SocraticGadfly

October 22, 2020

Texas Progressives are eyeballing the election run-up

With early voting now more than halfway done, it's time to take stock of election issues in Texas and beyond as well as other things happening in the area.

So, with that, the Texas Progressives digs in to this week's roundup.

Houston regional

Schaefer Edwards looks at a Houston plan to fight flooding and climate change by planting a ton of trees.

Jen Rice categorizes Harris County drive-through voting locations by their fast food counterpart.

Texana

The Texas Observer is trumping the Texas Tribune in helping out Texas newspapers. It's starting an Indigenous Affairs desk, edited by nationally known American Indian journalist Tristan Ahtone. The helping local newspapers part? Its stories will be available for free to Texas papers.

Somebody call Greg Abbott. Texas is No. 1 and not Californicated — in medium and large city residents lacking health insurance. Somebody call Joebamacare Biden, too.

Texas politics

Via David Bruce Collins, the Dallas Snooze actually gets third parties and candidates basically right! Interviewing an actual third party candidate helped a lot.

ConservaDem Lulu Seikaly (she IS, Texas Observer, per your own story) hopes to flip CD4 in Collin County from smiley-faced wingnut Van Taylor. Sadly, she might win where Lorie Burch didn't win 2 years ago, and become another Colin Allred.

Off the Kuff interviewed Rep. Lizzie Fletcher about her action-packed first term in office.

Speaking of Colin Allred? Shock me that his opponent this year, Genevieve Collins, is as semi-clueless as Daddy Dick Collins, with whose Park Cities silver spoon she was born with in her mouth.

Chris Hooks looks at some Texas House races that are key to Dems' hopes to flipping it.

Ed Espinoza shows how Texas added nearly two million registered voters since 2016.

John Cornyn claims he disagreed with Trump "in private." That drew much laughter on Twitter, including my evocation of his old Corona comments:

In reality, he's far from alone. GOP Senate candidates are scurrying to flee the Trump Deck as the ship looks more and more likely to go under. That includes Mitch McConnell's ship as well as Trump's, as pundits currently offer odds-on chances of the Dems making McConnell minority leader again. Speaking of ...

National, political

Dems will need to flip three of those Senate seats if Biden wins — four if Alabama's Doug Jones loses as expected. Here's the likely ones, with my personal take. Collins? Toast. McSally? Toast. Gardner? Likely toast. Tillis? Possible toast.  Ernst? Bread is in the toaster slots. Graham? Likely to stay on. Both Georgia races could go to runoffs. Even without either one of them, Dems have two definite pickups and a likely. Surely one of the possibles will be the fourth they need.

Meanwhile, Biden has more and more money to spend on national teevee. How long will his coattails be in some states?

But, who really cares? My Twitter take on Sunday:

And, for a variety of reasons, I chose not to register to vote at my current address, so, per Timothy Leary, I have "tuned in, turned on, and dropped out," that last being hinted at by me four weeks ago. That includes you, Howie Hawkins, as a variety of micro- and mesoaggressions or whatever coming a bit from him, but more, his campaign and advisors and GP national have just left me uninterested. Sorry to David Bruce Collins and Kat Gruene, the other two statewide GP candidates, but if Ruth Hughs and SOS career staff hadn't screwed the pooch, you wouldn't be on the ballot anyway, and reading between the lines on the state Supremes, if you won, it might be all in vain anyway. (It is true I could have written in Gloria la Riva among alternatives. That said, I don't know the details of her stances vis a vis China, either, but I can take a guess.)

Otherwise, Democrats? I mean it all on that tweet. And, while Biden is targeting older voters, how many younger "Nones" will this new #BidenBelieves finish turning off if they were already kind of cold?

Michael Arceneaux explores the visceral loathing that older Black folks have for Donald Trump.

Paradise in Hell once again channels Donald Trump.

National, non-political

MUST READ: Andrew Cockburn details the decades of accumulation of presidential emergency powers, and the winks and nods Congress has engaged in since the 1970s to enable their continued expansion. No wonder Nixon said, "It's not illegal if the president does it." In many cases, already then, he was technically correct.

Is the surge in gender self-identification really driven by capitalism at end? This piece argues yes, and I'll have a breakout on it later. (Short version: I generally agree, though with some nuances versus the story. And, per my support of the Georgia Green Party, while I'm not "gender critical," I am "gender skeptical," and note that sex is not gender. Period.

What happens when you try calling most the people in Jeffrey Epstein's not-so-little black book? This.

Global

Don't look now, but for better or (more likely) for worse, Evo Morales is back, at least in the background.

October 21, 2020

Third quarter blogging updates

Removed? Sabine Hossenfelder for a WAY OFF THE WALL screed against climate science news stories, that shows her to be either too fucking dumb or too fucking lazy to distinguish news and opinion stories, first, and second, if we followed her logic, could be used to support coronavirus anti-masking because news stories that say science says you "should" mask are wrong and more.

Removed? The RSS feed and the link to John Horgan's old, now killed, Cross Check blog. Scientific American has folded him under a general "opinion"with others there.

Came closer to removing Ted Rall, but he's still hanging on right now.

October 20, 2020

Coronavirus, week 29: How the CDC became Trump's toady

We start off this week with a long read from ProPublica on the header's subject.

The nutgraf actually comes just after the true breaking point incident:

When the next history of the CDC is written, 2020 will emerge as perhaps the darkest chapter in its 74 years, rivaled only by its involvement in the infamous Tuskegee experiment.

That breaking point?

At the time of Memorial Day, the CDC posted guidelines for churches. They included warnings that things like choir singing were potential superspreader actions. And, the Trump Administration, which had already issued its "guidelines" for the CDC's guidelines that omitted things like this, said its guidelines were "not optional." And ... the CDC caved.

And, despite saying that it wouldn't again? It kept caving.

Employees spoke openly about their “hill to die on” — the political interference that would prompt them to leave. Yet again and again, they surrendered and did as they were told. It wasn’t just worries over paying mortgages or forfeiting the prestige of the job. Many feared that if they left and spoke out, the White House would stop consulting the CDC at all, and would push through even more dangerous policies. 
To some veteran scientists, this acquiescence was the real sign that the CDC had lost its way. One scientist swore repeatedly in an interview and said, “The cowardice and the caving are disgusting to me.”

Agreed.

Related? A new documentary reveals details about how Nancy Messonnier was "disappeared."

Supposedly, the previously ball-less head of the FDA, Dr. Stephen Hahn, is now trying to keep it away from the CDC's fate. Is it too late for him to make up for his previous gonad self-digestion?

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Meanwhile, the numbers continue to climb again nationally, and Fauci says "too high" as fall progresses.

And, cases requiring hospitalization climbed here in Texas last month

Maybe that's because ...

As  SocraticGadfly says that at least in his personal experience, Gov. Strangeabbott’s coronavirus safety protocols for events to be held are basically Kabuki theater.

And, Financial Times tried to get to the bottom of the early days and weeks of the coronavirus in Wuhan, all while battling the Xi Jinping Though (Police). Gist of the issue? Xi is not entirely to blame, but his increasingly authoritarian style plus bad communications between Beijing and the Politburo on the one hand, and Hubei provincial, county and Wuhan city officials on the other, exacerbated the problem. And, contra Xi-stanners, no, again, this isn't just Western propaganda, including Chinese remaining fearful of talking.

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Because of all of this and more? It would be hard to argue with this expert that the next 6-12 weeks could be the worst of the entire pandemic (to date).

And, does Twitter deleting a Scott Atlas Tweet really stop COVIDIOCY?

And, speaking of COVIDIOCY? Orac rips to shreds the Great Barrington Declaration. It's not "great"; the town of Great Barrington, where the COVIDIOTS drafted it, explicitly repudiated it at a local government meeting; and, beyond the nuttery of herd immunity, which I saw 10 days ago when first reading it, the fact that the word "mask" is nowhere to be found shows just how politicized it is.

And, COVIDIOTS are on the rise in Cooke County and other smaller counties in Texas. Scary ones are places like this and Hopkins County that are not totally removed from the Metroplex but acting like they are on things like this.

Hey, Cooke County COVIDIOTS? Wisen up

The county is issuing a new round of free coronavirus testing

This round, unlike previous rounds of free testing at North Texas Medical Center, is NOT limited to first responders, or first responders, area medical personnel, etc.

It's free to EVERYONE.

Why?

The shit is hitting the fan. And I quote
A commenter: Is there going to be an update today on our total numbers?
And, the response:
Cooke County Pandemic Information Page Kristy Jones Spainhour it will be later tomorrow morning than usual. We are adding quite a few.
Again, wisen up, COVIDIOTS. Tomorrow would be today. Monday cases were 90. Active cases as of last Friday were 72. We'll see how big the jump is. Of those 72, more than 40 percent, or 31, were under the age of 40. And, that was a jump from 58 on Thursday. And 35 earlier last week.

And, it's "nice" that Democrats, like one with a Ginsburg photo as their icon, can pass around false information just like the Trump Train riders. Hey, Cooke County Ginsburger? Masks DO protect you from other people as well as protecting other people from you.

Oh.My.God. America is officially a failed nation.

(To be semi-fair, it's not just Cooke County among semi-rural North Texas sites. Wise County is also reporting big new spikes. That would tie back to Cooke, as CASA of North Texas had a confirmed case at a fundraiser in Decatur.)

October 19, 2020

'Melanin and Me,' er 'Melania and Me': Resist a read

Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady

Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is an updated and expanded version of my Goodreads review, where I said that I was torn between one and two stars.

I occasionally turn book reviews into blog posts, but much more commonly with in-depth intellectual books.

But, because The.Resistance.™ (I see what I did in this blog post's title) has touted this baby, this is the rare occasion where I do that with a political book.

Let me start by saying that, by the 50-page mark, I not only felt no more sympathy for pre-White House Melania Trump than before (which was basically zero), but was feeling less and less for author Stephanie Winston Wolkoff by the page.

I also switched from reading to skimming and grokking. No way I wanted to plow through this boring nightstand read word for word.

Wolkoff calls herself a people pleaser. I'd use two other, closely related words, instead. One is "suck-up" and the other is "sucker."

On the suck-up side? She worked for First Lady Melanin for free for a reason. Access, or beyond that, exposure. And, rich people can work for the coin of "exposure." You and I can't. The name-dropping of couturiers, etc., makes it clear to this reader that Wolkoff, with her Anna Wintour connections (also name-dropped repeatedly) that she liked this "exposure." And, since that's the way "society" New York City works, I have little doubt she hoped to turn this exposure into money. And, maybe, despite bemoaning her legal fees, etc., she DID! And, I'm sure that she's already making a penny off her getting dumped. She may not be a biological descendant of Harry Winston, but she got enough skin in the game.

On the sucker side? Not every people pleaser is a sucker. Actual or self-alleged people pleasers who are in a position to stop it, and keep doing it anyway, are suckers. They're even more suckers when they try to make excuses over being just a people pleaser. To put it more bluntly? Claiming you're a people person when you're really a sucker who's a busted suck-up is a high level of passive aggressiveness.

The fact that Wolkoff knew who the Donald was in advance and still voted for him speaks volumes, including that she almost certainly knew who Melanin was all along but thought "it will never happen to me."

Shock me, though, that media glitterati like Anderson Cooper and Madcow Maddow would be suckers for this book, per this review.

As for Melanin?

Not only do I not have any more sympathy for her than before, I have less. In Wolkoff's telling, she comes off as even more sociopathic in some ways than Donald. And that's hard to do.

As for other tidbits, like Ivanka supposed sabotaging Melanin's speech that plagiarized Michelle Obama? Somebody on Ivanka's staff might do that. Ivanka herself might have signed off, if she heard about it. But Ivanka's too dumb to orchestrate that. That said, the belief that she would says something, both about what Wolkoff thinks about Ivanka and about the lengths she would go to, to defend Melanin.

So, actually, the tidbits I learned are probably the only thing keeping this from a one-star rating.

Seriously, if you're a #TheResistance Dem, and you "need" this book to help fight Resistance battles, you're almost as bad off as Wolkoff.

Speaking of, in today's new era? With her having name-dropped the likes of Harvey Weinstein? How much "enabling" has Wolkoff done elsewhere? 

And, this good capitalist also wants to know how much of an advance Wolkoff got for this book, and how far in advance she and Simon and Schuster kept this thing on the QT with the early fall publish date as a target?

This good skeptic also wants to know how much of the book was actually written by SWW and how much is a ghosting product?

View all my reviews

October 16, 2020

Safety protocols are coronavirus Kabuki theater

That's far more true than the Kabuki of temperature taking, which leads me to the main point.

North Texas Oktoberfest event.

Held in a technically not enclosed but yes semi-enclosed performance hall. It's a big rectangular building with commercial double-wide garage door openings on both long sides for vendors to move in and out, etc.

Early October, sunny weekend, so everything is open. 

Nonetheless.

You're running a good 1,000 people in there at a time.

The "safety plan," approved by local government, includes neither
1. Temperature taking;
2. Mask mandate in the semi-enclosed area.

The safety plan was approved before Trump shot himself in the foot, but, it was still too weak even with that.

After the fact of his diagnosis? Not stiffening it up, even if you were worried about enforcement work, etc.? Semi-criminal, all in the name of greed if you were worried about scaring people away.

And, giving it's in the middle of #TrumpTrain land, a refusal to do the work needed to go beyond the tissue paper of the approved plan smacks as being close to denialist.