August 21, 2018

Beto is trending! — first longform nat'l political puff piece

From Anne Helen Peterson of Buzzfeed, Beto now has his first nationally written political puff piece. A full 8,000 words, and with a few major errors, though it is worth a read in many ways.

First, the errors.

The first error I saw was one I expected, and was even kind of looking for. Peterson three times says that O'Rourke favors "universal health care" without mentioning, or even looking for, the reality of his stances. Specifically, I'm thinking of how ConservaDem Beto not only refused to back John Conyers' HB 676 in the House, on semi-specious but not totally specious grounds, but also refused to support Bernie Sanders' Senate bill on explicitly neoliberal grounds, namely that it didn't require people to pay enough out of their own pockets.

Honest mistake? Well, maybe.

But, not really.

Rather, this reads as a piece by someone not that familiar with politics, and who added actual politics and issues into a political profile piece.

Second big error reinforces this thought of mine.

Peterson talks about how Beto hasn't accepted union money. The truth? By federal election law, candidates cannot accept union money directly. CANNOT. Period. (Unions can give to a campaign PAC, but not to a candidate. CANNOT.)

The third is presenting small donors as driving the needle on his campaign contributions.

While he is doing better than many candidates in this regard, nonetheless, by dollar amount, not by number of donors, Open Secrets notes that nearly 60 percent of his contributions come from large donors, above $200. (Some 68 percent of Obama 2012's donors came from that same group. So, Beto's doing well. But not perfect. Beto is getting less, as a percentage, from small donors than Bernie did in his 2016 presidential run.)

Oh, and while he doesn't accept money from PACs, he DOES take money from employees at non-PAC lobbyists. And, J Street's money, among those, was PAC-bundled. PolitiFact still gives him a fully true rating on this. (The FEC doesn't consider PAC bundling of individual donations to be PAC money; IMO it's a bit more grayish, though I would largely accept that.)

A fuller look at his top donors explains other things.

Tenet Healthcare folks have given him nearly $20K. Why Because Beto does not back single-payer! Tech industry folks give him a lot. By industry, here's his donors.

By email, Peterson told me thanks for reading when I pointed out the health care error. We'll see if she says more, on Twitter, about the other errors I dinged her on.

Back to this issue. "Universal health care"? That's not far different than Rethugs calling the hospital ER "universal health access" or similar. And Beto knows that. More generously interpreted, it may be like "Medicare access for all." However, that's not "Medicare for all." It's the old "public option" that Dear Leader Obama talked about in 2008 then ignored. It would treat Medicare like private insurance available to the under-65 crowd. Pseudo "progressives" who back it generally do so with zero details of how it would work and mention it just to keep up the pseudo when challenged by people who want the real deal.

Finally, while I'm here, one other issue — legalizing marijuana. Yes, this is primarily a state issue, but to some degree, it's also a federal one. And, while Beto talks the talk about marijuana, as far as I know, he has sponsored no bill to even address the DEA continuing to list pot as a Schedule 1 drug, let alone do anything more than that. (Peterson doesn't discuss this issue in her piece, which itself indicates how much Beto's putting it on the back burner in red-lands Texas. In turn, it seems like Beto is stereotyping old, white, red-lands Texas on this issue, as old, white, pro-pot Willie Nelson is from Abbott.)

In fact, last year, a bill was introduced in the House to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to move marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3. The bill has three co-sponsors in addition to the Congresscritter who introduced the bill. None of them is named Beto O'Rourke. The sponsor, Congressman Gaetz, even spoke about the bill on the floor.

Per Brookings, rescheduling down to Schedule 2, though it might mean less to state governments, would have at least symbolic value. As for what Brookings states about worries about international law obligations, I believe Canada just legalized pot nationwide, becoming official Oct. 17. And nearly 50 countries have decriminalized it.

That said, I noted that Peterson's piece is worth a read in many ways.

Her on-the-ground tailing of O'Rourke, more at red to deep-red stops, like Abilene, Kerrville, and even a place like Iraan referenced in an aside, was fun to read. It also notes turnout for these events, and indicates enthusiasm is real. More real than Wendy Davis' by far in red-state areas; more real than any statewide Dem has done in such places in decades.

Peterson also notes that, despite his speaking Spanish on the trail, O'Rourke doesn't want to play the traditional games with South Texas Hispanic power brokers, and has somewhat the same stance toward urban East Texas African-American power brokers. I think this is problematic. That said, maybe, on Hispanics, he doesn't think he can bolster the turnout needle that much. Or else he's hoping Lupe Valdez will take care of that not just for herself but for him. She's riding on his coattails and he may be hopeful that some reverse coattails happen.

Peterson does note the historic turnout issues with Texas Hispanics, so she's not naive about politics in Texas in general. She just swallowed too much Beto Kool-Aid.

She also repeats other stereotypes, like having a San Antonio resident talk about all the hippies in Kerrville. It's been half a dozen years since I was there, but, last time I was, I saw no hippies. On her own, related to that, she perpetuates the myth that all California retirees fleeing the state for other climes are liberals. Not even close. That's a bit of intellectual laziness right there, which ties back to the errors up top.

Basically, can Beto as a male, and a better campaigner, do a better version of Wendy Davis' plan of 2014? Remains to be seen.

And, contra Peterson on an issue related to this. Apathy in Texas Hispanics IS a uniquely Texas issue. Hispanics turn out in lower numbers in Texas than any other state where they're even semi-significant statistically. And a new piece at New Republic accuses Dems in general of taking Hispanic votes for granted. (Many younger Hispanics, by religion, are evangelical Protestant, not Catholic, and can be more open to Republican pitches in part because of that.)

Oh, and without mentioning his name, Peterson's O'Rourke to Obama riff on young Senate campaigners was for me another turn-off, not a turn-on.

==

Related? Jonathan Tilove, whom I usually like a lot, is talking up Beto for Prez 2020, and not just as a political analyst, but with a clear personal op-ed angle of liking.

August 20, 2018

O'Rourke is pushing his debate games luck with Cruz

As of this morning, it's been three full weeks since Ted Cruz proposed a five-event broad-ranging set of debates with Beto O'Rourke. It's been about a week since Ted's camp pushed for nailing down just the first debate in that set, for Aug. 31 in Dallas.

And, Beto's refused to sign off on either, in what's looking like deliberate strategery.

Now, Beto may think that Ted needs to be "fairer," especially about the Friday night times.

Tosh.

First, when has a Republican ever been fair in today's world?

Second, and more seriously, that's not how things work in politics in general.

Cruz is the incumbent, and you, O'Rourke, are the challenger. Unless the offer is blatantly bogus, you take one-quarter of a loaf instead of none. (And, this is a one-quarter loaf, at least; it's not blatantly bogus.)

If you really think playing the "fairness" card instead of accepting the deal will work? Wrong.

Ted's gonna play the chicken card, ace through 10, for a chicken royal flush on you.

As for the Friday nights issue? Maybe Ted's thinking he can not only bury the debates in general but that more women, more Democratic-leaning women already in your camp, will watch then. I don't know.

I DO KNOW, though, that there is this thing called the "Internet." Whichever teevee station or stations hosts each debate, it will surely be on that station's website soon enough afterward. Commercial teevee folks will want the clicks and retweets for ad dollars.

It will be available to be retweeted and Facebooked and Instagrammed with spin attached and spread all over, on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

As for the polls that might indicate Beto is on firm ground in pushing his luck? People who have been in Texas any length of time and have political savvy know that polls here regularly overestimate likely Democratic turnout. And, that could be extra problematic, per C.D. Hooks, if Beto's field strategy, and dealing with some core constituencies and regions of Dem support, backfires.

Related to that, from Anne Helen Peterson of Buzzfeed, Beto now has his first nationally written political puff piece. Maybe he's helping its 8,000 words help. Certainly, Peterson drinking his Kool-Aid, as I note here, helps.

That said, this shouldn't be surprising to people who look critically at some of Beto's campaign positions. I'm thinking particularly of single payer, Medicare for All, national health care. Specifically, I'm thinking of how ConservaDem Beto not only refused to back John Conyers' HB 676 in the House, on semi-specious but not totally specious grounds, but also refused to support Bernie Sanders' Senate bill on explicitly neoliberal grounds, namely that it didn't require people to pay enough out of their own pockets.

You read that right.

And, Peterson is NOT one of those people who looked critically at Beto's positions. She three times mentions him talking about "universal health care" without apparently looking at his actual stances.

As for Beto's enthusiastic Millennial volunteers?

Hey, kiddie pool waders, at some point, your ignorance of Beto's stance on this issue passes from accidental to willful. Maybe it already has.

August 17, 2018

"Lupe get your gun," or "Lupe's got no gun"!

On the news that former Dallas County Sheriff Loopy Lupe Valdez (sorry, Brains, she's earning it more and more) "misplaced" her Dallas County Sheriff's Office service sidearm, a Beretta 9mm, sometime after transitioning out of office as of Dec. 31 last year, the head-shaking just gets worse.

This explains more of how her sheriff's office could "lose an inmate," I guess. It doesn't excuse it, of course, it just explains it.

Just another apparent example of bumbling that has kind of described her career as sheriff and now as guv candidate.

 Anyway, in light of this, we need some campaign theme music for her.

We can either say "Lupe get your gun" per a classic musical of 1950:



Or per Aerosmith, say, "Lupe's Lost a Gun":



Hey, Gilberto Hinojosa and other Texas Democratic Party poobahs? I know it's too late for him to establish Texas residence. But, if celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti doesn't run for prez in 2020, (and why, per Brains, doesn't CNN list him?) maybe you could recruit him four years from now?

Meanwhile, readers, feel free to vote in BOTH polls at right if you want. Will Loopy Lupe do better, the same or worse than either Wendy Davis in 2014 or Bill White in 2010?

August 16, 2018

I almost wish Tiger Woods had won the PGA

Maybe it would have stopped ESPN from turd-polishing him.

Probably not. Even though Red Satan doesn't televise any of the majors, it still loves itself some stories clickbait.

Anyway?

Tiger is still not the GOAT. Jack Nicklaus is.

The top 10 that Jack faced throughout most of his career — and while lesser players can win majors, the cream usually rises to the top — was better than Tiger.

Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els from Tiger's peak might crack the 11-20 spots of Jack's peak, but not the top 10.

Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Seve Ballesteros were no doubts ahead of them. Peter Thompson and Ray Floyd arguably so. (Thompson didn't play the PGA tour, but five Opens, the last against an American-stacked field, is tough to overlook.) And, counting Jack himself, that gives me a top eight ahead of anything Tiger faced. Hale Irwin is arguably better. Julius Boros and Billy Casper are no worse than even and possibly better. Johnny Miller is even. That gives me 12. Throw out Seve, if you want, since his first major wasn't until 1979.

And, while they were largely post-Jack and pre-Tiger, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman are also better to probably better, than what Tiger faced.

Most those players wouldn't have been intimidated by Tiger the same way. Jack might have hit weights a bit and buffed the short game he admitted he neglected. Player would certainly have taken fitness tips from Tiger, and no way he's intimidated. Ditto on Ray Floyd. Certainly not on Lee and his own minority trying to crash big golf experiences.

I hate to sound like Dan Jenkins, so let's make sure I don't.

Dan's fetishizing of Ben Hogan to the point of trying to count things like the North/South as a major is ridiculous.

Plus, Hogan, setting aside his car accident and miracle comeback, played in a relatively barren era for golf. Sam Snead had a long career, playing at a winning level throughout the 1950s, but Byron Nelson had retired, and until Arnie and Gary at the end of the decade, when Cary Middlecoff and a young Boros are your next in line, it's not good depth. Given that the PGA banned Bobby Locke, using a face-saving excuse to cover for jealousy, that only adds to the egg on the collective golf face of the 1950s in the US.

August 14, 2018

TX Progressives tackle political, possible editorial oiliness

The Texas Progressive Alliance looks at oiliness polluting the political, and perhaps editorial, landscape and other issues.

Brains and Eggs offers up highlights July campaign finance reports from key the Texas connection on the DNC reverse shift to take Big Oil donations.

DeSmog Blog discusses in detail how  the fracking industry is cannibalizing itself and causing environmental damage. This blogger suggests that Chronicle biz columnist Chris Tomlinson needs to start reading stuff like this, and more, before writing his next “fracking is great, period” column. (Hints have been dropped before.)

Downwinders at risk keeps beating the drums  for Metroplex air quality.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze gives resigned-in-disgrace former Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway a final kick in the pants, in part for supporting white folk much more than his own South Dallas constitutency.

David Bruce Collins sees faint hopes among today’s Dems but doesn’t expect realization for a generation or more.

The San Antonio Current says millennials are registering to vote.

SocraticGadfly wants to know more about all the alleged Texas atheists the Lyceum poll on the Cruz-O'Rourke Senate race said the state had.

Off the Kuff highlights July campaign finance reports from key State Senate and State House races.

Gaby Diaz documents her time knocking on doors for the Beto O'Rourke campaign.

Texas Standard says Valley schools are doing well.

But The Texas Tribune notes post-Harvey troubles in Port Arthur ISD schools.

David Brockman calls out the Christian right's politics of cruelty.

Free Press Houston wonders if that city will face a far-right rally.

Mark Smith stands up for public libraries
.

The Rivard Report is moving to new digs. Will it hire new staff?

Irene Vázquez maps out where Houston is affordable.

El Jefe recaps the Jeff Sessions/El Tiempo debacle.

Dian Nostikasari explains why Houston's bike plan matters.

August 13, 2018

Yahweh is an abortionist! Well, kind of sort of

Well, sort of, per Numbers 5, as Almighty God himself (no, really, he's on Twitter) reminded me recently.

I've read the passage more than once, though surely it's been more than a decade since I last looked at it and it didn't jump out then as an abortion proof text.

And, really, it's not.

As part of the Priestly Code section of the Tanakh, it's about purity in and of Eretz Israel. Within that, it's about extramarital sex and extramarital pregnancy, similar to the themes that Ezra articulates about Israel being married to non-Israelites.

But, within all of that, it does not only allow but commands the use of a potential abortifactant as a chemical version of medieval trials by fire or trials by water. I quote:
11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. … 
 16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you.20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”—21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[b] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” … 
 27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. 28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.
There you are.

So, again, it's not about abortion per se. It's about ritual purity in general and sexual purity in particular.

And, note that it's about women as inferior.

There's no prescription for the cuckolded husband to bring "the other man" before a priest and to make HIM drink something that will make his nuts drop off if he has foisted a bastard child on the cuckold.

That said, it is pro-abortion in that it says that the life of an unborn baby or fetus counts even less than the wife of that woman.

So, it's sexist.

And, on ritual purity, coming from material edited by Ezra who told people to divorce foreign wives, it's arguably Zionist.

So, don't quote Jeremiah 1:15 and its "Before you formed, in the womb I knew you." Yahweh arguably knew the lesser life of the mother and the greater life of the father, too.

Besides, I'll quote back Isaiah 45:7: "I form the light and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster."

And, beyond that, per Francisco Ayala and human conception's 25-35 percent spontaneous abortion rate, God IS the great abortionist if you believe he exists.

August 11, 2018

ShirtLost DumbShit Zach Haller, Actual Flatticus,
Forensicator, VIPS, Seth Rich, Adam Carter, Assange

Been a while.

This is one of those posts where I throw a string of names in the header and then tie them together.

Here goes! (Without a net, even.)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (sic) claimed, almost exactly a year ago, that the DNC emails (the original theft, not the later spearphising) could not have been done by Russkies. They claimed the download speeds of the data were too high, etc.

They wrote it up in Consortium News, then got Patrick Lawrence to do a write-up in The Nation.

Wellllllll ....

Not everybody in VIPS agreed. And, they were, reading between the lines, kind of pissed that that report had ZERO caveats about that. Their research relied on a stealthy alleged genius called Forensicator, someone allegedly named Tim Carter, and the fake news folks at Disobedient Media.

Well, said minority, along with other people with both intelligence brains and intelligence skepticism like Scott Ritter, talked to Nathaniel Freitas, who wrote up a folo for The Nation about all their concerns. Basic information is here on my piece, "DNC emails — what if Seth Rich didn't do it?"

Well, in the last week, some shit has hit the fan over this issue, and it's time to unclog some toilets.


Forensicator, if Computer Weekly is right, seems to be a front man for a British self-described black hat hacker and pro-Trumpist Tim Leonard, playing a persona as Adam Carter. Hell, he could be Forensicator, for all I know. To riff on VIPS, time stamps can be forged!

At a minimum, Duncan Campbell says Carter / Leonard was part of "the team that created Forensicator."

And, Campbell says that Bill Binney, at least, within VIPS, flipped his stance on the "impossible to download internationally claims" after taking a second look at the files, with Campbell. But Binney claims that Campbell misinterprets him. But, Binney himself misinterprets the VIPS statement. Per the "minority report" linked above, it's clear that not all of VIPS accepted that this had to be a hack, not a download. Maybe that's because the VIPS majority report, specifically Ray McGovern, relied on Carter.

Techdirt notes that it and other sites poked holes in the VIPS majority claims from the start

And, as for Disobedient Media lamenting an alleged "smear" of Leonard/Carter? Good for the goose, good for the gander — Bill Binney apparently believes in microwave mind control weapons. And, the person whose show he is on thinks this is a plot to remove gun rights.

And, McGovern? I dropped Consortium News from my blogroll in fair part after I learned that McGovern is BOTH a 9/11 "truther" AND a JFK conspiracy theorist.

Between him and Binney, maybe we need to get rid of the CIA, and the NSA, to get rid of fruitcakes in the intelligence establishment. It's "Derp State," not "Deep State"!

More seriously, it "goes to credibility" to point these things out, as any lawyer would know.

Speaking of credibility?

Brian Feldman also weighs in, noting that the Lawrence piece seems to indicate that Forensicator looked at his metadata alone.

Here's the key part from the original Lawrence piece:
By this time Binney and the other technical-side people at VIPS had begun working with a man named Skip Folden. Folden was an IT executive at IBM for 33 years, serving 25 years as the IT program manager in the United States. He has also consulted for Pentagon officials, the FBI, and the Justice Department. Folden is effectively the VIPS group’s liaison to Forensicator, Adam Carter, and other investigators, but neither Folden nor anyone else knows the identity of either Forensicator or Adam Carter. This bears brief explanation.
So, VIPS bought a pig in a poke from Skip Folden.

That said, so did the minority side of VIPS. In its dissent report, it doesn't question buying this pig in a poke.

The majority, in response, doubles down on teh stupidz:
We think back to the evidence-free “assessments” 15 years ago before the attack on Iraq.
Exactly. You dudes just bought your own Curveball. Campbell agrees:


OK, as for the ex-spook duo leading the pig-in-a-poke buying, one final question or three or five:
1. How were you this dumb? (Well, being conspiracy theorists probably helps explain)
2. What would you say if someone said you weren't dumb but instead, at a minimum, willingly co-opted?
3. Did either of the two of you think, even if you were willingly co-opted, that you weren't in charge of this train?
4. Ray, who else if anybody, besides you, on VIPS talked to Carter?
5. Bill, aren't you a hypocrite on this whole "Deep State" if, per your Wiki page, you're the co-owner of a private intelligence firm which sells findings to the gummint?

Carter, meanwhile, has told me on Twitter that he'll prove Campbell wrong. "You'll see." Well, if Campbell is correct, making threats to the media ain't how you do it. Nor is blocking someone like me after I pointed out Binney's misrepresentations in a response.

You also, Tom Leonard, don't prove Campbell wrong by Tweeting from your Carter account. You've already conceded part of the game by doing that.

That said, I also want to add this update, also posted on my Seth Rich emails link above.

Further undermining Seth Rich conspiracy theorists? A simple Google Trends search, which shows his name had about zero searching before his July 10, 2016 murder. In other words, after his death, conspiracy theorists latched on to his death as a way of postulating an insider theft. And, whether this was a coordinated idea or not from the start, it became so soon after.

But, I still reject two-siderism, whether practiced by Hillbots, Trump Train riders, or a fellow-traveler version of two-siderism that McGovern peddled (and that a few Greens are peddling, too; more on that below.)

I do believe, more and more, that Russian officials likely meddled in our election. They did so NOT to elect Hillary Clinton. Vladimir Putin kept full radio silence during the 2016 election, and some Kremlin apparatchiks said they preferred Clinton. And why not? Even if she was perceived to be more hardline against Russia (that might have played out different in reality), she had a stability that Russian leadership knew Trump lacked.

In short, as Ryan Cooper notes? The 2016 election issues were about AMERICAN corruption. And, no, TrumpTrain riders, other wingnuts, and fellow travelers, no Deep State involved.

Idries Shah
Once again, Idries Shah:
“To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.” 
Now, to some of the other players mentioned.

Patrick Lawrence? Contra smearers like Nancy LeTourneau from Washington Monthly, more sewer-like on some of this than Mother Jones, I don't see him as tilting pro-Russian. Hey may be a Bernie or Trump guy like H.A. Goodman. (Another Nation piece by him claimed that Trump would be successful in "accommodating" China. A massive trade war is a funny type of accommodation.) The Nation certainly isn't "pro-Russian," it's just not nutbar. Nancy LeTourneau strikes me as like Digby and other Hillbot bloggers, or Emptywheel, Bmaz, and the rest of the Kossack Dead End Kids.

The others?

Forensicator? A willing tool of deception. How much direct contact he had with people Leonard / Carter contacted, that is still unknown, but possible that direct contact was there.

I don't know what to think now of Shirtless Pundit ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller. He's too dumb to be of too much use to Carter. But, as the self-proclaimed chief carrier of the flame of old "friend" Actual Flatticus he could be more useful indeed.

Did Carter ever approach Flatty with any direct requests for help, fronting, etc.?

I doubt it. But, was Flatty his own sort of agent provocateur, not in the same way that Goodman might be (I think he was) but on his own?

His sister working at Patton Boggs, plus her leading the effort to launch the Church of St. Atticus of Flatulus, looks more suspicious now.

Per one Twitter friend:
Things that make you say Hummm?

For the wondering or unfamiliar, SCL Group is (and IS, not WAS) the British partner of Cambridge Analytica, per Wiki. The "IS not WAS" is per Wiki noting that a May promise to shut down, when the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica shit hit the fan, has yet to be honored.

I don't think even Flatty was that. But, who knows? Note dad's degree of connection to Trump, though his first choice for Prez in 2016 was Jeb! As for Leonard / Carter, THAT wouldn't surprise me at all.

One or two more people to get in here.

Julian Assange, and Craig Murray.

Contra Elizabeth Lea Vos (or whatever her actual name may be) at Petulant Media, it was ONLY Craig Murray who explicitly denied that the Russians were Wikileaks' source. Assange, while hinting, etc. that Seth Rich was his source, never issued such explicit denials. And, when Murray DID, Assange essentially told him to shut up.

Craig Murray was at one time a legit critic of imperialist aspects of British foreign policy. Now, he's become little more than a toady and lap-dummy mouthpiece for Assange.

Assange? Not a Russian agent. Still bitter at Hillary Clinton for what he sees as her part in his Ecuadorean embassy exile. And willing to work with anybody. Had Assange wanted to know, he'd know all he could about Guccifer.

That said, this brings up the old issue of why Assange doesn't run leaks from people inside authoritarian countries. And, we're not just talking Russia. Where's the Chinese leaks? Pakistani ones? Saudi ones? Etc., etc.

As for me? I think the British government should drop all charges against Assange and pledge a safe conduct (if he trusts it) to wherever he wants to go, if a country will take him.

And, in case you don't know what I think about Ty Clevenger, lawyer for American Media Group and Ed Butowsky, click here. Ditto on DNC fraud lawyer Jared Beck, whose either a huge idiot or maybe got paid to throw the case, given how bad it is. He's not only a Seth Rich conspiracy theorist but a David  Hogg conspiracy theorist.

What's finally sad is that the number of conspiracy theorists plus general nutbars trying to deny Russians did anything are actually making Hillbots look sensible. Some of them are scared that maybe Trump was a pawn, even if that doesn't look true. Others surely know Trump is a plutocrat, and probably a money-laundering one at that, but are still invested in his "man of the people" populism. And others? Leonard / Carter? Petulant Media? Stand by.

Oh, and if not block, the mute button on Twitter will get used for alleged leftists uncritically retweeting people like that. I already have a couple in mind.

Finally, after repeated attempts to comment on Patrick Lawrence's new piece, using multiple handles and multiple email accounts, I believe Consortium News is screening comments by email address.

I got two comments up, but ... both are NOT by my normal email account, edited with a "-noactualspace-" in the middle, used long ago to throw off spammers, or, after that, with the base version of the email.

Using a secondary email, I could post with both my actual name and the SocraticGadfly handle, though. Interesting.

August 10, 2018

Where are all these Texas atheists?

Near the end of its latest poll on the Beto O'Rourke-Ted Cruz Senate Race, Lyceum reports on the background of respondents, as most in-depth polls do.

There's this, on page 11: NINE percent claim to be atheist or agnostic. That's more than twice as many as who reported as Muslim. Throw out the 13 percent who were either "didn't know" (really?) or "refused," and you're at a little over 10 percent.

Really?

That said, counting 22 percent as either unaligned or third party, Lyceum claimed respondents were otherwise split, 39 percent each on Doinks and Rethugs.

Really?

But, let's get back to those atheists and agnostics.

I'm quite familiar with people misusing these terms to really mean "spiritual but not religious," or "irreligious vis-a-vis organized religion."

Let's say half our 10 percent falls there.

That's still 5 percent atheist or agnostic.

Let's say that 8 percentage points of the 13 percent refusniks are "nones," as are all 9 percent, in the original number, of alleged atheists or agnostics. Then, one-sixth of Texans are "nones."

That leads me to a piece by Psy Post. Until Friday, it seemed to me to be a pretty good psychology popularization blog and website. John Horgan is among its Twitter followers.

But then it blared: You live longer if you're religious.

Without saying that all we have on that is statistical correlation, not causal correlation, and without, in the western tradition, comparing today's US to today's Europe on that. (Well, it did kind of say that, but after the "blaring.")

Given that the power of intercessory prayer has been disproven by double blinded studies, in fact, we can say that almost certainly, it is NOT a causal correlation.

Add to that the fact that, especially in small towns, "church" and non-church general religious affiliation adds a degree of "community" to life for many people, especially in a place like red-state Texas. Also note that, especially in smaller communities, for those in need, many food banks and other forms of charitable outreach are church-based, or if not so explicit, at least religiously themed.

The only way to do a halfway scientific version of such a survey would be to look at churched vs unchurched people who are both also members of other organizations, like Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. And, you'd have to use more than obits. You'd have to use longitudinal time management research to confirm how often said people actually attended both churches and their social clubs.

And, there's been plenty of empirical research on the reality of a god already.

Speaking of empirical matters, we do also know that, by percentage of respective ethnic groups, more of those atheists are white than black or hispanic, but we also know that young blacks are consciously starting to catch up on leaving church, in part because African-Americans are finding more "secular" leaders willing to speak on "spiritual" issues. Like LeBron. Or Kaepernick. This is even as Congressional Black Caucus leader Jim Clyburn will suck up to Trump as much as those black ministers, to avoid churches paying new taxes.

August 09, 2018

Dallas County Schools' ticking time bomb keeps exploding

Earlier this week, Jim Schutze said that Dwaine Caraway’s bid for mayor is probably dead in the water if a corruption lawsuit has any meat. Given that it’s connected to Dallas County Schools, it probably has plenty of meat.

He was right —  Caraway and his future are both dead in the water; he has now
pled guilty to two federal charges and resigned, the Observer reports.) I have a bit of personal familiarity with Dallas County Schools from it having a bus barn in Lancaster. This is just the latest in the ticking time bomb of corruption even worse, speaking of Lancaster, than that seemingly exemplified by former Lancaster ISD superintendent Larry Lewis.

In what might have been the last collapse of Caraway's hopes of dodging a bullet, former DCS "superintendent" Rick Sorrells was sentenced earlier this week. At least Dallas City Council won't have to pay Caraway's legal fees now.

There's probably still more time bombs to explode as the Eff Bee Eye continues to look and now the SEC too.

Already a decade ago, the rationale for DCS looked thin. I never understood why three of the four Best Southwest school districts used them. Had all of Dallas County been under a desegregation order (we can only wish) it might have made sense. Why Lewis, who actually had some financial sense, didn't dump DCS and make that part of one of the district's bond packages, if needed, in hindsight, I don't understand, either.

About those Beto-Texas polls

In an update to my post last week about the proposed series of Beto O'Rourke-Ted Cruz debates, I noted some new polls that were in the hopper.

A new Lyceum poll shows a statistical dead heat, which is going to up the ante for these debates. Cruz staff is trashing it. That said, it seems in some ways to stand up to my eyeballs, with both voters and likely voters, and with Abbott leading Valdez by 20 percentage points. However, There are other areas where it's an eyebrow-raiser.

Nine percent of Texans are atheist or agnostic? Well, maybe not. And, Beto-Bob is within 2 percentage points on likely as well as regular voters? Plus, counting 22 percent as either unaligned or third party, Lyceum claimed respondents were otherwise split, 39 percent each on Doinks and Rethugs. That's an eyebrow raiser there. This is all why the likes of Kuff are wrong in relying on registered voter, not likely voter, feedback.

At the same time, even among college-educated whites, it shows that Beto's unknown factor is two-thirds that of Valdez. Interestingly, by percentage points, the gap is almost as big with Hispanics as with whites; it's closest with black voters, tho Lyceum has Beto-Bob within two points on BOTH. Anyway, the lack of identification issue also seems to run true.

That said, on things like atheism-agnosticism, politicos often rate their voters as more conservative than reality, and while not every atheist or agnostic bats left, nonetheless ....

Moving on, a Quinnipiac poll Aug. 2 shows Havana Ted with a 6-point advantage. PPP then splits the diff at 4 points. Public Policy Polling, which is Democratic-tied and has been wrong before due to that comes close to push polling. And it frames things Beto's way by talking about how he doesn't take PAC money while not noting the various asterisks that come with that, like that nobody running for Congress can take money from corporate or union PACs.

On the other hand, Havana Ted is now worried enough to ask Trump to campaign for him.

August 08, 2018

Facebook, Google, Apple and the
'censorship' of Alex Jones

Glenn Greenwald is leading the worry brigade among some libertarians and semi-libertarians about letting the trio above ban Alex Jones from their sites.

To which, although I've noted problems with the way Popehat swings his particular version of semi-absolutism on the First Amendment, there's his response:
Then there's my response:
And, with that, I'm targeting Glenn, who's worried about Citizens United but not nearly enough to call for its repeal, and doesn't even care about Buckley.

That's called petard-hoisting, Glenn. (Oh, Ken, I'll put that on you at some point. Unless you actually like people yelling fire in a crowded theater, you're not a 1A absolutist, either.)

Beyond THAT, Infowars is hoist by its own petard:
But, let's move onward.

I don't need Reason to tell me (thus, no link, Ken) that while the trio can ban Jones and Infowars, the grounds are wishy-washy.

But, neither you nor Reason will say, contra your tweet, that late-stage capitalism is involved.

These folks (supposedly, Apple hasn't banned Jones on all platforms yet, anyway), probably saw some small threat of "boycott" and figured that would lose more money than gaining any money from Alex and his neo-nutbar fellow travelers.

As "they" say, Effbook is a "mature platform" in the US. Ditto for YouTube and various Apple sites.

On the third hand, is this:
Facebook ultimately is a late-stage capitalist platform. But that's what drove Citizens United, too, Glenn. So, you're kind of petard-hoist.

To summarize, libertarian types risk hoisting on one of several petards.

One is when saying that Facebook (synecdoche for the group) is doing it wrong. You admit it has the power to do this. Thanks, that's all we need there.

Two is admitting Facebook has gotten too big to be allowed to do this on its own. You're admitting it's a public utility or similar, and that it needs government regulation or similar. Well, on the second half of that sentence, you lost your libertarian card if, like Ted Cruz seemingly, you think it needs to be regulated. If you reject that fork, but accept the first clause, then let's bounce hypotheticals off your head as to how close to First Amendment absolutism you want to go before you might step in. The Weekly Standard goes exactly there by asking if you want porn on social media.

Three is more muddled. It's having the feeling that Facebook's actions are problematic but not being sure what else to do next. If you're an allegedly rigorous-thinking libertarian, that's a problem there.

Beyond that, as Alex Madrigal notes (and others have observed on Twitter) the ban is about as leaky as most newspapers' online paywalls. (It's kind of sad that's my reference, but it's a perfect comparison.) That too is presumably deliberate, and late-stage capitalistic. A "ban" that's more of a shadow ban to appease some people. Hell, Facebook probably even ran an algorithm about just how much "banning" to do.

Google? It just lets Jones keep running on Google+, showing how little it now values that site. Plus, none of these people have banned Jones' British flunky, Paul Watson.

Final note? RationalWiki has a great point about Jones. If he really is blowing the cover of the New World Order time after time, why is he still alive? Why hasn't he been assassinated?

August 07, 2018

TX Progressives tackle various sellouts

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows that weekly blog roundups are not a crime. But, orphaning kids, or engaging in racial, classist, or environmentalist sellouts, and other things, certainly are. Dig in to this week’s roundup.

Texas Monthly discusses how federal judge Dana Sabraw said the Trump Administrastion may be creating permanent orphans from family-separated kids.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze says that Dwaine Caraway’s bid for mayor is probably dead in the water if a corruption lawsuit has any meat. Given that it’s connected to Dallas County Schools, it probably has plenty of meat. (Update, Aug. 9: It and Caraway are both dead in the water; he has now
pled guilty to two federal charges and resigned, the Observer reports.) I have a bit of personal familiarity with Dallas County Schools from it having a bus barn in Lancaster.

SocraticGadfly wonders why 25 House Dems and a Gang Greenish environmentalist group are recycling an old Ryan Zinke idea for new National Parks funding.

Brains and Eggs notes that just when you think national Democrats can’t do worse on 2020 prez candidates, up pops Eric Holder, even as alleged progressives of the Kossack tribe at Netroots Nation let their ballot boxes be stuffed for Terry McAwful, I mean, Terry McAuliffe.

Texas Standard wonders if Pope Francis’ now-total opposition to the death penalty will sway any Texas Catholics, like, you know, Gov. Greg Abbott. (Answer? No. It will just make Rethug Cafeteria Catholics a larger tribe than Doink ones.)

Texas Rural Voices talks about how arming Texas teachers will be dangerous.

Chris Ferguson wonders why some people are afraid to call themselves "feminists".

Very Smart Brothas calls out Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott for his sellout to Jethro Jerry Jones.

Related? Dallas Observer’s Stephen Young reviews Very Smart Brothas calls out Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott for his Dale Hansen’s interview with the WaPost over Jethro Jerry’s “no kneeling” stance.

Off the Kuff analyzed the latest polls in the Senate race.

Keep Austin Wonky looks at the end of CodeNext.

Therese Odell really doesn't like where Trump's war on the press is going.

The TSTA Blog ties everything back to the $5.4 billion cut to public education in 2011.

The Militant talks about the screening of “Santos Vive,” a documentary about how a Dallas cop  killed 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez by Russian roulette in 1973.

 Jade Esteban Estrada profiles State Rep. Ina Minjarez.

 Expat Texan Elise Hu bids farewell to Korea.

David Bruce Collins discusses a bit of mental health.

August 06, 2018

"Medicare PRICES for All" — latest neolib head fake

In a move of health care strategery that the likes of a Beto O'Rourke would surely love, two Obamacare flaks at neoliberal punditry mag Washington Monthly say "we" (who's that mouse in your collective pocket?) don't really need Medicare for All.

We need Medicare PRICES for all.

This is built on such a foundation of sinking bullshit, I don't know where to start.

First, if this does save my late-stage capitalist employer money on health care, he's not passing it on to me. But, you guys know that.

Second, my boss wants to keep me enserfed to health care benefits. "Bennies," so that I still don't want to change jobs. But, you guys know that, too.

And, talk about burying the lede? It's down in the last paragraph of the long piece:
So why not just keep it simple, at least to start? A “Medicare prices for all” plan doesn’t require tax increases or involve transfers paid for by the middle class. It doesn’t require Americans to give up their current health care plans. And it doesn’t repeal or replace the popular features of the Affordable Care Act. But it does directly attack the middle-class affordability crisis using a proven approach that the great majority of Americans might actually support.
In other words, you poor? Keep your state-largesse-dependent Medicaid. Working poor? Keep your CHIP for your kids. 

If you're "working poor" or lower-middle-class in a state that didn't do the Medicaid expansion with Obamacare, or did it, but with restrictions? Oh, so sorry. That "transfers paid for by the middle class" shows the gig is up right there. Because we can attack, or pretend to attack, an abstract health care industry, but we can't tax rich individuals more and more progressively as part of a national health care system.

They even outrightly admit that, two paragraphs up:
Even if the CAP plan was financed in good measure by new taxes on the super-rich, it would still involve large transfers from middle-income people, who will be at least partially financing their own benefits, to people with lower incomes, who would be paying nothing for the health care they receive.
This dreck may not be racist, but it certainly is classist. Beyond that, middle-class taxes already help pay for Medicaid and CHIP. And these neoliberal wingnuts know THAT, too. So, it's classist with a counterfactual pandering element.

And we sure as hell can't have a British-style NHS because that would be an even bigger giveaway to "them" than Medicare for All. (It would also address the increasing monopilization of hospitals that Medicare PRICES for All would not. What's to stop a hospital from going cash-only? Or a cartel of them, if the gummint doesn't investigate?)

Fuck you all. Fuck your Council for Affordable Health Coverage, since it's an insurance industry front group.

August 03, 2018

Cardinals: Not 'just' sellers but full rebuild?

The St. Louis Cardinals' trade last week of Tommy Pham for a box of Cracker Jack, rather three minor leaguers from the Rays — Justin Williams, Genesis Cabrera and Roel Ramirez, all profiled by Derrick Goold at the top link — makes clear they were sellers. At the time of the trade, they were four games out of the second wild card spot, with three teams in between them and that slot in a bunched National League. A little over two weeks past firing manager Mike Matheny, they felt the managerial shakeup apparently hadn't done it, it appears.

So, now, Tyler O'Neill will get extended playing time. Harrison Bader will get more. The 40-man callups in a month will get the same.

But, is this it?

I wouldn't be surprised if John Mozeliak isn't looking at a fuller rebuild. I'm sure he'd still like to move Dexter Fowler. A combo of eating money and packaging him with another player, maybe, a Jedd Gyorko, or one or the other of the Cards' backup catchers, whether Carson Kelly or
Andrew Knizer, might be one angle, whether now or end of season. (The idea would be that the Cards would eat some salary, but not a lot, and that if you want a cheap young catcher, Team B, you'll eat most that salary yourself.)

Speaking of, the Rays aren't "buyers" in the normal sense. Why did Mo trade Pham now? Couldn't get anything from a buyer, and was that afraid of losing in arbitration? Along with that, did he think Pham's 2017 was a fluke, or at least, a career year?

Also, why couldn't he get Chris Archer back? The Pirates did later in the day on deadline day. With Carlos Martinez dinged up for the second time this year, Michael Wacha still out, and Adam Wainwright on the way to retirement, one proven starter rather than two meh minor leaguers, would have been nice. (Sidebar: Bernie Miklask turd-polishes the trade like Goold.)

Yes, Austin Meadows plus Tyler Glasnow was a bigger pay for Archer than just Pham.

And?

Throw somebody else in, Mo? Or was that a decision that Archer had hit his ceiling and you were looking to the longer term future?

Speaking of?

Then, we have this John Berry guy on Bernie's site, touting current Cards hurlers (vs Archer) thusly:
Let's dump all our starters. All the guys that have got us to 3rd in the NL with a 3.46 ERA. Start from scratch. That's the ticket.
To which I responded:
First, that's not what I said. 
Second, ERA? Some old, Miklasz-youth-era non-sabermetric stat? Archer has a lower FIP than Weaver, Martinez, Flaherty, Wacha and Gant, and that's with facing DHs regularly in the AL. 
And, again, that's with Martinez officially back on the DL, and Wacha still on the DL until at least the start of September. And, his history of shoulder problems.
Just, wow.

Note: I'm not saying the Cards should have taken Archer, but I'm not engaged in prospectitis, either. Lots of MLB teams have fans who become deep enough homers to do exactly that. Said homer also mentioned Alex Reyes in an earlier comment. Yes, another member of the injury brigade, with 46 innings two years ago as a 40-man callup, then Tommy John, then a lat injury bad enough this year needing surgery. I'm surprised Daniel Poncedeleon didn't get a by-name callout.

(Interestingly or ironically, Archer's first start was against the Cards, and it was pretty shaky, with just a 31 game score; his opposing hurler, Gant, was even worse at 26. Walks, an HBP and a long ball all hurt him.)

I would have made a run at Archer, though, per the reasons noted above. And put a bit of a prospects crowbar in my wallet. To quote an old saw: "An MLB player in hand is worth two prospects in the bush."

That said, how much to pay for Archer?

Goold talked about this the day before trade deadline, about now Mo has narrow parameters on doing trades. Well, his free agency parameters were pretty wide on both Fowler and Mike Leake.

So, again, is it time to fire Mozeliak? Three-quarters of voters in my Twitter poll want to give Mo the boot.

First, let me say that I think there's a method in his madness, even as he added outfield depth while cleaning it out at the same time.

He's looking for multiple rounds and tiers of cost control. Hence getting Williams as well as the two pitchers. He's still following up on cleaning up his bullpen. (That's in part his fault for letting Matheny mismanage it as long as he did, including this year even with a good pitching coach, Mike Maddux, at his side.)

That said, is some of this acting like a small-market team?

I've never bought the small-market vs big-market bifurcation. There are middle-market teams, too, and the Cards are one. They tilt somewhat small-market, but their winning plus fandom make them middle-market.

But, that's why Mo can't do a full rebuild. And, he's looking for cost control on his free agent mistakes.

Anyway, mid-market teams? Minnesota should be. The Twin Cities metro area is larger than metro St. Louis.

Washington is; if Baltimore weren't there, and if they had a base as rabid as the Redskins Redscum Dan Snyder Hymies (payback is a bitch) in football, they would be a big-market team. Rangers and Astros are. They're close to big-market teams, certainly on population size. The Metroplex is as big as the whole Bay Area, San Fran plus Oakland combined and San Jose in there, too. The Houston metro isn't a lot smaller. But, you have to win consistently. And, in the ’Mess, you're also competing with the Jethro Jones Boys for sports fandom. Astros have a cleaner slate there.

Miami should be mid-market or better by population size. Some want to blame previous owners. I blame South Florida (counting Tampa-St. Pete in that, sorry Rays fans expecting magic from a new stadium) as not being MLB-friendly territory. It happens. See what I said about Washington just above.

Other mid-market cities? Arizona, and the Snakes spend in that slot. Seattle. Atlanta. Denver is getting there, and sees it.

So, that's nine mid-market teams. That's Mo's competition on the wallet-busting.

August 02, 2018

One Dem sellout of environment for national parks cash
with National Parks Conservation Association whoredom

Raúl Grijalva, big fat hypocrite at the podium, with snake out of the grass Rob Bishop behind his right shoulder./The Hill

Twenty-five House Dems have signed up to co-sponsor a piece of legislation, allegedly moderated in its modifications from an idea floated last year by black-hat cowboy/Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, that would, if the moderations aren't real, rape BLM land for more oil and gas leases to fund the chronic budget shortfall and maintenance backlog in the National Park Service.

Wait, wait, I take that back.

The Senate version of the bill, cosponsored by six Dems, would at least do that. The House version would just dump half of federal energy revenue into some unspecified fund for whatever.

Raul Grivalja theoretically should know better than playing this Whack-A-Mole bullshit, at least as long as the current administration is in power. I mean, most the Democratic sponsors, aside from him, are ConservaDems and establishmentarian hacks. When you're on the same side as the likes of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kyrsten Sinema, you're on the wrong side.

So, too, should the National Parks Conservation Association. That said, NPCA, while not an original Gang Green member, can still act halfway like one, even in its narrow focus on NPS support. It's been selective in the past on how the NPS gets money, including selling out NPS users in favor of BLM and USFS extractors.

That's not new, either. Obama's last Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, supported "all of the above" on oil and gas extraction from BLM land. And, before she joined the gummint? On the NPCA board of directors.

The NPCA is a whore in other ways. Like when it saluted Rio Tinto as a corporate parks sponsor.

And, it won't tell you on its calendars that most National Recreation Areas, like Lake Mead and Glen Canyon, that are in the National Park Service, directly contravene the 1916 Organic Act.

And, as a commenter there noted, it's late-stage capitalist enough that a decade ago, its CEO made $350 grand a year. (That was up to $367,000 by 2015, plus 258K for Pierno as COO. The next year, per Charity Navigator, she got a raise to $300K as CEO/President, but former head honcho Clark Bunting still hauled down $350K.) Per Wikipedia, if it had about $30 million in revenue in fiscal 2014 and 153 employees, that means the average salary is almost $100K.

Such numbers might not be totally ridiculous, just halfway so, if every employee were at the HQ in the capitalist black hole of DC, but they're not. And I know that most the 27 regional offices are in places not only cheaper but a fair amount cheaper.

Speaking of? You want to find more money to address the Park Service backlog? Start by charging Lake Mead and Lake Powell boaters twice as much.

That compares with totally non-Gang Green Center for Biological Diversity. It ranks higher on financial angles, per Charity Navigator, with CEO Kieran Suckling taking just $200K. Suckling also claims his group has twice as many employees per $1 million revenue than the typical larger enviro group.

And, to loop this together? Most years, the CBD hands out a Rubber Dodo Award for antienvironmentalism. Last year's winner? Utah's turd-brown Congresscritter Rob Bishop, in the quasi-seersucker suit behind Grivalja in that pic.

Here's Grivalja's website with all his contact info. Let him know what you think of this.

July 31, 2018

TX Progressives talk state debates, or lack thereof

The Texas Progressive Alliance invites fans of Frasier Crane to read and picture how a Clinton-counseling Frasier reboot episode would sound while presenting this week’s blog roundup.


Brains and Eggs offers his own excellent snarkery on the proposed Cruz-O'Rourke debates.

At the Texas Observer, Justin Miller describes in detail why Lite Guv Dan Patrick is dodging the debates bullet with challenger Mike Collier — too risky. That’s as AG Kenny Boy Paxton and Ag Commish “Come to Jesus Shot” Sid Miller, along with other top state GOP politicos outside of Gov. Greg Abbott are all doing the same.

Speaking of Kenny Boy, how much more money will he (typical of Austin GOP fiscal fake conservatives) waste to try to keep AC out of state prisons, Grits for Breakfast wonders?

And speaking of Jesus Shotter, his Dem opponent, Kim Olson, has an iffy end-of-career military service background. The LA Times offered the original story a decade ago, here.

Neil at You Must Act Right Now took part in a protest at the home of an owner of the location of the proposed baby jail in Houston.  

Off the Kuff provided a more in depth look at Congressional fundraising for this decade.

Jim Schutze wonders why Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway is sucking up to pro-Confederate statues people.

Somewhat related, Cary Clack implores Greg Abbott to do the right thing and remove that dishonest Confederate plaque from the Capitol.
  
Raj Mankad draws lessons in urban design from Brays Bayou.

The Texas Living Waters Project frets about the decline of the alligator gar.

The TSTA Blog is unsurprised by Dan Patrick's intransigence on making schools safer.

Reyna Torres Mendivil wants us to remember that Texas has a family relationship with Mexico.

Juanita has a Steve Stockman update.

Texas Living Waters bemoans the alligator gar’s decline. (Texas Parks and Wildlife has started a program that may help.)


Meet the Quorum Report notes pre-Clovis Texans.


July 30, 2018

The coming collapse — thoughts from Hedges and Camp

Is the United States headed for some sort of collapse?

Chris Hedges makes a cogent argument that this is the case.

Lee Camp offers eight reasons why people probably don't want to believe this, and thus will let it happen, and how they've propped us up against collapse already.

On Hedges, it's great as far as it goes. Surprisingly, though, Hedges mentions little about climate change, just in passing, nor about Republican animosity toward the science behind it. (Many Republicans, in private, would be climate change minimalists rather than denialists, and would have their fingers crossed that they're correct on minimalism. Others may not be minimalists, but probably believe that the salvific technologism of late-stage capitalism that got us here will rescue us through geoengineering or similar. And a third wing is the evangelicals who, if they're young-earth creationists, reject the whole idea, or even if not, still believe that it's either god's judgment or that his deliverance from it will soon come. Probably less than 10 percent of major Republicans accept that climate change is real and that capitalism alone — except for the capitalism of a carbon tax with teeth, which they'll reject — cannot fully fix it by itself.

Of course, the Dems are little better. Obama made sure right along with Xi Jinpeng that Paris would be toothless.  And most Dems still won't face the reality themselves.

Weirder yet is that Hedges, a former foreign correspondent, says nothing about how both Republicans and Democrats back the duopoly. He says nothing about the military Keynesianism of the American economy.

So, it's good enough as far as it goes. 

But it doesn't go nearly far enough.

With that?

Lee Camp.

We don't have a democracy. Even Glenn Greenwald, with worries about, but still acceptance of, Citizens United, knows that. Money's bought it. The First Amendment weaponizers like Ken White, aka Popehat, who pretend that all other judicial theorists and the jurists they back engage in results-oriented jurisdiction but his ilk — yes, ilk — don't, are full of it. We regulate advertising campaigns. We have for decades. Political money is used for advertising. If you don't think we can regulate the money spent on it, we sure as hell can regulate where it's placed. No more TV ads before the "family hour" is  done. No daytime ads so kids won't see them. Ditto for websites.

Camp and Hedges are jointly right about the media. It fawns, then comes back for yet more "access" even when the likes of a Trump kick it.

Buying certainly won't make us happy. Hedges hints around the edges; Camp says that flat out. It IS our version of bread and circuses. It has been for decades, and became that in spades when Shrub Bush told people to go out and shop after 9/11. Beyond that, as the income gap widens, more people can't shop.

Working harder doesn't make you feel better, or happier, or free, in America any more than Arbeit macht frei meant you stayed alive in Auschwitz. That's the Calvinist myth, updated with a religified version of Social Darwinism for gloss.

On solutions, Hedges has the goods to mention third parties. I disagree with things like alternative currencies, unless that's for trading inside a communal system only. Once you undercut an actual money system, you have surrendered to either Ron Paul goldbug libertarians or cryptocurrency tech-libertarians. Pass.