SocraticGadfly: 7/28/19 - 8/4/19

August 03, 2019

Who to distrust more, the Kochs or Soros?

Even as the likes of David Klion at The Nation huzzah and handstand over the Quincy Institute (while ignoring the reality that, whille Quincy Adams wasn't a Wilsonian, he was most certainly an imperialist), some liberals have worried about making common cause with the Kochs.

This leftist, instead, would start by worrying about making common cause with George Soros.

Remember his war on Southeast Asia in the 1997-98 currency crisis? I could have put "war" in scare quotes, but chose not to. He's had other blemishes on his record, plus his stance of do as I say, not as I do, doesn't play well.

Also, per what Sy Hersh says in his new memoir, about anything Soros does in terms of foreign policy efforts is related to financial manipulation grifting. Specifically, he mentions a post-9/11 meeting with Soros, after Hersh had written a story naming Saudi names, and their partying, off NSA materials, to which he went to with gritted teeth. Soros wanted to talk about the Saudis and Soros' revelations — because of how this would affect oil prices, according to Hersh.

Now let's go to the Koch brothers and their political activities and stances.

Climate change denialism isn't imperialistic, but it is US hypercapitalism spread to foreign policy, first of all. Second, refusal to address it will affect foreign policy. While ignoring its own contributions to climate change, the Pentagon has for several years considered it a major national security issue.

Since they oppose national health care, and social safety nets (Soros generally does not), would that affect their stance toward Europe and other advanced nations in many ways? What about their antiunionism in the face of attempts to revitalize transnational unionism?

Maybe it will bring peace, or try to? But with Coca-Colonialism in new forms as part of that? And, if the Kochs get the top hand on Soros, at the price of repressing climate change-driven mass migrations that trigger wars, and instead forcing these people into civil wars? For that matter, Soros might accept the reality of climate change while also insisting on capitalism-based solutions AND using the best scientific information to drive his investing policy first and foremost.

August 02, 2019

LeBron vs Jordan — the GOAT?

I've gotten halfway tired of this question on Quora — but not nearly as much as Trump Trainers or Hillbot Dems on their stuff.

That said, rather than retyping myself and going back to Basketball-Reference time after time, it's easier to take my latest answer, add some stuff to it, and have it ready to post.

LeBron James: PER 27.6 WS/48 .235 VORP 129.8 VORP/100 G (my add) 10.834.


OK, next?

Michael Jordan (with fewer career games, career minutes and mid-career rest break): PER 27.9 WS/48 .250 VORP 104.4 VORP/100 G 9.739.

So, especially if one makes allowances for Jordan’s rest time, etc.? It’s arguable LeBron is 1 and Jordan is 1A.

As for the blinder Jordan fans? More finals wins/titles mean that LeBron never had a wingman as good as Scottie Pippen for starters. Don’t go there. And, no, don’t be such a Jordan homer over a Bulls homer to claim that Dwyane Wade is better than Scottie Pippen. He does have a year or two better by VORP, but otherwise? You know it’s not true; they're maybe about even, and that's maybe. Nor was Kyrie Irving, when paired with LeBron after he came back to Cleveland. He's not close.

Also? LBJ is 22nd in career assist percentage and Jordan is not in the top 100. In other words, LBJ worked harder to make his teammates better and more involved in the offense, and was better at it.

For Jordan fellators who LOL on Finals appearances vs titles?

Let’s put this another way.

LeBron's last year in his first stint in Cleveland? 61-21, lost in the East semis. Should have beaten the Celts, but set that aside. Next year, after he left? 19-63. 1993 Bulls? Won a title, 57-25 regular season.  Went 55-27 the next year, made it to the East semis. Went 47-25 the year after that, even, with Michael's late season comeback of just 17 games. Cavs? 21-45 in the strike-shortened second season after LeBron. And last year's Cavs, after losing LeBron the second time? 19-63. Get the picture? Click those two links above; compare the 2010 Cavs to 1993 Bulls, let alone 2011 Cavs to 1994 Bulls.

Commenters, if I get any?

Jordan fans, given that I’ve already tackled the titles issue, find better arguments.

Mamba fans wondering where Kobe Bryant is?

Not in the picture. Because he ain’t. He’s an A-minus, even more ball-centric, version of Jordan.

July 31, 2019

So Mo makes a "trade deadline move" for the Cardinals after all?

Actually, it was more the Dodgers who made the move.

I figured Jedd Gyorko was moved from the 10-day to 60-day IL for trade reasons when the Birds signed LOOGY reliever Adalberto Mejia after he was cut by the Angels.

And the Birds got who in return?

Tony Cingrani, also on the 60-day IL, but for actual injury reasons. He's out for the year with shoulder surgery. And, by OPS+, with the exception of half of 2017, he's been a sub-.500 pitcher for half a decade. Beyond that, he's a free agent after this year. And, high-rookies minor leaguer Jeffry Abreu, who probably should not ever be expected to make the majors.

In other words, nothing that will help them win the NL Central. Feel free to hit up the poll at right.

So, my post of earlier today calling out John Mozeliak and Mike Girsch for not making a move still stands. And, paid commenters in the bi-state area are calling out Mo, too. (Many are wondering if Girsch has wanted to do stuff but Mo has his balls in his pocket.) Of course, folks like Rick Hummel at the Post-Dispatch keep fellating Mo.

Actually, that might not be harsh enough.

What this move is, is a salary dump. And not much of that. I guess Cingrani's salary was taken back as the equivalent of the Birds paying part of Gyorko's salary. Well, MLB Trade Rumors says the Cards are sending money back, too. Oy.

Let's look just at this year's remaining salaries. Taking away the $5M covered by the Padres, the Cards owed Gyorko $8M for year. One third of that is $2.66M. One-third of Cingrani's salary is about $900K. So, that's $1.76M left. How much of that are the Cards eating?

Actually, the Cubs come out ahead in another way, it seems. Not only are the Cards eating part of Gyorko's salary AND taking Cingrani's dead money for the rest of this year back? They're also giving the Dodgers some of that valued international player spending money.

So, a $1 million salary dump for a prospect who almost certainly will never wear a Cards uniform? Wow.

Compare that to the Brewers making a mutual improvement swap with the Rays, with the Brew Crew getting another arm in Jake Faria and giving away Jesus Aguilar, who may have already peaked.

Or the Cubs solidifying their lineup with Nicholas Castellanos as a rental, deepening their bullpen with David Phelps, and perhaps finding a starting second baseman in Tony Kemp.

Addison Russell has not really lit it up since returning from suspension and Daniel Descalso remains injured, so not a bad move. And, while Kemp is older and doesn't grade out as well defensively, he does have two more years of team control than does Russell. At a minimum, if he learns shortstop in the offseason, it gives them a full blown replacement for Ben Zobriest, who surely won't be resigned. That's a Cubs $12.5M salary dump for the future, as much as the Cards made with Gyorko.

Can't wait to see how the fellators at the Post-Dispatch play this one.

And, play it they have, with a junior writer being the lead-off fellator before any columnists jump in.

St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline:
Most consistently inconsistent team in MLB?

So, the Cardinals made a mini-run after the All-Star Break, to get back into wild-card talk, to even get back into division title talk, and of course to squelch "seller" talk.

(And, no, despite offering it as an option in the poll at right, I don't expect the Birds to actually win the division this year, though when I put that up in spring training, I thought they might. Given that the Cubs and Brewers have both just made deadline day moves, I double down on this stance. Agree? Disagree? Hit the poll.)

First, I like the idea of getting rid of the second waivers trade deadline. But, I would have split the dates difference and put the unified deadline at Aug. 15. Thanks, Rob Manfred; go steal first base. From what I've read, a lot of MLB execs agree. I would hope that John Mozeliak is one of them.

Breaking news, later July 31! Mo engaged in a deadline trade. I'm sorry, no, that was a salary dump, not actual trades like the Cubs and Brewers did.

So, is this year's Cards team ready to compete?

Well, the Paul Goldschmidt trade that I lauded hadn't worked out perfectly. It's not been horrible, but Goldy just hasn't hit what used to be his top gear yet.

And, as Yadi Molina has another injury rest — now estimated to be lasting until mid-August — Carson Kelly, part of the trade meat, is doing some stuff in Arizona. Molina's leadership is missed along with his bat.

Matt Carpenter, unlike last year, did not follow a spring swoon with a summer smash.

Harrison Bader is either having a sophomore slump with the bat in center or else showing some of his true self. In either case, he sux bad enough he just got sent down to Memphis.

Meanwhile, despite my preseason warnings about Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright, and my urging of Mo to sign Dallas Keuchel, the rotation is still meh. Daniel Ponce de Leon, with an abbreviated head fake last year, is having a rookie slump. That's as Ben Dover Hochman proves he's still a sucker for the Mo PR. And signing junkballing LOOGY Adalberto Mejia off waivers is NOT a "trade deadline move."

Bernie Miklasz has a better take. I quote:
It is difficult for me to breathe anytime I recall that Cardinals’ management really thought the team was all set with starting pitching coming into the season.
OTOH, even if it is water under the bridge, he doesn't mention Keuchel either.

I mean, when your most buzzed-about possible trade piece, if you were sellers, is Kolton Wong, you're not that good of a team.

Should the Cardinals actually be sellers? Yeah, Goldy is heating it up, but you're in the middle of an 11-game stretch against winning teams, all of them likely in the playoffs. I don't care if you're leading the division by a game; you probably won't be there in a month. Agree? Disagree? Hit the poll at top right.

Is the fault in part on the players? Yes.

Is it also on Mo? Yes.

He's not been that good on building from outside, or on free agency. He did avoid giving an albatross to Albert Pujols, but also did overpay for both Dexter Fowler (unmoveable) and Mike Leake (moveable with enough cash). Oh, and I still remember how much all of the Post-Dispatch sports staff fellated the Leake signing. When "he's a great batter for a pitcher" is part of the fellation, it's bad.

Right now, Cards fans, if this team does pull a wild card out, would you expect it to advance past the wild card round of the playoffs? If, by a miracle, it wins the division, ditto; do you really think this team can win a playoff series?

Looking past this year doesn't look better. Is Marcell Ozuna gone? A two-year experiment where Mo again likely overpaid? Waino and Wacha are certainly gone, but good-bye to both Miles Mikolas is having a better year on FIP than ERA, etc., but after that, the rotation still doesn't look great. Carlos Martinez will never be an "ace." Molina is definitely getting into the "deteriorating catcher" zone. Carpenter may have had his peak. Even if Goldschmidt rebounds for a full season, there's going to be fewer parts around him.

July 30, 2019

Texas Progressives tell Texas wingnuts:
Climate change is still very real

Texas Progressives remind the climate change skeptics and denialists inside the Pointy Abandoned Object State™ that just because Texas has been missing its usual midsummer heat wave this year, that doesn't refute that July globally is on pace for a new all-time record. If there were a hell, you folks could bake there instead.

And with that, here's this week's roundup.

Global

SocraticGadfly invites you to be Simon and Garfunkel and picture the sounds of silence that a truly Green, Green New Deal on climate change would bring.


Dallas

Just who is Robert Jeffress, anyway, besides the Trump-fellating pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas? Despite my joke about Trump having nudies of him, a longform piece at Texas Monthly says that while he IS a "roast in hell you sinners" fundamentalist nutty enough to claim the Bible doesn't fully have anything to say about particular economic systems (truth is, Bob, it has NOTHING to say there), and he won't apologize for supporting Trump, he's not a wingnut in every way. Interestingly, he doesn't like the GOP on gunz, AND without saying "single payer," he thinks we need something better than Obamacare.

Well, Rev. Bob, meet Rev. Deanna Hollis, just named by the Presbyterian Church USA as its first national minister of gun violence prevention. All you have to do is drive up the road to Richardson and be as non-partisanly ecumenical as you claim.

Jim Schutze explains why the Red Bird Mall area won't be redeveloped anytime soon.


Houston

David Bruce Collins is upset enough to have not one but two posts about North Houston highway development bloated widening ideas.

Speaking from Houston, but really speaking to all Texas cities eyeing endless rounds of lane widening, Chris Tomlinson says this on Twitter:
Well put.

Mean Green Cougar Red mourns the demolition of the First Pasadena Bank.


John Coby says good-bye to his Congressman, Pete Olson.


Texas Lege and Texas Politics

Intra-GOP scuffles have Republican activists like "Mucus" Sullivan claiming Speaker Dennis Bonnen has it out for them. He's now firing back.

Telling Greg Abbott to shut up about his call for tough enforcement of state pot laws, a group of central Texas Dems says the laws themselves remain the problem — laws they tried to change.

Stephen Young notices how one-note the Republican response to Democratic Senate candidates is.


Off the Kuff looks at the July campaign finance reports from Congressional candidates.

The Texas Observer reminds us that a lot of people die on the job in Texas.

A three-judge federal panel, sounding like the state supreme court on school finance four years ago, wagged their collective finger at the state but they refused to put it back under Voting Rights Act preclearance.

The rural hospital closure crisis continues.


National

Donald Trump named 1st District wingnut and hack Congresscritter John Ratcliffe — who I personally know is a wingnut and a hack — as his director of national intelligence nominee.

Bob the Knob O'Rourke asks an Obama veteran to bail out his failing and flailing prez campaign.

Brains previewed this week's Dem debate round in his Weekly 2020.

Louie Gohmert once again was Gohmert Pyle.

Better Texas Blog decries the proposals to gut SNAP.


Paradise in Hell interprets Donald Trump's interpretation of the Constitution.

July 29, 2019

Trump names hack Ratcliffe as spy boss

Having formerly lived in the First Congressional District, I can say from experience that John Ratcliffe surely ranks somewhere in the No. 2-4 range of biggest hacks among Texas GOP Housecritters.

(Gohmert Pyle is in a league of his own, of course, and remains No. 1 until dethroned.)

How big a hack?

Well, some Senate Republicans aren't fully comfortable with his nomination as spy boss.

I'm wondering how the "not only was there no Russiagate, Russia is generally OK" types, and "the DNC rigged the primaries" lawsuit types, with at least some members of both groups ranking in my mind among Jeff St. Clair's "more credulous precincts of the left," will react to Ratcliffe's nomination after he too said "Russia is generally OK" during the Mueller hearings and that Obama crimes need to be investigated.

Now, Ratcliffe is NOT talking about actual war crimes committed by Obama (because neither duopoly party is ever touching that shit), but rather, anything related to the original FBI look-see into Trump during the 2016 campaign.

And, on actual crimes, shock me that the duopoly's Ratcliffe stressed leaking is a crime. At least he didn't (yet) talk about investigating any media that received those leaks.

More tough stuff to swallow for the #TulsiTwerkers

Who will of course seek to explain it away.

Why did she agree to speak to Religious Right wingnut de luxe John Hagee's Christians United for Israel four years ago? (That's the lead-in.)

Islamophobia and being generally in bed with neocons, per The Nation.

LobeLog reminds us that this is the same Hagee who blessed the opening of the (unconstitutionally moved??) U.S. embassy in Jerusalem last year.

That, in turn, is why on July 24 she voted FOR AIPAC and AGAINST BDS (and the First Amendment). The Tulsi Twerkers simply cannot explain this one away, though they try.
So, Ryan is claiming, I guess, that this was really a vote AGAINST AIPAC? Sure.

Snark aside, and more seriously, this is a good example of cultlike, or even full-on cultic behavior.

It's one thing when the leader tells the masses that "black" is "white" and they then agree.

It's a step deeper when they make the brainwashed decision on their own that "black" is "white" without any prompting.

Besides, Ryan, the three more actually progressive Squad members voted against it. They know.

Besides that, as I've already said, Tulsi claims Palestinians use people as human shields.

Third, the House could have had a simple two-state resolution without the BDS. Related? Tulsi could have abstained on this resolution; THAT could arguably be seen as nuanced. A yes vote? No way, Cochise.

Fourth, HRes 246 ain't that long, and it's easy to understand. "I've yet to read the full bill?" Takes about 3 minutes, if that. The anti-BDS parts twist what the movement is about and twist Omar Barghouti's words, among other things. Period.

Fourth, part two: Mondoweiss NAILS the NYT, and AIPAC behind this, for taking Barghouti's words out of context.

So, Ryan, you're either lazy, or you're lying. Or both. And, as for the "it reflects on all the candidates"? I thought Tulsi was supposed to be different? Outside the crowd. Actually, the crowd is her cult-like following. I consider her to have the greatest degree of cultiness of any Dem presidential candidate, well above Sandernistas or even the more stereotypical BernieBros.

Fifth, the resolution was crafted in March. She's had four months to decide to abstain, if she couldn't vote no.

And, Tulsi herself now tries to explain this away and fails. She eventually admits she opposes BDS, while lamely saying she'll support Ilhan Omar's pro-right to boycotts bill. Too late, the horses are out. Her stance is just like most Democrats, including most (with the 17 exception votes) on the alleged left of the party. "We can't pressure Israel that much." (Setting aside Tulsi's own neocon-friendly background.)

Update, Sept. 17: Mondoweiss says that two and only two Democratic presidential candidates have explicitly talked about cutting U.S. foreign aid to Israel. Guess what? Neither Bernie Sanders nor Pete Buttigieg is named Tulsi Gabbard.

Maybe Ryan can next explain her background in repeatedly indulging and being with conspiracy theorists. (That's another reason I would absolutely oppose her as a Green candidate; the party's got more than enough damned conspiracy theorists as is.) As for Jimmy Dore, at the first link, I don't care if he's on RT or not. I know he's not a Russian pawn. But, I'd never really paid attention to him other than noting he's an attention-getter.

Ryan, or maybe it was another Twerker, also tried to explain to me everything about Syria. That was before I said (which I then did say) that I'm a Green, that I don't believe everything the foreign policy establishment claims about Syria, that I've read Sy Hersh, Ted Postal, and Robert Fisk, among others, and that I knew not everything alleged to have been done by Assad actually had been. At the same time, I noted that Assad had plenty of blood on his hands, too, and that some chemical weapons use, especially before Russia brokered an alleged disposal of his remaining stock, almost surely had been done by him.

A full half a dozen years or more ago, when Tulsi Gabbard wasn't even a fucking blip on the national political horizon, I had multiple long blog posts about Syria, including facts/allegations/strawmen about Assad AND Erdogan AND the rebels, who would benefit from some attacks. Since then, I've written about the alleged Assad chemical attack two years ago and the White Helmets reality. That said, in one other case, whether Assad ordered it or not (and I doubt this flew under his radar), Syrian officers DID do it. And, Syrian troops — the guys who report to Assad — have committed other war crimes and crimes against humanity. The reality in Syria, per LobeLog, is a lot dirtier and a lot more complex than Tulsi and the Twerkers paint.

Fisk has also noted her close ties to dictators, plural, not just Assad, looking first at her and Egypt's al-Sisi, the man who likely had his predecessor killed. (Fisk asked Gabbard for comment for that first story and she took a powder, unsurprisingly.)

Another Twerker, one who thinks if you put hashtags on the names of Tulsi, Bernie, Stein and Baraka, you're truly a deep thinker as well as outside the deep state or whatever, was even worse.

Part of how the Twerkers are a collective pain in the ass is that they not only assume Tulsi is right about every foreign policy statement she makes, but, where she actually is right, you can only learn the truth from her. Bullshit.

That said, it doesn't surprise me Dore is both a 9/11 truther and a Seth Rich conspiracy theorist. Wouldn't surprise me if Tulsi is.

Is every Tulsi follower cultlike enough to be a Twerker? No, but I honestly think about half are.

Are all Twerkers as cultlike as Ryan on the anti-BDS bill? No, but probably 1/3 are.

So, at minimum, 1/6 of Tulsi followers will call "white" as "black" without prompting.

And, while we're here? As of Aug. 1, Brains still has a bromance, or hard-on, or whatever for her. David Bruce Collins, with less vitriol for those calling out Tulsi, also still likes her. Brains is back to his Dem-first Green-leaning unless Sanders (or maybe Warren, we'll see his take) isn't nominated. DBC is a full-on Green, so why he cares favorably about Gabbard, let alone doesn't look at realities?

==

Update, Aug. 23: Tulsi has remained strict social media radio silence on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suspension of the constitution, suspension of constitutionally based agreements, a de facto declaration of martial law and more in Kashmir. Many people are calling Kashmir "India's Palestine." Given that Gabbard has claimed Palestians use human shields, etc., I am sure she thinks Kashmir being India's Palestine is a good thing.

And Twerkers, don't give me this "she's been on Guard duty" bullshit. She's had plenty of tweets in the past two weeks.

The reality of Kashmir as a "giant prison camp" and how India (led by the BJP, but with Congress and allies in acquiescence) got to this point is explained in detail by Arundhati Roy.