SocraticGadfly: 5/6/18 - 5/13/18

May 11, 2018

Bernie, Trump, or bust voters: A WTF from
Seth Rich conspiracy theorist, Gun Nut H.A. Goodman

H.A. Goodman
I don't get these people. That said, some, like Bernie bro online syndicated columnist H.A. Goodman, whether ditching Bernie as a 2016 sheepdogger, or ultimately feeling the love for Donald Duck, already have #Trump2020 hashtags on their social media.

That's "OK," as long as it's counteracted.

Goodman was overrated in his own mind and others in the first half of 2016. And his refusal to consider third-party options two years ago sunk his ship, in my reckoning. He now has moved his personal Titanic to the bottom of the ocean floor.

And deliberately so.

Goodman admits to being a "former liberal" (so am I, as a leftist) ...

AND A GUN NUT on his YouTube channel. I quote: "(Former Liberal Now 2A Advocate)"

And, per RationalWiki, a Seth Rich murder conspiracy theorist.

And someone who thinks the words of Peter Strzok are not only problematic (they are at times), but less trustworthy than those of Louie Gohmert, aka Gohmert Pyle.

As for others, hoping for a Bernie 2020, but insisting you'll vote Trump otherwise?

If you won't consider the Greens, or the Socialist Party USA, good riddance. Good riddance to the narrowness of your political thoughts and your refusal to look or work outside the duopoly.

If the Dems nominated a Hillary Clinton type again in 2020 and third parties did not exist, nor did write-in candidates, I would undervote the race.

Any alleged "progressive" supporting Trump in 2020 is a liar, pure and simple. That's you, H.A. Goodman, as I see it from here. Not a progressive. And, possibly a journalistic vulture as well.

I thought he sniffed too many of his own cyber-clippings in 2016. Now I know that's true.

The bigger issue is that he is in fact an actual representative of populism, whether he uses that word about himself or not. The actual populism of American history, which was not always progressive, and certainly had a lot of race-related issues.

Tis true that Bernie himself, outside of strawmanning by Hillbots, at times didn't always seem to hit racial issues square on. But on that, and on other issues, he's no Donald Trump. People who think they're in the same neighborhood are self-delusional.

Now, Goodman may be angry at Bernie for sheepdogging. That's understandable. Then Vote Green.

But, it's really not that. He's trying to build his Internet brand and knows that he can piss off Hillbots and get clicks from TrumpTrain riders as a new convert.

Frankly, I never heard of the dude until the middle of 2016.

That said, Hillbot overplay of the idea of, the description of, and the number of, Berniebros aside, some do exist. Shape changers like this guy. The fact that he wrote for a winger-lite site like Real Clear Politics back in the first half of 2016 seems to make clear he either never fully got the Sanders message, or else never fully bought it, or else bought it enough to do a selective PR sale of it. In other words, he had this Trump2020 move planned all along.

Let's call his BernieBro-dom an actual false flag.

More scary? That he once worked in the State Department's Foreign Service.

I'm sure there are others like him ... more real Bernie backers probably don't realize how many, even though we all know the Sanders primary to Trump general voters were MUCH smaller than the Clinton primary to McCain general voters in 2008. Right, Hillbots?

That still doesn't excuse Goodman or his ilk.

Goodman now says that it's payback to force Democrats to reform.

Duuuddeeee .... if you had political principles, you'd join the Green Party and be an AccommoGreen like Cobb and Stein, not a TrumpTrain rider. But, you don't. And, your politics aren't mine.

May 09, 2018

'A Higher Loyalty' — to his own self-image?

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and LeadershipA Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four stars for the center Clinton-Trump material; loses a star for other items.

A few introductory notes.

First, at the presidential level, I did my "duopoly exit" at the start of this century. Related to that, I dislike a lot of the structure of the national-level American polis, above all, the whole strong-presidential system that is wrapped up with the modern electoral college having pushed America to a two-party system. (The civil liberties of our constitutional amendments are great, except that we need a few more like an explicit right to privacy; the body of the constitution is largely anachronistic dreck.)

Second, re the candidates of said duopoly? Beyond having little regard for their parties, I have even less regard for the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that were foist on us. Trump is a boor who has a history of racism that provoked a suit by HUD over racism in housing. He also has a history of mafia ties, which also include the further hypocrisy of him hiring illegal immigrants, as many believe he still does today.. Clinton has a sense of entitlement and a willingness to manipulate Democratic Party leadership and actions to that end. Both have long histories of corruption. Trump in his housing and other properties, his 4x bankruptcy, and his willingness to play footsie with foreign leaders, or yet more shady characters — that link above talks about his connection to Russian as well as American mobsters. Clinton has a history that goes back to her and WJ Clinton's Whitewater; you have to really be a died-in-the-wool "Hillbot" to believe it was just luck that led her to a $100K killing in cattle futures. The pair's corruption has continued through some of the less ethical activities of the Clinton Foundation.

Third, while I do believe in some sort of "deep state," I don't believe it is some sort of massive, unified apparatus out to "get Trump." Even worse are wingnut Members of Congress like Nunes et al playing with this. (And, about as bad are the likes of Ray McGovern, trading on his CIA knowledge to tout Nunes as a truthseeker rather than denounce him as a political hack, even as McGovern plays two-siderism on this issue. Worse yet, McGovern voted for Stein, and knows what two-siderism is.)

Fourth, I do not believe Vladimir Putin caused Trump to win. He may have orchestrated some meddling, but even there, the first round of DNC emails was likely stolen by Seth Rich or somebody else inside the DNC, not hacked. Even if most alleged Russian-related meddling was actually caused by Russia, its effects were minuscule. The Facebook groups' spending was a drop in the bucket. Also related? I highly resent "Hillbot" insinuations that third party candidates were tools of Vladimir Putin. And also related? Whatever meddling Putin did officially or semi-officially do is less than the US did in two 1990s elections in Russia, let alone elsewhere in the world.

I felt all of this introduction was necessary to background my review of what is certainly a contentious book. I see a lot of "two-siderism" in a lot of reviews, and I'm telling you there's more than two sides in American politics and thus in reaction to the book.

OK, the book!

First, James Comey himself. He comes off as a generally straight shooter. But not always and not totally; more on that below. Sometimes, it seems like the letter of honesty but not the spirit. However, he also comes off as sometimes sanctimonious, perhaps strongly so at times. I think this backfired on him after AG Loretta Lynch met Bill Clinton on the Phoenix tarmac. The title of this book attests to that. More on that below. Another s-word, besides sanctimonious, also comes to mind. Comey can be smarmy at times. And, often, these two s-words intersect with a "by the books" version of honesty and nobody is served well.

I think this is a largely accurate view of what happened in the 2016 election vis-a-vis James Comey's part in it, from the Clinton emails and server issues, through post-election Trump trying to get mafioso-type loyalty from Comey. (See what I said above about Trump's long history of mob ties, some of which Comey surely knows about, beyond Comey's own investigation of non-Trump mob cases.) George Will, recalling a sick suck-up event last June, supports this. I think Comey's personal assessment, and his assessment of DOJ assessment, of just how penalizable Clinton was, is also correct. That said, I do agree with Comey, despite the fact that the FBI can nail anybody for lying to it, that Petraeus should have been specifically charged with this, and should have done jail time.

At the same time, Comey is not totally write about Trump's personality. Per Quora, I am reminded that, if the roasting Obama gave Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner pissed Trump off, he still laughed about it in public. More here.

Comey is right that Hillary Clinton's issues were largely her fault. As for the "Colin Powell used private email," Comey responds — maybe the first time I've directly read this – that Powell and others who did this never sent classified material over a personal email account, but Hillary Clinton did. And, that's not to mention the private server, which Hillbots generally avoid like the plague.

I think the investigation was generally decently handled, per two paragraphs above, until the Phoenix tarmac. Lynch had already started showing her cards before that with the insistence on the word "matter." Comey did the best he could with that — or at least presents himself that way, but he should have kept that in mind post-Phoenix and acted differently. If he felt this was like Lynch dumping something in his lap, he should have told her so, and then asked that she have Deputy AG Sally Yates take over as the DOJ public face. He should then have talked to Yates directly. Or he should have asked for a special prosecutor. He should NOT have assumed this was "his baby." That's the sanctimoniousness. If the apparent lack of communication between Lynch and Yates became bigger, that too should have been kept as purely their baby, not his.

Yates, not him, then would have (presumably) spoken to Congress. Ditto on Yates deciding what public communication was needed when new Clinton e-mails popped up in the Weiner-Humedin chain.

If Yates refuses? And Lynch won't "person up"? You either resign on principle or leak about this on principle right then.

Trump probably still would have fired Comey soon enough. But, Comey's hands would have been even cleaner than they actually are.

Speaking of things Trump, the New York Times gets Bureau and DOJ staff on background saying Comey mishandled the early Russia and Trump campaign ties investigation that started in 2016. They say he should have used different agents from the Clinton investigation, and shouldn't have consolidated them in general and let alone at headquarters. What led to that?

And, was Comey's refusal to announce the investigation a form of bet-hedging? What would have happened had he not announced the late re-opening of the Clinton investigation? Even more, what if he had, as noted above, punted back to Lynch in summer 2016?

Comey also carefully phrased that what he did that he details in the book after the firing wasn't a leak. More recent discussion, and not just by Trump Trainers, says maybe so, maybe not. The fact that Comey insists on this comes off as sanctimonious, doubly so since he claims his memoranda about each Trump meeting is personal, not government, property, but doesn't include them in the book. Some other of his Trump-scenes paintings look smarmy.

Other matters? Comey is too nice to Lynch on the Phoenix tarmac issue. She should have known the optics were horrible, especially when the meeting stretched to 30 minutes. So, too, should have the Slickster. Did Lynch have an ulterior motive? Who knows. Bill surely did, even if it was not the one of creating a conflict of interest; it may have been one of strong hubby Bill fighting to protect Hillary.

In any case, Comey drops a smug, smarmy hint that Lynch might have problems in general on the investigatin, then says, "It's classified," on his source for that.

The book, outside of Trump-Clinton, is weak in other ways. In talking about a new post-Ferguson wave of minority distrust of cops, and the FBI's difficulty in recruiting minorities, Comey never mentioned COINTELPRO. Nor did he mention that FBI several arrests of alleged terrorists, in the minds of many, were entrapments. Nor – beyond the fact that many people will pay for it — does he make any real effort to understand the side of Apple et al on smartphone encryption strength. No discussion of the possible wrongs of the Patriot Act and related law.

The sanctimoniousness on the leak-or-not is more than just that, though, and ties with this. It's a bit of "the ends justify the means" stance. Comey makes that clear with phone encryption; on the things not mentioned, he probably believes alleged terrorists were never "really" entrapped; the FBI just did what it needed to. Ditto on COINTELPRO.

Above all, so is Comey's Al Haig-like "I'm in charge now" on the last months of the Clinton investigation. How much of that was in Comey's older cultural DNA and how much is him as FBI director, I am not sure.

Update, June 8: Related to all of this, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has reportedly found that Comey disobeyed lines of authority at times; the word "insubordinate" is allegedly used in a draft report. Horowitz's report also allegedly rebukes Lynch.

And, the story of White Boy Rick points out the real FBI, not Comey's PR bullshit.

June 14: More information and details from the Horowitz report.

First, rank elitism, not Deep State conspiracy theory blather, is a good explainer about many FBI agents, if Peter Strzok is representative of others in saying Bernie Sanders "is an idiot like Trump." (Related: As that link reminds us, per the FBI that Comey wants to turd-polish, Strzok and Lisa Page were having an extramarital affair. That's not only unethical, but in any investigative agency, leaves one open to blackmail.

The report also reveals that Comey made his public announcement about the October re-opening of the Clinton case not out of selflessness, but out of job security CYA, per Atlantic. And, per my SOP comments above about talking to Yates, apparently he, or someone in his circles, DID tell Yates this. And, the NYT also jumps on his smugness.

And Comey himself still doesn't get it, or doesn't want to, as far as Horowitz's calling him insubordinate, as his June 14 NYT column indicates.

That said, for both the Trumpers and Clintonistas who have worshiped the ground he has walked on at various times, the idea that he's ultimately a typical FBI director never comes to mind, apparently. That said, now that Trump is proving to be more a warmonger than in the election, and Clinton was always that way, and both have sometimes more similar than dissimilar stances on parts of their domestic background that is related (the Patriot Act came from materials already under discussion in Bill's presidency), this is probably something that both say is a credit rather than a demerit. But, that's yet another reason I did my "duopoly exit."

Peter Van Buren adds that it would have been nice to hear more about the Bush-Ashcroft-Gonzales-Addington stuff. I agree; other earlier stuff might also have been nice, including more on Giuliani.

Even more than that, without him claiming "it's classified," beyond the bare bones of the Steele dossier, I would have liked to hear more of Comey's take on "Putin did it." To the degree that Vladimir Putin actually did interfere with the 2016 presidential elections, it was surely less than we interfered with 1990s elections in Russia. However, neither Hillbots nor MAGA-heads want an honest discussion of this issue, and I suspect that establishmentarian Comey wouldn't give us much of one.

As for the personal anecdotes about Trump's perma-tan, and not having THAT small of hands? Maybe Comey was trying to personalize the meeting. Maybe he was trying to look neutral by the variety of descriptors. To me, it wasn't a big deal, unlike some reviewers. I did find it mildly interesting, no more.

In any case, because the book gives us, unintentionally, a decent look at Comey the man as well as the Trump and Clinton incidents, it's still worth a solid three stars. Comey the person, at least on the issues in this book, may only be worth two, though.

Many of the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon give good examples of the two-siderism that has been the bane of America for two full years.

View all my reviews

Update, May 14: Former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has turned both barrels on Comey, calling him a "partisan pundit" who trampled "bright lines that should never be crossed."

The specific target of his ire is how Comey handled reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails adn server after then-AG Loretta Lynch had had her conflict-of-interest inducing meeting with Bill Clinton on the Phoenix tarmac.

Rosenstein is totally right. It was grandstanding, as I said at the time, and not SOP, either. Then-Assistant AG Sally Yates should have been contacted by Comey and she should have been asked to get Lynch to officially recuse herself, then take over.

Rosenstein said he would have handled Comey's firing differently had it been just him, not Trump, but that Comey deserved to be fired.

He did.

Period and end of story, Donut Twitter and Resistance.

May 08, 2018

Texas Progressives salute Gov. Strangeabbott
hoist by his own Jade Helm petard

The Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes Gov. StrangeAbbott to Texas’ new McCarthyism. (Personally, I’m willing to help add extra material to Abbott’s own petard with the self-hoisting here.) And, C.D. Hooks and Justin Miller at the Texas Observer are piling on already. (This nuttery starts with former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden. Nuff sed.)

As Brains notes, StrangeAbbott also got caught by Politifact in a lie about George Soros (who is too smart to burn money down here), as well as being played by Pajama Game Blake Farenthold.

And into the roundup!

At the Dallas Observer. Jim Schuetze looks in detail at the flip-flops by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and his good old boys about whether or not to privatize Fair Park.

Also at the Dallas Observer, on the national NRA convo, Stephen Young notes how NRA head Wayne LaPierre is selling dystopia, while Beth Rankin says not every Dallas restaurant was an NRA fan.

Brains and Eggs wrote about the upcoming Democratic gubernatorial runoff debate between Lupe Valdez and Andrew White. Yours trulyhas his own take.

RG Ratcliffe considers two very different local responses to our state's Confederate history.

Horwitz penned a column in the Houston Chronicle criticizing Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick and Justice Willett for getting HISD into this hole in which it now sits.

Off the Kuff interviewed the two Democratic candidates in the primary runoff for CD22, Letitia Plummer and Sri Kulkarni.

Neil at All People Have Value offered his response to the note left on his car regarding his Democratic Socialists of America bumper sticker.   

Robert Rivard calls on the Legislature to allow cities to collect taxes on "sharing economy" businesses.

SocraticGadfly also takes a break from politics to offer a salute to Astros nemesis and Rangers killer Albert Pujols on his 3,000-hit milestone.

Therese Odell finds the discussion about Michelle Wolf and the WHCA to be lacking.

Greg Jefferson recognized that the 2020 GOP convention was of no value to San Antonio.

Juanita wants to know why a Republican JP from Fort Worth got a much more lenient sentence for violating election laws than Crystal Mason did.

Stephen Young also talked to the Euless City Council candidate who had Rep. Jonathan Stickland peeing his pants in fear and loathing. Salman Bhojani, the man smeared by the former fetus, won his race.

The Rag Blog talks about the Rhapsody in Blue fundraiser.

Downwinders at Risk touts a cleaner air fundraiser for Dallas’ Joppa Town.

Ted at Jobsanger says most Americans support LGBT protections.

Texas Standard reports on rampant wildlife smuggling in the state.

Grits for Breakfast reminds us that Miz Ann Richards was an Austin Hillary Clinton on criminal justice issues. (Those who know yours truly know what that means.)

Somervell County Salon returns to blogging.

May 06, 2018

#Txpolitics and Dem guv runoff debate time
Loopy Lupe Valdez vs Whiter than White

Time for Andrew Whiter than White vs Loopy Lupe Valdez.
Lupe Valdez of my nickname and Andrew White of Brains' moniker, the detritus leftover for a runoff in the Democratic governor's primary here in the Pointy Abandoned Object State™, will have a debate on Friday, May 11.

Brains calls the spot, the Friday before Mother's Day, a bad choice. Assuming both candidates agreed, this isn't quite like the DNC trying to bury Bernie-Hillary debates, and besides, it's right before early voting in the runoff.

He doesn't like my nickname for Loopy Lupe, which is part of why I put it in the header, especially as I – while respecting him for saying why he doesn't like it in a follow-up – disagree with his why. (If she were of Anglo heritage, let's say with the same last name as the current governor of Wisconsin, I might just call her "Wacky Walker," Brains.) As I told him, I've used it off and on since Loopy's Dallas County Sheriff's Office arrested and forgot about my teacher friend a decade ago, and thus got herself and her agency sued. (And I think my friend may have used it before I did, and given that she's of mixed ethnicity and other things, if she used it first, I likewise feel confident about her lack of conscious, or subconscious, racial animus.) But, that's OK. Brains knows that I disagree with him on the actual-from-childhood nickname of Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke, in that it's not (merely) an adult marketing scheme. And, while I've occasionally, since our talks about that, called him Beto-Bob ... I have yet to call him simply Bob and don't plan on changing.

In tagging Brains yesterday on Twitter with the top link, about the debate, I said we'd get "I personally" responses (White) vs. incoherent ones (Valdez). For the background on the incoherent, especially re Latin@ youth and immigration, see Jonathan Tilove and links.

Couple other nuances vis a vis Brains. He indicates he will quite likely undervote the race if White gets the nomination and there's no viable write-in or Greens with Janis Richards as the nominee don't regain ballot access. I'm with him. But, he stays silent on what he'll do if it's Valdez.

Sorry, kimo sabe, but Valdez ain't that far left herself on that many issues. Not far enough to offset a long, long track record of incoherence and incompetence. (Side note: I might appreciate her candor, but not her naivete, which should have been greatly reduced through two primary and four general election campaigns for sheriff. This ain't a rerun of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.")

As per Brains' worrying about her past cooperation with ICE? She was in the Army, and as an officer, not a grunt. She then, after county jailer time, worked as a federal jailer, then, essentially, as a federal detective, per Wiki. One can be a minority, and yet law-and-order, even wingnut law and order, a la Sheriff Clarke in greater Milwaukee, to look at Wisconsin again. And, per the other reason he doesn't like my nickname (which is again a wrong deduction), one can be LGBT and conservative, even a wingnut. Look at Milo Yiannopoulis of alt-right infamy. Yes, ethnic minorities, and gender-identity minorities, are more likely to be liberal, even leftist, than conservative, or wingnut. But, that's not an absolute; it's not with atheists, either.

Besides, undervoting if she should be the nominee (which I doubt) would (I hope) send a message to Gilberto Hinojosa and the rest of the Texas Democratic Party apparatchiks to stop selecting and favoring tokenism candidates.

Speaking of write-ins, Brains then talks about the possibility of a Democratic Socialist of America candidate, linking to a NYT piece touting them in Texas in general and Houston in particular.

Problem? Which he knows.

The DSA is an activist group inside the Dem Party, basically. It isn't a third party. It never endorses to the left of the Dem Party. Likelihood of a DSA write-in? Slim and none.

Now, a Socialist Party USA write-in? Or a Green-affiliated one if the party isn't on the ballot? Maybe not much more, but perhaps a touch.