July 09, 2016

#DallasPoliceShootings, Day 2

First, here's a roundup of the basics, from yesterday.

That said, there are other angles, both civil liberties related.

First, what civil liberties issues relate to using a robot-delivered bomb, remotely guided by human control, to killl the prime suspect? Marcy at Emptywheel has good thoughts. I agree that this is a bit like Obama's drone war program.

Second is the connection between blacks being killed by police and the War on Drugs. Even if election-related, kudos to Libertarian prez nominee Gary Johnson for bringing this up. Johnson carefully did not directly link the most recent controversial shootings to the WOD, just a more general connection.

Third, Micah Xavier Johnson was not just a war vet, but served in A-stan. PTSD, anybody? (More on his background here, and here.) Or does the media only ask that about white veterans like Eddie Ray Routh, the man who killed "American Sniper" Chris Kyle?

Fourth, we now have at least one copycat.

Fifth, we have the first false-flag bullshit, complete with anti-Semitism.

Sixth, we have blind hogs, acorns and Newt halfway making sense.

Seventh, yes, Obama went straight to guns. But the issue is retributive violence:
Villager, Tevye:
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!" "Very good. That way, the whole world will be blind and toothless.
-Villager, Tevye
along with racism in some cases, classism in others.

Getting past the mindset of violence is the bottom line, with getting past the mindset of stereotyping closely linked.

Eighth, per the Green Party of Texas, we do need proper police accountability and oversight.

Ninth, we need to remember that cops needlessly shoot white people, the mentally ill, and more, and do so in rural areas. High Country News has more.

July 08, 2016

Infamy in Dallas and an eye for an eye?

More here from Chief Brown and Mayor Rawlings.

In an apparent racist attack in response to deaths of blacks, usually just seconds after being taken into custody, by police officers, and possible racism by white officers involved with that, five Dallas-area police officers are dead, as is the suspect, in a quite premeditated attack on Dallas police patrolling a protest march last night. One suspect was killed by robotic bomb; three others are in custody, police say.

Several thoughts.

First, violence begets violence. Tevye knew that, and its ultimate result, in Fiddler on The Roof.

Villager, Tevye: 
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!" "Very good. That way, the whole world will be blind and toothless.
-Villager, Tevye

Doesn't matter who started it. Violence begets violence.

Second, please, no "prayers for." I have repeatedly said the same about fundamentalist and conservative evangelicals' reactions to places and events like Orlando. I say the same now to liberal interfaith ministers, some of whom may have been in last night's protest and who are planning a prayer event at noon.

Maybe, like Jews at Auschwitz, a few more Americans will start coming to the conclusion that .... nobody's listening, or maybe even that nobody's there to listen.

(Actually, not just Jews at Auschwitz. Most of Europe was almost as religious as the U.S. until World War II.)

Third, as the assassin (that's the right word, folks), showed, "reverse racism" is racism. Well-poisoning begets well-poisoning.

That includes inflammatory tabloid newspaper covers.

And, it also includes, even worse than GOP whackjobs politicizing this, the head of the National Association of Police Organizations arguably politicizing it even more (near bottom). And Bill Johnson then doubled down, accusing Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton of politicizing the Philando Castile shooting there — part of what was being the Dallas protest — by saying Castile might not have been shot if he were white.

(That said, things complicate a bit in the real world; the officer who shot Castile is Hispanic, not Anglo.)

NAPO itself is a puff-job outlet that represents less than one-fourth of the 1.1 million police officers nationally. It is also a wingnut among police organizations, especially compared to the mainstream Fraternal Order of Police and others.

Jim Pasco, head of FOP, in his comments, did accuse President Obama of a bit of pandering, but also admitted police aren't perfect, and, like Dallas' Chief Brown, that work must be done all around to fix the various divides. (The FOP isn't all roses, though.)

First, at least in my minds, the protests are anti BAD cop, not anti cop. Second, there is no civil war, at least not yet. Per Chief Brown, we need to stop the divide that's already there.

However, Chief Justice John Roberts, with:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Doesn't have the answer, either.

Something both simplistic and fatuous makes him part of the problem, not part of the solution. Legislation can't change hearts, but it can constrain outward actions.

The work stretching back to the 1950s and 1960s has plateaued. And blacks are also no longer America's largest racial minority. Per LBJ, we need to pick up that work again.

Per Chris Hedges (thanks, Brains) we must recognize that we have an "ossified" state. Sorry, Mr. Umpire in Chief, but them's the facts.

Fourth, stop with the conspiracy thinking as well as the prayers, whether claiming the assassin was white, or surely, as an Alex Jones type will say, that is was a police false flag, or that police used this as an excuse to shoot into the crowd. (There were many white people in the crowd, per video; a police sniper couldn't have picked out just blacks in a melee.)

I know that such small thoughts are a tiny minority, but we don't need them to get bigger.

As a former Metroplex resident, I say focus on how many police and protestors tried to help each other.

As a former Metroplex resident who marched there for gay rights events, ant-war protests when Shrub Bush and Darth Cheney were in town, protests outside eXXXon shareholder meetings and more, I don't appreciate anybody making my freedom of assembly more scary.

As for the infamy? It's the most police killed on one day since 9/11, and likely the most famous killing in Dallas since Nov. 22, 1963.

Finally, without denigrating Black Lives Matter, let's smell some coffee and note that at times in violence-ridden America, No Lives Matter, seemingly.

#ClintonEmails, round 22

Despite what FBI Director James Comey said, Hillary Clinton is not yet out of the woods on email issues.

First, the State Department, her old domicile, has said it wants a new look. This would likely target staffers, not Hillz, but would continue the drip, drip, drip.

Second, House GOP wingnuts want to see if she perjured herself during an appearance on the Hill. This has the best risk of goading her out of her normal guardedness, and into possible mistakes, whether or not she actually perjured herself.

Brains has more in a scattershooting roundup.

July 07, 2016

Kevin Durant, the Warriors, the NBA: First thoughts

Kevin Durant, new Warrior
First, I'll have to say Kevin Durant surprised me in two ways. I thought he would stay with he Thunder, and I think I vaguely thought that if he did leave, he'd sign a max contract with another team, not a one-and-option, as he's doing with the Golden State Warriors.

Kudos for his apparent smarts, and kudos to the Logo, Jerry West, for his part in recruiting Durant. Never underestimate that man.

Now that Durant has made his choice what happens next in Golden State? It seems like it should be easy for the Warriors to win the next title. But is that true? They’re losing one good defensive player in Harrison Barnes. They’re probably going to lose another in Andrew Bogut. And Andre Iguodala’s back is still a question mark. Plus even if they overcome these relative defensive deficiencies Coach Steve Kerr still have to integrate Durant into a new office and have to integrate Steph Curry and Klay Thompson into play with Durant.

Meanwhile, the one and option contract could be a lead anchor in a year. Curry will be a free agent even while Durant can threaten to opt out. So, the Dubs, while obviously in win-now mode, have no choice but to be in win-now mode.

And that's further complicated by the NBA now cutting by $5M its 2017-18 salary cap estimate.

And superteams aren't guaranteed wins. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat lost two of four Finals trips.

How does this play out elsewhere? The Cavs don’t have money for any major moves. The Thunder now have money available and made a decent trade last week but they really need someone kind of like Barnes, in my opinion, but there’s really nobody like that left.

The Spurs? If Tim Duncan is retiring there they can finish turning a page and Kawhi Leonard can make the team his. That includes taking over from Tony Parker, who I don't think really grasped this in last year's playoffs. And, the signing of Pau Gasol makes them better and more versatile. (Counting playoffs, Gasol has a whopping 15,000 fewer minutes on his odometer than Duncan.)

The Clippers appear no better that last year. A healthy Memphis including a healthy new Chandler Parsons could move into the top half of the West past the Thunder. And that would be it. Sorry, Rockets fans, i don't see you moves breaking you in the top four. Ditto for you, Mavs fans. And the Thunder have to decide what to do, or try to do, with Russell Westbrook. I guess odds are 2-1 against an extension, so who trades for him and how much do they give?

Boston seems most likely to challenge Cleveland in the East. No other team in the East is a serious competitor. Here's some early Vegas odds.

July 06, 2016

#Exxon head-fakes on #climatechange and a #carbontax

Has eXXXonMobil suddenly "gotten religion" about climate change because it's calling for a carbon tax?

Don't you believe it, not for a minute.

Here's the nut graf:
The world's largest oil company wants a simple tax charged on extracted carbon, such as oil and gas, in lieu of complicated regulations or trading schemes that too often create unintended consequences. Exxon chief executive Rex Tillerson also wants the money returned to the public to offset the cost to consumers.
Note the last sentence.

No, what that really does is remove any "bite" from a carbon tax, making it a toothless tiger, hence harmless to Tillerson, eXXXon and the rest of Big Oil.

That's why this:
While Exxon first advocated for a revenue-neutral carbon tax in 2009, the company has recently stepped up lobbying in Washington and around the world. The move was sparked by President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, the world's adoption of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change and the U.S. House of Representatives' resolution to condemn any tax on carbon.
Is both true and trivial.

I don't want to harm the lower and middle classes too much, though.

So, here's the halfway house.

Use this money to fund new tax credits on renewable energy.

Like electric cars.

How about it, Rex?

Again, I'm not looking to penalize consumers, but, to really work, a carbon tax has to have bite. By bite, I mean something similar to sin taxes on booze and cigs.

What if I said the IRS said both you and your brother owed back taxes, but that if you both paid them all off, it would refund his taxes to you and vice versa? You'd think it had a hole in its collective head.

Or, per my sin tax reference above, we know cigarette smokers tilt poor, but we don't rebate excise taxes on each pack of Marlboros.

And, what's the right tax level, with or without a direct rebate?

A Houston-area Green Party Congressional candidate Tweets:
Erm, I'm skeptical of many things without necessarily being cynical, but, it's eXXXon, and the two merge. Note first that a certain Democrat, non-socialist but alleged socialist, was elected President and took office then with Democratic Congressional majorities.

Second, does eXXXon's tax include just carbon, in the narrow sense, or "carbon," in the broad sense, i.e, methane and other greenhouse gases? We know eXXXon has a not-insignificant natural gas portfolio.

Third, does eXXXon favor a carbon tariff as well as tax? That's my stance.

Fourth, the fact that eXXXon's proposal is higher than already in place elsewhere in the developed world makes me more skeptical. Note also that many places with a carbon tax in place do NOT rebate.

I would MUCH prefer $20/ton, no rebate, to eXXXon's idea. I suspect it would be more effective.

And, let's use the money for climate mitigation. Fund electric car purchases. Fund hybrid-drive buses. (GM's Allison division has made them for years; did you know that?) Fund more mass transit in more rural areas.

Beyond that, it's clear that eXXXon's stance on carbon and climate change is just that: a stance, for PR reasons. I agree with Alternet. It seems clear eXXXon has a PR, and a legal strategy of "uncertainty," or hedging the issue, just like Big Tobacco, at whose feet eXXXon and the rest of Big Oil has studied so hard. And, a Green Party Congressional candidate who unskeptically  swallows it should look in the mirror.

Beyond that, Exxon, if it really did care about climate change, could publicly disavow the likes of Lamar Smith at any time. But it doesn't.

July 05, 2016

TX Progressives celebrate the Fourth and reproductive freedom

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates another birthday for America as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff credits Wendy Davis for getting it right on HB2.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is hardly shocked to learn that our state is run by a group of sexist pigs. Will the Texas GOP Apologize for its Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Bill and its Sexist Piggery?

Socratic Gadfly notes how chunks of the mainstream media tried to create Scalia-connected false drama on the Supreme Court's abortion ruling.

CouldBeTrue of South South Texas Chisme warns Texans that far right group wants to purge Starr County voter rolls so that you don't get a vote.

Cheeto Jesus (Donald Trump) begged Saul Relative (PDiddie at Brains and Eggs) for a campaign donation.

Neil at All People Have Value supports Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor/Voter Registrar. She will do a very good job in that important office. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


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

Andrea Ferrigno celebrates the SCOTUS decision striking down HB2.

Keep Austin Wonky criticizes that city's road bond proposal.

The TSTA Blog takes exception to Texas exceptionalism.

The Makeshift Academic explains why Medicaid expansion was such a key component of the Affordable Care Act.

Drew Blackburn wonders why Austin is having such a hard time with regulations on sharing economy companies.

Paradise in Hell looks at the sinkholes of West Texas.

Hillary's homebrew server: Is she dead or alive?

Hillary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI for more than 3 hours on Saturday.

Two questions arise, of course:
1. What next, and
2. When?

First, if any charges do pend, against anybody, they will be civil, unless somebody lied under oath and wasn't given a chance to amend their statements.

Second, will FBI Director James Comey, if he wants to go full speed ahead, will he face Department of Justice roadblocks, even with AG Loretta Lynch pulling her hands off the process?

Third, can he prove intent, along with at-the-time knowledge that allegedly classified emails were that? Per Vox, sounds tough.

I say Comey probably wants to go 70-80 percent full speed, and that he's got backdoor trap doors to undermine possible DOJ roadbocks. At the same time, he's a tea-leaf reading bureaucrat. And, his independence — I hope it includes independence from RWNJ shit-stirrers like Matthew Whitaker, mentioned in The Hill's take. (Gotta "love" Beltway punditocracy calling his Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust a "watchdog group." It's a wingnut group, and fellow lefty bloggers, as this issue plays out, Google names of individuals and orgs if you have ANY questions or doubts; this will be spun 6 ways from Sunday. The other figure in the piece didn't draw such a hit when I Googled, but, going by Bradley Moss' Twitter account, I'm not quite sure what to think.)

Back to the main angle, though.

I'm no Nate Silver — neither that arrogant nor strangely occasionally clueless — so no percentages.

As general odds, though?

No indictments until after Election Day, if there are any. Per the Vox link above, if Comey doesn't have enough goods at hand by the Democratic Convention, things likely go on ice. That gives less than a month.

No criminal indictments.

No indictments of any sort of Clinton herself.

(Update, 10:30 a.m. Central July 5: And, I was right. Comey just said he saw no "intentional misconduct." He's referred the matter to Justice, but that should make clear that not only will there be no criminal charges, there probably won't even be civil ones. Per my Googling of names above, it's back to the drawing board for right-wing nut jobs. Here's the full FBI statement.)

Brains has more. He's a bit more cynical about Comey than am I; see comments below.

And, most people getting a likely indictment wrong were RWNJs. More here.

That said, if Gen. Betrayus only got a slap-on-the-hand misdemeanor for worse conduct with classified info, IMO, what did you expect from Comey? Blame the system, not a conspiracy.)

That said, the drip, drip, drip will continue, undercutting the claims of Dem surrogates from Dear Leader on down that she's trustworthy.

(Update 2, 1 p.m. Central, July 7. Indeed, that drip, drip, drip will continue. The FBI's head cheese has been "invited" to Capitol Hill to become a grilled Comey sammich.)

She's not. She hasn't been since her killing in Arkansas cattle futures, if not before that.

July 04, 2016

The Fourth, fireworks and funnel cakes

I’ve long loved fireworks shows of all sizes, kinds and locations. That includes displays in big cities, usually with the “1812 Overture” or similar musical accompaniment (St. Louis’, my the Arch on the Mississippi is great) through suburbs trying to offer convenient alternatives to downtown cities, to freestanding small towns, as where I live now.

That said, one Founding Father anticipated them, along with many other such events. He even encouraged them.

"It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other,” John Adams told his wife, Abigail.
Oops, though. I forgot to tell you he was talking about July 2, not 4.

To be technical, that’s the day the Continental Congress voted its 13 member colonies to be independent from Britain. Two days late, on the Fourth, it voted to accept a Declaration of why it had declared independence, as written by Thomas Jefferson, edited by John Adams and the three other members of the five-man authorial committee along with Jefferson, then edited further by Congress meeting as a whole. (Oh, and John Hancock, as president of the Continental Congress, was likely the only person to sign it on July 4, 1776. Others didn't even start signing for another month.

Anyway, Trivial Pursuit angles aside, Adams certainly got it right. And he’s had it right for 240 years since. And, he didn’t stop with “bonfires and illuminations” or the “pomp and parade” part. Note the “shows, games, sports.” I think Adams would have been just fine at many a small-town Fourth of July event. How about a funnel cake for Mr. Adams?

On fireworks, I like them nice and visible, as well as nice and audible. That too, comes from personal background. What else would you expect from a junior pyromaniac who started a fire (unintentionally) in his family’s kitchen wastebasket when he was 4 years old? That was followed by trying to burn down the cottonwood tree in the backyard at our next house about six years later.

Adapted from a newspaper column.