May 23, 2018

Tired of trying to understand conservatives?

A number of people have recently written about that.

My take is different.

A certain amount of red-state "everyday" conservatives are easy to understand. I get fears of your economic future. I also "get," while rejecting, bashing immigrants for doing jobs that white Americans won't — or bashing Obama as a secret Muslim, etc.

It's called being a mudsill, which I have written about here, here and here. (I have at least one further installation, and probably two, if not more, already planned.)

I halfway get believing in trickle-down economics. You've been brainwashed over nearly 40 years now, and you've also been brainwashed to think the only reason it hasn't worked better is because of Clinton, Obama, Mezzcans and some black Americans.

Well, you let yourself be brainwashed at some point.

I get the intersection with neocons. Both of you believe that America is a Christian nation, unless you're a Jewish neocon, in which case you believe it's good that others believe this.

That's not going to get you 'everydays' a better job. It might get one of your kids signing up for another unnecessary war because he or she can't get a better job. It will get you more taxes, because the rich big-biz conservatives aren't going to pay for more bombs, more weapons and more wars themselves.

The big-biz conservatives are more cosmopolitan on social issues. Of course, they, as they shade into full-on libertarians at one end and into right-neoliberals at the other, are internationalists who don't care if America crumbles more as long as their stock and hedge fund portfolios continue to ride high.

What I do not get, the two-dimensional picture above (a generalization, but NOT a stereotype), is why some libruls (not leftists!) think listening tours or whatever are necessary. Like Arlie Russell Hochschild with "Strangers in Their Own Land." Conservatives in general will by no means become more open-minded because of this. And, they're certainly not going to reciprocate on open-minded listening tours.

So, why try?

I guess librulz think this is what they're supposed to do. And, they think that after understanding comes "respect." Wrong. And in the MSM, at the WaPost, surprisingly, Paul Waldman totally gets that that's a mug's game.
The right has a gigantic media apparatus that is devoted to convincing people that liberals disrespect them, plus a political party whose leaders all understand that that idea is key to their political project and so join in the chorus at every opportunity.
And Waldman is NOT some leftist. Maybe some librulz halfway get it.

Many don't, though. 

And, that's another reason why I'm a leftist.

Isaiah's "Come, let us reason together" applies to all parties, not just selectively.

And, the Trump Train doesn't want to reason. In many cases, it wants to play the martyr.

And, per Jaguar's comment and my response, that's the bottom line as I see it. And Trump's vocalness on both bigotry and misogyny has given them even freer reign to do this.

Beyond that, the real issue, which I failed to note?

Lack of reciprocity.

Show me a conservative, especially stereotypical Trump voter, who talks about trying to understand liberals, or beyond.

And, given that, I'll probably do a follow-up, with different header, and that idea, after my next couple of mudsills posts are in the hopper.

May 22, 2018

TX Progressives talk Santa Fe shooting, runoffs

The Texas Progressive Alliance's heart wants actual action on gun control, male entitlement and cultural violence for the people of our state after the Santa Fe shooting as it brings you this week's roundup.

SocraticGadfly called out Greg Abbott for both hypocrisy and egotism after the Santa Fe shooting.

Casey Fleming, a teacher and grandparent of a gun violence victim, is tired and frustrated about all of the school shootings.

No More Mr. Nice Blog calls out the New York Times  for perpetuating myths about Texans’ attitudes toward guns.

Other progressive bloggers offered takes on other issues in this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at the potential for online voter registration in Texas in the wake of the "motor voter" lawsuit.

Jobsanger looked at early voting in the runoffs, while nationally, Five Thirty Eight offered its assessment.

The TSTA Blog says we should worry more about fake "education reform."

Pau Gasol pens an open letter about female coaches.

Jim Schutze laughs at the idea that Dallas’ new Trinity Forest golf course, new home of the just-concluded Byron Nelson, will get rich whites of north Dallas to get involved with south Dallas development.

Better Texas Blog warns of a lose-lose situation in the individual market for health insurance.

Jeff Balke has had it with the excuses drivers make for all of the fatal crashes with bicyclists.

Nonsequiteuse knows there's only one way we're going to bring about real change going forward.

Zachary Taylor called out the MSM for giving protection covereage to political thugs.

David Bruce Collins salutes the Senate’s reinstating of Net Neutrality but says it will be a tougher sled in the House.

May 21, 2018

Robinson Cano, the HOF and roiding

Robinson Cano
Three years ago, I wrote a piece about how Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano might have been overpaid in his big free-agent contract, with the first signs of slippage that weren't uncommon to second basemen, given that they suffer more defensive pounding than anybody except catchers.

I noted that Roberto Alomar's last good season was at age 33. Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker, both of whom should be with Alomar at Cooperstown, were only part-timers at the second sack after 35. Ryne Sandberg's last really good year was at age 32, his last semi-good one at 33, and his first retirement one third of the way into his age-34 year. Rod Carew had more WAR at second, but moved to first at age 30. Frank Frisch's last good season was at age 33, and last decent one at 36. Plus, between days off and time at third base, he was a 3/4 time second baseman by 33.

Even the cream of the cream in the Hall aren't all immune. Rogers Hornsby hit the wall at the end of his age-35 season. Nap Lajoie had a terrific year at 35, but was a two-thirds time player after that.

Cano eventually righted that slippage boat and looked like he might join  Eddie CollinsJoe Morgan and Charlie Gehringer by playing into his later 30s, though even they had a harder decline before age 40.

And now we know why Cano started looking semi-ageless.

Last week, he got an 80-game suspension for a masking agent used to cover up the use of various performance-enhancing drugs. And MLB waited until it thought it had proof of intent before issuing the suspension.

Cano's old Yankees teammate, Mark Teixeira, says we shouldn't be surprised. Tex listed Cano's connections to Biogenesis, which helped both Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera, both of whom got suspensions themselves. Tex goes beyond saying we shouldn't be surprised to strongly hinting that he thinks Cano did it.

Before this, Cano seemed to be punching his ticket for not just the HOF, but first-ballot entry to Cooperstown.

Has he now joined the likes of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez? Jerry Crasnick says very possible. Smarter HOF voters who, like me, know the generally early age-out history of second basemen, will likely see Cano's post-32 numbers as proof he was roiding, and taking good stuff.

I would agree. And, in light of the points Tex noted, now I'm not surprised, either. And, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that the Yankees didn't come close to matching the M's offer, either.

Speaking of, at the time I wrote that old piece, Jonah Keri didn't have Cano's deal in his list of worst contracts for teams. At that time, I questioned that. Now I know he should have.

May 19, 2018

#ThoughtsAndPrayers and #hypocrisy from Greg Abbott
after latest, Santa Fe, school shooting

Greg Abbott thinks unlucky accidents of nature are the same as deliberate killing of one human being by another.

The thoughts-and-prayers deluded crowd after the Santa Fe school shooting bought it, too.

Unfortunately, not only are they unlike Greg Abbott in suffering from wanton killing rather than natural tragedy, none of them is going to get a multimillion lawsuit settlement, either:
And, they still believe it.

Even as they continue to believe in a god who has allowed more than 200 school shootings in the US since the turn of the century. I'm sure that some of them, like the good conservative Lutherans who were in his audience, blame human original sin for that, or the inscrutability of god, rather than face the fact that said god either isn't omnipotent or else isn't omnibenevolent, and that said inscrutability is part of the theological and philosophical conundrum, not the solution.

That's the message for them.

The message for Abbott is posting a photoshopping I did during his last guv run.

Because, Greg, your call for new gun laws now is bullshit. Gun shootings have happened in Texas and elsewhere since you were first elected governor, and this is nothing but campaign rhetoric bullshit.

So, in my opinion, you need to note that mock cellphone text message that I photoshopped into that picture.

Beyond that, "calling for" new legislation and proposing new legislation are two entirely different things.
Abbott said he'd been planning to roll out several proposals for new gun laws in Texas before the shooting, including "speeding up background checks" and keeping guns out of hands of those "who pose immediate danger." He also praised the mental health screening and preparedness protocols for students implemented at Lubbock Independent School District.
Does anybody really believe Greg Abbott intended any of these #GunControl bill ideas to actually become public until a school mass shooting that happened just three days before the Democratic gubernatorial runoff? When Abbott has had four years, two regular sessions of the Lege and one special session, to do something, and hasn't?

And, he doesn’t really intend them to become law, per that same story:
Abbott hopes the roundtable discussions will involve state lawmakers, educators, Second Amendment advocates and the victims and families of shootings, perhaps including survivors of the November massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs
Emphasis added. We know that means the likes of Dana Loesch from the NRA. (Nazi Redneck Assholes, more and more.)

Show some actual integrity, without hypocrisy, next time. If we're lucky, there won't be a next time, but, this is Merika, Tex-ass division. We won't be lucky on either the school shootings or this year's governor's race.

Unfortunately, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is a bit schizophrenic on this issue. In two back-to-back Tweets, he first says, I quote —

"Spare us your thoughts and prayers."

But in the second, he drinks the Abbott Kool-Aid in believing he really does mean it about those wondrous new laws.

The Dallas mayor's position is officially nonpartisan, but Rawlings is a known Democrat. He should know better on Abbott.

We even have a 2015 Abbott Tweet to prove Rawlings should know better;
THAT is the real Greg Abbott on gun issues. The Greg Abbott of post-Santa Fe statement is the real Greg Abbott on political hypocrisy, but nothing else.

Or, per a new AP piece, this is the real Greg Abbott on guns:

Abbott and Texas Republicans have embraced a steady relaxation of gun laws in recent years. Since 2013, Texas has reduced the cost and hours of training needed to be licensed to carry a handgun, allowed "open carry" for handgun license holders, and allowed concealed handguns in college classrooms and dorms.
That's Greg Abbott.

Of course, both, per the standards listed on Rawlings' account, are actually from his staff, though perhaps dictated by him or something.

That said, Abbott still is 10 percent sane among Texas GOP leaders.

There’s always Danny Goeb, who now wants our schools to become firetraps rather than face reality, to show full-on nuttery.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, also a Republican, said, "We have to look at the design of our schools moving forward and retrofitting schools that are already built. And what I mean by that is there are too many entrances and too many exits to our over 8,000 campuses in Texas."  
"There aren't enough people to put a guard at every entrance and exit," Patrick added. "But if we can protect a large office building or a courthouse or any major facility, maybe we need to look at limiting the entrance and exits into our schools so that we can have law enforcement looking at people who come in one or two entrances."
I will give Goeb credit for telling parents to secure firearms. That's very small, though.

Ted Cruz at least was only hypocritical enough to be in the thoughts and prayers crowd. He said nothing about new federal legislation.

Hell, we're so gun-drunk we had a SECOND school shooting, at a high school graduation for Mount Zion High in Georgia, that same night!

And, what about the shooter?

Some of his teachers seemed to try to “normalize” Dimitrios Pagourtzis, per the New York Times. Daily Beast paints a darker picture. The Chronic adds to that picture by noting he had not only additional guns, but some sort of bomb-type devices. The AP adds yet more details, noting he had journaled about killing people and confirming that the explosives included a Molotov cocktail. (And Mark Ames, who I first saw tweet the NYT link, should know better. Intelligence — per the school honor roll issue — is no guarantor of either moral or psychological firm ground in a person. And making a high school honor roll doesn't fully statistically correlate with general mental intelligence, and not at all with Daniel Goleman's other types of intelligence. Mark also knows better than to give too much credence to an early story.)

Problems with American school students — especially ones like this, who aren't bullied, but are willing to voluntarily at least dabble in elements of the alt-right world, and possibly in his case, bits of the alt-left, too (hammer and sickle ain't fascist), are themselves a problem, especially in a state like Texas where such thinking runs rampant already.


Update, based on an acquaintance's Facebook reposting of someone else's comment.

To Christian parents of children wounded or killed in school shootings telling people like me to STFU?

I sympathize with your tragedy. As the victim of an armed robbery, I can even empathize with it to some degree.

However, two points back.

One, secularists suffer the same tragedies as Christians (and the non-Christian religious).

Two, the god you claim is both omnibenevolent and omnipotent failed to prevent those other tragedies as well as yours.

May 18, 2018

#MuellerTime — one year on

For months now, versus not only the MAGA-heads and their leader, Donald Duck, but people who should know better, like:
The two-siderism that Ray McGovern mouths at Consortium News and elsewhere (though he's not as bad as the MAGA-heads)
2. The deliberate handwaving obfuscation of ShirtLost DumbShit Zach Haller, self-appointed top disciple of Actual Crapulus, I mean #ActualFlatticus, who I'm getting more and more ready to simply call a MAGA-head and call bullshit on him being a "progressive," as I've already called BS on H.A. Goodman;

I have been contending that claiming Robert Mueller has taken way too much time on his probe is simply not true. I have specifically mentioned Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater of Ken Starr infamy.

And now, Five Thirty Eight has a great deep dive on precisely those issues. Complete with that nice timeline graphic.

Note how short the Mueller frame is compared to Watergate, let alone the other two? So, to say that Mueller needs to wind things up because he's taking way too long is BS. The case at hand is certainly more complicated than the Valerie Plame leaks (which ended with Pat Fitzgerald refudiating Elizabeth Loftus in the Scooter Libby trial) or the Michael Deaver perjury cases.

The piece also has some instructional notes from the past. Once it looked like Lawrence Walsh would not pursue his investigation up to President Reagan, thanks in part due to gaslighting by Reagan's new chief of staff, Howard Baker, and once it became even more apparent that Congress, allowing itself to be gaslighted by old senatorial colleague Baker, would not pursue impeachment, Iran-Contra fizzled out. (One even wonders if Oliver North's conviction being overturned, even though it seemed that Congress and prosecutors had both framed well the "no dual use" on his Congressional testimony, was sabotaged deliberately on the Hill.) Devin Nunes is playing the role of a dumber, less suave, more partisan Howard Baker in this case.

At the same time, Watergate also offers parallels. Richard Nixon fired Archibald Cox during the infamous Saturday Night Massacre, which also saw the name of Robert Bork first rise to infamy.

And, as the Five Thirty Eight piece notes, the special counsel law was changed in 1999. Basically, Republicans pulled the ladder up after then when Ken Starr's best, or worst, fishing expedition got nowhere. Typical action. Like Clarence Thomas. So, Mueller can't come close to going on a Ken Starr fishing expedition.

Now, that said, so far, he's found nothing that proves Trump colluded with Putin to have the election thrown to him. Russiagate in that sense is stupid.

That said, if it turns up pay-to-play about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton, that's certainly within Mueller's scope. Emoluments Clause-related stuff involving Russia is too, as I see it.

May 16, 2018

Moral realism, moral non-realism, and
moral semi-realism/naturalism

In this post at Footnotes to Plato, Massimo Pigliucci talks about morals and not participating in the "Big Four" of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon ever more dominating large chunks of the online world. The post is based on a new book about that.

A back-and-forth about moral framing issues between Massimo and Dan Kaufman in comments, with me largely agreeing with Massimo, led to me hinting that Dan is strawmanning Massimo on this issue (I still think he is, despite his denial), led to this last comment by Massimo:
“Massimo is also a moral anti-realist, as you know, as he’s said so here”

It would be more correct to say that I’m a moral naturalist, as I think morality is a human invention (thus not “real”), but constrained by human nature, desires, and limitations (thus partially factual).
(His quote is of a previous comment by me.)

I told him in an email that with that explanation, I agree, and that it's why I think something like "ev psych done right," or a relabeled, start-from-scratch, the "evolutionary biology of psychology and sociology" is real — as long as said field includes gene-culture co-evolution.

That said, let me note a comment of mine there, not too much earlier, the one from which Massimo quoted:
Dan, you choose not to see any type of argument, especially if you don’t see “specialness” in something like trashing the entire planet’s climate. To further riff on Isaiah, I don’t try to reason forever where and when it’s a waste of time.

Massimo is also a moral anti-realist, as you know, as he’s said so here. I’m a semi-anti-realist. Being a moral anti-realist is irrelevant here, other than the issue of language, and you choosing to make your division of where the word “moral” falls … And others disagreeing

IF one wants to fully go down that road, and also be a moral anti-realist, every person in the universe can hive off by one’s moral self. If one takes it far enough, we can introduce Mr. Wittgenstein to Mr. Hobbes.

That said, this is why I’m only a semi-anti-realist. Per the evolutionary development of human nature, I think we can find some moral values partially influenced by our human backgrounds.

And, as for Mr. Wittgenstein meeting Mr. Hobbes? Based on the paragraph above, homey can either not play that game, or else play it in deliberately contrarian way, usually based on Cynic ideas.
I can do exactly that. I can call a person like Dan immoral, if I think he or she is for willfully narrowing their "moral arc," per Martin Luther King.

And I do think exactly that. Per the Markan explainer (reduplicated by Q with the Parable of the Talents) of the moral of certain parables, that, "to him who has much, more will be given," and even more, per the Lukan different explainer on a different parable cycle, that, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded," and that virtue ethics morals, based on Massimo's moral naturalism, is somewhat of a sociological project (Massimo talks about writing and exemplifying) I think it is realistic to say that we as a society should expect a broader moral arc from people with higher intellectual gifts, especially if they have a more prominent social standing with it.

That said, whether it's "don't want to" or "can't," at times, Dan's psychological arc isn't highly expanded. He's said more than once that he just doesn't "get" families with less than a fairly high degree of cohesion, let alone families where blood is certainly not thicker than water. Taking it charitably as "can't" within his current psyche, and knowing of some of his gifts, I hope that both on that in particular and moral arcs in general, his arc does expand in the future.

Do I think Dan is as immoral as a person who drowns cats, let alone a suicide bomber? Of course not.

But, yes, and seriously — not just to play Wittgensteinian linguistic schadenfreude — I do think it's a moral failing of a small degree to not expand one's arc further, especially if part of that is willfully wanting to not expand one's arc.