October 18, 2017

Democratic sheepdogging goes back long before Bernie

With polls!

I'm not saying that Actual Flatticus friend Kevin Sarpei thinks it does, or even implies that it does, but, per his piece about Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard and others, one could think that. I know he was just focusing on the current election, but, we need to see that it's part of a modern Democratic history.

I did learn, per last year's sheepdogging, a couple of things about Turner that I didn't know. That said, I hadn't really gone down her trail much.

And, I learned that Gabbard, the alleged foreign policy free thinker, is on the Council of Foreign Relations.

At the same time, Sarpei fails to note what might be far worse — her friendship with representatives of the BJP party that now governs India, as well with members of its RSS fundamentalist Hindu parallel auxiliary and support group. Also missing is Tulsi's earlier gay marriage hatred and her dad's larger homophobia.

He rightly notes Bernie opposed BDS, but doesn't note that Warren, even deeper in the Zionism tank than Bernie, also does.

Also missing, though outside the direct Bernie purview? Indivisible Team, clear sheepdoggers IMO.

OK, that said, I said that I would use that piece as a kick-off to discuss sheepdogging among Democrats in past elections. So, here we go.

I'm starting with 1976, as it was a highly contested primary battle due to a likely Democratic win.

1976: There really was no organized or semi-organized, "sheepdogging," as best as I can recall, after Jimmy Carter locked up the nomination in advance of the election. Jerry Brown jumped in the race late, but not really to be a sacrificial lamb followed by sheepdogger. And, he wasn't really that much more liberal on that many things. Already back then, he was an early outlier of not just neoliberalism in general (Carter was also a neolib in many ways), but of what eventually became tech-neoliberalism, dominating much of today's national Democratic party.

Fred Harris was the one true progressive in the race, but was out of it well before convention time, so no sheepdogging was involved.

1980: This was mano-a-mano, of course. Ted Kennedy, after failing to drop his baggage, and thus dropping the nomination possibility, did NOT sheepdog for Carter, of course. Instead, after his self-focused convention speech, he went home. Jerry Brown was in the race early, but stood no chance.

1984: Kind of like 2016, with former Veep Fritz Mondale a semi-incumbent but not totally. He was challenged by Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson. Mondale uttered his "Where's the beef" bon mot at Hart's more full-on neoliberalism to help cut him down, while Jackson shot himself in the foot with his Hymietown.

Jesse didn't do real sheepdogging here. That's mainly because Mondale's chances were largely written off. But ... stay tuned!

1988: Mike Dukakis won, with Jackson second, and getting ignored for Veep consideration instead of Lloyd Bentsen. Al Gore was third, Paul Simon (the punchline to an Al Franken joke today) was fourth and Dick Gephardt fifth.

Jesse went on to become the first big sheepdogger, at least in this post-1976 cycle herding up more liberal members of the party for a technocrat type candidate. So, let's start there, as that's a generally good link.

First, there are sheepdogs outside the Democratic Party elected apparatus. Noam Chomsky and other pundits and intellectuals who bemoan a Democratic candidate in one breath but then work to rally the troops in the next? They're another type of sheepdoggers.

What did Jesse in particular get?

An anointing as the official black "go-to" for national Democrats to approach, and other things. As in, if the national party needed to address minority hiring at a big biz that was also a big Dem donor, Jesse was the go-to guy.

Beyond an ego stroking, money to him via going to the Rainbow Coalition was the payout. And, the exploitation of his position as middleman in biz outreach and more.

That said, the sheepdogging by Jesse didn't really start until 1992, when the Big Dog, the Slickster, Bill Clinton, got nominated. And, it got worse in 1996, after Bill ended "welfare as we know it," etc. Clinton was petrified of a Jesse primary run in 1996, and even said so later.

And so, on to

1992: This was another "open" primary cycle on the Democratic side. With the number of candidates in play, and Jesse not one of them, no sheepdogger emerged after Clinton's nomination. As with a later election, it could be argued that Clinton himself, with an early version of triangulation, played both sheepdog and nominee.

Besides sheepdogging, then-former and not-yet-current Gov. Moonbeam, Jerry Brown, ran on a personal platform that included supporting a flat tax.

1996: Other than Clinton's worries about a Jesse run — and more help furnished to the Rainbow Coalition and Jackson personally to cut that off at the pass — the race was tepid.

And, yes, the book is by a semi-wingnut author from the official wingnut publishing house, but, nonetheless, there's a fair amount of truth in "Shakedown."

2000: Within the Democratic half of the duopoly, Bill Bradley was a moderate bit more liberal than Al Gore. However, he refused to be a real sheepdog.

2004: This saw the rise of two sheepdoggers, Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich. Dean developed a reputation as a "liberal" for Vermont passing a gay-and-lesbian domestic partners bill that Dean had originally opposed. He added to that by opposing the Iraq War from the safety of his governor's mansion.

Dean got his reward as chairman of the DNC. That said, he, before Rahm Emanuel, started the recruitment of "Blue Dogs."

Kucinich got his reward by being treated more seriously than he deserved. He wound up sheepdogging for Obamacare in the House.

John Edwards, the Breck Girl, was a pseudo-sheepdogger as Veep nominee.

2008: Like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama was his own sheepdogger, above all else. The power of myth.

Wonder how many Democrats who (rightly) call Bernie Sanders a sheepdogger were suckers for Obama.

2016: Bernie was an obvious sheepdogger. And, he got his payoff with the start of his foundation and think tank, starting with wife Jane running it, which fits well with her history of apparent grifting.

Speaking of, she was the cause of Flatty blocking me.

He claimed that the federal bank fraud investigation of Jane Sanders was all Trump Admin hackery. I pointed out that, despite the Trumpster who first called for the investigation, the actual investigation was launched by the Obama Administration's Department of Justice before the primary season was over, let alone the general.

If ANY political considerations were involved, it was Dear Leader holding that investigation over the Sanders' collective heads to make sure Bernie sheepdogged.

But, Flatty (despite being blocked on Twitter by Jane Sanders by that time) couldn't buy that.

Oh, Bernie's new book, highly overrated, is both sheepdogging, and probably, with bulk buys from big Democrats and Sanders Institute staff, a reward for sheepdogging.

Beyond Bernie, are there other sheepdoggers? Elizabeth Warren, per Sarpei, endorsed Clinton after Bernie essentially conceded. Sheepdogs starting to fall in line. That said, Warren had a chance to be a sheepdog candidate, as Bernie waited on her before announcing his run.

The "Putin Did It" post-election sheepdogging for the non-Trump Team members of both halves of the duopoly is more disconcerting.

That said, Sarpei gets other things wrong, wrong, wrong in that piece.

Like blaming Assad for the April gas attack. Kevin needs to start reading him some Consortium News and get the facts on Syria. He also needs to realize that a lot of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment's guilt-tripping of Assad is "Putin Did It" by extension. (No, this is not a claim that Assad is innocent. It is a claim that some of the gas attacks blamed on him, including earlier this year, almost certainly weren't done by him.)

UPDATE: I may have misread Kevin here. I'll quote the original.

It’s at Point 6 under Nina Turner:
As far as I know, and I’ve searched hard, she hasn’t addressed the claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind the apparent sarin gas attack in Syria in April 2017. 
Yeah, I think not claiming that Assad was behind it is better than claiming that he was, but in the end, not challenging the claim helps the establishment as well.
Per Kevin’s comment here, I’m OK with saying it looks like I misread him.

To be precise, I wrote not once, not twice, but three times about the April attack — and relevant past issues. And, if he reads Consortium News, I presume he largely agrees.

On Tulsi Gabbard, Sarpei again fails to mention her BJP / RSS connections.

I remention this for serious reasons. Her Hindu nationalist connections surely fuel her Islamophobia. And, no, per our Twitter exchange, mentioning this is NOT digging up "every bit of dirt."

Sorry, Kevin, but you probably need to drill deeper on some foreign policy issues. Or maybe you don't think Islamophobia is a big deal. Given that you are a 9/11 Truther, that could be true. I've asked him directly on Twitter. And, he's said "yes" that we'll have to disagree on this issue.

And, re the danger of electronic voting machines, I've addressed that before.

More specifically, I've addressed claims that they flipped 2004. And the original version of "Putin Did It," ie, that he hacked election machines. Or that Hillary rigged Arizona, beyond just election machines.

Are they perfect? No. I've noted that before, including saying that European-style paper ballots might be better. Did they make McCain president in 2008 or Romney in 2012? Also, no. Per that 2004 piece, if they really were rigged, they could have, surely for Romney.

At the same time, on paper ballots? They're not perfect either. If you don't know the moniker, Google "The Duke of Duval County." What matters is the structural integrity, and the human integrity, behind the voting system in general. Vote-stealing is as American as Democratic sheepdogging.

Oh, and Sarpei also should stop linking to videos by 9/11 truthers and otherwise general conspiracy theorists if he wants the likes of me to take him more seriously on foreign policy issues. (I'm talking about James Corbett in particular.)

I know he's enthusiastic about campaign finance problems and other issues, but anybody who knows me well knows that I have little truck with conspiracy theorists. Knowing that the 9/11 Commission did not fully investigate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's role in Sept. 11, 2001, is not the same as believing there is a conspiracy about who did it, that NIST was wrong about how the towers fell (I saw that referenced on the original Corbett video Sarpei had linked), etc. And, when, in going to Corbett's website, I saw JFK assassination conspiracy theories, in general, that was more than enough, without needing to see the particular theory Corbett supports.

That said, I've seen far worse 9/11 Truthers. And others.

And, whether on FB or Twitter, I normally block them.

I have an exception for Alex Jones on Twitter, just to see if a potential Twitter friend retweets Alex in a non-mocking way. Ditto for Zero Hedge.

So, I don't mean to harsh your mellow too much, Kevin. But there's a difference between facts and conspiracy theories. The Assad part of your statement isn't a conspiracy. It's just a conjecture which most likely isn't right.

==

Sidebar: From the pre-modern era, Henry Wallace could be considered a sheepdogger by agreeing to be FDR's Commerce Secretary after getting dumped as Veep. Before that, William Jennings Bryan could be considered the same after Wilson dumped him as Secretary of State, for not challenging Wilson's drift, or drive, closer to war.

==

Meanwhile, to critique within my current party of presidential voting?

Per David Cobb's safe states strategy in 2004, and Jill Stein doing her recount last year only in states that would benefit Hillary Clinton?

I think it's time we called this sheepdogging, too. That's one reason I almost voted SPUSA for president in November.

==

That said, there could be such a thing as Flatticus sheepdogging. That would be writing something that hinted it might be a critical look at him, but actually turned out not to be so at all. The people being sheepdogged would be people of generally progressive angles who might have seen him on Twitter, then heard some vague rumblings about him after he died.

They might go to a piece like that, and not realize the full story.

And, Kevin probably didn't think I was setting up a bank shot. I hadn't started out that way, but about halfway through this I decided to do it. That decision was intensified by reading your most recent piece.

I'll have more soon on honoring his legacy by going beyond it.

October 17, 2017

TX Progressives eye big biz, state budget, cops, elections, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance admires Rep. Al Green’s impeachment drive, while noting the reality of President Mike Pence that would result, as it brings you this week's roundup. It also notes that voting on constitutional amendments, statewide, and local issues, starts next week.

Off the Kuff says that if giving a tax break to homeowners affected by natural disasters is a priority, the state should cover the cost of that tax break to counties and school districts.

SocraticGadfly looks at a couple of recent pieces by a business columnist at the Chronic, and wonders how many of them apply there and if that will ever be asked?

How about Texas Democrats ask Sylvester Turner to run for governor, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs helpfully suggested.

Neil at All People Have Value attended the weekly Tuesday protest outside the Houston office of Senator John Cornyn. Senator Cornyn is doing a bad job. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Jobsanger offers up 11 steps for a healthier, fairer American economy.

Lewisville Texan Journal talks about the joys of her son addressing city council.


==================

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

Elizabeth Lewis believes we are misdiagnosing the cause of gun violence.

Grits for Breakfast agrees with criticisms of police unions but rejects most ideas for changing them.

Political Orphans wonders how Democrats would react if they had their own Trump, and his answer reflects on the current state of the duopoly.

Better Texas Blog dives into the latest revenue estimate from the Comptroller.

The TSTA Blog laments the lack of role models at the top of our government.

Therese Odell gamely explains what the First Amendment is.

Grant Brisbee isn't a Texan, but he truly gets the city of Houston.

Bonddad notes that in DC, both parties, on both sides of the Capitol, have a huge problem with gerontocracy, and relates this to the res publica.

October 13, 2017

Who is Alan Smithee, aka Actual Flatticus? (Updated with his criminal history)

NOTE: Blog post has been reworked to reflect the death of Flatticus, IRL known as Christopher Chopin (newspaper version of obit here), and to reflect some past history of his that is FAR more disturbing than his Twitter history, but certainly lies behind it. Post has been further updated with additional discoveries about his family and to improve its flow. The original post was written four months ago, when he blocked me on Twitter, after I actually followed his "investigate what I say" schtick and showed him wrong.

There are many Alan Smithee characters on Twitter, all riffing on the origin of the name, but only one who is Actual Flatticus by sign-in.

He WAS — which became a not-IS a few months before he died — a Twitter friend of mine. Very thought provoking and usually very, very sharp on issues of campaign finance, both soft money and dark money. However, outside of that and single-payer national health care, he wasn't necessarily that deep on other major liberal issues, let alone left-liberal and beyond. (And, I had months of observation of him interacting with other Twitter friends before I followed him myself for several months.)

NOTE TWO: I wrote almost all of this blog post (including the paragraph immediately above) except for the part about his aggravated assault arrest MONTHS before he died. Other than the arrest itself, other Googling of his real name did little but trim up some hunches and guesstimates. (Well, the stuff from "NOTE FOUR" to "BACKGROUND" about the family is now all new.)

NOTE THREE: Had I known about his aggravated assault with a firearm arrest four months ago, of course I would have written about it then. That said, as with Christopher Hitchens becoming a neocon, has a person's death magically changed anything about the last months before they died — or the last years, if it had carry-over effects to the last months?

NOTE FOUR: Flatticus' daddy was rich enough and connected enough to be personal friends of Henry Ford II. (The L. Frank Chopin is his dad, per obit.) That puts his felonious road rage (below) into further perspective. Chopin had a sense of entitlement a mile wide, I bet.

Note that this feud over the Deuce's trust was when our man Flatticus was just 12 years old. Daddy's relationship with Hank the Deuce seems to have been pretty well established. The trust was drawn up some time before Hank died in 1987, so Daddy Chopin knew him well when Chris was just in single digits.

In other words, per where L. Frank lives today, and possibly then, Allen J. Flatticus was born with a fair-sized silver spoon in his mouth. With his dad as a tax attorney to the rich and famous, he surely was and has been raking, and also knew how to hide much of the rake on his own 1040s.

And this subplot gets more fun in and of itself.

Apparently daddy Chopin, acting on behalf of Kathleen Ford several years later, after she'd been robbed of jewels, tried to stiff informants when they wanted reward money. And that wasn't a first, either, apparently. Daddy Chopin, per the link above this, apparently tried to stiff Hank the Deuce's kids out of some of their inheritance, serving as mouthpiece for Kathleen, the Deuce's third wife.

Per the Daily Mail, THAT stiffing the kids, or stepkids, was still in the news just a year ago. (And, you can find other links if you don't like the tabloid Daily Mail.) In fact, L. Frank formed a corporation with Kathleen. You can't make this stuff up!

L. Frank Chopin with The Donald and Melania
Oh, and here's his dad's rich oceanside neighborhood. Which apparently is NOT far from Mar-A-Lago of Donald Trump fame, given this article where Daddy Chopin ran flak against Trump. That said, six months earlier than that, Daddy Chopin, as legal voice for the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation, was leading the tussle with Trump.

But, that flak didn't last forever. After lawsuit threats and check-cutting, Daddy Chopin, per a comment last year, found out that Chopin was just all right with Trump.

Per somebody responding to Zach Haller, aka Shirtless Pundit on Twitter, I don't know if they had dinner together. But, it wouldn't surprise me. And now, with the addition of the picture, I'm officially un-surprised.

And, it was Republicans in general with the dad. In 2015, on Jeb Bush's Palm Beach County campaign team.

Dad's speciality is tax law. He is still active, it seems, and has a business address, but no website.

AND, AND, AND!!!

Daddy Chopin was giving money to PACs! As did, apparently, Chris' grandma (Kathleen)? Aunt (per obit)? Cousin?

Per Funky Chicken on Twitter, I would think THAT would be more a heartbreaker than the Trump love. After all, the money to Jeb's PAC was in 2015, before Daddy Chopin decided to become another truckler to Trump. Chicken, as of mid-afternoon Saturday, Oct. 14, has yet to answer how heartbreaking it was for Flatty to see his sister as a lobbyist, and a media spin doctor before that.

AND,AND!!!

Per his obit, turns out the Republicans still liked Flatty. One memorial at the online obit:
We already miss your wit and patriotic dedication
Randi, and the rest of the West Palm Beach Republican Executive Committee
I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but, a piece like that? Make it look like he was a Cold War era double agent.

Besides, Flatty said:

All posts are satirical and/or in the nature of parody. Nothing posted should ever be believed by anyone, ever, at any time, for any reason.
And, riffing on that, that may have applied to his own comments about the system. How do you know he wasn't taking a bunch of people for a ride as much as being a true believer? I doubt it, but ... his first sentence? He put it there and he left it there.

That would include him saying that both he and his dad wrote in Donald Duck, for president, I guess.

I have to say, vis-a-vis his followers, even those less than full-on groupies, this is getting to be kind of fun, too.

And, nobody is explaining why, if single-payer was so important, Flatty didn't show Bernie Sanders some dinero love. I mean, I'm half as cynical and twice as skeptical about politics as him, but I've given then Green Party money in multiple previous election cycles. Because ... the FEC shows bupkis in Chris(topher) Chopin donations.

Damn, what we have, I think, otherwise, is an acorn that didn't fall far from the tree. Including that road rage violence below, at the "AN ANGRY MAN."

DIDN'T HE HAVE TO LAY LOW?

Now, some of the groupies will insist this is why Smithee had to stay anonymous. (This is in reference to Roger Riga, aka "Lawyer Killer" right now, on Twitter, having talked about doxxing a few days before Chopin's death. A couple of other people in his circle also appear to have mentioned doxxing.

Besides that, as @SocialistTaco mentions in this so-so to OK Medium piece about Smithee's death? He doxxed himself. He had originally been on Twitter by name, apparently (he started in 2008) and didn't object when, with his pipe and other stuff, he was occasionally referenced on Twitter by name.

What? The braggart bully was afraid of his rich parents and their rich friends? Afraid they'd cut off his inheritance like his daddy did to Hank the Deuce's kids?

So, the "yah but" "yah but" "yah but" chatter? Can it.

You make me laugh if you think Smithee the cyberbully was in reality Chris Chopin the titty baby.

Chris Chopin could have further developed his own law firm if the parental gravy train was cut off. (Correction here; I thought he was at his mom's firm, when it was actually his brother. More interestingly, the brother is older, not younger.) He was still a lawyer with many clients, and quite possibly a very good lawyer overall.

In other words, if he really wanted to move himself away from the family tree, he could have done a lot more than he actually did, and with his actual name. Besides, per his snooty appreciation for certain pipes in certain Manhattan restaurants, even family law pays big bucks when the divorcees are Fords or Pulitzers or other gold-plated people of the Gold Coast.

I mean, I wrote a newspaper column about being an atheist, after graduating from my dad's divinity school AND having the honesty and integrity not to become a minister myself. (And, yes, there are atheists in pulpits as well as in foxholes.)

And, looking at his own website, I say "snooty" deliberately. How many lawyers (and a great many would qualify) put "Mensa member" on their websites?

Besides, Mensa membership — and Mensa as a group — is vastly overrated. If having an IQ of 130 can't prevent you from believing in astrology — and yes, Mensa has astrology groups within its many subgroups — it's really not a whole lot of fucking good, is it? Second, there are higher-IQ societies than Mensa. (Mensa's cutoff is the 98th percentile of IQ scores. In plainer English, that means if everybody wanted to join Mensa, 2 percent of America is eligible. In other words, it's not THAT big of a deal.

I guess "privilege" was just too tempting, mainly financially, but also in other ways. (I don't write blank checks to the social justice movement, but I most certainly don't reject it out of hand.)

BACKGROUND

Flatticus/Smithee on Twitter liked to tell people never to believe what he said, but check it out for themselves.

Unfortunately, that was a schtick with him, not reality, as noted above. Albeit a schtick that, even after his death, is being repeated as gospel by his groupies. And, yes, that's what you are, if you're accepting his claim uncritically and/or if you accepted everything he said uncritically.

Smithee, that is, Chris Chopin, and I got in a long argument over Jane Sanders' ongoing federal investigation, and he blocked me. I told that to Kevin Sarpei in a comment on his Medium piece, too. (As part of not thinking past "liberal," I could tell that his mind simply refused to move beyond the Democratic half of the duopoly box. More on that below.)

That was after a shorter argument about whether or not the Emoluments Clause applies to presidents. It does, contra his claims, as I document in detail. And, he got kind of ANGRY (all caps necessary) over that. Per his obit, him being a lawyer may be part of why he got fairly angry in debate over it, along with being a champion debater. It was angry enough that I didn't knock that link into a final blog post until I was thinking about unfriending him, before he blocked me.

And, it goes along with me not calling him out for a link that he used to demean Democracy Now's Amy Goodman as a money-grubber who allegedly made $1 million a year when her show was spun off from Pacifica. It may or may not be correct; in any case, per The Nation, her pay and sidebar moneys were mutually negotiated. Also, the source is biased, having previously sued WBAI.

(My closest friend on Facebook, whom I'd trust far more than Flatty on a broader variety of issues, pointed out on FB that Flatty was wrong on this issue when he cited Educate-Yourself as his source. And that also shows that Chopin, while very well informed on the narrow areas of dark and soft money, and pretty darned well informed on broader campaign finance issues, could be and was in error on broader issues of political influence.)

And, the source has HUGE other problems. As in, it's from a website anti-semitic enough to believe The Protocols of The Elders of Zion are "real," and conspiracy-thinking enough to believe in chemtrails, the New World Order, the Illuminati and all sorts of other shit.

He couldn’t stand Jill Stein, for whatever reason. Rather than pick something truly nutty, like her sexist Mother’s Day comment, rather, in my time w/him on Twitter, he picked on her idealism, saying she “declared war” on Saudi Arabia as his reference to her quite reasonable call for an embargo on arms sales to KSA. (This is one reason why I said above that he didn't seem to think that deeply outside dark money and national health care; certainly, I didn't hear deep thought from him on foreign policy issues, beyond the true enough "Hillary is a warmonger." He may have expressed it elsewhere, but not to me.)

Per comments below, sure, he would have been a nice "get" for supporting Greens. Even as a tactical vote option if he wouldn't fully support the party. But sorry, LeBeau, that wasn't going to happen in 2016, and likely wouldn't have happened in 2020. Even though he could have made a splash as a big fish in a small pond.

EARLIER DOT CONNECTING

Who is Smithee, in more detail?

I didn't think he was a troll per se at the time I originally wrote this post. That said, for him, every problem appeared to be not a nail, but a rock needing to be crushed by a sledgehammer. Given his "champion debater" background, this gained a LOT more clarity.

And ultimately, he leaves the feeling of a dull, throbbing toothache. I think he does know better, but this has been his modus operandi so long he doesn’t care. 

That said, again, he didn't like to be proven wrong, when he could be proven wrong, despite his calls for people to check out everything he says. Another way of putting this is “he’s got a mind like a steel trap” … and … no, it’s not rusted shut, per an old MASH joke. Rather, it’s a double spring-loaded, or pre-programmed, trap, or something like that. 

Turns out my guess that he was of retirement age was wrong. Per his obit, in comments below? Champion debater and lawyer don't surprise me at all. 

And surely it was the mix of being a lawyer and a champion debater, specifically noted in his obit that led to that intense animosity (no other word for it as I see it) about not wanting to lose. In other words, Twitter just increased his "I won't lose this debate" mindset, put it on steroids.

I mean, I can Tweet a fair amount, but Chris Chopin, in a typical day, would post 3x-4x the number of Tweets I did. And a lawyer, if he or she is driving a spiffy Mercedes, ain't working 40-hour weeks, either, but far more. (That's why I originally thought he was a retiree.)

Anyway, having a real life name let me do teh Google.

AN ANGRY MAN

The rage he showed on Twitter? At least at one time — I don't know about recently — was worse in real life.


Making the front page of the local section of the Palm Beach Post, a fair-sized seven-day daily newspaper, for a road rage incident? Having to post $100,000 bond to get out of the slammer?

The OCR recognition on Newspapers.com isn't perfect, but, lest I be accused of tampering, I'll note any edits.
A 27-year-old lawyer was arrested after a midmorning road-rage incident in which he allegedly threatened the occupants of a pickup with a loaded handgun. Christopher Chopin, who practices family law with his mother, was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. He was released Sunday after posting $ 100,000 bond. The episode occurred at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Okeechobee Boulevard and South Dixie t Highway, according to police reports. Chopin, driving a 1996 Mercedes SL320, beeped his horn and shouted angrily at Francisco Rodriguez, who was driving a pickup when he stopped for a red light. Chopin pulled beside the pickup and seemed to be picking a fight, said Fernando Alvarez, a passenger in Rodriguez's truck. "He said, 'Get out of the car you old man!' " Alvarez said in an intyview. Sleuths go to great wavelengths to catch rogue radio stations his car. "I can't understand why he would have done something like this," Alvarez said Sunday. "Pulling a gun is uncalled for. He made the wrone choice."
I did a strikethrough of the one sentence because that's associated with another story. That's all I touched.

Just wow.  He surely pled guilty to something, but also surely to a lesser charge. I say pled to "something" because the Florida Bar disciplined him a year later.

In turn, now that I know, per my latest updates, how high-profile of a legal beagle his dad was already then, the fact that Chris Chopin got his hands slapped AT ALL means that this road rage with a pistol was surely at least as bad as the story portrays.

And OH SHIT! I not only found out what it was pled down to, but — years later — re the anger and the misogyny? Folks, it's out there. Domestic battery. Looks like it's just one case, with a re-entry of it and a typo. But, there it is.

I'm sorry to the sister who may still be monitoring his Twitter page, but per my original blog post that I thought people needed to know more about him? I did the "dot" tag in front of the "@" so it would get tracked. I wasn't attacking her. (That said, I'd never blocked him, even though he had blocked me.) And also, since I now know about Daddy Chopin, while I still feel sorry for their loss ... no, I don't feel quite as sorry as I did 24 hours ago.

I don't know if he showed that level of anger outside the Twitter world today as he did inside it. (He doesn't seem to have a Facebook page.) But, it wouldn't surprise me, even if any such anger level today in meatspace was still a couple of degrees below threatening a viejo with a pistol.

In short, for when I face the inevitable criticism, just as I did with more famous people like Chris Hitchens, I'll say "no, not too soon."

A lot of his followers were groupies, pure and simple. Go ahead and flame me, if you're going to claim this IS too soon.

And, since the groupies are now claiming "his empathy for the less fortunate" or whatever, the parenthetical subhead within the header is going to stay there for a while.

A NOTE FOR GROUPIES


I note that one groupie, in comments, while calling everything else vague, can only call the road rage a "mistake." Er, no. If even 25 percent of that level of anger was behind his Twitter anger, it was a psychological problem still ongoing, not a "mistake." My only "regret" is not knowing about this before he died, and calling him out on it, while being immediately prepared to block him if he entered into any sort of raging.

Also, per Mr. Joshua? My life's not perfect. That said, I never threatened an old man with a pistol. And, I've pretty well apologized for my top indiscretions — and changed the behavior behind them. Puts me one up on Smithee right there.

So, groupies?

Did you also agree with his bullying women? (From my perception, he liked to do browbeat/beatdown level arguments with women more than men on Twitter.) Or were so intense on him you didn't even notice it? To a woman on Twitter who talked about how much he helped women — I guess this only included the ones he didn't bully.

Ditto, groupies, on his schtick of "investigate everything" yet getting angry — still close to road rage angry, perhaps? — when people like me actually did that? To be honest, I felt enough of his anger oozing through the interwebz on Twitter once or twice myself it scared me. In real life, had he gotten argumentative enough, it probably would have scared the shit out of me.

Re commenter Joshua, the only self-serving part may be me not making an apology to any of the women I saw get bullied at the time he was doing it. And, Mr. Joshua has shown, IMO, that he follows people first, and ideas second, including putting the idea of truth after the person of Chopin.

Also, a shallow attempt to prod me into anger to stop moderating your posts obviously didn't work. Other groupies, save yourselves the time. And, on the subject of shallow? Mr. Joshua, claiming I was "giggling" over Smithee's death, or writing about his criminal history? THAT's shallow.

Actually, though, I am beyond giggling though, and laughing outright while shaking my head — at the likes of you.

Frankly, even with the marriage and daughter, he might have been sexist IRL, too. A stereotypical Type A male, to some degree. Driving that pricey of a Mercedes, and not too old of one, when he was 27, and other things? While he hated money in politics, and supported single-payer a lot, things like income inequality or addressing it through something like basic income, I doubt floated his boat. During the months we were Twitter friends, I never really saw stuff like that from him. Besides the wheels, he liked other fancier things in life, and having plenty of money to blow on them. Add in the part about his mom also being a lawyer and I know money oozed.

I also love any groupies complaining about trolling when THEY, in their groupiness, created an #ActualFlatticus hashtag on Twitter that's still trending a full week after his death.

And Flatty is the gift that keeps on giving, as the hashtag gets me new Twitter followers.

One of them had this as his/her précis on his/her home:
"The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults." Chris Hedges "I'm left of you, idiot." Smithee
That, again, is Smithee in one Tweet exchange. Pompous, presumptuous, high Dunning-Kruger level, and, wrong!

A SISTERLY TWIST!

I noted above that his sis became at least short-term manager of his Twitter.

Did she know before he died about this part of him? Did the other lawyers in the family? And did his wife?

Speaking more of the sis, I found her, on LinkedIn and company website, based on facial features and her getting her undergrad and law degrees both at Chris's undergrad alma mater, Emory.

And the irony, or "something," gets even BIGGER.

She's a lawyer for Squire Patton Boggs. A PARTNER, no less! Yes, THAT Patton Boggs. White shoe law firm to the DC insider grifters. Per Wiki, it's the third-largest lobbying firm in the US! And, it says she has past experience with political campaign media, too.

Age is right. She'd be three years older than Chris. And Intelius confirms! (And another Tweety bird says the name is actually "Alexandra Chopin Wise," tho not listed that way professionally.

Oh, and "representation of targets and witnesses before committees of the US Congress," per the Patton Boggs page? She's a lobbyist, even if no longer at the DC office.

And as a "former journalist and political campaign media specialist," she's — a former spin doctor as well.

In other words? If Flatty really stood behind his Tweets, he hated what his sis did (if not necessarily her personally) just as much as what his dad did.

At the same time, on the silver spoon angle? LinkedIn says she went to Philips Exeter for high school.

TRUTH vs WINNING

Either those actually curious about Chris Chopin, aka Flatticus, aka Smithee, or groupies or semi-groupies who actually do want to pursue truth (vs winning, per the subhead) or even haters who want another arrow in the quiver? Let's look at Smithee's schtick, as I called it, vs. reality, in another way.

Anybody who knows anything about competitive high school and college debate knows, just as well as did "champion debater" Chris Chopin, that competitive debate is about winning, not "the truth."

A nickel tour of elements of basic informal logic will explain.

Basic informal logic in a logical argument, not a debater's argument, or a lawyer's argument, has two elements.

One is the logical organization and structure of the argument.

In other words, ignoring any truth values, does Point B logically follow from Point A? Does Point C logically follow from Points A and B together? The classical syllogism illustrates this.

All males are really females
Socrates was male
Ergo, Socrates is really female.

All correctly argued.

As noted, though, LOGICAL argumentation, vs a debate, has two elements.

The other is the truth value of any empirical items in any points.

My syllogism above is hugely fallacious because, of course, "All males are really females" is false.

Smithee/Flatticus was a great debate-type arguer. I have no doubt Chris Chopin was the same in the courtroom.

That said, as a newspaper editor, I know well that the old bon mot about lawyers (on both sides) not caring for the truth indeed has its degree of truth. Lawyers, like other debater types, are worried about winning before they're worried about the truth.

Oh, they both worry about the truth as an element of their argumentation, sure. They're not going to utter a silly syllogism like mine. But, that's, in most cases, because it would wreck their chances of winning, not because the major premise is false per se.

I suspect many groupies and semi-groupies were gulled by not making this distinction.

Well, that's the way logic actually works.

And, to riff on that distinction, groupies?

This is one last ex post facto debate. And, I win. Not him, and not you.

MORE:

Some further background, from his Twitter days.

He hated journalists in general, or so it seemed to me. At least, he hated the big ones. (And, yes, he knew my background.) Black-and-white thinker on this, as on several other things. That said, he knew I didn't think a lot of the worth of a lot of the big MSM myself. (And, I'm now wondering if, after he went deep undercover, or became a double agent, or whatever, there was a "why" to this hatred.) But claiming you know more on something than David Sirota? (That said, Sirota lost a step in my world when he went to work for David Brock.)

On broader politics, he didn't hate, or dislike, just Jill Stein. He didn't like the Green Party in general for whatever reason, as noted above. He didn't hate it, but from what he's discussed of his past voting record, he refused third-party voting.

Based on his citing Educate-Yourself (the link above), and other people referring to Amy Goodman’s alleged $1 million pay as a reason she’s a co-conspirator on suppressing so-called 9/11 “truth,” I wonder if he was a conspiracy theorist. The reality on Goodman is that the parting from Pacifica was mutual, mutually agreed and mutually acceptable, per The Nation. The Educate Yourself piece Flatticus used is also a flat-out lie to claim that her salary is tax-free. NOBODY’s salary is tax free. They may take all sorts of deductions, but it’s NOT “tax free.” 

He could have Googled for that Nation link. A lawyer knows that income is not "tax free" in general. Yes, one can get tax exemptions as well as deductions, but even for ministers, income does not start out with a "presumption" of being tax free.

Do I hate him? No, not at all. Not now and not then.

I found it kind of sad that he couldn't or wouldn't practice what he preaches on the verification issue. Per Educate-Yourself, I don't think he was anti-Semitic, either, but it was also sad to see that he'd cite a website like that, especially when I scrolled through it more. It was even sadder to see an even more obvious conspiracy theory site be used as a reference. That said, given other things I've learned about him IRL, I wouldn't be 100 percent sure he was NOT, in fact, anti-Semitic in some way.

I am sad that he had too many groupies who considered him a guru and did not actually check out everything he claimed. Maybe some will flame me, even with comments moderated. That's why I used a secondary Twitter account to post my original update of this piece.

TWITTER FEEDBACK and FALLOUT

No, contra one other respondent, I don't think Smithee was racist. And, beyond him linking to a blatantly anti-Semitic website, I have no information otherwise on whether or not he was anti-Semitic.

I do, per the one brief note above, express my condolences to his family. That said, I never met them online even. But I have met online many of Flatticus' followers, some of whom indeed stand out as groupies.

That said, I'm not harshing Smithee groupies' mellow as much as in this post as Roger Riga is on Twitter. That said, Riga, on Medium, even if his Twitter feed is "interesting, was a Jill Stein supporter. Puts him ahead of Smithee right there.

Meanwhile, as of the evening of Oct. 15, Riga, aka Lawyer Killer, had locked down his account and since I hadn't "followed" him before then, I can't see his Tweets. I've requested a friending; let's see if he grants it. Interesting, or something, he's also removed the "Murderer of @ActualFlatticus" from his Twitter precis. Probably was getting Twitter-flamed far more than me.

Moving to something first posted above, I disagree with the Medium piece's author, Kevin Sarpei, about how much he alluded to Flatty having "one or two character flaws" (only allusion) or directly referred to his anger management and criminal histories (not at all) in discussing Flatty, including linking here. 

And, this same Sarpei, in Twitter conversation about Tulsi Gabbard, said that mentioning her RSS / BJP connection would be digging up "every bit of dirt" about her. He also, if not an Islamophobe himself, seems to be OK with others indulging.

Makes me wonder yet other things about Flatty. And, yes, I Googled "Actual Flatticus" plus "Islamophobia." Found nothing one way or the other.

Other than that per mentioning Haller, I've got my eye on a couple of other semi-famous political minded people on Twitter. We'll see if they change their worshipfulness or not.

And, so, I think others on Twitter still need to be warned about him. He's dead. He can't Tweet anymore. His sister has locked his account. But don't let a false legacy live on. And, be Twitter-forewarned. Don't buy schtick.

A FEW MORE TIDBITS

So, his sister was the one who grabbed and managed his Twitter account. Why her and not his wife?

Did Alexandra know he was doing this before he died? Did any other family members? I have to think his sister did, which is why she took control of his account.

Other tidbits? First, see his comment at the bottom of this lawyers' related blog, the fall after his road rage. I'll say no more.

And, speaking of blogs, he had his own law-related blog. I found that via a comment on a post at Balkinization where Smithee was his usual argumentative self.

And, on another Balkinization post, he was a defender of Nino Scalia's alleged "textualism." Either he was still sucking at the family money-and-politics teat too much then, or maybe he never totally got beyond it. (Post is from 2004.) Anyway, Mr. Mensa Member defending Nino for something Scalia didn't actually do underscores my previous comment about Mensa. That said, per other comments there, he wasn't a blanket defender of Nino, and he sure didn't like a lot of Shrub Bush.

On the other hand, his comment here misrepresents the piece AND shows some of the Smithee misogyny.

As far as political background? He was indeed a registered Democrat last year. That said, per the FEC campaign contributions link for his dad, I saw nothing in federal campaign contributions by him. Dunno if he did anything at the Florida state level or not.

Sidebar? Damn, housing in Florida is expensive.

And, per condolences to the family, they did pick a very good charity in lieu of flowers. Besides general condolences for a family member's death, in general, in some ways, I feel actually sorry for them. And the sister is having to deal with a barnyard, too — even if it's a barnyard she probably already knew something about.

And may be wanting to enshrine. Per complaints from the groupies, I found out only confirmed followers get to see his Tweets now. I wouldn't do that hassle even with a new fake account.

I was just curious if he was this monomaniacal nearly 10 years ago, and the answer is probably yes. He was probably also a sucker for Obama. But, I don't need to waste that much time.

I'm curious if she's doing this for any reason other than to prevent tweet-mining. That alone would kind of enshrine it, but is she going to run updates through it?

Finally, I have thought about possible causes of his death, yes. And commented elsewhere, in response to someone else, once.

I don't think it's really necessary, though, other than to say I certainly don't think there was anything conspiratorial behind it, and that I hope any Flatty Followers who DO think that stop it.

TWITTER TIDBITS

Apparently Smithee thought the Russian sanctions had some real bite. In actuality, Russia has become a net exporter of most foodstuffs for the first time since before the Revolution.

A "non-partisan truth teller"? Not really, per Stein and GP stuff.

The irony or hypocrisy of him calling out others for Twitter abusiveness.

Would he have remained a Democrat in 2020? Per this Tweet, not likely. But, would he have done the duopoly exit? Also not likely.

==

E Lee Beck, one half of the Beck lawyers' team running the DNC fraud lawsuit work, has one foot firmly in the conspiracy theory world. She's not the only Flatty fan who has at least a toe in conspiracy waters, and not just about his death.  Shirtless Pundit has at least a toe, I think. Retweeting anybody claiming the Vegas shooting was a false flag? That's it. Retweeting Prison Planet, too.

Another person thinks that ability to speak multiple languages makes a person a genius. Nope. Hundreds of millions of people around the world, from genius, through smart, through average, to below average, have that ability. Believing otherwise, believing that it IS genius, is American insularity at work.

And, OK, so it's a problem in America. We'll file Flatty the non-monolingual as "genius, American exceptionalist division."

And, yeah, I'm going to post more like this not just in days, but weeks, ahead. 

Random detritus that I find related to Flatty.

CEO pay, performance, capitalism and company improvement

Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson has a good piece on how CEO pay is often not linked to company bottom-line improvement. Of course, even before the Reagan-era spike in income inequality, primarily devoted to the top 1/10th of 1 percent, that was already true to a degree.

But, it's more true now.

Well, it's true as far as it goes.

It takes a too-narrowly capitalistic look at "the bottom line."

Let's look at, oh, the Hearst Corporation, owners of the Chronicle. Let's note that the Chronicle recently fired its Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Nick Anderson.

If the bottom line is "dollars and cents," then, sure, that helped the bottom line.

If, in the case of media companies, the bottom line is still considered what it (allegedly) was 50 years ago, that hurt the bottom line.

Companies that win those "best to work for" awards usually pay well. They also do other things well for their employees.

And, it's not just media companies, which "produce" a somewhat intangible product. Health care, per the old "doctor's bedside manner," has intangible elements. So does the renowned customer service department of Apple.

I'm not sure how you measure all of that. But, the idea needs to be raised.

(I don't know what Hearst's CEO makes as the company is private.)

==

Chris then had another column (I can't find it in a recent actual column, may have been a retweet of someone else) wrote elsewhere about how more than half of employees in the US are subject to binding arbitration at their employers. He did have a column about non-employment binding arbitration here.

Being both serious and devil's advocate, when I saw another Chron employee retweet that, tagging Chris, the Chronicle's "house" Twitter account and one other, I asked: "Does this include Hearst employees?"

Silence in response would indicate "yes."

October 11, 2017

Bad math + bad branding and marketing = bad ideas on #BasicIncome, for me

Approximately 10 minute read; part of an ongoing occasional series on basic income issues.

I appreciate the work Basic Income evangelist Scott Santens does. I would like for us to have some sort of basic income — with certain caveats about what type of basic income, what it will include or not, and how effective it will be.

But with Santens, as with many evangelists, you don't get the full sell right away.

That's very true in a new piece by him, claiming that getting everyone in the US $1,000 a month in basic income would only cost $900 billion net.

First, I don't think he has it there, and it's a 25-minute read which I didn't go through, but teh Google at the office told me that the "everyone" is only adults. Niños get just $325 a month.

Reality is that, on gross costs, it's $4 trillion a year, if we look at all the US of 325 million as adults and citizens (assuming that's also a restriction). But, let's round down a bit, to play with Santens.

Since $3.85 trillion is the entire US budget this year, that's his ask. I Tweeted about that Thursday night.

After that, the next morning, he accused me of "not doing the math," then Tweeted the image at left.

No, I had just gone to bed, and figured his math would eventually involve a chunk o taxes, which it does.

And with that, here in just a minute, we're going to start getting to the real nut cutting of what's wrong with his taxes.

This piece, which also tells us the $12K isn't for kids, has the details of how Santens wants to scramble for nearly $3 billion with a B in new tax revenue, cut Social Security in half, presumably cut SSI and SSDI entirely, and more.

The EITC?

I agree with half his tax reform, but eliminating the earned income tax credit? No. That does a fair amount of undercutting basic income for the poor. Eliminating food stamps, or TANF? Refederalize it rather than a state program of block grants. (Indirectly more than directly, as he’s never commented on a previous blog post of mine, though we have talked a bit on Twitter, Santens and I have definitely disagreed here. He thinks any federal program that isn’t currently working well should simply be thrown on the scrap heap and replaced with BI. Says the same for disability income.)

I've blogged before about how I adamantly oppose gutting disability programs on ethical and philosophical grounds, too. I totally stand by that, unless, per the bottom, Scott wants to give people TWO THOUSAND a month.

Beyond THAT, the EITC has long been recognized as “negative” basic income, and a good version of it. Why tinker with, or screw up, what works? And, if you eliminate it, even if you also cut FICA taxes for Social Security by partially rolling it into basic income, I'm not sure that you're actually helping the poor that much.

BI vs Social Security?

Reduce Social Security. and replace the part reduced with 2x basic income? No, that's going to increase some red tape. Plus, unless you're going to make half of BI for seniors tax-free, or other issues, you're still going to have to tweak BI for seniors more.

Ditto on Social Security as "it works."

That then said, this is my first opportunity, of several, to tell Santens to go "whole hog." If one is going to propose $1,000 a month basic income, rather than the $200 a month the Alaska permanent fund offers there, or the $500 or so a month of trial basic income in places like Canada and Finland, go whole hog, Scott?

If you're going to "touch" Social Security, why not kill it? Then, give seniors a "basic income multiplier" similar to the over-65 tax deduction. Don't present your hybrid mule instead of either that or the current system, though.

As for the idea that Social Security is "really" basic income? Uh, no. It's based on employment year earnings and is not given equally to all. Retweeting an untrue claim like that in the name of "branding" is bad branding, once again, like the Alaska claim.

Also, this gets to the practicality issue. Social Security will remain a third rail of US politics for years to come. Your unreality squared on what you can actually pass will only increase if you try to touch it.

As for complaints about SSDI and how hard it is to get approved? Well, fix that!

A targeted safety net?

To pick up on things above, the EITC isn't targeted. It's a "negative tax," so it's not actual cash Andrew Jacksons. But, it's not targeted in that it's not restricted.

Neither are unemployment bennies. SSDI has caps, but it's not targeted either.

Only food stamps (TANF) and HUD Section 8 vouchers (strangely not mentioned by name in most BI discussions) are "targeted," as far as larger social welfare programs.

Oh, and if targeted programs ARE a problem, you'd better add yet more money to BI if you're going to kill Section 8.

Keep non-environmental hands off carbon taxes

Carbon tax? Well, no carbon tax unless a carbon tariff is attached. First, that makes it more palatable. Second, in terms of climate change, a carbon tariff forces the whole world on the same page.

And, no, I wouldn't want all carbon tax revenues to go to BI, either. At least some of that needs to go to climate change mitigation. Others needs to go to climate change prevention, like more, and all-electric, mass transit, high speed rail, etc. To put it bluntly, I'm opposed to ANYTHING other than climate change issues being at the top of the list on spending carbon tax money. Period.

After all, to the degree people can move away from climate change, the rich can do that more than the poor, and even than the middle class.

So, in my version of BI, at least half of Santens' $190 billion from carbon taxes isn't available.

Other revenue streams?

A Tobin tax? (The technically correct name for his Robin Hood tax?) Totally agree on it.

Taxing land valuation? Politically totally unrealistic, especially if you try to do it on top of a VAT, which winger Americans will sneer at as Euro-socialism.

Beyond that, a federal-level land tax has never caught fire in the US since Henry George first proposed it. And he knows that, too. Appraisal problems nationwide would be tough. Yes, Russia uses it, but Russia's not a fully democratic country.

And, how much would be needed? Santens just plugs it in as contributing a full $1 trillion.

And, on all of this, changes to the tax code don’t happen in a vacuum.

That includes searches for new tax loopholes or even outright tax avoidance. Don't doubt for a minute that won't increase with a BI program this big.

This all leads to a more fundamental issue, or problem.

With national health care, for example, I have no problem pushing for something “unrealistic,” even elements of a British national health system with government-hired medical employees and government-owned facilities. I think even that, let alone “plain” national health care, is still a whole order of magnitude more realistic than Santens’ ideas.

But, I've only scratched the surface.

Get real about Alaska

After that, Santens claims, again, and wrongly, again, that Alaska points the way to accomplishing his idea for basic income.

This is only true under this being another bait and switch.

Alaska's $200 a month basic income is nowhere near $1,000 a month. And, with cost-of-living adjustments, it's only $100 in Lower 48 money. Plus, it's funded from a resource tax that is perhaps partially analogous to a reverse carbon tax and nothing else on Santens' checklist.

And, I'm halfway sure Santens knows all of this. I'm highly sure that he should know all that.

That, in turn, goes back to the "evangelist." Not for nothing did Og Mandino call Paul of Tarsus the world's greatest salesman.

Political philosophy and basic income

Finally, there's a philosophical difference or two or six between him and I.

The most immediate difference? If you believe that basic income should replace disability income, and even more, unemployment bennies, then $1,000 is too LOW. You should be wanting at least $1,500 a month, if not $2,000 a month. And, if you're proposing something this unrealistic, what's the difference between $1,000 and $2,000? Well, it's the difference between the entire current federal budget and TWICE the entire current fellow budget. I think Santens is recognizing that political unreality on steroids is just doable with magic pony dust, but that pony dust can't cover up political reality in aleph-two infinity.

(In the real world, while Canada is looking at giving people nearly $1,500 a month in its upcoming test program, both Finland and Italy are looking at $500 a month.)

Next, what do you mean by "basic income"? Riffing on this piece, if you mean enough to let a person live in something more than shithole housing, pay all utilities including either smartphone or landline internet, to either have money for maintaining and insuring a used car or else for mass transit in an urban area, to buy food for the month that includes stuff healthier than white rice, white bread, white-flour pasta, etc. and to pay utilities, and to live in a big enough place where, as far as actually working, jobs are available? Actual income "basic" enough for all basic needs? Even if you agree with Santens that we don't need to be paying New York City levels or close to it, $1,000 a month might well not be enough.

There's also another philosophical issue — the one of "fairness." Should the disabled, the unemployed, and others in similar situations get an extra bump? I agree emotionally to some degree with John Rawls, though philosophically, per Walter Kaufmann, he's pretty close to all wet. This gets back to the amount issue. If you don't think these people deserve a "bump," then, IMO, you have to set the BI level higher than $1,000 a month. I do think so myself, emotionally.

In addition, the attacks by another BIer, applauded by Santens, on keeping unemployment benefits with BI are ... well, they're ignorant. Beyond my "too low," they ignore that most BI pilot programs are being started by neoliberal centrist parties in whatever nation they're in, first.  They then ignore that that, in turn, is deliberate. They also ignore that parties of the left in Europe have, rightly, or wrongly, over the past 15-20 years, already modified much of their unemployment structure.

(Also, the experts cited there are all IT-focused economists. Tech neoliberals. What Evgeny Morozov would call "solutionists." Take their claims and arguments carefully.)

Basically, I get the feeling Santens is falling between two stools. One is an Alaska-level "chippie" program, and the other is what I'm saying he should be saying. But even he knows that the $1K magic pony he's proposing has less than less than zero chance of being a $2K magic stallion.

Tools to help Americans

An Alaska-type basic income wouldn't solve a lot of problems. It would solve a lot less than single-payer, even without my NHS, in my opinion.

Simple — your health care right now is worth at least $400 a month (if you have employer health care) between your co-pay and employer co-pay. And, single-payer would boost job mobility just as much as basic income.

Basic income wouldn't even be my second tool for addressing US employment problems, and I've blogged about that before too. A 35-hour work week for overtime, combined with a $10/$12/$15 minimum wage for rural/suburban/urban areas, like Oregon's, WITH a COLA? That, as a package, would be my second tool. German-type long-term unemployment bennies would probably be my third.

In other words, as I've blogged before, BI is simply not a magic wand. (Other dubious evangelism is at that piece, like Santens' claim that BI would fight climate change. You have no way of being even close to knowing that, Scott, and in fact, it might make it worse.)

And on a related note? Santens talks very little about single-payer national health care unless it's within talking about BI first. Googling by his full name plus either "single-payer" OR "Medicare for all" gets about 700 hits total.

Googling his name plus Bitcoin? 14,000 hits. (He even accepts Bitcoin donations on his blog.)

Bitcoin is not such a tool

And THAT is the final issue.

Bitcoin is a wet dream par excellence for many libertarians. Santens' apparent semi-bromance with it, plus other libertarian-leaning tweets and Twitter accounts he follows ... leaves me still uncertain of just how much he'd "cave" to libertarian-leaning versions of BI. (I mentioned a bit of that in my "no magic wand" piece already.) I've "warned" him and similar that they need to separate themselves from libertarian-leaning versions, or they lose the likes of me, and even possibly get my active resistance.

Besides the bottom line that cryptocurrencies are ultimately a wet dream for libertarians, they are of little value, if any, for promoting basic income in particular, or the betterment of working-class people in general. If anything, as part of that "wet dream," they're detrimental.

After all, they're related the libertarian wet dream of dismantling nation-states so allegedly pure capitalism can run amok as the invisible hand does its perfectionist thing.

Well, libertarians are in denial that pure capitalism not only doesn't exist, but never will. They're in denial that Adam Smith derived his "invisible hand" from the wind-up- the-universe deity of deism.

His claim that basic income is "neither capitalism nor socialism" is also ... interesting, and also sounds like a libertarian-based branding point. That said, Santens isn't a pure libertarian; if he were, the phrase "more taxes" would never escape his lips. Maybe an "anarcho-futurist," if I feel I have to strive for labeling, myself? He does have an "@futurism" note on his Twitter profile. See my note above about Morozov-type solutionists. Many are cryptolibertarians — usually hiding it from others, but sometimes from themselves.

Santens really seems to be about issues of social and other justice. That said, many true libertarians claim their ideas are about that, too.

And, seeing how much I wrote at the end? I'll probably develop this into a separate blog post at some point down the road.

The traditional nation-state needs to be upgraded, at a minimum, replaced, at worse. A "Wild West" of Bitcoin or other cybercurrency is definitely not part of the answer in my book, though.

Even if Santens isn't that sympathetic to libertarians, let me add another note to this issue. Per Wiki, many libertarians — and some paleoconservatives of the Charles Murray stripe — promote basic income in terms of "government inefficiency." It's another version of the old "waste, fraud and abuse" slogan. But, the government is supposed to be running any BI program, right? Well, this might itself be a bait and switch. Wait for a call for the likes of Ross Perot's old Electronic Data Systems to get called on for a BI administration contract.

And, beyond Bitcoin, Santens has said elsewhere that he also supports the idea of private citizens creating money in general AND that it would be a good thing for the economy. Applying the US Constitution's "full faith and credit" to dollars, and other nation states' similar backings of its fiat money, uh, NO. What if a private individual's "full faith and credit" is bankrupt? Is it time for libertarian lawsuit land?

And, speaking of the traditional nation-state? North Korea is conducting cyberwar against Bitcoin as well as the the nation-state of the US and others. And he's at least as successful against Bitcoin.

BI and the gig economy

And, even if it's not outrightly libertarian, but more, say, tech-neoliberal, there's this whole issue of the "gig economy." If basic income isn't set at $1,500 a month or more, people will still need to work. They may have more options if they have income assistance, but they're still going to need to work. It's going to take some massive shifting to have half of Americans or more working primarily as freelancers. That's going to have to start with getting them in the right mindset. It's also going to have to include a higher minimum wage, and other protections for freelancers. And, none of that's any good without single payer.

And, that, in turn, gets me back to what I see as the single most important tool and aid for working America today.

There's also the issue of regulating businesses in an ever-more-freelance economy. Federal laws for timely payment of freelancer checks (already needed now) come to mind. Enforcing federal fraud on bogus employment ads.

And, as the Equifax scamming has shown, laws for control of information in a Net 3.0 information services economy are vital.

Transnational labor protections? Let me know when the International Labor Organization, for the good it actually does do on occasion, writes world-wide labor safety laws and other protections and has the teeth to enforce them.

Until the United Nations becomes something like a world government, I'll take the 500-year-old nation-state over libertarian or tech-neoliberal alternatives.

In short, we're looking at a lot more moving parts in a lot more places than a first-level impression of basic income might make you think.

And, other than that possible follow-up on cryptocurrencies — and maybe one about the "gig economy" — I'm probably done talking about BI for some time. My left-liberal and beyond political push, per the best tools I said above, will remain with pushing for national health care.

Actually, with this as a start point, I'm already working on a "gig economy" blog post, which will also get into the regulatory nation-state and related issues. It will be a few weeks out, so I have time to cogitate.

October 10, 2017

#BoycottESPN for two weeks

That's what I'm doing, officially of last night, over Jemele Hill's two-week suspension by Great Red Satan for telling people they should consider boycotting Dallas Cowboys advertisers. (I'm not rich or even close to it, nor am I that capitalistic, but I'll for it, even though my personal boycott wouldn't make much difference.)

On the big picture, there's other issues involved.

Yes, Hill is not hired as an opiner or commenter. Nonetheless, the "richness" of Red Satan, the sports world equivalent of mainstream media, silencing its own staff is laughable.

And, it's over the NFL. In other words, ESPN doesn't want Hill to risk killing the goose laying its golden eggs. It's not the first time Red Satan's been accused of pulling punches regarding the No Fun League. Some, including this opiner, say that some of its early coverage of the NFL's problems with chronic traumatic encephalopathy were behind the curve. Related to that, this opiner says that ESPN could, if it wanted to, especially in the wake of Aaron Hernandez' suicide, look at CTE in major-college football, too, but that's another golden-egged goose.

Of course, the media in general, when at the big mainstream level, likes to shush its employees at times. Even at medium level, it does. I'll have a post related to that in other ways later this week.

That said, that problem goes beyond the media. Employees' rights to the First Amendment have become ever more folded, spindled and mutilated. And, while the GOP has led the charge to make this happen, the Democrats have generally sat passively by.

If I were a day trader at Goldman Sachs of Hillary Clinton speaking fame, and I Tweeted, even on a personal Twitter account, about boycotting Dallas Cowboys advertisers, I'd get a suspension of two weeks at minimum, if Goddam Sachs has ever done bond offerings or other capital raising for any said advertisers. I might get such a suspension even without it.

Beyond that, when Zack Lowe claims the Cavs are ahead of the Celtics in this year's NBA Eastern Conference, its actual sports coverage is going down hill. Lowe went so far as to hint the depth (? Isaiah Thomas is out how long? Derrick Rose WILL be out at some point and so will Dwyane Wade) the Cavs got in the Kyrie Irving trade could make it competitive in the NBA Finals against the Warriors. I know Woj can't do everything hoopswise there, but maybe more than that?

But "I want to watch my team," you say, and "they're on ESPN."

I don't have cable, and there are Internet workarounds. Figure the rest out for yourself.

And, as far as politicizing? Five Thirty Eight is often centrist dreck.