SocraticGadfly: 11/18/18 - 11/25/18

November 23, 2018

Fighting back against Big Ag on
climate change and clean meat

The cattle-ranching segment of Big Ag is putting out more and more stories, including on places like The Conversation, about how they can actually be part of healthy ecosystems.

One statement is that, if cattle didn't graze grasslands unfit for farming, who or what would?

Bison and pronghorns, for starters off the top of my head. Bison, at least, are likely parts of healthier prairie ecosystems than cattle. Badgers, rabbits and hares, with a bit more thought.

Elk, which used to populate the Great Plains second only to bison. Mule deer.

Especially if all of them were parts of a grazing rotation, it would be much healthier for grasslands, especially mixed-height and shortgrass prairie, than would be cows. Plus, such animals aren't fattened on corn at the end of their lives, meaning more for people to eat.

Bison could be large-scale ranched, if we wanted to commercialize some of that. But, per Ted Turner's dream, much of the land could be made a buffalo commons.

Ditto in intermountain valleys and such. Let either desert or mountain bighorns do some repopulation.

For anything other than ranched bison, hunters who want new opportunities would now have them. (Ideally, they'd be competing with some reintroduced wolves.)

Beyond that, of course, the Big Ag flackers, whether at universities with major ag programs within the land-grant system, ranchers' groups, or elsewhere, don't note that only a small portion of the beef of today is grass-fed. Most of it starts its life on grass, of course, but then gets sent to a feedlot to eat corn, and maybe some soybeans. Not grass at all. (Note: Some commercial bison meat is also finished on corn; look for grass-fed labels on it, too, and avoid what isn't so labeled.)

November 22, 2018

Dealey Plaza at 55: JFK's still dead,
Camelot's still a myth, conspiracy theories still untrue

Eleven years ago, I had one of my more interesting Thanksgiving Days. For newspaper-related reasons, I stayed in Dallas, having a high school football game to cover that Saturday morning for my suburban weekly newspaper. Otherwise, with it being a four-day weekend, and having off both Thursday and Friday, I would have done what I've done many previous years, and skedaddled out to Big Bend. (Nice fall colors this time of year, and the hot spring is at just the right temperature for late November.)

Making lemons out of lemonade, I went to downtown Dallas and Dealey Plaza. I'd been there before, sometimes just walking by, and a couple of times, not too long after I had moved to the Metroplex, specifically to check out John F. Kennedy assassination related visitors and groups. I had been to the Sixth Floor Museum.

Visiting on an actual anniversary was a bit different. Part of the fun was watching different conspiracy theorists proselytize each other as well as the general public.

But, per the title of this piece?

Didn't happen that way.

Lee Harvey Oswald. Acting alone. With one non-magical, non-pristine "double hit" bullet, as I call it, being Oswald's third shot. And, per both Bugliosi and Posner, the only major thing the Warren Commission got wrong is that the first shot was the one that missed everyone, and the second shot was the double hit bullet.

"But Connelly says otherwise!"

He's wrong. And he illustrates the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, especially under high stress.
As for conspiracy claims?

Lyndon B. Johnson was too depressed to have masterminded a conspiracy. His depression at not only feeling useless, but laughed at by many Kennedy insiders, while stuck in the Vice Presidency, is well documented by Robert Caro and many others.

Castro? Way too smart for that. He knew that a Kennedy assassination that could be traced back to him would mean war, not just CIA pinpricks.

The Mafia? Nope. Via exploiting Judith Exner or other means, Sam Giancana and other mobsters, had they wanted, would have been blackmailing Kennedy, not shooting him.

Oswald as a Soviet tool? Not likely. No more likely than Vladimir Putin would have picked Donald Trump if he really could control the 2016 presidential election to that degree, and for similar reasons.
The CIA? Only if one believes the Camelot myth that Jack was going to unilaterally withdraw from Vietnam. It's certain that any serious troop reductions, setting aside a full withdrawal, would not have happened until after he was re-elected. In fact, per a National Security Action memorandum of October 1963, Kennedy was on the record of supporting actions up to 50 kilometers inside Laos. Hardly the mindset of pulling out of Vietnam.

And, with South Vietnam spiraling downward after the coup against President Ngo Dinh Diem just weeks before Kennedy's assassination, might have led him to push that further back. And a Kennedy "family plan" to run brother Bobby for the presidency in 1968 might have meant that Jack tried to finesse Vietnam through that election.  More on that below.

The disbelief that a "lone nut" could do such a thing? Squeaky Fromme nearly killed President Gerald Ford from just feet away a dozen years later. John Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Camelot also assumes that Kennedy would have beaten Barry Goldwater as badly as LBJ did in reality. The fact is that Kennedy's popularity had been trending downward throughout 1963. That, combined with a fractious Texas Democratic Party, was why he was in Dallas. Without an unpassed, strengthened-by-LBJ blockbuster Civil Rights Act, Goldwater might not have made as many gaffes as he did. Camelot mythos also ignores that JFK may have been America's first neolib president.

This is part of why I took Consortium News and its JFK conspiracy theorist founder, and present members, off my blogroll.

It's also why I have mocked the whole JFK conspiracy theory enterprise by inventing fake conspiracy theories, if that doesn't sound oxymoronic.

November 20, 2018

TX Progressives offer pre-turkey roundup

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at the results of the Congressional races to find some themes about what happened and what we can learn from them.

SocraticGadfly remembers the centenary of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Along with indulging in counterfactual history, he says people should stop romancing war in general.

As the results of the 2018 election are still being finalized, TexasLeftist
is pretty sure that the Georgia Governor’s race will be remembered as one of the most important of this cycle.  Though Democrat Stacey Abrams has ended her historic campaign, the work she does to combat Voter Suppression will have a lasting national impact.


Better Texas Blog explains the spending cap that the Legislature adheres to.

David Bruce Collins is down with the Movement for a People’s Party.

Houston Justice League reports from the NAACP Houston chapter elections.

Houston Legal has the details of the public reprimand issued by the State Bar of Texas against former Harris County GOP Chair and notorious homophobe Jared Woodfill.

Nonsequiteuse urges Beto O'Rourke to take another run for the Senate in 2020.

Paradise in Hell tells you more than you needed to know about Trumpy Bear.

Dan Solomon is satisfied with how the Amazon HQ2 thing turned out.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze talks about a secret “black folks tunnel” entrance to the State Fair.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze talks about a secret “black folks tunnel” entrance to the State Fair.

Schutze also discusses how many small water dams in Texas At the Dallas Observer, have individual homeowners on the hook if they fail.

Grits for Breakfast calls on Congress to pass the First Step Act.

November 19, 2018

Texas high-speed rail: Teriffic, or turkey?

The Texas Trib has a half-good story about the problems facing high-speed rail between Dallas and Houston. It's half-bad, though, in that it never mentions HSR backers are choosing the wrong route, and should be following Texas 6 from Houston to Waco, then I-35, rather than following I-45.

Brains and I are had a back and forth on a post of his, and I eventually decided to break this out into a new blog post. He's right that the current folks have this specific route set; I can still call a turkey a turkey, though.

And, I've called it a turkey, or potentially so, since the initial route discussions began, when I saw it leaning this way.

In addition, while I've criticized California's HSR plans for having too many stations too close, adding just one, for Waco, doesn't seem dumb, especially if you've got one already planning allegedly for College Station but actually 30 miles away, and also allegedly going to serve Sam Houston State and the rest of Huntsville. [One wonders who holds land near that area. If Texas HSR followed something like the Cal plan, Huntsville would have a spur line, fast but not real HSR, built to either College Station or Houston. Or the Woodlands — Cal HSR will have stops in both LA and Anaheim; a Woodlands stop in greater Helltown might me more smart than dumb, as a parallel.] Beyond that, specifics of the Dallas and Houston terminals are dumb enough this project is going to be a turkey for those reasons too, IMO. The Trib notes the Houston stop is a mile from a bus station and nowhere near light rail; the Dallas stop (admirably on the south side of the Trinity) is a 15-minute walk from light rail. In addition, I'm not sure how well this will connect, or be connected to, the T, to have some sort of link to Fort Worth.

More talk from me in the past here, and more from Brains here.

The latest on California's HSR building progress and setbacks here.

And, that piece is a biggie. While Texas won't have the same amount of legal delays, it will still have some. They're going to delay it and add to the price. Since this is all-private, unlike California, will they be prepared?