SocraticGadfly: 2/9/20 - 2/16/20

February 15, 2020

Dusty Baker is worried about
his poor widdle Cheating Astros being hurt

New Cheating Astros manager Dusty Baker has already asked MLB to be extra vigilant about beanballs being thrown at his unapologetic players this year.

That's after Ross Stripling of the ripped off/choking Dodgers has said it's already crossed his mind with the Indians Mike Clevenger kind of leaning that way, and Reds free thinker Trevor Bauer has said of the the hypocrites that "I'll never let them forget."

Indeed, we should not.

Besides, there are many things opposing players, and opposing management, can do besides beanballs.

For example, in honor of Jose Altuve? "Restaurant Buzzer Night" giveaway. Make sure those first 10,000 fans get extra loud buzzers.

Turn off the hot water in the visitors' clubhouse.

Spike the water for the visitors with ExLax.

Speaking of spiking? Going back to deadball days, first basemen on visiting teams could get their spikes extra sharp. Easy to "accidentally" step on someone's foot on a close play.

Or, since many people think Altuve rooked Yankee Aaron Judge out of an MVP? Baseball rules about takeout slides aside, when the Astros play the Yankees, when the Yankees are at bat, if Judge gets on first base, if I'm Altuve, I ain't resting easy at second. Or, when Altuve is at bat, catcher Gary Sanchez could make his throws back to the mound come pretty close to Jose. (Mark May 15-17 Houston and Sept. 21-24 New York, right in a pennant race, on your calendar. Sadly, neither in regular season nor spring training, do the Astros play the Dodgers this year, so Cody Bellinger or teammates can't get on-field revenge. But Stripling was traded from the Dodgers to the Angels, AL West rivals of the Astros. Getcha popcorn!

Speaking of, on Monday, Mike Trout went off. So, let's just turn Trout lose in the Astros dugout to kick ass and take numbers.

Other than Altuve, the basically unbelievable Carlos Correa is probably also high on other teams' payback list.

Baker himself played the game for years back in the old days. I'm sure he can think of plenty of other paybacks, that will be hell.

That and more? The players will have earned it. Former Astro Tony Kemp says he refused to participate. So, any current or former from 2017 Astros who haven't said that? Per the old cliche, silence gives assent.

So, take to heart the three letters at left. And take to heart a friendly reminder that you haven't won a non-cheating pro sports title in Helltown for 25 years and counting.

That said, this in part continues to be Rob Manfred's fault for not punishing active players. And, to the degree that players union head Tony Clark, if contacted by Manfred, resisted such ideas, also his fault. Besides CBA issues for the next players contract, I'll bet players union meetings in months ahead are kind of heated at times on this issue.

February 14, 2020

YangGanging from the third-party world

I have been following Laura Palmer on Twitter for some time.

And, on two counts, I simply don't get her YangGang enthusiasm.

First, she as a former state co-chair of the Texas Greens, thinking that Yang is, overall, closer to Green Party positions than Bernie Sanders is itself a head-scratcher. She's not former, because she was re-elected to that position in mid-April, so she couldn't have been former.

Second, although she's never run for elective office, and therefore this isn't QUITE as bad as Jill Stein endorsing Bernie Sanders in the 2016 California Democratic primary, she IS a former state party official. This is a lot closer to Stein's action than to Green/Democrat stool straddler Brains, who's never held a GP position, calling himself A Bernie or Green Buster or something.

I think she's doing it primarily for Basic Income issues.

To me, that's way down the list, WAY down the list, of political priorities after national health care (which Yang wasn't even close to supporting), followed by real action on climate change, then other things. And that link on Yang's national health care head-fakery is why I said above that Palmer's enthusiasm for Yang over Sanders is a head-scratcher.

Yang strikes me as being at the left edge of tech-neoliberalism and nothing more.

Beyond that, he proved himself to be Just.Another.Politician.™ on Israel-Palestine issues.

That said, he dropped out as of New Hampshire primary night. Will he endorse any other Dem already? So far, none of the dropout Dems have endorsed anybody else. And, I'm curious to see what Palmer will do.

And, I didn't have to wait.

Tulsi Gabbard, despite, as far as I remember, never before talking up Basic Income (a Googling claims she has supported it), has all of a sudden made it a key talking point, along with an explicit pitch to the Yang Gang. And Palmer is retweeting away.

That's despite the many issues, like voted for more nukes, to opposing BDS, to her general Kool-Aid, and to her not clearly and explicitly supporting single-payer (on her campaign website, she tried to have her cake of Medicare for All while eating the public option), that should make her anathema to a good Green. (I know not all Greens are ecosocialist lefties, but I think the party's moving that way.

There's also the issue of what version of BI Gabbard supports — the lefty or the libertarian conservative version. PplsWar, who is "interesting" a absolute dickhead on Twitter, says it's the latter. I'm on record as strongly against that version, and against BI "guru" Scott Santens' version of it. Santens does a call-out of him. That said, per Politico, and contra what a Yang staffer told me on Twitter, it seems Yang himself supports at least a semi-libertarian version. I have a separate post looking at Yang and Gabbard's BI issues here.

Palmer seems to actually have some animosity toward Sanders, and I'm guessing that it's in part due to his non-embrace of BI. Among her retweets, when Yang dropped out, was one claiming that Bloomberg made a better appeal to the YangGang than Sanders.

Back to the first longer paragraph, though. There's another complication with her having been an ardent YangGanger. She's a plaintiff to the suit against HB 2504 and related third-party ballot access issues; she's listed individually on plaintiffs but the details of the complaint make clear it's on behalf of the party. The Texas Secretary of State's lawyers could theoretically submit her Twitter feed as evidence to try to claim lack of standing, or at a minimum, that she doesn't actually have that serious of interest. The first argument would almost surely be rejected; the second, if accepted, wouldn't hurt other plaintiffs. But it still wouldn't be good optics. Arguably, it's not good optics for the party, either.

As for me? Yes, in the past month or two, I've tweeted or mainly retweeted more pro-Bernie stuff. But, I've also retweeted anti-Bernie stuff, like old blog posts about him and F-35s, or him and BDS. In other words, I don't support Sanders uncritically. Also, in November, I plan to vote Howie Hawkins or Dario Hunter, assuming one or the other is the Green nominee. Had Yang somehow gotten the Democratic nod, I honestly don't know what Palmer would have done, off the top of my head.

In any case, Hawkins has his own proposal for income security, which is based on expanding the current Earned Income Tax Credit into a negative income tax.


On the big ticket behind this all, I haven't done in-depth blogging about either BI or issues behind it — or the person behind much of the push for it on US social media, Scott Santens — for some time. I have new posts on both coming up.

February 13, 2020

Tulsi, Yang, the Yang Gang, and versions of BI

Tulsi Gabbard, despite, as far as I remember, never before talking up Basic Income (a Googling claims she has supported it), has all of a sudden made it a key talking point, along with an explicit pitch to the Yang Gang.

There's also the issue of what version of BI Gabbard supports — the lefty or the libertarian conservative version. PplsWar, who is "interesting" a absolute dickhead on Twitter, says it's the latter. I'm on record as strongly against that version, and against BI "guru" Scott Santens' version of it. Santens does a call-out of him. That said, per Politico, and contra what a Yang staffer told me on Twitter, it seems Yang himself supports at least a semi-libertarian version. It's clear, with a quote from his website, that he wants BI to replace at least not only "welfare," but things like disability income.


So, despite Santens' callout, I'm venturing Gabbard does support at least a semi-libertarian version. It seems she and Yang both probably are trying to have their cake and eat it too on BI — a "new idea" but one that doesn't fit into pre-neoliberal New Deal, or more, Great Society, boxes.

If that's problematic enough for Sandernista type Democrats, it should be anathema to non-duopoly leftists — like I think a fair amount of Greens are — ecosocialist lefists. (Unfortunately, many are anarchist Black Bloc types and a few are quasi-libertarian even.)

Politico also called out Yang for bad math. I've called out Santens for far worse math as well as full-on libertarian versions of BI. (Santens wants to junk not just disability payments, but unemployment bennies and even part of Social Security. No, really.)

Going beyond PplsWar, I have also said BI should not be used as the primary fix for gig economy problems. Do that, and you open the door to gutting Social Security next because the self-employed pay both employer and employee portions of FICA tax. Beyond that, many issues with the gig economy have arisen because neoliberal Dems, tacitly, and big-biz and libertarian conservative Republicans, openly, have supported the NLRB cutting rules on who's a contractor and who's not. (I have a new post addressing this in detail that's pending.)

I don't know if Yang, or Gabbard, have been making absurd marketing pitches like Santens that BI will fight climate change, but that too has to be watched.

My NBA All-Star draft

I saw "Stockton" trending on Twitter yesterday. That's because NBA on TNT had this:

The rules? With 15 draft points, build an NBA All-Star starting team out of that.

If we're playing today, especially?

Here we go:
It's simple.

Bill Russell? Still arguably the greatest defender ever. Couldn't hit the broad side of a barn shooting. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain could (except Wilt on free throws) but both were traditional back to the basket centers, out of date in today's world. The pre-Jordan NBA in general was relatively static compared to today. Sure, there was lots of fast break running, as Russell's Celtics showed, but in the halfcourt? The best of offenses back then had poor spacing and poor cutting way too often. And the game slowed down when the ball got dumped into the post.

It's just like I said. Jerry West, the Logo, would be bombing if he had the 3-ball line in his career. Stockton did. Both were good passers, too. Stockton's too short and slow to really be a PG, but, he's a better overall player than Westbrook.

Michael Jordan and LeBron James both give me great D as well as their variety of offensive skills, and LeBron could play center on D today. So, that's 3 points left.

Peak Larry Bird beats peak Tim Duncan at 3s and assists both, and he wasn't horrible defensively. He can play center on D well enough. 

Options? KD instead of Stockton is one. Olajuwon was very tough to leave out, but I ignored the 4-pointers in general from the start. On the 5-star line? Only two names ever got consideration. Nope, Kobe-stanners. I am very solid with my original five.

As for the best ever? Sorry, Jordan-stanners, but he's 1A to LeBron's 1. Already covered that. (And Kobe is in the back seat.)

As for biggest insult? No, it's not Durant being a 1-point ranker. It's that Steph Curry isn't even on there. You could easily boot Westbrook.

February 12, 2020

Texas Progressives talk New Hampshire turkey

So, our first-in-the-(white)-nation primary is now in the bag, after our  first-in-the-(white)-nation caucuses. (Actually, per Dems using a mosque for at least one caucus site, Iowa is not quite so white any more and is less white than the Granite State.) Sanders has a win, but Mayo Pete remains nipping at his heels and Klobberin Klobuchar was a surprise in a strong third. My take here.

Before the roundup, a note to ponder: Why do white folk who generally hate black folk obsess so much about tanning, that is, moving from white closer to black? Melatonin envy, to riff on Freud? Maybe, per Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, there's some unknown schwartzes in Trump's German ancestry background. Or a black woman among the ladies of the evening his granddad was pimping in the Klondike.

OK, NOW we can continue.

Texas politics

Off the Kuff analyzed the Q4 2019 campaign finance reports for Texas Democratic Congressional candidates.

Dos Centavos presented his Stace Slate for the primary. Per Brains, how you square supporting Bernie for prez and ConservaDem grifter Royce West for Senate, I dunno. (Alonzo is not the best Dem for RRC, either.)

Sanford Nowlin reviews the state of election integrity.

The Texas Signal ponders the rise of Michael Bloomberg and his Presidential campaign in the state.

Texana, pollution division

Beef: It's what's for dinner, it's what's for causing climate change, and now, with the consolidation of the meat packing industry and bigger feedlots, it's what's for fucking up your lungs in Amarillo. And, of course the TCEQ isn't doing anything. And the Texas Department of Ag? Besides Sid Miller fucking up hemp regs, it's doing less than nothing on this issue. Result? Panhandle counties have higher asthma rates than most of urban Texas. And the Texas Cattle Feeders Association bigfoots people who would speak out.

Petrochemical refineries in various spots on the Gulf Coast continue to break federal emissions regs on benzene. Reminder 1: Benzene is carcinogenic. Reminder 2: It's a byproduct of cigarette smoke.

Kinder Morgan's Hill Country-transecting pipeline nears completion. Rich Rethuglicans in the Hill Country who are mad get the schadenfreude sad trombones from me. Others there get actual sympathy IF they're not GOP blank-checkers.

That said, it may have less and less to pipe in the future, and that future may be coming sooner than it would like. Read that link for the latest on fracking cannibalizing itself.


Hair discrimination is a thing, sadly.

Selena is remembered in pix in San Antonio.

The TSTA Blog notes that public school principals don't have private jets.

Better Texas Blog connects income inequality with the decline in union membership.


Surprised that Stephen Young didn't ask if Our Man Downtown JWP has an alternative, friends of John Wiley Price, concessionaire in mind for Dallas County Jail inmate phone calls, and that that's what's behind the delay in a new contract.

Young more than redeems himself by bank-shotting from Trump's comment about Mitt Romney to put Robert Jeffress in the spotlight.

Reverchon Park neighbors are suing the city over the council's sweetheart development deal to a group led by Donnie Nelson. D Mag has all the details.

Tiny houses get their own community within Lake Dallas.


Brains saluted Bernie's New Hampshire debate performance while also calling James Carville nucking futs. I pointed out details of Carville's lies on Twitter:
More here and here in Tweets by others, reTweets of others, or a response thread, on the vapidness of Carville.

Before that, Brains offered a 2020 elections update, noting that Yang is burning lots o money. Sidebars in his piece note falling oil prices and possible effect on Texas and more.

SocraticGadfly looked at the recently ended impeachment process and talked about why it failed politically.


SocraticGadfly had a trio of Metroplex and Houston related pro sports roundup posts. First, in the wake of the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl plus tweeting during the AFC title game, he asked if it was sad trombones time for DFW and Houston pro sports. Second, he said Rick Carlisle was getting it wrong by trying to make Unicorn Porzingis into a 3-ball machine. Third, as unconventional as Daryl Morey's plans may be, he said the Rockets were among the winners at the NBA trade deadline.

Gadfly also, per ESPN, saluted Rock Chalk Jayhawk head coach Bill Self for his 700th win, the second-youngest college hoops coach to ever do that, and the team for its record-tying 31st straight 20-win season.

February 11, 2020

New Hampshire hot take:
The nomination seems to be Bernie's to lose

Status Quo Joe Biden didn't even stick around the Granite State, having fled for South Carolina Tuesday afternoon.

Michael Bennet (were you ever really in?) and Andrew Yang (what sort of circle jerk will the Yang Gang now do) both dropped out.

But those aren't the biggest takeaways.

That is that Warren got clobbered. NO other word for it.

That said, as I just said on Twitter? The fact that she only focused compliments on Klobuchar confirms that her baseline is #StillWithering, not pergressuvism. Between this and the post-debate stage dustup after the pre-Iowa debate, Bernie shouldn't expect any endorsement from her after she drops.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Democratic calendar?

Going to the Nevada caucuses Feb. 22, and being prepared in advance for any attempts to repeat 2016 bullshit by John Ralston or Delores Huerta, he should be the frontrunner. His goal should be to knock out Warren. That's not likely, but, at the least, if he can drive another "unviable" into her image, she'll start leaking more water. She's thin on the ground and had a staff blowout there recently. Daily Beast has the details of her campaign on the ropes there.

A win there, and then Down South.

A solid second for Sanders in South Carolina Feb. 29, doubling his 2016 black vote there and holding Biden below 40 percent overall, would be big.

So, from there, it's Bernie, Bootblack Buttigieg and Minnesota Nice Klobuchar. No matter what you or I think on gunz, a lot of white Dems in Texas and elsewhere Southish aren't going to like Bloomberg's stance. And a lot of black Democrats down in these parts aren't going to like his, to paraphrase, "we police and arrest black people because that's where the crime is" stance exposed by Benjamin Dixon.

Sanders has already gone after Buttigieg on the billionaires angle. Surrogates need to play up South Bend racism in races down south. After Biden drops, black delegates will need wooing and courting, as well as warnings about others. But, some elbows will need to be thrown outside the "billionaires" issue.

Minnesota Nice might be a tougher take. And, one sign of caution coming out of New Hampshire? Bernie had the biggest gender gap, at least in exit polls, per CNN. That said, gender gaps cut both ways. Looking the other direction, Minnesota Nice had the biggest gap.

That then said, note that I said "seems to be" in the header. In a two-person race in 2016, Bernie dunked on Hillary. This year, if it were just him and Bootblack, it would be about 53-47. And, just like this year, in 2016, Sanders had a functional tie/eked-out-win in Iowa, then won New Hampshire.

It really boils down to how much establishment support Klobuchar can garner with the upset in New Hampshire and thereafter, assuming Status Quo Joe exits stage left and Mayor Monopoly never catches on.

Peak Permian is still likely to be here sooner rather than later

Per DeSmog Blog (and others I have noted in the past, like Ari Berman), we may well be getting closer and closer to a new peak of production in the Permian Basin, despite all the breathless gushing by American wingnuts about energy independence — along with less than the most critical reporting on this issue by Texas' largest newspaper.

Horizontally-drilled fracking wells dropped in tight clusters have a tendency to cannibalize each other's oil. DeSmog Blog itself wrote about this 18 months ago. Per that DeSmog Blog link, I have also blogged about this issue six months before that second link, and looked beyond just the Permian.

As for 2020 being a possible peak? In my blog post, one of the links, in February 2018, said the peak, and for all big fields, not just the Permian, might come in just four years from then. That would be the start of 2022, a year later than DeSmog Blog, but certainly in the same neighborhood. It's also of importance in that it covers all the major fields, not just the Permian, which means ... Peak Oil, period, if you will.

DeSmog Blog also looks at the fiscal side of what's behind all the drilling, as I have done before, too. Basically, oil frackers are largely in the middle of a Ponzi scheme no different than that of Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake with natural gas a decade ago — which still hasn't fully dissipated either. It's not so confined to one company, which is both good and bad. It means we won't have one major player go kablooey, but it means its even more widespread, if not so sharply deep. That said, gas fracking Ponziness wasn't totally just McClendon, either.

 I have blogged and tweeted before about how half of the "boom" of modern fracked wells is faster well flow and only half is increased overall production. If not Toyota, which hasn't improved overall fuel economy in a decade, Honda and others are lying in wait for SUV-addicted American car companies to hit another crunch.


Per another, newer piece by DeSmog Blog, maybe Peak Permian is ALREADY here. "Oil" from new fracking is looking more and more gassy. No, really; much of it is just about light enough to qualify for what the Railroad Commission considers condensate. Also contra Trump and others on "energy independence," this ultralight stuff HAS TO be blended with heavier grades from elsewhere — as in, imported — for the best refining.

DeSmog Blog notes other thing yours truly has said for some time — fracking produces somewhat more oil, but even more, it produces the oil it does at a much faster flow rate, making it look like a big boom just before the big bust.

And this is not just the Permian — it's fracking. That same piece notes that wells in the Bakken decline just as fast, and decline faster yet in the Eagle Ford.

For that matter, per a recent blog post, per why and how King Hubbert calculated it, Peak Oil itself was actually true. 


Update, March 14: And now, coronavirus plus the collapse of OPEC+ are further cratering prices.

February 10, 2020

Guardian ixnays fossil fuel ads; will it mean anything?

The British newspaper company says it will no longer accept ads from fossil fuel companies. However, as of this time, it will still accept ads for products that are major fossil fuel users, ie, CARS!

From the newspaper side, I understand still taking car ads, or travel ones. They're big sellers. Now, the idea that this will entice other advertisers? I doubt it. The Guardian is not the British equivalent of The Nation or something.

Nieman Lab comments more on both the policy and the paper's move to revamp its news language about climate issues. And on how the NYT (and presumably many other papers) talk "firewall" when called out for still running these ads. As an editor, I know that Amy Westervelt is right — readers don't see a "firewall."

And, as long as the NYT has people like John Schwartz on the editorial side, even if ads are a declining percentage of revenue, eXXXon will be OK with running those ads.

Beyond THAT, Schwartz is no idiot, even though he's currently playing one on Twitter. He knows that papers have either killed outright or modified stories before under pressure from advertisers. Big Oil doesn't have the chops to pull that off any more, but it has in the past.

Will this push politicians into a big political shift? Not as long as papers like the NYT still have reporters like John Schwartz.