SocraticGadfly: 2/28/16 - 3/6/16

March 04, 2016

Did #AnybodyButTrump work at the #GOPDebate?

First, some quick grades — taking note that these are relative, and GOP-specific.

1. John Kasich — B. Can't quite given him a B-plus, even with the GOP relativity. He took the high road, and touted his achievements, without mudslinging. Flip side is that he didn't throw enough elbows to get himself more comment time. With two more debates, one before and one after Second Tuesday on March 15, he's going to have to figure out a way to get more air time, without looking either negative or whiny.

2. Marco Rubio — D. Yeah, the yoga joke was funny. But, it was flip. And, while he traded some punches with Trump earlier, he didn't really explain himself as far as what he's about.

3. Ted Cruz — D-minus. Aside from the gob of goober or whatever was in his mouth, he did little on the plus side. Per many analysts' notes, he and Rubio refrained from attacking each other, but both seemed to do little new on the positive side. And while his "count to 10, Donald," was funny, like Rubio's yoga, it had the flip side. In this case, it reminds one of Rafael Edward Cruz, junior high teacher's pet, in this case out to help Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier run the debate.

4. Donald Trump — F-minus. Talking about his package size to start off the debate was the highlight of his lowlights.

Once again, I have to laugh at some other scorings of the debate. And, not just from conservative leaning sites, although first with them. I simply do not get the love a fair chunk of Texas media has for Cruz, even going by relativistic current GOP candidate standards.

Wallace/Kelly/Baier. B overall. The first two must have gotten some memo direct from Rupert Murdoch that it was time to go after Trump. Baier was left to play straight man, if you will. I'm disappointed, both seriously and sarcastically, that none of them used Caitlyn Jenner's apparent bromance with Ted Cruz to ask them further about civil rights.

As for the strategery of Rubio and Cruz, and the Anybody but Trump movement? I agree with other pundits that he likely can't be stopped, for a variety of reasons. I don't guarantee he can't be stopped, but it doesn't seem likely. Cruz, of course, has had the worst strategy in dealing with Trump for the longest time. The bigger deal is that the "GOP Establishment" has been shown to be a hollow shell. But, it doesn't totally favor the Koch Bros. and their outside money, courtesy of Citizens United. Now, as Trump has shown, any grifter with enough money and enough prior visibility can surge to the lead by tapping the perceived pulse of the voter.


And, a sidebar. Trump has generally beaten Cruz even among "evangelical" voters, whose hypocrisy I've covered before. Will the "package" comment change that?


Sidebar 2: Because Kasich is too far behind the curve, and probably distrusted by some Tea Party types to boot, the real winner last night, per this analysis, was probably the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton.

March 03, 2016

Jesse the Body threatens to enter Prez race

The inimitable Jesse Ventura
Jesse "the Body" Ventura, former Reform Party governor of Minnesota, has threatened to enter the presidential race if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

He's certainly be entertaining. And, in some ways, more enlightened than her. Certainly more outspoken.

Fortunately, there's a Green Party to vote for anyway. So, I don't have to entertain voting for him.

If there were no Green candidate, though?

I'd vote for him over her, as a protest, if nothing else. (I wouldn't do that if Bloomberg ran as an Indy, and given that Gary Johnson has forfeited much of his integrity reputation, I wouldn't do that for him as Libertarian nominee, if he gets it again.)

March 02, 2016

Quick #SuperTuesday reax

First, at the local level, personal if I hadn't early-voted and lived in another precinct, and professional because it delayed the end of my work day, a county of less than 30K runs out of ballots at three precincts, has to make paper copies and hand-count.

Everything's bigger in Texas, including the snafus. Oh well, voting machine companies can't create fraudulent paper ballots.

Statewide? Well, Cruz had more giddy-up than I expected. I didn't think he'd win Texas by more than 6 percentage points. That said, pundits aren't THAT impressed by it.

Louie Gohmert didn't get "primaried" after all, it turns out, or else a lot of folks in Congressional District 1 like having a clown to represent them.

Mucus and others couldn't unseat Joe Straus. Molly White appeared to be losing her state House seat to a more conventional Big Biz Republican. So, maybe the high tide of the Tea Party is over.

Nationally, for both parties? Both Trump and Clinton took 60 percent of their party's available delegates or more. John Kasich is hanging on to try to win winner-take-all Ohio; ditto for Rubio and Florida. Getcha popcorn in the next two weeks; Missouri and Illinois are also winner-take-all on Second Tuesday.

Dems? Sanders' failure to close the deal in Massachusetts wash't good.

Looking ahead, he'll probably win Kansas and Nebraska on March 8. Michigan on March 8 is going to be a biggie even before Second Tuesday. It's an open primary; if he can't win that, with independent crossover help, it's time for the Fat Lady to warm her vocal cords.

Second Tuesday isn't so good for him. Florida's a closed primary, and DNC Chair and Florida Congresscritter and general grifter Debbie Wasserman Schultz will do everything she can to help make sure he's killed there. If he can't win a majority of Dem delegates between now and Second Tuesday, I don't care how much money he raises.

It didn't help Jeb¡ now, did it?

There is this tidbit, per Doug Henwood:
True dat. Those Southern blacks of Clinton's firewall will be outnumbered by Southern whites in the general, in all likelihood. OTOH, she tied Iowa and squeaked out Massachusetts.

Raw Story points out several candidates who hung around after passing their sell-by dates. However, it doesn't note that, in general, even if they didn't "suspend" their campaigns, normally, they did just that. The DNC, if Bernie gets to being too much of a pest from its and Clinton's POV, will have him address the convention at 7 a.m. Tuesday rather than 7 p.m. Thursday, or whatever.

March 01, 2016

It's time to stop ENABLING the Democratic Party

I've thought this since before the 2004 election, the first time I voted Green for President.*

That said, a new opinion piece totally agrees with where I'm coming from, hence the all-caps header.

Like Sarah Gray, I"ve had "oh, the SCOTUS" thrust in front of me for more than a decade. It's to the point that I anticipate Clintonistas doing it in advance, and then love when they get upset and protest that they weren't going there, then do go there.

And, Gray is also right that there's a whole country outside the Beltway, and anger on the left as well as tea party type anger on the right.

My one caveat on her piece is using the phrase "the left" anywhere in conjunction with today's institutional Democratic Party. I call myself a "left-liberal" rather than a "liberal" precisely because "liberal" (and more and more, "progressive,") have become vapid. The "left" prefix is a qualifier to make clear I don't associate with today's Democrats, who are most certainly NOT "the left."

The "enabling" is exactly true. Per the addiction-and-recovery world, it's like "enabling" a drunken Democratic Party to keep chasing that magic Overton Window. And, I've seen it entwined with a drunken embrace of neoliberalism, especially its new tech-neoliberalism version.

Speaking of ...

Besides being "in the Beltway," the other problem is that the Democratic Party, as an institution, has sold out to neoliberalism. Yes, the word may be a bit overused or misused at times.

But, it's very real, and there's a very good definition of what it means:
I am working under the assumption that “neoliberalism” is a useful umbrella term to describe the interconnected and (generally) explicitly articulated ideas, principles, political views and ideological commitments that have ended up running the table in higher education and much else besides. 
 Without getting too far into the devilish details of my project or plunging right away into the twists and turns of my argument/analysis — that’s what the book is for, after all — I will simply say that “neoliberalism” as an abstract term describes a school of thought privileging the “free market” not as a neutral mechanism for the efficient allocation of resources within a very broad (but still, in the end, limited) sphere, but rather as a positive moral force for determining social values in every sphere of human life.

Couldn't have said it better myself. 

Here's a follow-up thought from Burnett:
But there is nothing conservative about radical free-market ideology.  What has been conserved by the near-total (I say near-total if I’m being hopeful) subjection of higher education to the liquidating logic of the market?  This is precisely why I wish to avoid using such oxymoronic terms as “free-market conservatism” to describe the regnant philosophy of political economy that is currently setting the agenda for higher education.
Indeed. Capitalism is a corrosive acid. It's certainly not religiously conservative, despite Tea Partiers, Success Gospelers and others trying to make it so. 

Robert Reich claims that Sandernistas will continue their revolt against the Democratic establishment until they take it down, if he doesn't get the nomination. Well, maybe. If they do, unless I, Brains and others successfully pitch Plan B, their revolt will remain inside the Democratic Party. Second, unless their revolt goes beyond Sanders' own stances on foreign policy issues, it will be a fairly pale revolt overall.

And, Bob, short of the butler with the candlestick in the conservatory, you've got a LONG way to go when your own party chair, Dancing with the Schultz, is now trying to gut payday lenders' regulations within the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau that Sen. Elizabeth Warren fought to create. More on that issue, including that she's not the only Dem who thinks this is a good idea, from Consumerist.

In general, I trump the "oh, the SCOTUS" or similar with "lesser of two evils can still be evil," or "neoliberalism," or 'Overton Window."

Beyond THAT, if Hillary Clinton allegedly needs my help (if she's the nominee) to beat Donald Trump (if he takes the GOP crown) then she needs a lot more help than I have to offer.

* = (I voted nobody in 2000, seeing already then that Ralph Nader had a bigger ego than either Al Gore or George W. Bush. And, for the likes of Jeff St. Clair and other diehard Naderites who claim a 2004 Green Party conspiracy against him, sorry, but it's true.)

February 29, 2016

Do #BlackNamesMatter? How do they relate to #BlackLivesMatter? To #ReversePrivilege and #SJW ideas? (updated for certain classes of white names)

I'm posting this in advance. I'm on vacation at the time this post goes live.

Because I have comments set on moderation, if your comment doesn't go up right away, that's because I'm not online.

The hashtag is deliberate in a non-snarky way.

It's related to this blog post, and related thoughts posted by a friend on Facebook, that we shouldn't snicker ("we" being "whites") at first names from a certain subculture within African-American culture.

I agree on snickering. However, I do have a right (not just a First Amendment right, but a sociological "right") to question such naming, as well as questioning any idea that I have no "right" to such questioning.

Part of what I said, in response to both, was the issue of assimilation, or "conformity," per the Facebook person.

I don't question the desire to establish a certain subculture within African American culture.

I do question, though:
1. The specific tools being used to create that subculture
2. How the tools are being used
3. Whether these tools and/or their use are the best ways to reach any goals
3. The specific goals of that subculture, to the degree it has specific goals, rather than nebulosity
5. Whether it's a culture, rather than a subculture (a commenter on the blog post used "subculture" and I agree)

On point 1 and 2, to the Facebooker, I quote Sam Rayburn's "to get along, go along," after he derided conformity in general.

Beyond that?

I can question, sometimes question strongly, without being bigoted. I do resent, and there's no other word for it, when, on someone else's Facebook post, I expanded this to the issue of American Indian names, or Indonesians (normally one-named) being forced to adopt a first name/surname format, of being anti- #BlackLivesMatter. I resent that, and being indirectly accused of privilege as well.

I respect that it was his thread. I respect that his focus was just on this certain subculture of African-American culture.

That said, I disagree to the degree he seemed to indicate it should be part of African-American culture in general, and to the degree that, without nuance, he "went off" on Bill Cosby. And, I think that was his intent. After my Sam Rayburn quote, and attempt to expand, he insisted it was conformity within black culture; unlike the blog commenter, he didn't mention subculture.

I also tried to expand the focus beyond ethnicity entirely. I said, what if people wanted to, as has been done, named kids something like 3.14159, or tried to name them after Social Security numbers? He rejected that entirely.

I accept that he didn't want to expand the focus, as I indicated already on just the ethnic part.

But, I still resent how he rejected my attempt to expand the focus.

Beyond that?

And, for somebody insightful, I don't resent, but I do ponder, even scratch my head at, his not distinguishing, especially within black America, classism from racism. One could make a better argument against Bill Cosby on classism grounds. Or on subculture rather than culture grounds.

Per Rayburn, I mentioned first-generation Hispanics naming their kids "Daisy Fuentes." (I've seen plenty of this in the last several years, courtesy of my career.) I mentioned "Alberto Fujimori" as former president of Peru, noting such naming assimilation isn't limited to the US. (I would "expect" Caucasians in a culture like China, if they were permanent migrants, to look at doing the same.)

And, at the risk of irritating some, but, standing by and developing my own goals of becoming ever more of a Neo-Cynic, I've created that "Reverse Privilege" hashtag. The Facebook poster, whom I've not unfriended, and who has some other interesting thoughts on matters philosophical (but whom I may move to "acquaintances" at some point), was coming close to engaging in reverse privilege, or so it felt to me. (I suspect the Facebooker, if he thought about it more, would reject the classism angle because it would lessen the apparent reverse privilege angle in particular, and lessen his other angles as well.)

And, per "reverse racism" being at bottom line just another form of racism, so, "reverse privilege" is just another version of privilege.

And, some African-Americans, not conservative ones, either, have some related issues. Adolph Reed, in a definite thought-provoker, says identity politics in general is a form of neoliberalism.

Back to the names issue, now that I've noted that it, as a subpoint of identity politics, is problematic.

Respect for names matters. That said, if the certain subculture is anti-assimilationist, I have the sociological "right" to make judgments, including if those judgments are based in part on names, the names have a fair degree of correlation to that subculture, and that subculture's anti-assimilation is arguably problematic.

That includes a certain African-American subculture, certain ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews from Kiryas Joel, New York, and others.

In other words, subcultures that reject assimilation, and do so by visibly or audibly recognizable markers, shouldn't be surprised when the majority culture reacts. And, because of that, they shouldn't readily play racism cards, at least not when such reaction is serious and non-condescending.

I did make nuanced initial comments on Facebook, and I want to do that here, too.

So, I should note that the naming issue may not be deliberately anti-assimilationist. However, I do think that that is exactly the result.

And, beyond that, what's fair for the goose is good for the gander.

As for ideas of privilege, reverse privilege and the SJW movement world? If I see people like that joking about "redneck" names like "Billy Bob" or "Joe Don," or openly tolerating it in others, I'll let them know. There are arguable parallels. And, I'm not going to personally comment, but, it's possible a hiring manager might, in the white collar world, look at a resume with a name like "Billy Bob" or "Joe Don" on a resume and file 13 it just like a resume with a stereotypically black first name.

Living in Deep East Texas, where I've seen redneck-subculture white folks with kids having names like Danyell (for Danielle, presumably), on the flip side, were I a hiring manager? It's very likely I'd have some sort of subconscious, and even above-subconscious, bias about them, too.

We all make judgment calls; it's part of the nature of "fast thinking." Questioning whether such judgment calls are at times unwarranted stereotypes is part of self-examination. Questioning whether others' claims of stereotyping isn't rather a generalization, not valid for every member of a class or group, but valid enough to be retained, while acknowledged to be a generalization, is also, in my opinion, part of self-examination, and just as much a part of growth.

Yet more beneath the second fold.

TX Progressives get ready for #SuperTuesday

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to rumble for November with approaching Super Tuesday — and for March Madness with another Big XII title for the Kansas Jayhawks — as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff examines Ken Paxton's latest appeal of his fraud charges.

Nonsequiteuse saw everyone else getting in on the open letter game, and figured hey, I can write an open letter, too!

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know what McAllen has to fear from their auditor?

Socratic Gadfly, using someone else's opinion piece, explained why this year as in previous elections this century, he won't be "enabling" the Democratic Party in the presidential race.

The GOP debate in Houston made room for a lowly progressive blogger, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs was a first-hand witness to the culinary carnage.

Dos Centavos wonders if Latino Dems are splitting their votes between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Neil at All People Have Value said that kindness, patience and empathy are forms of resistance in this society. APHV is part of

Egberto Willies has video of Ted Cruz accusing Donald Trump of Mafia connections.

Lewisville Texan Journal says Lake Lewisville gas leases may not be legal.


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

Russ Tidwell figures that the Presidential election and the 2021 redistricting effort will put an end to gridlock, one way or another.

Trailblazers discusses the money being dumped into stop Joe Straus.

The Lunch Tray dissects the socioeconomics of picky eating.

Juanita looks to the last contentious Presidential primary for context on this one.

Better Texas Blog adds up the tax revenues that undocumented immigrants provide.

BOR points out that the cost of implementing campus carry are falling on students and their families.

Dan Solomon finds another example of Republican politicians getting slapped for using a song without permission for campaign purposes.

The Texas Election Law Blog calls the Court of Criminal Appeals "soft on crime" for letting Rick Perry off the hook.

Lone Star Q discusses Dallas ISD's untruths about a state sports transgender ban.

Grits for Breakfast discusses pot arrests.

The Alliance encourages voters to support Jessica Farrar in HD-148, especially in light of her opponentís intentionally deceptive and hateful, anti-gay mailers.

Beyond the banks, beyond the shadow banks: Commodities speculation

Anybody who remembers $147/bbl oil in 2008 before the Great Recession, and knows a lot about the "why" of that knows that possible Peak Oil related issues weren't the only cause.

Commodities speculation was, too.

And, now, as investment banks, presumably the hedge fund portion of shadow banks, and other fiscal institutions have tried and failed to manipulate oil prices from out of the toilet — and we know why — it's time to address this situation further.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has a transactions tax that's part of his pledge to raise money for single-payer national health care. While not an actual Tobin Tax, it is good in its own right.

Such a transactions tax, as long as it included commodities trading, might at least take the edge off such speculation.

And, Sanders could extend this into what should be (but sadly won't be) a foreign policy based on ideas he's expressed on the domestic side. Things like bread riots in Egypt a few years back, while based in part on tight harvests, were exacerbated when those tight harvests led speculators to bid upward grain prices.

And, moving beyond Sanders, there's good environmental as well as fiscal reasons for reigning in commodities speculation. The money from taxing commodities transactions could, of course, be used to beef up the Commodities Futures Trading Corporation, largely gutted by ... wait for it, wait for it ... Bill Clinton when signed the Commodities Futures Modernization Act shortly before the door hit his tuchis on his way out of the White House.

"Buy one, you get two." Right, Hillary Clinton?

Gutting the CFTC, above all, beyond commodities speculation, led to the rise of slice-and-dice derivatives that led to the Great Recession, too.

"Buy one, you get two." Right, Hillary Clinton?

Even if Sanders stays on his 1-note tune, he's got many regulatory overtones that he could be sounding louder. Of course, given that milk and cheese both trade as commodities, and that he voted in favor of the Big Ag-friendly 2014 farm bill, maybe that is part of the reason Sanders hasn't spoken more. An even bigger reason is that Sanders voted FOR the CFMA.

Now, Sandernistas will say, yes, but the CFMA was rolled into a budget omnibus bill after the 2000 election, but before the calendar year's end, with a lame-duck Congress not paying attention.

True. But, Sanders also voted FOR the original CFMA earlier that year. While it wasn't as deregulatory as the final version, it arguably was not a "good" bill itself, just a lesser of evils compared to what actually passed.

And, per Wiki's article on commodities, derivates and swaps can both be commodities-based. And, per Sanders' Holstein-heavy Vermont, there's commodities markets for both milk and cheese. While they may not be as sexy as oil or gold, nonetheless, commodities contracts for both can be sliced, diced, and even speculated upon.