SocraticGadfly: 8/6/17 - 8/13/17

August 11, 2017

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

Katharine Hayhoe: more 'frenemy' than
true friend on real climate change action
like a carbon tax, and alarm levels.
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.

(Update, Nov. 3: And, the National Climate Assessment's first half, the Climate Science Special Report, has officially been released. And a draft version of the impact assessment is also out.)

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 NCAs 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."

(Update: Nov. 3 — per the link up top, Kopp was one of the commenters to the piece, talking about how "strong" it is. Maybe the leak helped, per the next few paragraphs below?)

Gary Yohe says that a Trump shit-canning of the NCA, referenced by him under alternate title of the Climate Science Special Report, would be worse than withdrawal from Paris.

 Hayhoe is a nice, polite Canadian who didn't suspect an underground agenda from eXXXon when it funded some of her graduate study. No wonder she's also gullible about Trump possibly shit-canning the NCA. And, the evangelical Christian misinterprets 1 Corinthians 15 as attempt to justify herself. She also ignores that Paul was even breaking "Noahide laws" that Jews considered to apply to all humanity, as far as meat needing to have the blood drained from it. That was NOT a "kosher law" for Jews only.

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.

And now, as of July 7, 2018, it appears more than ever that Paris, even if as good as Kopp claims, leaves little margin for error. The rapidity of today's temperature changes mean that a climatological homeostasis will take some time to achieve.

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.

Update, Aug. 11, 2019: Remembering I'd done a blog post about this, as I just finished Hersh's new memoir, I didn't realize I had gone that far down the Seth Rich rabbit hole myself. I am firmly convinced now these emails were hacked by the Internet Research Agency, which has indirect (for plausible deniability, if nothing else, like Chinese Red Army "indirect" hackers) connections to the Russian government.

Second, on the surreptitiously taped conversation (which it surely was done surreptitiously) with Ed Butowsky, per transcripts of the whole schmeer, 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. Elsewhere, he says that he is ONLY repeating what he has heard as rumor, the stuff on Seth Rich. ONLY as rumor.

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.

To go more in depth on the basic update, it turns out that VIPS, said retired intelligence group, was NOT unanimous in this stance and neither Consortium News nor The Nation reported this at the time. The Nation DID clean up Patrick Lawrence's mess, though he has spread it more at Consortium News, which I finally de-blogrolled.

The truth is that the VIPS majority went looking for their own "Curveball" and of course found him. From this, I learned that one of the top VIPS touters of the idea is a 9/11 falser and a JFK conspiracy theorist and CN's founder was a JFK conspiracy theorist. I apologize for going as far down this road as I did.

(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. (Possibility No. 2: Crowdstrike knew full well itself from the early days it was an inside job and went into CYA mode.) 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. Rich worked for the DNC since 2014; again, not saying he did it, but this is further evidence he was in position to do it.) 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? I mean, the 4:20 a.m. time for the shooting is an eyebrow-raiser.

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.

That said, process server Shawn Lucas, who died a couple of months later, OD'ed on a mix of fentanyl, kratom and a muscle relaxant.

(Update: Anyway, Disobedient Media (ranking medium or more on bias of making news into opinion, on the right-wing side) building a story off wingnut America First Media Group insinuating that both Rich and Shawn Lewis were targets of Crowdstrike-funded hitmen sounds pretty conspiratorial.

Further undercutting conspiratorial ideas is that Lucas was not the only process server involved with giving the DNC July papers. Why wasn't Brandon Yoshimura, also with One Source Process, also killed? So sorry, Nash, but ... you probably should unpin that Tweet. You're risking coming off like ShirtLost DumbShit Zach Haller.)

By the same account, to another Twittter who called out both that story AND this blog post? I specifically said that I don't see this as guaranteed. At the same time, because drug dealers would have no nefarious intent beyond sending a signal to people copping out of payouts, it's not a conspiracy theory. And I need nobody who has self-appointed as the Twitter god of conspiracy theory debunking to claim that I'm peddling a conspiracy theory.)

Anyway, of course, there's no guarantee this is true. It's possible that this was an attempted robbery, which became a fatal shooting and aborted robbery in panic. 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.

Oh, and our old frenemy Actual Flatticus was likely wrong that Rich was not the source.


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.


Speaking of drone delivery, and good old price wars, I have a part 2 here.