March 18, 2018

Seth Rich parents sue Fox, Butowsky, Zimmerman

Seth Rich
On March 14 the parents of Seth Rich sued Fox and here is the official filing. Co-defendants are Ed Butowsky and Malia Zimmerman.

Odds of winning?

Depends on how deep of pockets their lawyers have, and, especially given that it retracted its story, how much Fox wants to fight, and what the Riches want besides monetary compensation.

Fox could settle out-of-court ... but assuming the Riches want more than just money, such settlements in these cases usually involve no admission of wrongdoing, which would probably ixnay that.

Butowsky, especially, and Zimmerman, as individual defendants? If Fox does pursue settling, they're in deep shit.

There are three emotional distress related charges. Lump them as one.

The fourth is tortious interference with contract. That piggybacks on Rod Wheeler's own lawsuit against Fox et al. Part of his original filing has already been dropped. I don't know if any coordination is going on there or not.

The fifth is against Fox only, for negligence in supervising Butowsky and Zimmerman. Again, Fox has an "admission" of sorts, saying it failed its (alleged) usual high editorial standards at the time it withdrew the story.

This all said, unless they have it as unmentioned but included under "other relief," monetary damages and injunctive action as necessary are the only relief being sought.

As for their legal mouthpieces? Susmann Godfrey and Massey & Gail are both high-powered. Larry Tribe is of counsel to the latter, as an indicator.

Through some brief Googling, I have found a couple of other things related to this issue. The biggest? RationalWiki, which trades on the image of movement skepticism being enlightened, is nowhere near that on this issue. It thinks Clint Watts is more enlightened than Seth Rich. Wiki itself is not a lot better.

Both fail in not disentangling Rich as the likely leaker to Julian Assange from the issue of who killed him. THAT latter part has spawned right-wing conspiracies. (I guess it's time to call Jared Beck a winger over this.) It's also got me thinking, based on what was not taken from him, that he was not killed by Russkies or Crowdstrike folks, but that maybe, he was dealing drugs and this was a hit killing for that reason. (That would explain the non-robbery. Calling it a "botched robbery" presumes facts not in evidence.) And, if my theory isn't true, and it was something else non-conspiratorial, that still doesn't mean he wasn't the thief.

But there is good evidence, as I have noted in that link, and that one can find elsewhere, that the Russkies did NOT hack the DNC until the Podesta spearfishing. The original emails likely were stolen and Assange has never directly denied Rich was a Wikileaks source.

And, even if he was NOT the thief, that doesn't mean that this was a Russian hack job.

To address a couple of RationalWiki's claims about Rich and him not being able to steal the emails.
1. His parents say he didn't have access. How do they know that?
2. Assange would have legit reasons to offer a reward. One would be to show he protects sources. Another would be to show he protects anti-Clinton sources. A third would be to fuel conspiracies.
3. Ditto for Kim Dotcom. Why would he reveal source material, even if Rich is dead? Would make him look untrustable.
4. RT was more responsible than American mainstream media precisely by presenting both sides of this issue.
5. And again? Calling it a "botched robbery" presumes facts not in evidence.
6. RW nowhere addresses the download speed issue.

Related? Movement skepticism, scientific skepticism, or Skeptics™,  call it what you will — just like Gnu Atheism, it's no guarantor of moral or intellectual superiority. And, at least a few such skeptics previously politicized Jill Stein.

So, again:
1. Seth Rich's death is separate from the DNC email thefts.
2. On the pre-Podesta emails from early 2016, at least, evidence points to internal theft, not Russian hacking.
3. There are more than two sides to this issue for sure, per Idries Shah:

“To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.”
4. Reject anybody who doesn't accept 1-3.
5. Given all this, Rich's parents have some chance of winning against Butowsky and maybe even against Fox. That said, they too, like Fox et al, have reasons to settle out of court. Discovery issues cut both ways and they risk finding out they are wrong in some of their claims and beliefs about their son.


Meanwhile, Ty Clevinger (who is more than too clever by half, I see what I did) has filed an FIOA lawsuit. They don't require "standing," of course. But, it IS interesting that a man who's lived in New York since the last time I ran across his name still isn't licensed to practice law there.

Of course, our legal beagle has one thing wrong from the start. Since the FBI is NOT investigating the death — that's still with DC Metropolitan Police — it's a non-starter (except to fuel conspiracy theories) to ask it, let alone the NSA et al, for files. Ditto on throwing Hillary in there.

Stick to Booger County Mafia, Ty.

March 16, 2018

MSM Bingo! Statesman sold and #TXPrimary dust settling

We've got a runoff for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination between the the incompetent (so far) Loopy Lupe Valdez and the insufferable "I personally" Andrew White.

Meanwhile, last week, the Austin Stateless was sold to Gatehouse's parent for pennies on its one-time dollar. This just a year after the Dallas Snooze outsourced its pagination/copy editing to Gatehouse.

What do these two things, and others, have in common? This graphic of mine below.

This is primarily about newspapers, from my expertise. But, one magazine that you should know is included. So is the pack of TV and radio stations, more and more of whom are owned by folks like Sinclair.

Of course, the clear square does mean something. It is certainly understandable by me. But, the ownership class at the media knows that well and continues to exploit it. The bottom, lightest-shaded square in the gray column also means something in the big picture of media things in the Pointy Abandoned Object State™.

The bottom left square also means something, in a reverse-snark way. And, in a real way, non-daily papers, with smaller five- and six-day community dailies at least somewhat on the same side of the fence, face their own worries.

A lot of the other squares, though? Newspapers, not just with ownership, but with upper-level editorial staff, are digging their own graves.

Take the Dallas Snooze, with a clickbait child-level header on a story that wasn't much more than a nothing burger and certainly not "investigative journalism," about city sewage infrastructure, which the Observer first gave a moderate level skewering by Stephen Young, then the full Monty by Jim Schutze.

The actual story? And the Curious Texas project behind it?

This belongs on Quora, not a theoretically serious and theoretically major daily paper. (And, thus, the death of a thousand cuts from the online world goes both ways.)

If the Snooze wants to keep this Curious Texas project, accept questions like this and do stories on them, at a minimum, it would go with non-clickbait headers AND writing. And, they should be no more than, oh, 300 words?

As for Ms. Jennifer Emily?

You're on MuckRack, too? Hope you've raked actual muck.

March 14, 2018

Exxon is not serious about #climatechange part 4

I've written not just one, or two, but three previous pieces about how eXXXon is not that serious about climate change in general and certainly isn't serious about a carbon tax. (These have in part been shadow-blogging reactions to a business editor and columnist at a newspaper.)

This is how serious eXXXon really, truly is about climate change—
its expected shift in global energy production.
On carbon taxes, said columnist has said that a carbon tax does need sticks as well as carrots. Well, I think he still disagrees with me on the issue of rebating. I have been consistent in opposing direct rebates at least, because the actual pain of not getting money back is the single biggest stick of a carbon tax. That said, that's the single biggest stick that eXXXon would like to remove, too.

Well, DeSmog Blog points out now just how unserious Exxon is on climate change in general. It doesn't expect serious changes in fossil fuel production as a percentage of its portfolio over the next 25 years. It also claims that it won't have stranded reserves due to climate change regulatory issues — issues it continues to fight.

Its hypocrisy DOES include worrying about stranded reserves early in the Obama Administration, fearing that new deepwater drilling regs after the Deepwater Horizon blowout would cause exactly that.

And, eXXXon isn't even incorporated in Texas' largest city. Not sure why said columnist might be that worried about making sure to say Big Oil is taking climate change seriously.

It's probably more accurate to say that Big Oil is taking the possibility of other people taking climate change seriously, seriously itself.

DeSmog Blog shows we simply can't release those fossil fuels to keep a climate change-related temperature spike to no more than 2C. Hell, with eXXXon's projections, we can't even stay inside 3C.

So, again, how seriously does it take climate change?

March 13, 2018

TX Progressives offer a post-primary roundup

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates the winners of last week's primaries and thanks those who did not win for their dedication as it brings you this week's roundup.

Socratic Gadfly has his set of post-primary and pre-runoff thoughts, primarily on the Senate and Governor's races.

Neil at All People Have Value offered his thoughts on the recent Texas primary with a focus on Harris County.

Stace responds to Dems and media alike regarding Beto's South Texas performance.

Brains and Eggs wraps his multi-part take on primary elections with a look at some state legislative races.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer things the biggest election in Texas will be next January — for Joe Straus’ replacement as state Speaker.

Jobsanger remains Bernie-butthurt and is sad that Elizabeth Warren truly might not run, to stop another feared-by-him Bernie catastrophe.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

G. Elliott Morris looked for predictive data in the early voting numbers.

Grits for Breakfast assessed the criminal justice-related primary races of interest.

Paradise in Hell is glad to see the end of Kathaleen Wall's campaign.

Juanita finds her next job.

Alex Macon bemoans our state's bad transportation policy.

Truthout reports (near bottom of piece) the Texas Democratic Party allegedly accusing Sema Hernandez of laundering drug money.

G. Elliott Morris reports on the atrocity to defendants of state District Judge George Gallagher.

March 10, 2018

Some #TXPrimary Democratic post-election notes

Being in a small hinterland, though Democrats do have a candidate for my state rep's spot, I'm going to look at two statewide races.

First, it's arguably, quite arguably a moral victory for Sema Hernandez to have taken more than 20 percent of the vote in the Senate primary, with entering the race later than Beto O'Rourke, who massively outspent her, had Betocrats create a fake Twitter account then hack her website and post the link to that fake account.

On that issue, at a minimum, though we can't apologize for other people, Beto himself could condemn what happened — and Sema could ask him to do it.

Meanwhile, that Democratic enthusiasm in early voting still faced reality March 7. Despite nothingburger-level opposition, at least going by their vote percentages, Havana Ted Cruz got almost half again as many votes himself as O'Rourke, Hernandez and Kimbrough combined did. And, again, the numbers of his multiple primary opponents added up to nothingburger, so, on his side of the street, Cruz is sitting pretty.

Beto still has miles to go before he sleeps. And while he's walking, or sleepwalking, here's a funny take on the pending general election.

OK ....

I said a few weeks ago I would talk about the "u-word," as in "undervoting," after primary day was done.

Well, we're here.

One factor? There's a grand strategery issue. That changed nationally when Doug Jones beat Roy Moore. Doug has gone so ConservaDem since his election, despite having three-plus years left to serve, that he could be a Republican senator in half the states in the nation. But, he does have the D after his name. Add in that Dean Heller in Nevada could well lose his seat, and the idea that Beto could give Senate Dems 51 can't be idly dismissed.

BUT, Beto can't take people like me, let alone Brains, for granted. While it's good to tour red-county areas of Texas, and I applaud him for doing so, and the energy he has in doing so, he can't be the newest incarnation of Wendy Davis. If he keeps shouting the word "bipartisan" too much, I reserve the right to either undervote or to look for independent write-in candidates in the general.

O'Rourke is not as in-the-tank ConservaDem as Doug Jones. But, given how Jones moved even further rightward after getting into the Senate, again, Beto has to assuage people like me more — as in more than he did in the primary. People like me know how to decode phrases of his like "health care availability / access."

The grand strategery issue will also interact with Senate races in other states besides Heller's.


Second, and sadly, it was NOT even a moral victory night for Tom Wakely. He had been one of the first people to announce his candidacy in the governor's race. In addition, he should have had residual name recognition in San Antonio and parts of the Hill Country from his Congressional run two years ago.

And yet, he finished two full percentage points behind perennial candidate Grady Yarbrough and one each behind total political process newcomer Jeffrey Payne, aka Mr. Leather, and electoral newcomer Adrian Ocegueda. And, he took less than half the vote of third-place finisher Cedric Davis Jr., mayor of Balch Springs and 2012 candidate for state House District 110.

I think he had the most comprehensive as well as most progressive program. But, given that Sema Hernandez got nearly 25 percent of the vote in the Senate primary, contra Wakely's claim, I don't think it was totally people rejecting his message. I mean, Lite Guv candidate Michael Cooper, with whom he informally paired, took more than 45 percent of the vote in that race.

For whatever reason — in part the crowded field, I'm sure, but in part other things — Wakely as bearer of that message simply didn't take off. Maybe it's partially Wakely in person. Maybe Texas Dems aren't ready to discuss full legalization of pot, and only, and then only possibly, medical marijuana only. Maybe Texas Dems still have too entrenched of beliefs in the Texas equivalent of American exceptionalism. Brains may have further thoughts.

Loopy Lupe Valdez and "I personally" Andrew White, or Incompetent and Insufferable, as I call them, advanced to a runoff election in May.

I cannot remember the rules on third-party petition signing, but I assume they apply, which means I likely won't vote in this runoff. If I were to do so, I'd take Valdez, while hoping she:
1. Addresses the incompetent issue by getting a professional campaign team going;
2. Gets prepared to address the incompetent issue in her past better than she has, as White will raise it more, and if she gets the nomination, Gov. Strangeabbott will raise it every day.

As Brains has noted, to paraphrase, Wendy Davis had a "story," too. And got her butt kicked. Big deal if Valdez has an even more compelling "story" but gets her butt kicked just as badly.

As for the u-word? I really don't see Valdez becoming competent, and I really don't see Andrew White truly personally disagreeing with the tenets of ConservaDemity. So, I'm already pretty sure this will be an undervote in the general.

I'll vote for Janis Richards if Greens get ballot access, even if she is — per Brains vs. David Bruce Collins — on the wrong side of the Harris County GP. If not, I'll check out my write-in options.

That said, it's Janis. Per a DBC editorial note, I'm not calling her Jan, and if she's trying to pull a Grady Yarbrough by riffing on the name of a person who was elected 28 years ago, she shouldn't be running.


Briefly, in the Lite Guv's race, incumbent Danny Goeb's primary opponent has endorsed Dem nominee Mike Collier. Collier is a ConservaDem, but still ... this is interesting. Scott Milder even said  of Goeb that "I know (him) to be a liar."

If, per Brains, it looks like Joe Straus decides to spend down his pile of past campaign moolah on this race, I might actually start touting it.

March 09, 2018

Jane Mayer hits a foul ball on Steele and Russophobia

I'm surprised, given how much good stuff she's done, but ... it's true. Her piece on Christopher Steele could have been written by one of the "insider" foreign policy staff at the New York Times.

First, she talked to nobody from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, nor Robert Parry at Consortium News. They could tell her that evidence to date has her proven wrong on the spring 2016 DNC emails, that international download speeds are too slow to be a Russian hack.

Second, she ignores, or is ignorant of, and I'll be less charitable and say the first, that her claims about Dutch intelligence telling US intelligence about 2014 Russian hackery has been thoroughly refudiated.

Third, she uncritically repeats claims about Russian meddling on social media without talking about the drop-in-the-bucket dollar value, and also appears to swallow wholly Mueller's indictment of the Internet Research Agency, which I've already discussed.

There's other stuff, as noted in this long Twitter thread of mine, where Mayer comes close to looking like she's throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks.

I mean, from someone who wrote "The Dark Side" and "Strange Justice," this is B-grade material. Given that both of these books questioned official or quasi-official narratives, both of which had at least partially bipartisan support, that's the strangest part of this. What she's writing now is stuff the likes of which she criticized in the past.

March 07, 2018

More #ActualFlatticus flatuence esp on #ConfederateStatues

Lee Statue
The Lee statue in Dallas, a week or so before it was removed

Brains, as far as I can say short of a promise, this is the last. Smokey, sorry, but groupies are gonna group, even if I write more than this, having deified Actual Flatticus, IRL Chris Chopin.

But, we're close to the one-year anniversary of Charlottesville and at the one-year anniversary of the push to haul down statues of Civil War traitors.

I don’t want to become a total anti-groupie, but, I’ve kept an occasional eyeball on a couple of Twitter accounts that are curating the best, or maybe the worst, of Flatty’s tweets for occasional blogging.

And, among them (scroll down) are more than one where Flatty was anti-anti-statues to the point of seeming to give a tip of the hat to the Lost Cause.

Meanwhile, let's just dig in.

We have this, in which he least leaves himself open to the charge of “moral equivalence” in war, including at least related to the Civil War.

That's followed by this, in which he definitely leaves himself open to that charge, “Lost Cause” charges and similar on the Civil War

Beyond that, he trades on false dilemma about closing prisons vs. taking down statues. For example, I support ending much of the War on Drugs, and reducing other parts of it to skirmishes and containment. That of course would be accompanied by a lot of decarceration, and by getting rid of private prisons. I also support removing many Confederate statues, including all of Confederate general rank, from most public spaces.

It's the type of anti-Idries Shah two-siderism:
“To ‘see both sides’ of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.”
That is transparent as hell to anybody truly insightful. It's a fake dichotomy. It's the type of fake, head-faking, fake dichotomy that a "champion debater" would think of in place of substantive argument.

Then, this one: No, Flatty was not a hippy/freak. Other than his criminal record, he was a straight arrow whose dad was not only in the 1 percent, but in the 0.1 percent, probably. Flatty himself wasn't getting rich off family law, but he sure wasn't hurting.

Next, was Flatty hoping nobody would actually take his advice and research his own PAC contributions in Bernie amounts after he called Bernie a centrist? And related to that, was he also hoping that nobody like me would call out the debate champion for being uninformed, an idiot or both about Sanders when he did that? Was he hoping that nobody like me would say he’s “forever tainted,” just like he claimed Nina Turner is forever tainted for once working with David Brock?

Ahh, Flatty calling out the DSA for endorsing Dems when he refused to vote outside the duopoly box and hated Greens. High hypocrisy.

Smithee pretending to be Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” all while hating on the Green Party is likewise laughable and risible and hypocritical.

Flatty the hypocrite on SuperPACs, unless we say Act Blue is “just a PAC, not a Super PAC.” 

Flatty claiming to be a leftist. More hypocrisy. You're not a leftist if you bully women and minorities and support the Lost Cause.

And, beyond moral equivalence, Flatty does moral judo and claims Hillary was MORE corrupt than the Donald.

Not a chance, dude. We know the New York Mafia helped him get a start in early days of real estate empire expansion. We still don’t know the level of that grifting. We know about the HUD racism in housing suit. We know now about the Panama Papers.

Maybe Flatty should have asked his dad. Or, given that he didn’t pay attention, I guess, to local politics in Palm and West Palm, he should have looked at the palm-greasing for Mar-A-Lago.

We know further, from shit like this, where some of Flatty's groupies, like ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller, got his own ideas in this vein from, obviously.

Time to again question Flatty’s judgment. He thinks Neera Tanden acted in good faith in 2016 elections (and I presume before and after) but is dumb. No, I think she’s quite smart, but didn’t act in good faith at all. How somebody as smart as Flatty could be so naive, even gullible, I have no idea. But he was. Dem's dah facts, groupies. Flatty also comes close to sounding sexist.

A scholar lawyer should know constitutional law on corporate personhood enough to know that for progressive-to-leftist regulatory issues, having some type of corporate personhood has advantages as well as disadvantages, and arguably the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. But Flatty didn't. This comes just a week or two after (in terms of this blog post) me Tweeting how German civil law sucks for precisely this reason; Volkswagen as a corporation can't be sued for most of its diesel-related cheating in Europe.

This is NOT parody, but Smithee’s own admission about hating to lose arguments, even more than the average person:

Meanwhile, some of his groupies are even further from leftism than Flatty himself was. The #RIPMrSmithee2 account is doing its own Tweeting now, and playing with Pepelovers (the original Tweeter is on Gab, a clear ‘tell”) and said person is also a conspiracy theorist.

Speaking of nutters, if Smithee was that high on CaitlinJohnstone, it’s more evidence that his own critical thinking wasn’t so hot.

Also related? Flatty liked to challenge people on gun knowledge, and the use of terminology like "assault rifles." Whether he would have gone as far as Haller and Jared Beck and called the Parkland students "drama actors" or not, I don't know. But it is possible.

Anyway, there you go, Smokey. Zack with his own set of groupies, largely sub-groupies of Smithee, and the family and legacy accounts will do as they will. Unless the undead is resurrected this fall for elections, I move on.