October 18, 2018

Cowboy Joe West not first ump
to blow postseason interference call

Rightly, baseball fans in general as well as Houston Astros fans, are ragging on Cowboy Joe West for taking away a two-run homer from Jose Altuve last night and instead calling him out on fan interference committed against Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts.

Per ESPN, the MLB rule is clear. One the ball goes over the wall, you cannot call interference. A fan has a right to that ball. And per replay, the ball was clearly over the wall. So was Betts' glove. Whether Cowboy Joe is more blind, re replay, or more an idiot, re the rule, I don't know. But the only interference was him interfering with the game of baseball.

But he's not the first. The two other most egregious interference blown calls in the postseason were about player interference, though.

I still remember the throwing error by Carlton Fisk when Ed Armbrister dropped a bunt to advance Cesar Geronimo, and home plate ump Larry Barnett did NOT call interference when Armbrister got in Fisk's way, because he claimed it was not "intentional." Intent is not part of the interference rules because you can't divine intent.

On the other hand, intent was pretty obvious when Reggie Jackson used his hip, non-running from first to second, to block Bill Russell's throw to first to double-play Lou Pinella.

True that Rule 7.09F requires player intentionality in some subsections. But, per subsection (d), Reggie was "gather(ed) around any base." And subsection (e) doesn't require intentionality.

And, Cowboy Joe didn't even have the worst blown call on fan interference. That would be Rich Garcia blowing the Jeffrey Maier call and giving Derek Jeter a home run as Tony Tarasco waited to catch it.

Oh, Sawks fans? In 2013, that WAS interference, or technically, obstruction by Will Middlebrooks against Allen Craig. Not blown. Because, again, intent isn't part of the rule, and Middlebrooks wasn't making a play on Craig.

Feel sorry for newspaper employees
but not newspaper owners and corporations

With a number of mid-sized daily papers having recently engaged in further whacks, and even large-sized dailies engaging in some trims, the distinction in the header is important.

Newspaper employees — writers, editors, photographers, op-eds people, graphic designers, even those ads people — deserve sympathy for being in a struggling industry, even as people say they want news, and even as the industry, after a decade or more of early blunders, still tries to find the best way to make money.

But, do NOT feel sorry for owners and companies, at least not anywhere above the smallest mom-and-pop level.

As long as newspaper companies continue to buy newspapers from other newspaper companies, they're obviously profitable enough to not deserve a lot of sympathy.

As long as newspaper companies trim staff while saying they're profitable even before the cuts, they don't deserve sympathy.

This is even more true for larger newspaper companies that are still privately owned, and therefore don't have to (and usually won't) disclose just how profitable they are.

Here in Texas, I'm looking at you, Hearst. (Per Brains in comments, Nancy Barnes has bailed. And also per him, the sympathy for employees focuses on editorial staff, of course.)

And, per my comment, nobody watches videos more than 3-4 minutes long of news stuff unless hugely compelling.

October 17, 2018

Beto takes split decision over Ted, probably not enough

I didn't watch last night's debate between Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz, but I did follow the Twitter hashtag enough to agree with Brains: Beto won a split decision.

He did have the boxing gloves on enough to use the "Lyin Ted" epithet. But the punches didn't seem to have huge force and even seemed scripted a bit (beyond Cruz calling them that).

Per Brains' one link, O'Rourke could have pushed harder on Cruz corruption. (It even alliterates!)

Per another link, did Beto move the "framing" away from immigration and the economy being the top two issues among likely Texas voters? Brains and I both know that Beto doesn't actually back single payer, but he has a lot of people believing he does and Lyin Ted scaremongering over it. Doesn't do any good for Beto, whether true or not, if it's not a top voting issue. (It is No. 3.)

At the Dallas Observer, Rice prof Mark Jones, a dean of Texas academic political analysts, says O'Rourke could have hammered Cruz on reproductive choice. In another piece, Jim Schuetze seems open to the idea that generational enthusiasm might push Beto forward; if nothing else, it's a way for him to kick establishmentarians in the Dallas County and Texas Democratic party hierarchies.

Sidebar from that last link: Trump has a nearly 20 percent net negativity rating in Arizona. That helps explain the shrillness of wingnuts against Kyrsten Sinema, a ConservaDem, in the Arizona Senate race. (And it is shrill; state GOP there, and national, and the wingnuts at Powerline are dredging up a bunch of "radical" bullshit. Attacking her on the antiwar angle [Powerline is Israel-fellating neocons] could backfire in a  place like Arizona with libertarian-leaning types who are antiwar themselves.) A smaller net negative may mean Dean Heller is in trouble in Nevada; small positive helps explain Phil Bredesen's struggle in Tennessee, while a bit bigger net positive in Missouri probably won't be enough for the Rethugs to defeat Claire McCaskill.

Beto has also, himself, and not third-party PACs, upped the campaign ad heat after the debate.

Libertarians hit Northeast Texas

For voters wanting Option 3 in some statewide races, Libertarian Party candidates for the top three spots on the ballot were in Northeast Texas last week selling their alternative message. (Unfortunately, between a mix of deliberate Democratic cock-block maneuvering on a state court of criminal appeals race in 2016 followed by a state Green Party semi-implosion since then, there is no Option 4 on the ballot.)

Mark Tippetts, Libertarian candidate for governor, Kerry McKennon, the Libertarian standard-bearer for lieutenant governor, and Neal Dikeman, the party's candidate for the U.S. Senate, were at Back Story Brewery.

Dikeman, who has been facing the "spoiler" question for months because of the relative closeness of the Ted Cruz-Beto O'Rourke battle, says he relishes being called, and being, a spoiler. He said he hoped it made one or the other of both mainstream candidates expand their reach.

(Sidebar: In a previous non-political life, Dikeman blogged about clean technology issues. His angle is market-based, of course, but, for people who aren't ConservaDem fans, that means a possible alternative to undervoting.)

He also blasted the duopoly on the War on Drugs as well as the War on Terror.

Tippetts said fighting government-business cronyism expressed via tax abatements and the state enterprise fund were one big issue, followed by opposing Trump's border wall.

McKennon had the most controversial stance, saying he wanted to abolish all property taxes, period, while looking for alternatives. Just when you think it might be safe to think about Libertarians, well, then, it's obviously not, as this shows.

All three were honest in noting these were aspirational stances; in other words, none said they expected to win.

October 16, 2018

TX Progressives offer pre-early voting roundup

With early voting by mail already on, and early voting in person starting next week, the Texas Progressive Alliance is ready for voting to begin as it brings you this week's roundup.

Brains and Eggs continues to call out Beto O’Rourke for not fighting back against Ted Cruz instead of singing Kumbaya.

SocraticGadfly was at an education-related campaign forum for a group of statewide and Northeast Texas regional candidates and offers a few takes.

Stace reports on a GOTV rally and concert held in Houston's East End featuring Little Joe y La Familia and a cast of Dem favorites.

Everything turned out well at Prairie View in the end after an arrest of a campaign employee of Mike Siegel.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze notes that with Dwaine Caraway off to prison, the Dallas City Council is again for sale to the highest bidder. His comments about a long-proposed “deck park” across I-35 in Oak Cliff, similar to the one across Woodall Rodgers, are also worth a read.

Also at that site, and as further warning to people who think that money always buys elections in Texas? Stephen Young looks back six years ago to Zodiac Ted’s first Senate run and mentions two words: “David Dewhurst.”

Five Death Row exonerees will speak Oct 20 at the March to End the Death Penalty.

David Bruce Collins  calls out Facebook censorship of antiwar and other alt-media sites.

Grits for Breakfast discusses a guard killing a prison inmate and other issues, including Ted Cruz “shedding his last remaining libertarian bona fides.”

Juanita sees some hope in evangelical women.

Paradise in Hell is glad to see the Catholic Church finally releasing names of priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.

 Rick Casey is skeptical of the latest agreement regarding the Alamo.

 Therese Odell has had it with Melania Trump.

 The Current salutes Texas hero Joe Bob Briggs.

 Finally, the TPA wishes Texas Leftist all the best as it transitions from blogging to podcasting.

October 15, 2018

Calling bullshit on Yoda's "no try"

As this blog simmers and marinates more over the years, I've added more non-politics and non-sports stuff to it.

A fair part of those additions are personal thoughts related to psychology and sociology, and they're only going to grow as I get older. Because there's a lot of bullshit out there that needs to be countered.

Per the header?

"Do. Or do not. There is no try." — Yoda, from "The Empire Strikes Back."

This is New Agey bullshit from George Lucas. No, it's not even that. It's just recycled "business world positivity" bullshit that was espoused by Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale and many others in the past, and on to Tony Robbins and others today. Sadly, many people who think this will force them to be better employees or whatever buy into this without reckoning with other issues.

The reality is much different.

There are many things we try to do, but where are attempts are blocked by forces beyond our control.

I try to grow rich, but I don't have inside connections, or 130 other people have already marketed my brilliant idea, or I don't have a dad named Fred Trump, or whatever.

I try to hook up with Kate Upton, but her liking rich, handsome athletes like Justin Verlander is beyond my control. Ditto for me trying to win Giselle; she has this thing for a Patriots quarterback. Ditto for me trying to woo Gabrielle Union away from Dwyane Wade. Or telling Khloe Kardashian that I'm better than BOTH Lamar Odom and Tristan Thompson. Or that Miss Universe Amelia Vega should dig me over Al Horford.

I try to make cool sci-fi movies, but I didn't marry Marcia Lucas, and no other film editors who know what I should be doing better than I do myself will touch me with a 10-foot pole. Put that in your pipe and puff it, George. (And, yes, from people like Mark Hamill as actors, and other directors who know the backstory, this is all true; Marcia edited the original Star Wars, especially, into being an actual move; George was semi-fucking-clueless.)

Beyond running into obstacles I simply cannot overcome, there's pure, dumb luck. People like Bill Gates admit that luck played a role in their fiscal success. (That's why Gates favors keeping estate taxes, or even going back to where estate taxes were 20 years ago; so do many other rich.)

Beyond that, there's the whole issue of "success." Too many people are afraid of failure. Too many others treat too much of life as a competition. And they, like the business gurus, cite bullshit like this. Beyond the general competitors, there's the Randians, Social Darwinists, etc.

So, in reality?

"There is fuck off. There is no succeed or not entirely on your own skill, without luck."

October 12, 2018

Some teachers need to be students
in a budget management class

The New York Times recently ran an interactive piece on "lo the poor teachers" and I'm going to critique it. Pretty harshly.

Half the teachers listed as so poor, so "poor me," have no kids. Half or more are old enough that, unless they went for a late-career master's degree, they should have no student loans. They're all, with the exception of the one in Cincinnati, in the low cost of living South, and many of them in low cost of living places within that. (Cincinnati still has a cost of living, not only in the central city but in the less ritzy suburbs, of below the U.S. average of 100.)

Take Shauntel Higley, the first person pictured, and also shown at right in her window-cleaning second job.

$40K after 20 years of teaching isn't great, no. On the surface, it sounds like a poster child for underpaid Oklahoma teachers.

But, per City-Data, let's get background on Vinita, Oklahoma. Median HOUSEHOLD income is $34K. Median per-capita is $18K. Median house cost (not value)? $149K. Overall cost of living? Lower than where I live. Ms. Higley has one child. But she's married.

Seems to me she's blowing money somewhere. Especially with $4,000 a month in expense. You're blowing a BUNCH of money, or else you have personal interests that are pricey as hell.

Tracy Tevis, the second? Yes, at just 28, she's surely still paying off some loans. And Lexington, Kentucky is more expensive than Vinita, Oklahoma. But, she's making nearly $50K already. And single. And Lexington isn't THAT expensive. Again ... IMO, money's being blown that shouldn't be. Or so one would think. She claims just $1K a month in expenses. Even if she has $1K a month in student loan payments (which sounds high), that's still not that much money. Something doesn't add up.

Skip down to No. 6, Christopher Brobst.

40 and single. Working in exurban Tulsa. $47K. Single. $3K a month in expenses.

Let's do some math for him. That $3K a month in expenses. How? Unless you're high on the hog, you shouldn't spend more than $300 a month on groceries. 15-year-old car should be paid for. If you're dumb enough to have collision insurance on it, get rid of it. That leaves, say, $50 a month for liability. $110 on gas for the car. I'll give you a $1,100K a month mortgage (that's at a 30-year, fixed-rate, 5 percent mortgage on a $200K house, which is above Bixby market value for any house bought before 2010 and well above housing value), $400 a month on utilities + homeowners' insurance. We're still below $2,000 a month!!!! You could see one movie and eat out five times a week at lower-cost places and that is still just about $400 in "entertainment" costs. Still just $2,350. Per City-Data, $200 a month for property taxes, and we're still at just about $2,550.

You want to save more? Assuming you have a $200K house, sell it. Bixby, unlike Atoka and Vinita, is growing. Suburban Broken Arrow, exurban Tulsa. Flip that house. Go to one a decade older and a bit smaller, but still with more room than you, a single person with no kids, need, and in good shape. Use the money from easily selling your current house to put that smaller one on a 20-year mortgage instead of a 30-year.  And stop believing your house is an investment.

Even the last person, with three kids? Making nearly $60K a year in low-cost Atoka, Oklahoma. And, through this year, though she'll be losing it, she's been getting child support payments, too. Atoka? Median HOUSEHOLD income of $25K. Cost of living as low as Vinita.

Let's go outside the full South, to John Caliguri, in Cincinnati. Yes, more expensive there ... as he hauls in $81K a year. (Cincinnati itself is no more expensive than Lexington.) He's married, but no kids.

Unless teaching is his second career, he doesn't have student loans. Even if he does, from a second career, unless he went to a private school for a teaching degree, it can't be that bad.

 I’m not behind in bills, I’m not worried about my next meal, but between Airbnb, Uber and Amazon — the most physically exhausting job I’ve ever had — I was bringing in an extra $2,200 a month, and that makes living doable.
What's your definition of "doable"? You're pulling in more than $25K a year in SECONDARY income? You're making more than $100K a year and bitching?

GFY. That's all I got to say there.

Other "Poor Me" teachers who can GFY are the ones in Texas making as much as $200K side income selling their teaching sekruts on Instagram.

I've said in the past teachers should be paid well.

I've also said that teachers, and school districts, should have 200-day or more European/East Asian developed nation school years. And that teaching needs to be more in-depth. This would probably mean requiring secondary-level teachers, in exchange for more pay, to all have subject-level bachelor's degrees, not just education degrees. Even at middle school. And, yes, that's the way that is in other developed nations.

More and more teachers, like doctors over the past 20 years, seem to have lost the idea of teaching as a vocation. (I also heard this expressed by a retired teacher at the recent campaign forum here, though she was referring more to the "outside" world not regarding teaching as a "profession.") And, except for the one person on the main link teaching in inner-city Oklahoma City, none of these teachers is in a "hazardous duty" area that might call for extra pay for that reason. And, along with that, especially at the high school level, their students may be picking up lessons about trying harder to buy into late-stage capitalism rather than kicking at a rotten edifice.

For Caliguri, the Cincinnati teacher worried about a student seeing him at a moonlighting job? What about the student who somehow hears "I can't make it on less than $100k"?

And, there's more.

Here in the South, in the smaller towns at least, the teacher's is making more than a cop or a firefighter in most cases. And, in towns not just at 15,000, but Vinita's 10,000-ish, that cop has to have the functional equivalent of an associate's degree. In the 15K town, the library director may not need an MLS, but he or she will have to have a bachelor's in either library science or information science.

Now, let's compare you to the general public.

Teachers, at least based on my extensive Texas knowledge:
1. You're getting step pay raises about every year
2. You have a state retirement system
3. Your health bennies are much better than average, and continue into retirement, for possible rollover into a Medicare supplement
4. After a few years at the same school district, you have semi-tenured job security.
5. You get summers off.

Oh, I'd pay all of you 20-25 percent more if you'd agree to a 200-day, or more, school year, like all other "developed" nations except Canada (190) do. It's why American kids forget shit, and as they move higher up the grade ladder fall further and further behind students from these other countries. The average school day is usually shorter. That means, by hours, the classroom year isn't that much longer. It also means that you have time for more, and more intensive, in-school "homework."

I'll pay middle and high school teachers at least 30 percent more, if you ALL have, at least, a subject-field major in addition to your education major as a dual major. I'd prefer two separate degrees. In other words, if you want to teach high school math, and make 30 percent more? Get a math degree. This is a no brainer.

This will never happen in bass-ackwards America. Even with the additional money. Teachers, even if they're not working, or not working much, in summer, brag about all that time off. Heard it personally more than once, mentioned as a job incentive.

And, I've seen the overspending, too.

Per personal experience, this doesn't totally surprise me, though.

None of it does.

I'm not going to say more.

Yes, I am.

Teachers talk about buying supplies out of their personal pocket? Maybe some do, but how many? Besides, when I was a publisher of two small weekly newspapers, I regularly kept the office coffee supplied. Occasionally bought other supplies. I was try ing to make the company-allocated budget with room to spare.


Sidebar: The piece is also frustrating because both the Times author and the assignment editor themselves seem clueless about the cost of living more than 50 miles outside of Manhattan. Also, this piece comes off as semi-clickbait. Thank doorknobs for Ghostery.

October 11, 2018

Candidate forum in NE Texas — a few thoughts

We had a forum here in Northeast Texas Tuesday night, sponsored by the area retired teachers org.

Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Mike Collier was here, so of course Danny Goeb was not.

A staffer for state senator Bob Hall was here. And even got a boo or two at the end when he defended Hall on both vouchers and wanting to put future teachers on a 401k.

His opponent, Kendell Scudder, continues to impress me as far as what you'd find as a Dem candidate in a semi-rural race. He loathes Hall as a politician, and with good reason; he's as much a nutter as Goeb.
State Rep. Dan Flynn was here too. Him of the anti-sharia bill. Other than that, which is a big other, he's not a total nutter. His challenger is Bill Brannon, long-time state party apparatchik, who said he tried and failed to recruit other candidates before running himself.

All three Democrats called Flynn out on the anti-Sharia bill, which technically doesn't mention Sharia, because that would be unconstitutional per federal appellate court, but everybody knows who the bill was directed at.

The actual needs for it is somewhere between "nonexistent" and "less than the need for a similar bill for regulating ultra-Hasidic Jewish law at Kiryas Joel." (No winger Religious Right Republican would dare do that, of course.)

Collier, on the fiscal stuff, isn't bad overall, though too much a big biz Dem. He's right about the biz franchise tax and schools and also about the loophole for businesses to appeal their appraisals, which is a documented problem; newspapers in Texas' medium and large cities have written repeatedly about it.

Scudder has mentioned rural issues, specifically better, and better access to, rural broadband Internet, in his platform, which appeals to the half or so of State Senate District 2 not in the Metroplex. He also smartly pulled endorsement feathers of of his hat: He mentioned that both the Dallas Morning News and Hall's predecessor, not-nutbar Republican Bob Deuell, had endorsed him.

Brannon was the most "Kumbaya" of the three Democrats, even saying at the end, if you're going to vote for one of the three Republicans, vote for Flynn. All three Democrats, in some degree, went Kumbaya.

Note to Democrats: Republican voters even short of tea-party leaning status, in rural areas, generally aren't listening. (Sidebar to Beto O'Rourke: In urban areas, like older portions of Collin County and certainly Dallas County suburbs, you might find those mythical moderates, independents, swing voters, etc. Not in Northeast Texas and certainly not in Iraan.)

Election odds: To riff on Brains, I think Collier's chances are still a fair bit behind O'Rourke's. Brannon will likely get smoked. Scudder? I think he'll lose, but his regional chances are, IMO, not a lot worse than O'Rourke's statewide. The endorsements probably will have little play out here, but certainly will in the Metroplex portion of the district. The middle ground of Greenville, where Deuell is from? If his endorsement plays there, who knows. And, should he lose, he's feisty, in any case, and has done a fair amount of campaign homework.

That said, while Hall barely toppled Deuell in the 2014 primary in a runoff, and barely fended off State Rep. Cindy Burkett in this year's primary, no Democrat ran in 2014.

October 09, 2018

TX Progressives offer roundup of pre-voting info and more

The Texas Progressive Alliance encourages you to double-check your status if you have already registered to be certain you are ready to cast your ballot.

The state's website link to request a voter registration application (within the first link above) crashed and stayed down for several hours this past Saturday.

The state's voter rolls have surged to 15.6 million Texans, surpassing the 14 million registered voters since the last midterm election (2014).  More than 400,0000 have signed up to vote since March, and Harris County led the way with over 55,000 of those.

On to the roundup of lefty blog posts and news from around the Lone Star State from last week!

The Texas Tribune collects everything you need to know about voting this autumn.

Texas Standard says that the Brennan Center will be closely watching Texas again for indications of the kind of voter suppression tactics -- excessively strict application of the voter id requirement, voters illegally purged from the rolls, and the like -- the state has long been guilty of.

Maria Recio at the Austin Statesman describes how John Cornyn secured the necessary votes to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Grits for Breakfast seems encouraged by Greg Abbott's apparent evolution on marijuana decriminalization, revealed in his debate with Lupe Valdez ten days ago.  Michael Barajas at TO is somewhat more skeptical.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram has the details on Ag Commissioner Sid Miller complaining about a homemade yard sign, and the police going to the woman's Central Texas home and confiscating it. (Yours truly tweeted about this multiple times, including the initial cave-in to Sid reaction of his opponent, Kim Olson, who later owned up to committing a snafu.)

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Juan Segundo after questions about his mental capability were raised.

David Collins posted Parts II ("Shut Up About Purity Tests") and III ("The Harder Way") of 'Demanding Better', his pleadings to the progressive electorate to just let the two-party system die already.

Brains and Eggs blogged about the debate between the Houston firefighters union president and Mayor Sylvester Turner over Proposition 2, the 'pay parity' referendum.

SocraticGadfly sees that the Corps of Engineers could soon be pushing an Ike Dike, which he continues to oppose.

Charles Watson at Rural Texas Voices writes about substance abuse trends in Texas.

Texas Vox wants you to know that the state has a plan to ship nuclear waste through your neighborhood, and there is still time for you to speak out about it.

Jim Schutze's observations about the plight of the homeless in the Dallas Observer reveal the sociopathy of city leaders and those who support them in this endeavor.

And the Texas Observer's collection of "Strangest State" news (from the third quarter of the year -- July, August, September) features a woman in Corpus who spoke at a city council meeting dressed as a cockroach.

October 08, 2018

The Nation sux as John Nichols drinks the Beto Kool-Aid

No other way to say it. Two hack pieces are the bottom lines on that. Both underscore the fact that The Nation is not even really left-liberal, and certainly not close to leftist.

The minor one is a total puff piece on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "responding to her critics." There's not that much response and it's not about all critical comments.

The biggie is John Nichols, whom I've called out on Twitter before, claiming Beto O'Rourke supports single payer and otherwise totally chugging the Beto Kool-Aid.

No he doesn't John.

Beto is a ConservaDem who has in all three terms in the House, refused to cosponsor John Conyers' HR 676. He also went out of his way to say he couldn't back Bernie Sanders' weaker S. 1804. All this, plus the fact that Beto is among the most conservative one-third of Democratic House members and more conservative one-half of Texas House Democrats, as I have thoroughly documented, is all on the record.

Nichols also ignores that Beto's stances on the War on Drugs are all words and in the case of down-scheduling marijuana, have not translated into action.

He lets Beto blather about militarization while ignoring his district is home to Fort Bliss and that Beto has supported bringing home plenty of military bacon.

Contra Nichols, no, there's plenty that is mealy-mouthed about his campaign. And, lastly, with his "Clampdown" title, Nichols is playing on personality-driven, rather than issue-driven, politics.

I wouldn't subscribe to The Nation if it offered me a price of a dime an issue.

I mean, the mag has long done good work about the problems of America. I learned from it 20 years ago about the differences between American and European unemployment calculations and the reasons that matter.

But, it refuses to look outside the duopoly when talking about politicians and parties. And, to a lesser extent, before this became quite as big an issue for me, I'd busted its chops on this before, and one or two writers besides Nichols by name.

October 05, 2018

Jeff Bezos is Mao

As in Mao Zedong, circa Cultural Revolution era.

That's my ultimate takeaway from this long NYT piece about Amazon's corporate culture in action.

The relentless self-criticism, the employees spying on each other, management fueling both of those?

That was written three years ago.

Now, Bezos agreeing to people at least $15 an hour, even temp/contract employees? It may make that culture even worse. We'll see how many people stay that long.

One thing I simply do not get is why Bezos welcomes the turnover rate this causes. (He and other top brass denied for the record Amazon has unusual employee attrition, even in the face of stats showing it does, and Bezos is VERY statistics oriented.) Business management surveys, etc., consistently show that employee training is a high cost that should be controlled.

On the other hand, the Amazon corporate style, where the massive Maoism seems to be a main part of training, may be cheaper than elsewhere. And, perhaps part of it is an expectation of self-training, otherwise.

And, even where Bezos seems to be doing good in the terms of being a good corporate citizen, he isn't. Yes, he collects online sales taxes for states. But only for products he directly sells. His third-party vendors (like you or I selling a used book there)? Nope, he doesn't. And, David Dayen says this is more than half his business. (Three states require Amazon collect these taxes for its third-party vendors.) Per that link, here's the Amazon letter to shareholders that notes that. Oh, and that percentage was on the rise up to that point. Expect Amazon to try to knock the likes of eBay out of business at some point.

Also, despite complaints from former Amazon buyers like me, Bezos doesn't care about Chinese, Indian or Nigerian scammers muscling into its third-party vendor world. If it makes a sale and gets its cut off the purchase price, fine. If fraud actually happens, it's up to you to prove it, or to fight with the vendor if you don't think a scammy sale can be proven fraudulent. (Been there, done that, and Amazon won't let you rate an individual sale based on vendor/sale problems, just the product.) If this forces all third-party vendors to cut prices, and thus drive yet more business to Amazon, great!

As for paying contractors more? If you're one of its delivery drivers, living in Uber-like employment, you've still got your own insurance overhead, and just like with driving for Uber, Geico or State Farm will leave your ass high and dry if you have a wreck as a corporate employee and get sued. (Amazon and Uber will also leave you high and dry. You're on the hook for health care, of course. And, arguably, Amazon is breaking the law by counting employees as independent contractors.

Finally, if Bernie Sanders thinks he has a "win" with Bezos agreeing to $15 an hour, I wouldn't count those chickens yet. Indeed, the pay hike is already confirmed to be at the expense of other Amazon employees with company service time.

AND, updating Oct. 13, there IS a huge fucking catch. Amazon contract delivery drivers, who have already been subject to wage theft by Amazon, DO NOT QUALIFY. Read that full link for the full rip-off info and more.

There's a whole laundry list of other complaints against Amazon, anyway, like its providing web services to the CIA, and, related to that, the long tentacles in general of Amazon Web Services.

October 04, 2018

Is the Corps about to foist an Ike Dike on us?

Both here and here, I provided various reasons why I did NOT want the hugely anti-environmentalist U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (along with state-level Texas A&M military and civilian engineering toadies) building a so-called Ike Dike for Houston.

In a nutshell:
1. An Ike Dike would do bupkis for Hurricane Harvey inland-generated flooding. Houston has had tropical storms and even tropical depressions, or just plain old weather systems, cause inland-generated flooding. An Ike Dike helps none of that; fixing the Corps-created reservoirs does more.
2. Claims of a Greater New Orleans Barrier in Greater NOLA as a starting point for an Ike Dike are simply bullshit. Oh, and who's already responsible for barriers, levees, etc., around New Orleans? No names, but its initials are C-O-R-P-S.
3. The cost of an Ike Dike would probably be at least triple of what the Corps claims. Other Texans should not be stuck with bailing out Houston, on a state share, nor should the rest of the nation be stuck with bailing out Texas, especially with a state led by climate change denialists.

But the Corps appears ready to foist upon us either an Ike Dike or an Ike Dike Lite. Riffing on my "numbers" worry, the boondogglers have already raised the cost to a $22-30 billion level, far above the $15 billion or less that was being discussed just a couple of years ago. The boondoggling will go higher if the Corps, as is likely given its past history, takes most of BOTH the A&M and Rice ideas into its master plan.

Also troubling is that many backers of the Ike Dike, such as John Cornyn on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Oct. 9, won't allow for, or even mention, climate change.

Anyway, the Corps will take both online and in-person comment, as well as holding meetings in Greater Houston. Tell it no.

Lupe Valdez: Can't one be charitable AND organized?

Brains, in saying he will vote for Lupe Valdez in her race against Gov. Greg Abbott, cites a Jonathan Tilove piece about her generosity in giving below-market rents on some of her Dallas properties to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, especially those of color.

And, that leads to my header.

Can't Loopy Lupe have more generosity and yet pay her property taxes on time? Even more, why doesn't she have a foundation or something to help with this?

As Tilove notes, the late payments aren't a one-time thing. They've been ongoing for years.

And, as I will say in an upcoming piece about decently-paid public school teachers living beyond their means, if you can't budget, you may have problems. I mean, Valdez was making $139,000 a year as sheriff, as I note here, and when the property tax issue first broke, her spox had a crappy explanation. It was also a wrong explanation. As Tilove notes, most the properties Valdez owns have had no real appreciation to speak of, therefore their property taxes have been entirely predictable. It's something he could have easily pointed out himself, but maybe he's still hungover from a Beto Kool-Aid drunk.

Again, why not start a small foundation, sheriff? If your rents are truly and consistently below market, you could surely claim tax deductions. You could do that for a foundation, if you set one up, rather than yourself individually. You could grow your properties, including that community garden you dream of.

The story is good indeed about Valdez's care for poor and near-poor people, as Brains rightly notes. But it also continues to demonstrate her organizational faults.

I've met her before, more than once, when I lived in the Metromess. Found her to be personable and engaging. I also had a friend who was arrested, then forgotten about in Lew Sterrett for 48 hours or so. Personable is great, but disorganized continues to go on and on. It's not just my arrested and forgotten friend. I had four years professionally to see Valdez in operation professionally. Click the tag. In the four years before I left Dallas County, I never saw serious development in her organizational skills. Haven't in the nine-plus years since.

Again, setting up a nonprofit corporation shouldn't be that hard. Yes, it would have some "fanfare"involved, but that too might help Valdez's goals, whether or not it helped her personally on her finances that much.


Updates: First, per my two polls at top right, I'll eat my hat if Valdez does better than White did in 2010. And, to segue to my second point, if that DOES happen, it will be because Beto was the rising tide lifting all boats in the Doink party, not her.

Second and speaking of, is she not trying to coattail on him more? (Maybe she is and he's brushing her off.) I can accept Brains' angle that voting for her, and pushing others to do so, might help downballot races. I still don't think it will help as much as he thinks it will help.

Third, a rhetorical question to Brains, per our exchange of comments. If Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner somehow got the Doink's gubernatorial nod in 2022, and Tilove or somebody else found out that he was making some modest below-market rents to a few black residents in the relevant black wards of Houston, would you vote for him rather than undervote, letting that news trump everything else you know about him?

Fourth, on the missing gun? Whoever's fault it ultimately was for being lost, Valdez admitted she didn't follow protocol for turning it in. Disorganization.

Sidebar: I just Googled, but haven't come across any post-debate polling on the race, which would partially reflect just how well Valdez did. Her Rainy Day Fund comment was good.

October 02, 2018

TX Progressives enter October as election finish line nears

The Progressive Alliance moves to October and looks at the looming finish line for the election season.

Socratic Gadfly broke down the motivations of Kavanaugh and interlocutor Jeff Flake, as the confirmation process paused for the FBI to conduct an investigation into some of the allegations against the nominee.

Bonddad's thought from yesterday is that Trump is stomping all over the economic message that Republicans are trying to run on in 2018.

After the second debate between Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz got postponed due to the machinations associated with the Kavanuagh confirmation hearings, Beto scheduled a rally in Austin with Willie Nelson.  And it was huuuuge. RG Ratcliffe was there and filed a report.

Lupe Valdez got the best of Greg Abbott in their debate Friday evening, but RG wondered if their fundraising difference would be an insurmountable obstacle for the challenger.

Brains talks about an important issue to Houston voters, Proposition B on firefighter pay.

The Texas Tribune brought many of the state and nation's movers and shakers together at #TribFest18, from Eric Holder and Amy Klobuchar to Michael Avenatti and Nancy Pelosi.  Some of the Republican candidates for Speaker of the Texas House also introduced themselves.  Oh, and a few candidates for office showed up, like Beto.

Texas Standard talked to journalists Nancy Barnes, executive editor of the Houston Chronicle, Anna Palmer, a senior Washington correspondent for Politico and co-author of their twice-daily newsletter Playbook, and Mike Wilson, editor of The Dallas Morning News, about the effect the Texas Senate race is having on the downballot midterm contests.

Also from TribFest, and via Progrexas, the CEO of Southwest Key (that's the company managing baby jails all over Texas) claimed he had no financial interest in a company that SW Key leases some of its facilities from.  That turned out to be a false statement.

Sid Miller's sloppy handling of another yet another program -- tick pesticide administration -- brings more focus to his completely inept management of the state's Agriculture Department.  Michael Barajas at the Texas Observer has the story.

Barajas at the TO also had a compelling piece about how the Collin County GOP derailed the criminal prosecution of Ken Paxton, and made him a conservative folk hero.

Allegations of sexual misconduct endanger state Sen. Charles Schwertner's enclave of power, and by extension the recently-strengthened grasp of the Republican majority in that body.  (This blogger is not able to more forcefully condemn Schwertner because his own state senator happens to be Borris Miles.  And until this blogger and his neighbors can clean up their own glass house, it's best not to throw stones.)

The SAEN reports that the  mayors of Texas' largest cities are joining forces to protect themselves against the Texas Legislature's efforts to assert dominance over their 'local control' initiatives.

As the deadline to register to vote in this autumn's election approaches, Texas Freedom Networkacknowledges the efforts of 'Texas Rising' to engage adults from ages 18-29 to get involved.

Andrea Zelinski at the Chron notes that the Texas GOP, fearful of a blue wave, is working hard to scare out its straight-ticket voters.  Greg Abbott, ignoring his own opponent as usual, went on Fox News just this morning and attacked O'Rourke as a 'cult-like figure, similar to Wendy Davis'.  Expect more of these crazed, venomous rants as we get closer to the early voting period.

David Collins explains his voting motivations, Pages of Victory is a little depressed about the state of national affairs after watching the Kavanaugh hearing -- and challenges America's youth to pick up the gauntlet, and Lawflog observes that not only can the dead vote ... they can hire legal representation!

Grits for Breakfast has another comprehensive aggregation of criminal justice news that includes news about the resignation of Bexar County's top jailer, the Austin PD's too-high rate of shootings of people experiencing a mental health crisis, the McClennan County (Waco) biker/Twin Peaks cases still languishing, and more.

The Texas Moratorium Network asks for some financial help to bring five death row exonerees to Austin for their March to Abolish the Death Penalty on Saturday, October 20.

With funding approved by the Dallas City Council, a plan for the city's response to climate change moves ahead, says Rita Beving at Texas Vox.

October 01, 2018

Can Beto O'Rourke take down Ted Cruz?

Probably not, but it's not impossible.

Brains has a "cold hard reality" piece for Texas Dems in general, not just Beto, but it's a good starting point.

The key link is to this Texas Politics piece.

Now, I'm planning on undervoting that race, but I can offer a sunnier scenario for Beto than it does.

Let's go back to 2010, and a GOP vote edge of just 630,000. Then, let's take the rest of Texas Politics' math straight up. IF Beto can flip 15 percent of GOP votes plus boost Donkey turnout 20 percent, it says that adds up to 800,000 votes. And he's up 170K by that math.

Is this realistic, even at the long tail of one end of a bell curve? Or is it too much?

We have three background issues at play.

One, is 2010 or 2014 a better assessment of Texas Republican vs Democrat midterm strength? In 2010, Tricky Ricky Perry was a multi-term incumbent governor. Plus side? Plenty of name recognition. Minus side? People were tired of him — on top of the tiredness that led to the four-person race in 2006, some of which he had overcome by 2010, tea partier types were even more tired than they were four years earlier. Abbott in 2014 was a fresh face and conservative darling. And, I don't think Bill White was that much better a Democratic candidate in 2010 than Wendy Davis in 2014.

Two, speaking of gov candidates, how much of a boat anchor will Lupe Valdez be? Two polls in the past week show her at 10 points or less of Abbott. How she does in her debate Friday could be key. She had better be heavily coached up, yet without making her "plastic."

Three, there was no Senate race in 2010. How that affected the midterm party gap vs. 2014 (Cornyn against a weak challenger) I don't know.

Bobby Kennedy and Rafa the Dominionist have two more debates set. The Sept. 30 town-hall style could give Beto a pitch or two right in the wheelhouse. That was scrubbed due to Kavanaugh fallout with no definite replacement time set. That makes the Oct. 16 debate, complete with two full weeks of run-up, must-see TV.

I still remain skeptical of Beto's ability to turn out Hispanic voters, given that he refuses to play old-time retail politics in the Valley, as I have noted before. Given Zodiac Ted's unpopularity, I think flipping 15 percent of GOP votes is more likely than boosting Dem turnout 20 percent. At the same time, though, if 2010's gap is the real one, not 2014's, O'Rourke just needs 210K more Doinks if he can steal 15 percent of Rethugs, or a little under 12 percent.

Update: I was asked on Twitter Monday night if I thought this could actually happen. My take on the numbers is that Beto is likely to fall short. I expect Cruz to win by somewhere between 5 and 10 percentage points. That would give Beto a moral victory of enough stature to perhaps put him into the Doinks' 2020 Prez discussion per Jonathan Tilove's thoughts and possible wet dreams. Since 1988 and Lloyd Bentsen being the last Dem elected to the Senate, the "flip" in Texas politics has been a hard one — no Senate race since then has been within 10 percentage points. By a fraction of a percentage point, Tricky Ricky Perry's four-way race for re-election as governor was within 10 percentage points and his 1998 lite guv race was far closer. And that's been it in Texas politics.

As of Sept. 28, Five Thirty Eight, with da mayor Nate Silver himself writing, had Beto within 5 percentage points. He said that non-polling info actually tilted Beto's way more than Ted's. I'm still not convinced it will be that close, let alone that Beto will win, but who knows?

And, getting his moment of limelight from the Snooze, there's the question about what Libertarian Neal Dikeman will do to this race. The Texas Libertarian Party is, from my low-level knowledge of the LP across the nation, moderately robust but not tremendously so. I don't expect Dikeman to get above 2.5 percent and even breaking 2.0 percent would be on the high side.

Translating my expected gap into odds? I give Beto a 10-20 percent shot. Again, if you're not familiar with Texas politics of the last ... geez, 25-plus years now, that is a "realistic" campaign within the current parameters.

September 28, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh, apparent liar, vs Jeff Flake, clear poseur

As for the actual lying? Nathan J. Robinson has a VERY THOROUGH takedown of Kavanaugh's testimony at Current Affairs, and, in reality, his own prized calendar actually helps "convict" him. Unfortunately, it's in the lap of the FBI gods now; Robinson notes that in Kavanaugh's testimony Thursday, Democratic Senators had plenty of chances to follow up on specific threads of seeming lies and failed to do so. (The Intercept adds that he lied about being an environmentalist.)

So, the header?

That's your takeaway after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford spoke at the Senate Judiciary Committee special interrogation yesterday followed by today's delayed, and negotiated, committee vote.

Flake was in long talks with committee chair Chuck Grassley as well as several Democratic committee members in minutes before the vote, eventually delaying it.

What resulted is that, without a formal agreement, the committee is sending Kavanaugh to the full Senate on an 11-10 vote with the stipulation? idea? request? wishful thinking? that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will delay the floor vote, set for Tuesday, by a week, with a renewed FBI investigation at the same time.

First, Flake has less backbone than the William McKinley of Teddy Roosevelt's chocolate eclair bon mot. He had the chance to instead force Grassley to delay the committee vote, not the Senate floor vote, by a week, while similarly asking Mitch the Turtle for that investigation.

(Update, Oct. 4: Flake has now said that nothing in the FBI "investigation" confirms what Ford said. Oct. 5, Flake voted FOR closure, so unless he surprises me Saturday by voting against confirmation, he confirms he's a poseur.)

Second, Flake had more leverage within the committee than on the Senate floor. See next paragraph.

Or, maybe not. He has his second Republican, it seems:
Boom! Murkowski ain't leaving the Senate and ain't intimidated by, or trusting of, the Turtle. Per a 2015 profile by High Country News, she is NOT to be messed with.

Third, what may be at work is the hope of a few Senate Republicans (Collins, Murkowski, and maybe actually Flake) and a few ConservaDems (Manchin, Heitkamp, as Smokey Joe's already indicated he'll vote yes, and she's on radio silence) that Kavanaugh will withdraw over the weekend.

I have two related Twitter polls. First, did Flake indeed make a gonadless deal? Second, is this a hint to Kavanaugh and if so, will he follow it?

Fourth, if McConnell honors this (and it appears Trump has punted to him on calling out the FBI) how thorough will this investigation be? Will other accusers be interviewed? Mark Judge has just said he will cooperate.

And, Trump has agreed to said probe, and it looks like it will be at least halfway thorough:
Kavanaugh needs to buy a clue.

Fifth, if Kavanaugh doesn't withdraw, will Chuck the Weasel Schumer change his stance and put pressure on Smokey Joe et al? That's the key. I wouldn't at all depend on Flake to vote no. Murkowski may well say no if she didn't like what was in the hearing, but that would mean getting Collins to flip and Chuck the Weasel Schumer to line up all 49 of his ducks, which he has currently said he won't try to do.

Meanwhile, as far as any Trump-imposed restrictions on the FBI investigation, it has talked to accuser No. 2, Deborah Ramirez. And, fortunately for those of us who have big concerns about Kavanaugh, but also big concerns that any false steps will be jumped on by wingnuts, the FBI is not interviewing accuser No. 3, Julie Swetnick. This AP piece shows there's good reason for that. Now, the bluster by her attorney, Michael Avenatti, aside, "basta" is right that her past legal issues don't mean that Kavanaugh didn't sexually assault her. They do mean, though, that any story she would tell would be horrible and immediately attacked. Beyond that, there's the redder flag that, in the one suit, she was allegedly the sexual harasser herself. A second suit has the air of gold-digger about it and more. In all of this, and in Avenatti's tissue-thin denials, the air of the gold-digger grows ever larger around him, too.

Update on that: Senate Judiciary Republicans are playing hardball with her. More about Dennis Ketterer here; he's from Utah and reportedly Republican, though he ran as a Democratic Congressional candidate in the mid-1990s. And, since theirs was a brief togetherness, there's no reason Swetnick would have told him of her background.

At the same time, none of this negates the original AP piece, nor my take on the thinness of Avenatti's response to that.

September 27, 2018

Two ironclad proofs there was ZERO Trump-Putin collusion

The first proof is from Trump's Sept. 26 presser which was, even by Trump's low standards, a clear clown car show. For those who didn't get the details, all here on Vox, he called a Kurdish reporter "Mr. Kurd," claimed George Washington had sex scandals and other nuttery. That followed getting laughed at during his speech to the UN General Assembly the day before.

As I said in a series of linked Tweets:
Seriously, Donald Trump couldn't coordinate his own bowel movement.

Would an ex-KGB colonel pick somebody this incompetent? Someone too egotistical, and too incompetent, to fake incompetence?

Of course not.

Now, the Hillbots will say that's part of the plan, at least the collusion die-harders will. They'll say something like incompetence, more than kowtowing to Moscow, was the plan. However, this ignores Trump selling new arms to Ukraine, Trump twice attacking Russian client state Syria, and at that UNGA speech, Trump accusing Germany of being at risk of falling into endless energy dependence thralldom to Russia.

The incompetence itself? 

Nothing new, as anybody knows.

But, how bad it was two years ago, and just how unprepared Trump was to be president, is detailed by "Moneyball" author Michael Lewis in a new Guardian piece.

And, that's proof No. 2.

Trump simply will not accept "handling." Period. There's no way Vladimir Putin would work with such an off-the-cuff actor. That said, the piece is good. Read it to see just how bad the train wreck was.

Want a third proof? Hillary Clinton's electoral ineptitude highlighted by Democratic senatorial candidates having semi-comfortable leads in those Great Lakes states she lost.

Oh, and sorry folks, but the 25th Amendment was not written for this. I said so in these pages more than a year ago and did so more recently in a newspaper column after the NYT's "Anonymous" column. There, I noted that the way the amendment is written, four days after Pence got the Cabinet to suspend Trump from office, all he has to do is appear before Congress, say "I'm OK," and he's back in.

Oh, here's a fourth: Russia has "given up" on Trump. That includes the state-controlled media that Vlad the Impaler oversees.

September 26, 2018

Mudsills, part 5 — demographics

I've talked before about who mudsills are, and how they were part of Trump's winning campaign. Even if they weren't THAT important, they were a factor. And, Trump being Trump was an enabler for them to be more vocal about racism, and the specific type of racism which is associated with them as a sociological group – largely working-class whites looking for someone lower on the socioeconomic latter for them to kick. Several social psychology books talk about this phenomenon; I've read a couple.

This post?

I am going to offer a few takes on the demographics of mudsills in their most common locales, which I have previously identified as "Appalachia extended" — this allows for the mudsills who moved to places like Flint or Milwaukee to work in the auto plants and similar. (Steel mills, the older ones, were actually in Appalachia, the northern end, of course.)

The demographics will concern the locales as well as the mudsills themselves.

First, they're likely to live in an area with at least 3 percent black and / or 3 percent Hispanic population. It's likely that both minorities will be in non-insignificant numbers.

But — neither minority is likely to be above 25 percent, and definitely both will not. The area will also likely have few Asian-Americans.

In other words – enough minorities to be "visible" but in a white-majority population. In Appalachia itself, and often in Appalachia extended, if blacks also moved there from the original Appalachia and nearby, attitudes and relations from original mudsill times will largely still exist. And, there will be just enough Hispanics to be perceived as job stealers, and perhaps seen in the light of stealing jobs that mudsills think blacks should have still been working anyway.

Diet and health are other demographic markers.

Mudsill-heavy areas are likely to be above average in smoking rate. Note that the national rate of adults who have smoked just once in the past year is at 15 percent, according to the American Hearth Association. That's more empirical. So is higher to much higher use of smokeless tobacco.

Education is a biggie. Clear evidence indicates that racism declines with collegiate and post-collegiate education. That said, as Brains points out, the likes of Stephen Miller and Kris Kobach show that college doesn't eradicate racism among either the educated or the rich. It just provides a broader ground for new plants to outgrow the weeds of racism.

These observations are generalizations. However, I state that they are generalizations and NOT stereotypes. Based on modern informal logic, my take is that if an observation applies to more than 50 percent of a population group, it's a generalization, not a stereotype.

September 25, 2018

TX Progressives recent thoughts

Yours truly has been on vacation, including during the first Cruz-O'Rourke debate, which had the post-debate spin I expected when the debates over debates started. Brains offers a roundup of debate hot takes, while noting, as I have, that he's still undervoting.

Anyway, here's Brains' roundup of this week's debate-focused wrangle, and below selected takes from the week before.

SocraticGadfly wonders why states' rights wingnuts like Ted Cruz can't talk more about the truly overlooked Ninth Amendment and less about the un-overlooked Tenth Amendment, especially in judicial confirmation hearings.

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

BeyondBones catalogs what the devastating fire at the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro means to the world.

Kevin Curtin says goodbye to the iconic Threadgill's World Headquarters in Austin.

Raise Your Hand Texas reads between the lines of the Texas Education Agency's budget request.

Mean Green Cougar Red and Eric Berger look back at Hurricane Ike ten years after.

Sanford Nowlin takes measure of Beto O'Rourke.

See Brains for more from last week, too. Note also his hot take on Beto's chances.

September 24, 2018

Election security and voting machines

Since we're getting closer to election time, and the Election Assistance Commission has just disbursed the final round of HAVA money to Texas and other states, let's take a look at where we are on issue.

First and foremost, let us state that, theoretically, money to protect elections should be no object to the alleged "cradle of democracy." In reality, of course, that's different, but it's not just today's GOP that is penurious.

The reality, at the Texas level, is that many voting machines still don't provide paper tickets of a voter's intent. Paperless voting machines are bad.

This is not just because hackers or Russkies can hack them, or that Diebold or other makers can. (More on all that in a minute.) It's that as many voting machines get to be 10 years old, or 15, or 20, they deteriorate. It's called entropy. And, they get more susceptible to random glitches.

Now, the "more on all that."

Can Russkies hack voting machines? Not likely. Per Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and many other election officials across the country, voting machines are not connected to the Internet. Are vote totals hackable on websites? Yes, but they are pretty well protected, plus, there's paper backups.

As a newspaper editor, to get daily, or total, early voting numbers, as well as election night returns, I've looked at plenty a paper printout of ballot box totals. Is fraud possible? Yeah, but more likely from the county clerk's office, or the election officials' office in larger counties, than from Russia. Or from Diebold.

On to that.

Yes, a week or two ago, news was made of a pre-teen hacker breaking into mock voting websites. First, these were mock sites. Second, this person and others were given advance instructions on what to do. Third, any of them that hacked into individual voting machines? Again, those aren't connected to the Net. And a consortium of state election officials say the setup wasn't realistic.

ProPublica goes further in refudiating DEFCOM's claims. The kids were coached and had cheat sheets.

Per the Reality Winner story, the Intercept's initial report, some devices related to voter information allegedly have Bluetooth capability. But, again, that's voter information, not voting machines. Per that, in a Twitter thread, Aaron Maté notes The Intercept overhyped the whole story. I agree.

As far as paper ballots being the verschnizzle? Nope, not as long as politics in the U.S. is war by other means, in places that still have one-party government.

I suggest people google "Landslide Lyndon" and "George Parr, Duke of Duval County." Or "Mayor Daley's Chicago."

It's easier to vote either peons or tombstones illegally on paper ballots than on a website. Or on a paper list of overall votes.