SocraticGadfly: 3/20/22 - 3/27/22

March 26, 2022

The case for and against Ty Lue, coaching genius

Is Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue actually a strategic genius, incredibly not only keeping his team in the playoff hunt despite half a season without Paul George and all of it without Kawhi Leonard, but even positioned to wreak havoc once that starts?

That's the take of Ohm Youngmisuk at ESPN, a hot take that has Clipps fans salivating.

Not so fast, I say.

Youngmisuk is ready to paper over all the massive fallings-behind the Clippers have had this season and seemingly present them as some sort of Sun Tzu sniffing out of opponents' weaknesses, only for the Angelinos to magically rally in the fourth quarter.

Only problem?

They haven't always rallied. And, with the Clipps solidly set to be in the play-in tournament, where they could be either one-and-done or two-and-done, trailing by 25 points or whatever, at halftime or later, isn't conducive to getting into the actual playoffs. And, trying to perform intellectual judo against the Nuggets with Nikola Jokic or the Maverics with Luka Doncic? Sure, you might have gotten away with it once before, but?

First, they're going to be smart enough to adapt. If not, their coaches, Mike Malone and Jason Kidd, certainly will be.

So, is he a flop?

I don't think he's that, either. Richard Jefferson may indeed be right that he's as smart a basketball guy as LeBron James, and now is getting to show it on his own. And, one of those big comebacks? Outcoaching Doc Rivers ain't that hard.

Is he a gambler?

Oh, Ty Lue's life story and mugshot is in the dictionary next to "riverboat gambler," I think. Ohm's got plenty of examples in this story. But, so is Phil Mickelson's, though from vastly different class background. And, while Philly Mick may have won three Masters, he came up short at six U.S. Opens, including his massive stupidity at Winged Foot.

As for the future? Sure, if PG-13 and Kawhi are there all of next year, plus a healthy Norman Powell and more, the Clipps could be great. But look at where the Suns have been even without Chris Paul, the Nuggets without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, etc. As for staying ahead of the Lakers? Well, that's due to the genius of LeBron pushing for the trade for Russell Westbrook, aka Lil Russ, aka Westbrick, which gutted their depth.

Beyond that, if Lue is so damned good, his players wouldn't have made excuses for losing in the bubble to the Nuggets two years ago.

March 25, 2022

Texas Progressives look at school boards in the gunsights

We just had the primary election, and we're due a few runoffs. But, before them, it's time for school board and municipal elections. And, wingnuts who don't like COVID mask mandates, or are pushing false claims about CRT, or Kevin Krause's quasi-fascist book banning, are targeting big city and major suburban school district elections. Southlake and Lake Travis, white wingnut areas where the wingnuts like to look genteel by drinking coffee with their pinkies not attached to the cup, are among the areas being targeted.

We're now up to 1-in-8 mail ballots being trashed. NO breakout that I'm aware of if this affected Rethuglicans, Democraps or indy voters worse. Off the Kuff has the latest on mail ballot rejections.

SocraticGadfly looked at Ronny Jackson's Interstate 27 hypocrisy.

No, the electric grid isn't fixed. Per that link, ERCOT and the PUC are supposed to be announcing "summerization" rules soon. We need to make sure they don't try to avoid this.

In with the new, out with the old, at the top of the Texas Military Department. But, will Strangeabbott, who claims critics played politics with Texas National Guard suicides, address the issues? Will R.F. O'Rourke actually support a union here in Tex-ass, as Dems nationwide have traditionally been as leery of military unions as Rethugs?

Abbott issues disaster declaration for Texas wildfires. Will he own up to a climate change disaster?

Speaking of, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who occasionally gives hints he's the one halfway sane Republican holding statewide office, is a fascist of some sort with his threat to yank state contracts from companies divesting away from investing in fossil fuels.

I totally support the idea of getting federal wilderness protection for a big chunk of Big Bend National Park, but that's not the only thing that needs addressing. There's light pollution from increased gas flaring at the southern end of the Permian leading into the park. Based on my most recent previous visit, there's the risk of increased light pollution across the river at Boquillas (no, really) with reliable regular electricity and night lighting. Why Congress never adopted the original 1978 NPS recommendation within the park, that said, I don't know. Actually, per the story and my own knowledge of NPS, I do know. It was apparently just a pro forma ask that NPS never pushed further.

Andrea Grimes tells what it's like to actually be fired for something she'd written. 

Out in SA reports on a divorce case involving two men who would be considered common-law married if that had been a thing for same sex couples before Obergefell.

The Current shows us some billboard ads from the Trevor Project that take aim at Greg Abbott's anti-trans order.

Texas Monthly reviews Mama Bears, a movie that premiered at SxSW about Christian mothers supporting their LGBTQ children.

The Austin Chronicle highlights the best music they heard at SxSW.

The Texas Signal mocks Ted Cruz for his fanboy love of the Russian army.

March 24, 2022

Coronavirus week 102: Another surge ahead?

The New York. Times wonders if the BA.2 variant now running through Europe will hit the US in late spring. Actually, in Tex-ass, and other "southern tier" states, this would be about the start of summer, with air conditioning systems running, and unlike in the cases of mild winters, people probably not wanting to eat outside as a safety measure in many of these places.

And, no, we're not ready, with federal money for monoclonal antibodies and antiviral pills drying up.


Meanwhile, the pandemic's ongoing supply chain disruptions (on top of the Russia-Ukraine war) are fueling inflation. Joe Biden and talking head Jen Psaki can jawbone oil companies as part of this, while remaining silent about all the other non-oil corporate price gouging. #BlueAnon will ignore that inconvenient fact, of course.

Will Ketanji Brown Jackson be a better justice than her old boss Breyer?

As Ketanji Brown Jackson has wended her way through the first round of Senate dick-swinging at the Judiciary Committee level, the "august" committee within the "august" body has tried to pin her down. And, since it's touted that she clerked for Stephen Breyer, it's fair to ask if she'd be better than him.

Shit, from my perspective, it would be hard to be worse. Breyer was lamer than even the so-called "Notorious RBG," and I've shown in detail that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a bad justice on the First and Fourth Amendments, even hating on Colin Kaepernick.

But, Breyer was worse. 

First, all the "pergressuve" justices, as I have detailed, have been problematic at times, to put it mildly. Sotomayor was arguably the least bad, but had an appellate court record on the Fourth. Kagan, of course, was Dear Leader's Solicitor General. And, hated on Louisiana defendants as a justice.

On the First Amendment, all of them hate the freedom of assembly clause. They hated it almost a decade ago. Friendly reminder: The First Amendment has five clauses.

But, Breyer was especially odious on the freedom of religion clause. Kagan joined him in being craptacular on American Legion vs American Humanist Association. As I noted, Breyer was trying to protect and defend his legacy of being craptacular on Von Orton vs Perry.

And, before Breyer, moderate and librul justices, including Thurgood Marshall, gave us qualified immunity.

That said, if it was more than suck-up-itis for Jackson, per her CNN bio, to talk about Breyer's "brilliant legal mind," we're in fucking trouble.

We are in other ways, too. This adds another Ivy League grad to the bench.

If Biden REALLY wanted diversity, a gay or lesbian secularist socialist would have fit the bill.

March 23, 2022

Bye Bye Madame Secretary Albright

Just because you make "firsts" doesn't make you good.

Madeleine Albright, the first female US Secretary of State, died earlier today

And, yes, this is a takedown type obit. And, it's HUGELY deserved.

Albright, as CNN notes at the link, as Slick Willie Clinton's SoS, pushed for the expansion of NATO that pissed off then Russian president Boris Yeltsin just like it pisses off today's Russian president Vladimir Putin.

And, she probably knew it would do just that.

Meanwhile, per her Wiki page, she once called Putin a snake. Many right-knowing people on Twitter have espoused variants of "it takes one to know one."

And, as Huff Post notes, she also claimed that if half a million Iraqi kids were killed by sanctions, it was worth it.

Full quote, with exchange with Lesley Stahl, via Fair:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it? 
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it. —60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Fair notes that the mainstream media largely buried under the rug when she uttered it. 

Albright then showed exactly the type of bullshit the establishment can engage in. She claimed that Lesley Stahl had asked her a loaded question, and that Stahl was promoting Iraqi propaganda. At about the same time, when someone asked why are we arming Israel to bomb Palestinians, she accused them of supporting Hussein. There's video at that Twitter link, and yeah, really, she's pretty loathsome.

More on Albright, Palestinians and speeches? She spoke at Berkeley's commencement in 2000, at the same event where a Palestinian was recognized as a University Medalist. A Mondoweiss writer, who worked on student newspaper The Daily Californian, reminisces.

As for whether the death toll was real, Saddam Hussein propaganda, or somewhere in between? A. Doesn't matter. Even if totally untrue, she accepted as true for the sake of argument. B. At the time, on the show, she didn't claim it was untrue.

She also, per The Nation, was a loathsome promoter of American exceptionalism, specifically what Andrew Bacevich calls "Indispensible Nation Syndrome," with her as originator.

“If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”

No wonder Dear Leader gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dear Leader who bombed the shit out of Libya, with the best economy in Mediterranean Africa, and left it with slave markets a decade later. (And even Bernie Sanders' protest about that one was weak."

Don't forget, as Colin Powell didn't, that even pre-SoS, as Clinton's UN ambassador, she was a warhawk:

“My constant, unwelcome message at all the meetings on Bosnia was simply that we could not commit military forces until we had a clear political objective,” Powell wrote in his memoir, “My American Journey.” Albright, he wrote, “asked me, ‘What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?’ I thought I would have an aneurysm.”


And, for Kosovans talking about how she freed their country? It was at a price — literally. Wiki also notes that her investment company originally planned to bid on the privatization of Kosovo's telecom and postal company. (That's beyond the issue, that Wiki doesn't note, of the same Harvard types who advised Boris Yeltsin about privatization surely talking the same talk to Kosovans.)

Wiki's page also gives us a friendly reminder of other things, like her serving at the National Security Agency under Henry Kissinger's Democratic doppelgänger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, under whom she took graduate courses. She also led the effort to deny UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali a second term. That said, HIS Wiki page notes that his initial election was due to many countries withdrawing support from another African candidate under fears the US was trying to torpedo both.

To do her some fairness, she wasn't all wrong on Serbia, at least vis-a-vis Bosnia. But? Croatia had its own initially thuggish post-Yugoslav breakup leadership. And, Franjo Tudjman was "our" thug, with Croatia being eyed for NATO membership well in advance. And Milosevic was Russia's thug when Yeltsin raised some mild objections to the bombing and beyond. And, the bombing didn't work, any more than Russia's does today. Boutros-Ghali? Maybe he was sluggish on Rwanda, but I think it was posterior covering on her part, in part.

Russia-Ukraine thoughts week 2a: About those cosmonauts

I had originally had this with the rest of my Russia-Ukraine Week 2 observations, but that had gotten so long, I separated it out. And, I wanted to expand it.

Mainstream media can lie in the UK as well as the US. The Times of London was busted for lying about Russian cosmonauts' unis:

The Beeb (and likely others) repeated the lie. Sky News along with the Beeb embedded:

Some Twitterati tried to defend this, like one respondent to the Tweet above claiming "the media don't have time to do what you do," in essence.

But it wasn't just Brits. Tex-ass' own, Helltown's own, "Space Guy" Eric Berger was among those repeating it.

And, as far as I know, none of these people have apologized.

Maybe that's because they WANTED it to be true.

Pagliacci went further and showed this isn't the first lie by relabeling in favor of Ukraine, this one committed by Ukrainians.


And another one, stolen from Syria. The Ukrainian thievery also adds to the issue, re the Syrian photo, about this war being "different" cuz White Europeans.

At the same time, it further perpetuates Russia vs Ukraine stereotypes. They're the ones I've repeated here before, like the claims that only Russia engages in media censorship, only Russia has oligarchs and government corruption, etc., etc.

Russia-Ukraine thoughts, week 2

Jeff St. Clair's Roaming Charges last Friday at Counterpunch nails it: I can call out the US, and US nationalism, NATO expansionism, etc., and yet still decry Putin's reaction to it by invading Ukraine. As for librulz who say that's old news, and insinuate, or say out loud, that Putin probably would have done this anyway? You don't know that. He may well not have. And certainly, before the quasi-coup (still not ready to call it a full coup) at the Euromaidan, other alternatives were possible. And, yes, it's scary as shit that 35 percent of MeriKKKa, including many furious Peloton-peddlers in Madcow Maddow's audience, are willing to up the US military ante even at the risk of nuclear war. St. Clair says, largely rightly, that this type of thought is similar to the mouth-breathing FreeDumb people over COVID.


Speaking of? Russ and Pam Martens, who regularly have all sorts of goods in calling out JP Morgan and the rest of Wall Street, are batshit crazy mouth-breathers over Ukraine. Sad when I agree with the Koch Bros more than them, but they're right. This is of ZERO threat to US national security.


Over at Tex-ass Monthly, Forrest Wilder takes an easy target, 27-year-old Rachel Blevins, to smear all RT content, (hey, Forrest, Lee Camp has also said RT didn't try to "handle" him) to apparently insinuate that not only are current Russian claims of Ukrainian genocide in the Donbas a false flag but any claims ever are (I tweeted him that someone as mainstream as The Nation reported on the 2014 genocide in Odessa), and to ignore that the election of the Jewish Zelensky hasn't displaced the Azov Battalion's place in the Ukrainian National Guard. Hey, Tex-ass Monthly? Next year, give yourself one of your bum steers.


Brian Klaas at Atlantic is just one of many who rightly challenges Putin's claim that Zelensky turned Ukraine into a neo-Nazi state (with many saying "but Zelensky's a Jew!") while ignoring the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion remaining inside the Ukrainian National Guard, other neo-Nazi militias not being explicitly disavowed, etc.


The "but he's a Jew" Zelensky can ban pro-Russia political parties but not far right ones like Svoboda, Mark Ames observes. More here, as I'll take Indian "non-aligned" media as a backup to a Ukrainian Pravda (which has no connection to the Russian, AFAIK, and which said it was sourcing an address by Zelensky) in what Ames quote-tweets and American media that may have just cursory coverage. Quick Googling shows that not all of these are pro-Putin. Indeed, the original Opposition Bloc opposed Putin's annexation of Crimea. Plus, per who Ames quote-tweets, Zelensky is even banning parties that oppose the Russian invasion. Per one person in his response thread, he's also forced all remaining TV stations (he closed others both after AND BEFORE the invasion) into one mega-channel. And, Zelensky, like Putin, is arresting human rights activists. And, Twitter responses to some of this had a shitload of Zelensky apologetics. That includes one British nutter who won't admit he had the "wrong" Pravda when trying to play "gotcha" on Jeet Heer, who like Ames, had quote-tweeted Ivan Katchanovski, who had the Ukrainian Pravda link.


At the Atlantic, Eliot Cohen, a fellow at the warmongering CSIS, thinks the mainstream media is engaged in suppressing the "fact" that Ukraine is winning. Beyond that conspiracy theory, of course, his claim that Ukraine is winning. Now, they're not getting crushed, which Vladimir Putin had surely expected. But, as for what's on the ground? Helluva definition of "winning." And, the reason why he thinks this is the case is in the title of his book listed in the biographer's blurb at the top of that Atlantic piece. 

Beyond that, Twitter had trending yesterday that Ukraine had recaptured a Kyiv suburb. Helluva definition of "suppression."


Showing the huge power of motivated reasoning, or something, UnHerd and Foreign Affairs can have definitely different pieces on the eventual result of what the economic sanctions against Russia will do to the Western nations applying them.

March 22, 2022

Are NBA contracts coming to MLB? Is this pretend anti-tanking?

Carlos Correa signing with the Minnesota Twins is interesting, even weird, on more levels than one.

First, of course, is signing with the Twins, who aren't going to jump back to baseball postseason relevance in the next three years.

Second, the interesting is that it WAS just a three-year contract. I don't think he's tainted by the Stros' cheating scandal. I think he DOES still have an injury cloud hanging over him, which is why the market was soft and nobody would apparently give him a long-term deal.

Third is the contract's structure — an opt-out after the first and second years in what's just a three-year contract, sometimes called a "pillow contract." That's pretty much brand-new to baseball, but has become more common with top-tier NBA players like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard

That said? The new contract the Marlins gave to free agent Jorge Soler has the same structure. Soler? No injury problems, but that bigly career year with KC? My brain wonders about "assistance."  And, that may be why HE didn't rake more on the market.

But, why these types of contracts? In the NBA, it's obvious. With just five on the floor and 12 on the team, rebuilds are easier if you have the financial flexibility (and can convince the right people to come to your team). It's also how, even after the most recent union-owner contracts, how the NBA is more of a player's league, especially for those in the highest tier. That ain't the case in MLB. At least not now. Maybe the universal DH plus Correa's contract, and Soler's starts a trend. But, it still won't be as easy to rebuild.

I suspect something else may be at play.

Note the teams: Marlins and Twins. In light of the new collective bargaining agreement, and players wanting teams to stop tanking, contracts like this can let low-budget teams either actually not tank, or pretend not to tank, on a one-year basis. Add in the expanded playoffs and there you go. MLB's version of one-and-done. (With the Marlins, this could be considered an advanced version of the extremely backloaded contract they gave Giancarlo Stanton a few years ago. There, too, knowledgeable baseball fans figured this wasn't about long-term competitiveness.)

Who could be affected? Middle-market teams that don't want, even for three years, in case a player does not opt out, the contract of a Correa in case they hit new rounds of injury. Big-market teams wanting to stay under, or get back under, an only mildly increased lux tax line who see small-market to smaller mid-market teams ready to pay up on a dual gamble that either the player redeems himself enough to opt out or that the increase in ticket and merch sales is worth it.

That said, re bigger market teams? When I look at the likes of a Jason Heyward contract with the Flubs, I still don't get why no owner/GM has yet to push for a contract with mutual opt-outs, rather than player-option only. Sure, might have to pay a bit, or more, up front, but, per the scenarios I outline, it would be worth it.

Discount Double Check for White folks only? Redlining for Blacks

State Farm says: Discount Double Check is for White folks only, as it faces new racial discrimination lawsuits. As I said on Twitter, I hope Chris Paul stops doing commercials for them, at a minimum. Per the whole background, this is why Black folks, on average, don't have the same equity as White folks.

Then, you have folks like Wells Fargo redline you on mortgages, then folks like State Farm redline you on the insurance for whatever you do buy. So, you pay more in loan overhead and then get stiffed on damage claims.

And, this all gets back to Dear Leader Obama.

I said, when he pushed for Obamacare, that it was guaranteed to be a failure without a federal department of insurance regulation. (Of course, America's Health Insurance Plans wouldn't have wanted that.) 

Such a department could obviously, if authorized, have regulatory authority over other types of insurance besides health insurance. And, given that people get sick in states other than where they live, or drive cars in states other than where they live, this would be proper under the Interstate Commerce Clause.

I'm surprised that Wells Fargo, when it originated these redlining mortgages, didn't pair up with insurers like State Farm that it thought would be more likely to not pay out on Black claims. Maybe it DID and we just don't know about it yet.

Beyond all of the above? IMO, on car insurance (as a renter, I don't have homeowners) State Farm is overpriced to boot.

March 21, 2022

This Russia-cancelling is ridiculous, and dangerous

The Washington Examiner, without noting that its normal readers are of the political persuasion to have backed this, compares the cancellation of prominent Russian artists to the "freedom fries" of 20 years ago when France refused to back the US invasion of Iraq. It also compares it to the anti-German hysteria of World War I.

And, yes, also dangerous. The operatic singer Ann Netebko has relatives back in Russia. What? She's supposed to denounce Putin now so she can keep singing at the Met and risk her family being arrested? 

Even sillier, per that piece, is orchestras cancelling Russian music, like the Welsh one canceleing a Tchaikovsky performance.

That led me to Tweet and Facebook that I was listening on YouTube to that Russian Commie Shostakovich as conducted by that Russian Kondrashin. To go full-on, I should listen to Gergiev conduct Shosty.

Per that piece, which also says Wimbledon is talking about canceling Australian Open champ Daniil Medvedev, or people wondering why the NHL's Washington Capitals haven't already canceled Alex Ovechkin (who probably thanks doorknobs for his sports union) or this one about tennis tournaments in the West being asked to cancel Russian team entries, and maybe pushing for individual Russian players to be banned, what next?

And, if we're cancelling people because they won't denounce tyrants of their homeland, to riff on Enes Freedom, then why haven't Chinese artists or athletes been cancelled for not denouncing Xi Jinping?

Or, to look back at tennis 19 years ago, did the French Open demand that U.S. players denounce Bush's invasion of Iraq or be cancelled?