June 29, 2019

Wojbombs: Kemba, Kyrie, more

ESPN's NBA whisperer Adrian Wojnarowski has already dropped a couple of NBA free agency bombs.

In the first, he reports that Hornets point guard Kemba Walker appears headed to the Celtics on a max deal.

I'm not a huge fan. I don't think Kemba brings THAT much to the table. He's a point guard without a high assist rate, only two seasons in the top 20 in assist percentage, too short to be a combo guard and ... decent but not fantastic on 3-ball percentage.

This looks like Danny Ainge is in the "somebody to replace Kyrie Irving" mode when, IMO, he should be in the "somebody to replace Al Horford" mode first.

There, I would have kicked the tired on Nikola Vucevic first. Ainge may be thinking he can get Willie Cauley-Stein or Myles Turner on the cheap. Those may be gambles on what they'll actually bring to the table as well as affordability or cost.

That said, per Hoops Rumors, Shams Charania at The Athletic (another whisperer bled away from Yahoo) says Vooch is staying put.

And, I just mentioned Kyrie.

Word from Woj is he's going to the Nets. Will that get Kevin Durant thinking there, despite talk he and Kawhi Leonard have been discussing a joint move to the Clippers? Stand by.

Update, June 30: Woj now adds on Twitter that the Celtics are interested in a 3-team sign and trade that would include both Kemba AND Kyrie.

My personal take is that this move will only moderately goose the odds of Durant going to Brooklyn. He'll also have to decide if he thinks Kyrie is too much like Lil Russ Westbrook for his tastes.

In any case, this leaves D'Angelo Russell as a domino to go to several places. The Lakers we know want him back. Does he want back with the Lakers?

Not a regular free agency move, but the Nuggets have picked up Paul Millsap's option. I like it. I think the next move should be 2/3 to come off the bench with serious minutes, or maybe a 3/4 to do that, with their midlevel exception target, if I'm them.

Antiwar: What's it good for? And RIP Justin Raimondo

Antiwar activist Justin Raimondo, one of the most vocal voices in opposing not only the Iraq War but the Afghanistan one as well, has died at 67.

Justin was not only antiwar, he was Antiwar as in Antiwar.com, which, as its linked eulogy for him notes, he cofounded in 1995 with Eric Garras.

On Twitter, I noted that he was an "always interesting political thinker and wanderer." And, that he was, though not in ways I'd agree with. Nor do I agree with every antiwar stance of his; I am against more dumb wars than Barack Obama, though I'm not a pacifist.

I was wrong to go along with the mainstream on Afghanistan. Raimondo's successor as editorial director at Antiwar, Scott Horton, in a recent interview with Ken Silverstein, pointed out the options we had there short of a full invasion. Ted Rall is someone else who was right about this.

That said, Raimondo founded the site over Bosnia. And, while non-Serb actors both inside and outside Bosnia were themselves less than perfect, genocide was happening in the Balkans. Just as it was earlier in Rwanda, which we ignored because "darkest Africa." So, I disagree with Raimondo, Alexander Cockburn and others. Could we have done some things better in the Balkans? Yes. Some things without focusing on American empire? Yes. But, we shouldn't have ignored that genocide, nor Rwanda.

Now, that's just the antiwar part of Raimondo.

Outside of that, he was a full nutter, and I'd forgotten that until I wrote this up.

The piece first notes that from childhood, he was a Randian. As in THAT Rand. Ayn Rand. Objectivism.

It adds that he was an anarcho-libertarian in the 1980s.

The piece also notes that he supported Pat Buchanan in all three of his runs for president, in 1992, 1996 and 2000.

You have to have either a high degree of cognitive dissonance or else a high degree of political and personal self-partitioning to be so antiwar-driven that as an uncloseted gay and organizer of libertarian anarchism to support a paleoconservative Catholic (Tridentine mass, maybe even?) who agrees with you on about nothing other than antiwar issues. I mean, Pat is anti-gay, and though Raimondo is not Jewish, Pat's also anti-Semitic and just plain racist. Plus, as a paleocon, as in his take on the Central Park Five, he's perfectly fine with coercive state power if it wears a blue uniform.

So, while I admire the strength of his antiwar activism, and wish that like him, Ted Rall, and some others, I had thought more about Afghanistan as well as Iraq at the time, overall, I shook my head at him for years. Plus, as a Libertarian Radical, I suppose Raimondo supported nutter positions such as people not needing driver's licenses to drive.

That said, Raimondo, and even more, Garras, had Lew Rockwall connections in their political history, too. Here's one sample of Raimondo, and specifically on war issues, being in bed with Rockwell. Garris, like Raimondo, is gay, and like Raimondo, a past backer of Buchanan, too.

Weirder yet, Raimondo jumped from backing Buchanan the last time in 2000 to supporting Ralph Nader in 2004. That said, if you read his defense of that support, you recognize he's at least partially right in calling Nader a "voice of the Old Right."

I know some current or former Greens, like Jeff St. Clair of Counterpunch, were totally butt-hurt at David Cobb getting the nomination in 2004. That said, there was no deck-stacking; it was the bottom-up stacking of state Green Party organizations that was (and still is) the problem. Frankly, outside of nuclear power issues, I don't think Nader was or is all that much of a Green, and he sure as hell isn't an ecosocialist.

Of course, Raimondo had no problem believing in a conspiracy theory or two. Like claiming Trump was a false flag for Hillary Clinton to get elected. We do know she did what she could to help him, but the idea that the Clintons officially, let alone outside forces, "planted" him? Tosh. And, contra Raimondo's "no true Scotsman," the likes of Corey Robin have shown that Trump's in line with much of American conservativism. And Raimondo followed that claim with later butt-kissing Trump. As for his claim that Alexander Litvinenko radioactively poisoned himself? His nuclear smuggling happened six years before he was killed. And Raimondo himself, in a piece linked inside that, noted that Po-210 has a has a half-life of just 138 days.

And, above all, Raimondo, in book length, repeated and developed a version of the canard that Israel knew about 9/11 in advance, while then going on to claim that 9/11 Falsers who claimed the buildings had been rigged to blow up were themselves a false flag. And, from this and other things, he's probably earned his own reputation as anti-Semitic even without taking into consideration his Pat Buchanan endorsements.

Now, the first half of the header?

Ken Silverstein recently interviewed Scott Horton, the current editorial director at Antiwar.com.

Let's call this "interesting," too.

Horton is right on spelling out the options we had to a full invasion of Afghanistan.

He's right on that we shouldn't have entered WWI, but doesn't go into details. (The correct answer is not that all war is bad, but that, beyond the idea that wars fought for vague "national interest" are bad, the US had no compelling national interest in this fight and that Wilson's neutrality was fake.)

Then, he totally jumps the shark by blank-check supporting Robert Stinnett's "Day of Deceit," a Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory book. Beyond the refudiations at the Wiki link, the claims that FDR hoped to use Pearl to lead us to war with Germany as well are refuted by two actual facts.

First, we'd been in an undeclared naval war with Germany for six months before Pearl. I am sure Horton is not that uninformed.

Second, on Dec. 8, 1941, FDR ONLY asked Congress to declare war on Japan. Germany was not mentioned, which left Churchill crestfallen. I am quite sure Horton knows this, too.

Meanwhile, a Google search has Horton claiming in more than one place that he's abandoned conspiracy theories. Really? Corey Robin busted you in a Democratic Party related conspiracy theory just a year ago and nearly a full year after you said you gave up conspiracy theories.

That said, to the degree Horton has partially given up conspiracy theories, he's had some doozies of his own invention on his record.

And, through uncritical interviewing of Julian Assange's toady and flunky Craig Murray, he's done his bit to help perpetuate the Seth Rich conspiracy theory.

So, in answer to the rhetorical question: "Antiwar — what's it good for?"

Louis Proyect, kind of a nutter at times himself, warned about right-left or red-black alliances, specifically mentioning Raimondo. He also notes there that Raimondo's god, Murray Rothbard, was a Holocaust denier, or at least, a fellow traveler. No wonder Raimondo and Horton opposed any involvement in even Bosnia.

So, what's Antiwar worth?

Good god, not much.



Oh, and Ken? Respectfully but firmly, speaking of uncritical interviewing? Don't let Horton pass on conspiracy theory bullshit unchallenged in the future.

June 28, 2019

Well, we know who LOST the Democratic debates

Robert Francis O'Rourke lost the first night with his pandering Spanish. Enough said there. No, not enough said. Let's offer 50-50 odds on him being one of the first three candidates to drop out.

Marianne Williamson lost the second night by being Marianne Williamson, as I documented three months ago, based on long knowledge of her kookiness. (That includes knowing her long history of being an antivaxxer; why some people are just discovering this now, I don't know.)

A few Tweets from myself and others:

First, her close, with my comments on top of it:
The people I refer to know who they are.

My Tweet about her New Agey teh stupidz close:
Someone else's Tweet, with my intro:
My Tweet about one of her pablum Tweets from the past, via this thread of such Tweets:
A Twitter image, with a person providing even more reasons not to vote for her:


Actually, to be fair, another person lost Night 2, it seems. (Thank doorknobs, I was working late and missed the whole schmeer other than Twitter analysis, hot takes and such.)

That second person? Bernie Sanders.

Even people halfway or more fanbois of his aren't giving him more than a gentleman's C.

And, he flubbed gunz, NOT an issue to flub in a Democratic debate:
And, he got whacked over that immediately.

And, the secondary issues behind that are that Bernie appears inflexible, and that like other Just.Another.Politician.™ folks, he has trouble admitting he was wrong. It is also problematic in that this was semi-softball for being a "gotcha" question, it's a gotcha question that should have been anticipated and ...

Bernie was even dumb enough to brag about getting a D-minus rating from the Nazi Redneck Assholes. Anybody with a brain knows that if the NRA doesn't give you an F rating, there's something wrong.

And, there is something wrong. Guns, even from a Democratic POV, let alone a non-duopoly one, is Bernie's weakest domestic policy issue. He's gotten better, but still not gotten good.

So, I quote-tweeted that with some snark:
Sirota finally responded to the issue on Twitter almost a full day after the debate, retweeting this:
He's still, 48 hours after the debate, yet to direct tweet anything himself.

And, while some Berners admitted he had problems, let's see how much Bernie conspiracy theorists pop further out of, or into, the woodwork.

Or, let's let Politifact try to turd-polish Bernie, claiming that he was "mostly true" on his response to Madcow Maddow.

Oh, no he wasn't. That claim itself is at best mostly true and maybe half true.

Worse, the citation of a Seven Days in Vermont interview in support of this — the full interview, from which Madcow partially quoted — is at best half true and worst, mostly false.

Kit Norton, the Politifacter, also doesn't disclose that she works for Seven Days rival VT Digger. Nor does she note, which I and others who have been critical of Bernie on guns know, and which Seven Days mentions, that he supported giving gun makers immunity from lawsuits. That happened in key votes in 2005, in between his two best NRA ratings on that list above. No coincidence that.

Other losers? Buttigieg above all, with the "fire the chief" comment from Swalwell.

Winners? Elizabeth Warren, of course, who wins when Bernie falls. Corey Booker, by no stumbles and Biden being sure to slide. Too soon to tell otherwise.

More here, from my initial 2020 assessment, on how candidates play off each other for rising and falling.

K-K-K--Kawhi and the Clipps?

Picture "Benny and the Jets" in the background.

Many NBA analysts still believe that a team in Los Angeles has the best chance of landing this year's top star in the NBA free agency meat market, Kawhi Leonard.

Contra Lakers fans saying "But he's coming here!" and per my header, those actually intelligent fans believe that  "here" is the Clippers, not the Lake Show.

His most recent indications of that simple fact are just three months old and LONG AFTER a Woj tweet that's become like crack cocaine for many Lakers fans. While there's no recent direct quote, NBA inside business has him clear that he does NOT want to play for the Lakers in part because he didn't want to be LeBron James's second banana. And he's not alone.

Maybe an aging LeBron will be Kobe Bryant 2.0 in not wanting to let go?

In addition, with Anthony Davis going to the Los Angeles Lakers for Brandon IngramLonzo Ball, and Josh Hart, plus three first-round draft choices, we know that Kawhi sure as hell doesn't want to play third banana.

Plus, even with the King and AD on the other floor, the Clips may still be the better team in LA.

Why?

Several reasons.

First, I've already said that next year, LeBron James will be 35, will be, barring a bigger injury than last year in the top 10 in career minutes played and is already No. 1 in career playoff minutes. Zach Lowe recently did the math and says he is likely to be No. 3 in total combined minutes at the end of the year.

So, even if AD actually DOES sign a new contract? Guess what, Lakers clueless-rati? It's going to be with a diminishing LeBron who at best will be Dwyane Wade 2.0 and at worst will be Kobe 2.0.

And that's just on the physical side.

So, how likely are the Clipps to land Kawhi, and his Klaw so beloved (fantasized about) by Doris Burke? A fair chance, perhaps, if they follow Woj's idea and use some intellectual judo in their pitch.

Will the "hometown atmosphere," even if Woj says it shouldn't be anywhere near the No. 1 selling point, help? It might need to. Kevin Arnowitz rights a compelling pitch for the Raptors to try to get him to stay.

What about other teams?

Well, he's said he'll visit with the Sixers. But, how do they afford him unless they pass on at least one of the two of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris?

And, that still leaves the "second banana" problem of being behind Joel Embiid. I don't think Ben Simmons is worried about pecking order, but Jo-Jo might be another story. And, would Kawhi really want to play with a Butler who grates on young talent and is perhaps considered two-faced by some other veterans?

The Celtics are still in a disarray of sorts. The Nets surely dream, and he is reportedly considering a visit, but I don't see that as a big option, though I would, intuitively, put them ahead of the Celtics.

So, do we wanna make some book?

Sure.

As of right now, I say 50 percent Clippers, 35 percent Raptors, 5 percent Nets, 5 percent Sixers, 5 percent all others.

Red Satan's hoops guys disagree. They say 2-1 odds on him staying with the Raptors with no other team besides the Clippers in the picture at all. And Kawhi is letting the Raptors have the final pitch.

June 27, 2019

Green Party presidential favoritism

And, yes it is favoritism when the official Green Party US Twitter account announces Howie Hawkins' candidacy after having officially announced nobody's before that.

And now, via Independent Political Report, we see that Green candidate Ian Schlakman (announced some time before Hawkins) has called out Hawkins and his campaign staff, in part based on a joint letter by him and four other candidates announced before Hawkins.

So, expanding greatly on brief comments on Twitter last week?

First, beyond personality reputations that Kevin Zeese has (and I've heard them too), I'm leery of him for other reasons.

First, most his ideas that are Green-ish are also Libertarian; note his co-nomination in the 2006 Maryland US Senate race (which Schlakman refers to in his letter). Second, I don't know about Occupy in DC, but, in New York, I've pointed out its many wrongs, starting from the fact that Adbusters launched the Occupy movement in general through its being actually quite "leadered," contra myths of leaderlessness, and having lots of grifting associated with that. Click the tags below.

Beyond that, I've never really heard of him as being "green" to a huge degree, and certainly not an ecosocialist type.

Second, per Schlakman, is the association of Andrea Mérida Cuéllar with Hawkins. I am not as ready to throw her under the bus as he is, but I've heard enough elsewhere, from the likes of Bruce Dixon.

Third are the actual or possible conflicts of interest that Schlakman mentioned otherwise.

And, speaking of Dr. Margaret Flowers, does she support me and Jon Walker and others who say a good single-payer system must reign in payments to doctors and hospitals? She's very good at knowing the nuts and bolts on single payer vs the health insurance industry, but ... as a doctor ... is she ready to take less money, to fully, fully, abandon fee for service models and more?

And, so far, she has failed to respond to me! Shock. American fee-for-service medicine and everything connected to it — overdiagnosing, backscratching consulting arrangements and more, is almost as big a problems as AHIP in first and #BigPharma (plus medical device manufacturing) in second.

Back to the IPR post.

Site owner (I think) Paulie, who is (I think) Libertarian, doesn't outrightly call this a "nothingburger," but gives indication he thinks it's not much more than that.

Well, in a follow-up comment, I noted that DBC down in Houston was upset when he saw the Tweet. Saw favoritism in it. It's drawn comment and emotion from people in the unofficially Green Effbook group to which I belong, from people at least as Green-active as I am.

And Ian has that letter signed by the other candidates.

So, Ian may be making a Rocky out of Appalachia, but making a mountain out of a molehill? I don't think so.

==

Side note: Other than Howie himself, most the big players here are from Maryland. Ian, Kevin, Margaret, Brandy. Must be some fun state party meetings.

==

Both Hawkins and Hunter spoke at the Texas state meeting.

June 26, 2019

More neoliberal MSM-blog stupid Trump bashing
on international postal rates and Chinese cheap costs

File this one from Talking Points Memo, and the link within TPM from Vox, as with many, under "the neoliberal mainstream media not getting it." Burying the lede about Trump having legitimate beefs with the Universal Postal Union as backdoor vote suppression (TPM) is just stupid. Vox burying the lede on UPU member listing is almost as bad.

I mean, the Paris climate change accord essentially moved China out of "developing nation" to "semi-developed nation status. Why can't the UPU do the same? The analysis of Vox is all wet otherwise, unless Trump expands this to a mail trade war beyond China. And, Jen Kirby, the steno there, does give up the game when she says that "experts tell me ... a better deal ... is the most likely scenario."

If the concern really is about overseas voters, as in TPM, Bill Daniels over at Kuff (where I first saw this) has the easy solution. You bring them to an embassy or consulate, or mail them there, in China or whatever foreign country you the voter live, and they go to America by diplomatic pouch. That, in turn would address states' concerns about mail time stamps, as well.

Otherwise, effect-wise, this isn't that much different from a carbon tariff, which I highly support (and which would require a carbon tax first). And, otherwise, this strikes me overall as more #TheResistance stupidity.

As far as what an agreement would do in the big picture?

Not much. If this makes the made-in-China crap too expensive to be made in China then shipped to the USofA, those jobs won't come here. They'll move to places like Vietnam.

Actually, if we're lucky, and not wishing people out of work, but ...

If we're lucky, some of those jobs will disappear, and more importantly, the made-in-China crap created in those jobs will simply disappear.

Americans don't need this cheap crap. Dollar stores don't need to sell it.

We need to de-capitalize away from some of this stuff.

That's especially true because a lot of this is made with oil-derived plastics. (Not that Trump is thinking about climate change and environmental degradation.)

June 25, 2019

TX Progressives kick Gohmert Pyle, Kenny Boy Paxton
and Former Fetus Forever Fuckwad Stickland,
the Hispanic wave is coming and more in the Roundup

The Texas Progressive Alliance does not want to be lied into any more wars as it brings you this week's roundup, chock full of news about liars of various stripes, and one of them busting out the top headline of the top section of this week's TPA roundup.



The Lege and Abbott

 Former Fetus and Forever Fuckwad Jonathan Stickland is leaving the Lege.
Texas Monthly did its Ten Best and Ten Worst legislators thing again. Stickland was so bad, he didn't even make the Bottom 10 and instead got a special "Cockroach" award.
Let's hope that NEVER pops up on my cell phone.

Isn't it time to kill Chapter 313 and other tax breaks? The Texas Observer makes the case.


Dallas

Jim Schutze officially lets Eric Johnson know he's being watched for incivility, sneakiness and other things. (Read through for the "asshole" comment from one of his pre-runoff foes; also note his standing for House Speaker for the current Lege and how unlikely that was.)

Racism rears its ugly head among Dallas police officers.


Texana

The Texas Monthly has a new owner, Houston billionaire Randa Duncan Williams, who is promising to "invigorate" the mag. I didn't know it needed "invigorating." Per Chris Tomlinson, let's hope this isn't screwed up.


Off the Kuff laments the sweetheart deal Ken Paxton keeps getting from the criminal justice system.

Hispanics are about to pass Anglos as Texas' largest ethnic group. Other than their abysmal turnout at the polls, here's other big reasons why Texas Democrats shouldn't read too much into this (although they will); some of that is in more depth here. The religion angle is larger than just abortion, mentioned at the first link there, though.

The Valley has lost its NPR station.

Trump has cancelled (for now) ICE raids planned for Houston and elsewhere. I think a friend of mine is at least halfway onto something — his original Twitter blabbering about this was before his Orlando reveal; nothing but red meat being thrown out. That said, it's also another example of Trump as weathervane, or, in the face of publicly expressed opposition by mayors, the bully getting punched in the face and backing down.

Jef Rouner stays on top of the Communism situation in The Woodlands.

Betsy Gelb thinks we should all chill out about Whataburger.

Texas Leftist debuts posting a transcript of his Ingressive Voices podcast.


National

Socratic Gadfly uses the Assange arrest to remind readers that much of the general public, much of the mainstream media and even much of the court system ignores that there are FIVE freedoms protected by the First Amendment.

Could anybody be more Gohmert Pyle in the House's hearing on reparations than Louie Gohmert himself? It's not even close.

In his weekly candidates' update, Brains says Warren is no Bernie Sanders. In an earlier, now-gone version, he said that while Bernie doesn't sound semi-desperate, some of his bros sure do.

Evgeny Morozov does a thorough takedown on why Facebook has shoved forward its Libra crypocurrency.

Paradise in Hell returns from hiatus and channels Donald Trump.

Juanita is all about the Falwell pool boy story.

June 24, 2019

The TrumpTrain "economic miracle" is about to jump the tracks


Is the economy worse now than Jan. 20, 2019? Via Zero Hedge, unemployment stats say yes.
Wouldn’t it be horrible if the number of Americans without a job was higher today than it was during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009?  Well, that is actually true.
Paging the #TrumpTrain — economic cleanup on Aisle 5; toxic spill is spreading! Michael Snyder adds that, because states have continued to tighten unemployment eligibility, the spike in filings mean that it's really a BIG problem.



Related? The workforce participation rate remains at 63 percent. Per the graph at left, it hasn't budged more than half a percentage point or two one way or the other for almost seven years.

The conclusion seems right. Many people still aren't that financially ready to beat another recession, which odds indicate are likely to happen soon. Worse? Trump, other than wanting to fire Powell as Fed head, is likely to pull a 1920s and double down on tariffs.

The coming recession, without that, probably won't be that bad. But, Trump's volatility will make it worse. How that plays out, and is played, in the 2020 election will be interesting indeed.

The larger problems are structural and, as they have been for 40 years, caused in various degrees by both duopoly parties. Eric Levitz from the NY Mag says but "prime age" labor participation rate is up, without asking why this is the case, if true. Maybe more 20somethings can't afford college? Maybe more mothers are now working mothers? 

Nor does he try to square this with the overall participation rate still being stagnant.

June 23, 2019

God and Man at Liberty and First Baptist Dallas


To riff on Bill Buckley’s book, we know that President 2 Corinthians, President Cracker, scored a coup when he got Jerry Falwell Jr. to endorse him and not Ted Cruz in the GOP primaries. No matter that Junior, unlike Daddy, is not a minister. How did it happen?

Hustle by Michael Cohen, aided by a gay-friendly hostel Junior helped launch and further aided, allegedly, by some possibly risqué photos of Junior and wifey. In the background? Junior lying to Lyin Ted about why he couldn’t endorse him.

Ken Silverstein has more, noting other news outlets had part of the story a while back but couldn't nail everything down, and also presuming that Cohen wasn't acting on his own on this.

So, this led me to Stephen Young’s piece in the Dallas Observer about how blatantly screwed up the Trump fellating by Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, has been.

And, is there a reason for that? Given the timeline of how early Jeffress did his deep dive, it makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

And it makes you wonder what it is?

Jeffress showing cellphone pix of "Lil Bobby" to his wife? Or another woman? Or another man?

C'mon, Bob, you can tell us.