an Indian summer year last year, so I would be leery of a lower-level overpay. Brantley is younger, and assuming 2018 showed he is past injuries, I'd give him a straight 3/$50 with some incentive money and a fourth-year option. The injuries is a judgment call. I would give Markakis no more than, say, 2/$30 plus an option year. If that.

(Update: Brantley is now with the Stros.)