SocraticGadfly

August 13, 2020

Texas progs lasso Paxton, Abbott, John Sharp, Sul Ross

Plenty of weirdness at the state and national levels for this week's Roundup, a lot of it related to voting and elections issues, others to social justice.

And with that, let's dig in.


Texas

SocraticGadfly looks at Texas GOP coronavirus tea leaves and rumbllings and offers his initial wondering if Gov. Greg Abbott will be primaried in 2022, and if so, by whom?

Off the Kuff did an interview with Sherrie Matula of the Sisters United Alliance, a grassroots effort to turn out low-propensity Democratic female voters.

DosCentavos says that if Dems want to run up the score with Latino votes, they must sell the Biden Latino plan, too, instead of just pointing fingers at Trump's racism.

On the Sul Ross statue in College Station, John Sharp offers yet more evidence that he is surely a closet Republican, not just a ConservaDem.

Kenny Boy Paxton launched his latest attempt to stall out his securities fraud trial: Ask the current presiding judge to recuse himself because of possible bias.

Keith Schneider warns that Texas and its developers always forget about drought during rainy times

Space City Weather gives us a look ahead at hurricane season.

Michael Li shares a few charts to illustrate why Texas is (finally) competitive this year.

The Texas Politics Project has the Texas Presidential poll tracker you've been looking for.

Juanita asks for your help sending ballot by mail applications to Democrats over the age of 65 in small Texas counties where the county party can't afford or isn't organized enough to mail applications on their own.

In light of the recent Beirut catastrophe, James the History Teacher tells the story of the 1947 Texas City disaster.

Texas Monthly, in a short Texana, illustrates perfectly the diff between Tex-Mex and actual Mexican food. Matt Martinez's chile con queso not only uses, or allows, American cheese sliced singles, but also other dreck like cornstarch.

National

Donald Trump is so full of it on mail ballots that Fact Check devoted four staff writers to a through debunking.

John Roberts' controlling ruling in June Medical is having its first effect on further stringency on abortion law. Librulz continue to celebrate him, like they do Shrub Bush, at their own peril.

Liberty University's board of regents had to force Jerry Falwell Jr. into a leave of absense. Guess? There likely was real booze in that glass on the yacht with him and his "wife's assistant" both having unzipped pants, and he could well be alcoholic. There may be other issues. Like porn on computers?

This piece, from Portland, expresses a lot of what I see wrong in the "antifa" movement, which is really just 2.0 of the old Black Bloc. It doesn't really, usually represent those it claims to represent.

Beware the shadow docket of the Supreme Court, Slate says, especially how much it's grown since Kennedy's retirement. Also note that two of the so-called librulz continue to be even more squishy than the other two (who are themselves squishes at times).

Global

Canada's last Arctic ice shelf has collapsed, a disturbing issue in climate change. 

August 12, 2020

The bullshit of Kroger PR over Andy
while vaguely wondering about Muscato

OK, a couple of weeks ago, I was making noise about boycotting Winco. Now, over #KrogerAndy and a line of bullshit PR from Kroger, I've already told Kroger that I won't be shopping there this weekend at least, not until I get more actual information, and from Tweets that don't have the thumbs-on-scales #StandWithAndy hashtag. (I've also told "Target Tori" that this is NOT the same as her situation, and that per Newsweek story commenters, I'm clearly not alone in that.)

I've also had wingnuts try to gaslight me, and very temporarily succeed in it, in raising a red herring that other employees besides managers aren't supposed to do anything about masks, per Kroger policy. Well, Danielle Muscato never said she approached any other employee, and in the Newsweek story, that's accepted fact.

I had another wingnut try to gaslight me over claims that Kroger employees weren't supposed to clean carts. Nope. Store policy starting in March said that stores would clean carts more frequently, and Kroger said nothing about hiring an outside company. The only other thing on company policy was that it did not "advocate" for particular employees to be DEDICATED to doing only this, or to doing cart cleaning in front of the store. I'm sure that other major stores all have similar policies. I blocked multiple gaslighters over this; one was a chickenshit and beat me to the block.

OK, I had included Kroger in several Tweets on this issue over the weekend. Yesterday, the PR verschnizzle, sent to me twice off different Tweet threads, in a two-Tweet thread. I've embedded one, and also, as needed, screengrabbed part 1 of one thread with part 2 of the second so that I have a screengrab of Kroger's comments, in order, in case it deletes them.

Here you are:
Followed by:
OK.

First, note that Kroger isn't disputing Muscato. (That doesn't mean they accept her account, but they're not publicly disputing it.)

Second, note the #StandWithAndy hashtag.

Third, I suspect this is canned PR for another reason, related to my "screengrab." The two-Tweet response I got twice is in response to two different Tweets of mine. Here's the other:
OK again.

Regular readers will note that I often post something to go up two or three days down the road, in part because if it's serious stuff, that allows time for percolation of thought as well as possible additional information.

Since first writing this, I went to Muscato's account, and let's just say the hypocrisy level is high on some respondents. They're all variants on "why don't YOU stay at home." And of course, they're generally alleged "law and order" wingnuts ... except when law and order applies to mask-wearing. And, reminder, it is THE LAW in Louisville, Kentucky, as the governor's executive order has the force of law. Period and end of story, to wingnuts trying to claim otherwise.

There's also the issue that, contra some wingnuts but per lawyers who know the law, that the ADA does NOT require a store to admit a person claiming a mask exemption. They can say "pickup or delivery," and make those enforceable first and second options. (And obviously, whether they have a legit exemption or not, a person driving to a store can do grocery pickup.)

As for stores actually booting people, and even employees, not cops or security, doing the work? Google has plenty of examples. And, again, one doesn't have to ask for "medical papers," which one can't ask for anyway. You simply say, "it's the law," and "we have pickup and delivery options." Period. According to Muscato, "Kroger Andy" did none of this, nor did he call the security guard.

That said, let's hear from Muscato:
Second, as I have already told wingnuts:
So, the lies and gaslighting are thick here.

That IBT story is what passes for "journalism" at much online media today. Collect a bunch of Tweets, and add about one-quarter as many explanatory interludes as I do on this blog post.

Even a member of the allegedly outside the box Gnu Media is in on trashing Muscato, and I called out Jordan Uhl:
And, yes, Jordan, I exactly meant that. Muscato may have some degree of blame. Not denying that. But, even if I take Muscato's words at 75 cents on the dollar, Muscato still has less blame than the store manager.

But, Jordan, you know who has the biggest share of blame?

The largest fucking grocery chain in the U.S. AND the world.

And you're pimping for it.

Let's put this another way, Jordan? Costco started its mask mandate THREE MONTHS before Kroger, when a LOT of retailers weren't taking it seriously, and when a lot of states still hadn't fully gotten into quasi-serious containment measures (many of which were kabuki theater). And, as far as I can tell, there was little to no PR motivation. In fact, some of its members hated it. spewing out the same bullshit we still hear today from COVIDIOTS. (Costco also, long before other retailers, limited maximum shoppers at any one time.)

Muscato is probably not getting a fair shake. From much of the "mainstream" media, from pseudo-leftists like Uhl or from Kroger.

Now, to riff on Uhl? It may be true that "Kroger Andy" is in an untenable position. But, then, that's Kroger that put him there, not Muscato.

(Now, whether or not Muscato should have directly approached the shopper is a different issue, I'll allow.)

Finally, the big picture, vs. not so much COVIDIOTS, but COVIDIOT enablers, whether conscious or unconscious, active or passive?

The goal of masks IS 100 percent compliance. Period. Expectations grounded in reality will note that compliance will likely be below 100 percent. But, expectations and goals are different things.

Here's another way to look at it, per this Tweet:
And, yes, it is "sad" in a sense when Wally, which allegedly delayed on having employees mask up early on for fear of alarming customers, is now a paragon of corporate responsibility. Want a better one? Costco. It and other national grocery chains, like Trader Joe, haven't messed around with giving people the boot when warranted.

Let's also remember that, claimed medical exemption or just wingnuttery over masks, this:

And no, wingnuts, as I have mentioned before, whether you have a legit medical exemption or just claiming to have one, the Americans with Disabilities Act does NOT say, let alone guarantee, ou have a right to enter a store. The store, on the other hand, has the right to REQUIRE you accept other options first, as in: Pick-up or delivery.
At the same time, while Muscato shouldn't be scared off by maskless people, and Muscato tries to use special hours when possible, Muscato has the option of delivery or pickup also.

So, a Wednesday afternoon post time allows for that percolation.

Sidebar: This skeptical leftist at the same time says that sex is biology, sometimes badly askew, and gender is culture, derived in part from biology but ultimately cultural.

If Danielle Muscato is claiming to be a woman, as I still use the word for sex and biology? No. Not in my book. I "pass" on the word transgender as a gender-skeptical (but not gender critical) feminist and general humanist. And, you're not a transsexual by your own admission. (One will notice the lack of pronouns, and only the regular use of the name "Muscato," above.)

Sadly, you're being slammed in part because of this.

That said, as with gender dysphoric youth? Mr. Muscato, how do you know you're not a "repressing" gay male?

Back to Kroger. If it has proof that what Muscato claimed happened, didn't, and that this is otherwise just an activist stunt, bring it on. Wednesday afternoon should be plenty of time to post unedited store video if it captured what happened, among other things.

It also should be enough time to release real news in general, and not a PR statement. That, as much as what actually happened, and what may be the full story if we ever hear from all parties, is what has pissed me off. I mean, those two tweets above are blatant PR. Phoning it in PR.

Kroger, you've got 48 hours from the time of me hitting the "publish" button.

Libertarians AND neoliberals versus
behavioral psychology and economics

Reason magazine, the closest thing to a "house organ" for small-l libertarians and read by many in the party as well, is "interesting." But not interesting enough to sniff my blogroll.

I'd say I'd largely agree with 15 percent of what it rights, fairly agree with 25 percent, fairly disagree with 35 percent, and think 25 percent is batshit. And the same person can write in all four categories.

Take Radley Balko, a great guy on things like police brutality and militarization.

But, also one of those libertarians who believes on many issues that "the lawsuit is the answer for everything."

Like DWI checkpoints. He has in the past called for them to be abolished on the grounds that they violate civil liberties AND that the threat of lawsuits is a deterrent.

Dude? There is SO much wrong with this.

First, to the degree that driving is a right and a privilege, it's not an absolute.

Second, to the degree that even libertarians will admit the state has public health regulatory rights (tho many libertarians are wingnuts on masks, shutdowns, etc. on COVID), driving is surely one of those. Just as the rights of your fist (or your germy cough) end at my nose, even more so, your rights behind the wheel of two tons of metal end when you're on the same highway as me.

Third, lawsuits don't bring dead people back to life.

Fourth, re the War on Drugs, alcohol is deadlier than any illicit drug.

Fifth, the biggie for purposes of this blog post?

Libertarians refuse to wrestle with, let alone actually consider, the implications of behavioral psychology and economics for the false idea of Homo sapiens economicus as a rational actor. No surprise, though. From what I can tell, they fail to consider that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" comes from his Enlightenment Deism, even though there's proof on Smith's pages, and that said Enlightenment Deism has had things like quantum mechanics "put paid" to it.

But, neoliberals are problematic, too. With them, with the likes of Cass Sunstein, it's been an overeager, uncritical, still capitalism-based acceptance of the interlocked disciplines.

Sunstein has never asked whether a capitalist nudge is the best way — as in either the most productive or the ethically best way — to actually effect long-term changes in behavior. Ditto in spades on whether it's the best way to effect changes that work well within long-term societal, not just individual, needs.

August 11, 2020

Texas progressives: coronavirus, week 20

Just a short one, this week, but as some Texas schools start a new year this week, and others will do so next week, this corner of the Texas progressives has another week of splitting coronavirus news from the rest of its roundup, and while it has few links, offers some longer ones.

Texas

Gov. Abbott is continuing to try to be a legal hairsplitter on COVID, the power of local health authorities, and school opening. A metropolitan health official needs to go ahead and issue a blanket ban to set up legal action against Strangeabbott.

COVID has hammered a Houston-area nursing home. Texas Observer has the big picture on for-profit nursing homes in Texas' COVID issues. (The company that is its focus does not own the problematic Missouri City home, nor another in Corpus, which means the problem is that bad.)

Zeph Capo argues against reopening schools without a robust plan to keep everyone safe.

National

After a week, with some public black eyes, Georgia schools get an F on COVID issues. Paulding County may well confirm Peter Hotez' claim that the push to open schools is bound to fail. That said, Hotez oversimplifies the problem. It's not just national. When, as in the case of Paulding County, your superintendent and board president are both COVIDIOTS, any federal malfeasance is being weaponized at the local level.

Wired talks in depth with Bill Gates. Among his observations? Nasal swab tests are badly inaccurate, something that's been getting more and more airplay. (Unfortunately, this is something else that will likely become fuel for conspiracy theorists.) On the second, or third, or whatever hand, I think Gates has dubiously sourced optimism when he says that "for the rich world, we should be able to largely end this thing by the end of 2021." He's naively optimistic on both when a vaccine will be developed but how efficacious it will be.

Global

Melbourne (Australia, not Florida) illustrates what happens when it appears coronavirus is contained, but isn't. Fines of almost $4K American for contagious people. Strict rules on essential business. Police actually enforcing mask rules. And, in at least one case, being assaulted. (The NYT doesn't mention the cop's head getting smashed into the cement.) Australia, other than national health care and a higher minimum wage (not so much different on PPP terms as some Americans think) is a lot like America in a lot of ways. Laissez-faire, unless you're an immigrant from SE Asia. So, there's parallels to America. The issue of enforcement is one of them. I have no doubt that if American police challenged anti-mask Karens, we'd see some of the same same behavior from alleged law and order folks.

A picture of an US Olympic swimmer balancing chocolate milk on her head while swimming is viral on Twitter. That said, there's a growing chance she's not going anywhere in 12 months. A strong majority of Japanese overall, and a slim majority of Tokyo residents, agog at growing cost overruns and expectations of diminished revenue, want their country to just drop the delayed Games. And you know what? Beyond coronavirus, killing the increasingly bloated, hypercapitalist, classist Olympics would be fine by me?

August 10, 2020

'Pink slime' journalism and duopoly money-laundering

Excellent piece by Columbia Journalism Review, following up on a report it did about the Tow Center and other folks. The biggest takeaways from CJR:

1. This problem has grown a lot since the original Tow piece.



2. Per a link to Open Secrets, although this started as a conservative to wingnut-conservative project, liberals are doing it, too. One biggie is the group behind the Shadow vote-tabulation app of infamy from the Iowa Democratic caucus. Another is Pantsuit Nation, obvious Hillbot folks. So, we're talking neoliberals. A third group also gets George Soros PAC money. (Cue wingnut conspiracy theories.)

3. What CJR doesn't mention is that, primarily for capital reasons, leftists aren't. (That said, CJR's general failure to distinguish liberal and leftist is itself an issue.)

4. The original "pink slime" wasn't necessarily partisan as much as it was cheap hypercapitalism.

5. Wanna know who's doing this in Texas? Page 11 of this link. Metric Media and Local News Network are conservative as are Record. None of the links are liberal.

Missing from the CJR account is the problem with this much capitalism sloshing in the system. That's especially true with the Open Secrets piece mentioning IRS concerns. Related? The duopoly issues.

Per two tweets:
and
that's more detail on how I see that either this piece could have gone further or that it could use another follow-up.

Update: Facebook says it will tighten up on what from pink slime websites counts as news. That said, the new policy has multiple loopholes, and, as usual, I have "Facebook says" in one hand and "shit" in the other. Given that Facebook fired an engineer for documenting its preferential treatment to wingnut outfits that had posts flagged as "fake news," you'll pardon me for being skeptical.

August 09, 2020

New York Times "discovers" today's Religious Right,
wants news "consumers" to know its genius

"Christianity will have power"? Yes, it's a nice phrase, but ... was one line in one speech in Iowa enough to elevate the speech into Donald Trump's version of a Cornerstone Speech vis-a-vis his relationship to the Religious Right?

The New York Times would have you think so, and with throwing in some breathless marketing Tweets, further confirms why I wouldn't pay to subscribe.

First, two of those marketing Tweets and my responses:
Uhh, no. I don't "need" anyone.
There you are, Mr. NYT National Editor Marc Lacey.

Then this:
Sorry, but no translator needed, Ms. Deputy National Editor Yang.

Here you are:
And, since I posted a link to my original Tweet thread in that Tweet, I'll use it as the basic for finishing up this post.

First, per the header, yes, this is typical NYT bullshit, thinking it's discovered something new, when in reality it has not. Related to that is the quasi-bigfooting idea that if anybody else wrote about this in other media before, it didn't count because they weren't the NYT.

Second is the marketing of this geenyus to today's "consumers" (god I hate that word) of news. Trotting out two of your top editors to Tweet away shows that. It's also pretty heavy-handed. Laughably so.

First, before the Twitter thread, one more example of the NYT's alleged brilliance at being Captain Obvious? This:
The Trump era has revealed the complete fusion of evangelical Christianity and conservative politics, even as white evangelical Christianity continues to decline as a share of the national population.
In reality, with data research sites like Pew having written about this for three or four years straight now, the "Rise of the Nones" (which is a broader issue than just the decline of conservative evangelical Xianity, and blogged about me three years ago, as well as last year) is yesterday's news. As for the "complete fusion" issue? Forty years ago, the Religious Right backed for president a man who had expanded abortion access while governor of California, who never went to church and who consulted astrologers. (Ronnie turned Nancy on to that, not the other way around.)

Now, onto my original Twitter thread, with this blogpost being added to the end of it after being finished.

First:
See, that "bully" part is important. Per "The Rise of the Nones" issues, the Religious Right has been losing power for some time. Rather than sidle up to Hillary Clinton and her conservative DC prayer circle warrior background with The Fellowship, though, because she was pro-choice, and ignoring that Trump long had been so, they backed Trump.

The bullying? Bullying and shaming people into expression of religious belief in small town America, even in blue states (Galloway vs Town of Greece) was and still is a real thing. Remember, most members of the Religious Right hate atheists even more than gays, and may hate non-Christians, especially Mooslims, almost as much.

OK, next:
The hypocrisy? Detailed above with Ronnie and Nancy Reagan. The faux-martyrdom goes hand in hand, and parallels, to link back to the "Cornerstone Speech" 1861, the South's faux-martyrdom after Lincoln's election. Fortunately, the Religious Right isn't getting to totally write or rewrite the history of the last 50-60 years of American life as a new Lost Cause, though people like Dias may be helping.

Trump has played the faux-martyr role to a T since HUD sued him and his dad 50 years ago for racism in apartment renting. He knows how to play an audience like a cheap fiddle.

Next:
This is true in conservative Catholic circles as well, something ELSE Dias left on the table. (Per the old phrase "cafeteria Catholics," there are conservative cafeteria Catholics, on the death penalty and gun control, just like there are liberal cafeteria Catholics on reproductive choice.)

And last, one other thing Dias left on the table (well, there's yet more, but this covers the basics):
Remember, Trump's speech was in Iowa, January 2016, before the Iowa caucuses. On paper, Dominionist Ted Cruz and his Seven Mountains daddy were the ideal candidates for the Religious Right to back. So, why didn't they? (Pew notes that, in polling, the most devout among the evangelicals DID tilt Cruz, even though, overall, the Religious Right tilted Trump. Obvious deduction? Lots of these people may be sincere in their belief claims but don't go to church that often!)

And why didn't Dias ask any of the people she interviewed those questions, whether about who they backed in 2016's primary/caucus, or about how regular they were in their churchgoing?

And, National Editor and Deputy National Editor, why didn't her editor catch that?

Were I doing this as an Amazon book review? This would be like seeing a new book with five-star touts turning out to be three stars at best.