October 19, 2018

Why I am likely not voting for Beto — it's personal

Beto O'Rourke is a nice enough guy. Per Shrub Bush, maybe you could have a beer with him more easily than with Al Gore or John Kerry. That said, Barack Obama offered beers to both Henry Louis Gates and a Cambridge, Mass., cop. Solved nothing, and Obama remained a bankster-friendly neoliberal anyway.

Beto ORourke

I've interviewed, as well as photographed, Beto. Yeah, kind of photogenic. A Texas Kennedy.

And? Today's Congressional Kennedy is a neoliberal who hates national health care.

With that as the entree, let's dive in.

Personal? You bet.

"Access for all" as a "shit in the one hand" option to "Medicare for all" is getting personal for me.

I'm over a certain age. An age at which job discrimination happens. Age discrimination is harder to prove than racial or sexual discrmination, but it happens, and I believe I've been the victim of it before.

I'm also in less than the most stellar career field, even as I try to get out.

Should 2 + 2 = the end of decent jobs at some point in the future, it would be a LOT easier to face that before age 65 with national health care than without. Indeed, this is part of why I say single-payer national health care is more important for the working people of America than the basic income Scott Santens touts. (That's doubly true with his favored versions of basic income, which he wants to replace unemployment insurance, replace SSI and SSDI, and partially replace Social Security itself. Pass, Scott; I want no part of libertarian, or even neoliberal, versions of basic income. Hit the tag for it below to get the details.)

Back to our topic, though.

Beto-Bob (since friend Brains never tires of pointing out his given name as Robert) has touted that he is for "access for all" on medical care.

WTF is "access for all"?

Bob, Republicans will tell you we've got "access for all" right now, and they've said that since Reagan's time.

If you're making a bit too much for Medicaid, or have a crappy pewter-level Obamacare program with a deductible so high you can't use it unless you're dying, you've got that same access for all the GOP has been selling for more than 30 years —

Your local hospital's emergency room.

C'mon, Bob, stop peeing on our legs and telling us it's trickle-down health care.

I mean, for fuck's sake, a writer at The American Conservative recently wrote out a conservative case for single payer, either an insurance-driven or a straight government version. (Chase Madar is personally not that conservative, it should be noted, but, BUT ... American Conservative ran it!) Hayek favored it, too. (Yes, libertarians, he did.)

In addition, per The Hill as of Oct. 20, A MAJORITY OF REPUBLICANS want Medicare for All.

Speaking of, Beto either does know or should know that big biz prefers the current system of health insurance "benefits" because it lets them keep their employees as serfs.

Any real liberal, progressive, left-liberal or leftist (I'm one or another of those last two) knows that capitalism is an octopus which has killed equitable, sensible, low-cost health care in this country.

And, it's going to take a single-payer system, at minimum, to fix that.

Actually, I've argued it's going to take an American version of the British NHS to really fix it.

"Access for all"? Please.

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 HB 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 agree that HB 676 had the flaw of not including for-profit hospitals. 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.)

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

We haven't even talked about how you're a bankster-loving warmonger.

Now, I know some Democrats will say "but the SCOTUS." Really? When two of the librul justices, Breyer and Kagan, both said cops can continue shooting people with impunity, what Supreme Court justices will a ConservaDem support? And even Ginsberg isn't all she's cracked up by some to be all the time.

Besides, let's look at recent history. Within 90 days of joining the Senate, and three years left until a primary, let alone the general election, Doug Jones had already moved to the right of Joe Manchin.

So blame him. Or Manchin. Or Heidi Heitkamp. Or blame Dear Leader for not campaigning for vulnerable Dems in 2010 after they passed Obamacare.

If "you" want a ConservaDem to tie the Senate at 50-50, assuming all else stays equal, throw former Tennessee gov Phil Bredesen money or other love. He's more likely to win than Beto, though his own chances seem to be fading. Or send some love to Kyrsten Sinema, just to piss off Arizona wingnuts.

Brains offered up one updated round of thoughts a couple of months or so ago. Basically, his thought is similar to what I wrote a month ago — Beto has one foot in the ConservaDem world. And, not only do I not expect him to withdraw that foot, I expect him to continue to plant it more firmly.

He's got something newer now, as of late July, which tees off more, and like me, is skeptical about his actual chances of winning.

Ditto on his staff, or at least his volunteers who keep texting me. They all seem clueless about Beto refusing to ever officially co-sponsor John Conyers' HR 676 "Medicare for All" bill.

Beyond single-payer, probably the biggest thing that cheeses me off is that Beto, by his documented Congressional inaction, doesn't walk the talk on marijuana decriminalization or legalization. Per that link, co-sponsoring a bill to force the DEA to downschedule pot from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 would seem to be a no-brainer if someone actually cared about the issue.


And, while I don't agree with every one of Brains' reasons for voting no, read him too. (He's recently noted that, for this election cycle at least, he's like in being close to a single-issue voter on this.

I've invited, on Twitter, Sema Hernandez, Beto's main primary opponent of two, who was also debate-dodged by him, to also undervote. That would require her changing her mind, as in July she said she'd pull the trigger for him. But, maybe she will change her mind. I think it unlikely, though. I think Sema has buttered her under-40 version of Just.Another.Politician bread already.

Sorry, Sema. I refuse to believe that Beto Claus, after three terms in the House refusing to support HR 676 then going out of his way to attack S 1804, will change his tune next year. If you want to start entering the Just.Another.Politician world by endorsing him, that's your choice. I'll of course look at you with more scrutiny in the 2020 Dem primary, if I'm still in Texas and not taking a pass on that primary to sign a Green ballot access petition.

Speaking of, Michael Lighty, a fellow with the Sanders Institute and a California DSAer, has brought a Medicare for All speaking tour to Texas and Florida. Dates here, though other details are TBD. This is right before early voting starts, which leads to other questions.

1. Was Beto invited to any of these events to speak publicly?
2. If so, did he accept?
3. Dito on 1 and 2 on Sema?

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."