SocraticGadfly: 8/29/21 - 9/5/21

September 03, 2021

Once again, demographics is not destiny

I've said that more than once, mainly on the growth of Hispanics here in Texas, to Texas Democratic voters, and even more the Texas Democratic Party and jefe Gilberto Hinojosa, who somehow remains in power despite a track record of losing.

It's also true about age, as Five Thirty Eight points out on a profile piece about pot legalization supporting, pro-choice, climate change is real Gen Z ... Republicans. Trump voting Republicans, even.

That said, as the piece reveals, they differ from their Dem-voting peers, and often strongly, on every socioeconomic issue. And, per the last graf of the piece, even though they're similar to young Dems on laughing at "canceling cancel culture," they still appear unsure of themselves as white, or male, or both vis-a-vis today's social political environment.

September 02, 2021

Texas Progressives pre-Labor Day roundup

Friendly reminder that Labor Day inspired to some degree modern May Day celebrations in Europe, but no May Day here; Labor Day was also started by the capitalist class to co-opt that hated socialism. Barbecue or whatever next Monday, but don't go to a grocery store. If you don't do that in advance, you don't get it.

Matthew Dowd is dropping heavy hints about running for Lite Guv as a Dem against Danny Goeb. (Why not run against Gilberto Hinojosa to head the TDP instead, I Tweeted him.)

Christopher Whiteley still wasn't killed by a mountain lion in Hood County, despite claims of a clearly incompetent sheriff. The one question really is: was it a wild dog or a person that killed him? (It sure seems more like a person.)

Would you buy electricity from Elon Musk? Hellz no from me.

Stace updates us on Greg Abbott's border boondoggle, and why Texas should not be doing anything on the border.

Newsrooms at the Dallas Snooze, Fort Worth Startlegram and Austin Stateless all opted sometime back to join the News Guild and fight for unionization. Surprisingly to a degree, negotiations are going best at the one-pony Snooze, versus Craphouse/New Gannett in Austin and McClatchy/hedge fund in Cowtown, reports Gus Bova.

SocraticGadfly wonders why the Christian Century hates Palestinians. That's even as Ill Eagle Israeli settlers in Palestine's latest atrocity comes to light: Abducting and attacking a 15-year-old.

September 01, 2021

Shohei Ohtani, like Mike Trout, still must bow before Walter Johnson

Three years ago David Schoenfield tried to claim that Mike Trout was on track for the best season ever. He was wrong and I thoroughly explained why.

But, Schoenfield has moved on. Now he's hinting that Shohei Ohtani might be among the best, and, once again, from what I can see before I hit the ESPN+ paywall (and dreck like this is why I won't pay) he ignores Walter Johnson's GOAT 1913 season. (To be half fair, in 2018, it wasn't just Schoenfield; it was a whole set of ESPN clusterfuckheads.)

So, no, Schoenfield (and shouldn't you be making sure Bishop Syracuse doesn't play in next year's Little League World Series?) Ohtani's year, while in the 10-WAR range if he finishes out, is NOT Babe Ruth. Or Barry Bonds. Or Mike Trout. 

And certainly not Walter Johnson.

And right now, if he DOES finish out, he may not get 10 WAR.

(Update, Oct. 29. He of course was a fair ways short, at 9.0 WAR. And, he must not only bow to Walter Johnson and the Babe, but just within the modern era, Ohtani must bow to Trout, Bonds and seven other players on the batting side alone who had seasons at least 15 percent better than him.)

Because, contra your claims three years ago, Trout wasn't chasing Ruth. Or any of the others, ultimately. He WAS chasing Johnson.

Also, as for the two-way claims? Well, not totally so fast. In his peak, Johnson appeared as a batter in 55 or so games for several years straight. (That said, most those years, he pitched 48 or more games.) Twice he was over 60 games. In 1914, one year after his peak, he had 160 PAs. In 1918, 167. Rounding up a 0.9 year, he had seven straight years of 1.0 or more WAR at the plate. (Johnson also in 1913 tied his career best in batting with a 109 OPS+.)

And, with that said, let's take selected info from that 2018 piece.

Again, Trout was NOT chasing Ruth, namely Ruth's 1923 season, for the best year in baseball history by WAR.

He was not, unless he was trying for second place.

The best year in MLB history is NOT Babe Ruth's 1923. Not at all.

Not even close.

But, who?

It's Johnson's 1913.

Walter Johnson: The
current WAR GOAT
The Big Train had 15.0 WAR on the mound, compared to Ruth's 14.3 at the plate.

Now, somebody will pop up that single-season WAR numbers can vary half a WAR point, so just maybe Ruth is ahead.


Johnson also had 1.4 at the plate for 16.4 WAR total.

Now, ESPN Stats and Info had one of their staff snootily tweet back to me when I tweeted this, that it was about position players only.

Well, Schoenfield never said that. (And, this year, he certainly hasn't. At least, he didn't before I hit the paywall screen.)

This dude said "it was implied."

I said "oh really"?

He then said that WAR favored pitchers, especially in the dead ball era.

First, as I've blogged before,1913 was semi-live ball, not totally dead. About all rules had been standardized, homers were up a tick, doubles up two or three ticks, etc.

Second, if you throw out pre-1920 years, as I then told this guy, half of the top WAR years were by batters anyway. (I took top 50 and threw out from there.) One third of post-1910 were, and almost all of the 1910-20 years that stay are Johnson's. Take top 50 and ties I then said "bye!"

Let's look at live ball and semi-live ball pitchers — post-1910, in my take — who are at least in the ballpark of the Babe's year. We'll use 12 WAR, rounded, as the cutoff. That gets us within 20 percent of Ruth, even if well below the Big Train.

Johnson, again, 14.8 in 1912
Dwight Gooden, 13.3 WAR (an under-21 record) in his phenomenal 1985
Pete Alexander, 12.7 in 1920
Walter (Guess Who) Johnson, 12.7 in 1914, part of a phenomenal three-year stretch.
Steve Carlton, 12.5 in 1972
You know Who, 12.5 in 1915, part of a phenomenal four-year stretch
Ed Walsh, 12.2, 1912
Roger Clemens, 12.1, 1997* for you know what.
Hal Newhouser, 12.1, 1945
Bob Gibson, 11.9, 1968
Old Pete, 11.9, 1916
Ferguson Jenkins, 11.9, 1971

Given that Doc Gooden is the only player in the top 20 from the modern era, and Lefty Carlton is the only other modern era player in the top 30, for single-season WAR, per B-Ref, that's how dumb a fuq Schoenfield is. (Carl Yastrzemski, 12.4 WAR in his 1967 Triple Crown year, is the only batter from semi-live ball or full live ball besides Ruth in the top 35, and he's the ONLY modern era player in the top 45. Yep. Ahead of Bonds. Or Trout. THAT is how Dum a Fuq Schonefield is.)

But, back to the first point. Ohtani has yet to make it to 10 WAR. Just cool your jets on how special this is. Right now, with an OPS+ over 150, he's a great batter, sure. Ditto with his ERA+ being over 150. Problem? He's only pitched a skoosh over 100 innings. Not likely to make more than 125. Even in today's baseball world, that's way low.

And, this is just one season. (And, update Sept. 16, if he's possibly going to be shut down for the year on the mound side, it's not even a full season.)
Update: Per a comment by Dave below, when comparing Ohtani with Ruth's two-way years, or with the number of at-bats plus innings played as a pitcher for Johnson, let's not forget that Ohtani DH's as an offensive player. He's not playing a fielding position and therefore doesn't have to throw the ball anywhere.

August 31, 2021

Coronavirus week 73B: what's next?

The biggie here in Tex-ass? Last week, Kenny Boy Paxton admitted in legal pleadings that his office cannot and will not enforce Abbott's GA-38 banning masks, and Harris County's county attorney set this out for public consumption. I would assume, then, that Kenny Boy also cannot enforce bans on vaccine mandates. Flip side is that the Texas Supremes sided with Strangeabbott again, and that the hypocritical sack of shit amended GA-38 to include ALL COVID VACCINES, whether of an EUA only or full FDA approval.

That's even as school districts like Leakey ISD and Medina ISD are shut this entire week, because of COVID. The Lege has passed a bill with modest to moderate expansions of remote learning, but its fate at Strangeabbott's hands is murky.

And as Caleb Wallace is now dead.

And, outside of Texas, so is Mark Bernier.

Off the Kuff notes that for all of the litigation over Greg Abbott's mask mandate ban, Abbott himself admits he can't enforce it anyway.

The Atlantic reminds us that Delta is likely not the last variant, but that ... as any non-troll knows, vaccination "corrals" the virus and reduces its evolutionary variant development, along with all the other things vaccination does.

At Jacobin, Branko Marcetic supports a national vaccination mandate. The Atlantic has a related story that says we need to keep shifting the public health burden onto the antivaxxers.

Just because you can smell perfume, or farts, through or around a mask, even an N95, doesn't mean they're not effective. This was raised ... and dismissed ... 16 months ago. More here. And on Reddit even.

The man who claims to have invented mRNA vaccination technology is also a COVID antivaxxer, which he denies. TLDR, or preview? He's overstating his vaccine work claims (which is nonetheless not insubstantial), he IS a COVID antivaxxer, and despite his graduate work, he's idiot enough to have gotten a vaccine AFTER getting COVID and thinking it would reverse the already started effects of infection, which in his case seems to include long-haul COVID. Sadly, wingnut media is giving him the recognition he craves.

Robert Malone is also apparently the nut who started mongering the claim that Pfizer's vaccine, now with the name of Comirnaty, has not "really" gotten full approval and is still on an EUA, per Orac. (Somebody emailed my newspaper about this.)

Biden appears to be kowtowing to Beijing on not pushing for more information about a possible lab leak at WIV being the root of the pandemic. Orac will continue to not discuss this, of course.

Zeynep Tufekci is a co-author, one of several, of a new piece at Science studying the history of scientific study of aerosol transmission of viruses. She gives the nickel version of the piece at her Substack, which also has a link to a NYT column, which discusses the lack of large scale clinical trials related to COVID, AND an announcement she will now be a regular columnist there. Hey, Zeynep, wade into foreign policy and kick Teapot Tommy Friedman in the nads. The Science piece (and I already know part of the history, and this builds on that) shows how blind reliance by many immunologists and related scientists at the start of the pandemic had them convinced that droplets, not aerosals, was the primary means of transmission.

More on waning vaccine efficiency

Coronavirus, week 73A: Yes, Pfizer has full approval

The man who claims to have invented mRNA vaccination technology, Robert Malone, is also a COVID antivaxxer, which he denies. TLDR, or preview? He's overstating his vaccine work claims (which is nonetheless not insubstantial), he IS a COVID antivaxxer, and despite his graduate work, he's idiot enough to have gotten a vaccine AFTER getting COVID and thinking it would reverse the already started effects of infection, which in his case seems to include long-haul COVID. Sadly, wingnut media is giving him the recognition he craves.

Malone is also apparently the nut who started mongering the claim that Pfizer's vaccine, now with the name of Comirnaty, has not "really" gotten full approval and is still on an EUA, per Orac. (Somebody emailed my newspaper about this.) 

Orac says that FDA's full approval language got exploited by the wingnuts. Here's the relevant graf:

On August 23, 2021, having concluded that revising this EUA is appropriate to protect the public health or safety under section 564(g)(2) of the Act, FDA is reissuing the August 12, 2021 letter of authorization in its entirety with revisions incorporated to clarify that the EUA will remain in place for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the previously-authorized indication and uses, and to authorize use of COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) under this EUA for certain uses that are not included in the approved BLA. In addition, the Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) was revised to provide updates on expiration dating of the authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and to update language regarding warnings and precautions related to myocarditis and pericarditis. The Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers was updated as the Vaccine Information Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, which comprises the Fact Sheet for the authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and information about the FDA-licensed vaccine, COMIRNATY (COVID- 19 Vaccine, mRNA).

That's followed by his explanation:

The language about Comirnaty is, as is often the case, confusing legalese and jargon. First of all, what this means is that, while Comirnaty is now fully FDA-approved for use in people age 16 and older to prevent COVID-19, its use in those aged 12-15 will fall under an updated EUA rather than full FDA approval, just as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine’s use has since the EUA was issued for this indication in May. The reason is simple. Approval of a biologics license application (BLA) requires more followup data than an EUA, and insufficient time has passed since the clinical trial upon which the FDA based its May EUA that authorized use of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 12-15 was concluded.

So, there you go. 

Greg Hunter has amplified this nonsense started by Malone, and it's so bad that even nutters at Natural News are jumping ship on this one. And, the FDA already has his number on the claim this is different than the Pfizer BioNTech. Here.

The licensed vaccine has the same formulation as the EUA-authorized vaccine and the products can be used interchangeably to provide the vaccination series without presenting any safety or effectiveness concerns. The products are legally distinct with certain differences that do not impact safety or effectiveness.


And, this keeps Orac, with all his tribalism around the WIV lab leak theory, from being deblogrolled.

August 30, 2021

Afghanistan: US meddling began with Jimmy Carter, courtesy Zbigniew Brzezinski

Some of the Reagan-generated tropes about Jimmy Carter are rightly being revised. He wasn't "bumbling." He was right about renewable energy. (And, he was and always has been maritally faithful!)

But, some of the tropes that were NOT spread are true.

Carter was in many ways our first neoliberal president. His deregulation of airlines did lower prices, but it was not the only cause for that. It did also lead in part to the air traffic controllers strike that happened under Reagan's first year in office.

He deregulated trucking, which led to semi drivers being made independent contractors, and Reagan further pushing that, and using the dereg to push all states into 53-foot lengths and 80,000-pound lengths.

And, his meddling in Afghanistan is more than many Americans realize and many Democrats admit.

We didn't have to try to "pick winners and losers" in who we wanted to oppose the Soviet invasion. We could have just stayed out. Or, we could have tried to organize a non-communist but also non-Islamist opposition. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

John Pilger reminds us that we're reaping what we sowed with our coup in the late 1970s after the overthrow of King Zahir Shah. Behind the US-backed coup? Zbigniew Brzezinski, the biggest Darth Vader of US foreign policy this side of Kissinger. That coup is what led the Soviets into Afghanistan in the first place. More here on Carter-era meddling, and picking the wrong side when we did. And, more yet on how Carter also intervened in an inter-Yemen war when there were two of them, also prompted in part by Zbig. (Blue Anon leaders like Josh Marshall don't want to go back this far.)

Bottom line is that unarguably on foreign policy, and arguably for everything in his presidency, hiring Brzezinski as national security adviser was Carter's single worst decision. Zbig argued for a last arms sale to the Shah. Zbig poo-pooed warnings of how fragile Iran was, especially the warnings of special envoy William Sullivan. Zbig pushed Carter from inside the administration, as Kissinger and David Rockefeller did outside, to push for the Shah to be admitted to the US. Zbig pushed Carter to see post-Shah Iran in Cold War terms, which then led to looking at Afghanistan that way.

Kai Bird, in his new good but not great bio of Carter, gets at the edges of a lot of this, but not really the full meat. And, there's no meat at all on why Carter didn't rein in Zbig more. Perhaps Carter, at least then, was more of a Cold Warrior than he lets on today. Note those other meddlings, like Yemen.

Who killed Cock Robin? (COVID version)

Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said the wingnut.
With coughing mouth,
And sneezing nose,
Without a mask,
Or a jab,
I killed Cock Robin.

Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said the gov'ner.
I, DeSatan, and
I, Strangeabbott.
I told the wingnut
Not to worry
Except about "freedom,"
And if Cock Robin died,
Even as a fledgling
In birding school,
He was in the arms of Jeebus.

Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said judgey-wudgey
I told the gov'ner
He was right on freedom
And that everyone
Who tried to protect 
Poor Cock Robin
Was not allowed
To do so.

Who will bury Cock Robin?
I, said the gov'ner
Named Strangeabbott.
Was he in his eggshell?
He is then fetal tissue,
And shall be buried
With full honors.

Who will bury Cock Robin?
I, said the gov'ner
Named DeSatan.
Was he old and white?
At Birdville Retirement?
He shall be buried
With full honors.