SocraticGadfly: 9/9/18 - 9/16/18

September 13, 2018

Sanders Institute has a slow first year and more nepotism

VT Digger details the first year of operations of Bernie's think tank. Basically, it seems like it has less than inspiring management is half the problem.

Jane Sanders: Nepotistic in
spite of hubby Bernie claims
Well, no, less than half, because that half is subordinated to the Sanders family nepotism problems, noted before by me here. Bernie's wife, Jane, is officially running the show, and David Driscoll, her son from a previous marriage, is doing most the day-to-day lifting.

Besides lack of updates to the website and other things, VT Digger notes the lack of actual think-tank work, as in no new, let alone in-depth, policy papers and such. Add in that part of its funding is coming from Bernie's other locale, Our Revolution, and things definitely don't look good.

But, that's about all we know. Jane  Sanders isn't paid, but Digger estimates Driscoll is getting 100 large a year. No wonder he was so defensive with VT Digger.

When Bernie's son from a previous marriage, Levi, lost his Democratic primary seat for a House race in New Hampshire, Bernie said the family doesn't believe in "dynastic politics."

No, just dynastic think tanks.

September 11, 2018

TX Progressives talk Kaepernick, cops, conspiracy thinking

The Texas Progressive Alliance observes that honesty is no longer a required attribute for Republican judicial nominees, while wishing both parties asked Supreme Court nominees a broader range of questions, as it brings you this week's roundup.

 Off the Kuff published an interview with Mike Collier, Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor.

 SocraticGadfly observed that Glenn Greenwald is getting close to "Deep State" conspiracy theory talk on the Trump Administration on things like the "anonymous" op-ed.

 G. Elliott Morris discusses the current odds of a House takeover.

David Bruce Collins calls out Nike and its new Colin Kaepernick ad campaign in Das Kaepital.

Pages of Victory wants more news about just how much Harvey sickened Houstonians.

The Dallas Observer reports Dallas cop Amber Guyger has been arrested and charged with manslaughter in shooting Botham Shem Jean. Twitter has some old pics of her with her family, complete with brother making the “white power OK” sign. No telling about her own stance on minority policing, but it doesn’t look good.

Dos Centavos says both R’s and D’s are ignoring the Latin@ vote, as shown by recent polling.

Influence Texas has a smartphone app to track state legiscritters … and the money they get.

Better Texas Blog gives a state budget update.

 Influence Texas and Texans for Public Justice announced the release of Influence TX OS, an open source app providing campaign finance and voting records of Texas state politicians.

 Sarah Martinez has important Whataburger news.

Pages of Victory wants more news about just how much Harvey sickened Houstonians.

The Great God Pan Is Dead reviews some Soviet avant-garde art.

September 10, 2018

The Ninth Amendment vs the Tenth Amendment

In the Brett Kavanaugh hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rafael Cruz once again peddled his "federalism" states rights schtick. As part of that, he once again claimed or insinuated that the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution is the most overlooked one in the whole list.


If anything, the one immediately before it, and also part of the original Bill of Rights, is the most overlooked, including being repeatedly and constantly overlooked by Can't Be TrusTed Cruz.

Here's what they both say. First, the Ninth:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Then, the Tenth.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Several notes.

First of all, the Ninth Amendment says: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights ..." and does not add "to the federal government." In other words, this was a form of "incorporation."

AND, anybody who knows Madison's thought, knows he wanted to "incorporate" at least part, if not all, of the Bill of Rights at that time, something that, after World War II, courts have done, albeit imperfectly and incompletely.

And, alleged constitutional law scholar Rafael Cruz knows this, too.

And, to undercut the likes of Can't Be TrusTed, the Ninth Amendment, from the list of possible Bill of Rights amendments first crafted under the lead of James Madison and approved by the House, then approved in modified form by the Senate, the approved in final form in conference to be sent to the states, ALWAYS was before the Tenth, per Wiki.

Second and a sidebar: Re Griswold v Connecticut, that provided the ultimate background for Roe v Wade that's the backstop to the Kavanaugh hearings, Arthur Goldberg, in his concurrence with William O. Douglas' opinion, actually had the correct legal stance. Rather than chasing after "penumbras" and "emanations," he went right to the Ninth Amendment. (Arguably, Whizzer White and John Marshall Harlan, in their concurrence citing the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, were on better ground than Douglas, too, although maybe not as firm as Goldberg.) Hell, for that matter, Douglas' penumbras were better groundable on the Fourth Amendment than the Fifth. Griswold, in short, though the right ruling, had some of the worst jurisprudence of any major Constitutional ruling that was a good ruling in the 20th century.

I have no idea why Bill Douglas wouldn't modify his ruling, or even join either of the concurrences, outside of plain stubbornness, of which he had plenty.

At the same time, Hugo Black's dissent, where he specifically rejected both the Goldberg and Harlan concurrence reasoning and tried to claim that privacy needed to be an explicit right, marked HIS decline on the Court as well; actually, it marked the "outing" of his textualism.

And, sadly, this was Goldberg's last major case before LBJ booted him out to the UN Ambassadorship just to make room for his crony Abe Fortas, with that ultimately backfiring three years later.

That, in turn, beyond cronyism, at least made clear the politicization of Supreme Court nominations.

September 09, 2018

Beto O'Rourke, ConservaDem? (newly updated)

Beto ORourke

Yes, O'Rourke talks a good game on issues like marijuana legalization. (That's even though he does NOT walk the walk on pot issues.) And yes, pretty much like Sema Hernandez, he didn't take PAC money in the primary, or so far in the general, although a lot of his individual donors are high rollers. Yes, he's pro-choice.

But, the old saying? Talk is cheap.

(Update, Oct. 19: Key thoughts from this and other posts have been combined into a piece about why I plan to undervote this race.)

The biggie? As noted in my original post about him this year, he's a squish on health care issues. He has called single-payer "one way to get there" on health care access, stresses "access for all," and never signed on as a co-sponsor of HR 676, the House's "Medicare for All" bill. (See more here on my post about nuancing details of "universal" health care.)

For people who are Big Beto Backers, per that post, I originally agreed that HR 676 had the apparent flaw of not including for-profit hospitals. (See four paragraphs below for my changing my mind on that.) That said, per the Texas Observer, he said he couldn't support Bernie's bill in the Senate, either. Why? He wants everyone to have both a copay and a premium payment. I might "accept" that as part of a compromise to get something passed, but making that my starting point? No way. And, even then, my finish line would prefer to have only one or the other. (Most countries with national health care operate with no premium, but still having copays.)

Beto lied in talking to the Observer, too, IMO. Claiming to like Sanders' bill, while attacking a key portion of it — no co-pays — is not "liking it." That said, every non-single payer Texas House Dem in that piece offered up some version of lies or bullshit.

On Beto's stance on Bernie's bill? Let's use an analogy.

It's like saying, "I like your jelly donuts, except for them having too much jelly." Does that person really like them?

Beto ALSO promised, last year, to put forth his own Medicare for All bill. Still waiting on that.

On Facebook, others have challenged him too, including Green Party Maryland Senate candidate (and MD) Margaret Flowers. Elsewhere, Flowers says that Bernie's bill is itself considerably weaker than the House bill, and Beto can't even support it. She also provides the background to HB 676, including explaining why Conyers' bill excludes investor-owned for-profit facilities and other things.

Sema Hernandez — maybe to remain a good-graces Democrat to prepare for running against John Cornyn in 2020 — as of Sept. 3 decided to drink the Kool-Aid herself. See the letter for details.

Sorry, Sema, but not buying.

Why doesn't Beto flat-out endorse HB 676 right now, if this is the case?

Or, why didn't he ever create his own bill, as he told the Texas Observer he was going to?

Or, at a minimum, why doesn't he endorse S 1804 now, and retract his previous dissing of it?

And, per my link above, given that Beto has already rejected Bernie's bill, I see no reason to believe that he would change his stance and then endorse it next year if he becomes a senator.

Would you believe him, if he were instead running for House re-election, and he said, "Oh, next year, I'll finally back HR 676"?

Not me. I stopped believing in Santa Claus long ago.

Sema, I think, knows better. She's wanting to run against Cornyn (good luck on that, if you get the nomination; Cornyn isn't personally disliked the way Cruz is) and so is keeping her Democratic Party bread buttered and gunpowder dry. And, that explains the problem that DSA Democrats face.

If she doesn't know better, and is actually now taking Beto at his word, then we have a serious error in judgment already presenting itself.

Beyond that, Our Revolution's Harris County branch has refused to endorse Beto, as David Bruce Collins noted.

Sema, even with political ambitions, you could have kept radio silence rather than endorsing Beto. If you do run against Cornyn in two years, people like Our Revolution — the type of people that are supposed to be your focus — may well ask you about this.

Then, there's this, along related lines:
Sorry, Scap,  but as you'll see in me tweeting the link to this blog post back to you, that's not true. I note above, of course, that O'Rourke doesn't support Bernie's bill, and even if he did, it's quite arguably weaker than HR676 anyway.

Also "shock me" that as of March 14, 2019, Beto is STILL SCHWAFFLING on supporting single payer, per a transcript of a radio interview in Iowa.

And, there's two other points here.

One is that Beto is a ConservaDem at worst, a ModeratoDem at best, per the header. He's certainly not a DSA Dem, whether official like Scap, or either quasi-official or official, like Sema.

The second is that DSA Dems are still Dems at bottom line. If they're activist DSAs, they're presumably activist Dems at bottom line, refusing to take the ultimate pressure step of publicly calling for a candidate undervote to pressure that person.

To the degree that icons in a person's Twitter handle mean anything, that's why I have a sunflower, not a red rose. And, if the Green Party cracks up enough for me to drop that sunflower, I'd be more likely to add a red flag than that red rose, if you catch my drift.

Anywho, let's move forward.

I mean, libertarian guru Hayek supported national health care.

This all said, per my "nuancing" post, MediCAID actually covers more than MediCARE.


Per VoteSmart, he's actually only moderately left of center on big biz issues. He's good on snooping-type civil liberties, but not perfect on resisting Religious Right encroachments on that part of the First Amendment.

And VoteSmart may be kind.

GovTrack rates him as 56th most conservative House Democrat, based on votes in the previous Congress, during Obama's last two years in office. A graphic on this page has further illustration. Given that the Democrats have 191 House Congresscritters, that puts him in the most conservative one-third. He's roughly in the middle of the pack, in Joaquin Castro territory, among Texas House Dems.

More here on Beto's House voting history, House vote rating history and financialism. The fact that people connected to FIRE like him 100 percent is worrisome indeed. Related to that? His donors may not include PACs, but they do include a lot of hedge fund managers.

Many of his votes against the Democratic majority within House Dems benefited the FIRE sector, which was regularly one of his top campaign contributors.

Beto becomes more of a ConservaDem, along with 78 others (Yes!) in the House Dem membership, by voting to further undercut controls on banksters.

Now, Beto backers will probably claim that being part of 78 shows this is not a big deal.

Related update — Updated proof of him being a ConservaDem is his vote for bombs and against Dreamers. Let's also not forget that some friend[s] of Beto's campaign did a fake Twitter account for Sema. And, as far as I know, he never called them to account. In other words, Beto may not be a total "Clean Gene" ethically.

But, that is also nothing new, although national pundits may not know it. Brains notes how he faced multiple ethics issues and even a recall attempt while he was on the El Paso City Council. That was in part over his push for gentrification and redevelopment, a story big enough the New York Times reported shortly before the election. (It should be no wonder that neither Beto nor his daddy-in-law gave an interview for the paper.)

People like me will retort that 78 Dems doing this instead shows just how big a deal this is. It shows how badly it needs reform, even more by the number of Hispanic and Black Caucuses members who supported this.

Beyond that, David Sirota on Twitter has noted that for the current Congressional cycle, Beto was second, behind only Havana Ted, in Big Oil contributions. It is true that this wasn't a huge portion of his campaign funding, that it includes people well below the CEO level, and that he was in an expensive Senate race. BUT, many of these people WERE big names. When you get money from folks like a general counsel at Kinder Morgan, erm ....

And, per Beto's famous "no PACs" pledge, all he had to do was add "No oil and gas execs" to that.

As a result, he has been removed from the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge by Oil Change USA.

Others, especially since the launch of the movement to draft Beto for 2020 in mid-December 2018, have been hitting him hard. TruthDig, following on Sirota's tweeting about oil and gas money, notes that he really doesn't stand for much of anything. Zaid Jilani notes that in even more detail at Current Affairs.

(Update, Jan. 4, 2019: Beto is now supporting "the concept of" a Green New Deal. And, given the story is written on this date, Beto's support comes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Dems selectively gutted the powers the select committee to deal with climate change. In case you're wondering, VoteSmart notes he's generally strong on environmental issues. That said, any Democrat this side of Joe Manchin will likely get an 80 percent rating from most those orgs, especially the Gang Green types. Note that a few "backbencher" green groups rate him [and other Congressional Dems] more toughly. Earthrights, for those who wonder, rates Congresscritters on their focus on international and transnational environmental issues.)

Sirota now notes how often Beto voted against the majority of House Democrats in his Congressional career.

And, from before the election, Electronic Intifada reminds us that Beto is anti-BDS.

At the same time, I don't totally buy Walker Bragman's early 2019 piece about Beto fighting police and fire unions. First, such fights happened across the country during the Great Recession. Second, police unions, especially, are not representative of public sector unions in general. Third, police unions aren't at all representative of private sector unions and have even been used in strikebreaking (or to attack peaceful protestors). The piece is one step above "gotcha," but no more.


In an otherwise decent article at the Nation about battling for the future of the Texas Dem Party, D.D. Guttenplan swallows the Beto Kool-Aid as if he's in a chugging contest. Sorry to pick on you; you're nowhere near along among national political pundits, but, you parachute in to Texas and place Beto on the left-hand side of the party without even mentioning that Sema Hernandez ran against him from the left during the primary.

D.D. wound up being far from alone. Buzzfeed's Anne Helen Peterson, and The Nation's John Nichols, and many others in national media, drank the Beto Kool-Aid.

Also per D.D., bipartisanship isn't necessarily bad. But, per my top link, Beto's apparent bipartisanship for bipartisanship's stake is almost a fetish.

That said, at the same time, Beto deserves to be considered straightforwardly, without any "gotcha." In the run-up to the primary, Brains was dinging me pretty good, then I responded, and he posted that in his own version of a Texas Progressives wrangle.

That's even though I think Sema is the better candidate and said so in both posts.

It's just that part of the target practice at Beto from the left comes close to "gotcha." Maybe over it.

I may have pushed back too far on the health care. But, I think other stuff was gotcha or near it.

Still do.

And, at the same time, I can still call semi-gotcha on the PAC issue. And full gotcha on the universal service issue. And, for good measure, saying 'let's call him Bob." He's not the only "Robert" to have "Beto" as a nickname, and whether he took himself or others gave it to him, it was when he was pre-18. So, I stand by my first post, in large part.

So, Brains, I can call him a ModeratoDem, or maybe even a ConservaDem, but still think he didn't get a fully fair shake on some issues.

That said, though, if he didn't have Kennedy looks, a cute rock music early history, and weren't out front on the one issue of marijuana legalization, we wouldn't be talking about Beto as more than the latest statewide Texas race sacrificial lamb.


As Beto continues to get hammered by David Sirota, Norman Solomon, Elizabeth Breunig, Zaid Jilani and others (with me adding my own tidbits) over his Congressional voting record, taking money from the oil and gas industry for that, taking money from the FIRE sector for that, refusing to walk the walk on marijuana reform laws (I checked; that blog post of mine was before Sema officially endorsed Beto) and more, the following questions arise:
1. Did Sema Hernandez know all that? (She should have; she saw the first version of this ConservaDem piece as it was updated at that time, without the oil and gas info, before her endorsement, if I recall my Twitter timeline correctly.)
2. Why did she make that endorsement, other than moving into Just.Another.Politician.™ territory?
3. Will she own up to being, in any way, Just.Another.Politician.™?
4. Will she, if worried about fellow Roses or about the Our Revolution folks in Houston and elsewhere who refused to endorse Beto, try to rescind her endorsement?

1. Yes, as noted.
2. For that reason, as noted.
3. No, because that would undercut 1 and 2, IMO.
4. Call me back in about 12 months.

These are all issues that hold true whether or not Beto allegedly gave an explicit promise to back single-payer (not the "universal health care" fudge) after she endorsed him. (BTW, based on his actual 2018 history with Sanders' bill, I don't believe such an explicit promise was made. See below.)

And, yes, with Beto 2020 officially being a draft effort for his presidency and other things, I briefly put this at the top of the page. Actually, early 2019, I'm going to do a new blog post just about this issue.


This whole issue leads me to once again refer to a classic quote by philosopher Idries Shah:
To see "both sides" of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than just two sides.
A couple of additional interpretive points by me.

First, sometimes there are more than two issues involved, which is part of why there are more than two sides.

Second and more importantly, knowing and accepting Shah's observation in no way guarantees a "complete solution."

Because Beto would be better than Havana Ted. But, he's continued to shift even further right since winning the nomination, and the Doug Jones precedent alarms me.