August 16, 2017

The Nation and its DSA bromance vis-a-vis the Green Party

I have longly, loudly and repeatedly, for many years, bitched about The Nation's refusal to give any real coverage to the Green Party. Said oversight is not just limited to presidential election seasons, and it is clearly deliberate.

The Democratic Socialists of America? Different story. Now that Bernie Sanders has made it OK for Bernibros to come out of the closet or whatever, they are. And so, the mag has run not just one but two stories, by John Nichols and by Jesse Myerson, puffing the DSA.

And, "puffing" both are.

First, Nichols talks about the DSA's "long, storied tradition."

So, let's look at that tradition.

First, the DSA is NOT a political party. It's merely an activist group. It is arguably the most conservative splinter of the breakup of the old Socialist Party, per its Wikipedia page. While I'm no David Cobb fan, Greens should note the DSA endorsed John Kerry ahead of Cobb in 2008, and Barack Obama ahead of both Cynthia McKinney in 2008 and Jill Stein in 2012. (Of course, the Communist Party USA also endorsed Obama, showing just how far tokenism can go at times.)

Unfortunately, judging by a Facebook group, there's plenty of Greens who have a DSA bromance, too, and not all of them are Berniecrats wearing (for now) Green get-up.

Second, on Myerson's piece? I'm more a socialist than the Berniebros, by and large, and I'm certainly more of a socialist than Bernie himself.

And, re Myerson's breathless reporting on its growth rate? First, that's the old fallacy of appeal to the crowd. Second, the Green Party, though having a disappointing 2016 presidential run, is also growing.

Next, the likes of Maxine Phillips opposing a full-on BDS illustrate, among older members, just how conservative the DSA is.

Speaking of, Nichols in his piece ignores reporting on how perennial Socialist candidate Norman Thomas was long on the CIA payroll, a fact that I am quite sure he knows.

Some people may claim the DSA is leftist by its voting at this year's convention to leave the Socialist International. Big deal. The Socialist Party USA, which is an actual party as well as an activist group, did that back in 2005. Unlike the DSA, the SPUSA, per Wiki, does not in any way, shape or form collaborate with the Democratic Party. It may not run many candidates, but it runs more than the non-party DSA. It may not be big, but at least until this year's DSA convention, it was at least as big as the DSA.

None of this, though, will ever be reported by The Nation. And, as a result, "none" is what sort of subscription I will ever buy, or money I will ever send.

And, as for Greens? Basically, to riff on a GP name or two above, the DSA is kind of what AccommoGreens like Cobb and Stein would like to make the Green Party — an activist organization to prod Dems left first (remember Dear Leader asking for that, then getting mad when anybody did it), and a political party of the left a distant second.

As for Greens shouting over the DSA having a libertarian sectional at this year's convention? I accept certain elements of libertarian socialism, while noting that not all libertarian socialists are anarchic, that I am definitely not, and that I reject anarchic ideas for the Green Party.

Otherwise, is the DSA "bad"? No. Am I glad it's moving further left? Yes.

But, Greens? For any of you having a Nation-type bromance for the DSA? Again, what presidential candidates have they endorsed?

August 15, 2017

TX Progressives denounce #Charlottesville, Trump non-response, await #txlege sine die

The Texas Progressive Alliance strongly condemns the racist Nazi violence in Charlottesville as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at July finance reports in key State Senate districts.

Socratic Gadfly examines Consortium News' latest in-depth piece on how Putin did NOT "do it" on the DNC hacks and and ties this together with Sy Hersh's comments about Seth Rich.

With only a few days remaining in the special legislative session, it appears that Greg Abbott won't come close to getting everything he wanted out of it, says PDiddie at Brain and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas calls out the Texas Republican hate on display this week - from LGBTQ bashing, immigrant bashing and the bashing of the poor.

Neil at All People Have Value went to the monthly meeting of the Houston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The meeting was well-attended and many tangible actions were discussed. APHV is part of

Ted at Jobsanger offers up some statistics about Muslims in America.

Lewisville Texan Journal has a profile of John Wannamaker, one of four Dems vying to challene Rep. Michael Burgess.

Texas Watch wants the state department of insurance to investigate car insurers for allegedly cutting corners on paying for repairs.


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

Marc Campos eulogizes former Governor Mark White, while the TSTA Blog remembers his legacy.

Texas Vox needs some help for its challenge to one of Trump's deregulatory executive orders.

Lone Star Ma makes the case for breast pumps.

The Daily Report notes that now-former Corpus Christi mayor Dan McQueen is going to go Steve Stockman and primary Ted Cruz.

The Rivard Report notes San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg telling Greg Abbott to back off the attack on cities.

The Texas Living Waters Project frets about the zebra mussel invasion.

August 14, 2017

Another job, another age discrimination?

A marketing communications job at a state university, where the job description doesn't even include the phrase "social media," decided to hire another person after its interviews of me and other finalist candidates.

Not going to name the place,  as, unlike the now-being-named Bastrop Advertiser newspaper, who I blogged about before with the use or misuse of "social media" questions as what I believe was a screening tool, I don't know who this state university hired. (I know who Bastrop hired and I knew him personally and it was no surprise he left after less than a year.)

But its initials are SFA State University and it's in Deep East Texas.

Anyway, in case I need to, I bookmarked the particular job. And, I'm going to copy/paste the details.
General Description:
This is a professional position responsible for performing editorial work in support of the operation of the Office of University Marketing Communications. Responsible for contributing to the development, publication and dissemination of department-produced communications; assisting with the development and implementation of communications programs; assisting with special projects as assigned; and ensuring the quality, consistency, and conformity of departmental public relations, branding and publication functions. Works under general supervision, with moderate latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgment. This is a security-sensitive position. Reports to the assistant director, University Marketing Communications (Creative & Editorial Services). 
 Essential Job Functions:
1. Researches, writes, and edits department-produced communications for use in print and electronic publications, branding efforts and communications programs.
2. Obtains, prepares, and disseminates informational and promotional items in the form of news stories, feature articles, or marketing collateral internally to the university community and/or externally to local and state media and the general public.
3. Confirms facts for releases, features, and marketing copy, adhering to journalistic standards for fact-finding, research and style.
4. Consults with university faculty and staff to obtain information for publication and/or to respond to media inquiries.
5. Contributes to the print and electronic publication of department-produced communications.
6. Assists with the development and implementation of communications programs that describe and promote the university by collaborating with departmental staff and/or other departments and contributing to decisions on content and style.
7. Upholds established editorial standards of official university communications.
8. Monitors comprehensive project schedule to ensure timely project completion.
9. Ensures the quality, consistency, and conformity of departmental public relations, branding and publication functions.
10. Provides periodic project status reports to supervisor.
11. Stays abreast of developments and emerging trends related to areas of specialization.
Non-Essential Job Functions:
1. Assists with copywriting as assigned.
2. Assists with photography and videography shoots as needed.
3. Assists with special projects as assigned.
4. May edit publications produced by other departments.
5. Performs other related duties as assigned. 
 Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
1. Knowledge of, or the ability to learn, university policies and procedures.
2. Knowledge of professional standards related to areas of specialization, including journalism principles, the concepts used in writing news and marketing copy, Associated Press style, desktop publishing and printing.
3. Skill in using computer applications including spreadsheet, database, publication, and word processing software.
4. Skill in completing assignments accurately and with attention to detail.
5. Skill in editing documents for correct grammar.
6. Ability to analyze, organize and prioritize work while meeting multiple deadlines.
7. Ability to communicate effectively in both oral and written form.
8. Ability to establish and maintain a good rapport with university faculty and staff, students and the general public.
9. Ability to think conceptually and creatively.
10. Ability to exercise sound judgment in making critical decisions.
11. Ability to problem-solve in a variety of situations.
12. Ability to maintain currency of knowledge and skills, including adapting to changes in technology and software related to areas of specialization. 
Completion of at least two years of college coursework or an Associate's degree in English, communications, journalism, marketing or a related field is required. Bachelor's degree is preferred. 
 Experience and Training:
Two years of related experience is required. Experience in news writing, marketing, advertising, public relations, communications or a related field is required. Graphic design experience is preferred. 
By the job description, on both education and experience, I was overqualified, if anything. Therefore, the idea that they hired somebody even better qualified, for a job that, at its base-level pay, pays less than the journalism job I now have?


I really doubt that, per the university's form "no" letter, they got somebody better qualified. (I'm doubly sure of that now; re-reading the job title, I realize I looked one line too high on the university's pay scale. At their pay range, I am VERY sure they didn't have somebody better qualified. Somebody cheaper, as part of being younger? Possible. Very possible. Or else, they hired somebody either far more desperate than me, or somebody who "got creative" on a resume and / or in the interview process.)

On the social media issue, you'll note that the phrase "social media" isn't even mentioned. And, other than details of how to apply, and information that would more specifically identify who the university is, that is the WHOLE job description.

I was asked at least three "social media" questions by one of the four interviewers. (They had split up questions; I don't know if they brainstormed question lists together or separately.)

I was asked in detail about my skill in personal and professional use of not only Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram and Snapchat.

First, WHY was I asked any of these questions?

Second, WHAT THE FUCK is Snapchat used for as a professional social media tool? Seriously?

At best, it could be seen as attempting to be hip to millennials making college decisions. However, they might at least feel patronized by such, and besides, that's really the business of recruitment and admissions anyway. But, to reach out to alumni? Professional organizations interested in professors and various colleges of a university? No.

Beyond all THAT, when folks on Twitter like the Democratic Party and Ted Cruz use the Snapchat icon as their Twitter icons, you know it's about to lose its "millennial cool."

Third, the supervisor for the position, when I queried by email later, having gotten the impression from interview questions that I was suddenly interviewing for a social media editor's position, told me that the job only involved a one per day to each of the social media accounts. (I still have that, and other, emails saved.)

Given all that, and that the person asking the social media questions was under 35, if not under 30 ...

Age discrimination is the only realistic conclusion I see. 

Even if it wasn't consciously done. (Sorry, Dan Kaufman, but this is why things like Project Implicit not only reveal a fair amount of truth, but are necessary.) Even if wanting somebody cheaper cuz younger.

Also, if this wasn't conscious age discrimination, it was godawful interviewing to ask somebody questions that aren't even on a job description.


I will be charitable enough to say they let me interview by Skype (OTOH, they might have pushed the "social media" issue even harder in person), and complete timed writing and editorial tests on an honor system.

August 11, 2017

#ClimateChange news parsing, #ParisAccord BS, scientific punch-pulling

Yes, this is one of those blog posts where I pull various ideas of the header together into a seamless whole.

The New York Times' "breathless" story Wednesday about the draft version of the latest installment of the the quadrennial National Climate Assessment is very good — but too breathless; as many media outlets have noted, like the WaPost, it wasn't "private." And, per a comment near the end of that blog, you've got to double-dot every "i" and double-cross every "t" with the current White House.

So, this technically can't be about climate change censorship. However, per climate scientist Bob Kopp, also quoted at Erik Wemple's blog, the Trump Administration does face an Aug. 18 review deadline.

And, per the scientists who talked to the Old Gray Lady, it is possible that without publicity, it IS possible, Mr. Kopp, Mr. Wemple, et al, that Trump, Scott Pruitt, et al, would indeed have shit-canned, or butchered the hell out of, the version scheduled for release.

(Update, Aug. 15: Andrew Revkin, who knows his way around the worlds of both climate change reporting and anti-climate change politics, reports at Pro Publica that this could indeed be the case, and cites the history of previous NCIs under Shrub Bush. In his piece, Revkin mentions Steve Koonin as calling for the "red team, blue team" approach to "critique" the NCA. Per Wiki, Koonin is, at a most charitable interpretation, a climate change minimalist. Per less charitable interpretations, he's a denialist. Add in that his op-ed was in the Wall Street Journal, going as far right as he could while still trying to plump for mainstream credibility.

I also finally got Kopp's attention. And, no, I didn't say you disagreed with a co-author of the report; I said, per Wemple's piece, you arguably were downplaying the suppression risks. That said, I wouldn't have cross-tweeted that co-author, Katharine Hayhoe, off Revkin's piece, today, if I had noticed her Tweets on Wemple's piece last week earlier. Because, she arguably did the same thing that Kopp arguably did.

And, per said Twitter exchange, both Hayhoe and Kopp? Nice, polite, Obamiac type climate scientists, as far as I can tell. Wouldn't surprise me if they've flung around the term "climate change alarmist" before, or at least words kind of like that. Whether or not that's in their particular book, I have decided that, if I ever hear that, not only addressed to myself, but wrongly addressed to others in the future, I'll use the phrase "climate change neoliberal.")

And, also, this ignores whatever differences existed between the January draft posted online for public comment and the July draft filed for final administrative review. The July draft is identified as a fifth-order draft, indicating right there it's not the same as the January one. And indeed they're not; the January draft is a third-order one. And Kopp and Hayhoe can choose to tell the general public, if they don't want to wade through the whole thing, what changes have been made.

That said, that's going to get us to other things.

First, Kopp himself is "breathless" in his optimism about how little damage Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement will cause. That's because, in turn, he's breathlessly optimistic about the Paris Accord itself, even though it's ultimately aspirational bullshit, as I've called it before.

So, too, are domestic measures passed by Dear Leader. The tighter EPA mileage regs? Carmakers can pay fines — and will, with cheap gas prices — if they don't meet them. They also have loopholes for flex-fuel vehicles, which will almost never burn E85. In turn, that's actually good, perhaps, because the amount of climate change that would be caused by trying to grow enough corn to actually meet significant E85 use would itself be a problem.

Kopp either does know that, and is pulling his own punches, or he doesn't, and needs to do some more reading himself.

That said, per Counterpunch, the leaked, uncovered, revealed, or pointed-to National Climate Assessment is itself not much above the aspirational bullshit level.

First, it's based on the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2014 report, which itself is a matter of issue, and now we're going to get to the third part of the header.

The IPCC's reports in general are known for taking conservative stances on how much of a concern the present course of climate change is. (Cue Michael Mann and others worried about "alarmism.")

Second, per Counterpunch, that 2014 IPCC report has been overtaken by some events. More permafrost craters in Siberia, not only, surely, releasing carbon dioxide but possibly leaking methane too, which may indeed be causing some of the craters. Loss of another section of the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

The only real answer is the one I said even before Paul Krugman did — carbon tax plus carbon tariff. And, no, Bob Kopp, neither the EU nor China is "taking the lead" on climate change until one or the other of them pushes this through if the US won't.

Oh, and claims that China has peaked in carbon emissions? Well, if President Xi Jinping plumps for more and more of a consumer sector economy, that means more polluting cars (if not electric), more polluting airline flights (no way to electrify), more Chinese consumer plastics, etc.

August 09, 2017

Sy Hersh, Seth Rich, Wikileaks and rejecting #RWNJ, #LWNJ and #EWNJ worlds

Sy Hersh
First, if you don't know your hashtags, this American Political Life has both right-wing nut jobs AND left-wing nut jobs. (That third "wing" gets revealed below.) An old leading light among LWNJs, Greg Palast, is quickly having his spot usurped by Caitlin Johnstone, who is now essentially lobbing conspiracy theory claims at Sy Hersh for his reveal last week about Seth Rich possibly selling DNC email leaks — or thefts (more in a minute on that) to Wikileaks.

OK, I'm making a mini-Tweetstorm into a blog post over the burning stupidity on this issue.

First, no, the DNC Leaks, even if they make relations with Russia worse, aren't leading to nuclear war, Caitlin. Smoke a fattie or whatever you need to do to get that out of your mind.

Second, on the surreptitiously taped conversation (which it surely was done surreptitiously) with Ed Butowsky, per Reddit transcript, there's a key portion at the top, neglected by mouth-breathers left and right.

Sy specifically says he thinks Rich was NOT murdered, but rather that this was indeed nothing other than a crime gone bad.

Wingnuts won't admit it, but if Rich had been deliberately offed, his body would NOT be lying in a public street, wallet with ID in it still in his pants. Occam's Razor, folks.

But, wingnuts won't take a shave with it, hence in a follow-up email exchange, Hersh tells Butowsky, politely, to take a hike. As any good investigative journalist would do. A person of interest (Butowsky is surely not a source of any depth for Hersh on this) just burned him with that clandestine taping followed by public reveal. So, Hersh is burning him back. And, the RWNJ and LWNJ folks of conspiratizing can take a hike in my book along with Butowsky. And, Hersh's "real world" doesn't include those folks and neither does mine.

Third, Hersh is otherwise NOT making any big new reveal, other than Rich being fingered more specifically as the leaker.

At Consortium News last week, a group of retired intelligence vets stated very specifically, with corroborative evidence, that the DNC emails were NOT hacked online by out-of-country actors. Rather, they were directly downloaded from one computer to another, or to a thumb drive, at speeds too high for Internet-based downloading.

And now, The Nation has a long piece, overviewing the work behind that Consortium News piece and two others before it. It is, itself, a very important read. It very much undercuts the Guccifer 2.0 — or other "Putin Did It" official Russky meddling — lines of thought.

(I'm now digressing to the third hashtag, which is "Establishmentarian wing nut jobs." When a "movement skeptic" like Ed Brayton talks about the "Alex Jones conspiracy phone" in response to me posting the link — as best I can tell, without him reading — the hashtag is earned. That said, this another reason I moved beyond giving much credence on a variety of issues to "movement skepticism. [Ed posts to "public" on Effbook, so no confidences revealed.] It's also, as the recent death of Leo Lincourt kind of reminds me, time to do some cleanup on my friends list again. )

I want to briefly look at calendar issues. DNC and Crowdstrike announced a likely "Russian hack" in mid-June. Hersh, in the transcript above, says the last email from the Podesta string was late May.

So, lax as internal DNC security and Crowdstrike were (another reason to not let the servers be inspected by FBI), they discover "something" in early June. And, given they can't blame Bernie, like December 2015 (was Rich snooping then too), Russia is the easy "get."

But, they apparently don't know that it's a full-blown insider, assuming Rich was behind the July 5 pilfering mentioned at Consortium News. Who died just a few days later, without being able to steal more, or leak more, if he planned to.

So, the only real questions left are "why"?

Assuming Rich did it, why? (We don't know it was him, but per that Consortium News piece, it seems the DNC had some "Snowden" inside — if not Rich, it was somebody else, or option 3 is that Rich was a middleman.) Was it just for the money? Was it for some anti-Clinton reasons? If it was for the money, was he shot not in a robbery gone bad but a drug deal gone bad?

Yes, that's a bit of stretching, but still a much closer shave with Occam's Razor than the nut jobs do.

Rich's parents will never, ever talk. If they even know any more than we do, which they may not.

And, if my thoughts are right, I'm sure DC Metropolitan Police never did a toxicology report on Rich's body. Too late now.

Anyway, of course, there's no guarantee this is true. But, it makes MUCH more sense than Johnstone's claims that somewhere behind this, Trump is trying to drag us into nuclear war, OR than various factionalized Trump Trainers' claims that this is some anti-MAGA fake news or whatever.


Finally, per Johnstone's fear of nuclear war? It's legit, but has nothing to do with what Sy Hersh said about Seth Rich.

And, given her willingness to work with the alt-right, and by name, Mike Cernovich? Let's note that this memo by former NSC staffer Rich Higgins now blowing up the Net is filled with not just Steve Bannon versions of nationalism, but directly attacks social justice ideas AND plays with anti-Semitic tropes. And, it's linked to Cernovich. And, she's probably having an orgasm over it because it mentions "deep state."

August 08, 2017

TX Progressives say RIP Mark White, mourn special session of #txlege

The Texas Progressive Alliance mourns the passing of Mark White, the Texas governor with the cojones to get "no pass, no play" through the Lege, along with other education issues, back when the Texas Legislature actually did stuff that mattered in a good way.

 Off the Kuff cast a critical eye at an article about Democratic recruitment for state offices.

Blake Farenthold doesn't just insult and demean female Republican Senators, he disses his own constituents by favoring oligarchs over Army employees. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme can't wait till he's former representative Farenthold.

In an environmental news roundup, SocraticGadfly wonders if the internal combustion engine's complexities will hasten its demise.

This fall, when someone asks if PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is ready for some football ... the answer will be no.

Neil at All People Have Value offered his guide to activism in the Age of Trump. APHV is part of

Lewisville Texan Journal notes Lewisville ISD has joined the pushback against the Abbott-Goeb led attempt to overturn local control.

Jobsanger writes about the shame of the US lacking single-payer health care.


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

David Bruce Collins is recruiting Green Party candidates — and, more importantly, recruiting GP candidates who will, and to, run actual, professional, campaigns. (No more Brandon Parmers!)

Texas Freedom Network has an embarrassing-to-Republicans quote of the week roundup.

Michael Li explains how the Texas redistricting case might play out.

Grits for Breakfast sorts out the DPS crime lab fees situation.

Paradise in Hell wonders what the floor is for Donald Trump's approval rating.

The TSTA Blog calls for adult leadership in Austin.

Therese Odell wades into the latest revelations in the Seth Rich story.

Molly Glentzer pushes back against an article that had criticized Houston's mini murals program.

John Nova Lomax goes looking for the "real" Montrose.


August 07, 2017

The coming grocery store wars

Business Insider has a decent little piece on what Kroger's end to a 13-year sales growth, along with the announced expansion of Aldi and cousin Lidl mean for the grocery industry. It also fails to mention at all the expanding Winco Discount Foods, which is the story's biggest failure.

Going beyond the piece, I'll list who I expect to be the main "losers."

That is "traditional" dollar stores and drug stores that sell groceries. Both have had versions of "mission creep" in the past few years that will soon prove to be untenable.

In both cases, the creep is at least partially about refrigerated foods. This is an area where volume of supplies and selection both favor regular groceries, and definitely favor the trio of large-volume discount grocers Aldi, Lidl and Winco. And, of course, they're the ones expanding.

Dollar General and Family Dollar, if they're smart, will not put refrigerated sections in any more stores and will mentally start planning to shutter refrigerated sections in many stores that have them.

Their non-perishable groceries will take a similar hit to the discounter trio. For example, Aldi snack crackers are a lot cheaper AND in more varieties than dollar stores' house brands. Or, their house brands of healthy whole wheat pasta are as cheap as cheaper name brands of white flour pasta at dollar stores where you can't even find whole grain pasta.

CVS and Walgreen stores that sell groceries are, or will be, in a similar situation. They don't sell that many groceries, they don't have that robust of a supply chain as far as I know, and similar issues.

Both also face other problems.

Dollar stores? It's the same as Wally-World. More and more of them are getting more and more slovenly in upkeep. The Dollar Tree chain seems a general exception to this, and to some related issues. (And, in turn, even though Wally plus Sam's is the nation's top grocer, this is going to be a problem for it in the future.)

Drug stores? The whole idea of selling groceries, beyond the highest-margin impulse buys, is mission creep and will be shown as such with the growth of discount grocers.

Now, Winco, which for some reason isn't even on the radar of Business Insider.

If you've not been to one, here's the deal, based on my knowledge of it and Aldi, and guesstimates about Lidl:
1. As big as a full-sized Kroger, so dwarfs an Aldi or Lidl;
2. As robust of a house-lines brand as Aldi (and I'll assume Lidl from here on out) and competitive — occasionally cheaper, even;
3. In the same ballpark as a Kroger on national brands;
4. MUCH more in the way of refrigerated foods than Aldi;
5. This includes a full selection of beer;
6. A full produce section, not a skimpy area of pre-wrapped produce only;
7. As big a bulk area — and at cheaper to much cheaper prices — than a Whole Foods;
8. Employee-owned as part of low overhead.

Yes, Winco is still relatively small, and still relatively geographically restricted. But, with already moving to Texas and Oklahoma, including the DFW Metroplex and Oklahoma City, it's gotten into a few major metros outside its Western-states base, having previously expanded from its PNW core within the West to Arizona and Las Vegas.

Speaking of Whole Foods, I don't think its new owner, Amazon, will be as much of a disrupter as some think. Drone-type delivery isn't happening for some time. Heavy items like milk take bigger drones. The logistics of delivering booze and checking for IDs will be many years in the making, if ID proof on delivery is needed. Produce and meat? Pickier people, at least — like Whole Foods shoppers — want to see that stuff in person. On the produce, they still want to pinch and prod it.

That said, it will be the dollar stores who can least afford drone delivery. And, their food customers, by demographic, will be least likely to pay.

August 04, 2017

Luther legend shitstorm is about to hit

I blogged nearly three years ago about myth vs reality on Martin Luther, well in advance of the 500th anniversary of his allegedly doing something with some theses. Indeed, I started with that legend, for legend it is, that he nailed them to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.

And, I was already planning on starting a series of blog posts with the anniversary nearing vision.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think that a liberal American opinion magazine would be the spark for my memory, to get started.

But, it is.

The Nation uncritically repeats the legend about the 95 theses (It's unclear whether any of the books it reviews have this, or just itself) in a review of several new biographies about Luther and/or his times.

The 95 Theses has been refuted here and here.

Luther also did not say, as best as we know, "Here I stand, I can do no more," at the Diet of Worms in 1521. The "Here I stand" legend is refuted at the first of the two links in the paragraph above and also here.

Beyond that, the largest Lutheran denomination in the US rejects or questions some Luther myths, including the 95 Theses and the Here I stand.

And, as noted in that original piece, Luther’s virulent anti-semitism is no legend at all.

August 03, 2017

Will the Turtle follow Boehner off the Congressional GOP dunghill?

The Turtle: gone at some point?
Last week's anti-Goldlocks events in the US Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't get his caucus to pass skinny repeal, fat repeal or in-between repeal of Obamacare, made me wonder if he might be tired of playing King of the Senate Hill.

I don't see a House-like revolt, like former Speaker John Boehner was facing for months and months before he stepped down in favor of Paul Ryan. Mike Lee, about the closest thing to a pure Tea Party/Freedom Caucus type in the Senate, is a back-bencher. Rand Paul has a constituency of one, or perhaps a touch more. Ted Cruz has a constituency of barely one. I doubt that John Thune would try to vault one spot in the leadership, let alone John Barasso two. And I certainly don't see anybody lower down the Republican Conference making a move like that.

I think the Turtle is respected, if not always liked, among fellow Republicans. But, the Senate GOP, vs the House, may well see the fuller force of Trump's nuttery, in part because it has to deal with nominations and foreign policy, not just domestic issues.

The Turtle's in office up to January 2021. He could resign early, like Boehner. Or he could simply step down as majority leader.

That would leave current Majority Whip John Cornyn taking over. And, while there's been bits of speculation about Danny Goeb challenging him, and while Big John did face a spirited primary his last run (against a dog's breath of GOP foes), he's not up again until 2020 himself, if Mitch leaves early.

August 02, 2017

#Environmental scattershooting: Could the internal combustion engine kill itself off?

That's the focal point of this long read about how full electric vehicles may be "just around the corner" sooner than we think.

Here's the first main takeout from the piece:
To get a sense of what problems may occur, here is a list of the most common vehicle repairs from 2015:
1. Replacing an oxygen sensor — $249
2. Replacing a catalytic converter — $1,153
3. Replacing ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) — $390
4. Tightening or replacing a fuel cap — $15
5. Thermostat replacement — $210
6. Replacing ignition coil(s) — $236
7. Mass air flow sensor replacement — $382
8. Replacing spark plug wire(s) and spark plug(s) — $331
9. Replacing evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge control valve — $168
10. Replacing evaporative emissions (EVAP) purging solenoid — $184
I can directly relate to the first and seventh of those, and indirectly to some of the others. Never had to replace ignition coils, but have had to replace starters, and a starter isn’t the same on an electric as on an internal combustion engine.

And, that doesn't count other radiator-system problems, oil leaks and more.

From there, Seth Miller transitions to electric-drive car batteries. He notes that when the Prius came out, people wondered about battery lifespan. Turns out that's no problem.

As for charging? 

Well, the new Tesla Model S, in one option, goes more than 300 miles on a charge. The Chevy Bolt does more than 200. At least in more densely-populated areas, we're now talking about something more than commuter driving. Next will be to speed up the charge time. State rest areas, especially in sunnier climates, could maintain charging stations that are solar powered. California may well do this. Here in Tex-Ass, not on your nellie.

Will electrics jump past hybrids any time soon?

Maybe, maybe not.

With the gasoline half of the hybrid engine working less often, most of those top 10 repairs will have less frequency.

Some hybrids could make themselves better, though, especially among "full" hybrids.

Assuming it has no mechanical problems, Hyundai's Ioniq may — let's hope — nudge the Prius into using a direct injection engine on the gas side in the future. This will lighten the vehicle and further increase efficiency.

For non-communter driving, I'll still take that option at this time — a premium performance hybrid — over an all-electric. And, given Tesla's production history, I'll look for someone else to break the 300- mile charging barrier on an all-electric before I even consider buying a Tesla.

Will the combo of hybrids and electrics jump past all-gas cars anytime soon?

In Europe, possibly, with Norway (2025) Britain and France (both 2040) on record as phasing out internal combustion cars whether gas or diesel. More compact populations there will make it easy.

In the US, less likely. However, Miller argues, from film cameras and non-smartphone cell phones, that a "collapse" could happen fairly quickly.

And, speaking of Norway, Statoil, the state oil company, expects oil demand to peak by 2025. And, it's building a floating offshore wind farm.


And it needs to happen.

The latest news from the climate change desk?

Ghosts forests — caused by rising sea levels killing coastal trees with their salt water. And, they're even happening here in Texas, making them harder to deny.


Finally, look at this long read from the Guardian on how climate change skepticism became "skepticism" and now outright cynicism.

Shattered: Inside baseball book strikes out in first at bat

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed CampaignShattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign by Jonathan   Allen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

That strikeout occurs at the end of the introduction

The authors talk about a "Kremlin-based campaign" against her and the failure of the media to get Trump's tax return while it "scrutinized her every move."

The first is factually incorrect. The second is narratively incorrect.

The most we know the Kremlin did right now was to try to hack into Iowa and Arizona state voting offices. Other activities believed to have been done by Russian individuals have not been tied to the Kremlin. As in, could be individual hackers, etc. More important, yet, the best intelligence indicated the DNC email leaks given to Wikileaks had their physical transmission done in the US and not over the Internet. More than that we can't say for certain, but it seems pretty clear no Russkies were involved.

The media? Wrote plenty of stories about Trump's taxes. Remember David Cay Johnston? I do. Wrote plenty of other stories about him. That said, it's not a CRIME for a presidential candidate to hold tax returns and, if it were, the media is not a grand jury or a district attorney.

The rest of the book generally slouches toward Gomorrah from there. The first time Bernie's "white liberal" backers is used of him, it's semi-sneering. The book doesn't cover either Clinton's OR Sanders' failures in foreign policy issues. The problematic nature of the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary Clinton's lies about donors to it — including lies to President Obama — get unmentioned.

And, even the inside baseball doesn't have that much new stuff for regular campaign watchers, especially those who saw a moderate variant of 2008 repeating itself.

The book in general reads as clearly coming from an inside-the-Beltway pundit duo.

I read through to the end to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Nothing important new. Just nuances of Team Clinton fighting over the whole schmeer.

And, the book ignores the lawsuit filed against the DNC, the basics of which were surely available before it went to press.

View all my reviews

August 01, 2017

Brief political scattershooting on the national GOP

Don't get fooled by Jeff Flake, his new book, or its breathless excerpt at Politico.

He's still part of the problem.

And, I don't even need that link.

He voted for any and all versions of Trumpcare. Voted for all Obamacare repeals while Dear Leader was in office.

He is at least ahead of the curve on airing public laundry, but not a lot more than that.

That said, Barry Goldwater's original, which Flake plays off of, had its own bits of hypocrisy.

Barry wanted to privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority, but privatize the BuRec, Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam? Not a word out of his mouth. Big.Fat.Hypocrite.


Also, Ken Buck wants to run from the murder scene even more hypocritically, with his "The GOP is dead" piece.

Gee, Ken, and not admit your part in the killing?

Besides you Freedom Caucus folks failing, the real failing is a failure to tell, and failure to face it. That's that people like some of those "entitlements," even in your largely white Congressional district. It's also that we don't need that much spending on our military.


Expect to see more rats scurrying off the ship in weeks and months ahead.

TX Progressives call out the #txlege and wait for #SineDie

The Texas Progressive Alliance puts skinny lattes over skinny repeals as it brings you this week's roundup, while waiting for Joe Straus to call Greg Abbott’s bluff and just “sign, die!”

Off the Kuff looks at July campaign finance reports for Democratic Congressional challengers.

SocraticGadfly, looking over the battle to (apparently) kill Trumpcare, notes that insurers were only temporary allies, not friends of America, and remain bloodsucking leeches who are part of why true national health care in America needs a British-style NHS.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme calls out the so called pro-life Texas Republicans for drastically increasing the maternal death rate.  Now, they are going for more deaths.

Democrats appear to be suffering another severe outbreak of Jill Stein Derangement Syndrome, reports PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value called upon all people to show up and fight back. APHV is part of

Ted at Jobsanger reminds us that Monday was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.

Lewisville Texan Journal discusses the must-do of home cleaning before vacation.


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

The Texas Living Waters Project highlights the activism of Janice Bezanson, who advocates for wise water use over the construction of reservoirs.

The Texas Trib notes how Reps. Lamar Smith (shock me) and Randy Weber now claim The environmentalists are pawns of Putin.

The TSTA Blog is not impressed with the Senate's "fake" pay raise for teachers.

Transgriot wants to hear more black voices in the coverage of the bathroom bill.

Better Texas Blog criticized John Cornyn and Ted Cruz for letting the Obamacare repeal debacle proceed.

Equality Texas urges pushback on Greg Abbott's efforts to make Republicans sign on to the House bathroom bills.

Paradise in Hell has some sage words about highway driving.

The Rivard Report was on hand when candles were lit for immigrants killed in smuggling gone bad.

Transgriot wants to hear more black voices fighting the bathroom bill, and blames the state media for not reaching out.

(Editor’s note: If the blogger really expects semi-GOP sycophant Helen Giddings to have a backbone on an issue like this …)

Katie Walsh sets the record straight about the authenticity of Tex-Mex.

(Editor’s note — the author of this blog, having grown up in New Mexico, knows Tex-Mex is second best, while not necessarily disagreeing with everything Ms. Walsh says.)

July 31, 2017

Rall vs Popehat

Ted Rall with Greg Palast. Egocentric nuttery squared?
Ted Rall has sued the L.A. Times for canning him as a freelance columnist. The brouhaha goes back to when Ted was arrested for jaywalking in Los Angeles 16 years ago. This is his latest in-depth piece about the issue.

YES. A full 16 years ago. (Hold on to that.)

And, no, as far as I know, Ted never sued the LAPD nor the arresting cop, for false arrest, police brutality, or anything else. He did file a complaint which was found to be largely unfounded, according to other information. That "other information" includes that Rall's story has apparently changed over the years. (Hold on to that.)

Years later, he talked about the issue on an official L.A. Times blog. The powers that be talked to the LAPD, decided Ted's version wasn't true, and eventually canned him, after writing their own follow-ups, on the op-ed pages from what I understand.

Fact is that, even if you're not in a right-to-work state, matters of opinion are treated differently than straight news, first. Second, you can still be fired for what's deemed cause.

Rall eventually sued, as noted. Then complained about anti-SLAPP motions and other matters not going his way. And lost a lawyer.

Hanging out with Greg Palast, per the photo — regular readers of this blog know my take on Greg, down to my inviting his doppelgänger Greg AtLast onto this blog — leads me to less respect yet for Ted. Click the Greg Palast tag to see what I think of him, as well as see videos of Greg AtLast. (And, per Ted's Aug. 1 missive, Greg is actually involved in this case for him.)

Now, irony time.

The Popehat on the prowl 
Popehat, aka Ken White, for the first time in some time, recently put out his anti-SLAPP spotlight. He's looking for lawyers who can do pro bono anti-SLAPP as he's apparently done occasionally in the past himself.

Like Rall, right?

Not exactly.

Earlier this week, Ken thoroughly took Rall to the woodshed.

And I largely agree.

I don't think Ted has a legal leg to stand on.

Not even with a storied (superannuated, not actively practicing) lawyer (TV writer and Hollywood hangout) Roger Lowenstein as appellate attorney (for an appeal that won't happen unless his Kickstarter or GoFundMe gets a lot more contributions). He's so "storied" that Ted links to a 1991 (Yes!) NYT story (I see what I did there) about him.

And, per a comment at Ken's piece, I question why he's pushing the suit, if not for publicity value.

I agree with Rall's stance on many political issues more than the typical Popehat reader. (Ken's blog, while it often focuses on civil liberties issues, can otherwise have a mild libertarian tilt in general.)

But, Rall seems way wrong on this. Legally, journalistically and otherwise.

If the problem with the arrest was as bad as he now claims, he should have sued LAPD and/or the arresting cop long ago. Yeah, immunity issues would have made it tough for that to stick, but ... give it a try?

Otherwise, per Ken? Dude, it was a jaywalking charge, first of all. GET OVER IT! (And, you weren't falsely accused, legally. You were charged and fined, and you either never contested it, or you did and lost. That's legally guilty.) Also, the LAPD says they could never get a hold of you to finalize the complaint process.

 Besides the issue of whether Rall's current statements are correct or not — L.A. is known for being quite serious about jaywalking. I got a warning from a cop in Hollywood in the 1980s, when he claimed I had walked when the walk sign was red. I was visiting my mom, and she had warned me.

And, per other links at White's post, including one by a commenter noting other lawsuits Rall has filed in the past (four of the five counts were dismissed in the Danny Hellman suit, and while the fifth count was technically active as of 2009, per Hellman, it surely has gone away by now), I'm losing more and more respect for Rall. Add in Ted's own emails as another issue.

Ted, at best, seems to be moderately misconstruing this while also apparently leading his most devoted fanboys to think he's just a couple of steps from the poorhouse if he can't win the suit.

I still appreciate some of Ted's deliberate contrarianism, like when, after a week's hiatus, he continued to draw Dear Leader Obama with a purple face and other things. (That said, the number of Obamiacs who didn't know who he was might make him a bit less famous than Rall himself wishes and some Popehat denizens think.) And, though I disagreed at the time, and still partially disagree today, with his opposition to the Afghanistan invasion, he was principled and up-front about it. And, per Ken's first link about Ted, he may have overstated things, but some 9/11 widows DID come off looking like grifters, whether they were or not.

I don't defend everything, though. His attack on Pat Tillman was over the top, in part because Tillman specifically wanted only to fight in Afghanistan, not Iraq.

In general, he's not a bad cartoonist, whether this is an affected style or simply his best. As a columnist? He's a good cartoonist. Due to the nature of the beast, some ham-handedness is allowed. But, that doesn't translate well into punditry, and Ted often doesn't try to tame it.

Beyond that, even someone who decried his firing damns him with faint praise, while semi-throwing him under the bus:
He's an over-the-top guy who views his life as an unending drama with himself as its main character.
Otherwise, though, he's a "mainstream left-liberal," if that doesn't sound oxymoronic, in today's punditry universe. He's certainly to the right of Counterpunch, and possibly to the right of a place like Alternet.

And, that gets to publicity. There's plenty of other columnists, and editorial cartoonists, out there who #resist Trump. Ted may be trying to figure out a way to separate himself from the crowd.

Voila! Sue the Times for not having his back with the authoritarian LAPD. Then double down on the SLAPP suit, darkly hinting that the Times is "buying" the law.

Of course, that squares the Palast circle. The conspiracy angles are the type of stuff he often digs.

And, the way he does the overly-heavy, tedious explainers about how appellate courts are different from "regular" courts and such? Maybe Rall will start losing some of his fanboys.

July 28, 2017

#Snopes is "saved"? And, so what if it is?

Recently, David Mikkelson, co-owner of the iconic rumor-busting website Snopes, launched a GoFundMe account, asking for $500,000. And, he appears to have been successful.

But why did he need this?

Well, there's a certain amount of history behind this, and the media source that first broke it gets ad hominemed by some skeptics when they reject anything it writes because the source is itself accused of doing little other than ad homineming.


I'll quickly straighten it out.

The Atlantic has the current state of the issue.

In summary, Snopes was founded a number of years ago by David and Barbara Mikkelson. They eventually divorced. They split ownership of Snopes 50-50, having created a company vehicle for it, Bardav, long before the divorce. Eventually, whether they had a private Chinese auction agreement or whatever, Barbara sold her half to five people, who owned a company called Proper Media, with which Bardav/Snopes had entered some sort of agreement the year before.

It gets more fun from there. Essentially, one person was forced out from Proper Media, and because of the interlocking relationship with Snopes, that threatened David's control of it. There's sidebar issues as to who is or is not a director of both Proper Media and Bardav.

The two are now at the point of dueling legal motions, which is part of why DM launched the GoFundMe.

Now, Atlantic refers to "titillating details" of the divorce becoming public.

Out of prudery or whatever, it won't refer to this Daily Mail article, now updated in light of the current situation, which is where they became public.

And, that's the "media source" above.

For people familiar with the Daily Mail, it is what it is. And? The National Enquirer got John Edwards' love child right long before the MSM would even start to look at the claims there. A true skeptic, a true critical thinker, approaches the story as a story, noting its source while at the same time trying to partially follow Husserl's idea of "bracketing."

Anyway, to that Daily Mail story.

What got the DM going was that Facebook named Snopes to be one of its arbiters on "fake news." While Snopes is good at busting straight-up urban legends, including political ones (it rightly noted Jill Stein is not an antivaxxer), when it comes to larger, deeper, in the woods political analysis like that of Politifact et al, it's not always that good. And, its staffers to do this very likely are not trained journalists, or trained in general. (That said, Politifact et al aren't always that great themselves.)

I already figured that, once Snopes announced this mission creep. And a few truly skeptical friends (not "movement skepticism" or "scientific skepticism" players) felt the same.

The original DM story's essence (lightly updated) is about halfway down the page. It reports that David Mikkelson wanted a salary of $720K a year. No wonder, per the Atlantic, it has overhead of more than $100K a month.

And, sorry, Atlantic, but it's relevant that his second wife was a Vegas "escort" who charged $500 an hour before they got married. Goes to fiduciary duty, per Proper Media's claims of his alleged wastrel nature.

There's more yet at DM's original story from last December. Lots more. Yes, with more titillation.

DM delves even more into the divorce paperwork. Both Mikkelsons accused each other of financial impropriety and Barbara accused David of embezzlement, among other things.

David was already making $240K a year back then. Pretty high cotton. Both were to get $20K a month as draws against profit after the split. Both had plenty of bank account money from Snopes' years of existence.

Finally, relevant to the issue of fact-checking, whether more narrow urban legend debunking or bigger Politifact work, David admitted staffers have no specific training.

Note that NONE of this was in the prudish Atlantic piece.

But it DID get a Forbes blogger, Kalev Leetru, to wondering. He sent a series of emails to David, from which he wrote this piece. David denied none of the fact checking issues and hid behind "divorce settlement" on other questions.

Oh, and claims the Daily Mail supported Hitler in 1938? The Democratic Party, at least large chunks of it, supported racism still in the 1950s. THAT's an ad hominem.

So, people who are in love with Snopes, here's my skinny of notes and rhetorical questions.
1. Since other institutions exist, like Truth or Fiction, which recently, for other reasons, replaced Snopes on my blogroll, what makes Snopes so special?
2. Snopes also never really delved into woo-debunking, or larger issues of critical thinking. The late Bob Carroll's Skeptic's Dictionary remains my gold standard there.
3. If a couple, then one half of a couple, screwed up a company because of a marital and post-marital clusterfuck, why should I help bail them out? Even if they put out a product or service that I thought was more important than Snopes?
4. That's even more true since it was an "S" company with a two-person board of directors, originally, existing 20 years with no more fiduciary oversight than the two Mikkelsons.
5. If you don't know that most "fake news" analyzers have bias (like Google using the term "low-quality news" and downgrading stuff that's more than 3 degrees left of Bernie Sanders), Snopes as a fake news analyzer isn't going to help you anyway.
6. A lot of "movement skeptics" reject extending their movement outside "scientific skepticism," so shouldn't really care about the "new Snopes," anyway. (This sets aside the ongoing problems the movement has with libertarians in the tent confusing and conflating libertarianism with skepticism.)
7. If you're going to repeat claims about the Daily Mail supporting fascism from back in the 1930s (while I counter that the majority of Senate Democrats were racists in the 1950s to undermine such stupidity), try overcoming the tribalism that's a hallmark of movement skepticism and one reason why I'm not a player in it.

In other words, try being more skeptical yourselves.

July 27, 2017

Insurers get self-righteous on #Trumpcare vs #Obamacare

The likes of Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Delta, Cigna, etc., are making me vomit in their mouths over Mitch McConnell's ongoing attempt to repeal Obamacare, whether "repeal and replace" or "repeal now, replace later" or simply "replace."

The "statement" by the Blues shows why.

Self-righteousness over a veneer of hypocrisy usually gets under my skin.

They're really committed to insuring those with pre-existing conditions because Obamacare requires it, while giving them money to do so. Pre-Obamacare, they told people with pre-existing conditions to fuck off and die just like most Senate Republicans want to do right now.

A system that doesn't require people to PURCHASE coverage is what's truly needed, of course, but what we will never get supported by these folks.

I'd be fine, per my call-out for at least a partial version of a British-style NHS, if the Blues et al still had some modicum of existence selling the equivalent of Medigap plans to those under 65. They could otherwise disappear.

As for their employees finding future employment under such a change, well, maybe they'd start supporting a guaranteed basic income or universal income.

Remember, folks, often, the enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend, but just a temporary ally of convenience. Accept the Blues' help on fighting Trumpcare.

But stop settling for Obamacare.

Vote Green. Vote SPUSA. Stop voting Democrat. Stop being a sucker for neoliberals who wanted to reward bloodsucking leeches by giving them more reward money. You know, like Cory Booker, a B-grade neoliberal on the Democratic neoliberal second team. A shadow Obama. An even bigger shill for Big Pharma.

Remember, national health care would transform the whole employment world, too. You wouldn't be chained to a crappy boss. You could work part time if you didn't have to work a minimum number of hours for health insurance. You could freelance. Etc., etc.

That's why American neoliberals hate single-payer. And why they despise something like a British National Health System, which is what America really needs.

July 25, 2017

The death of the death of #Obamacare? (newly updated)

The Turtle loses a round
A week ago, that seemed to be the case.

The House, after one failure, narrowly passed its version of Trumpcare late this spring.

Then, on to the Senate.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell figured he could use reconciliation rules to get a simple majority to pass something.


Hardcore faux libertarian Rand Paul and moderate (for the GOP, it's still relative) Susan Collins both said they couldn't vote for the Turtle's soup. Pretty soon others, like Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito and even Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, along with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, started raising more stinks.

So the Turtle did a crab crawl.

He then came out with the Turtle Two-Step of "repeal now, replace later."

But that is also now dead.

Selected members of the aforementioned specifically said they refused to buy a pig, or a turtle, in a poke. Surely others felt the same way.

Meanwhile, Donald Duck, the Trumpcare original snake-oil peddler, pulled the floor out from under the Turtle with a "let Obamacare fail" tack.

But, that still didn't stop the Turtle.

And the Turtle still wants to do something. He scheduled ANOTHER vote this week, even though people as high ranking as Senate No. 2 John Cornyn claim they still don't know what they're going to vote on. Per John Thune at the last link, it sounds like that's deliberate. Basically, it sounds like the Senate will be asked to give the Turtle a blank check.

And the Turtle is peddling a blank check because there's cheating like hell on Senate reconciliation rules on his omnibus pig in a poke. Parts of the cheat the Senate parliamentarian ruled out of bounds included an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and an attempt to let insurers peddle Ted Cruz-style junk policies.

Collins and Murkowski were the only two GOPers to refuse to buy the first half of the pig-in-a-poke; the Senate voted 50-50 to approve a motion to debate the actual, still-unidentified, pig-in-a-poke, with Vice President Mike Pence then breaking the tie.

That said, Capito and others "rallied" to help put a marker on the Turtle's actual bill. The vote to override the parliamentarian and let Mitch go full-speed with selling the pig-in-a-poke died 43-57.

And, July 26, the new attempt at "repeal now, replace later" also failed. That also was by 43-57; per the NYT live vote tracker, "partial repeal and replace" failed 45-55.

But, knowing the zombie-like antics of McConnell, who, like John Randolph of Roanoke's description of President Martin Van Buren, "rows to his object with muffled oars," I still wouldn't call Trumpcare dead.

Indeed, the live vote tracker says an allegedly, and I don't think that word can be stressed enough, final vote, is scheduled for later this week.

It's like McConnell is trying half a dozen options, seeing which loses by the smallest margin, with plans of then trying to force that one option down recalcitrant senators' throats.

The latest version of that is what John Cornyn et al started calling "skinny repeal" on July 27. It would keep Dear Leader's surtaxes in place, while still calling on wingers to defy the parliamentarian and defund Planned Parenthood. That seemingly reflects what I said just above, per Politico. The Turtle has essentially been running trial balloon votes to see just what might have a chance of passage.

Of course, this itself is hypocrisy. This is ultimately just an attempt to have something to run through the reconciliation process (perhaps parliamentarian be damned) and send it back to the House. Politico appears to confirm this is the skinny of skinny repeal.

You know, kind of like how Obamacare itself was passed after Ted Kennedy died.

And, surprisingly, the Schmuck Talk express joined Murkowski and Collins in killing this. Heller, Capito et al went AWOL on any alleged principles and joined the Turtle. McCain voted no because he wanted a fatter repeal, while lying about Obamacare's alleged "collapse."


Of course, half the "fun" of this, in the earlier fails especially, was real fun — watching the GOP fallout. Until the latest news.

(The other half isn't so fun — it means being stuck with a semi-crappy Obamacare rather than the somewhat better option of a truly improved O-care, let alone single payer. Anyway, I digress.)

First up, sotto voce but getting louder, will be intra-Senate sniping. I'm sure that will only increase after the July 25 fail.

House-Senate GOP friendly fire will come next, with strongly conservative, but not quite Tea Party, House GOPers, not appreciative of being hung out to dry.

After that, since we're only halfway through 2017, will come threats or actualities of tea partiers primarying senators.

However, there's just one problem for the tea sippers.

None of the above senators is up for re-election in 2018.

But, most of them ARE hypocrites, given their 2015 vote for a repeal now, replace later bill. Collins is the one exception.

And, even if THIS does fail?

Don't declare Obamacare magically resurrected.

Moran still wants to replace it.

That said, he wants an actually open Senate process. And it seems clear that he wants nothing to do with Havana Ted Cruz's junk-bonds level insurance offerings as part of that.

There is little way, though, that a truly improved Obamacare would come out of that. Senate Dems wouldn't play ball without further wheelings, and while the Turtle isn't that much of an ideologue, he might not play ball.

Also, in all of this, do NOT believe that insurers like Blue Cross / Blue Shield are your friend. They're not. They're still bloodsucking vampires, just with more money for their hypocrisy under Obamacare.