SocraticGadfly

May 27, 2020

A timeout from Twitter; and a new one from FB for good measure

I have taken two Facebook timeouts in the past. One was just about a full week. The other was three or four days.

I've never stepped away from Twitter.

But, although it's not the same degree of privacy, and privacy monetization, leech as Hucksterberg, it's a bigger cesspool as far as being a poster child of all that's wrong with social media.

And Jack Dorsey allows much of it specifically to try to monetize it. That's especially true in the case of one Donald J. Trump.

And in the case of promoting a conspiracy theory claiming that then-Congresscritter Joe Scarborough murdered a staffer, Lori Klausitis, Trump has gone further than normal.

And Jack Dorsey went too far himself.

Now, Scarborough, a one-time Trumper, made his bed. While not justifying any conspiracy theory, any Trump bootlicker, even if not a current one, with an iota of brains knows he will turn on you.

But, not only would Jack not remove the Tweets, despite personal pleading, he wouldn't even put the "fake news" tag on them, which he DID later in the day over Trump claiming Michigan and other states were committing voter fraud by expanding vote by mail. Trump response? Typical bully. He threatened to shut down Twitter. Shows Jack what he gets for enabling Trump.

That said, on the Klausitis Tweets, they first started two weeks ago. I guess Scarborough tried approaching Dorsey in private, and nothing happened.

As for Jack? Even by the self-anointed tech guru standards of Silicon Valley, he is a nut. And a grifter. That second link probably explains well Jack's inner "deep state."

Finally, as to Twitter friends who regularly Tweet #DeleteYourFacebook on Twitter? What are you going to do about Twitter? As I have explained above, and per the "later in the day" link, Jack enables Trump because of $$$.

That leaves you two choices.

Boycott companies that advertise on Twitter or
Stop using Twitter, at least temporarily, so those advertisers reach fewer eyeballs.

Well, you have a third choice. And that's to keep enabling Jack Dorsey's cesspool.

I have other reasons to hate Jack and Twitter.

One account of mine was hacked. The hacked version got suspended, but because you can't deactivate a suspended account, the email associated with that is in Twitter limbo. (Jack apparently, though, is unfamiliar with this idea of "burner email addresses.") Another account was suspended because Covington Catholic chuds reported it, my original primary account, in spades. Its handle was "@realDonaldTrump." With the "@" as part of the handle, and the full thing not a name, I charge that this is NOT impersonation, especially when the profile photo was usually one that would piss off the actual Trump.

So, I've got, per Twitter, up to 30 days to reactivate or it deletes. I'll probably use most of it.

Meanwhile, I figured that, for a couple of days at least, I'd take another Fuckbook timeout, to make this more real.

I am also on MeWe ... with four friends. It would probably be more of a cesspool, whether financial or wingnut or both, were it bigger. (Basically, it's the reassembled detritus of Google+.) I've already blocked two wingnuts, one a lying Buddhist or Buddhist-friendly Islamophobe and the other an outright Trumper. Both were in a philosophy of religion group, and both got me a tut-tut from the admin, who is himself a dick, as far as I can tell, starting with half the stuff he lets fly as philosophy of religion. Probably time to leave that group.

And since I don't have my password for it bookmarked on all my browsers at home, that restricts where I use it.

==

As for the issue at hand? Scarborough always has the option of suing Trump.

Yes, yes, Scarborough is a public figure.

But?

It seems pretty clear that this involves
Actual intent of malice and
Reckless disregard for the facts.

Of course, good luck with the jury strikes making sure that you have no more than 1 die-hard Trumper among the 12 people in the box, if it's in most states, or none if it's federal. (And, if this ever actually happened, no way Trump would waive his jury rights.)

Of course, that's why he's not asking. And it's not him leading the push to take them down, it's Klausitis' widower.

Klausitis' widower could also sue, but, in reality? He just wants this to go away.

And, basically, like the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, Jack is deliberately letting family members be injured.

The Libertarian Lady is not for turning

Libertarians nominated Jo Jorgensen for president, a long-ago VP candidate and NOT an ex-Republican, on the fourth ballot. Libertarians did a virtual convention for president and veep ONLY; the original plan for an all-virtual convention was derailed when some legalistic LPer cited bylaws, so they'll meet in person for other quadrennial business. (Does this surprise you?)

Just because she's their first woman nominee doesn't make her anything but the typical hardcore Libertarian, per a Reason interview. (Don't ever, EVER forget Maggie Thatcher, per the header.)

She makes the No True Scotsman claim that healthcare needs free markets to actually work. Actually, a good socialist like me knows that insurers are but lightly regulated. Pretty free market. And abusive. But, doctors and hospitals, ordering unnecessary tests out of a mix of capitalist grifting and fear of L/libertarian type lawsuits, are also part of the problem.

As ProPublica has written in detail? Capitalism in American health care is part of why poor black folks with diabetes gets amputations at a rate far higher than whites.

Beyond that, capital L's, many small-l libertarians back national health care. Like Hayek! Boom. (Though, unlike me, I am sure no libertarian of small or capital l's backs a National Health System here in America.) And, while some small l's support national health care, I have NEVER met a capital-L political candidate who does. This is surely another reason why Europeans who call themselves libertarians stare at American libertarians as though they were three-headed goats or something.

She blames governments for air pollution. (More below.) She kind of admits global warming is real while saying "I don't want to talk about how we got here." Why not, pray tell? Are you a secret defender of the scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change and afraid to drive away some Libertarians? The reality is that, the reason why we got here is generally related to how bad you think it is, and then in turn to how serious of a response you deem to be needed.

As for nukes helping climate change? No, free markets won't help there; no power company wants to build a nuke plant without even more federal guarantees. Seriously, LPers in general are like Vermin Supreme's ponies in believing that a truly free market would solve all sorts of verschnizzle it wouldn't. Beyond that, there's some good scientific articles about how supply restrictions on various metals in reactor construction means that, while nukes could maybe replace what's left of the world's current coal-fired electricity, they realistically can't go beyond that.

(IMO, they're also in denial about the wind-up-the-world-like-a-clock Deist deity that lies behind Adam Smith's invisible hand and has been refuted by quantum mechanics. They're also in denial about how Enlightenment-era ideas of human rationality have been refuted by modern psychology, and scientifically refuted by behavioral psychology. [And no, an average of all wandering paths on this doesn't produce a species-wide averaged-out Homo economics rationalis, it just produces a species-wide naturally irrational critter.])

Her platform also has an outright lie about most pollution being in developing countries. The US is the King of Trash. So, no, it's not governments, per above; no, it's not developing countries; it's the most rampant types of capitalism that are the problem. If she means air or water pollution? Well, it's the regulatory state that's addressed that, NOT unfettered capitalism. We all know that big business in the U.S. has fought any, every, and all regulatory measure to control air and water pollution over 50-plus years.

She has an outright lie of another sort on poverty. She notes that from 1959-69 the US cut poverty rates in half. THAT is true. This is not:
However, after the war on poverty was fully implemented in the early seventies, progress stopped.
Other than Nixon's Earned Income Tax Credit, most of the War on Poverty was stopped after LBJ left office. Some of it was slowed by LBJ even before leaving because of Vietnam. The ProPublica piece above details some of Nixon's budget cutting on health care. Whether the "War on Poverty" really could have been won or not, we'll never know, because it was never fully tried, never "fully implemented."

And a third lie. No, the Department of Education hasn't failed. What's failed is colleges making themselves into Big Biz and the government not actually funding more of the costs of a collegiate education. Add in "credentialism" and voila.

All of this is why, when Greens talk about making an "alliance" with Libertarians, I strictly insist that that would only be on a case-by-case basis, and would almost certainly just boil down to selected civil liberties areas. And, contra many Greens, re the horseshoe theory of politics on COVID et al, my "selective" would be more selective than theirs. (Note: I may officially declare myself an independent leftist later this year over a variety of issues. The SPUSA would be my next stop. Within the GP, I am definitely a "watermelon Green.")

Also, as for Greens hankering for such an alliance? Libertarians rarely play up this idea. Besides, who would want to ally with a party even more disorganized than Greens? (I refer to Libertarian delegates not being pledged. Contra this piece, since Green delegates ARE pledged, non-duopoly parties can do exactly that. And, no, this isn't a coronavirus issue; Libertarian delegates have been unpledged in the past.)

And, beyond that, the LP lived up to its old nutbar roots by nominating Vermin Supreme acolyte Spike Cohen as its Veep. NY Mag has more.

Let's add a "disorganized" note here. Jorgensen and Cohen are both from South Carolina. THAT's constitutional. BUT, should the LP slate win any states, electors from that state can, per the Constitution, vote for only one or the other.

"Congrats" to Libertarian delegates, who like to shout "unconstitutional" all the time, for their constitutional ignorance.

This is expanded over my original post. It's been a while since I've gone in depth like this. Probably one-third of the reason I did so is suggested in the paragraphs about the thought processes of some Greens.

May 26, 2020

Texas Progressives: Coronavirus, week 11



Good piece here, as Tex-ass reopens more and more, what the risks are at various venues.

Grocery shopping, even as the Great Costco Mask War and other things took off last week, isn't that high of a risk, the expert says. The top four?
Family and friends parties. In other words, the backyard cookout or whatever, if you've got 20 people there. Why? IMO, it's because you're all close together on an extended basis, not momentarily, and you're saying to yourself "We're all family and friends."
Bars. Duh. Unhealthy anyway.
Theaters and sporting events. Also duh.
Churches and other religious events. #MAGA! #ThoughtsAndPrayers! #GodWillProvide!

Lowest risk, besides being outside hiking, walking, etc.
Grocery shopping, so chillax a bit. But don't get complacent. That said, the CDC itself now says that, outside of violating social distancing, grocery shopping is definitely low risk.
Mail service.
Dining outdoors, with appropriate social distance.
Just a bit above those? Beaches, but again, with social distancing, which lots o ppl don't want to do.

Here's a similar piece from NPR if you hit a BI paywall or Javascript on the first.

Finally, a note that Texas is among 24 states either with, or projected to have, a new "surge." That's from new Imperial College London modeling. (For MAGAs who scoff? Stop misrepresenting its initial study.)

====

Texas

I am shocked there is gambling going on in this Gov. Strangeabbott establishment. Abbott is letting antibody testing, which has a bad false positive rate even on the best tests, count as part of coronavirus testing, which is only really supposed to be based on tests for the presence of the virus itself. How soon before other Red State govs follow suit, if they're not doing it already, then get President Hydroxy to give it his blessing? Meanwhile, the state UNDERcounts active cases, mainly by prisoners in many counties who are infected not being counted.

Texas collegiate sports appear ON for the fall at the UT, A+M and Tech systems.

UIL is letting summer camps start June 8. Expect information for fall public school sports after its June 16-17 meetings.

Sanford Nowlin finds Greg Abbott fibbing about how Texas handles COVID testing data.

A Houston church has shut back down after its primary priest died and three other Redemptorists who serve the parish tested positive.


National

By wasting one week of time, in not getting social distancing started that much earlier, Trump may have helped kill 36,000 people.

Chris Wallace ripped Toady Birx to shreds Sunday. The one missing question? WHY is she a toady?

Ed Yong notes that the rate of growth of cases, and their sources, shows more and more an American patchwork.

Trump's Homeland Security folks are trying to accelerate deportation of children of Ill Eagles back to unsafe conditions. At the same time, for adults? A COVID explosion at an ICE detention center west of Abilene has infected 25 percent of detainees.

On closure of churches, in California, the Ninth Circuit has weighed in. Score? Gavin Newsom 1, Donald Trump ZERO.

May 25, 2020

Memorial Day: The civil war before the Civil War

What is there that's not been said before, here and elsewhere, about Memorial Day?

It's for the war DEAD, not all veterans, and it was originally for the UNION dead after the Civil War, sadly despoiled by the Lost Cause and its redivivus among the alt-right today.

So, I offer up the civil war before the Civil War — the American Revolution, focusing on Vol 1 of Rick Atkinson's planned new trilogy, and an expanded version of my Goodreads review.

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I was originally, when I finished, thinking three stars. But seeing how the "stanners" were rating this almost entirely five stars, with little in the way of nuaced, but favorable, four-star reviews, I had to counterbalance that. Per what follows, here's why, with detailed receipts

Rick Atkinson seems to be prepped to offer a storyteller’s three-volume history of the American Revolution. Well, if volume 1 is indication, he may be suffering from dilettantism and pretentiousness in his storyteller style. (“Prolix” was a word used by another reviewer.) In addition, the book has a few other issues.

First, the stylistic ones.

A firelock is a generic term for a whole historical list of pre-percussion cap long guns. A Brown Bess is normally known as a flintlock.

Yes, the world “firelock” may well have been used back then, along with “flintlock.” But, Atkinson offers only one direct quote.

This one alone I found almost as grating as Gregory Wawro shouting “doughboys” or just “doughs” every five pages in his WWI book “Sons of Freedom,” as reviewed by me here. But it wasn’t the only stylistic problem.

Talking of Hessian bands playing “hautboys” is snooty and incorrect at the same time. The French is “hautbois.” The alternative English is "hoboy" but was pretty much replaced by “oboe” by or shortly before the time of the Revolutionary War, with first documented English use in 1726. Besides again, “oboe” is the word in German.

In addition, direct-quoting Col. Rall in German on one page, then in English on the next, just three paragraphs later, looks like a mix of dilettantism and simply silliness.

Kind of a sneering take on Lord Stirling, who had had a Scottish court recognize his claim before the House of Lords overrode it. The fiscal pretentions may have been aristocratic, but they were based on a real titular claim.

Ditto on calling Hamilton’s mother a sugar islands harlot. Rather, she and his father were, essentially, common-law spouses since she left her husband for him until James Hamilton abandoned her. She did have an affair of some sort with one other man, also single, before James Hamilton. Here's the details. None of this makes her a “sugar islands harlot.” And, if he’s just repeating a trope from the Hamilton musical, then that’s lazy history.

Taken in conjunct with the Stirling sneer (as far as him being a spendthrift, one Thomas Jefferson was, too, as representative of the nobility-pretentious Southern American planter class), pretentious might not be right. "Supercilious," maybe?

That's the main literary issues, but I could have cited more. The Hamilton and Stirling ones go beyond literary to just bad or at least not good history.

There's one main history issue, with many parts.

Guns.

Yes, SOME of Michael A. Bellesiles’ research was fraudulent. Not all of it. The cost of a gun as two months’ wages has IMO not been refuted. There was a reason the colonies were desperate to import guns at the start of the Revolution — there weren’t THAT many in America. Also, while Bellesiles may have made up will registries, his refuters fail to tell what percentage of colonial Americans died intestate — and, presuming these were mainly poor, how that influences the gun ownership percentages.

Rifles? Atkinson neglects to tell how slow they were to be reloaded and other things, until the last chapter. Readers might be wondering if they were that much more expensive than guns, or why they weren't used more. (They WERE more expensive, but that wasn't the only reason.)

Speaking of guns, while I know what 3-pounders, 6-pounders, etc., are, Atkinson could have done a better job of explaining them for more basic readers. And even for more advanced readers, he could have explained the range of an average 6-pounder of 1775 based on typical 1775 gunpowder. Ditto, of course, for other guns. And, if he's really wanting to write a three-volume, basically military, history of the revolution, tell me the penetration power against, say, brick, of a 12-pounder at 300 yards.

And also on the historical side, as one other reviewer notes, American Indians are almost entirely missing from the narrative. Yes, they didn't have a major part pre-1777, but they were in the picture more than Atksinson paints.

Finally, a "scope" issue.

Is this primarily a military history? If so, there's too much "padding" at times on what's happening in Privy Council on London, on details of Franklin's trip to Paris and more.

If not, maybe a few more words on the Continental Congress and the Declaration? On the invasion of Quebec, if you're quoting people, did any Frenchmen above the habitant level leave diaries? What did they think of the invasion?

This is a “marker” for Atkinson, whose WWII books I have generally liked, even if they were somewhat American triumphalist in style. Drop the snootiness, pretentiousness and dilettantism in the next two books of the trilogy or, if I even skim them, the ratings will be even sterner. (And don’t go further down the triumphalist road; I saw bits of that already here.)

On the plus side, he has an excellent explainer of the series of battles subsumed under the Battle for New York. His description of the flight across the New Jersey countryside is also good. But that doesn't counterweigh a bunch of problems.

===

Next, because Atkinson speaks little about slavery in 1775, including not telling you that Northern as well as Southern rebels were slaveowners?

Here's a book to rectify that.

The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of AmericaThe Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America by Gerald Horne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a powerful, scholarly, well-informed overview of how the pervasive spread not just of slavery, but of slavery of Africans, was importantly connected to the American Revolution.

As part of this, Home shows that, decades before the Somerset decision of 1772 that freed a slave brought from Virginia to England, Americans (or proto-Americans, or mainlanders) feared just such a ruling.

Home leads up to this by showing that both the colonies and London, before 1700 in the Caribbean and by soon after on mainland North America, the English feared that France and Spain would encourage English slaves, in both locations, to either revolt or run away. Next came struggles on wanting to control slaves vs. having ever more of them brought into slavery.

Other subcurrents run through this. Until 1689, the British Crown had a monopoly on slave trading. After that, private traders gradually began taking more of the trade. That, in turn, connected to relations between the British sugar islands in the Caribbean and the mainland.

Meanwhile, the 1700s have three major wars between Britain and the two Catholic powers, who also generally seemed to view Africans with not quite as much disfavor and given them a few more chances at emancipation.

All of this ties together after 1763, when France and Spain no longer threaten the American colonies. Nine years later, Somerset squares the circle ... even as slave owners north, like John Hancock and James Otis, as well as those south, talk about rights and hint at revolution.

===

A non-American reading or two of the Revolutionary War, as far as the big picture, not just the military one, is never bad. Here's a good one from about a decade ago.

Scars of Independence: America's Violent BirthScars of Independence: America's Violent Birth by Holger Hoock

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is not a totally chronological history, though it follows that general order. It is in no way a military history.

Rather, it's about violence leading up to, and during, the American Revolution. Hoock, being a native of the Netherlands, is positioned for some type of "neutrality." (Several years ago, I read one British book of the period; from the British POV, it could be called the British Civil War.)

People who know this period are familiar with things like tarring and feathering of Stamp Act agents, etc., by Patriots. That's Hoock's starting point.

He deals with violence against other civilians by both Patriots and Tories, and by Continentals/militias and Redcoats/Hessians alike.

The civilians were about equally bad. Washington's troops weren't as bad as the British, but weren't perfect, and, of course, many Revolutionary theaters of action had troops not under his command. This includes American atrocities against Indians in New York.

I don't know if the number of relatively low ratings is in part due to some people not liking to hear all this message, or what.

==

That British history? This.

War for America: The Fight for Independence 1775-1783War for America: The Fight for Independence 1775-1783 by Jeremy Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The "Revolutionary War from a British history perspective

The only reason I didn't give this five stars is that I wish it had more depth. But, on the other hand, that does make it an easy read, and also, as more of a popularizing than academic historian, that's more Black's style.

As it is, Black goes more in depth into the Southern theater of operations than many American historians do. Without toppling Washington from any rightful pedestal, as part of this, he gives adequate coverage to Nathanial Greene and other American Continental Army and militia commanders.

With a little more depth/length, I probably would have liked to see more review and analysis of British Cabinet discussions and such, along with a British analysis of the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Paris.



View all my reviews

May 24, 2020

Off the Kuff is off his rocker on Biden and Texas

Joe Biden is going to put Texas into play in November, it seems. Actually, Donald Trump is putting it into play for him and it remains to be seen if Biden can keep it in play.


Piece of advice No. 1 for Biden's minders? Make sure that he NEVER goes on a Hispanic version of Charlamagne tha God, that is, Lenard Larry McKelvey. Maybe Stace Medellin might be "safe."

Texan political analyst of long standing Cal Jillson says that if Biden DOES win, he'll likely have won 40 other states as well.

Kuff thinks Jillson is making an overstatement when he scoffs. OK, a bit of hyperbole, but no more, Kuff. If Biden wins Texas, he's won 35 others, not 40. Your own map agrees, Kuff.

So does the Chron's Jeremy Wallace, author of the piece:
Don’t count Texas on that battleground list yet. But Democrats see an opportunity they haven’t had in decades.
Yep, we heard this all two years ago with Robert Francis O'Rourke. The reality was that ALL Dems except Loopy Lupe Valdez ran about as close to Republicans as did O'Rourke.

Trump wasn't directly on the ballot in 2018, with either the stupidity of his actual presidency or the power of the presidency as an instititution. And one poll has shown Biden with a lead, which Beto never had.

That said, Beto had charisma Biden doesn't, and while he said his own dumb things at times, they were different dumb things that didn't get immediate rebukes.

I don't laugh at Kuff the way Brains and DBC do on his digging in the statistical weeds, but, I'm totally with them in noting that if it's Democratic nominee, Kuff runs them up the flagpole and salutes.

The big issue will be if, trailing by 3-4 points consistently in September and early October, Biden pounds money down a rathole like Hillary did in 2016. His odds appear better on Arizona.

Maybe if Biden, per Katha Pollitt's dreck at the Nation, boiled him some babies in other states, her saying "I would vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them." .... Meanwhile, Jonathan Turley, sure to raise Dem hackles even more, compares that statement to Trump's "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody." He's half right. But, later in his column, apparently rejecting that Emmet Sullivan actually can interrogate the DOJ prosecutors when they formally appear before him to seek dismissal of charges against Michael Flynn, Turley shows how he can indeed get stuff wrong.

A reminder from a Team Obama economist, Jason Furman, that the deep bust right now could be followed by almost as big a rebound. Biden's staff is already taking note, or notes. 

May 23, 2020

The full story of 'Roe,' Norma Jean McCorvey

Texas Observer gives its take on the last chapter in the life story of Norma Jean McCorvey — how the "Roe" of "Roe v. Wade" has said she never had a true pro-life conversion but did it for the money, as detailed in "AKA Jane Roe."

Well, I think she did it for two reasons, the second of which she admits through her full story. It was also for the attention. That's even if she didn't want to admit that.

She had it indicated to her, and apparently told to her, she was an unwanted child. She was an adult child of an alcoholic. She was also lesbian.

So she stuck out like a sore thumb all through school.

And, after the Roe decision? Many pro-choice groups, like 1960s and 1970s feminists in general, were wary of lesbians. And, she was uneducated. And poor. And already perhaps a bit mentally unstable.

And, ripe for the picking by Flip Benham. That's the way these people work.

Per the Observer, the CBS documentary does seem to miss something on the alleged conversion explainer. I think it's missing two somethings.

One, it's missing more depth on or about that anti-choice folks. Of course, if many of them refused to talk, there's only so much you can do.

It's missing something from McCorvey, though, as well. Did the antis, like the pro-choice side, toss her away and ignore her after peak political utility.

But of course!

Caitlin Cruz does note that McCorvey's "collateral damages" weren't mentioned.

She ended her romantic relationship with her lover, Connie Gonzales, and they became "just friends." And apparently, even as McCorvey secretly backslid again from the anti-choice movement, for fear of public exposure, that was never resumed.

And, sadly for McCorvey, unless she signed some contractual disclosures that said she'd have to pay back some money if she publicly backslid, she took 15 minutes of fame pseudo-attention over the real attention of a love relationship.

And, that's collateral damages from child abuse.

IndieWire notes the movie also doesn't give more voice to McCorvey, or more insight into her personal life, on the issue of her own children.

==

The antis have spoken elsewhere already, though, re the Observer. They claim that the documentary was manipulative, in a typical pots-and-kettles response. My sister said she was appalled when she heard about the money payments (none of which is denied by the anti-choice zealots). My stance is that being appalled by something is based in part on being shocked by it. Of course, I'm not. That said, it was the Protestant fundy types that were manipulative. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, said he long knew she was a more complicated person, and that he doesn't think she abandoned her "move."

THAT then said, Slate notes that the documentary itself portrays McCorvey as a complex person. Methinks they doth protest too much. And if they don't like it? Make your own "counter-documentary." And, if you want it to be a real one? Per the link above, see if McCorvey's daughter will talk.