SocraticGadfly: 1/9/22 - 1/16/22

January 15, 2022

The Nation decides to deep-dive pander to hardcore Zionism

Never heard of Alexis Grenell before, but after seeing this screed, it's clear she's in the territory of Batya Ungar-Sargon, Bari Weiss or worse. I saw it via Philip Weiss' crushing takedown on Mondoweiss.

And, crushing it is.

Here's a few of my hot take Tweets. Let's start with the first:

Then? Let's skip ahead several Tweets, as I saw that Grennell had made herself more shameful:

"Goysplaining"? Really? What D. Fuq?

Now, as far as some of the other specific slants of the piece, like Grenell saying that "goysplaining" includes telling non-Jewish Democrats why they need to kowtow to Zionists? That's because she's apparently some sort of Democratic consultant. She's also apparently "woke" on sexual rights (sex not gender, contra her language), per this piece. But, I think Weiss is halfway woke, too, but also engages in anti-Palestinian cancel culture. She's also an anti-Democratic Socialists of America person (outside of the DSA hits in The Nation piece), enough of one to call Bernie Sanders a misogynist in 2020. In other words, total BlueAnon. OK, so we now know she's full of multiple versions of BlueAnon identity politics. (That would, of course, include Israel but not Palestine!)

Back to some of my tweets, several inspired by Tweeters that Weiss linked to. Several riffed on "rightwing Zionist" Jeremy Burton's totally stanning Tweet, per Weiss. I'll give you the full thread, individually, starting with the first:

Then the second:

And, that's true, and Hispanics are a larger percentage of the American populace. They generally run around 65 percent or a bit more Democratic, with Jews just over 70 percent.

As I told The Nation in another Tweet, it can continue to offer its $2 a month subscription specials; it's only increased my disdain for it even at that price.

Back to the piece?

It's trash otherwise. 

Grenell dives in the sewer to go Godwin's Law on BDS, for example. And, she's not totally accurate about the lack of support for BDS. Per Pew, among secular Jews who have heard something about BDS (this is important, as many Jews, religious or secular, have not), 45 percent of that subset support BDS.


Meanwhile, I didn't even tackle the utilitarian angle of this. Grenell (Dem operative/consultant, remember?) throughout the piece pushes the electoral politics angle of this, per my last Tweet and notes. In fact, it seems to me that's her overriding concern, not whether it's an ethical issue of the Democratic Party and leading national Democrats needing to be more vocal in their support for Israel, including denouncing BDS, because "never forget" or whatever. 

Nope. It's all about the politics for her, in end.


Update: Nation editor D.D. Guttenplan attacked Mondoweiss for not only criticizing the piece itself, but him (if not by name) and the magazine in general for allegedly pulling a Grenell and running the piece to keep top donors happy. Hadn't thought of that at first, but it is possible, just like the mag talking a lot about the urgency of climate change but little about what to do to fix that.

January 14, 2022

Quick hot take on SCOTUS' two vax mandate rulings

Setting aside the two old wingnuts plus Amy Coney Barrett (and somewhat Neil Gorsuch), who may be even worse, I think the court got both rulings right.

Contra the many BlueAnon national opiners, of whom Mark Joseph Stern at Slate is surely representative, although from farther left, Cody Fenwick at Alternet says the same, the court, or lets say the Umpire John Roberts and his sometimes tagalong Drunken Brett Kavanaugh, got the OSHA mandate right. COVID is not specifically a workplace issue, with the exception, which the court allowed for, of certain high-density workplaces that might otherwise be critical to the economy. Therefore, OSHA doesn't have the power for a mandate like this unless Congress grants it such.

That said, per Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times, it IS hypocritical-hilarious-funny to see wingnut guvs tout the OSHA ruling while ignoring the HHS ruling that said Health and Human Services has been given this type of power by Congress. As for Arkansas hospital chains saying they're struggling how to reconcile federal and state law on this issue? There IS NO "struggle." The Constitution says it's the supreme law of the land, and state officials, as part of their oath of office, are required to swear to "preserve, protect and defend" it.

Then, there's former Iowa Congresscritter and M.D. Dr. Greg Ganske, who recently misinterpreted the Constitution, or is an idiot about actual court rulings. Anyway, contra his Des Moines Register op-ed, the Supreme Court has upheld federal vaccination mandates for specific groups before, like, the military, diplomatic service members, etc. For example, years ago, SCOTUS upheld military anthrax vax mandates, ultimately by letting stand without review a military appeals court upholding them. More here on the history of anthrax law.

That said, I've previously said that Biden was wrong, and in a "fixated" sense, for seeing COVID problems as a nail to be treated with a hammer, since we know he rejected the holiday-season rapid-test kits, and apparently also rejected free N95/KN95 masks.

As for the HHS mandate? Other than a threat of cutting Medicare or Medicaid funds — which will require following through if this is "called" as a possible bluff — I don't know what other plans Biden has to actually enforce it, or make hospitals and nursing homes enforce it.

How hospitals and nursing homes, etc., will deal with loss of staff (IF that happens and is not just a bluff), I don't know.

As for health care professionals claiming, like wingnuts and lefty wingnuts, that "they know better" on vaccines? Being a health care professional, even at the MD level, doesn't make you a scientist. It certainly doesn't at the nursing level, let alone something like the CNA level.

Apropos of that, I noted a month ago, with my wrap on the end of Texas primary (and conventions for minor parties) filing season that Green Party gubernatorial candidate Delilah Barrios is a "health care professional" yet also an antivaxxer or fellow traveler.

Where's the juice for those electric cars coming from? Will liberals and leftists face the N-word?

Sounds great, the idea of getting us to an all-electric fleet, doesn't it.

And, it WILL be great for the climate.

But, again, where's the juice coming from, since we will need NINETY PERCENT MORE OF IT in 2050 than today.

I was asking this question rhetorically late last year, and got this moron answer from "Devin Nunes' Lawsuits":

To which I responded:

And then part two of the thread, with the link above:

And, there you go.

And, yes, I saw "cola" in my first tweet and forgot to edit when I realized I would have to break into two.

The link mentions the word "nuclear." People concerned about climate change shy away from it. Greens hate it.

But, that's why I raise this.

Now, not all of that 90 percent increase in need is due to electric cars. Probably, they're about 50 percentage points of it. But, if you want electric heat replacing gas heat, and other green things, we're at 90 percent.

Oh, and hydropower isn't totally green, and in the US, current hydropower is going to fall, fall, fall, as anybody familiar with the Desert Southwest in particular knows.

Right now, renewables are about 20 percent of our power. So, they have to increase to cover all current electricity alone, they need to increase by 4x. For that plus that 90 percent increase, they'd have to go up 7.5 times. And, on the "reliability" issue, add MASSIVE battery storage.

Again, don't see this happening without the "n-word." And, contra Nunes' Lawsuits, growth was a little below 3 percent, about 2.6 percent, before 2005, and much lower since then due to electric conservation. Now, compounded, we might get there, BUT? Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

And, while I don't shy away from nuclear power, we face NIMBY-ism on both plant siting and toxic waste. And, growing up in the Four Corners, I'm quite familiar with uranium mining's dirty legacy.


That said, the need for nuclear power will only increase the more that environmentalists engage in NIMBYism on wind power, and a mix of NIMBY, legit concerns and overblown concerns on wind and solar in places like BLM desert lands.

January 13, 2022

Texas Progressives talk Cancun Ted, Beto-Bob the politician, Shelley Luther

Off the Kuff presented the primary campaign interviews it has conducted so far.

SocraticGadfly offers some thoughts on Karl Rove, election thuggery and election theft in the wake of Rove's Jan. 6 column.

Shelley Luther is continuing to look for political relevance after getting squashed by Drew Springer a year ago. (With the money and notoriety she has, surprised she didn't take a gander at a state House seat, or even primarying Michael Burgess for the U.S. House with redistricting.) Her latest? Calling for a ban on Chinese university students. That said, yeah, some of them may indeed have CCP connections, and two-party duopolists may not look at the issue with more depth.

Van Taylor is getting bigly primaried for supporting an independent commission to investigate Jan. 6, even though he later opposed the House commission. (Remember, this was one of those ersatz "filibusters" by Senate Rethugs.)

What does "progressive" actually mean in Texas politics, at least in Congressional candidates? The Express-News takes a look.

Gus Bova takes the latest state news sites look at R.F. O'Rourke. He indicated that Beto is at risk of becoming Just.Another.Politician.™ Got news for you, Gus. Beto was long there. Like in 2018. Bova does note that after his "take your guns" screed, he then was part of the Texas Democratic Mafia that cock-blocked Bernie Sanders. So, say that he hit a more thorough version of JAP (a prince, or princess version, I see what I did) in 2020. Meanwhile, at the Dallas Observer, Simone Carter goes full bromance on R.F.

For the unknowing, after actually saying something halfway close to the truth about the Jan. 6 insurrection, Ted Cruz then went on Cucker Tarlson, I mean Socialist Swanson Tucker Carlson, and proceeded to cut his balls off and put them on a plate for Tucker. Per that link, Cancun Ted has actually said things 25 percent of the way to the truth about Jan. 6 for months, even while refusing to admit that his vote not to certify electoral votes contributed to the problem. He should have known Swanson Tucker was going to do just what he did, which means Carlson is wrong about one thing — Havana Ted ain't so smart.

Nature vandalism is getting worse at Big Bend, as at other NPS and general nature sites.

Michael Li explains why the discourse about how Democrats have "won" redistricting misses a lot of the picture.

Glasstire eulogizes Ann Harithas, artist and curator and co-founder of the Art Car Museum.

Rick Casey predicts the future following the ongoing 2020 election fraudit.


Just when you think Texas election law is hard for third party ballot access, Georgia says hold my beer.

Michael Lind writes about the strange career of Paul Krugman. (And does so without irony, though possibly with some hypocrisy, given Michael Lind's own peregrinations within a tight box generally focused on left-neoliberalism, as in, yes, left, but still within neoliberalism.) Interestingly, per the next piece, Lind notes that Krugman went on to call Stephen Jay Gould an academic fraud.

Sociobiology, like its successor, ev psych, IS sexist, but it's hard to argue that it's racist. So, I would agree with this guy that calling the late E.O. Wilson racist, AND doing so after his death, AND doing so in a Sokol fashion, was a hit job. Who did that? Per Peter Burns, none other than Scientific American. (OTOH, Burns is wrong in thinking Wilson is Mr. Innocent. Sociobiology, and even more its successor, ev psych, was and is sexist. And, both were/are more pseudoscientific than scientific.) Per the graf above, Gould was one of the first to call out sociobiology.

The Nation has a fatuous mini op-ed on climate change, talking about how expensive it will be but NO actual discussion of the details, Tweeted with an even more fatuous hot take about how this is all Republicans' fault when Status Quo Joe has allowed new gummint drilling leases and Dear Leader publicly pushed his "all of the above." And, that's why, after years of 10 cents on the dollar starter subscription offers for the mag, I've continued to refuse.

January 12, 2022

Let the Jon Lester fellation begin, says Jesse Rogers

Over at Red Satan, Jesse Rogers is talking about the just-retired Jon Lester's Hall of Fame potential.

No, really, despite Lester having under 45 career WAR.

Or, to look at individual seasons, Lester not having a single 7-WAR season, and only barely hitting the 6-WAR mark twice. Or being under the line on all four Hall of Fame guidelines at the bottom of his page.

But, it gets worse. 

Rogers says he's possibly the best playoff pitcher ever.*

This, of course, first ignores that pre-1969, we HAD no playoffs.

Second, while B-Ref doesn't do sabermetrics for postseason pitching (short sample size?) it may be true that he's better there by WHIP and K/BB and K/BB (tho lower in K/9 than the regular season), there's reasons for that. Shorter pitch counts in postseasons. Lefties targeting lefty-heavy lineups. Fangraphs does have some postseason sabermetrics, and with their weird ERA-minus instead of ERA+, Lester appears better on it and ditto on its also flipped FIP-minus. (Although I appreciate the info, the psychological weirdness of going minus rather than plus is another reason to not like Fangraphs.)

But, let's stay in the last 30 years, when we expanded playoffs to a second round, then, of course the wild card play-in.

You taking Jon Lester over Curt Schilling? Absolutely not. Or Pedro Martinez? Or Greg Maddux? Randy Johnson? Or Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax of pre-playoffs days?

I ain't.

* Nor taking him over Mariano Rivera in the relief side of baseball in today's postseason. (Rogers technically said starting pitcher, whether on the assumption that starters automatically have more value than relievers, or else because he knew there was no way to bullshit Lester over Rivera. No matter.)

I don't know whether this is Chicago Cubs Flubs homerism from Jesse, or just an extension of ESPN "Big Hall" bullshit or a bit of both or what, but?

It's Not.Even.Wrong.

Cooperstown In-Credible on WAR and more

I think that's the best name for the Cooperstown Cred baseball blog.

I'd looked at an occasional post of his before, but gave it my first hard look last month.

That was when I said Danny Murtaugh is WAY OVERDUE to be in as a manager. Two World Series. Had he lived, would have been the 1979 pilot as well. Re Murtaugh? An "interesting" piece here by Cooperstown Cred, who notes Murtaugh's health history and repeated retirements because of it, but does NOT take it into account in touting him. He links to Bill James, who likewise mentioned it but does NOT take it into account. (Bill James was great for giving us sabermetrics, as well as this managerial equivalent of sorts, but he's lousy on following where his own sabermetrics point in many cases. "We" took health into account with Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, and Dizzy Dean though not, sadly, Thurman Munson with his premature death. Why not Murtaugh?)

Cooperstown Cred guy doesn't fully understand WAR, IMO, with this observeration on his most recent Albert Pujols piece:

If you believe the calculation, the Angels could have plucked a player from their AAA affiliate in Salt Lake City and the team would have won two more games than they did in reality. I don’t personally believe that.

No, it wouldn't be an ANGELS replacement player, it would be an MLB average replacement player. WAR is compared MLB-wide. As for the realities of what Pujols' stats said? Your "cred" is undercut of you can't accept that. A .672 OPS and severely limited defensive range? If you're talking about "leadership" or "chemistry" or whatever, WAR doesn't account for that for ANY player.

But, it's not just there. He has issues with WAR on his Ichiro Suzuki piece. He also has a poor dichotomy when he said he ran a Twitter poll and the options in Ichiro were "great/unique" HOFer, "borderline" HOFer, or not at all. I commented, why not "solid" HOFer in the middle of the first and second options? (Ichiro would have had 80-85 WAR had he played his whole career in MLB. Among right fielders? That would put him ahead of the likes of Reggie Jackson, but behind Al Kaline and Roberto Clemente, let alone the actually "unique" at right field. It would also put him ahead of Pete Rose.

Dude also thinks Minnie Minoso belongs in the Hall with less than 55 WAR, and right at 50 WAR if we don't count Negro League stats. Which I am dubious about in general, and in his case, given his young age would have had him in MLB minors, even more so. Here's my deeper dive.

I think he also pushes Tony Oliva and Gil Hodges. I now have more detailed looks at the cases against  Oliva and Hodges.

Minoso shows how Chris Bodig, near my age, is clearly a "Big Hall" guy. (He's enough younger than me he should have a better grasp on the realities of WAR.)

Other than triples, he doesn't meet my eye test. (Well, he's got the negative eye tests of "out stealing" league leadership several times, along with poor SB percentage.) He did have one 8-WAR year and was robbed of an MVP. Other than that, though?

He's Hall of Pretty Good, and arguably Hall of Very Good. Not Hall of Fame. His relative lack of power wasn't serving teams well with primarily being played at LF, then 3B. In theory, you put a lower-power person like that in right, but he's below-average in range factor for the few games he did play there. And, that rules out CF.

Where Minoso REALLY belongs is the "Hall of Self-Aggrandizement" for the stunts (they were) of playing one game in 1976 and even worse, the one game in 1980. Of course, Bill Veeck was associated with both. Dunno who owned the ChiSox in 1980. (Oh, it was also a stunt, as I see it, by Nick Altrock, the other five-decade guy.)

Oh, per Chris? Rob Neyer's halfway enlightened about Minoso. "Borderline. At best."

Rob Neyer used to work at Red Satan, of course. And, its past and present baseball writers, with the possible exception of Jeff Passan, whom I haven't seen write about Cooperstown, are to a man, humongous bloated Big Hall guys. Right on cue, and behind the ESPN paywall (a sure sign that it's especially click-baity) Brad Doolittle fellates the case of Minoso.

Sadfly, the "Golden Era" Veterans Committee agrees with Big Hall fellators like Doolittle and odig on Mineso and several other undeserving candidates. I've thoroughly excoriated them.

No, WAR is not perfect, but, in an actually good piece at Red Satan, I quote:

The goal of WAR is to give the most complete sense of a player's value to his team, and it's perhaps the best piece of data to compare the greatness of one player to the next.

There you go. Couldn't have said it better myself. Now, get off my lawn.

January 11, 2022

Coronavirus week 92: When do we get to endemic? What's that mean? And, why won't Fauci and Walensky listen to Tufekci?

Wired has a good story about that issue, starting with the fact that there's no epidemiological definition of what "endemic" means. It notes that it can take years before an infection truly becomes endemic, and that, even being endemic, today's common flu can still kill as many as 50,000 Americans a year. My off the top of my head guess is that spring, generally avoiding running heaters or AC too much, will give a semi-endemic break. Summer? Depends on whether something Delta-like emerges or not. If we get through summer OK, we'll get past fall. After that, winter 2022-23? We may be at endemic then, but still with a higher death rate than "just the flu," perhaps twice as high.

The AP has a related article, mainly about how severe, on average, COVID will be when we at least start to enter endemic territory.


Zeynep Tufekci continues to show why she's go-to on COVID issues with her latest, which also links to her most recent NYT column. Two key points:

  1. Omicron is less infectious in the lower lungs than other variants, a biggie;
  2. She totally calls out Rochelle Walensky, private sector medical expert from 2020, vs. Walensky, the Biden Admin CDC head (and St. Anthony of Fauci with her). Why? Over dissing antigen tests. 
  3. She calls out both for, in various ways now, almost two years of trying to outpsyche the public.
Bottom line? This.
Treat the public like adults and partners, and work to empower them—even if some portion isn’t listening to the advice, or even if some are actively hostile. Seems straightforward enough, and yet we still struggle with it. 
If anything, the existence of that hostile portion makes it even more important to empower and respect those of us looking to public health authorities for guidance, tools and infrastructure.

And, that's so true.


Other COVID news for the week:

Strangeabbott has joined the fray of wingnut governors' lawsuits against Status Quo Joe's vaccine mandate for military personnel, which includes National Guardsmen. Problem? As Team Biden has noted, the feds already require nine other vaccinations of Guard members, so Biden, Kevin Stitt, Kristi Noem and whoever else are suing appear to be up a creek without a legal paddle, and also, just plain pandering. Indeed, last month, a federal judge ruling against Stitt noted just that. Both R.F. O'Rourke and West/Huffines, from different sides, are attacking Strangeabbott. 

That's even as Omicron hospitalizations are likely to set a new record.

Are COVID long-haulers being ripped off by medical scammers? Very arguably yes.

Steve Vladeck observes that the vaccine mandate cases before SCOTUS are really about the future power of federal administrative agencies to regulate anything.

January 10, 2022

Shohei Ohtani in post-2000 context

Now that we know Shohei Ohtani, with his two-way heroics, produced "exactly" 9.0 WAR this year, let's look at this in terms of not the best pitching ever, or the best batting ever, but by recent performances. And, by recent, I mean, the start of this century. I've already looked at just the VERY best post-WWII modern era performances and found him ... kind of wanting.

Who, in recent years, has done as well as him or better? And Baseball Reference is making it easy. Using its page for top single-season WAR, then hitting the "by year" column to put newest up top? BUT WAIT THAT'S NOT ALL as of Dec. 9, 2023.

To update info on Ohtani, he was at 9.6 in 2022 and 10.0 this last season, and he is now playing with Mookie Betts, who (see below) still has his top single season better than Ohtani's and in a virtual tie for second-best. And? He's stuck in a no opt-out contract that runs through his age 39 season, and that doesn't hit $35M, half of Ohtani's new deal, until 2028.

Oh, and contra somebody on Reddit who doesn't identify as a Yankees fan by flair but comes off as one? No, Betts' 2018 is not an extreme outlier, and no, not due to Alex Cora and possible cheating. His 9.5 WAR shows it wasn't an extreme outlier, as does his 8.3 here in 2023. That 9.5 was in 2016, before Cora got to Boston. Oh, not every Sox player had a career year in 2018. Jackie Bradley Jr. was much better in 2016, for example.

Alex Bregman, 9.0, 2019.

Mookie Betts, 10.7, 2018, and 104th best all time. That, of course, means that while Ohtani gave us the fun of two-way play, and had a very good year, well, it wasn't THAT good. Also 9.5, 2016.

Jacob deGrom 10.4, 2018.

Mike Trout, 10.5, 2012 and 2016, and above 9.0 other times.

Aaron Nola, 9.7, 2018.

Max Scherzer, 9.2, 2018.

Zack Greinke, 9.5, 2015, and 10.4, 2009.

Cliff Lee, 9.0, 2011.

Albert Pujols, 9.7, 2009, 9.2, 2008.

Adrian Beltre, 9.6, 2004.

Ichiro Suzuki, 9.2, 2004.

Randy Johnson, 10.7, 2002, 10.1, 2001.

Pedro Martinez, 11.7, 2000, and above 9.0 pre-2000.

I've omitted a big-headed Giants outfielder, a former Yankee, Ranger and Mariner friend of J-Lo, a bleached brunette Cub, and an A's first baseman who might be less obvious, for an obvious reason.

OK, so, even without them? Without known chemical enhancements?

Just since 2000, we've had 13 players with as good or better seasons than Ohtani. Six of them did it twice.

Update, Dec. 9, 2023: Even looking at his 10 WAR this year? Six have done better. And Johnson bested even that twice, as did Trout. Greinke's two best are also still equal or better to Ohtani's two best, like Betts.

This is part of why, on my previous post about Ohtani, I said, "let's see him do it again," before we put his name in too bright of lights.

Update, Dec. 9: 2023: And, yes, he did do it again, for a select pantheon. But, we know he won't do that in 2024, and I'm not holding my breath over 2025 or beyond.

Ergo, contra Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer, he's not totally a singular talent.

Or, to put it another way? His year may have been emotionally special. Sabermetrically special it was not, at least not THAT special. And, David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle and the other largely Dum Fuq types at ESPN baseball (largely excepting Jeff Passan) can shut up otherwise.

This will also partially address a commenter on my previous "You're No Babe Ruth" post. That's true even with him winning the MVP. As Red Satan's story notes, nothing in 2020 indicated something like this would happen. And, even his combined 2018-19 didn't show this much on the batting side, while also having his TJ surgery on the pitching side. Call me back in 9 months, midseason 2022 or so. Until then, let's not be Liberty Valance and printing the legends.

Some of these people turned out to not be THAT good. Cliff Lee, once seen as having a shot at the Hall, kind of hit a wall of nagging injuries his last year and semi-voluntarily retired. I think we know that that was a clear one-off by Nola. DeGrom may wind up permanently injury-wracked; also, not entering MLB until age 26, he's behind the curve on total WAR and counting stats. 

But, of those doing it twice? Martinez and Johnson are in the Hall. Pujols and Trout will be. Greinke already has a puncher's shot, and if he doesn't retire, and picks up two or three 1.5 WAR years, will complete his shot. Betts is on the way.

Sidebar: Doesn't this also show that a lot of people still underrate Zack Greinke? Sidebar 2: Had you forgotten about Cliff Lee? (That said, there's a kind of asterisk on him. His pitching WAR was 8.5 that year, but he raked enough for an extra 0.5 WAR at the plate.)