American socialist history & government spies

Introduction: This essay is an attempt to make sense of important early worker/labor organizations in the United States, and place their significance into a modern context. The Russian Revolution of 1917 was the global event that changed socialist party & labor organizing politics forever. I’ve sifted through a lot of content on Wikipedia to made this understandable.

Eugene V. Debs was instrumental in the founding of the American Railway Union (ARU) in 1893. Debs led the bitter Pullman Strike in 1894, and was jailed by US president Grover Cleveland Alexander over that. The Social Democracy of America (1897), the Social Democratic Party of America (1898), and the Socialist Party of America (1901) were political organizations founded by Eugene Debs, America’s most prominent early socialist leader. Debs twice (1912 & 1920) won nearly a million votes in a presidential election.

Socialist Party of America (SPA) opposition to US involvement in World War I (1914-18), was welcomed by many workers, who were about to be recruited to fight & die in the mud overseas. But the SPA was shattered by US government agents, who provoked constant factional warfare over how to respond to the Russian Revolution in 1917, and the establishment of the Communist International in 1919.

Many SPA members left in favor of the Communist Party (CP), which in 1928 fell completely under the influence of Joseph Stalin. By then, the Communist International was infiltrated with GPU spies, in every national section around the world.

One theme that comes up over & over in researching the history of American labor & socialist parties in the 20th-century is the constant factionalization, name changes, shifting alliances, break-ups & reformations. Why was this?

Modern US intelligence begins with J. Edgar Hoover, a key state bureaucrat in the Palmer Raids of 1919-20, which was the first major salvo of the “Red Scare” in America, which continues to the present. An eager & young Hoover quickly became the chief operating officer of the Bureau of Intelligence (BOI, formed 1909), renamed the FBI in 1936. J Edgar Hoover was a virulent anti-communist autocrat, and ran the BOI/FBI as a personal dictator until his death in 1972.

Before the Russian Revolution, and its threat of international socialism to the capitalist order, state intelligence was limited to foiling assassination plots of high officials, rooting out spies trying to steal military secrets, stopping counterfeiters, etc. Intelligence was seen as a necessary wartime activity, with limited application during times of peace.

Allan Pinkerton fought for the Union in the US Civil War, and helped protect Abraham Lincoln, by using agents to sniff out assassination plots. Allan Pinkerton helped found the US Secret Service in 1865, which then was part of the Department of the Treasury for the use of combating then-widespread counterfeiting of US currency.

As a footnote, the Department of Justice was formed in 1870 during the Ulysses S. Grant administration to prosecute crimes against the US government. The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is America’s oldest federal law enforcement agency, created in 1789 during the presidency of George Washington. That was it for federal policing back then, outside of the US military.

It’s important to note here, that after the US Civil War, Allan Pinkerton founded the strike-breaking Pinkerton Agency which hired, trained, and outsourced private goons to robber barons for the purpose of attacking picketing workers. Allan Pinkerton made extensive use of women as spies, and has been praised by some in modern identity politics as a pioneer for doing this. Pinkerton said that women often were his most valuable agents because they could gain the trust of others, easier than most men.

Most of Europe was in a depression during the 1920’s, and it finally came crashing to America in October 1929. The ideology of FDR’s New Deal was to provide enough crumbs to the working masses so they wouldn’t revolt. Wildcat strikes with socialist leadership among workers were rampant in this era. Pinkertons & police were often used for violence against organizing workers.

World War II breaking out in Europe in September 1939 saved American capitalism, and ushered in profiteering, a successful war effort, and a post-war boom that lasted into the 1960’s. These historical forces saved capitalism in the 1930’s and led the way to reformist labor movements (AFL-CIO, Teamsters, etc.) dominating the post-war period, entrenching nationalism & anti-communism into worker consciousness, through fear & propaganda campaigns.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), commonly called “Wobblies”, were an international labor union (1905-24) that was founded in Chicago, an American city rich in labor struggle history. The philosophy & tactics of the IWW were described as “revolutionary industrial unionism”, with ties to socialist, syndicalist, and anarchist labor movements. Wobblies opposed the splitting of workers into separate trade unions, as their slogan was “One big union.”

IWW membership declined dramatically during the Great War, due to conflicts with other labor groups, particularly the reformist American Federation of Labor (AFL), which regarded the IWW as too radical. On September 5, 1917, US Department of Justice agents made simultaneous raids on dozens of IWW meeting halls across the country. Physical attacks, mass arrests, and agent provocateur infiltration caused the IWW to splinter irrevocably in 1924.

Historically in 1924, Vladimir Lenin final succumbed to a series of strokes, as a result of wounds he received in an assassination attempt by a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party in August 1918, and died on January 21, 1924. There was already a succession struggle going with with Trotsky’s Left Opposition taking a principled internationalist stance against Joseph Stalin’s reactionary theory of “socialism in one country.” Stalin first declared this gospel in the Soviet Republic in 1924, after Lenin’s death, and it immediately killed the Wobblies fighting spirit by disorienting workers in America– and everywhere else.

IWW leader Big Bill Haywood left the county and fled to the Soviet Union in 1923, while Eugene Debs died an early death in 1926 upon being released from prison. That’s how the first generation of American socialists were handled by the US government. They were led to align with endless variations of opportunists, due to their political naivety & desperation. They really didn’t have a chance of succeeding, without help on the world stage, in the form of a successful revolution in Germany in 1923, or in China in 1927. Both of these potential revolutions were betrayed by social democrat & Stalinist treachery.

Mixed-in also on the “left” at this time were the Socialist International (SI), a worldwide (dis)organization of social democrat political parties which had collapsed when every nation’s organization supported war credits for their own country in August 1914. This party is also known in history as the Second International. To hide their shame, they changed their name to the Labour and Socialist International (LSI) from 1923-1940, as a rival to the Communist International (Comintern), AKA, the Third International. The First International was the Paris Commune of 1871.

Getting back to political opportunists & government agents, the Conference for Progressive Labor Action (CPLA) was a established in May 1929 by anti-communist pastor A.J. Muste (below). The organization’s true purpose was to promote the reform of the American Federation of Labor, while spying & informing on socialists. A.J. Muste’s CPLA dissolved itself in December 1933, to form the American Workers Party, a new pseudo-socialist organization.

One year later, the Workers Party of the United States (WPUS) was established in December 1934, by a merger of Muste’s American Workers Party (AWP), and the Trotskyist Communist League of America (CLA) led by James Cannon. The Workers Party of the United States was dissolved in 1936, when its members entered the Socialist Party of America, the original party of Eugene Debs.

This caused A.J. Muste to resign from “socialist” politics, due to his anti-Trotskyist positions, and return to his roots as a Christian pacifist. According to Wikipedia, “He became director of the Presbyterian Labor Temple in New York City from 1937 to 1940 where he paid special attention to combating Marxism and to proclaiming Christianity as a revolutionary doctrine.”

During a 1969 debate with William F. Buckley Jr., Noam Chomsky cited A.J. Muste as “someone who did take a very strong, and I think very honorable position” on opposing World War II. For ideological & political reference, the American linguist Noam Chomsky aligns with anarcho-syndicalism & libertarian socialism. He rejects Trotskyist internationalism. William Buckley’s best intellectual comparables would be George Plimpton & Lou Dobbs, for reference on that end.

James Cannon (above) was the first American Trotskyist, and a leader of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Cannon was personally groomed by “Big Bill” Haywood, and was an IWW organizer. Cannon was expelled from the Stalinist Communist Party (US) in 1928, and formed the SWP that year.

The SWP news organ is The Militant, a weekly newspaper, and it’s publishing house is Pathfinder Press. In 1937, The Militant headquarters was transferred to New York City. According to Wikipedia, “The Militant [currently] is not officially owned or controlled by the SWP. To protect the party and the paper, The Militant is owned by a private group.”  No citation is provided. I use Wikipedia (not my favorite reference) so often here as a source, simply because this information isn’t available anywhere else.

David North proved in “Security & the Fourth international” (1975-85) that the Socialist Workers Party had been completely infiltrated with spies long before WWII. Eric London has just researched & published how SWP members were actually GPU & US agents responsible for the assassination of Leon Trotsky in August 1940, in Coyoacan, Mexico City. The crucial agent in this murder was Sylvia Ageloff, first within the SP and then within the SWP, who was close to a group of New York Trotskyists around Martin Abern, a former IWW member and leader of the Communist youth movement in the 1920s.

Martin Abern, Max Shachtman & James Burnham were leaders inside the SWP. They allied in an unprincipled factional fight over the position of the SWP’s majority Trotskyist faction, led by James Cannon defending the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers state surrounded by imperialism.

This reactionary triumvirate was expelled from the SWP in 1940 for their political treachery, and the Workers Party (WP) was founded in April 1940 by Max Shachtman. Martin Abern was placed on the governing National Committee of the Stalinist WP, and remained there for the rest of his life.

During World War II, James Burnham left the SWP to work for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, leading the “Political and Psychological Warfare” division. These were the rogues established into leadership of the US Trotskyist movement back then.

The WP eventually became the party of Michael Harrington & post-modern liberalism. They are known today as the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the party of Bernie Sanders & Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The DSA organ is Jacobin, an American pseudo-socialist quarterly magazine based in New York, where (as we keep seeing) it’s most convenient for the US intelligence (and anybody else) to plant & handle its agents.

Louis F. Budenz (above) was a Soviet espionage agent, who was part of the Central Committee of Communist Party (USA) & editor of Daily Worker. Budenz taught labor organizing & strike management at Brookwood Labor College, a creation of A.J. Muste outside New York City. Bundez later taught at Fordham University, before being prosecuted by J Edgar Hoover as a Soviet spy.

The International Socialist Organization (ISO) existed from 1976-2019, recently dissolving itself (again), this time apparently into the Green Party. The Greens popped up like weeds in the 1970’s around the world, in response to environmental & social justice issues. They are completely petty-bourgeoisie in political orientation, as every national section of the liberal reformist Green Party is controlled by capitalism & its agents.

The Progressive International (PI) is a mish-mash of pseudo-left activists & international organizations, armed with post-modernism. They are not to be (or meant to be?) confused with the Progressive Alliance (PA), a political soup of social democrats & progressive liberals founded in May 2013 in Leipzig, Germany. The Progressive Alliance reaches nobody in the working class, claiming they have 140 participants from around the world, according to Wikipedia.

All this brings us to the Fourth International (FI), which was founded by Leon Trotsky in Paris, in 1938. The ICFI was formed after their split with Pabloism in 1953, though James Cannon’s “Open Letter.” Pabloism was the creation of Michel Pablo & his milieu of supporters, who rejected dialectics & Trotsky’s characterization of Stalinism as counter-revolutionary.

The SEP (US) was formed in 1995 by the Workers League (WL), the US supporters of the ICFI. The Workers League had been founded in 1966 by the American Committee for the Fourth International (ACFI), which emerged out of a split with the spy-infested Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Much more can be read on this history in David North’s classic book, The Heritage We Defend (1988).

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) is the only Trotskyist party in the United States, as everything else that claims to be “socialism” is pseudo-left politics. The SEP (US) is affiliated with SEP’s established in other nations around the world, and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). The ICFI publishes daily Marxist news & analysis on the World Socialist Web Site, and maintains Mehring Books as its publishing house.

It took the International Committee for the Fourth International (ICFI) about 50 years to solve the issue of spies & government agents. It is the only socialist party in the world that can honestly claim to have done so. The political significance of this can’t be overstated. Since February 14, 1998, the ICFI has published Trotskyist content on its daily news organ, the World Socialist Web Site, which is by far the most read & influential socialist publication in the world.

How do we know the SEP is secure? Here are a few revealing clues. First, you don’t see, read, or hear of any factional battles over party line & policy. Second, you don’t see, read or hear of any factional battles between SEP sections in all their established nations around the world. Joe Kishore (US) agrees with Nick Beams (Australia), who agrees with Alex Lantier (France), who agrees with Chris Marsden (UK), etc… Third, the WSWS is heavily censored by big tech & the state. If the SEP/WSWS was infiltrated with agents, the deep state would enable it, not attempt to silence it.

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Senate Trial Brief & Government Agents

I published a 6,000-word serial on the second Trump impeachment trial here. This is my wrap-up.

When the Senate voted 55-45 to allow witnesses on Saturday (Feb. 13), they didn’t really know what they were voting for, and how explosive that was. That’s why a backroom deal was quickly made to cancel witnesses, and thus, end the impeachment trial.

Trump claims he wasn’t given “due process,” and that his First Amendment rights to free speech were being attacked by the impeachment process, yet he refused to testify, and his defense argued against witnesses. The council for defense are rude & shameless hypocrites, just like their client.

There should have been witnesses called to testify under oath, but neither side had the stomach for it.  Mike Pence’s sworn testimony would have been helpful. Trump’s acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller needed to testify under oath. As I said earlier, Proud Boys leader & “prolific FBI informant” Enrique Tarrio could have connected a lot of dots for the American people, if he told the whole truth.

Outside of all the congressional Republicans that aided-and-abetted Trump’s cause, a few other witnesses that should have been questioned under oath included: Rudy Giuliani, Stephen Miller, Roger Stone, Stephen Bannon, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump, Jr, etc. You know, the usual suspects.

Let’s be clear, Trump’s defense team was in tatters after just five days. Bruce Castor was basically fired, and pretty much only allowed to make his prepared closing arguments, after Day 1. David Schoen quit, and re-joined in name only, after Donald Trump reportedly made a personal call to him.

On Saturday, it was Mike van der Veen screaming at the Senate to NOT allow witnesses. His cry to call “a hundred witnesses” in return was a desperate bluff. We’re talking about a personal injury attorney, in WAY over-his-head, being the lone voice for the defense.

They would have gotten crushed with witness testimony, because this team wasn’t capable of making a single relevant argument, or able to rationally refute a single fact. It would have been a disaster for the Republicans, and could have quickly gotten out-of-hand from a Democrats’ perspective.

Proud Boys leader & “prolific FBI informant” Enrique Tarrio was the hydrogen bomb bullseye potential witness. That’s why a quick backroom deal was struck, and Joe Biden was the force behind that. He’s extracted a lot from Mitch McConnell already, in return for the Republicans being allowed to acquit Trump and end this embarrassing trial. Expect more of that bipartisanship going forward.

This relates very much to “Sylvia Ageloff and the assassination of Leon Trotsky.” Government agents must be exposed, otherwise they will infiltrate, use, and decapitate any left-wing organization. David North during the Sunday livestream answered the question “What does the SEP/ICFI do to protect itself & its supporters?” The initiator of “Security and the Fourth International” replied, “We learn the lessons of history.”

How do spies get into a left-wing political organization? They often come through auxiliary positions such as secretaries, transcribers, chauffeurs & bodyguards. They are the ones who aren’t really Marxists, but offer to help in some other way, and are good at it.

They can weasel their way into a political party through RELATIONSHIPS with loyal auxiliary personal, who aren’t Marxists, meaning these people aren’t as adept at spotting agents. Or they can be complacent functionaries, as David North mentioned when he described the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) attitude in the 1970’s as, “Agents do good work.” [!!] From this, anyone can see how all these warm bodies shifted to liberalism in the 1980’s.

The historical lesson for revolutionary internationalists is that you have to have DIY security, using history & science– paying particular attention to criminology & psychology. Being socially comfortable in any situation, while controlling your personal domain, allows one to relax and let others reveal themselves. Ramon Mercader was a charmer.

Take everything anybody says in political context, very seriously, even if you don’t initially understand the meaning of what was said. You must be able to spot lies, and come to correct conclusions. That’s how agents are weeded out, and prevented from entering the ranks. It’s how loyal members know they are protected. The particular methods, means & discussions are SEP/ICFI secrets, of course.

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Trump Senate Impeachment Trial

Donald Trump is being tried for impeachment in the Senate for inciting an insurrection on January 6, 2021, as President of the United States. This will be a serial. Stay tuned for daily updates until its conclusion.

Day 1: I’m listening to Trump’s legal defense team’s arguments on the constitutionality of trying the House impeachment of January 13, 2021. Their strategy appears to be to put everyone to sleep with rambling thoughts, falsehoods, red herrings & non-sequiturs. Zzzzzzzzz…..

Bruce Castor (above), Trump defense lawyer, “We expect our US Senators not to react to popular will.” That, and horse trading, is democracy. That’s the thinly-veiled message in their defense argument.

The defense’s visual aids stink compared to the prosecution’s. That’s what happens when you run off your entire legal team a week before the trial. David Schoen’s rambling gibberish makes me delirious with surreal images…. “I’d like to cite yet other case on the unconstitutionality of these proceedings, in the Cookie monster vs. the Muppets*, blah, blah, blah…”

* This was little-known case concerning the Cookie Monster trying to take over Sesame Street, with the rest of the cast responding by threatening to take away his cookies. I think it’s been cited as relevant here. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

This video revealed earlier today by the prosecution hits much harder, and clearly emphasizes the point of this impeachment trial. Anyone can see why the Republicans don’t want this trial.

The final Senate vote taken after 5 PM EST was 56-44 on the constitutionality of trying the impeachment. Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (KY) voted ‘No,’ proving they’re the party of fascism. Not a single Republican can give a clear reason why this trial is unconstitutional, and that’s because the Constitution is clear that it is.

But the media doesn’t press this issue too much, because some of these Republicans were in on the insurrection conspiracy, and reviewing their complicity could get ugly for the two-party system. That’s why President Joe Biden claims he’s “keeping his distance” on impeachment, when actually he’s following this very closely. Trump’s impeachment trial starts in earnest at noon tomorrow.

No comment from Joe Biden’s Press Secretary at all. Here are my questions for him. “Mr. President, how do you feel about the events of January 6, and Donald Trump’s responsibility for it? Should Trump be impeached for inciting an insurrection? Do you see these actions as a criminal attempt to steal your victory? Should Trump be criminally prosecuted?”

As US President, and the person who won the 2020 election over Trump, Joe Biden needs to answer these questions directly to the American people. Otherwise, he’s a fraud, as much as all the rest who are trying to duck this fundamental issue of democracy.

As for Vice President Kamala Harris, she’s been viewed jogging stairs at Lincoln Memorial [a BLM racialist!] over 4 million times as of this evening, but has no comment on the impeachment trial. The narrative was that Kamala Harris would be the democratic voice of the oppressed, through her identity politics credentials, but that was all campaign hype. She’s an entitled elitist, only interested in maintaining her career & privileges. Therefore Kamala Harris won’t answer any serious questions either.

Day 2: Wed 10 Feb 2021 09:00 AM EST

I read this piece from ABC News this morning titled, “Biden laser-focused on pushing his agenda as Senate starts impeachment trial.” I thought to myself, “Biden ducks Trump impeachment” would be a more accurate title. By the way, how does a semi-senile individual like Joe Biden ‘laser focus’ on anything? Pure propaganda from the corporatized fake media.

Let us review the political resumes of the current President & VP. Joe Biden, 47th VP from 2009-2017 under Barack Obama, represented Delaware in the United States Senate from 1973-2009. Kamala Harris served as a United States senator from California from 2017-2021. The Senate, which is now debating Trump’s impeachment, is where Biden-Harris came from, so their true thoughts on what’s going on is obligatory to the American people.

For White House press secretary Jen Psaki to insist at a briefing on Monday (Feb 8) that the President “will not spend too much time watching the proceedings, if any time, over the course of this week,” is not believable. Anybody with a political brain knows there’s top-secret back-channeling going on. Leaders answers these important questions definitively to their rank-and-file constituency, especially after January 6, 2021. Cowardly frauds, Kamala Harris included, hide from them.

Wed 10 Feb 2021 04:09 PM EST

The impeachment managers’ ‘Big Lie’ argument on Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign has been devastating to the defense. In fact, it was Donald Trump who tried to steal the 2020 election. The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable. It’s about time we heard this on MSM.

Some other interesting facts we’ve come to learn today, included Trump spending $50 million in campaign money to fund the Proud Boys for the January 6 mob insurrection. Democratic impeachment managers are carefully avoiding the sordid history of Enrique Tarrio, head of the Proud Boys since 2018, and a “prolific FBI informer.” Enrique Tarrio has snitched on at least three major marijuana grow-houses in south Florida. J. Edgar Hoover would be livid over this public outing of an agent.

Another tidbit, Women for America First secured the permit for January 6, which explicitly forbade them from marching. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani said on January 6 to a mob of angry Trump supporters at the Ellipse, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

Unasked questions: What were the roles of Roger Stone, Dan Scavino, Stephen Miller & Stephen Bannon in planning & organizing the attack on the Capitol? What about the rest of Trump’s inner circle? Were Republican members of Congress in on this conspiracy? What about the stand down of the National Guard? Much more needs to be dug into on these points.

Wed 10 Feb 2021 09:09 PM EST

Two weeks ago, 45 Republican senators voted that the impeachment trial of former President Trump is unconstitutional. Legal scholars & constitutional historians nearly unanimously say it is constitutional. The Republican Party still hasn’t offered a coherent argument as to why this impeachment trial is unconstitutional. It compares to Trump not admitting he lost an election. And that’s the defense the Republicans have rested on. They aren’t even considering the evidence shown, which this nation, and entire world have seen.

When Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says, “This case is over,” most people watching these proceedings could only think, “Yeah, and Trump is guilty.” But for Graham and his filthy (& cowardly) lot, it’s the opposite. This process is “unconstitutional,” so therefore they aren’t swayed by ANY of the evidence. This is how the Republican caucus is ducking the substance of the serious issues being presented. In other words, the Republicans are immune to the truth of January 6. Donald Trump is to be acquitted when it comes to a vote, even though he is clearly guilty of inciting a mob insurrection.

What this means is that the Republican Party is the domain of fascists and all their apologists. The two-party system is breaking apart, live on national television. The biggest cowards are indeed the Republicans, who can’t stand up to their biggest bully. Even when Trump is totally isolated, after his violent insurrection on the Capitol, the Republicans still cower to him. This impeachment trial was their chance to finish him forever, and take back their Party, or whatever is left of it, anyways. But they couldn’t do it. They need the Democrats to rescue them, and they know they will, so understand that there are no heroes on the other side of the aisle.

The Nazis, white supremacists, anti-Semites, anti-vaxxers, right-wing militia gun nuts, Bible freaks, etc, who obeyed Trump are the Republican Party’s base. The Republicans threw in their lot with Trump in 2016, and they will go down in flames with him. That’s what’s happening in this impeachment trial.

At this point, it is the court of public opinion that is trying this case, since it is clear that the Republicans have abstained their responsibility to be fair & impartial. Most Americans believe Donald Trump is guilty, and this creates a host of problems for those who abetted him, because Trump has neither the brains, nor the discipline to plan & carry out this conspiracy to storm the Capitol on January 6 by himself.

Many of the ‘appeals to conscience’ from the prosecution were directed towards Mike Pence, the VP whose life was literally threatened by Trump’s insurrection. Pence is seen as the conservative head of the Republicans, a ‘reasonable man’ that Democrats such as Joe Biden could work with. These appeals to Pence can be seen as an olive branch from the Democrats. Remember that Joe Biden has insisted, “We must have unity with the fascists.” Actually he said, “We must have unity with the Republicans,” but since we’ve seen that Republicans always support fascists, those two terms are synonymous in modern political science.

Tomorrow is to be the final day of evidence presentation. I, along with many others, will be watching & judging. After that, the defense is to have its turn. After Tuesday’s disaster, who knows how that will go, but it isn’t expected to take nearly as long as the prosecution’s presentation. Then there may be some rebuttal, followed by closing arguments. The Republicans sincerely hope that Trump’s lawyers do a better job of defense, because they need the political cover. In any event, the Republicans will vote down impeachment of their führer, and then they will pretend all this never happened. That’s two-party capitalist politics in 2021.

Day 3: Thu 11 Feb 2021 01:52 AM EST

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah tried a grandstand play at the very end of Wednesday’s session, when he passionately claimed the evidence about Trump accidentally calling him while trying to reach Tommy Tuberville on January 6, as the riot was in progress, was not true. Except that Mike Lee is already on record that it did happen.

The Democrats submitted anyways, and upheld his false argument, throwing out that part of the testimony. Octogenarian, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), the master of ceremonies, appeared very confused & taken aback by all this bluster.

“If Senate Republicans fail to convict Donald Trump, it won’t be because the facts were with him or his lawyers mounted a competent defense. It will be because the jury includes his co-conspirators,” Hillary Clinton tweeted Wednesday. This quote is notable, in that it’s the first honest statement I can recall from the former First Lady. That’s another indication of the depth of this political crisis.

For the record, these co-conspirators include US Senators: Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tommy Tuberville, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and many other Trump loyalists. In the House of Representatives it’s even worse, as the conspirators there include: Kevin McCarthy, Mat Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar & Andy Biggs, to name the most prominent reactionaries.

Yesterday, it was announced by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that the “Trump ban is PERMANENT even if he’s re-elected.” Trump has been banned from spreading dangerous lies & misinformation on Twitter, and all other major social media platforms. Fascists cry foul on the grounds of “free speech.” But any first-year law student knows that inciting criminal violence isn’t protected under the 1st Amendment. Yet Trump and his fascist supporters claim they are being unfairly censored & suppressed by the “radical left.” Every political argument these fascists make is a big lie, backed by the threat of violence, and covered-up by bureaucratic complacency & ruthless self-interest.

And then there’s the role of the Capitol Police on January 6. According to this report, “The Capitol Police chief resigned after the attack, two officers have been suspended and at least 10 others are being investigated for behavior during the attack including an incident in which one took a selfie with rioters. Despite this, the Capitol Police have not held a briefing to address reporters or the public since the attack.” This hasn’t been brought up in the impeachment trial either.

Much of the gratitude the prosecutors are professing to the Capitol Police officers who fought to defend them against Trump’s mob is genuine. But deep inside, there is an element of pandering to law enforcement. The uncritical acceptance of police loyalty defies logic after what happened. Too many Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other fascist scum that stormed the Capitol on January 6, came from the ranks of the police, firefighters & military.

To those who were actually loyal and did their jobs, suffering injuries and worse in the melee, the lack of an impeachment conviction is a slap in their faces. It sends the message, “Stand by, we will need you again soon, as we can’t ensure this doesn’t happen again, because we don’t have the political will to stop this.” It gives fascists a free pass, and puts everyone else in harm’s way. It also begs the question, “If this isn’t an impeachable offense, then what is?” This question needs to be put to every Republican that votes to acquit Donald Trump.

Thu 11 Feb 2021 11:00 AM EST

As Sly Stone sang, “It’s a Family Affair,” and that’s what we have here. All impeachments are partisan, but this time it to such an extreme that it is fracturing all rules of logic, human decency, as well as the existing political set-up.

The Bill Clinton impeachment in 1998 was for perjury, in lying about an extra-martial sexual affair. That campaign was spear-headed by arch-reactionary Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and his so-called “moral majority,” which held sway in Congress. This was a filthy partisan effort to remove a two-term President through a dirty-tricks campaign, and it paved the way for the stolen election of 2000, and then 9/11.

The first Trump impeachment, in September 2019, was the culmination of the Democrats reactionary anti-Russia campaign, which began in summer 2016. The accusations were so thin (& convoluted) that most people don’t even understand what it was. They mostly know it was bullshit.

On top of that, Republican operatives came up with more compelling evidence of criminality by Joe Biden [!], which threw a big wrench into everything the Democrats had scripted. Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, received huge payoffs from Ukraine magnates, for no work. Nobody in the fake MSM mentions that Ukraine had a fascist counter-revolution orchestrated by the CIA in 2014, known as the “orange revolution” by propagandists. Here’s an example of that big lie.

The Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court hearing in the summer of 2018 is the other significant modern partisan battle, in relation to Trump’s current impeachment trial. It was the height of the Democrats feminist witch-hunting #MeToo campaign, and they choose to attack Trump’s reactionary nominee not on his public record, but on unfounded (and dubious) sexual assault allegations which went back decades, with no witnesses or evidence to confirm these accusations. It was another gift to Trump from the Clinton-Obama-Biden Democrats, in the name of partisanship.

All that context is necessary to understand this impeachment of Trump for inciting a mob to storm the Capitol. It’s much different than all the other political theater we’re used to, because the issues here are clear. Everybody understands the images, audio & arguments being presented for impeachment. It’s not bullshit, in fact it’s the exact opposite. Nothing is more important for the American people to understand than the fact that Trump is going to be acquitted, despite the massive evidence against him, and the reason is the Democratic Party.

The Dems enabled Republicans when they were echoing Trump’s “Stop the Steal” big lie campaign. There is a “prolific” FBI informer leading the Proud Boys, so why wasn’t this Capitol mob conspiracy snuffed out immediately? Etc, etc… The compromisist language weaved into their arguments makes it clear that Joe Biden is negotiating this Senate impeachment trial behind-the scenes for himself. The US President doesn’t take a pass on something this big, when so much self-interest & political power is at stake.

Thu 11 Feb 2021 04:50 PM EST

The House managers just finished their closing arguments, and it’s a devastating case against Trump. All networks have openly acknowledged that Donald Trump will be acquitted, despite the mountain of evidence and dangerous precedent it will set. The prosecution certainly knew this, so it felt much more like a pitch to the public today, which is a good strategy as the Republicans are hopeless.

House Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO), and team leader Jamie Raskin, (D-MD) have to be considered the stars for the Democrats in this historic impeachment trial. I’ll confess that I also appreciated Ted Lieu (D-CA), and his understated style. The truth is the entire team for the prosecution was at least competent, and often above that standard, in terms of bourgeois parliamentary effectiveness. But in terms of Trotskyist historical materialism, they’re all political children, which is why they blacklist socialists.

Tomorrow, it’s Trump’s lawyers getting a second crack at trying to do something for the defense. I predict it’s going to be ugly, confusing & painful. I’m not a legal expert, but I don’t believe that David Schoen & Bruce Castor are going to be retained as Trump attorneys after this weekend. Anybody wanna bet me on that? I’ll be tuning in tomorrow, and publishing more updates, to help make sense of this madness. I’ll post more later tonight to preview some important thoughts to keep in mind.

Thu 11 Feb 2021 08:16 PM EST

Eric London of the WSWS just published a monumental 4-part series titled, “Sylvia Ageloff and the assassination of Leon Trotsky,” in which he discusses the role of US government agents in the murder conspiracy. In short, a vast network of Stalinist agents in Mexico, Canada & the US were complicit in Trotsky’s murder in August 1940. J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI abetted the crime, by allowing GPU agents Sylvia Ageloff & Ramon Mercader to travel in & out of the US freely, when harsh wartime immigration & travel restrictions were in effect, etc.

Hoover’s overarching interest was in getting the names of GPU spies in the US from Sylvia Ageloff, which he finally did. The FBI covered everything up in the US media, as part of Hoover’s witch-hunting campaign against “communists,” which led to HUAC and then blacklists. Mexican prosecutors & justice officials were silenced and/or killed by agents of Stalin. The assassins lived long & comfortable lives, and were viewed as heroes by their establishments. Killing is a dirty business.

I mention this because Proud Boys leader, Enrique Tarrio, is a known government agent, yet he did nothing to stop the attack on the Capitol. Raz Simone of CHAZ /CHOP is another example of an agent provocateur, for his role in the BLM gangland violence in Seattle this past summer. These people are very dangerous because they are unprincipled. Intelligence agencies seek to place spies like these in positions where they can betray others without their knowledge.

This type of treachery has nothing to do with democracy. All government secrets should be revealed to the public. Secret diplomacy kills democracy, and the back-channeling during this impeachment trial is proof. The nods to “national security” & calls to “patriotism,” reeked of Joe Biden’s invisible hand during the prosecution’s presentation on Thursday.

So does the Democrats rhetoric about preserving each American’s “sacred right to vote.” In 2020, the Democratic Party blacklisted any socialist opposition to the left of Bernie Sanders. It was completely centrist-right politicking until election day, under conditions where a coronavirus pandemic had wiped out the global economy and millions of jobs, creating unsustainable inequality.

Trotskyists are internationalists first. We don’t heed the call of patriotism and/or country. Our purpose is to unite the workers of the world for socialist revolution. We don’t bemoan the revealing of government secrets, we advocate for it. We don’t rush in to save a dying “democracy” that systematically disenfranchises the working class.

The greatest government attack on its own democracy, which has defined the politics of the 21st-century to date, is 9/11. There are many crazy right-wing conspiracy theories on every subject, and 9/11 is no exception. But the fact is that the US government explanation is implausible, so alternative explanations must be developed, using the evidence available & the historical materialist method. From all my reviews of 9/11, this is my best approximation of what happened on that day & why?

Whatever hit the Pentagon on 9/11 wasn’t a 757 airliner, as there was no visible wreckage. It most likely was a cruise missile strike by a CIA or military drone, as a false flag operation, to provide a pretext for their phony ‘war on terror.’ The flight manifests, passenger logs, phone calls, black boxes, etc, have been sealed by the deep state. All that stuff can be faked & manipulated by intelligence experts.

No wreckage in Shanksville, PA either, just bulldozed ground, charred with fire & smoke. As for NYC, the twin towers collapsed at free-fall speed, when they were designed to withstand multiple airplane crashes at once. Numerous eyewitness testimonies from survivors described loud explosions going off before & after the planes hit, particularly in the basement levels. Why were bomb sniffing dogs removed from the WTC buildings on Sept 6, 2001, by Marvin Bush’s security team? How did WTC 7 collapse at free-fall speed that evening? Controlled demolition using military grade thermate cutter charges is the only explanation. The 9/11 truthers have a few right-wing nuts, but overall their cause is much bigger than that. They deserve a fair public hearing.

The planes that hit both twin towers were quite possibly US military/intelligence drones. Faked flight logs, background cover stories, etc. A few of the alleged 19 hijackers turned up ALIVE weeks later. They were very surprised to be accused of being dead terrorists. Witnesses on the scene reported the smell of cordite at the Pentagon blast site, instead of kerosene which is jet fuel. Etc, etc… Testimony to all this has been officially sealed into the deep state’s hidden vaults. Recall the deep state didn’t officially exist up to a few years ago, until then it was a “conspiracy theory.”

A few days before this impeachment trial began, Q-Anon adherent (pic above) Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) adamantly insisted, “An airliner didn’t hit the Pentagon on 9/11, there was no wreckage.” Then a day later, after intense political pressure from the center-right, her tune changed to, “I also want to tell you, 9/11 absolutely happened.”

What explains this turnabout? To be part of the official ruling establishment, you can’t question the official version of 9/11. Trump did the same thing early in his term, and he was vigorously censured for it. Right-wing Q-Anon-ers advocate for 9/11 truthers, in order to steal the narrative from the left. Q-Anon advocacy for truth holds up until the establishment whips them into line. Their position has nothing to do with truth, principles or ethics, it’s about stealing the narrative for themselves.

Right-wing ideologies often have no response to direct political questions, other than violence. I recently heard the claim that there was “too much political content on Facebook,” from someone who posts pro-Trump memes & links regularly. It occurred to me how similar these interests are to Mark Zuckerberg’s, when he claims he wants to “depoliticize” Facebook. To censor & marginalize left-wing content is a political act. It’s called fascism.

Day 4: Fri 12 Feb 2021 09:20 AM EST

The CARES Act, passed at the end of last March, handed trillions of dollars to Wall Street, and told the rest of us to get back to work/school, despite a raging pandemic with mutating strains, and now a vaccine shortage. That’s a bipartisan policy of saving the rich, while imposing “herd immunity,” which is social murder, on the greater population. We are told by the ruling elites & all its representatives to go back to work, in order to pay for all this.

The class lines couldn’t be clearer. The two-party system’s pandemic response is an impeachable offense for every member of Congress, and all those in the Executive branch. Another example of an impeachable offense would be Illegally detaining immigrants at the border, who are fleeing gangland violence caused by drug cartel wars, all sponsored by Uncle Sam. The CIA is known globally as Murder, Inc., so real Marxists won’t listen to any protestations of America being the world’s “beacon of democracy.”

The two-party system instigates violence on both sides of the aisles. Anyone could make a case for impeachment against all of them. In US politics, there are hundreds of impeachable offenses committed every year, no matter who is president. That’s the Trotskyist political position, and it’s gaining popular support. Those on the right recoil at this, as their arguments become more & more unhinged, and move to attack with violence.

Fri 12 Feb 2021 01:55 PM EST

Michael van der Veen & David Schoen have it so wrong, as their presentation is only reinforcing the House managers case for impeachment to any rational observer. The video of Democrats saying “fight,” is Fox News tripe, as they’ve run it four times so far, as an exhibit. None of that speech from Democrats anywhere, resulted in a coup attempt by a mob of Trump supporters at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. That’s the issue of this impeachment trial.

Free speech & First Amendment protections DO NOT give ANYONE the right to incite a violent & unlawful insurrection. The BLM insurrections from last summer should be investigated & prosecuted by & for the public, as there was surely much Democrat/deep state complicity in that. That’s the Trotskyist position on Trump’s reactionary & pathetic defense arguments.

A good visualization to understand impeachment is that it’s a “quasi-legal & quasi-political trial.” As far as “due process” goes, THIS is the defense’s chance to refute all the evidence, and they aren’t doing it. Their lawyers have 16 hours [!] for defense, and aren’t going to come close to using even a quarter of that time.

So Trump can’t bitch about due process, without being seen as a hypocrite, because he’s refused to testify under oath, and his lawyers aren’t addressing the substance of the issue. Trump was invited to testify, and he declined on advice of all his lawyers– in record time. ALL THIS has been Donald Trump’s due process. I wrote yesterday that the defense arguments would be confusing & ugly, and I’ve already been vindicated in that by the first recess.

Fri 12 Feb 2021 02:55 PM EST

I’m watching, and imagining a text message from Donald Trump to Bruce Castor, it reads, “You’re fired!” For Bruce Castor’s sake, I hope he got paid-in-full up front. This is the painful part, which I also promised.

Trump’s tweets in the afternoon of January 6, asking his supporters to “be peaceful, and respect the police,” (paraphrased here) can be seen as Republican strategist ploys to provide political cover in the aftermath of the failed putsch. Trump, as US President, needed to condemn the insurrectionist mob directly, immediately & emphatically, but he didn’t.

The National Guard was ordered to stand down, and this has been tied to the conduct of Trump’s acting Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller. At this point, a few tweets (which did nothing to help), can’t exonerate Trump when he planned the entire event, inflamed it, and set it in motion. The body of evidence is overwhelming, and the defense has done nothing to refute it. It’s all lies, red herrings & irrelevant arguments.

Fri 12 Feb 2021 07:09 PM EST

The defense argued for only two-and-a-half hours, before resting. As I predicted, then reported, it was a painful period of time to endure. Here’s an astonishing fact of this trial, which we learned today. Donald Trump has never personally met with any of these attorneys representing him at this impeachment trial. That’s a complete joke for the defense. And they yammer on about due process, etc.

Q & A was also a disaster for the defense. Most of the time went to the House manager side, allowing them to refute all of Trump’s defense arguments which they had just made, but still hadn’t had sufficient time to bake-in as right-wing talking points for Fox. It let the House manager side refute them, and win all four days of the trial, ideologically. It was a rout. The prosecution’s message was allowed to resound for four days, while the defense had to be completely silent for the middle two days, and was ineffective & unconvincing in the two days that bracketed them.

With each side being allowed five minutes to answer, or two-and-a-half minutes if the question was for both sides, the defense’s first question directed only to them yielded a one-word answer. It was “No” from Michael van der Veen, but I forgot the question. And so forth, for the defense. Google fact-check for Michael van der Veen: most often, fire chiefs are elected officials, but a few are appointed directly to the position. He tried to wing it, in attacking a very effective fire chief analogy, concerning free speech and its limitations, made by Jamie Raskin. I’m grading Trump’s defense team as a ‘F’.

Neither side wants to call any witnesses. I don’t see any more arguments to be made. The Senate will vote on this ASAP, and Trump will be acquitted. By any rational legal standard, this judgment is to be considered a kangaroo acquittal, and it will live in infamy. Historically, it will be seen as the death knell of the Republican Party. That’s why conservatives are so upset about this. Fascism has been discredited in front of the world, and despite a partisan acquittal, they’ve lost the ideological battle for the public mind. Almost everyone knows this decision is unjust & wrong, and yet it is what it is. It’s clear that American democracy is a dead letter.

Day 5: Sat 13 Feb 2021 07:42 AM EST

Congress can impeach an official retroactively, as long as the prosecution has a provable case. That’s what the Constitution has said, and how it’s been interpreted, for over 200 years. The Republican arguments concerning precedent are childish. It completely ignores the magnitude of Trump’s crime. Impeachment is about discouraging unlawful activity & abuse of power by a high official. It is part of the checks & balances system that the Founding Fathers built. Partisan replies as rebuttals, are just that– partisan replies.

At 10:00 AM the Senate will reconvene, and after a few closing arguments, a vote will be taken. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, an adamant Trump supporter, has said, “I will vote against impeachment at the first opportunity, as this trial has been bad for the Republican Party.” Nothing more is needed to prove their lack of interest, and their stubborn refusal to understand any of the greater historical implications. It’s all short-term gain calculations from the GOP. Most of these Republican high officials do not want the American people to know the full extent of what happened on January 6, because many of them were complicit.

Michael van der Veen claims that if Trump is impeached, then anyone can. But this was an EXCEPTIONAL breach & dereliction of Trump’s Constitutional duty. Impeachment is reserved as a Constitutional right of Congress, for just such exceptional crimes against the state. It takes political capital to move ahead with an impeachment. If it is misguided, or based on a false (or frivolous) premise, like the Ukraine-gate impeachment or the Bill Clinton impeachment, then the prosecuting Party is disgraced, and loses some of its political power. That’s the double-edged nature of impeachment which Republicans avoid in their unfounded arguments.

The Trump team & Republican Party’s outright contempt for the entire impeachment proceeding has been palpable. Their defense has often sought to label the insurrectionists, summoned by Trump, as “left-wing ANTIFA.” Let’s be clear: Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Boogaloo Bois, etc, are right-wing fascists. They wear Trump clothing, and carry Trump flags, along with swastikas, symbols of the Confederacy, and other badges of ignorance & hate. They are the political opposite of left-wing. This is done intentionally by Republican demagogues, in order to smear left-wing dissent, and call for its political censure, thereby strengthening fascism.

Sat 13 Feb 2021 11:15 AM EST

The Senate just voted 55-45 to allow witnesses. Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA) is to be deposed under oath, as requested by the House managers, regarding conversation House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had with Donald Trump on the afternoon of January 6. Trump’s defense objected, but Mitt Romney led defecting Republicans to defeat that motion.

Michael van der Veen (obviously Trump’s preferred litigator at this point, just for his aggressive tone) has been loudly protesting that the House Mangers have presented “zero evidence,” and yet when it is moved to allow witnesses, the defense opposes it in its arguments. The defense will, of course, have equal time to cross-examine any witnesses, but the problem is they don’t know how to do that.

The Senate is now in limbo until it decides amongst themselves how to proceed, and if they are going to call any more witnesses. There’s a LOT of internecine anger among Republican lawmakers right now. This is an overnight bombshell from Democrats strongly in favor of impeachment, call it the anti-Biden faction. Everyone thought this trial would be over today, and now it won’t be.

Sat 13 Feb 2021 11:57 AM EST

It’s important to know when to end a serial for an event that drags on much longer than expected. At this point, the impeachment trial has ground to a halt, and we have to wait for what comes next. The Senate alone has all power to make their own rules on this, per the US Constitution.

I’m directly discussing the process, because it helps people understand the content. It’s more far important in terms of revolutionary impact, to get fresh explosive content online ASAP, verses editing (& re-writing) to get it ‘perfect’ later. Proofread & correct at the end, and then move on.

There will be small mistakes along the way, but that’s part of the excessive energy & excitement which jolts everybody’s senses, and is inherent in all this. It’s all new & uncharted territory, so no one can say they are 100% correct, but this is a best approximation.

In this internet age, mine (& yours) can become a leading narrative on social media due to the power of its truth– if it gets there early & often. That’s why repeated & timely installments are the key to any successful serial. It needs to hit hard when it’s happening, and still be a comprehensive & readable narrative when it’s over– or at least time to end it, like now.

One of the hardest things in writing a serial is to proofread everything, and edit yourself at the end, when you’re tired. You need to be prepared to engage the fake media & right-wing fascists at (& above) their levels. Physical health is mandatory, but preparation really means studying history, becoming a Marxist, and applying dialectical materialism politically.

These aren’t simply events we remember as future trivia answers. Today is February 13, 2021, less than six weeks since Donald Trump’s failed coup attempt. The memories & images of Trump’s insurrection are still fresh, and they raise so many unanswered questions about the state of American democracy. Of course, witnesses should be called, many of them.

Enrique Tarrio is the leader of the Proud Boys, and a prolific FBI informer. Not just any informer, but a “prolific informer.” He should be called as a witness under oath for Trump’s impeachment trial. Enrique Tarrio could connect a lot of dots for the American people, if he told the whole truth.

Since this impeachment trial inevitably leads to acquittal, the only response that moves the working class forward is to prepare themselves for a general strike, with the political goal of organizing a socialist revolution in permanence. That’s the only way forward for the workers & youth of the world. That will be the final historical & political lesson of this impeachment trial. In the end, it will be either lawful socialism, or lawless barbarism sanctioned by capitalism.

Sat 13 Feb 2021 02:15 PM EST

While in recess, behind closed doors, Donald Trump’s lawyers have clinched an agreement that will bypass witness testimony, clearing the way for the former President to be acquitted, later this afternoon. The Black Hand (in this case Joe Biden) has intervened, and that’s it for what the American people get to know about January 6, 2021.

Sat 13 Feb 2021 02:55 PM EST

The Black Hand is the mafia, the hidden power behind the perceived power. It’s the deep state nationally. It’s the Five Families in New York. It’s the FBI, NSA, CIA, etc, who know all about YOU, while you know very little about them. For gamers, I’ve illustrated the influence of the Black Hand in my essay on Taipan, an early 1980’s turn-based Apple computer game.

Some secret deal has been struck, and we will soon see it in bipartisan policy. There are many defecting Republicans, call it the Mitt Romney caucus, who are very upset at having to take a bite out of a giant shitburger created by Donald Trump. He’s in Mar-a-Lago, FL, while his Republican “colleagues” are taking all kinds of flak, and getting no help from his legal defense team.

The closing arguments, curiously, aren’t being broadcast on NBC or CBS. After all these days, without commercial interruption, and now NBC & CBS doesn’t want people to see how this finishes. They’re showing sports. Only ABC is covering this live. I wonder why?

Sat 13 Feb 2021 03:48 PM EST

The closing arguments were more of the same from both sides. It was especially painful to re-listen to Michael van der Veen spew hatred & contempt all over the Senate, with the zeal of Joseph Goebbels. He contradicted himself so many times, that I just gave up, and starting typing this while he droned-on in the background. That’s who he is and what he represents.

I’m no lawyer, but the defense may have delivered the ugliest closing argument in the history of American jurisprudence. But make no mistake, it was a ‘winning’ argument, a Pyrrhic victory in every sense. Senates votes 57 ‘guilty’ to 43 ‘not guilty’, which means it didn’t get the 67 votes to impeach. Trump is acquitted, and that’s it, I quit. Over & Out

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Hot Stove Burnout

This is the final wrap-up of Hot Stove Slow Burn

A few good reasons the Mets didn’t land Trevor Bauer

1) Dodgers offered better money in the first two years. He’s opting out after that.
2) Dodgers are a winning organization, and more scientifically driven.
3) On Thursday evening, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that Bauer had agreed to a deal with the Mets. Six minutes later, Mark Feinsand refutes that report.
4) On Friday, the Mets defeated J.D. Davis in salary arbitration, paying him $2.1 million rather than $2,475,000. That SCREAMS cheap-ass management & ownership.
5) On Friday morning , the Mets set a noon ET deadline for Bauer to make his decision on their contract offer, according to a report from MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, claiming, “they didn’t want to be used to help Bauer gain leverage with the Dodgers.”
6) On Friday afternoon, with their self-imposed deadline expired and still no word, the Mets tune changes. “They are waiting on Bauer’s free-agent decision, but it’s unclear if they’ve given the right-hander a deadline.”

I was wrong about no more big MLB trades this winter, after the SDP acquired RHP Joe Musgrove from PIT. Last week, 3B Nolan Arenado was sent to STL from COL, who eats $51M on a deal they inked with their franchise player only two years ago. Rockies got no serious prospects in return, so this was a straight salary dump. STL jumps to the top of a weak NL Central.

What I said about a lot of free agents returning to their old teams, or having to accept minor league deals, or getting frozen out completely, has happened. The latest reunion is Marcell Ozuna back to ATL at 4/$65M. Once again, it’s because OF/DH Ozuna has more value to ATL than any other team that is spending money. Same with DH Nelson Cruz, who resigned with MIN at 1/$13M, and 2B Cesar Hernandez who re-signed with CLE at 1/$5M.

MIL signed 2B Kolten Wong at 2/$18M to solidify their infield defense. I’m assuming the LAD will re-sign 3B Justin Turner, and that STL will re-sign C Yadier Molina. That means CF Jackie Bradley Jr is the only significant position player remaining in FA. What’s left (that matters) is pitching, and that’s a crapshoot, for sure.

Remaining starters: Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, Rick Porcello, Matt Shoemaker, Rich Hill, Brett Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Cole Hamels, Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey, Aníbal Sánchez and Mike Fiers.

Righty relievers: Mark Melancon, Trevor Rosenthal, Tyler Clippard, Trevor Cahill, Jeremy Jeffress, Tommy Hunter, Shane Greene, Yusmeiro Petit, and Sergio Romo.

Lefties relievers: Oliver Pérez, Justin Wilson, Jake McGee, José Álvarez, T.J. McFarland, Mike Montgomery, Chasen Shreve, and Tony Watson.

MLB salaries have decreased for the past 3 years, for the first time since their union starting keeping track in 1967. The current CBA is set to expire December 1, 2021. MLB players haven’t been happy with this deal since the free agency season of 2017-18, when 2nd-tier free agents saw their value collapse, due to increased use of advanced metrics by GM’s, which proves these players aren’t worth the big contracts they’ve been used to.

The International draft is now the free agent talent hot-spot, because these players are young & cheap. Young players (generally) play better defense, which is valued more accurately now. The International draft reduces the need for traditional free agency in filling roster voids. 1B Jose Abreu of the CWS is a great example of this.

This free agent freeze-out has been compared to “collusion” of an earlier era (1985-87), and technically it is, as all the GM’s agree (pretty much) on player valuation. But it’s not criminal collusion, because it’s out in the open. The fans know it too, and debate it in blogs, chat forums & social media. The smarter players also know it.

Therefore the MLBPA has no grievance of collusion here. This is stupidity in leadership to accept this rotten deal, with no understanding of the direction the game was going. Leadership is supposed to know better than anyone, but instead it’s the furthest behind. Now there’s a coronavirus pandemic on top of all this, and its unprecedented challenges, for which Tony Clark & Company are completely ill-prepared.

The players should fire all their union leadership, and organize amongst themselves, electing leaders of their own, with the ability to recall & replace them at any time, if they fail to serve the interests of the players as a whole. All CBA negotiations need to be open & transparent, with time for all players to debate & understand its meaning & full ramifications.

This needs to include the minor leagues, developmental sites, & international professional leagues, such as those in Japan, Korea & Mexico. With players being posted & signed as free agents from all parts of the world, any MLB players’ labor organization needs to have international representation & an internationalist perspective.

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SpaceX Explodes

This capability will enable a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration, interplanetary flights and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond,” SpaceX said in a statement ahead of Tuesday’s test.

Tuesday, Feb 2, 2021  7:20 EST: It was a successful launch. It’s not the fall that kills everybody, it’s the sudden stop. Another data point on the privatization of NASA. My alternate title is “SpaceXplodes.”

Top comments from others: “Eh… ‘at’ll buff right out,” “Needs a giant Bitcoin sticker on it. Then she moons,” “SpaceX is a booming business!”, “Looks like Tesla stock once reality actually takes place,” and “That could be you.”

Ground control to Major Tom, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong…

That’s our taxes going up in smoke over some pie-in-the-sky delusion of grandeur.

This must be why Elon Musk insisted on being interviewed on NBC on MONDAY night, when he didn’t take any GameStop questions either.

Not a reusable rocket. FAIL

Under these results, humanity will never get to Mars. Musk is Trump 2.0.

In this modern-day reboot of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954), Elon Musk is Rocky, and Jared Isaacman is Winky.

Bonus Short: Roy Thinnes in General Hospital circa 1964.

In term of physics, trying to land a rocket on it’s thrusters is like trying to land an airplane on its tail– meaning it’s physically impossible. This is because you can’t control an inverted pendulum in free-fall. But despite multiple miserable failures at this, Elon Musk is not deterred. As in Manhunt in Space (Rocky Jones, renamed), our billionaire entrepreneur must go back the the drawing board and re-discuss all this with his top scientists. The answer is probably in “cold light,” which should never be used indiscriminately.

SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002, and through his political connections, it has become the chief contractor & engineering team for NASA. The space shuttle program formally ended in August, 2011, so that Musk could design his own new vision of the future, which is the privatization of space travel.

Who is SpaceX charging to launch rockets & satellites? In the end, it’s all some form of corporate welfare. This second fireball disaster in less than two months (see video above) is an illustration of the folly, wastefulness & anti-scientific character of NASA under private control.

It used to be when something went wrong with NASA, there would be an explanation. Like on February 1, 2003, when the space shuttle Columbia blew apart on re-entry, killing all 7 crew members. We now know that something as small as a piece of foam insulation breaking off from an external tank, can strike a wing, and cause heat tiles to fall off. When Columbia re-entered the atmosphere, that damage allowed hot gases to penetrate the heat shield. Anyone can understand that.

But NOBODY can explain a fix for what’s happening here with Elon Musk. It’s been over a decade, and Musk still hasn’t delivered a Starship prototype that can land safely. It’s not even close. It’s time for the working people to change the leadership at NASA.

After this 2nd spectacular FAIL, there won’t be any customers for a “reusable rocket” that explodes into smithereens due to physical laws upon re-entry. To be truthful, we’d be further along in manned exploration with the space shuttle program, but Elon Musk had it killed to promote his personal vision, which is a boondoggle.

The only way I could think of promoting Elon Musk’s NASA delusion would be as follows: “Experience of a lifetime!! Your Twitter feed will blow up as you live-stream blast-off! Jettison yourself to the stars for your 15 minutes of fame! Re-entry will be a bummer, but you’ll get a helluva rating. A fifty-share, easy.”

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Boogaloo beatdown

We’ve had live Boogaloos in our WSWS forums for a few days, so I’ve encouraged all regular readers to ask them questions & engage them, as I did. Boogaloos scream to EVERYBODY they are so suppressed and have no voice in the media, until they are asked to explain themselves. Then it’s either silence, ad hominem attacks, and/or rage. They use the ‘big lie’ a lot, and libel opponents who use political science. I’m grateful to the WSWS moderators. What follows are my responses to all their attacks since publication.

The World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) published, “YouTube personality Jimmy Dore promotes fascist Boogaloo Boy” on Friday, January 29. It starts, “On January 24, Dore invited SEP member and World Socialist Web Site Labor Editor Jerry White onto his program to discuss the WSWS’s coverage of a strike of Hunts Point produce workers in New York City…”

It turns out, this was a sleazy bait & switch interview opportunity offered to Jerry White of the WSWS, by Jimmy Dore. It was a misguided attempt by Dore to “unite the left & right.” The WSWS rejects the Boogaloo Boys as gutter politics, as Eric London explains.

Soon after, Nazi Boogaloo trolls began attacking the WSWS, because Jerry White wouldn’t cozy up to reactionary mouthpiece Jimmy Dore. Here’s a truth we’ve learned from all this. When it comes to mutilated Marxist pseudo-babble, the alt-right is better than the liberal left. Crazy stuff like, “Trotsky should have joined with Zinoviev,” etc… These Nazis actually studied for a day or so. That’s more reading than a lot of ‘leftists’ do.

Reactionaries kept posting WSWS articles they clearly hadn’t read, as ‘evidence’ of something [?] bad. They never have a quote, with a specific political criticism, just bluster and their usual tropes. We understand that Jimmy Dore & his crew actually want to be friends, but the problem is we don’t cozy up to Nazis. That’s rule #1 for us.

I asked Boogaloo supporters, “What’s up with your Hawaiian shirts? That was such a bad movie. Just so everyone remembers, the first Electric Boogaloo had rap/hip-hop influence. The sequel compares to Caddyshack II.” A supporter posted this link to Teen Vogue. My reaction was that they can’t even speak for themselves when asked directly, and obviously have no thought-out political program.

One prominent Dore supporter affirmed, “Jerry [White] was wholly ill-prepared for Jimmy Dore and his audience. It was a painful experience.” To which I immediately replied, “Jimmy Dore and his audience are wholly ill-prepared for the WSWS & its audience. It’s been a painful experience for you.”

No quarter to fascists. Question to them, “How do you feel about Boogaloos storming the Capitol as part of the Trump mob on January 6, 2021?” When these people are ready to disassociate themselves from fascist hooligans forever, then we can have a serious dialogue. Until then, we entirely reject all anarchist-syndicalist pseudo-populist demagogy.

Extreme leftists: Can you enlighten us on how anarchism betrayed the Spanish Revolution to the Nazis? Or how discuss the tragic lessons for the working class concerning the end of Che Guevara’s adventurism? Not a word of substantive response will you get from the right or left, on any of this.

Some Boogaloos defend the MeToo campaign and its reactionary feminism, which has been discredited, largely thanks to the WSWS. Kate Randall, Clara Weiss, JoAnne Laurier & Genevieve Leigh are just a few women who write for the WSWS, and support this perspective. There are many more.

MeToo feminists: Harvey Weinstein is Hollywood scum, but he deserved a fair trial, just like anyone else who is accused. Instead, he was tried by a media witch hunt in a kangaroo court. Many MeToo accusers & proponents are now proven liars, but face no consequences for this. The WSWS exposed the filth on all sides of this sordid affair, instead of taking sides, like reactionaries always do.

As to Boogaloos protesting their innocence: Boogaloos are being arrested across the US for assaulting the Capitol. The farce impeachment trial of Trump (chief Boogaloo) begins next week, with overwhelming public support for his conviction. The Boogaloo movement may be protected by fascist elites (called Democrats), but that’s where they are heading– down the drain.

All the Boogaloos combined don’t get a single fact right. It’s a remarkable record. Boogaloos are anti-science, anti-socialist & violence based. Like Trump, they are enabled bullies, who are actually cowards. They never admit defeat until it’s beaten into them, and only when they have no other choice. They exist to betray all their political allies.

Socialist question to all Boogaloos: Why don’t you just admit political defeat, and take your ass-whipping like adults and go home? It would be so refreshing to hear truth from you, instead of vitriol, red-herrings & evasions.

To Jimmy Dore on censorship: The WSWS/IYSSE appealed to its audience, the working class & youth of the world, and their Facebook ban was lifted after 3 days, cited as an “automation error” by Mark Zuckerberg– which no one believes. We didn’t need Boogaloos in that fight, and don’t in any other. They are both the enemy.

Reactionaries ask, “Are you a communist?” We reply, “Yes, in the sense of Marx & Engel’s ‘Communist Manifesto’. But ‘No’ to Stalinism, which represents a worker’s state hijacked by fascism. Hitler represents capitalist fascism, and is comparable to Stalin’s ‘communism.’ This historical materialist understanding of Marxism is called Trotskyism.”

To all the brainy, yet politically confused people: True art is a revolutionary manifestation, in any human era & genre. Fake art is ornamental propaganda. The greatest artists are revolutionary dialecticians. As far as intellectual fakery goes, Theodor Adorno represents the Frankfurt school of post-modernism, etc, and all its murky idealism. The primary feature of this school of falsification is the rejection of dialectical materialism in philosophy, and Marxism in politics, as an instrument for revolutionizing the working class internationally.

Finally, there are Socialist Equality Party organizations on six continents. We are internationalists, and therefore have more diversity than anyone. So we reject the MeToo, BLM & LGBT campaigns, which are all tools of the US deep state. We reject any coalition with white supremacists, anti-vaxxers, anti-Semites, right-wing libertarian guns nuts, and Jesus freaks. They are a small, yet dangerous minority that speak for themselves, and nobody else.

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Gaming the System

Promotional advertisement: What’s in your portfolio? It’s important to be diversified when it comes to investing. You need to do your homework in the market. Talk with as many ‘industry experts’ as possible, and seek out the bargains. Buy low, sell high. Or buy low, and sell lower. Don’t get yourself over-leveraged. A stitch in time, saves nine. A retirement plan doesn’t just happen by itself.

An internet/social media investing start-up named Wall Street Bets has collapsed Melvin Capital, who had a monopoly short-sell position on GameStop. This hedge fund lost its shirt on a short-selling scheme, and is now bankrupt– and it is not the only one. These Wall Street whales are only being kept afloat by Federal Reserve bailout money.

Independent investors (mostly young adults) have organized en masse on social media (Reddit, etc), and have bankrupted these hedge funds with their buying activity. Kids LOVE video games, so when billionaire vulture capitalists try to destroy a company that has deep nostalgic value to so many, this is how kids respond these days. They’re very smart.

From a centrist political perspective, when billionaires are bankrupted by a bunch of kids (WallStreetBets), it’s time for government regulators to step in and ‘correct’ the situation. Just like they did with Napster. A Wall Street whale got slaughtered, and that affects Biden-Harris & the Republicans deeply. This story is being heavily censored, until the narrative can be changed by the fake media. My position is as follows.

BANKRUPT THE BILLIONAIRES!!

PUBLIC SEIZURE OF ALL THEIR ASSETS!!

ALL POWER TO THE WORKERS!!


As this was being published on January 28, ~ noon EST, the stock-trading app Robinhood, suspended trading of GameStop, AMC, Blackberry & Nokia, and then a wave of other flea-ridden dogs such as American Airlines.

Fri 29 Jan 2021 08:40 AM EST

In summary, this is populist capitalist activity which is being hailed as revolutionary action. It’s just like the Boogaloo Boys, etc, with their “freedom fighter” crap. Don’t believe the hype.

But the explosiveness of this event is in the fact that billionaires were negatively affected, so the US government response was to suspend public trading of GameStop, AMC, etc, while hedge funds were still allowed to buy & sell. That’s how these billionaires got off-the-hook from further losses.

Nothing could illustrate the fixed nature of the stock market more clearly. Since rationality left the market long ago, it’s only “confidence” the maintains it. This event calls that vague indicator into question. That’s why this story is being censored so heavily. It was not covered during any of the network news broadcasts (CBS, NBC & ABC) last evening.

Take a careful look at the above screenshot. That’s a story in progress. The billionaires with brains have all re-hedged themselves, with a little help from their friends. They’re staring down the WallStreetBets crowd, and asking them, “Now what?” There will be a lot of losers among the young turks as their stocks crash. It’s the young wanna-be’s vs. the billionaires. This is definitely a war among classes, but the perspectives on both fighting sides are bankrupt. That’s why I only try to analyze the facts to illustrate the follies.

Fri 29 Jan 2021 01:05 PM EST

Robinhood, Charles Schwab, etc, have re-opened trading on all these aforementioned stocks. There are already class-action lawsuits being filed over this, by Robinhood app users. As you can see by the updated screenshot above, this financial speculation war continues.

All this is an example of Libertarian populism, and it’s all-too-similar in nature to cryptocurrency. Who benefits? It’s not the working people. Some of the biggest proponents of Bitcoin, such as Elon Musk, have been inflaming the GameStop discussion on social media. Elon Musk is a fascist, and doesn’t mind seeing a few opposition Wall Street whales get killed. In fact, he enjoys it, and so he takes up with WallStreetBets.

None of this has anything to do with revolution. These are simply a few rogue banksters gaming the system for their own gain, for a few brief moments, until the elites re-take control. If you want to take down the billionaire whales, it must be done by organizing the working class internationally. That’s the only social force powerful enough to win against them & their corrupt system.

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Henry Aaron & home runs

Henry (Hank) Aaron, who passed away yesterday at age 86, is best remembered for breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time MLB home run record, finally finishing with 755, to Ruth’s 714. Aaron broke Ruth’s mark in the face of ugly Jim Crow racism in 1974.

His death is somewhat ironic in its timing, as the MLB HoF balloting is to be announced on January 26, which is next Tuesday. On the ballot again is Barry Bonds, who hit 762 HRs, and was the greatest player ever. And there’s Roger Clemens, who went 354-184, to become the greatest pitcher ever, etc.

But old-timers like Hank Aaron have insisted they be kept out due to PEDs. Except that Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig was the “Steroid Commissioner,” and he’s in the HoF, elected by a committee of Hank Aaron’s peers.

Fans need to understand that there were two coffee pots in the clubhouse– regular, and the one spiked with greenies which was called “leaded.” There were bowls full of amphetamines that you could help yourself to, etc. That’s how the players did it in Hank Aaron’s era, so don’t have any illusions when making past allusions. Most sportswriters looked the other way, just like they (& fans) did when McGwire & Sosa were swatting all their bombs.

There’s no merit to these exclusionist objections, and in fact, they’re hypocritical. A bunch of PED users have already gotten in, and once that happens, you have to let them all in, to be fair. Relatively speaking, there’s much more steroid abuse in the NFL & NCAAF, and it’s gone on much longer. Too few sports fans want to be serious about this, which is why these issues persist.

Henry Aaron was the last Negro League player to go to MLB, before they all folded after integration, which began with Jackie Robinson in April 1947. Hank Aaron played for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1952, before being selected by the Milwaukee Braves. Like Jackie, Hank was a very hard man, due to his early-life circumstances. In the end, baseball fans celebrate his talent, determination & extraordinary courage more than anything. RIP Henry Aaron

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Trump pardons Lil Wayne, but I don’t

Packers fans: Who is better Lil Wayne, or Aikman/Buck?

I took an impromptu straw poll last weekend, and speculated it to be a classic ‘Hillary or Trump’ conundrum, but I learned that Green Bay Packers fans much prefer Buck/Aikman to Lil Wayne. That says something.

Song/video review: Lame beats, stupid rhymes, with no melody hook. All compression in production. Someone tell Lil Wayne this is low-grade dog shit. I’ve heard better music at the ballgame…

He claims he worked on this for three (3) whole days. Lil Wayne says he never takes that long to do a song. Amazing results, huh? How can I be a big rock star like him? If we didn’t have Lil Wayne (and the rest) keepin’ it real, and providing the soundtrack for our lives, what would we have?

Listen to Lil Wayne rap, “Number 12, number 12…”  He probably never heard of Lynn Dickey. No images of him in the video. Typical front-runner fan. Obviously Aaron Rodgers is one of the best NFL QB’s ever, but it’ still disrespectful to ancient Lambeau faithful. There are many of them.

Lynn Dickey was a more-than-adequate QB when he had WR James Lofton, TE Paul Coffman & RB Terdell Middleton. They were a prolific NFL offense for a few years. The problem was their defense & special teams were shit.

Green & gold, green & gold to Trump Tower, baby
Green & gold, green & gold CMB power, baby

Representin’– you know what I mean?

A lot of celebrity rappers apparently bought themselves a pardon. It’s a disgusting lot that was pardoned, in whole. I wonder what Trump wanted for Julian Assange’s pardon? NO support from this gangsta crowd for the WikiLeaks founder. It’s just another reason to dislike Lil Wayne’s latest song, which was only released on YouTube 4 days ago!

      1. Millennial Whoop - Ric Size

 

Donald Trump’s pardoning Lil Wayne and the rest of these black rappers is nothing more than a cash pay-off to Trump, which is how he does business. The white supremacists can’t be happy about this one. Trump has been a very divisive President, no question.

The nuclear football hand-off has been executed and the führer in officially in exile, just like Adolf Hitler after his failed Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923. The political lessons of January 6 won’t be forgotten by the working masses. Fascism is storming the Capitol, then trying to hide from it.

The political question to the fascists from everybody else is, “What is next for your movement?”  Marxists take what Nazis say seriously. You don’t get to use History as a platform, when you don’t know it. Everyone needs to be listening, and very interested in their answer(s).

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Hot Stove Slow Burn

Mostly nothing has been happening on the MLB hot stove because everyone’s attention has been on the International Draft, which began yesterday, January 15. Young, cheap talent gets all 30 MLB GM’s (& their owners) excited. How each team does here, has a huge impact on an organization’s future. This draft has been moved up from July 2, due to COVID-19.

At the major-league level, only the SDP, NYM, ATL & CWS have made any significant roster upgrades, in an attempt to catch the LAD this off-season. As of this publication, the NYY just re-signed DJ LeMahieu (6/$90M), and reportedly just inked RHP Cory Kluber (1/$11M) to replace Masahiro Tanaka.

This treading water still makes NYY the AL favorites, because the TBR dumped ace lefty Blake Snell to the SDP, and HOU is losing free-agent OF’s George Springer (qualifying offer tagged), Michael Brantley, along with RHP Justin Verlander to Tommy John surgery.

When you look at the free agents the CLE, OAK, MIN, TBR are losing, it’s hard to see any of them making a deep run in 2021, without spending some money now. The CHC dumped legitimate #2 starter, Hu Darvish & their back-up catcher to the SDP, for #3 starter RHP Zach Davies & four prospects– none of them pitchers. That dump turned the NL Central into mush.

PHI, TOR & LAA keep saying they’re going to do something, and they might. Plenty of talent available. Trevor Bauer (CIN), JT Realmuto (PHI) & George Springer (HOU) have a qualifying offer (QO) tag on them, meaning they cost a draft pick to sign with another team. NYY offered DJ LeMahieu a QO, and he refused, which gave the Yankees leverage in their negotiations.

If you’ve ever talked about how losing top picks affects a fantasy draft with friends, they’ll all tell you it’s a killer. It’s the same (x10) in MLB. Most GM’s are averse to losing draft picks now. This really limits the market for free agents.

Qualifying offer compensation depends on a complex formula in the CBA, based on revenues, but a team loses either a 2nd or 3rd round pick, (and possibly a later-round pick too) when they sign a QO-tagged FA. This helps recipient teams have great drafts, which puts those organizations ahead of their competition. Example: MIL needs a catcher, and JT Realmuto would work for them, except: 1) their payroll budget isn’t there; and 2) MIL needs their draft picks even more.

The lesson is that the player should almost always accept the QO. It’s becoming more true each winter. Example: RHP Marcus Stroman is smart for accepting his QO. Otherwise, he would have been waiting until after the June Draft as a QO-tagged FA. At $18.9M for 2021, it’s an overpay by the NYM. Next winter Stroman is an unrestricted FA.

Same deal with RHP Kevin Gausman and the SFG. Both teams (Mets & Giants) probably hoped these pitchers would refuse their QO’s, so they could collect a draft pick, but that wasn’t going to happen either way. Unless TOR signs George Springer to a big deal (and they could use him), he could become the next Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, who were frozen-out of free agency by their QO-tag.

The Achilles heel of the NYY is their predominantly right-handed lineup, and fragile/thin pitching staff. Re-signing DJ LeMahieu doesn’t fix that, it entrenches it. Lefty bats are hard to find, as WAS isn’t trading LF Juan Soto, and the NYM aren’t looking to deal OF Dominic Smith. The NYY are too right-handed, and that’s why smart teams like the TBR can run a bunch of tough right-handers onto mound and beat them consistently in 2020.

NYY are now about $10M below the threshold, which they’ve exceeded the past two seasons. Like the BOS in 2020, the 2021 NYY need to stay under that threshold to avoid a huge MLB penalty tax. They’ll need that $10M for call-ups during the season, and possibly a trade deadline deal or two.

This rules out a reunion with RHP Masahiro Tanaka. The SDP are looking for another starter in free agency, and will probably sign him, unless CIN is serious about dealing RHP Luis Castillo. AJ Preller would love to re-acquire the young flamethrower.

It’s coming down to a team making an offer, to nearly any player, who has no other options. If you’re a GM, it’s a buyer’s market for free agent talent, like never before. The question is, how will MLB owners pay for it?

On the field, the LAD & SDP have what it takes to handle the NYY & HOU, with WAS, ATL, NYM & CWS in the second-tier for 2021. Championships are often won in the off-season, and this winter appears to be no exception. Only a few teams are stacked to win a World Series in 2021. The possibility of a third-tier team winning it all is slim, and for a Cinderella, it’s remote.

MLB still hasn’t made a final ruling on the NL DH for 2021, when it’s already the new rule for 2022 & beyond. The universal DH protects pitchers & staff as a whole. It also allows NL rosters to be more flexible. You need both leagues to play by the same rules for it to be a fair game.

All this needs to be understood under the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic which is raging out of control. Sports stadiums are now being used as mass vaccination centers. Is it ethical to interrupt such a life-saving operation to play baseball?

I have friends as season ticket-holders, and they wonder out loud, “How can owners sell fans tickets to games?” Too many states won’t allow it at this point, with California being the most notable. The Dodgers, Padres, Angels, A’s, Giants, etc, may have to find a new home for 2021, and that’s if there’s even baseball at all. The start of the 2021 MLB season will be delayed for sure, that’s the industry consensus.

Tue 19 Jan 2021 10:30 AM EST

Padres get: RHP Joe Musgrove
Mets get: LHP Joey Lucchesi
Pirates get: OF Hudson Head, RHP David Bednar, LHP Omar Cruz, RHP Drake Fellows from the Padres and C/OF Endy Rodriguez from the Mets

RHP Joe Musgrove was another target of the NYY. Reportedly they were also interested in RHP Luis Castillo, but the Reds GM said he’s not being dealt in a statement on January 17, dedicated to quelling the rabid NY media. The asking price for Luis Castillo was surely too high for AJ Preller. The NYY couldn’t acquire either of these coveted young arms, because they don’t have the prospects. All the speculation on this was fake reporting & east coast bias.

Unlike hired-then-fired manager Carlos Beltran last winter, now ex-GM Jared Porter (pic above) had enough time to leave his mark on the Mets franchise. First there was the Francisco Lindor & Carlos Carrasco for prospects deal with CLE, which has been hyped as the biggest deal of the MLB winter. Really it’s a one-year rental on a star SS, with an expensive 3rd-starter thrown in. It’s a ‘Mookie Betts Lite’ salary dump by comparison, and if the NYM don’t sign Lindor to an extension, the question becomes: What did they give up?

Now the Mets just acquired left-handed 6th-starter Joey Lucchesi from the SDP, just as new GM Jared Porter was fired for sending over 60 explicit emails to women staffers several years ago. This is the Amazing Mess. Who is in charge of vetting, and reviewing resumes for MLB front office & management openings in Queens, NY? Why can’t the Mets keep their pitchers healthy? Why does this high-payroll team finish in the second-division year after year? Why are they so poor defensively? None of these realities are ever taken up seriously by the NY media, in their prognostications, nor by those who own this Amazing Mess.

Sat 23 Jan 2021 1:50 AM EST

MLB great Henry Aaron died yesterday at age 86. Here are my thoughts.

It appears the Joe Musgrove-to-the Padres deal was the final big trade of the MLB winter, the last coveted starter available for prospects. The Reds hoped to deal RHP Sonny Gray (2/$20M remaining), but teams were more interested in Luis Castillo (as discussed), so nothing developed there. This turned GM’s back to free agency, and the market has finally started to move.

Since my last update, CF George Springer signed with TOR for 6/$150M, and OF Michael Brantley re-upped with HOU for 2/$32M. SDP fans are pleased AJ Preller re-signed Jurickson Profar at 3/$21M. BOS nabbed LAD utility player Enrique Hernández for 2/$14M. Notice how position-flexible players like Profar & Hernández are valued today.

The remaining starters in free agency are mediocre, injury risks, and/or old. Masahiro Tanaka is probably the second-best option, after Trevor Bauer. It appears the LAA are going to make the reigning NL CY Young Award winner an offer he can’t refuse. The Angels are the team with money to spend that needs Trevor Bauer most, after recently signing LHP Jose Quintana for 1/$8M.

With the top starters decided, or out-of-reach, the market has turned to relievers. Pedro Baez (2/$12.5M w/ HOU), and Kirby Yates (1/$5.5M w/ TOR) were the most coveted bullpen arms, after closer Liam Hendricks signed a 4/$54M deal with the CWS last week. That shows you what’s left in the reliever market, and how quickly it dries up.

JT Realmuto appears heading back to PHI at ~ 5/$110M, unanimously according to industry sources. Lots of free agents speculated to go back to their old teams. Nelson Cruz (MIN), Marcell Ozuna (ATL), Didi Gregorious (PHI), etc. We’ll see. The Phillies have been slow-played this winter in their quest to re-sign catcher JT Realmuto, to the point where they can’t do anything else until this happens. Realmuto would probably like to sign elsewhere after losing in PHI, but he isn’t getting any other comparable offers.

There are still a bunch of mediocre catchers available, and most teams need depth, but no one can make a move in the catcher’s market until the top guy signs. Until then, just about everyone in need, holds out hope they can get him for cheap. That’s how the Cubs got RF Andre Dawson in 1987 for league minimum salary, if you think it can’t happen.

Now that George Springer & Michael Brantley have signed, the outfielder market will get some movement, for these reasons. But outside of the top remaining players, it’s mostly cheap one-year contracts for these guys at this point. That means it’s time for the Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, A’s, etc, to get active.

Penny-pinching teams are looking for bargains, and veterans are being squeezed out of the game. Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Jay Bruce, etc, aren’t getting MLB deals. It’s minor league contracts for these guys, at best. A lot of veteran sluggers are about to announce their MLB retirements over the next few months, they just haven’t accepted it yet.

Summarizing conclusions: The upshot of this is that EVERY team values talent MUCH differently than they did, even as recently as five years ago. Data-driven analytics, started by Bill James in the 1980’s, has opened up new frontiers in competitive baseball. The SDP are now the sexy franchise model, which combines the best of old-school scouting, with metrics & modern money management.

The LAD are the big-market model, but it’s too expensive for most, so teams have to find a different way to compete, and that starts with talent in the minors. Many fans ask, “What’s left of the minors?” That’s another serious baseball question. COVID-19 has encouraged teams to bring up young talent faster than ever, because, 1) they are cheap, and 2) there may be no tomorrow.

Here’s another new GM rule which is helpful to understand. Teams are targeting specific players, in their needs. This means if the targeted player signs somewhere else, GM’s will often leave that market, because the second option(s) at that position isn’t a good fit for the team/organization. Needs are very specific in terms of age, lefty/righty, switch hitters, power, OBP, defense, utility players, stealing bases, etc, whether it’s at a certain position or bench depth. Moreover, money is now too expensive for any MLB owner to waste.

In the end, the game comes down to which GM’s & scouting departments evaluate talent the best? Right now it’s the LAD, TBR, HOU, NYY, ATL & SDP. Here’s another dirty secret the MLBPA doesn’t want fans & their own players to know: the luxury tax is basically a hard cap. The financial & draft-pick penalties get every owner under it after two years, and they don’t ever go back over with the reset, because it’s HARD to get under without breaking up the team. See the Mookie Betts-David Price deal for BOS.

The NYY have signed minor-league contracts with pitchers which they are bringing into spring training to compete for spots [!] on their 26-man roster. This is a team with a $200M payroll. The waiver wire has also been active this winter.  For example: Padres outfielder Greg Allen went to NYY through waivers, to clear roster room for all their big acquisitions, while low-OBP slugger Hunter Renfroe was waived by the Rays, and signed with BOS for 1/$3M. That’s ironic franchise role reversal, from as recently as two years ago.

The Rule 5 Draft had a lot of selections, which surprised some people, but this is how AJ Preller re-built the SDP from winter 2015 through 2018. Saving money, dumping veterans, accumulating draft picks, investing in young talent, properly valuing defense & relievers, being active in the international draft, etc. Basically, leave no stone unturned when it comes to talent acquisition & getting a fair edge. Think outside the box. Exhaust all the less-expensive options before committing to premium free agents. Everyone in MLB has learned, and is applying this method, mostly out of self preservation in 2021. That explains the free agent hot stove slow burn all winter.

Mon 25 Jan 2021 3:55 PM EST

Postscript: Hand job

This is an interesting case in free agency. Elite reliever Brad Hand had a $10M option with CLE after 2020. In a surprise move, Hand was put on waivers by CLE. But he wasn’t picked up, because no one wanted to pay his 1/$10M contract, so CLE had to buy Brad Hand out for $1M, and he became a free agent. Now Brad Hand reportedly has signed with WAS for 1/$10.5M.

Brad Hand gets the million dollars from CLE for the buyout, but has to pay his agent a fee for the new contract & move, so I don’t think he wins in free agency. Brad Hand’s deal with CLE was an AJ Preller contract he signed with the SDP after 2017.

How well did AJP’s player valuation hold up? He nailed it. Brad Hand was selected by Preller off waivers from MIA in April 2016, just before Mike Hill dealt righty pitching prospect Chris Paddack for Fernando Rodney on June 30, because his team needed a closer. Marlins finally have a new GM, but the damage has been done, and it will be a long climb into serious contention for new GM Kim Ng.

I’ll conclude with the Marlins, because they were so much the story in 2020, in being allowed to cancel & reschedule MLB games due to a COVID-19 outbreak among their players & coaches. Instead of forfeiting these contests, as MLB rules instructed, the commissioners office & MLB executives made things up on-the-fly with new “protocol”, etc. The official forfeit score in baseball is 9-0. In football it’s 2-0, basketball 20-0, and ice hockey 1-0.

In a 60-game season, MIA played about half their games as 7-inning double-headers. They were able to plan their rotation & bullpen strategy far ahead of their AL/NL East competitors, who all had to accommodate the Marlins. This was a deciding factor in sneaking the Fish into the post-season in 2020. But it won’t hold up for 162 games, and neither will MLB in 2021 if COVID-19 is still raging, which by all indications it still will be.

Everything I’ve analyzed above is an industry deluded with the irrational idea that baseball can be safely played in 2021. But rational thought no longer matters in politics, it’s only the opinions of the owners that count as ‘authentic news’. MLB is being faced with survival issues, which has completely disrupted the market, despite the clarity that any independent sportswriter can bring to it.

The Fed can’t keep bailing the MLB owners out forever. Without a bailout, or fans in the stands, how are teams going to meet payroll and other big expenses? There are some owners that feel they can manage it, while others are concerned– to say the least. With all this unrest & uncertainty, there’s a high probability of a labor stoppage in MLB this season, which means the minors too.

HoF voting announced tomorrow: I’m a “small-Hall” guy for everything. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones & Jeff Kent are all Hall of Famers. I maintain my steroid line from 2012 with “No” to Manny Ramírez, Sammy Sosa & Gary Sheffield. Mark Buhrle & Andy Pettitte are my borderline guys. Omar Vizquel, and the rest weren’t quite good enough.

Final nugget, just breaking: NYY trades a reliever, along with $850K, and a prospect to BOS, in return for NOTHING. Red Sox pick up $8.15M left on Adam Ottavino’s deal, and send a PTBNL to NYY. Yankees are dumping salary to stay under the luxury tax threshold. Poor player-valuation by Yankees GM Brian Cashman, as this contract didn’t hold up at all, like so many others.

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