SocraticGadfly: 10/15/17 - 10/22/17

October 21, 2017

In the name of god, go, Eddie Bernice Johnson #MeToo (update)

Riffing on Oliver Cromwell's blunt dismissal of the Rump Parliament, Eddie Bernice Johnson needs to leave Congress now.

Beyond the general fact that she's part of a gerontocracy populating a fair-sized portion of both houses of Congress, by both parties, she now has entered the world of victim-blaming on sexual assault and abuse, and then tried to walk it back.

She's not alone on this. It's part of what is known as "just world belief," described in relation to women blaming women in this piece.

On the gerontocracy, she's only at the bottom edge, not quite 72. It seems longer for the time-server who has been in the House 24 years.

Kind of like the true gerontocrat, Dianne Feinstein in the Senate, she's a wasted space. She's a semi-neoliberal squish in what should be a more truly liberal south Dallas and south suburban Dallas district. That's My Congress ranks her on the edge between somewhat liberal and weakly liberal. GovTrack similarly puts here 100 or so spots below the most liberal House members. The former has her near Chris Van Hollen and the latter near Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (GovTrack also has her as a shade more liberal than Lloyd Doggett. Have to remember that next time I kick the Indivisble Team sheepdoggers.)

And, speaking of that, as I've blogged before, during my 9-plus years in the Best Southwest suburbs, which made up one-quarter of her district's population, she visited the burbs only once. And, that was for an Obama stimulus project ribbon cutting. And, as I noted in a second post, she or her staff apparently read either a newspaper column about that or my blog, and she paid a second visit. And, she's had a bit of grifting work in her Congresscritter time.

And, that's not to mention the seeming cover-up work for others' apparent grifting related to the Dallas Inland Port.


Update: Barbara Caraway is primarying her, along with one other person. Caraway would be even worse, if that's possible, both on her own, and her political connection with hubby Dwaine. Eric Williams, who ran as an independent in 2014, would be better than either.

October 20, 2017

A real #RIPSmithee — take #VoteGreen action, #DuopolyExit

If you are a person who really cares about the core message of worry over campaign finance that Christopher Chopin, aka Actual Flatticus as Alan Smithee, did on Twitter, you'd be serious about not taking half measures.

First, this problem didn't start with Citizens United. It started with Buckley v Valero in 1976. And, until McCain-Feingold, most national politicians of both halves of the duopoly tinkered with the problem at the edges at best, ignored it at worst. And it, even, was not a whole lot more than heavier tinkering around the edges.

And, I just mentioned that word "duopoly."

Second, you'd realize that if the current Republican and Democratic parties stay anything close to as they are, things won't change on campaign finance. Period. Note that "reform" DNC chair Tom Perez is down with lobbyists being superdelegates. And placing Donna Brazile on the rules committee.

And, apparently, per that second link, the DNC either actually believes Bernie's "$27 donor" claims or else thinks it can reduplicate his email list which it still hasn't gotten and certainly won't now.

So, per another hashtag, #VoteGreen.

Yes, here, you'll be ignoring the messenger while noting that there is a message first.

Follow ideas, not people.

Chopin, for whatever reason, wasn't sold on the GP. Kind of dissing about it, in fact, it seems. No, more than that. He sarcastically hated it. More Twitter evidence he hated the Green Party.

And more here, though this, plus my interactions with him, make me wonder how much of this was Green Party hatred in general, and how much was misogyny toward Jill Stein as a female Green Party presidential candidate.

His problem, and the problem of those who won't move outside the duopoly box.

What are your options? Lesser evilism? Not voting?

I don't care, right now, whether you vote Green because you actually believe in its principles more than those of the Democratic Party, or if it's just to "send a message." We'll cross that bridge more later. Just do it, first.

Hell, vote Socialist Party USA if you want. (I almost voted Soltysik instead of Stein, last year, and thus show that I take voting more seriously than most duopolists, who probably don't even know Soltysik's first name.)

DO NOT vote Democrat, and then complain.

Per Einstein's definition of insanity? You're part of the problem. I'm sorry, but that is true.

Also, do not "not vote." Actually voting for a third party sends a more active message, even if Greens don't win.

Vote D instead of R at the state legislature level, maybe. But, by the time you get to governor, let alone House and Senate outside the presidency at the federal? If you have a non-duopoly choice on the left, TAKE IT.

And, frankly, if you're a centrist, I don't care that much if you vote Libertarian if it undercuts the GOP. If you're an actual capital-L Libertarian, not sure why you followed Flatty on Twitter.

Oh, and instead of just bitching about dark money, you might even throw a few of your enlightened dollars at the GP, or at a Green candidate, presidential level or lower.

In short, make the clichéd slogan "Be the change you want" a little more actual.

And, despite claims otherwise by his groupies, by and large, per this exchange, Flatty WAS, if not "All" talk, more talk than deeds himself. Or per this, where he claims to be a leftist.

Or, if Spike Lee's your flavor?

"You got to fight the power. You got to fight the power that be."

I'm not perfect, no, BUT ...

I've voted Green for prez every election this century, and most other races where I had a Green alternative and it was reasonable. (In other words, no Brandon Parmer candidates.)

Of course, this would be the SPIRIT of a Platonically idealistic Flatty.

Per another Twitter friend, it would be fun, possibly great, if Greens actually replaced Democrats as the second major party. That said, in my semi-idealistic world, I'd prefer multi-party parliamentary democracy.

Third, support related ballot issues, especially at the state level.

I'm talking about getting states who bar fusion candidates to allow them again. Better yet, press states for proportional representation.

Fourth, you have to note the problem is bigger than domestic issues.

Most of both halves of the duopoly are warmongers because of the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned about. (That said, he partially replaced it with a snooping-interference complex, with future presidents ramping up BOTH.)

Most of both halves of the duopoly, and not just elected officials, appointed leaders of agencies are the grifters and grafters H.L. Mencken and Counterpunch warn, and have warned, about.

Beyond that "bigger" spilling into foreign policy?

Fifth, it's wider on the domestic side.

If Chopin did care about social injustice, you have to fight for a minimum wage, with a COLA. Unionization re-empowerment. NLRB re-empowerment. Things that the national GOP and half of more of national Dems don't. (I blogged in early 2007 about wanting Nancy Pelosi to attach a COLA to the minimum wage hike then. Didn't happen.)

Sixth, re some of what I see on Twitter, you have to be critical thinkers for yourselves. REALLY don't accept what anybody else proposed.

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.

And, drop the conspiracy thinking while you're at it, some of you.

Related? Drop the quest for Twitter or Facebook "likes."

"Speak the truth to power," per an old journalism phrase.

And, that truth is that Flatty, in his own way, between writing in Donald Duck for president, refusing to give the Green Party the time of day, and for ignoring state and local politics entirely, AFAIK, was part of the problem more than part of the solution.

Much of what he said that was true wasn't new and wasn't unique to him.

And, at least part of what he said that was new and unique to him wasn't necessarily true.

The bottom line?

A man who said he voted for ??? for president, while attacking the Green Party even while he mocked "vag hats" and called their wearers slacktivists, was a slacktivist himself if not an agent provocateur or similar.

Flatty is on record as saying that both he and his dad wrote in Donald Duck, for president. That's even though he claims to be a leftist. And all this while attacking so-called "vag hats" wearers as slacktivists. Another: per this exchange, Flatty WAS, if not "All" talk, more talk than deeds.

Flatty was a slacktivist himself if not an agent provocateur or similar.

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. I blogged about that in early 2016.

(Update, Jan. 11, 2019: Per this Tweet Sarpei retweeted without quote-Tweeting, I also will operate on the assumption he is a 9/11 Truther, which doesn't surprise me.)

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.

And, now, in 2017, the Becks, as semi-nutters, could themselves be accused of sheepdogging for things surrounding the DNC fraud lawsuit.

That said, Sarpei gets / seemed to have gotten 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."

Update, as Sarpei didn't respond last night on Twitter, due to time zone difference. He agrees that Islamophobia is a serious issue. That said, that even more means it's not "every bit of dirt." The BJP / RSS thrive on Islamophobia.

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

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.