SocraticGadfly: 11/4/18 - 11/11/18

November 09, 2018

Roses, sunflowers and red flags on Twitter

A number of months ago, afraid that some people who are not Trump Train riders might mistake me for him on Twitter, I added a sunflower emoji to my profile. (It is fun to see the mistake happening, though!)

To the degree that icons in a person's Twitter handle mean anything, that's why I have a sunflower, not a red rose, symbol of the Democratic Socialist of America wing within the Democratic party. 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.

And I decided to split the difference on that. My profile now sports a triangular red pennant rather than a full red flag. That's to indicate I'm more socialist than the mislabeled DSAers are.

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.

This also illustrates the tyranny the duopoly — and duopoly-based thinking — continue to have.

Thus, just as a Beto, like a Dear Leader, needs to be pushed from the left, DSAers like Sema Hernandez also need to be pushed from the left. We've seen this in one other case already. DSA Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat a hasty retreat from staking out even a mild pro-BDS stance. If you DSA folks are going to fold on major issues, at bottom, aren't you just another subgroup of current Democrats?

(I must caveat that the Saturday before early voting started in Texas, Sema plunged deep enough in the Just.Another.Politician world to remove the DSA rose from her name line. See more below.**)

However, per Black Agenda Report, 21 of 31 Dems running for House seats and getting the backing of either Our Revolution, Justice Democrats or Brand New Congress (they may not all be DSAers, but they all claim to be the increasingly vacuous "progressive") say basically nothing about foreign policy, or at best give it lip service.
This would make the supposed progressive new wave of Democrats about as effective at opposing the empire as the old Democrats already in office. As we pointed out a month or two ago, a solid majority of House Democrats didn’t just vote for Trump’s record military budget. They raised it tens of billions above Trump’s initial proposal to show military contractors, who gave more to Hillary than they did to Trump that they, not Republicans were better friends than Trump’s party. Even a majority of the House Progressive Caucus voted for it.
As I've said before, I'm a Green-leaner because I vote on foreign policy, not just domestic policy.

(And, as I have noted before, besides the Greens, the Socialist Party USA exists as an actual political party of the Left.)

See Brains' own good piece from last week, and our conversation, for largely similar, but not exactly the same, thoughts. Per that conversation, I can't think of any reason why, other than running against Cornyn and wanting a Gilberto Hinojosa head-pat, that Hernandez is staking out this position.

This is also not to say that all DSAers — including past, present and possible future candidates — will "cave" to the traditional Democratic hierarchy. Nor is it to say that those who give a bit here are there are "caving." But ... when you give more than a bit, and on a blank check, you could at least be charged with a cave.

Speaking of that? Some Hillbot types aren't all wrong in talking about usage. The DSAers actually are NOT "democratic socialists." If you go to a place like Wikipedia, you'll see that, as one moves gradually left politically, you have "social democrats," then "democratic socialists."

Hernandez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al are all "social democrats." They're not "democratic socialists." None of them advocated for government ownership of any means of production. The same is true of Bernie Sanders.

Note: None of this is meant to crush DSAers, especially young ones running for office. You're better than non-DSAers — including better than the ones you endorse to suck up to the DSA establishment. But, you're not really democratic socialists.

I am. And, I do, in at least some cases, support the government ownership of a few "means of production."

support a National Health System like Great Britain's. I don't think single-payer will be enough by itself to get capitalism out of our health care.

support converting the U.S. Postal Service back to the pre-1971 directly government owned U.S. Post Office.

I support having that Post Office be allowed to do postal banking, but we don't need to restrict that to a quasi-private Postal Service.

I support 49 other states following North Dakota and creating something similar to the Bank of North Dakota, only with that bank's original powers, not with later trimming.

And, I would support Carl Beijer's idea of a more socialist Green New Deal than the Roses (or the US Green Party, I think he's right) have offered.

I'm a democratic socialist.

You all are social democrats.

I'm a leftist, at least for America. But, yet, a skeptical leftist.

That's why I don't have a full-blown four-sided red flag. And I don't have a hammer and sickle. And I don't have a black flag of anarchism.

The first? Who knows about the future. The second and third? Not a chance.

Marxism is pseudoscience and it was the day The Communist Manifesto left Marx's hand. Dialectical materialism is pseudoscience. Hegelian dialectic may (nor may not) make for interesting philosophy, but it absolutely makes for totally pseudo pseudoscience, even within the only vaguely scientific world of economics.

Anarchism? Nope. That's Hobbes' "war of all against all," ultimately. Leftists, or alleged leftists, who support it, need to examine their heads. Randian extreme libertarianism is a form of anarchism with a carve-out for private property. Leftist-alleged versions of anarchism merely junk the carve-out for private property and support violence by other means, perhaps other social means, perhaps physical.

And, I can't support anarchism-lite, either. Some leftists support open borders. I don't. I believe we need to more honestly address current immigration policies (while also noting that new versions of robotic farming are going to bring other issues to the fore), but that doesn't mean open borders.


** I think Sema is misreading the 2018 primary, as far as her becoming Just.Another.Politician as a prep for seeking the Democratic Senate nomination in 2020 to run against John Cornyn.

The reality is that most Texas Dem governor and senator races this century have not had a consensus candidate before primary day approached. That was true this year, too.

Beto was only in his third term in the House. Before that, just El Paso city council, not Texas state House or state Senate. Many Texans forget that El Paso, arguably the most liberal city in Texas (sit DOWN Austin, I did not say neoliberal, which the New Austin is), is even IN Texas. (I think a fair chunk of El Pasoans may still wish they were in New Mexico instead — as they should be.)

At the same time, Beto was more of a "name" than anybody in a Democratic Senate primary since Ron Kirk in 2002. Bill White and Wendy Davis were kind-of names in the two previous gubernatorial contests. And thus, broke 60 percent.

Otherwise, Sema won the Valley areas that go most strongly Democratic, probably because of being a Hispanic. That excepts El Paso and nearby counties, which of course went for Beto.

Anyway, let's look to 2020. Let's say someone a bit more liberal than Beto, like, oh, let's say Lloyd Doggett gets tired of being redistricted every 10 years and wants to build on his years of House service, his name recognition, and his not-always-deserved liberal bona fides (not that much more liberal in the House than Beto, in reality) and runs.

Even if Sema is his only opposition, and builds on her own 2018 run, I'd expect Doggett to break 70 percent.

Meanwhile, doorknob forbid that a DSA rosey like Sema be criticized on Twitter for making a calculated political decision. Scap's called me a liar. I had less than high regard for him, and have yet less now. I've written more about her belief in Beto Claus here

From my original piece about Beto being a ConservaDem?

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 a lot weaker than HR676. If Scap were a Green, he knows that S. 1804 differs more than slightly, as Margaret Flowers has pointed out.

That said, Beto attacked S 1804 as well as HR 676. I know Sema knows this, and Scap should.

As for the details of that Twitter dust-up? Give me a link, from some time after Sema wrote her letter, where Beto clearly says "I think single-payer is the only way." I'd prefer one that has him explicitly mentioning, and favorably explicitly mentioning, S. 1804.

Finally, again, per that ConservaDem piece? Beto is in the most conservative one-third of House Democrats, and slightly in the more conservative one-half of Texas House Dems. He's almost exactly Joaquin Castro, overall. Sema? Scap? You want to endorse Joaquin Castro for anything?

Then, there's this, Dec. 11:

Sorry, Sema, and I'm not alone on this, but ... I never saw a public, unequivocal support of single payer, rather than universal health care, by Beto after you endorsed him.

The top line of the tweet is the most important, though: "I voted for him after all he was the nominee." Folks, I can't find better proof of how DSA roses will remain Democrats at bottom line.

And, this is all coming further to roost in the Twittersphere as Donut Twitter touts Beto 2020 more and more, and Sema and Scap are silently having to eat some words.

Update, Dec. 17: Scap now claims to have refuted me. My quote tweet back:
In my first quote-tweet back, I noted that Beto's first words in that video use his old trick of conflating "single payer" and "universal health care."

Plus? 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?

If that's Scap's proof, well, then, it's only because he drank, not so much Beto's Kool-Aid, but Sema's Kool-Aid. And, Sema brewed up her own batch of Beto Kool-Aid with a shot of her own sidebar flavor because she wants to be a player in the 2020 Democratic Senate primary.

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.

That's her biz. Doesn't make her claim, or Scap's, about Beto any more true.

It's no wonder that Actual Flatticus rightly laughed at many roses. I am not sure he singled Scap out by name like he did Esha, but he may have.

David 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.

Related: As Beto continues to get hammered by David Sirota 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, and more, the following questions arise:
1. Did Sema know all that? (She should have; she saw my ConservaDem piece as it was updated at that time, without the oil and gas info, before her endorsement.)
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.

November 08, 2018

Beto 2020? If so, the long knives are out

Two National Review alums, Elaina Plott at The Atlantic (who wrote that craptacular Heidi Cruz suck-up piece just before Election Day) and Tim Alberta at Politico have both written hack job pieces on Beto O'Rourke. And, I suspect it's out of fear; why on that is at the bottom.

I can only conclude that both are worried about a Beto campaign for the president and are throwing him under the bus. Some of their analysis is true, but some is simply false and easily refuted. (As a Green leaner, I personally am not jazzed by a Beto 2020 possibility. Truth vs falsehood on campaigns in general is another issue, though.)

Both are passing on lies, as I see it, in claiming Beto supports single-payer / Medicare for All. I knocked that down more than six months ago in my Beto is a ConservaDem piece. And, contra Tweedledee and Tweedledum, I stand by that. Sema Hernandez asked Beto for his pledge to support Bernie Sanders' S. 1804. She posted a statement to that effect on her campaign letterhead. But, that paper did not have O'Rourke's John Hancock. So, contra Alberta's claim that he supported Bernie's idea, nope. Contra Plott's more blanket claim, nope.

Neither Tweedledee nor Tweedledum is an idiot. Both know Beto's voting record. Neither post a URL (yes, that's something that exists, kids) as proof of their claims.

Alberta engages in "framing" in claiming that Beto called for abolishing ICE. Nope, closest he came to that was saying that he was open to the idea of replacing ICE with another agency. Even then, he only said he was "open to the idea." So, half-lie at least, as I see it.

Alberta is passing on another lie, as I see it, in what O'Rourke said — or did not say — about drug legalization. Other than the non-verbal communication of having Willie Nelson at a campaign event, O'Rourke said nothing about legal recreational or medical marijuana. That's because he did nothing to advance that while in the House, even when he had a golden opportunity. Again, this is easily refuted.

(Part of how these things are refuted is by something called a "URL," which you see here but not so much in either of their pieces.)

Both are running with the "cause not a candidate" take on Beto. Both, in fact, led with that, one before the election, the other after. Maybe Plott's after piece cribbed from Alberta's before. Or maybe there's right-wing media coordination at a deeper level, working to infiltrate centrist punditry sites. And

Now, as a Green-leaner who called Beto a ConservaDem, I have no personal dog in a Beto 2020 hunt other than to confirm I'll be voting Green again if he gets the nod.

(Per the other attacks on O'Rourke, I actually support impeaching Trump, but not on seemingly nonexistent claims that he and Vladimir Putin colluded in the 2016 election.)

Alberta also has some degree of ignorance about Texas Hispanics, and in drawing comparisons to other states, is clearly totally ignorant about Spanish-Americans and Mexican-Americans in New Mexico, too.

Oh, and while David Axelrod may be right about Obama being a better campaigner than O'Rourke, Obama's political ideas weren't any better.

Both the National Review alums ignored entirely the flip-side take on the story: In a state where no Senate race had been within 10 points since the 80s, Ted Cruz had to "play Texas," per C.D. Hooks, to close the deal on his re-election. R.G. Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly also notes that Alberta's wrong on his campaign analysis. The Texas Trib also weighs in, quoting anonymous state GOPers to the effect that, if anything, it was Cruz who ran the worse campaign. It also directly refutes Alberta and Plott on one other claim of theirs, saying that O'Rourke's 254-county strategery WAS indeed a pretty direct appeal to GOPers.

The Trib also notes independent Jonathan Jenkins being kept off the ballot as a write-in, and questions of Cruz campaign chicanery there, also unnoted by Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Another "tell" on the idea that both Plott and Alberta are engaged in hit jobs, and that this probably comes from higher ups? The implicit hints by Alberta, hugely spelled out by Plott, that O'Rourke was a "cause not a candidate":

Specifically on that, Plott:
“He was a cause, not a candidate,” a top Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity because of his involvement in current campaigns, told me. “He was anti-Trump, yes. But he struggled to articulate what that would mean for the people of Texas.”
Ted Cruz is an empty suit, per Hooks' piece. Nice try, Plott.

Sidebar: The Dem strategist is probably not only involved in current campaigns but looking to do some presidential honchoing in 2020, hence the anonymity.

I noted yesterday that a number of statewide Republicans not named Greg Abbott also had "baggage." In general, their baggage was worse than Cruz's unlikeableness. You have a bigot in Dan Patrick, a felony indictee in Ken Paxton, and a bigot plus an idiot in Sid Miller. Yet, O'Rourke still ran his race 3-4 percentage points closer than the Democratic challengers to them.

What I don't get is if Plott and Alberta, and the machinators behind them, really think O'Rourke ran a crappy campaign, why they've got the lying long knives out for him? Shouldn't they instead be following Hillary Clinton's thinking in 2016 and promoting O'Rourke as an easy to defeat candidate?

That makes this another "tell."

There's basically no path to the presidency for a Republican candidate who can't win Texas. O'Rourke in either the Prez or Veep slots in 2020 would be a serious issue for the Trump 2020 campaign, if he doesn't coronary out while in office.

I've called out reporters from BuzzFeed and from The Nation for fluff pieces on Beto. I'll call out hack jobs as well.

Speaking of, I've now also criticized and critiqued on Twitter BuzzFeed's Anne Helen Peterson's Beto post-mortem (she of the BuzzFeed critique by me above), above all for naively and uninformedly believing in the same "Hispanic demographic destiny" that appears to infect too many Texas and national Democratic apparatchiks. Most recently here, and most in-depth here, 5.5 years ago, when I predicted no Texas Dem would win a statewide race before 2020, which now stands proven, I explained just how badly uninformed, naive, and wishful this was.

This all said, Beto had a fairly narrow pathway. He made some decisions to campaign as a "cause" or a "brand" that ... were gambles. I think he should have worked more with the patróns of the Valley and the urban black power barons. I think he could have done this and balanced it with his rural crusade and his look for youth votes. It would have been tough. I also think he shouldn't have gratuitously kicked Bernie's S 1804, even if he didn't like Conyers' HR 676. Cruz and the Texas GOP were going to hang the "socialist" label on him no matter what. Look at Mutt and Jeff from National Review above spreading deliberate misinformation. But, he gave it a run.

And, in giving it a run, Beto did well over the alleged 45 percent ceiling that Alberta artificially assigned. (A couple of other Dems sneaked above that, too.)

This said, if either Plott or Alberta has another explainer besides winger politics as a camel's nose inside theoretically centrist opinion and analysis mags for what I'll still call hack jobs, hit me up.

Oh, if I haven't said so before? Atlantic continues to suck worse all the time. Politico has kind of always sucked.

Beyond that, both of these Millennial dumb fücks, as I see them, are clear examples of the Peter Principle among today's digital-first media, as I see it. Neither could run an actual traditional newspaper or small regional magazine to save their lives, I'm sure.

November 07, 2018

Election hot take: A ripple, not a wave, but a fairly big one

Ignoring the seven House vacancies, it looks like Republicans will lose, and Democrats gain, 29 House seats.

Wikipedia says that's about average for midterm elections. And, in first-term-presidency midterms, from Taft on, there have been far worse losses.

Dear Leader's Democrats lost 56 seats just eight years ago, in fact. And, yes, the GOP had a favorable Senate alignment, but, they appear to have gained at least two seats.

Ian Millheiser notes that the overall Democratic vote edge may be bigger than the 2010 and 2014 elections, though. That does show gerrymandering, but ... go down three paragraphs, too. And, it also reflects that small states are guaranteed one representative. Purplish Delaware is as close as it gets to a 1-Representative blue state.

Two states passed, and a third may pass, nonpartisan redistricting commission laws.

Democrats did flip some governorships, and reports say they've regained about one-third of the state legislative seat losses that happened under Obama, but that shows again that a wave and a ripple aren't the same thing. Democrats did gain seven governorships, which is fairly big. (Five legislative chambers flipped, compared to 24 in 2010, per the NCSL.)

Plus, many of the new House Dems are ConservaDems with connections to the military-industrial complex or else the spying-snooping complex, as shown in places like Michigan's Eighth Congressional District.

So, while it might have been a fair-sized ripple for Democrats, for left-liberals within and outside of the party, it is only a moderate ripple. I agree with many other pundits that many Democrats could and did offer little more than an "I'm not Trump" vision. Per the Atlantic, quoting an anonymous Dem strategerist, that includes Beto O'Rourke. (Remember, I called him a ConservaDem long ago.) Or some, like losing Indiana Senate Dem Joe Donnelly, actually jumped on Trump's call to gut the 14th Amendment. Good-bye and good riddance.

Democrats have not had a true wave election for Congress since 1974 and the Watergate midterms.  Republicans have had two since then — 1994 as well as 2010.

Nope, the 2006 returns weren't a wave, either. Per Wiki, the GOP lost 30 House seats and six Senate seats then.

Democrats will say "but gerrymandering" or something.

None will tackle even mild Constitutional reform, let alone something big like Daniel Lazare mentions in "The Frozen Republic." I mean, the party has lost two Electoral College elections this century and no Democrat has yet to propose a Constitutional amendment abolishing it.

Why? Because the Electoral College helps uphold a shabby duopoly-based election system.

Don't expect that to change any time soon.

A few more states did adopt initiatives for non-partisan redistricting commissions Tuesday. That's a step forward.

Much bigger step forward is Maine's first use of ranked-choice voting and Fargo, North Dakota, OKing approval voting.

Voting options like these or proportional representation are key to breaking the duopoly-driven system.

Here in Texas, Democrats did some gap-narrowing in the state House, and a little bit of that in the state Senate. A "Joe Straus Republican" like Dennis Bonnen may be tempted to throw his hat in the Speaker's race now. Dan Patrick and most other statewide Repugs will probably ignore the narrowness of their victories, though, and go about business as usual.

A few other notes.

Will you see a website URL like "" pop up soon? Odds are ... 50-50.

With his fourth loss in an election, maybe we'll finally get to say goodbye for good to #Fauxgressive Randy Bryce, aka Iron Stache. Maybe the Down with Tyranny folks will eat crow and admit that he was one of those DCCC "anointed" candidates that Howie and the gang claim to generally despise.

With a Pelosi returning as Speaker, and geriatric Dems like Betty Crocker, I mean Dianne Feinstein, still holding many top House and Senate spots, the ripple of 2018 doesn't hold a lot of promise for 2020 for left-liberals and beyond.

Greens have their work cut out. And need to start cutting. State Green parties have work ahead.

Besides candidate based votes, some other issues were interesting. Californians fought off an attempt by Big Oil to gut new gas taxes in the state. Colorado voters split, rejecting a proposition to increase property setbacks for oil and gas drilling, but also rejecting an amendment to allow suits over "takings" related to oil and gas regulation. Three states OKed Obamacare-related Medicaid expansion, among a raft of other state ballot initiatives. Michigan OKed pot and Missouri OKed medical marijuana. Missouri and Arkansas passed state minimum wage hikes, though I'm sure both did so without COLAs, something I've long called for.


Here in Texas, the one big takeaway?

Not Beto's near win.

Rather, Abbott's margin of victory.

Most top statewide Republican candidates had a margin of victory closer to that of Ted Cruz over Beto O'Rourke than that of Greg Abbott over Lupe Valdez. Why?

Abbott is "locked down," for one thing. He's almost as nutbar on policy positions as Patrick, but manages to hide it. Other than his big lawsuit settlement then pulling up the tort reform ladder, he's nowhere near the grifter that Paxton is. And, he's not an open racist, unlike Sid Miller.

The one other person that is none of these things among top GOPers is Comptroller Glenn Hegar. His office has the potential to be less politicized, tis true. But also, other than pushing the envelope on budget numbers, Hegar, even if he is as much a social conservative nutbar as Patrick, is as locked down as Abbott.

Pee Bush did more poorly than Abbott for two other reasons — he's playing with Alamo fire and he's a Bush.

Also, Abbott drew the long straw in weak opponents, versus Patrick, Miller and Paxton.

Second biggest take? Either Beto's semi-success or else Ed Emmett being unable to survive the blue wave as Harris County Judge.

Third take? Per David Bruce Collins' comment, see his blog post about the increased ballot access hurdle for Greens.

November 06, 2018

TX Progressives are here for Election Day-related roundup

The Texas Progressive Alliance thanks everyone who worked to get out the vote in this election as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff took two looks at the statewide judicial races.

SocraticGadfly, returned from a recent vacation, takes a look at a major nature and environment issue that fired up up opposition to Trump — the Bears Ears downsizing — and offers his thoughts on the value of the original national monument site vs critics of several angles and things that could make it even better.


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

John Coby hears the sounds of silence.

TransGriot celebrates the election of two trans women in Alaska.

Juanita is over Michael Avenatti.

Linus Owens explores the rise in popularity of Halloween among adults.

BeyondBones reports on the origins of some Halloween traditions.

Therese Odell leavens the politics with some Game of Thrones news.

November 05, 2018

Final pre-election thoughts

First, here in Texas, per Kuff and others, I expect a fair, but not necessarily humongous, turnout on election day. We've already, through early voting alone, broken all state midterm election numbers. And, Texas isn't alone on that. How this surge benefits, and whomever it does, are still TBD.

I expect Texas to wind up with turnout halfway between a midterm and a general election. Will Beto O'Rourke get enough suburbanites in metro ring counties to augment a moderate but not (yet?) huge Hispanic surge? Possibly. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins on a plurality, with Libertarian Neal Dikeman getting some late votes from people disgusted at Cruz.

Will the surge helps others? The two unscientific polls at right expect Lupe Valdez to get smoked by Greg Abbott worse than Wendy Davis, not just worse than Bill White. Her only chance of not doing that badly is flying so low under the radar to pick up votes on the sly.

Nationally? I expect Dems to regain control of the House with a 10-12 seat margin. Senate? I guess it remains 51-49. An interesting way that happens? Sinema, Rosen and O'Rourke flip seats to Democrats while Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin lose theirs. In both cases, the first two are more likely than the third.

Texas Lege? I predict Senate stays 21-10 while House tightens to something like 90-60. That might be enough tightening for a Dennis Bonnen to jump in the race and represent the Joe Straus faction in the Speakership hunt.

The House projections looked at least silver if not gold. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Trib was saying at least four seats had been flipped. Per Kuff, we've got a 12-seat flip, it seems.