SocraticGadfly: 11/13/16 - 11/20/16

November 19, 2016

Mike Leach, come on down to the #CFP

With Washington, as well as Michigan and Clemson, losing last week, Big 12 football fans had reason to hope that a one-loss West Virginia (which still doesn't seem like it should be in the conference), or even a two-loss Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, might get into the four-team college football playoff.

Even more so with L'ville getting blown out by Houston Thursday night and eliminating itself from the chase.

But picture this one instead.

FORMER Big 12 coach Mike Leach, removed from Texas Tech's pastures at Lubbock to those of Washington State in Pullman, pulling the deal off instead.

It's very possible.

The Coogs entirely control their own destiny, short of the playoff voters, of course.

They play Pac-12 South leader Colorado this week. Then, the Huskies are on tap for what will decide the North title. The first is on the road; the second at home. If they win both (or just the second, even, but that's out of the playoff picture then), they then would either replay the Buffaloes, or else USC (maybe?) or Utah, for the league title.

Colorado is 12th in the AP poll and 10th in the CFP. Washington is 7th and 6th, respectively, and Utah 11th/12th.

In my book, if a fourth CFP slot is open, winning out that trifecta would put the two-loss Coogs ahead of either Sooners or Cowpokes, and I think it should put them ahead of the Mountaineers.

Plus, wouldn't you like the Eff You angle of Leach being in the playoffs? Yes, yes, yes.

November 18, 2016

The Saudis have oil supply 100 percent backward

As various general news media and oil-watch outlets heat up over Saudi Arabia's attempt to get an oil production freeze from OPEC members and, it hopes, from Russia as well, looking back in hindsight, maybe Ali Al-Naimi should have gone back to old Saudi ways rather than venture into a brave new production world from which his successor, current Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih, is trying to pick up the pieces.

That said, it wasn't all his fault. His predecessor, Ali al-Naimi, recently noted that, in late 2014, as an oil oversupply already loomed, fellow OPEC members refused to tighten the taps. Al-Naimi started the decision to keep oil flowing without taking all the hits on cuts itself, and even pumping more.

Al-Naimi led the Saudi oil desk for 20 years, and in previous world, or OPEC, gluts, as the biggest producer, and for his whole time, the so called "swing producer" for the world, would tighten its own taps only. But, largely to smack down US shale oil, he said no.

I think he got it totally wrong.

He should not just have done previous Saudi-style cutting, but even more.

One of the elements of American shale oil is that its success is somewhat a will-o'-the-wisp and certainly short term. Yes, fracking shale formations will produce more oil than conventional drilling, and in tight formations will produce oil where it couldn't be gotten with a conventional process.

However, it doesn't produce that much more oil in wider shale formations, let alone in fracking to improve on non-shale drilling. It does produce some more, but not an incredible amount.

Rather, part of its dazzling effect is simply to increase the flow rate of oil in production. That's it.

If the Saudis had been smart, they would have whacked their production twice as much as in the past, let the price hit $100/bbl, and let many of America's newly-fracked oil wells pump themselves halfway dry in half a dozen years, if that long.

KSA then swoops in to pick up the pieces.

That's IF a "little" new shale oil find in the Permian doesn't totally upset oil production applecarts.

November 17, 2016

Donald Trump = Ross Perot (or Silvio Berlusconi) on steroids and other drugs

Nearly two months ago, well in advance of the US presidential election, I blogged that I was not THAT afraid of a President Trump.

I still stand by that.

Since then, and also starting before the election, the idea began percolating in my head that Donald Trump is a riff on Ross Perot. Both are somewhat dictatorial-minded, in their management styles, big business CEOs.

Ross Perot would have been in for a rude awakening had he been elected president, and I think Donald Trump faces some of the same, even though the GOP controls both houses of Congress.

Trump is basically a more bloviating, more mercurial, cruder and more thuggish version of Ross Perot. (Of course, this assumes that the stream-of-consciousness exemplifier can be categorized at all.)

And, the punditocracy class and MSM analysts are asleep at the wheel to have not started drawing Trump-Perot parallels. (He is NOT, contra MSM pre-election bloviating, a fascist.)

If one goes back to 1992, one will (without the overwrought psychology) hear Perot make many of the same statements, such as “I’m going to abolish X,” without noting the existence of this thing called the US Congress.

Indeed, Mitch the Turtle is already saying no to some of Trump's ideas.

Maybe, in a riff on a certain South American country’s past political history, we should talk about “Perotism”?

As a psychological case study, I think a President Trump is going to be fun to watch for frustration levels, and the mercurialness I mentioned. (I think he is clinically diagnosable with mercurial personality disorder. Relax, folks, it’s just a neurosis, not a psychosis, and not the worst one in the book.)

Would he resign? I don’t know.

I do know that, if he did, a President Pence would likely be FAR more scary than a President Trump.

Ergo, Clintonistas, other Dems, and left liberals should NOT hope Allen Lichtman will be right (he won't) that a GOP Congress will impeach Trump.

The Times, in an opinion piece, has advice on how to treat Trump, and not treat him, based on the Italian left's handling of Berlusconi. And, Berlusconi is certainly a closer parallel than Ross Perot!

November 16, 2016

Green Party post-mortem and look ahead

Unfortunately, the Green Party came nowhere near 5 percent nationally and won't get national campaign money from the government guaranteed in the next election cycle.

More unfortunately, due to the conniving Texas Democratic Party recruiting the unqualified Betsy Johnson to run for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5, folks like me and Brains will be out in the spring of 2018 (if we both remain in Texas) signing Green Party ballot access petitions instead of voting in the state Democratic primary, where we might weed out the worse of two options.

(Given that state Dems keep having the likes of a Grady Yarbrough getting nominated, followed by state Dem leadership being so apoplectic that it then backs a Libertarian [rather than a Green] for the position, I guess you don't want folks like me and Brains participating?)

That said, beyond the outside issues, at both the state and national levels, the Greens have various ways the party needs to up its game.

(Update, Aug. 6, 2017: Recent events, including a national-level double pants-crapping shortly before this year's national convention, and a state-level Texas Greens crack-up a month earlier, leave me skeptical on how well the check-list items below, or the footnote at the end, will be addressed.)

Among the things that needs to continue to improve is:

1. Recruiting more, and better, candidates. Example No. 1 in Texas? Brandon Parmer, 2014 gubernatorial candidate.

2. Candidate campaign training. Train people on writing press releases to traditional mainstream media and offbeat alike. Train them on public presentation and presence. Train them on a modicum of professional candidacy.

And, train them on taking every opportunity they can. If the Morning News or Chronicle asks you to drop by for a candidate endorsement interview, do it. Work with rearranging your schedule (I know, the typical Green is working a regular day job, but so are many Libertarians) while getting them to work with you.

3. Better Internet presence. Martina Salinas, Texas Railroad Commission candidate, said in early September that she would have a website within a month. She never did. Facebook pages aren't a replacement for a true website presence. (Parmer was worse, not even updating his Facebook page, and also letting it look unprofessional.)

What you can present on FB is limited. Detailed campaign policy statements can't be placed there. PayPal or other campaign donation links can't be placed on a Facebook page, either.

It looks unprofessional in general, if not always as rankly unprofessional as Parmer. It looks cheap along with that.

WordPress websites aren't THAT hard to create. And, they're not THAT expensive to host for a few months. I used to be on the board of directors of a nonprofit social services organization that is 1/100th the size, if that, of its much better known competitor. We have a website with one, half-time paid, executive director the only paid position in the organization.

Yes, she was running for U.S. Senate, not a state-level office, but the website of Maryland's Margarat Flowers, which is a basic template-type setup, is an illustration. I'll contribute to GPTX, and publicize it, if it will just get state candidates to do this here in Texas.

Greens, take note. And I am deliberately highlighting this.

I will seriously look at "undervoting" on your races if you won't address this point at a minimum. (I undervoted Parmer in the 2014 gubernatorial race for Reason No. 1.

4. Other professionalism needs to improve. I'm glad Jill Stein worked hard on her campaign. But, it's simply not cool to send mass blast emails to media outlets that include financial solicitations as part of the email, as she did. (And yes, this was done.) It's certainly not cool for other candidates to do that, if they did.

(Update: Per his link in comments, go read David Bruce Collins, both that post and one or two before it about election results as well. We're in broad agreement on these "professionalism" issues and related ones. He approaches this from a more insider angle to complement what I've written. On a couple of those posts, he tackles some of he issues in points 5-6.)

5. Accept the science on the safety of GMOs just like accepting the science on the reality, and severity, of climate change. If anything, science is even more settled on GMO issues.

6. Get a better presidential candidate. From 2000, the party has gone from a hypocrite on owning Big Oil and Defense stocks (Ralph Nader) to a nice guy who ran too safe of a safe states strategy (David Cobb — note, you run to win, even as a third party) to an anti-Semite and worse who hid it during the election (Cynthia McKinney), to another hypocrite on Big Oil and Defense, etc. (Jill Stein). Green candidates also need to get scrappier with each other to bring these things out, in the case of Nader, then Stein, before the national convention. (They need to do this instead of launching conspiracy theories at the national convention, as Sedinam Moyowasifa-Curry did.)

7. Meanwhile, as noted above, looking to 2018, thanks to Texas Dems recruiting (and they did recruit) a barely functioning, barely competent attorney to run for Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5, people like me and Brains will have to be signing Green Party ballot access petitions, which means we can't vote in the Dem primary and possibly keep you from choosing the worse candidates in contested primary races.

Texas Dems, you just disincentivized me from protecting you from some of your own bad candidate issues ... Grady Yarbrough come to mind? Or the aforehinted Betsy Johnson of CCA Place 5?

8. I'm not buying the Hillbot line that Greens don't run any local or regional candidates. It was an sneering insult to the party. But, there's plenty of room for more in the way of county commission, state representative, state boards and similar candidacies.


Greens in Texas, as part of a national party, also need to do their part in making sure the party remains a relevant, viable option on the left, per Mark Lause and my take on him. Related to this, as part of a national-level tussle, they need to address the apparent accommodationism with Democrats that Jill Stein, David Cobb and others are showing.

November 15, 2016

TX Progressives offer a post-election roundup

Yes, Carrot Head is now president, and the Texas Progressives address that and more:

Off the Kuff reminds us again that climate change is not going to be kind to Houston.

Socratic Gadfly analyzes the election and offers up a Clinton post-mortem, along with one for the Democratic Party. (He'll have a Green Party post-morten later this week.)

South Texas Chisme passes along the news that a Border Patrol agent has been caught lying about narcotics confiscation. The war on drugs leads to public corruption.

A post-election to-do-list was posted on Election Day by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, and one item on it -- stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- has already been checked off.

Neil at All People Have Value points out the distinctions between Trump's voters and Trump with respect to racism. AHPV is a part of

The Lewisville Texan Journal editorialized against the Electoral College.

jobsanger says that the onus to fix the US economy is now squarely on the GOP.

And John Coby at Bay Area Houston is still a little sore at people who voted for Trump, and Egberto Willies is only slightly recovered from an election result nobody saw coming. 


More Texas news for columnists and bloggers from around the state! 

The Dallas News notes Trump's stated intent to overturn the Supreme Court's long-established precedent on a woman's right to choose, and the Austin American Statesman sees the widening rural/urban divide exposed by the 2016 election.

The San Antonio Express-News finds a bright spot: after years of flux, the city's statehouse delegation is finally set for 2017's legislative session.

Better Texas Blog wonders what's next for Obamacare.

Texans for Public Justice has a new report (.pdf) about the Texas Railroad Commissioners and candidates who are awash in cash from the oil and gas industry.

Grits for Breakfast also shares a fresh synopsis from the Texas Public Policy Foundation abut more reforms still needed in the grand jury system.

The Texas Observer went to a rally for Austin's immigrant rights activists, and the message was "Don't Mess with Texas' families."

The Digital Heretic finds that liberals slamming evangelical support of Trump are exercising another shameful and myopic attempt to set themselves above those who elected him.

The Somervell County Salon found her county's election results and noted that she was one of 23 who voted for Jill Stein.  And DBC Green has some interesting statistics that compare TXRRC candidate Martina Salinas' votes with Stein's from various Texas counties.

Zachery Taylor thought Donna Brazile's lapses in ethics and integrity were problematic, but trivial in the grand scheme.

And in a show of post-election bipartisan magnanimity, CultureMap Houston was on the scene as Vice President Joe Biden spoke at MD Anderson's glittering 75th anniversary fete, and warmly praised former president George HW Bush.

November 14, 2016

Calling out "smug liberal elites" cuts both ways and more

This started as a long post on Facebook, and eventually I realized I was writing a blog post, or starting to, and needed two.

A Vox piece about “Smug American Liberalism,” from this spring but just shared by someone on FB last Friday, made me realize that the author was venturing near, if not into, the territory of “Smug American liberalism put-downs.”

A fair degree of what it says is true. But, when used by some “everyday liberals” to smack down not just “liberal elites” for a “What's the matter with Kansas” on steroids smackdown of Trump voters, but a smackdown of other “everyday liberals” for holding similar values to the “liberal elites,” it cuts too far.

The piece blames the liberal elites for “abandoning” the white working class as a major contributor to Trump's win. And, that picture is itself incomplete at best.

First of all, there's a partial flip side to this. The white working class, whether unionized or not, drifted from the Democratic party.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, they disdained protests against the Vietnam War. Whether or not more than "percent X" of Trump voters were driven to some degree by racial animus, at this same time, issues of race, while being somewhat overcome, were "of note" in unions, too.

(Folks at places like Jacobin, by finding exceptions to this — which do exist — have tried to pretend away racism in organized labor in America. Erm, wrong.)

Just as the Vietnam War, and American withdrawal from it, were winding down, the Equal Rights Amendment was wafting its way out to states for approval. No, not every white working class voter was a Neanderthal on attitudes toward women. But, they didn't have to be that. All they had to do is buy into the myth of the “nuclear family” with a “breadwinner” and a “housewife,” then listen to social conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly gin up the outrage.

Then, after ERA had controversially been blocked from constitutionality, gay rights issues started making their way on stage with the rise of AIDS.

And, again, overall, the white working class abandoned a Democratic party that dared to look (a bit) at other people, not just the working class, as “outsider” or “downtrodden.”

And we haven't even mentioned unions in the 1950s telling the rest of America “go fuck yourself” when President Truman tried to get national health care.

Nor have we mentioned the white working class's resistance to environmental legislation, and an accompanying readiness to believe their managers and plant owners that such regulation would destroy their jobs.

In short, to at least some degree, the abandonment painted in this story went both ways.

Yes, at the national level, in think tanks, the Democratic national hierarchy and some places, there may be some smugness.

But, playing a seeming zero-sum game of trying to humanize Trump voters away from a categorical stereotype by applying the same to liberal political and thought leaders is a mug's game, IMO.

Even more so, it's the case when this is applied to many liberal everyday voters because you think they're painting Trump voters with too stereotypical a brush.

I see other problems in the piece, such as creating a straw man out of Richard Hofstadter that I hardly recognize:
Richard Hofstadter, the historian whose most famous work, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, this essay exists in some obvious reference to, advanced a similar line in writing not so well-remembered today. His then-influential history writing drips with disdain for rubes who regard themselves as victimized by economics and history, who have failed to maintain correct political attitudes.
Really? That's not what I took away from his book. Oh, there arguably is a degree of generalized smugness. But, the "drips with disdain for rubes ..."? Don't recognize that.

From there, it tells an almost certainly untrue anecdote about Adlai Stevenson:
Adlai Stevenson, Democratic candidate for president, is on parade. A band is playing. 
Onlookers cheer. He waves to the crowd. 
A woman shouts: "Gov. Stevenson, you have the vote of every thinking person in this country!"
Stevenson replies: "Thank you, ma'am, but we need a majority."
The smug style says to itself, Yeah. I really am one of the few thinking people in this country, aren't I?
Sure, this happened. Sure, it did. A man twice elected governor of a Midwestern state commented like that. The smugness of the Vox author, Emmett Rensin, is coming through here if any smugness is.

But, in what's indeed a long read, that's not the only problem.

The piece assumes that not only are smug, or semi-smug, liberals monolithic, it assumes the white working class is monolithic, too.

And, the first half of this post has indirectly hinted that's not true.

This year's election returns also show that. Yes, Clinton's share of its vote dropped below Obama's. But, she still won a substantial minority of it.

The third problem with the piece is that it assumes that just “dropping the smug” is enough to draw back to the Democratic Party major portions of the white working class that have both indeed been abandoned by it (free trade, above all), and that have in turn willingly abandoned the party for other reasons.

To the degree there are more and more issues on the American plate, and we are a country pushing 320 billion people, the complexity of national politics alone mitigates against a combination of a mea culpa and liberal elite niceness drawing them back.

Again, in many cases, they both were abandoned by liberals, and abandoned social liberals on their own. In some cases, it was almost entirely white working class individuals starting the abandoning.

So, it may well be not enough. A fair percentage of those white working-class people may be gone for good from a consistent liberal coalition.

And, in turn, that gets back to the issue of painting out the outlines of Trump backers.

If we go back to the 1950s and Truman's attempt at national health care, that's illustrative of why America has no truly socialist party and, long before neoliberalism's ascent, why even social democracy, short of full-blown socialism, had a precarious perch in the Democratic party at times, and certainly among working-class whites.

To riff on Marx, they'd already been co-opted by capitalism.