SocraticGadfly: 2/17/19 - 2/24/19

February 22, 2019

Bob Kraft pushes the Mueller report off the front page

Can we just call Kraft #DeezNuts now?

First, for people who say "journalism is dying," put a sock in it.

Yesterday, at the Jupiter PD's first presser on the the bust of massage parlors that led to today's news of the Bob Kraft arrest for soliciting prostitution, a reporter first asked if any NFL players were involved and, IIRC, got a "no." Reporter then asked if other NFL-connected people, including owners were involved and got a "no comment."

Obviously, this reporter had a tip and a good one. So did someone on Reddit Thursday. Especially since Red Satan is now having people throw stuff over the transom claiming that Kraft may not be the highest profile person involved. They may or may not be sports people, but that seems most likely. (What's even more likely is ESPN doing a big cover-up for Bob Kraft's Schweddy Balls.)

And, according to Deadspin's analysis of the probable cause affidavit, Kraft got his Schweddy Balls twice in 24 hours — once the day of the AFC title game.

Jethro Jerry Jones, who has a past shady history with easy women, is already being mocked on Twitter. I joked that Jerry didn't go himself; instead, he sent Jason Garrett to get takeout sloppy seconds for him.

And, Mr. Elin Nordigren, aka Tiger Woods, lives in Jupiter. (I don't think that Jupiter would let a declasse place like Perkins Pancakes in the city limits, so breakfast may be out of town.)

So, higher profile? Stay tuned.

(Update, March 8: The Orchids of Asia founder, who sold the biz in 2013, was at a Super Bowl watch party ... with President Trump. And, reportedly, the spa gave "wax jobs" under her ownership, too. Update March 12: She also was allegedly grifting on her Trump connections, selling Mar-a-Lago access and medium-term visas.)

Jupiter PD said a total of 25 people were caught in this bust. They also did not say, one way or the other, if this was the only bust. The story above reports that at least eight massage parlors in West Palm Beach had been targeted.

Too bad our old legal beagle, Chris Chopin, aka #ActualFlatticus, isn't still alive. He'd surely be on the case, having lived in West Palm and fighting for some sort of truth, justice and the Flatty way.

Unless his dad, Trump lover L. Frank Chopin, is involved.

More more seriously, while I'm not sure we should have blanket decriminalization of prostitution, I am at least open to the idea.

As for rumors on Red Satan that Kraft might not be the biggest get? Florida officials have rejected that. For all I know, it might be ESPN whitewashing to have floated that claim.

That said, the link above notes that the warrant is "non-extraditable." In other words, as long as Bob Kraft doesn't visit Florida again, nothing could be done to him.

Reality? This will die down and at some point in the future, Kraft will quietly accept a deferred adjudication offer and everybody will move on.

(Update, March 19: Or, Kraft will get offered the equivalent of deferred adjudication with no deferment. What's stopping his lawyer from taking the offer? Oh, and did Kraft pay for a prosecutor's kids to go to the front of the line at Princeton, a la the college cheating scandal? Well, maybe neither. In what's not totally shocking, as of March 20, apparently Kraft has decided he can beat the rap and outspend prosecutors. He's filed to have the evidence quashed. He reportedly doesn't want the tie to sex trafficking in any way, any how. He also doesn't want the video released; sorry, but I agree with the sheriff, both as a private citizen and someone in the media. It's a public record now. Period.

Update, March 23: Kraft has now released a statement that "I am truly sorry [I got caught]." And, Deadspin gets as smug about "everybody (falling) for Robert Kraft's 'apology'" as the ESPN it likes to ridicule. I, in turn, like ridiculing Deadspin for stuff like this.)

Update, April 3: Kraft is the gift of rich insolence that keeps on giving, now officially alleging an illegal search. And, like the kid who kills his parents then throws himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan, his legal beagles claim Jupiter police, at the same time, had enough evidence to shut Orchids of Asia before he was arrested.

Update, April 5: Well, per USA Today, Kraft's lawyers may damned well have case, if their claim is correct. Using a fake bomb threat to get into Orchids of Asia to install spy cams, especially if a trafficking claim was connected? Quash the indictment — but, of course, not just for Kraft but everybody.

That said, this still shows why there's two levels of justice in America. Some poor shlub could never afford legal beagles to nail that down.

Side note: The type of warrant involved became allowable after the Patriot Act. Thanks Shrub for creating it. Thanks Dear Leader and Dem Congresscritters for not repealing it.

#TakeAKnee, take a settlement for Colin Kaepernick:
Will Kaepernick return to the NFL and is he worth it?
If so, how will he be received by players, coaches, owners?
If not, does he form his own advocacy foundation?
And how many capitalists will keep wanting a piece of him?

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and co-plaintiff Eric Reid have settled with the NFL last week on their lawsuit related to their Take A Knee stance, begun by Kaepernick, of kneeling during the National Anthem as a quietistic protest against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter.

Three main questions, and sidebar observations related to all of them.

First, will he come back?

Well, if Kaep got a bunch of money, he doesn't have to, of course. (We don't know how much he got, or other issues; that's going to be the other sidebar observation, below.) Would he want to?

And, rumor mill has it that "Kaep got his."

William Rhoden says the pair allegedly got $60-80 million. So, $15 million for Reid and $45-$65 million for Kaep?

Update, March 21: Via Red Satan which "shockingly" provides no link, the Wall Street Journal says Rhoden was way the hell wrong and Kaep and Reid combined got no more than $10 million.

Kaep has two years of not taking shots from defensive ends and linebackers. He might enjoy staying pain-free.

Or, he might say that, rather than being rusty, he's fresh. With the league doubling down again on mobile QBs like Lamar Jackson, he should be hired.

So, how would you rank him against current QBs?

My take, based on a mix of:
1. Overall QB physical skills
2. Overall QB athleticism
3. Overall QB decision making and leadership

AND ... based on where Kaep was at when he was last active —

I rank clearly ahead of him
1. Tom Brady
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Ben Roethlisberger
4. Russell Wilson
5. Patrick Mahomes
6. Drew Brees
7. Andrew Luck
8. Cam Newton

Four of those eight are fairly long in the tooth, of course. A couple are very long.

In the "at least even," even with just a few years or even one, I'll put:
1. Baker Mayfield
2. Deshaun Watson
3. Dak Prescott
4. Jared Goff

Right now, at least, Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr need not apply as being "at least even." That's mainly due to injuries. None of Mayfield's rookie peers guarantee ahead of Kaep.

So, if you're looking more than one year out, NFL teams? Scratching Brady and Brees for sure, only about one-third of the league's QBs are guaranteed as good or better, in my book.

In addition, he was recently not too washed up for Arena Football 2.0 to be interested. So? John Elway can stop being a hypocrite and trading for POS quarterbacks like Joe Flacco. (That goes for other GMs too, of course.)

Will any teams actually take him? Nut-cutting time on odds says 10-1 against. After all, he just settled his lawsuit with the league. It, and its member teams, are now legally in the clear. If you're an owner and/or GM, you have to think Kaep gives you a clear boost, is not rusty, and, on the owner side, won't drive fans or local ad dollars away. Flip side is? If he DID get decent money from the league, you could do like the new arena folks and offer him a pretty low salary.

And, flip side on owners is?

Let's be honest. Half or so of current QBs, all under contract, are at least roughly equal. And, if Kaep really wanted $20 million from the Alliance of American Football for arena games, he won't come cheap for the NFL.

Were I an actual GM, and I run one of the teams that does not have a QB mentioned above, or one of the unmentioned rookie first-rounders from last year besides Mayfield? Kaep would get $2 million non-guaranteed and a $500K signing bonus. I would include one or two option years — player options — to give him some additional assurance of job security.

Look at Kaep's actual sabermetrics, per the list of QBs above and other things. Only once, in a full season, did he pop a Quarterback Rating of above 100. For comparison, Mahomes was at 113.8. Wilson, in their almost totally overlapping history through 2016, regularly rated higher. And didn't have injury problems. Remember, Kaep had a history of taking unnecessary hits when he ran the ball.

So, that's part 1.

Kaepernick has been, beyond his Black Lives Matter activism, a nice sledgehammer to beat over the head of Roger Goodell, more curmudgeonly members of the NFL ownership club and MAGA hat wearing fans. But, is he "all that" as a QB? Well, maybe he never was. Better than Flacco but behind DangeRuss. About midway between the two, in fact.

At the same time? The Redscum, also, per their owner, and the issue about the mascot possibly being racist, who could also be called the Snyder Hymies, signed Mark Sanchez to replace Alex Smith after his broken leg. Then signed Josh Johnson to replace him. Kaep is better than either and would also buff up Dan Snyder's rep.

But, even then, he ain't getting $20 million, or close. He can compromise, like Andre Dawson with the Cubs long ago. Or not.

So, while Kaep's legal mouthpiece Mark Geragos claimed a week ago that Kaep likely would be signed within two weeks of then, we're halfway through and counting. As I said on Twitter a week ago:
And I stand by that.

Of course, Geragos has plenty of new troubles to worry about.

As of March 25, he is reportedly an unindicted co-conspirator in the alleged scheme by Michael Avenatti to shake down Nike. Given that Geragos' other clients past and present include(d) Jussie Smollett, Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Gary Condit and Scott Peterson, the idea that he would be PR-heavy and truth-light on Kaep's future with the NFL should be totally unsurprising.

I clearly won't be eating either his hat or mine.

Let's also not forget that Kaep agreed to a contract restructuring and bet on himself as a player, outside of #TakeAKnee. That gives a heads-up to The Undefeated's Bomani Jones, talking about Kaep's sacrifices.

In other words?

Per old friend Idries Shah ... "there are more than two sides."

That's clear here. We don't know what financial discussions were held when Kaep worked out with teams in the past two years and many other things. And, in the spirit if not the letter of the NDA, we may never know.

But, none of us should be shocked that Nike has just put out a Kaep memorial jersey.

"We believe Colin Kaepernick is one of the most inspirational athletes of his generation biggest gravy trains available for us to foist this $150 ripoff on inner-city youth," said an unidentified Nike spox.

Said spox also did not mention the country or sweatshop of origin of this new jersey.

Part 2? If he did come back, how would he be received?

The non-disclosure agreement does disappoint me. It's almost like Wilson throwing an INT at the 1-yard line rather than handing off to Marshawn Lynch after marching downfield on principle.

And, it does uh, off-put me a bit. As a journalist, if I had a lawsuit, and I got into settlement talks, on principle related to the spirt of the First Amendment, I wouldn't sign a non-disclosure agreement. They could bid me down to five bucks plus my lawyers' fees.

And, his own cause involves the First Amendment. As a unionized employee, he has free speech workplace rights that many of us don't. And, as a unionized employee, he also has freedom of assembly workplace rights many of us don't.

Basically, with Kaep, I want to know what, if anything, besides money (beyond the NFL covering his legal fees) is involved. 

I wonder above all how fellow players would receive him. And, not those who think he was disrespectful nearly as much as those who were most supportive.

If Kaep is really tight-lipped on his NDA, what do these other players think he won for them? They wouldn't know. And, on social media at least, leading up to this point, Kaep has been tight-lipped.

Reality, as Red Satan also noted about the settlement, is that this was a lose-lose if it went to discovery. The league would have to show the general public just how much money it makes. For Kaep? The league-players collective bargaining agreement makes it VERY tough to prove collusion.

The NFL, as those publicly opened books would have shown, has plenty of money for Kaep to be silent. And, enough to comfort Reid along with his new contract. Since neither was actually represented by the NFLPA or part of a Players Association action, I doubt either one got anything besides money. That gets back to my material in italics, and why this settlement has an NDA, and why Kaep as well as Goodell might like that.

I doubt that Kaep got Goodell to sign off on anything non-monetary, like an informal agreement to rein in the worst owners, like Jethro Jerry Jones, should Reid, or other players, want to carry on some sort of protest movement.

So, The Undefeated claiming "Kaep won"? Really? How do you know? Ditto for Jemele Hill, now at The Atlantic. And, neither of you talk about whether Kaep's allies still in the league won or not.

Part 3? What happens if he has taken his last knee in the NFL?

Kaep is smart, organized, and likeable. Founding and leading some sort of advocacy group seems likely. That said, is The Undefeated right in saying he doesn't need the NFL any more?

Who knows.

In part, it would depend on how much he could get NFL players who have supported him to continue to do so. Related to that, it would also in part depend on how much players may continue Kaepernick-type stances on game day. And THAT depends on if Kaep tried to get any formal, or informal, protections for other players. We know the Jethro Jerry Jones type owners will surely be sharpening their knives now, especially if Kaep (and Reid) didn't get any agreement, even one not in writing, from the league.

Related to that, would Kaep work for the NFL Players Association? Would it want him? Probably not, if it could avoid publicly saying so.

The Undefeated compares him to Ali. But  ... that's not even close.

Ali went to court, went to criminal trial, and eventually won. And then, got back in the ring. Kaepernick had a civil case that never went to trial. And, assuming he does indeed never play another down in the NFL, whatever platform — or the possibility of one — that he had — is now gone.

Rhoden, at his above link, which is like these other stories at The Undefeated, ends by undercutting the other Undefeated piece on the Ali angle. He also raises the issues of Kaep's legacy and his future. I don't think he's a "sellout" for taking NFL money. I do think he approaches being one if he got NOTHING BUT money, per what I said above.

It's possible we may see a continued blazing trail for Kaepernick.

It's also possible that, within a generation, and maybe less, or even just a decade, Red Satan might be writing a "where are they now?" piece about him. After all, nobody knows today much about the current activities of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. True that David Stern did suspend him a game, then reach a truce on what he could do. Nonetheless, while he wasn't as great a player, relatively speaking, as Kaep, he wasn't a scrubeenee, either. He did say three years ago, re the start of Kaep's movement, that he had no regrets about what he did. But, what visibility level does he have today? Not a lot.

And, otherwise?

The Dead Zone is half right. Stern did suspend him, as linked above, and then put restrictions on him. BUT, owners didn't chase him out of the league. Instead, he lost his shooting touch, especially on the 3-ball, and worse, as a point guard, lost his playmaking ability. And, it was not just because the Kings played him less after his trade from the Nuggets. His per-36, percentages, other stuff? Generally all went down.

Finally, I "get" The Undefeated pumping the news angle on this — even with the amount of wrong in multiple stories.

I get it pumping this for the reason of Kaep's cause. And, per Kaep getting money but probably nothing else, I get Red Satan's limping stepchild pumping this for pageviews and Benjamins.

February 21, 2019

TX Progs take on AIPAC, Dallas politics, Jim Schutze

The Texas Progressive Alliance did not find any tigers in abandoned homes this week, but it did find the time to produce a weekly roundup.

Off the Kuff considers the people not named Beto who are considering running for the Senate in 2020.

SocraticGadfly looks at the dustup between AIPAC and Rep. Ilhan Omar and says she shouldn't have apologized in 2020.

And here are some posts of interest from other state and national sites about Texas.

Down with Tyranny does mention Sema Hernandez in his take on the 2020 Senate race, a person that somehow just doesn’t make it on Kuff’s radar.

In a brief, Pages of Victory agrees with Gadfly on AIPAC vs Omar.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer notes that In a brief, Laura Miller is back in the ring, challenging Jennfer Staubach Gates for Roger the Daughter’s Dallas City Council seat.

(Yours truly looks forward to this throwdown very much IF it’s Miller the former Observer reporter running. If it’s former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, not so much. I offer 50-50 odds, though, that it’s Miller the mayor we get.)

Therese Odell talks about her personal connection to gun violence in America.

Somervell County Salon discusses how Google pulled an Amazon on residents of Midlothian, even getting the city council there to sign off on Google creating a shell company for millions of tax breaks — a story that got all the way to the Bezos Post.

The Lunch Tray highlights the untold story of school food reform.

Better Texas Blog calls the signature bills to cap property tax revenues the "wrong approach" to the issue.

Grits for Breakfast shows why we know so little about the bad cops on some police forces.

Meanwhile, venerable (but quickly losing “venerated” status) Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze writes another blank checks for cops piece, this one fellating the Dallas PD’s union. (This is at least the third such piece in the past couple of months, and yours truly thought other Texas Progs needed it brought to their attention.

Paradise in Hell provides some other national "emergencies" for the President to deal with.

Elise Hu takes the O.J. Tour.

The Texas Trib details how rookie state Senate Legiscritter Angela Paxton has filed a bill that would let hubby AG Kenny Boy Paxton issue exemptions from state securities regulations — the same regulations whose avoidance of  which has led to criminal charges for Kenny Boy.

Brains and Eggs offers his latest installment of “your top Democrat,” handicappijng the 2020 prez race.

Stephen Young gets a second link, as he talks about the utter political weirdness of Dallas’ old guard backing Eric Johnson for mayor. OTOH, it’s not so weird when one thinks that Johnson had already done some degree of sellout even before throwing his hat in the ring.

February 20, 2019

Dirk? Wake up, smell the coffee, and
join D-wade and officially retire

I recently posted about how Dirk Nowitzki and Ichiro Suzuki needed to both wake up, smell the coffee and retire. Especially in the NBA, there's a history of the greatest players having problems with this, even though fading athleticism gets more exposed there than in the MLB.

Decades ago, NBA legend (and co-GOAT with LeBron James; how's that?) Michael Jordan just couldn't hang it up. Call it addiction or whatever, but he wound up semi-embarrassing himself, or at least his legacy. At least in baseball, Jordan accepted he could't hit the curve and moved back to the Bulls.

Kobe Bryant was more than halfway to that point by the time of retirement, even allowing for the Achilles recovery.

I kind of get if Dirk wanted to hang out another year, saying that he hadn't rehabbed enough from his Achilles injury to properly go out of the Association this year. Kobe I partially accept that on him, too.

But, even after he's picked it up a bit recently, he's still a semi-full embarrassment. He may just not want a league-wide retirement party, or maybe he wants to play next year, too, but he has yet to indicate he's going to retire after this year.

So, despite him actually draining a couple of Dirk-style 3-balls against the Heat, even though he looked like he needed 30 seconds to crank up his shot? Retire.

What else is there to say? That said, he told Marc Stein recently he never wanted an official farewell tour, sentiments he's said before. He added that big men have a longer time to crank up 3-balls than shorter players anyway. But, no ... he's looking even slower on that. It's not just game-day rust. It's not just foot speed. It's like the Tin Woodman missing a drop of oil somewhere. And there's no Wizard to fix that.

I can understand that desire to hold on. But ... that's reality. AND, assuming Unicorn Kristaps Porzingis is totally healthy next year, there's gonna be even less room for Dirk's big-man 3-balling, especially if he's still playing at 80 percent of the speed of the rest of the team.

And, I do assume that's going to happen. Dirk is not only a fifth wheel in such a case, but, assuming KP and Luka Doncic meld well, that will be a team that moves more rapidly than this year. Not necessarily in breaks, as Luka's not a speed demon. But, in the halfcourt, rotating in and out of picks, etc? That team is just going to flow more quickly than Dirk currently does.

Besides, Commish Silver also thinks you should retire.

Speaking of the Mavs vs Heat?

I forgot about one player who has made that call and is going out before his skills totally go away.

That's Dwyane Wade. He's playing no worse than last year, and getting a few more minutes a game. Miami's going nowhere anyway, like Dallas, so he plays.

In turn, this takes me back to LeBron. Wade, of course, stepped back to second banana role after King James made "The Decision."

Is James willing to do the same for Anthony Davis if the Lake Show lands him? Is The Brow going to directly ask LBJ about that if he remains interested in the Lakers either via trade this offseason or free agency a year from now?

All questions that I think he would want to have answered to a degree of satisfaction.

Meanwhile, the Mariners signed Ichiro to a minor-league contract that will pay $750K if he makes the big club. Why?

The man had a 33 OPS+ last year. Arguably, he hurt the Mariners simply by occupying a roster spot.

I know they're in a quick-rinse rebuild and this is in part to attract fans. Let's be honest, front office. Nonetheless, if he is called up, he arguably hurts the rebuild timetable. And, if he's not? Does he get butt-hurt down at Tacoma?

It's easier to do this in baseball than hoops, as noted above. Nonetheless, the vanity appearances of Minnie Minoso and Satchel Paige didn't float my boat either, plus I think Ichiro doesn't see this as a vanity appearance.

Does he go back into his front-office slot from the second half of last season if he can't cut the Seattle mustard, rather than staying in physical and mental game shape in Tacoma? Does he try to do the same thing in 2020?

February 19, 2019

The Machado domino falls; what and when on Harper?

Houston, we have liftoff. Manny Machado, one of the two biggies in this year's MLB free agent derby, has an "agreement in principle" with ...

That "mystery team" the San Diego Padres.

MLB Trade Rumors and other have the details. It's 10 years, $300 million, with one opt-out after five. (As of 2 p.m. Central, the biggest remaining detail to be ironed out was what sort of no-trade clause would be part of the deal.)

So, the Bryce Harper free agency derby carries on, presuming agent Scott Boras is still hunting something like 10/$350 and either one or two opt-outs.

And, surely, he is. This slugfest has in part been one between Machado's agent, Dan Lozano, and Harper's, Scott Boras.

Will the Nats up their in-season 2018 offer of 10/$300? Will the Phillies pony up? The White Sox, if they didn't want to meet the Machado offer by the Friars, are surely out. The Yankees have already indicated they're not in.

So, who else is?

See the poll at upper right or click the link to vote on when you think he signs a deal. Note that we've already gone past the first cut-off point I mentioned, and the second as well. Will Harper sign before March 1? (My odds are about 50-50 on that. Let's note that there's been no whispers of anybody so far topping what the Nats offered.'s latest is that the Phillies have expressly said they won't go above what Machado got, which is also, of course, what the Nats reportedly offered Harper. This could be just a public negotiating ploy and tool, but it could be serious.)

Machado has much better WAR, and did not drop off majorly in fielding this last year. As I've noted before, Harper is half a WAR point behind Giancarlo Stanton. True, maybe he hits a peak that he's not yet reached, outside his seemingly flukish 10-WAR year.

I wouldn't hold my breath. Is Bryce possibly a 6 WAR player like Machado? Yes, but he's yet to regularly show that.

Also, Boras doesn't always win.

Not even when he waits and waits and waits. Just last year, he did get a win with J.D. Martinez, but not with Jake Arrieta. Or Mike Moustakas. (Who got one year plus an option this year, and no more.) Or Greg Holland.

Ditto on Lozano. We know he fell short of his agent grand slam hopes with Albert Pujols, and occasionally manipulated the media in his chase of attempting to pass Alex Rodriguez for biggest contract ever.

So, Bryce's signing will depend as much on how desperate Boras is for a "win" as anything.

Is the money for Machado an overpay? No, not according to Fangraphs. (This sets aside the millionaires vs billionaires issue that that fans are overcharged.)

He's younger by far than A-Rod on his second contract. Younger than Pujols or Miguel Cabrera on their whoppers. Younger than Robinson Cano.

Good! FDA to crack down on supplements makers

Now, thanks to Congress in general and former Sen. Orrin Hatch in particular, the FDA's power over supplements is limited, but it sounds like it plans to fully use the powers it has, at least on the new claims that supplements can fight Alzheimer's

About time.

I'm sure this will piss off many (other) Greens who think supplements are pure and pristine and natural (they're not, and you're committing the naturalistic fallacy) or else less capitalistic than Big Pharma (also not true; why do you think Orrin Hatch got the industry such a regulatory pass?)

On the capitalism side, the NY Times reported 3 years ago, based on government research, that Merika spends $30 billion a year on supplements. Note to FDA Commish Scott Gottlieb: I partially blame the gummint, including Orrin Hatch, with the founding of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health — i.e., the alt-med wing of the National Institutes of Health.

It's true that this is only about 1 percent of what we collectively spend on pharmaceuticals. That said, allowing for research replication viability and related issues, pharmaceuticals are prescribed to actually do something that they normally do. Supplements are self-prescribed by people for things they have not been proven to do and, on the deregulation, don't have to try to prove they can do.

And, because they're not regulated, supplements have a lot less overhead than pharmaceuticals.

The NYT piece also adds this. The biggest supplements users are generally the healthiest people already. In short, the supplements world feeds off of, and further feeds, a low-level hypochondria.

Bernie 2020: The best Democrat there is overall ... BUT

Well, it's official: Bernie Sanders is running for president again.

He arguably has the best overall socioeconomic policies to boost the working poor and poor of all races and ethnic groups. He has the broadest package of proposals for this. Free college is great — but we shouldn't fetishize college and, if this did happen, we must guard against a credential creep becoming a gallop.

By agreeing to discuss allegations of sexual harassment, he has broadened the social focus of his campaign, and that could help him on the trail. Otherwise, on this issue? Gillibrand has led MeToo, in a very self-serving way. Klobuchar is a back-bencher. Warren has other, related issues, as does Harris.

So, let's pivot to racial issues, as Dem apparatchiks will attack Bernie on this even more than in 2016, surely. And?

Kamala is a cop. Booker is a kinder, meeker Obama. No idea of Gabbard on racial justice issues. Warren has her DNA issue. No other white Dems who have announced so far are unequivocally better than Sanders.

And, his age? A concern, but, as there's no Dem within 90 percent of him, not a deal, should I vote Dem in the primary next year.

OK, here's the buts, part 1.

Sanders, as of the time of his announcement, basically hadn't said a word about the Venezuela coup in motion on either of his Twitter accounts. Nor had he he said a word about AIPAC squishing Rep. Ilhan Omar. He opposes BDS. His one, staff-run Twitter account fully buys into Putin collusion. (Bernie has, occasionally, referenced our actions in Russia.) He seems part of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment on Afghanistan.

Of course, few Dems are better. Gabbard has said something on Venezuela; no other announced candidates have. All candidates are silent on or actively opposing BDS, including her. And, she's got her own problem in foreign policy — RSS.

So, Bernie's the best Dem overall? Yes. But. (Sidebar but: Per Smokey, he's not the same Bernie as in 2016.)

No Dem is good, overall, on foreign policy. Sadly, Counterpunch gave half a pass or more to Gabbard, briefly mentioning her meeting with Modi, not mentioning RSS, nor mentioning that she is a neocon on Israel. That said, Sanders is just as bad as the rest. (Andrew Stewart wrote THAT at Counterpunch, too. In turn, that shows the unevenness, or relative lack, of editorial oversight at Counterpunch.)

So, while he's the best Dem? Democrats, take note that this Green-leaner will praise him where he's good and critique where he's not.

Peter Beinart claims that Sanders 2020 is better than 2016. As proof, he links to an announcement on Sanders' Senate website, now a month old, that has one sentence opposing a coup in Venezuela. Beinart doesn't mention that both Sanders' Twitter accounts have radio silence on the Venezuela coup-of-sorts in progress.

Speaking of coups? Beinart won't tell you that Sanders still refuses to call the Obama-Clinton backed 2009 Honduras coup a coup. Nor that Bernie, while calling Gaza an open-air prison, still opposes BDS as a tool to get Israel to change its actions in and on Palestine. Not that Bernie, called out by Mondoweiss, goes beyond the bipartisan foreign policy establishment on support for Palestine in general. Nor have I heard any post-facto (and certainly not pre-facto) condemnation by Sanders of the war against Gadhafi's Libya that wrecked Africa's most prosperous economy.

I don't want to damn too much; this IS more than Bernie 2016. But, others, in addition to me, have noted that Bernie or his staff, at least on his staff-run @Bernie Twitter, have swallowed Donut Twitter's words on Russia"gate" and still seems pretty conventional on Syria.

Jacobin (of course) with its not-real-socialism "socialism," ignores this and crowns Bernie as our foreign policy savior.

It would be wonderful if Bernie would endorse those five points. But, he won't.

  1. No Dem is taking climate change THAT seriously.
  2. No Dem is ending arms sales to all alleged allies. (Israel)
  3. No Dem is shutting all US military bases abroad; certainly not in Japan or NATO states.
  4. No Dem, including F-35 lusting Bernie, is slashing the DoD budget in half. (Well, maybe AOC, but she's not been that specific yet.)
  5. No Dem will get enough Dem support to truly undercut Panama Papers type money migrations.

AND, per the DNC, Sanders needs to sign an "I'm running as a Democrat" letter.

And next, speaking of Green-leaners?

I don't know if Texas Greens, or something like For a People's Party, will launch a ballot access petition drive next year. Robert Francis O'Rourke's heavy turnout in his almost race against Havana Ted Cruz bumped the petition signature numbers up massively.

So, I may vote in the Dem primary and vote Bernie. Assuming I do, there's no other Democrat I would vote for.

What happens in the general?

If the Greens don't nominate an antivaxxer, and said person is available by write-in, that's my choice. If the Greens DO nominate an antivaxxer, then I vote SPUSA by write-in, presuming that's available as it was in 2016.

If neither option is available, I keep moving further left if anybody besides Sanders is the nominee for the Dems. If he is the nominee, it's possible, but not guaranteed, that I vote for my first Dem for president this century.

Within the left hand of the duopoly, I don't know how big a deal it is that AOC hasn't immediately endorsed Sanders. A lot of home-state endorsements have been made for several announced candidates, and AOC may be kicking the tires on Kirsten Gillibrand.

Behind all of this is a reminder that not just now, but throughout American history, the left hand of the duopoly has often been #NotLeftEnough. So, third parties, such as today's Greens and SPUSA, have had a valuable role to play.


Sidebar: Late-stage capitalist Ted Rall is trying to grift on Bernie's announcement. Ted? Not close to true that you have stuff others won't reveal. I learned about Bernie's military Keynesianism on my own. I learned about Murray Bookchin's takedown of Bernie via Counterpunch. (Read also Bookchin's "Listen, Marxist." Go away.


Updates, Feb 26: Bernie's thin-skinnedness with the media — above all, Vermont local media — is well-documented for those who know his full history. For those who don't, Paul Heinz of Seven Days lays it out in a national platform.

Bernie has just had Tad Devine and other senior campaign staff from 2016 jump ship. It's not fatal; Reagan turned out better, overall, after John Sears left in 1980. But it is eyebrow-raising. But not shocking, if, as reported, Jane Sanders is behind it.

February 18, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez deconstructed:
Legend vs reality on 'working class'

I hadn’t really checked on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s background before she seemingly burst out of nowhere to be elected to Congress.

I’ve now rectified that, and here you go. Per a PolitiFact type analysis by yours truly, let’s say that a central part of her legend and narrative is …. “Half True.”

(Note: I will have a Part 2 to this, with post-election follow-up and additional "more than two sides" nuance.)

She has claimed to be of "working class" background, yet, per Wikipedia, her dad was an architect and she eventually grew up in a fairly swanky Westchester County burb.

See more about Yorktown Heights on City-Data. (Note: That is generally an excellent place for city roundups across the US on a wide range of demographic data.) Any place that has 20 percent of residents with a graduate degree, yes, a grad degree, ain't a working class town. Note that she won some high school science awards that wouldn't have been possible at less swanky place. The likes of Buster Olney, Susan Faludi and Dave Matthews are among residents there, per Wikipedia’s page on Yorktown Heights. Again, not the Hamptons, but far different from the Bronx where she grew up and where her NON working-class architect dad moved to. Yeah, slummy enough to have a K-Mart, but still.

When I first Tweeted about this elementary research, I got this response within an hour:
And, of course, that's BS. As explicitly noted above, I never claimed she lived in the Hamptons, nor did I claim that her dad was any of the above.

The feds said in 2015 that an average architect made a little over $75,000 and the bottom tier, even, made just over $45,000. In other words, not rich, but at least as much if not more than a decently paid school teacher, even at bottom. And, solidly above a school teacher on average. About 30 percent or so above.

AOC's dad was NOT working class when she was born and that's not how she grew up economically. Nor, after he moved the family to Yorktown Heights, is that how she grew up socio-economically.

Her dad died intestate. That's sad, but it has nothing to do with being working class. It's simply that a father who died of cancer, unless it was incredibly rapid in onset, didn't spend the money to protect his family with a will. That's all "intestate" means. It doesn't mean he was poor. It doesn't mean he was working class. Just that he didn't have a valid will, and per Wiki on that, New York State has sucky laws on intestacy. 

Also note that she had started a childhood literacy project after graduation and it was only when her mom was in danger of losing their home that she became a waitress in addition to apparently continuing to run that literacy project. Her adulthood after her dad died may have been working class in part, but her childhood? In addition, she chose to move back to the Bronx.

(Update, March 23: Turns out that she still owes the state of New York back taxes from that project/press. The amount isn't that much, so it's a matter of principle. And, since the amount's not that much, why hasn't she paid it yet? She has had nearly two years, and governments are usually amenable to negotiating repayment schedules.)

As for her environmentalism? Protesting at Standing Rock is great. Having the time-privilege to do that is "priceless," per MasterCard, but not available to the working class, generally.

And, after she knocked off Joe Crowley in the primary, Beltway stenos and auxiliaries apparently drank a partial shot of Kool-Aid, too. The NYT claims "she was sent to school in Yorktown." Wiki says the family moved there. (The Intercept says the family moved, but extended family helped them out with a house purchase.) That said, the Old Gray Lady does add that her dad was a small-biz owner. In other words, he was an independent architect, not someone working for a design company, construction contractor, etc. NOT working class. It also notes she worked in Ted Kennedy's office while at Boston U. Even if that was low-pay, she already had a foot in the political door.

Plus, the privilege to be able to do low-pay or intern work for a Congresscritter? NOT working class.

And, per the NY Daily News piece on her childhood literacy project, which was actually a small-imprint book publisher? Even with high student loan overhead ... your typical college grad can't afford to do that, but she apparently could.

And, back to her father's cancer death. None of the stories I've read say anything about when it was diagnosed vs when he actually died and other things. Nor does her own website.  Pacific Standard at least says it was lung cancer, which can at times be fairly rapidly spreading, but not THAT rapid, as in not so rapid for a presumably intelligent small businessman to not have enough time to make a will ... this part is just weird. It seems to me there's some "framing" going on here. That's another reason I'll go with "Half True."


And, since I'm sure I'll be writing about her more in the future ... she officially gets a tag now.

And updates, like her now living in a non-working class DC neighborhood. And, not being quite as poor as some might think, with $20-$50K in savings, as well as any amount of officially designated retirement savings being listed in official finance filings.

The NY Post claims she doesn't live at her alleged district home address. If true, per the story, that she had also originally planned to run in District 15, not 14, this explains why she won that district's primary as a write-in for the Reform Party. It also partially explains why she rejected that.

At the same time, this piece too is loaded with potshots. AOC could not have started an editorial office eight months ago after defeating Crowley in the primary because she was NOT a Congresscritter and would not be for 7.5 more months.

Some of this may be spitballing and sour grapes by wingers. Some of it "is," not "may be." And, lord knows the Daily Mail just likes to engage in celebrity monkey-wrenching for clickbait. Nonetheless, per Ike's somewhat hypocritical comments about Tricky Dick, she surely knows that she needs to be cleaner than a hound's tooth. And, I'm not a winger. I'm not saying her legend is totally untrue. I am saying it's thinner than she has spun it, and that missteps unravel yet more threads.

On her new digs, no, she doesn't have to slum it. But, she maybe could have found a place with better optics? Ditto on shopping at Whole Paycheck in the middle of the Amazon dust-up.

In other words, I wouldn't make too big a deal out of it.

And, some issues, like her pre-election retreat on BDS, or throwing fellow freshman, Rep. Ilhan Omar, halfway under the bus on Israel-Palestine issues? NOT appearance issues, but political choices.

OTOH, eating a hamburger with her chief of staff (and AOC never claims it's a veggie burger) means that maybe her talking about cow farts isn't perfect. That's the chief of staff for whom AOC is possibly deliberately "underpaying" to skirt financial disclosure rules. So, defend her, liberal websites. As much as you can. (And, if you justified similar restaurant behavior against wingnuts, own your hypocrisy.)

On a hypocrisy scale? On a 1-10? Rates a 2, maybe a 3. No more.

First, wingnuts (and others), she just said we need to stop eating beef "breakfast, lunch and dinner." She never mentioned going vegetarian. So, even my 3 might be too high. And, it's probably time to do a separate blog post.

That's especially since AOC might have close ties with a bankster, yes, a #bankster, who was a major funder of The Young Turks and Justice Democrats.


Per her Wiki page, I'm waiting for her likely ungrounded claim to have Sephardi Jewish ancestry to be deconstructed. And, this isn't just on her. In New Mexico, many Hispanos claim to have Sephardi ancestry and its more likely that they're descended from Protestant Adventist converts of the late 19th century. And, as for a breast cancer mutation proving Sephardi Marranos in New Mexico? Uh, no, Jews haven't so often married within their religion as the story claims, among other things. Also, Smithsonian doesn't tell you that those families denied being Jewish, as NIH reports.  And the British Medical Journal notes the mutation arose more than once. There's just too much "looseness" to satisfy me here still. Beyond that, if the mutation goes back to before the start of the Common Era, it could have arisen in Herod's Idumeans or something. And, yeah, I'm going to go there — at times, it comes off like Oklahomans claiming to be one-eighth Cherokee. That's you, up in Massachusetts.

Seriously ... given that an estimated 3.5 million direct descendants of Marranos exist today? Scattered all over Latin America and beyond? I highly doubt her claims. And, I find it "interesting" that she made them between the election and starting office. She may sincerely believe what she said her family found. I'm skeptical.

February 17, 2019

Lies, damn lies and unemployment stats

The gummint claimed last week that there are ONE MILLION more jobs than job-seekers. No, really:
The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings jumped 2.4 percent in December to 7.3 million. That is the most since records began in December 2000. It is also far greater than the number of unemployed, which stood at 6.3 million that month.
Well, as with other recent previous "ain't this economy grand" news, it needs to be debunked.

If you're over a certain age, under a certain lightness of skin tone, or outside of the boundaries of larger metropolitan areas, you're not getting any real job offers, are you? Nor is your current employer offering a raise to keep you in place, is he? That's especially true if you fall into two of three of these pigeonholes.

The Eehh-Pee does partially admit that.
Many industries with the biggest increases in job openings include mostly lower-paying jobs. Restaurants and hotels advertised more than 1 million jobs, 84,000 more than in November. Health care job postings rose 79,000 to 1.2 million.
So, there you go. Hate McDonald's? Go to Burger King or else become a wiper of other people's bottoms as a certified nursing assistant:

What else is really out there?

The U-6 unemployment rate is still above 8 percent, and with a half-point spike to be its highest in a full year. And, the "normal" unemployment rate gained a tenth of a percent again.

I've not linked to the BLS' U-3 rates. I don't think they're accurate on age, vis a vis U-6, and I can't quickly find a U-6 rate by either age or ethnicity. And the BLS doesn't at all do a good job on rural vs metro employment, or quality of jobs available by purchasing power parity.

That said, this last issue is why I oppose a $15/hour minimum wage nationwide, rather than something like Oregon's $15/$12/$10 for urban/suburban/rural areas. A $15/hour minimum wage nationally, let alone Ted Rall's $25/hour or whatever stupidity, would kill rural areas. Period. End of story.

Many of the "discouraged" unemployed — and many of the "frustrated" currently employed — have "soft skills" that are supposedly so valued.

But, as long as we have private "benefits" health insurance at escalating rates, employers don't want to hire people who they don't already have enserfed, too. Beyond THAT? Restaurants are notorious for "scheduling on demand." Beyond pay, that's another reason people don't want those jobs.

And, the same gummint claiming we have 1 million surplus jobs continues to lie about how fast the economy is growing and expected to grow.