SocraticGadfly

July 23, 2021

Best proof yet there was no Trump-Putin collusion? Or not?

I know #BlueAnon continues to claim there was, like Emptywheel (Emptyhead?) Marcy Wheeler did long ago, including narcing on a reporter and then never naming who it was, and other unethical items.

I know that there's no evidence Trump got help from Russia, though, contra the allegedly outside the box stenos  — the same old group of names, including, on various issues, Aaron Maté, Mark Ames, Yasha Levine, Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal, along with fellow travelers that at times include Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald and others who should know better, and conspiracy theorists like Jimmy Dore and his fellators (typed that all out this time so I can do a copy-paste) — there's plenty of evidence Russia meddled plenty in 2016, including but not limited to hacking BOTH the DNC and ALSO the RNC computers, creating both pro-Trump AND pro-Clinton Facebook groups, etc., and succeeding far beyond Vladimir Putin's dreams.

As for actual collusion? Yes, Trump asked Julian Assange for more DNC-hacked emails. But? We don't know if Assange at the time knew his source. And, even if he did, he surely wasn't telling Trump. So, Trump-Assange "collusion" is not Trump-Putin collusion.

As for post-election but pre-inauguration meetings? Flynn's meetings were generally legal. Besides, the country who likely got the most help? Israel, via Flynn's meetings with Turkish cutouts. Take that, Zionists within Blue MAGA, and shut up.

Besides, all along, I've said Vladimir Putin is way too smart to have hitched himself to a flighty weathervane like Donald Trump.

And, we now have proof Putin was thinking exactly that.

Business Insider reports (but SECONDHAND) that leaked Kremlin docs called Trump an "impulsive, mentally unstable and imbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex."

On the other hand? The Guardian, from whom BI is pulling (and this is why it's always important to go back to the original) claims that some of the documents claim they had the dreaded "kompromat" on Trump.

Seriously? Is the Guardian overreading into things, or is Putin that dumb, too? You can't compromise someone who has no sense of shame. And, though this was before the leaking of the "grab 'em by the pussy" old tape, Trump's semi-macking on Ivanka was old news, as were other things.

Finally, contra BlueAnon and BlueMAGA, as well as the Guardian, Trump WAS tougher on Russia in some ways, at least, than Obama.

And, Business Insider talks to better intelligence experts than the Guardian did. By the time I was done with the Guardian, I was believing what Thomas Rid and Chris Krebs told BI: Deliberate disinformation leak, or at least possibly so. Krebs even goes one more and says much of it could indeed be real, even all of it, but yet a deliberate leak.

Putin's playing chess again, knowing Trump wants to run in 2024. And, he knows that BlueAnon is still suckers for the "kompromat" angle. (That part, especially since it points to an appendix the Guardian docs mysteriously don't include, reinforces my idea that 

July 22, 2021

Coronavirus Week 67: Shots still not being gotten in US; lambda variant here; Indian dead massively undercounted?

Let's start with the second half of the header, because it puts everything else into perspective. The government of India officially claims a little over 400,000 COVID deaths. Some Western think tanks are saying the real number might be FOUR MILLION. Not all of that is due to the virulence of the Delta virus variant. Some of it is on the incompetence of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And, some of it's on Indian poverty. 

That said, I question an item or two in the story. It may not be "officially official," but, going by state health departments and such, Worldometers has a US death toll of 625K, not the 500K mentioned in the piece as "official." THAT then said, many researchers estimate that a few hundred thousand early deaths may have been missed. So, the real number may be 900K, not 700. In any case, even allowing for population difference, that's still below India's 4 million, if true.

As for the why? Per NPR, some of it may be chaos. But, I don't think it stresses enough the efforts of state governors from Modi's BJP to directly undercount deaths. (Remember, this has been alleged about the early days of COVID in China.)

Remember all of this when you hear BRIC or BRICS nations being touted. That's especially when said touting is by left-socialists, or Marxists like Richard D. Wolff who "can't be bothered" to mention The Cultural Revolution or Great Leap Forward when discussing China's putative-to-him inexorable rise to economic power. (Since he's a Marxist, such things are of course "inexorable" per the pseudoscience of the prescriptive side of Marxism.)

Finally? WHO's director general is pushing China hard to be more lab-transparent.

OK, with that, next, the second third of the header.

Texas

Yep, there's ANOTHER variant, called lambda. Only about 700 documented cases, but at least one of them is here in Texas. It's a "variant of concern," but believed to be less transmissible than delta.

Also here in Texas, it's bad enough that Austin has put out new social distancing recommendations. Recommendations, not regulations, because per Strangeabbott, they're not enforceable.

Statewide, with vaccination still under 45 percent, the delta variant has driven the state's positive test rate up above 10 percent.

And, that also includes information that leads to the first third.

National

As Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy calls out Facebook (and a lesser degree, Twitter, which lacks no "fake news" tag in its verticals for why I'm reporting a Tweet) for its role in vaccine disinformation, Facebook, including through the About Facebook blog, continues to lie by silence.

Springfield, Missouri, hospital director tells denialists to "shut up" as adult and pediatric cases all surge. And, this surge started way back at the Fourth of July weekend.
 
The liars and hypocrites at Fox, after repeatedly attacking so-called "vaccine passports" got busted by a leaked email as having their own.

That's as the Delta variant shows more ability to break past vaccination than previously reported.

Oh, white wingnuts who helped contribute to the biggest one-year drop in US life expectancy since WWII? Especially if in your 50s and early 60s, thank you! You paid in plenty to Social Security but took little to none, making it a bit more solvent for me.

St. Anthony of Fauci lied again earlier this week, and unlike over masks, his lies about gain-of-function research aren't even Platonic Noble Lies; they're shabby phrase-spinning.

Woke White Warriors are claiming antivaxxers are inherently racist. I refudiated this claim, showing it can't even prove they're racist specific to issues on the ground, let alone inherently so.
 
World
 
Of course Xi Jinping told WHO to "go get stupid" about its request for on-site follow-up coronavirus investigations.

July 21, 2021

Another lie by St. Anthony of Fauci: gain of function

For #BlueAnon, in my opinion, Fauci is more and more a "Mount Rushmore face" ranking right up there with former president Dear Leader.

Lies by him continue to go unchecked.

Yesterday, in another Tar Baby-like argument with Squirrel Hair (Rand Paul), one that I'm sure both of them like for its Tar Baby reasons, Fauci again claimed the US had not sponsored gain of function research at Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Reality?

Hellz yes we did.

Fauci was busted six weeks and more ago for lies, lies by omission and lies by redefinition about his agency and others helping the Wuhan Institute of Virology in "gain of function" research on coronaviruses. This busting also applies to the fellow travelers above. Before that, Fauci is on record openly supporting gain of function research in general.

Jaime Metzl, who used to work for President Clinton, and also for then-Sen. Joe Biden, so not a wingnut, has also said WIV did gain of function research, albeit not on a coronavirus, as far as we know.

He adds that the the Wuhan CDC, just down the road, also did gain of function research, and this WAS ON bat coronaviruses, starting in 2015. That link is a long read but well worth it. Among other things, he VERY SPECIFICALLY notes that "gain of function" research is NOT "genetic engineering." Fauci knows this, but, IMO, he's hand-waving, gaslighting or whatever, and even if not actively conflating the two ideas himself, letting others do the lifting for him.

(Update: Whether WIV's gain of function research deliberately increased transmissibility to humans or not is a different issue than gain of function as defined by Jamie Metzl et al as "gain of function"! This is where Fauci's hair-splitting comes in. As does Fauci's hairsplitting in calling GIF only when it makes a virus more dangerous to humans. No, it means ... gain in function! Period. And, this is important because if such a virus leaks, we don't know how it's going to further evolve after that. And, at that link, per Gregory Koblenz, the big issue is that we don't know what standards, if any, the National Institutes of Health has for calling an "enhancement" officially GIF by its standards. So, Fauci could claim NOTHING is GIF, for all you and I know. [Fauci's boss Francis Collins, head of NIH, engages in the same lie by definitional hairsplitting, Metzl notes.] )

Finally, as with his original Platonic Noble Lie, and his follow-up Noble Lie on population percentages for herd immunity, on his emails as well, St. Anthony of Fauci is unapologetic. He claims the outrage is all Republican and all anti-science. Tell that to the likes of me and Zeynep Tufekci.

Or, per the Fauci emails, have your toady, Kristen Andersen, tell them that after his lying on your behalf on viral engineering. Per that piece, Andersen lamely claims that "new evidence" arose between his email to Fauci and one to the Lancet which squashed, for public consumption, the lab leak idea like a bug. Metzl asked, how much new info could arise in four days. (For open minded people like Jaime, try THIS on size: Times Higher Ed reports that critics claim Lancet, and other journals with the same take, had potential conflicts of interest.)

As I've said before, if Fauci had any ethics, he'd resign. But, I more and more question just how much or how little ethics he has. I don't question how much of a bureaucrat he is.

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Update: Fauci says we should continue to fund WIV. This is insane both on the gain-of-function issue and on China's stonewalling WHO as well as the US on further transparency.

No, antivaxxerism is not INHERENTLY racist

The key to the phrase above is in the capitalized word. Paula Larsson, as a graduate philosophy student at Oxford, should be ashamed for writing a piece claiming that it is inherently so, as she should know the extra burden of proof involved in claiming that any social idea, group or movement is INHERENTLY "X." 

The Conversation should be ashamed for running this.

People like Juan Cole should be ashamed for spreading this.

None of them, of course, WILL be.

The "inherently" claim is ultimately a structural claim. And, with that, I see the camel's nose of Critical Race Theory — and its misuse, overuse, stretched use and abuse. As an actual leftist, at least for America, and as one who's read one of the seminal texts of CRT, actually does know something about it, and sees both things to like and dislike about it, I can say this with a high degree of confidence.

To wit, I've actually read Eddie Glaude's Democracy in Black, who is on the edges of the movement, and Derrick Bell, a founder of the theory, whose Silent Covenants was a good introduction. 

I've also read many other books about how the concept of race was developed. And, blogged about the good, bad and ugly of CRT here.

And, Larsson's just not proven her claim AT ALL.

In fact, she's not proven that leading White antivaxxers like RFK Jr. and their organizations are NON-inherently (casually?) racist.

To take a counterexample? Some anti-abortion people target minorities in general and Blacks in particular, claiming abortion is genocide. Does that make them racist? Of course not. AND? It's built on the fact that Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist, among other things. Ditto for antivaxxer pitches to minorities; they're built on facts like the Tuskegee Airmen.

Does that mean they're not distorting facts? Of course they are, and so is Paula Larsson. I've heard many things hurled at RFK Jr., but inherently racist (if the movement is, then he is, as a leader, by default definition) is NOT one of them. As a public figure,  with the "actual malice" standard, there's no way the likes of him could win a lawsuit against Larsson, but, I feel that, ethically if not legally, she's skating on thin ice.

Basically, what we have here, as I see it, is an "own the wingnuts" form of tribalism. It's the same type of tribalism that ignores St. Anthony of Fauci's Platonic Noble Lies and refuses to even talk about the possibility of a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or that, at one time, we did indeed fund gain-of-function research there, or that St. Anthony can even be wrong at any time. (I may feel the urge to blog about this gain-of-function stuff, as it's yet another of St. Anthony's lies, this time done by trying to redefine the most commonly accepted definition of the phrase.)

In other words? #BlueAnon tribalism. Cole's a definite #BlueAnon tribalist. Larsson's Canadian, so we call her the Canadian fellow-traveler or equivalent of BlueAnon.

And, in most these cases, and definitely this one? It's a self-own, at least for us who strive not to be tribalists and who actually engage in critical thinking. Other than that, all it does is increase tribalism and give fuel to wingnuts attacking CRT. Or to wingnuts attacking #BlueAnon over ideas like this.

July 20, 2021

Texas Progressives talk Runaway Scrape 2.0 and more

Texas

Off the Kuff has plenty to say about Quorum Break 2, the sequel. (SocraticGadfly called it Runaway Scrape 2.0) .

Chris Hooks notes that the quorum break will take a toll on Strangeabbott

Hooks also looks at what Matt Rinaldi as state GOP chair will mean for the party.

The Observer checks in on recently-paroled Reality Winner. (Glenn Greenwald, for the clueless or sycophantic, blamed everyone else at The Intercept for her arrest.)

Now we know why Joe Manchin still loves the filibuster: GOP bucks, including right here in Texas.

The Observer also talks about the problem of building more roads to fight traffic, which only increases sprawl in the end, and the political-industrial complex that continues to push this. (If the US is one third of the way to being a failed nation-state, Texas is — like California for different reasons — one third of the way to being a failed state.)

Regional

The Observer has a guest editorial calling for Austin to officially ban its cops from firing bean bags.

National

With neoliberals like Dear Leader's former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz sucking up to Big Oil and Big Coal on climate change, it's no wonder national Democrats fiddle while Rome and the world burns.

Or, rather than Rome burning? Lake Mead, continuing to dry up, will likely trigger a Colorado River water emergency declaration soon, far earlier than expected. (Per the story, Upper Colorado states face a likely similar declaration next year.) And, as the story shows, Aridzona is lying about how prepared it is for this. Per the story, doubling or tripling water prices would show actual preparation.

CPAC came to Texas, and Hooks notes it did cancel culture on St. Ronald of Reagan.

Global

SocraticGadfly saw the new Pentagon report and took a DEEP dive into why aliens are NOT visiting planet Earth.

The Atlantic charges that Black Lives Matter is wrongly looking at Cuba through an American-centric lens, and I at least halfway agree. (I agree with Cuba still having its own racial-discrimination problems; I disagree with Atlantic in wanting to finger state-owned economic apparatus as a major contributor.) The Independent Media Institute commits the same mistake, unwilling to finger the Cuban government for anything. The same piece co-published at Counterpunch

Yes, a Muslim-Evangelical global alliance is a real thing. And, potentially, a good thing.

July 19, 2021

Putin bans Proekt, Russian version of Wikileaks

Especially in light of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory and its first heavy supporter, many people may wonder why there's no Russian outlet for Wikileaks. (Actually, in light of the first half of the first sentence, some people may have stopped wondering, if you know what I mean.)

Well, Russia has had an equivalent of Wikileaks for several years. Proekt has done some damn good work, as I've noted in the past, such as Russia backing Evo Morales' coup against the Bolivian constitution because he was eyeing an in to Bolivia's lithium mines.

No, really. Per Quartz, the Russkies thought Morales would grant more favorable mining concessions than his opposition. More at Proekt's site, including the role of Rosatom. And, it's good enough for the New York Times to have won a Pulitzer by apparently plagiarizing from it.

Alas, it's going to be harder for Proekt to do such work, at least inside Russia. The Guardian reports that Putin has essentially outlawed Proekt by fiat. Too many unflattering Putin scoops were too much.

Now, is Proekt perfect? (Setting aside that none of us are.) No, not really. I think it takes too whitewashed of a view of Navalny. That said, when all you have is Putin as a nail, every anti-Putin politician can become a hammer. 

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Updates: Proekt is cutting ties with its US-based funder and closing that entity. But, via Moscow Times, Proekt says it has a new blockbuster coming. The cutting of US ties is probably to avoid the "foreign agent" label.