SocraticGadfly: 4/16/23 - 4/23/23

April 22, 2023

Albert Pujols' place in baseball history

As we look at the career of Albert Pujols, aka Phat Albert, aka The Machine, with his retirement official and a new baseball season starting without him, where's he stand on the all-time radar screen?

As for his place in history? The second-best 1B ever after Lou Gehrig. Larruping Lou, had he played out his career, almost certainly would have joined Phat Albert with more than 6,000 total bases. Good chance of 3,000 hits and decent one of 600 HRs, Guaranteed 2,000 RBIs, which would have put him with Albert, Alex Rodriguez and Henry Aaron in that 3,000-600-2,000 club. And, probably the all-time leader in RBIs. At least 125 WAR if not 130.

I do put him a skoosh ahead of Jimmie Foxx, primarily because of his late start and his non-US origins handicapping him.
And, speaking of his late start? I put him at, at least, 1 year or not 2 years older than what has been his stated age for the last 20 years.

April 21, 2023

The guns on the rack

I stole the guns

That were on the rack


And which

You were surely ignoring

And not only

Because of Ramadan.

Or Yom Kippur.

Or Good Friday.


They were dangerous.

No forgiveness needed.

I will forgive you

This time.


Riffing, of course, on William Carlos Williams' "This is Just to Say."


April 20, 2023

What's behind Finland joining NATO?

This piece from New Left Review is good in explaining not only that but also how the Blair-Clinton project of New Leftism has spread even to the corners of Scandinavia.

The observation that this New Left has not only sold its soul for a mess of pottage but that the pottage is the ability to be Instagrammable spreads far beyond this, though. One is reminded of Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand. Or, beyond the New Left, the protean Zelenskyy in Ukraine, along the the girl-chick pix of Ukrainian women in uni, the "NAFO fellas" etc.

PRO Gainesville "suckers" hypocritical ACLU

PRO Gainesville, the North Texas Black Lives Matter-focused protest and activist group that, in 2021, clearly violated terms of a parade permit, then clearly lied about that, and had its three leaders convicted, has gotten both the ACLU of Texas and ACLU national to pony up for an appeal.


Beyond oy, big fat hypocrisy by the ACLU. In the "convicted" link, of my blogging, I EXPLICITLY cited ACLU words on what's permissible and not on protest permits. (The Gainesville newspaper, in its story about this, had bupkis about ACLU protest standards. Shock me.)

Suckers is in scare quotes because I consider this another case of where the ACLU has morphed at least in part from a civil liberties org to a liberal activist one.

That said, the "sucker" part may be true, in part, not just scare quotes. This:

“Convicting community advocates for, at most, stepping briefly into a public street during a peaceful march is an attack on the free speech rights of all Texans, no matter your political views,” said Savannah Kumar, an attorney with the ACLU of Texas. “Amara, Justin, and Torrey were exercising a long-cherished right to march for change in our country and for that they were sentenced to jail time. The law is on our side and we hope the appeals court will overturn their convictions and affirm that the right to peaceful protest is protected here in Texas.”

Means that either Savannah Kumar has not seen the video of the march, and so is actually being suckered, or ..

She's being hypocritical and perhaps even lying. 

Would be fun to have her deposed.

Update, Nov. 6: 2023: That appeal has been held (no ruling yet). The ACLU's lawyer presented nothing new, just old, incorrect info.

“There was insufficient evidence to show they violated the law and obstructed traffic from prosecutors,” Kumar told the Register after last week’s arguments. “Protestors have the right to march, and just stepping off the sidewalk for a moment does not constitute a violation of the law … no Texas court has ever held up a conviction of this type.”

And, I guess she wasn't deposed, or at least, Ed Zielinski isn't saying. (In reality, especially on an appeal, such a thing wouldn't happen, of course.)

The reality, Ms. Kumar, is that the ACLU itself notes that, without a parade permit, you can't march on a highway! And, the video demonstrates it was more than "just a moment."

In any case, and because I love petard-hoisting, I emailed the Texas ACLU's spox listed at the link on their news release. Sent a link to my blog post which has their statements on what you can and can't do on a protest permit linked within.


"Crickets." Shock me.

It's like the ACLU intervening in the Houston ISD takeover by TEA, but saying "boo" when it happened in Marlin 6 years ago.

As for PRO Gainesville? Has it ever publicly and formally called out the wannabe PRO Gainesville Young Republican mole, Tucker Craft?

NOTE: None of this is to reject PRO Gainesville's contention that Gainesville Police may have racist intent in some of its law enforcement. (Whether that's been demonstrated is itself another issue.) Nor is it to excuse the Cooke County Commissioners Court for keeping the Confederate statute on the courthouse lawn in place (and without even adding any modern explanatory notes), a decision with which I wholeheartedly disagree. (The city of Gainesville has gotten rid of its statue.)

Update, Nov. 6: 2023: That appeal has been held (no ruling yet). The ACLU's lawyer presented nothing new, just old, incorrect info.

April 19, 2023

Texas Progressives talk lies about libraries and intern-banging

Bryan Slaton banging an intern? Wouldn't be surprised if true. (I once lived in what's his district.) Sounds like it sounds truthy enough for the House to issue some subpoenas. Slaton's legal spox addressed the original claim but NOT the subpoenas, one of which was surely for his email provider if this wasn't on official House email. 

Related: In The Pink Texas wants to know who will protect us from perverted legislators. 

The wingnuts in Llano County were originally going to close ALL the county's libraries after a federal judge ruled against their book banning. The Commissioners Court backed off — for now? The "for now" is held by many residents there who note the county blamed individuals for the whole problem, along with this statement:
“But as we wait for a ruling from the appeals court, a public library simply cannot function if its librarians, county judge, commissioners, and even the volunteers who serve out the goodness of their heart, can be sued every time a library patron disagrees with a librarian’s ‘weeding’ decision,” read a statement from the Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham released after the decision was handed down.
Uhh, sure!

At the Observer, Justin Miller asks if Ron DeSatan is the one really running Texas? It's nice, but again, per my recent posting about the Observer, what's special about this?

Can the Lege rein in institutional buyers of single-family homes and would it make much difference if it can? Read on.

Pilot Point is overrated but surely about to be "discovered," both thanks to the Monthly.

Douthat gets something right. DeSantis can't wait until 2028.

Why does Biden hate Black people in DC? When JOY ANN calls you out, it's bad.

AOC is still lying about her (non) support for railroad workers' right to strike.

Walmart wants to build a nationwide set of EV charging stations by 2030. It could pull it off. Whether that's good or not is another thing.

Texas Public Radio explains why they are stepping away from Twitter.

El Paso Matters provides a guide to their city's charter amendments for the May election.

Fort Worth Report covers the possibility of a TEA takeover of Fort Worth ISD. 

April 18, 2023

Texas Progressives talk Matthew Kacsmaryk

This is a pullout from the regular Texas Progs because both Kuff and I talked about him this week and there's other news as well.


Add Matthew Kacsmaryk to the list of Rethuglican federal judicial candidates who have lied in some way before Congressional hearings. Also add this, if the statute of limitations hasn't expired, to the list of things that Merrick Garland could seemingly investigate but won't.

Off the Kuff goes deep on mifepristone madness. And, of course, we know who started that.

SocraticGadfly wonders if, based on his nutter ruling on mifepristone, Kacsmaryk couldn't try banning COVID vaccines next, as well as wondering if antivaxxers aren't headed there.

Steve Vladeck
 brings the law professor's analysis of the mifepristone mishigoss.

Lula vs Merikkka

Of course, the moment re-inaugurated Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva "cozies up" (scare quotes if not obvious) to China, there's trouble!

And, while Responsible Statecraft links to the WaPost hating on Lula? At the NYT, Rossty Douthat sort of has the receipts showing the Post is way wrong about how the US is playing out right now in the non-NATO world. He more than sort of shoots himself in the foot, though, albeit not as bad as he sometimes does.

He tries to frame this as "developed democracies" vs others. Well, Brazil, and India, may not be as economically developed as the US, but last I checked, both of them, and especially Brazil (Modi continues to make me wonder in India) were democracies. So is the "S" of "BRICS" — South Africa.

All three of them are quite arguably more democratic than Ukraine. Brazil, at least, is quite arguably more transparent, too.

And, of course, Ross never talks about US Coca-colonialism, soft-power imperialism or whatever.

He does indicate that Merikkka will have to swallow some hypocrisy as BRICS-type countries become more powerful.

Daniel Larison at Responsible Statecraft, the first link, is far better. He pivots from Lula to the US duopoly's ongoing disaster in Venezuela and refusal to face reality, for starters.

April 17, 2023

Marianne Williamson gets puff-pieced by Ryan Grim

The Intercept reports that Marianne Williamson is gathering a backing with the under-30s on TikTok.

One thing Grim notes is that Agemonger Joe, especially with the voice of his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre as an example, runs a risk by mocking her too much if the under-30s can't be retained in a general election.

That said, Grim has some BAD framing, specifically starting where he uses high book sales as a version of the classical ad populum informal logical fallacy.

As I told him, Deepak Shitty sells millions of books, too, and he's nothing but a New Age huckster in end. Williamson's book sales have nothing to do with her credibility. 

Grim quotes her as saying:
“A lot of people talk about my work who clearly have not read it, or they will take one sentence out of context.” she said. “When it comes to the idea of crystals and auras and all of that, I’ve written 16 books, and nowhere do you read anything about crystals or auras. Although in some of my books, you do read about the corporatocracy, racial inequity, criminal injustice, etc.”
Ahh, Ryan, we have the receipts, mainly left on Twitter, not in her books, from her 2020 prez campaign, unless this year's run has already done a massive Twitter cleanup from then. And, Grim checks on that or reports on that not at all.

But, I DID CHECK. Via the "receipts" in that blog post she INDEED has been Tweet-scrubbing, and that got the Just.Another.Politician.™ tag. But NOT Twitter-scrubbed is Fluxus' screen-grab of her being a down-the-line Biden duopolist in 2020. And, for someone at a place like The Intercept, to not check on this is either editorially lazy, or if deliberate to avoid finding stuff out, intellectually dishonest, IMO.

There's more receipts here about "the love" fixing the Middle East. (And fighting Trump.)

But, that's not the worst.

THAT — and what makes this a puff piece — is that the word "vaccine," or similar words like "anti-vaccination" or "antivaxxer" are not to be found in Grim's story. And, I told him AND The Intercept that. And, yes, per the "here" link two paragraphs up, her explanations or non-explanations didn't convince me, and Grim never even asked.

Grim then says she could become the Jordan Peterson of the left, claiming the younger Peterson was a font of psychological uplift. To the degree he was, that's not now, and in a puff piece, that's a bad story line because it's a distraction.

So, Grim's editors let him write a puff piece AND didn't edit it better.

The last third gets somewhat better, but it overrates how far left Bernie Sanders is, especially on foreign policy (the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israeli ongoing assault on Palestinians show the reality) AND ignores that Bernie wanted to be co-opted in 2020 in a way that he didn't in 2016, in part because of personal animus toward Hillary Clinton that he didn't have toward Joe Biden. We know that.

So, what you really have is a piece that, beyond being a puff piece, shows the political desperation of duopoly leftists, Nathan J. Robinson as well as Ryan Grim.

Related to that? This is not the first time that Grim has had a bad or weak take on national Democratic politics. I called him out for turd-polishing last fall over his attempt to spin The Fraud and the Congressional Progressive Cucks over Russia-Ukraine issues.

Calling out media analysts for calling out the media on COVID reporting

At Nieman Lab last week, Kendra Pierre-Louis had a callout for much of the mainstream media for treating COVID too lightly. Some of the angles, like firing away at David Leonhardt and his repeated "return to normal is just around the corner," are like shooting fish in a barrel. Definitely, the issue of public health being "public" is important.

Others, like not holding CDC head Rochelle Walensky to account on what percentage of the US population has various comorbidities, is good. 

One thing missing? 

She doesn't dive into if the MSM slacked off more after Jan. 20, 2021, and I'll just leave that there. I say it has, and for that reason.

But, what really got me was this:

“The cases are dropping from extremely high to very high. We still have a high baseline of Covid throughout the year, basically,” ... says Lucky Tran, the director of science communication and media relations at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Uhh, no.

In reality, COVID cases, and especially deaths, are not only FAR below "extremely high," they're also VERY well below "very high" and in fact pretty well below just "high." 

My go-to site for stats since the start of the pandemic, Worldometers, has the receipts, and I'm going to focus on deaths, even while noting that Long COVID is real, and of course, is among the land of the living.

Last week the US had approximately 500 deaths. Now, that's nothing to sneeze at, pun intended or not, and accepted or not. But, it's not that bad, and yes, really.

That's 25,000 deaths a year when annualized.

Or, just a little more than ONE HALF our annual car accident death count, which sadly increased in the pandemic for a variety of reasons.

That said, not everything "good" is even as good as Pierre-Louis presents. 

First, the "but flu is seasonal" angle. It wasn't always. And COVID will probably become at least quasi-seasonal soon enough. It may already be doing so.

Second, the comorbities. Many of them are serious, but per Wiki's list, many of them are also comorbid to other diseases, including the flu.

Third? Take some of Long COVID. Wiki says that one of symptoms mentioned by an interviewee, mast cell activation syndrome, according to a two-footnote observation, has been "increasingly over-diagnosed or misdiagnosed."Another, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, has, by best estimates, 500K-1M cases. It also notes that it's most common among teens and many sufferers grow out of it by their 20s.

As for the People's CDC angle and Emma Green's story, about which I've blogged before and which was not fantastic but also was not horrible? No, she didn't call anybody communists, though she did use the phrase "those people." The ONE use of "communists" in her story was from one of her interviewees, denying it, shortly after her own "those people" phrase.

And, if we're going to use phrases, even before I got to that portion of the piece, I was already thinking of People's CDC and wondering if Pierre-Louis was a "fellow traveler." 

Beyond that? As I blogged a few weeks after that initial piece about the People's CDC and Emma Green, a site as respected as Stat said "both sides" (per Idries Shah, there's actually more than two sides) on COVID and public health issues lacked nuance. Also in that piece, Nancy Messionier, a known name, noted there's still not an agreed-upon definition of Long COVID, something Pierre-Louis doesn't note.

This is true indeed. Per my knocking on Pat the Berner two months ago, not just lack of nuance but hysterics and misinformation can still come from "both sides."

And, since I called him a People's CDC fellow traveler by the end of that piece, and in for a penny, in for a pound, I'll go ahead and call Pierre-Louis that, too.


Update: I don't need these people panic-mongering over the new "Arcturus" variant, either (though they will anyway). Here's the facts, per Forbes, referencing the World Health Organization.

"(Arcturus is) a new variant under monitoring (VUM), which isn’t as serious as a variant of interest (VOI) which isn’t as serious as a variant of concern (VOC)."

My full Tweet went on to say:

So, stop panicking, and stop inciting panic, People's CDC and fellow travelers.

There you go.

The piece goes on to link to WHO's definition of a VUM. As for the top level, a VOC? There are none, right now. Again, stop panicking or panic-mongering.