January 12, 2019

Ted Rall hits one of his more wrong moments on minimum wage

Besides not fully understanding the First Amendment (charitable version) or being a sort of butt-hurt solipsist (less charitable but more realistic version, based on a long past history of his) in his suit against the LA Times for canning him, petulancy that is now nearly 18 years old (go here for my take on Popehat's takedown), Ted Rall has other moments a-plenty of flat-out wrongness about American issues.

(Notably, the cluelessness is more often about domestic issues. When he takes controversial stands on foreign policy, he's relatively more likely to be right. Not that that means a whole lot.)

His latest? Per the above cartoon? Saying the US "really" should have a $25/hour minimum wage, or "really really" should have one of $80 an hour. Ted has since doubled down on the BS in his most recent syndicated column.
According to ... ShadowStats.com [no actual link to individual piece by Ted] $22 in 2013 comes to at least $35 today.
It does not, except in such a seemingly febrile mind. The idea that an actual inflation rate, per CPI (and not core CPI) which has not gone over 2.1 percent anywhere in the 2014-18 period and had an average during that time of just 1.52 percent, is "really" 10 percent is bullshit. It's like claiming that not only is the Department of Labor's official unemployment rate of 3.9 percent on the U-3 numbers is wrong (and it is), but that the U-6 numbers of 7.6 percent are also wrong, and the "real" unemployment in the US is 15 percent or more.

So, IF I accept Ted's claim that we "really" (that's going in scare quotes every time now, Ted) "should" (ditto) have had a minimum wage of $22 an hour in 2013, your $35 an hour in 2019 still doesn't follow. Per actual CPI, that minimum wage should be $23.71. Even if you claim the CPI is wrong by 100 percent? That minimum wage should still be just $25.44.

His Gollum-precious ShadowStats, to be a bit more generous, claimed an inflation rate of almost 10 percent in 2011, Ted. That's just triple the official CPI for the year of 3.0 percent. So, let's do this once more, tripling the CPI for each year of 2014, normal compounding (unless Ted has some "shadow compounding" to pull out of somewhere) and see what we have.

We still "really" only get up to $27.47.

At this point, Ted is clearly, from my perspective, pulling numbers out of either thin air or his ass. Your choice as to which, Ted. Oh, and to punk and troll Ted just a bit more, your precious ShadowStats is behind a capitalist paywall. Oh, you running dog capitalist lackey.

Speaking of? Ted, if you "really" cared about minimum wage and related employee issues, you wouldn't have donations to you laundered through a charity with heavy ties to USPIRG and to Fund for the Public Interest, which has been successfully (not SLAPP-reverse failed) sued multiple times for employment law violations. And yes, Ted and fanbois, your final stop laundromat, Sustainable Markets Foundation, has just such connections. Not to mention having the word "markets" in its title.

I've broken up my Twitter thread related to his individual cartoon about his stupidity into individual tweets, with bits of commentary in between.
Wishes and reality are two different things, Ted, just as your LA Times suit has shown. I won't repeat old jokes about having one thing in one hand and another in the other.
Also not the first or last time she's been wrong. That said, on this particular issue, per her past, she should know better than Ted for a reason I'll note below.
I am going to post that chart I am talking about, to give us a clear visual.

Seems pretty clear to me, at least.

We should also note that the web post I linked to cites the Economic Policy Institute for some of its discussion. The EPI bats left of center on economic issues in general, so don't claim that I am citing some sort of wingnut piece. 

Tis true that one's a few years old, but here's a table that runs through 2018 that says the same.

We are now at the point where Ted is simply phoning it in.
And, that's the refudiation, nickel version, to Ted phoning it in.
Actually, not true, but the Tweet stays, to tie in with my point above.

Warren, of course, grew up in small-town Oklahoma, which means that on the sociological side, she has even less excuse than Rall for such uninformed blather.

My stance comes in this last tweet:
I don't know exactly how Oregon defines urban, suburban and rural in its law. Here in Texas, would Collin County be urban or suburban? Grayson County or Hunt Count suburban or rural? The idea is correct in general, though.

After we get something like that nationally? We then, per that table and graph above, institute a COLA. I faulted Nancy Pelosi for not doing that when she and her House Dems last raised the minimum wage.

As for Rall? In this case, in my opinion, it's not "just" the mix of laziness and willfulness that characterizes many of his columns, as well as both the content and drawing style of his cartoons.

I personally can't see this one as anything but deliberate lying. The statistics are out there in factual form, not Rall's distorted versions.

That's only increased by Rall's response on Twitter that he spends plenty of time in small town America. Then, in addition to telling apparent lies about the minimum wage, he doesn't actually care about small-town America, I guess. He's either exaggerating downward the size of places he's visited or else engaged in other exaggeration. Given his clear misstatements on the actuality of the minimum wage, whatever the exaggeration, IMO it's surely deliberate, though.

The per-capital income for the entire state of Mississippi is about $23,000, Median HOUSEHOLD income is about $43,000, less than one person working full time at $22/hour, Ted. So, if you "really" spend a lot of time in small-town America, you haven't "really" learned anything about "real" economic stats you "should" know.

In other words? Ted, I don't trust you. And others who do, the remaining fanboys, shouldn't.

(And, speaking of, per your suit against the LA Times? THIS is why they don't carry you any more. Idiotic mendacities and made-up information.)

Let's look at his past, too.

Among Ted's other larger mistakes in both domestic and foreign affairs?

The biggest was his whopper claiming Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 actually landed safe and sound in Kazakhstan, which he doubled down on for some time.

Then there was claiming Glenn Greenwald is a liberal. (He's become more librul on some things, but like Mark Ames and others, I consider him a libertarian just like his boss, Omidyar.)

Other ideas of his, which sounded deeply different at the time just sound dumb now. Like drafting cops. (That would probably also be unconstitutional, or very close to it. Certainly a violation of the spirit of the 13th Amendment.)

I used to halfway agree with his ideas on abortion, but have moved away from that now. Semantically, he's probably wrong, if he's going to stick that route, on using "murder" rather than "manslaughter" in many such cases. "Human life" may not be defined — or definable — as starkly as he would have it, either.

Trivialization by hyperbole is what he does here, is perhaps the best way to explain it.

Or else, gotcha by outrageous statement, like some of his editorial cartoons.

Basically, because he had, pre-9/11, traveled to Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, and had good insights overall on invading Afghanistan, and because he pissed off Hillbots already in 2008, I read him fairly credulously until the Flight 370 and Greenwald. The flight issue, and his stubbornness revealed on it, showed a new side. Then, per the Popehat link up top, I learned a lot more about him in comments there.

(I'm also in the middle of reading a book about pre 9/11 travels to Afghanistan that is almost certainly more realistic than whatever Rall wrote.)

Finally, if Warren made such idiotic claims, then, as a member of the really reality-based community, I see that as another strike against her presidential campaign. (Hiring Hillary Clinton's 2016 communications team would be another.)


This reminds me — once or twice a year I do a blog post when I do a major blogroll cleanup. Maybe I need to do one explaining those who I keep, even or especially when I disagree with them a fair amount.

January 11, 2019

Early 2020 Democratic presidential oddsmaking, desirability

Yeah, yeah.

On one hand, it's way too early for this, amirite?

(Updated regularly, most recently, March 4. Updates include changes in "like factor" and more.)

I am right, per John Dickerson:
Presidential hopefuls used to declare their candidacy in a single speech; now the process is drawn out with peekaboo hints, social-media announcements that lead to explorations, and talk-show teases. It’s like an Advent calendar, but no one gets a square of chocolate.
On the other hand, when a bland neoliberal Hispanic former mayor and former Obama cabinet backbencher named Julian Castro actually thinks he has a shot, no, not too early.

So, three things.

First, I'll give you oddsmaking.

Second, I'll give you his or her likely target audience.

Third, as a Green-leaner, I'll give a letter grade based on my take on the acceptability of their political stances and related issues.

Note: Odds may go over 100 percent total because they would change in reality with candidates dropping out, etc.

Note 2: I have written in-depth takes on selected candidates and will do more in the future. Where available, they're linked.

Note 3: A candidate's name in red means they've officially entered the race. A strike-through means they're officially out.

Note 4: I will also do one or more pieces rating candidates' websites. The first, rating women in the race by how pandering to women's gender stereotypes the websites are, is here.

And, since he liked mine, Gaius at Down with Tyranny also has a ratings/oddsmaking.

So, let's start, with ...

Julian Castro! [Officially declared candidates, and those with official exploratory committees are in red.] Odds: 0.1 percent. Target: People with the last name of Castro. Like factor: D. (Laughingly, Nate Silver calls Castro "a major candidate."

(Note: On people with perceived higher odds, I'll give more of a breakout. At least as much as for Julian in the paragraph above.) And so, in no particular further order ...

Joe Biden: Odds 10 percent. (Don't overestimate those early Iowa polls.) Biden has the pluses of being a better establishmentarian candidate than Hillary Clinton and ties to the Obama coattails, and may be seen as more progressive than is actually true. With both her and Bloomberg out, too, he's the only "establishmentarian" heavy hitter left. Minuses are being almost as old as Bernie Sanders, being gaffe-prone, being Sen-MBNA on bankruptcy tightening 15 years ago, and lots of #MeToo baggage beginning with but not limited to the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Target: DNC establishment and DNC superdelegates if a brokered convention happens. Like factor: D-minus.

Side observation, now that JoePa is in. Who's hurt? Probably Booker and Harris, to the degree they're seen as more "establishmentarian" than Sanders and Warren. Also, the more conservative young guns trio of Robert Francis Beto! O'Rourke, Mayor Pete and Mayor Julian.

Howard Schultz is also hurt, at least as a Dem candidate. He'll have to go the indy route now if he wants in.

Kamala Harris: Odds 12 percent. Has the pluses of being a minority and a woman both, especially in the MeToo era. Has baggage of outright ConservaDem past on criminal justice issues as Cal AG and playing footsie with Mnuchin outlet on banksters and Great Recession. Has advantage of limited Senate legislation paper trail. Go here for a good roundup of everything about Kamala the Cop; take some of the non-Cop bullet points with a grain of salt. Target: Slightly more liberal Cory Booker voters. Or is it the other way around? Like factor: C-minus and falling, in part due to Donut Twitter rallying to her. Her hypocrisy on smoking pot while later busting kids for it, as well as the lie about smoking pot to Tupac 7 years before his first album came out open her to further hypocrisy charges as well as pandering ones.)

Cory Booker: Odds 7 percent. Has pluses of being a minority. Has baggage of footsie with Big Pharma, of many "poseur" stances (he's a weathervane in a field filled with them), and lack of a Senate legislation paper trail for his length of time in office. Target: Slightly more conservative Kamala Harris voters. Or is it the other way around? Is working on "what to run for" issue by getting New Jersey Legislature to consider an "LBJ bill" so he can also file for Senate re-election. Like factor: D-minus, but perhaps moved up to a straight D.

Robert Francis O'Rourke: Odds: 10 percent. (And dropping as of Feb. 15. While he has some national name recognition, he's not Bernie Sanders, so he can't play Hamlet much longer.) Pluses include recent Senate campaign, Beltway stenos and even more, Beltway neoliberal think tanks rallying to him and vague "winnability" issue. Minusus include issue-free Senate campaign being exposed along with ConservaDem House record. Target: White Obamiacs from 2008 and 2012. Like factor: D-minus. (Per Stephen Young, expect an announcement by the end of January. And, Stephen was wrong, in part because Beto actually was tracing ancestral roots and never went to Iowa. Stay tuned.)

There's a lot of people who are already drinking his Kool-Aid, which started two months ago. Many doing so without even knowing he's a ConservaDem. The Twitter memes about "tough choice between Beto and Bernie" are ridiculously clueless.

I partially blame political ladder-climber Sema Hernandez for endorsing him last August even though he never did unequivocally endorse single-payer and even though there were plenty of other reasons to still see him as a ConservaDem.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Odds: 12 percent. Pluses include MeToo actions to the degree they were genuine and some actual legislation history. Plus/minus is "bipartisanship." Minuses include seemingly unsavory nature of pushing Al Franken out the door and ConservaDem past, especially on guns. Target: Conservative wing of 2016 Sanders voters plus women in general. Like factor: D.

Bernie Sanders: Odds: 16 percent. Pluses include previous campaign history, plus him moving slightly leftward again on foreign policy. (Wake me up a year from now re Israel and BDS issues, as well as the Venezuela coup.) Minuses include the downside of previous campaign history, plus no "Hillary voted for Iraq and spoke to Goldman Sachs" easy campaign targets. Minuses from a Green POV include that he's still way too much of a military Keynesian. Additional baggage of age. See my posts about him and F-35s. Additional baggage for some Dems of being a white male. Like factor: B-minus. (I'm not grading on a curve, but you can compare his grade with other Dems.) That said, he IS a Dem. See this new piece. Or click the Bernie tag below.

Sherrod Brown: Odds: 9 percent. Pluses include being from the Midwest, perception as a kinder, gentler Bernie Sanders and related matters. Minuses include no hot single issues from his Senate time, long enough for him to have developed one, and being more Fauxgressive than Progressive. Like factor: C-minus.

Michael Bloomberg: Odds: 1 percent. (This odds is as a Democrat only; I in no way rule out him making an independent run in the general election — even if he's chided Howard Schultz for thinking of that.) Political, if not real, pluses include perceived liberalism, especially on climate and environment through things such as the soda tax, claims to appeal to centrist independents in general election. Minuses include bankster background and everything related. Target: Democratic establishment, slightly more conservative Howard Schultz voters. Like factor? Hell,. F.

Howard Schultz: (In as independent, theoretically. Schwaffling after his annoucement.) Odds 1 percent. Pluses include perceived liberalism, history of Starbucks, connections with Starbucks patrons. Minuses include downside of Starbucks history, especially with black patrons. Target: Dem establishment, slightly more liberal Michael Bloomberg voters. Like factor: D and dropping like a fricking rock. (I had colored him red, but given the amount of nuancing he was doing 48 hours after his 60 Minutes, he's back in black.)

Elizabeth Warren: Odds 8 percent. Pluses? A woman in the MeToo era, perceived as liberal to left-liberal economically. Minuses include her Cherokee Nation baggage, that she's not as liberal on as many things as believed and that she's anti-BDS. Also, per her "I'm having a beer" NYE Instagram video, a too-transparent sense of earnestness, possibly coupled with a too-transparent sense of pandering to Millennials with that as an Instagram rather than Facebook video. Additional minus is that she reportedly has hired comms staff from Hillary 2016. Politically unastute plus they were hacks. Like factor? C-minus (and dropping with the Hillary news). Thanks to Daily Wire or whoever gave that graphic to somebody connected to Trump, who then Tweeted it.

Steve Bullock: Odds: 3 percent. Pluses include being a governor, and thus an executive and also thus, no Senate paper trail. Minuses start with being a moderate white male. Target: New Dems in general, and specifically, ones who want to target the heartland, and slightly more conservative John Hickenlooper candidates. Does have a potent issue on campaign finance, but in a year of "no PACs" candidates, could be drowned out. Like factor: C. Now in, and the late start means his odds are probably less than 3 percent.

John Hickenlooper: Odds: 4 percent. Pluses include being a governor of a larger, more purplish state than Montana, and thus an executive and also thus, no Senate paper trail. Minuses are more prominent than Bullock's and include his in-the-tank support for fracking, plus his 2008 DNC actions while Denver mayor for those with longer memories. Target: New Dems in general, and specifically, ones who want to target the heartland, and slightly more liberal Steve Bullock voters. Like factor: D-minus.

John Delaney: Odds: Less than Julian Castro. Pluses besides being first to file? None. Minusus? Bland older white guy from exurban Congressional district. Plus/minus: Looks like a bald, blander Will Ferrell. Target: Cabinet position in next Dem presidency and staying in longer than Julian Castro. Like factor: Not even registered. But, the fact that he's worth at least $92M is registered.

Jay Inslee: Odds: 9 percent. Pluses include being a governor and one with more liberal stances on climate issues than Bullock or Hickenlooper. Plugged in more than either of them as well. Minuses include relatively unknown level to many Democrats, being from a fairly "safe" state and not a huge record. Like factor: C.

Tim Ryan: Odds: 3 percent Less than Pete Buttigieg. Pluses include perception of willingness to take on House Dem establishment. Minuses will include his Blue Dog-ish record and trying to run from the House, as well as "Mayor Pete" beating him to the punch. Not to mention he's a New Ager lite. Like factor: D.

Tulsi Gabbard: Odds: 4 percent. Political pluses (note that caveat) include Sanders connections, especially if he does not run, a Kool-Aid stronger than Beto's, perhaps, and definite support from people like H.A. Goodman who haven't done the full Bernie-to-Trump but are definitely the conservative faction of BernieBros. General pluses are willingness to take on Dem establishment. Minuses are basically everything I've said above under political pluses plus the fact she still, Kool-Aid drinkers aside, appears to back Islamophobia, and that she's as much a political re-inventor as Trump. That's all true, and I've blogged about her Hindu nationalist fascist bromance three full years ago, and now, like Beto, about her Kool-Aid drinkers plus Kool-Aid brewer Michael Tracey. Targets: The conservative portion of the Sanders movement. Like factor: D-plus.

Jeff Merkley: Odds: 3 percent. Pluses include being a general progressive for a Democrat and good on climate change in particular. Minuses include being no more than a typical progressive Dem on foreign policy. Target: Sanders voters. Like factor: C-plus.

Hillary Clinton: Odds: 2 percent. (Yes, that high.) Pluses include support of think tanks, Donut Twitter, diehard PUMAs, etc. Minuses include being Hillary Clinton and her past campaign baggage, both 2008 primaries and 2016 general. Additional baggage of age. Target: 2016 Hillary Clinton voters plus a few more voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Like factor: F-minus.

Amy Klobuchar: Odds: 1 percent. Pluses? Lemme think. Minuses would be being behind two or three other women senators and being older than two of them, as well as being seen as less progressive than all three. Target: Hillary Clinton backers who wouldn't vote for one of those other women, along with masochistic lower-level white collar employees who love sadistic bosses. Like factor: D.

Terry McAuliffe: Odds: More than Julian Castro and John Delaney, less than anybody else. Pluses: Was a governor. Minuses: Way too much personal political baggage plus way too much Clintonista baggage. Target audience: Clintonistas.

Marianne Williamson: Odds: Not a ghost of a chance or even a New Agey ghost of a chance. (I'd forgotten that there had been noises about her until she was mentioned on someone else's blog. But she even has an exploratory committee and website.) Pluses: Not a politician. She has, though, made extensive donations, mainly to progressive Dems but also to ConservaDems like Jon Ossoff and Doug Jones. "Peace" imagery. Minuses: All her baggage as a New Age nutter. Target audience: People who think "A Course in Miracles" is real. Like factor: Probably on the non-New Agey angle, a B-minus; including it, a D-minus. Her campaign contributions do NOT include the Green Party, but do include the Natural Law Party. Nuff ced.

Yes, this is longer than for most candidates, but because, like Gabbard, she flies under the radar, and some of her positions are good. My full take is now up.


(That's not to say there aren't vanity candidates on the list already.)

Mayor Ballgag or Pete the Budgie, I mean South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg aka The Maltese Cross to Bear: Odds: The same exact percentage of Julian Castro's odds as South Bend's population is of San Antonio's. Target audience: The future Dem president who gives him a Cabinet seat/Indiana Dem Senate voters. Like factor: D-minus; worked for management vulture McKinsey for three years, for doorknob's sake. Has zero real accomplishments at South Bend and embroiled city in racial issues. No, seriously. Wikipedia. Here's more reasons, with a blog post written just to "out" Beto-Lite, why you shouldn't vote for him.

Eric Swalwell: Yes, a favorite of the collusion-heavy wing of Donut Twitter is hoping he runs. And he reportedly is giving it a thought or four. He's now in, and running on gunz control, realizing post-Mueller Report that collusion goes nowhere. He's Donut Twitter and a bigger vanity candidate than Pete Ballgag with even less to be vain about.


Further vanity candidates entering after May 15, and not among early speculation, are listed below, simply by name, with no assessment, because they ain't got shit on chances:
Bill de Blasio

Among actual or potential candidates with more of a chance, how do they affect each other? Brown is possibly the main beneficiary of Sanders not running, if Brown does. Gabbard is second (for now) and Warren a distant third. Bullock and Hickenlooper obviously affect each other; both affect and are affected by Inslee to a lesser extent. Booker and Harris, with both being minority candidates, and in somewhat similar political silos, affect each other. Gillibrand interplays with Warren and Harris, and Klobuchar if she runs, and possibly also with Sanders.

Booker and Harris are both in, of course. Speculation in my corner of Twitter thinks Booker drops back out first.

If O'Rourke runs, he probably benefits most from Booker, the only other younger charismatic male in the race, dropping out. Not sure who benefits most if Robert Francis runs then drops out.

The winnowing of these candidates will start with the first official debate in June, which will have a 20-candidate cutoff, should we get that many by then.


As of right now, I don't expect Sen. Amy Klobuchar to run. I don't expect any Democratic governors or ex-governors besides those mentioned above, from a thin Dem ranks in statehouses, to enter the race. I think Tom Steyer is less likely than Schultz or Bloomberg. (Update: Steyer has officially said he'd prefer to blow billions, if necessary, on trying to impeach Trump instead of potentially blowing billions on a prez campaign. And Klobuchar, for whatever reason, has decided to jump in, despite a thin and "bipartisan" Senate record and a kind of despicable personal one.)

I think other businesscritters are less likely yet.

And, that includes Mark Zuckerberg, who has too much Facebook mess to clean up in the next 12 months to have a chance. (Notice how buzz about his possible candidacy has died off in recent months?)


It's also "amazing" (not really) how narrowly the New York Times defined "diversity" in talking about possible candidates trying to get an early start. Sanders is a secularist of some sort, but there's no real atheists. Harris, despite her part-Indian ancestry, is Christian. Tulsi Gabbard is Hindu, of course. As noted above, none are "diverse" in terms of thinking outside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. None, despite Bernie's mild democratic socialism and falsely calling himself a socialist in 2016, is there any "diversity" outside of broad tenets of modern neoliberal-influenced capitalism.

There's certainly no huge diversity in governance issues. None of the Democratic candidates has talked about amending the Constitution to abolish the electoral college, despite two presidential split decisions this century. Certainly, none has promoted ideas such as any form of instant-runoff voting or proportional representation among their state's U.S. House or state legislature delegations.

Gallup has polled recent Democratic attitudes. Support for some sort of action on climate change is growing within all divisions. More and more whites identify as liberal than moderate and conservative combined. "Liberal" is also growing among blacks and Hispanics but at slower rates.


Finally, with Dem changes on superdelegates, is there some chance of a brokered convention? Yes, but not much Put it at 5 percent; note how wide open the GOP race was in 2016 but how much it converged well before the last round of primaries.


No, more finally. What about the Republicans?

Well, Bill Weld has now formed an exploratory committee. If he jumps full in, and if that temps John Kasich to jump full in, then you'll get something.

Update, April 15: He's officially entered.

All candidates for all parties, or independent filings, can be found at the FEC website. (It just takes a one-page form, that's it, so it attracts vanity candidates like bullshit draws flies.)

January 10, 2019

The Green New Deal vs The Green New Deal

Let's start this off by stipulating that the DSA roses' "Green New Deal" is a pale imitation of the Green Party's offering. Andrew Stewart also talks about the original Green New Deal at Counterpunch. Carl Beijer (who allegedly worked on two Nader campaigns) says, "but the Democrats are the first to talk about the global climate issue."

That may well be true.

At the same time, it's not "the Democrats," Carl; it's a small subsection of Democrats, not a party stance. And, per those links, we'll see how well that small segment does at avoiding being co-opted by national leadership.

Indeed, the face of the Roses, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has continued to move rightward since lauding John McCain and backing away from BDS-related issues, as this longform from Mint Press notes.

Mint Press focuses on the Green New Deal and how it is, at bottom, fauxgressive. It mentions things like entrepreneurialism and other neolib buzz words, and looks like it would be entirely open to a carbon cap-and-trade, not tax and tariff, as the primary government "tool." And, that is even before Speaker Pelosi guts it. The piece also notes the GND of the Roses is a plan to work on a plan much more than an actual plan.

OTOH, 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. OTTH (On the third hand) Beijer does a bit of shark-jumping for me when he claims that capitalism inexorably leads to fascism. There, he refuses to call himself a dialectical materialist, but does call himself a "historic materialist."

A difference that makes no diff, Carl. You're claiming to be a Commie, specifically of Marxist variety, not just a socialist. As I've said elsewhere, Marxism is bankrupt both scientifically and philosophically. Marx had basically no scientific data to back up his ideas (and economics was even less scientific then than today), and Hegelian dialectic is a bucket of warm shit within philosophical ideas. The Frankfurt school and other neo-Marxist ideas were better, but really, we need to shed these polarities, especially of Marxism vs fascism with nothing in between. We even, IMO, need to look beyond the lesser polarity of capitalism vs socialism (I mean socialism, not DSA or similar social democracy). Sadly, or worse than that — Beijer seems to be like others, whose general mindset I call out in that link — romancers of November 1917 Russia.

For New York Greens, Howie Hawkins gets that right when he notes that a real Green New Deal needs that, and adds that during World War II, with its analogies, FDR nationalized 25 percent of American industry. Speaking of, Stan Cox at Counterpunch notes that led to a massive new emission of carbon dioxide in his own call for a true Green New Deal to go beyond capitalism.

Andrew Stewart also remains skeptical of the AOC "wave election" and other things related to it.

Meanwhile, in "mainstream progressive" media, the likes of Emma Vigeland claims that John Cornyn supports a carbon tax (which she insinuates is in AOC's version of a Green New Deal). First, I found multiple examples from Cornyn's Twitter feed showing her wrong (and politely let her know). Second, per both Vox and Grist, it seems fairly clear that the nebulous GND proposed by AOC and allies doesn't have a carbon tax. Some of their think-tank allies are in outright opposition.

Per Grist, I don't see a massive expansion of renewables without a hammer of the carbon tax forcing it. Ending all onshore and offshore oil drilling on federal lands to try to force us out of internal combustion engines, or at least those without hybrid drives, won't do enough to #KeepItInTheGround in the US, let alone doing nothing about foreign oil. And, of course, that's where a carbon tariff (which the GND doesn't come close to mentioning) is part of the picture.

Finally, now that AOC has released her own Green New Deal document, it looks highly aspirational. No carbon tax or other sticks to go with carrots. No real estimate of costs. These are going to be questions that need to be answered, issues that need to be addressed. Carl Beijer notes this, in noting AOC's document does discuss "funding" with no talk about real costs. The Green Party has also weighed in, saying it has fossil fuel industry loopholes. Michael Grunwald has another critique. That is that the manifesto is a laundry list grab back. Agreed! Prioritization is important. For example, were I president? Climate change and national healthcare would be the top priorities. A step below that would be a minimum wage hike. Other things fall yet lower.

As for the cost? Contra a Reason claim of $7 trillion, this Stanford study goes much lower, without specific final numbers. Among other things, it says that reduced electric generation costs would offset some of the construction and installation costs. I'm going to say $3 trillion over a time period until 2040 rather than 2030, and scrapping some localization issues of the Stanford study. Still pricey? Yes, but not THAT pricey. At $150 billion/year, less than half of DoD's budget.


The biggest of "allies," or actually a progenitor, is the Sunrise Movement. Its homepage looks even whiter than the Green Party, despite its acknowledgement that much of climate change will hit poor of all ethnicities and especially minorities. The ambitious goals it lists, per the New Yorker, seem unobtainable without major funding for it. Major funding. And a carbon tax would help until much of this was in place. But ... like AOC, so far,  heavy on aspiration, light on perspiration.

If even more tax credits to renewables is a small part of the deal, fine. But, that alone won't lead to a ramp-up of the size needed to get us driving electric vehicles, as well as running our computers on renewable electricity. And, what about the Dick Cheney sneered-at "conservation"? What if we can't ramp up car batteries without massive environmental degradation? What if, in some ways, the world has peaked? I'm leery, from seeing things like a "smart grid" touted as a major part of the solution (overhauls of the current electric grid ARE needed, but the grid is already relatively smart as far as "switching") that we've got a dollop or three of salvific technologism running around here.

I am also distrustful of any organization which won't list its leadership on its website. Some of the founders claim inspiration from the Occupy movement, or Black Lives Matters. In both cases, we see what has happened with actual or alleged lack of leadership. The original Occupy at Zucotti Park had leadership, despite denials; I've written about that before. Black Lives Matter truly appears to be more leaderless, and by 2020, will probably have dissipated much of its original energy. (In fact, co-founder Evan Weber was part of Occupy. At least he admits it had leadership problems. The real truth is Occupy had leaders who tried to get others to believe the leaderlessness myth. It eventually sold out to Wall Street; remember that, when you see $20 T-shirts; a Sunrise Occupy-style debit card could be next. Occupy also had a 1 percenter problem.

Also, none of the Sunrise Movement have acknowledged ripping off the Green Party, or even really acknowledged its existence. Related big question: If there's a ConservaDem in a general election, after a failed primarying attempt, will it endorse Greens when they're running? SPUSAers or whomever, if Greens aren't available in a particular district?

I sent a second direct question to Sunrise after first indirectly tagging after starting work on this piece. We'll see what, if any, response I get. Don't believe me? Twitter link and screengrab. Account started in 2013. Wikipedia information? Organization started in 2017.

Reality, per Wikipedia? It's a youth front of Sierra Club that sat around and did nothing, it seems, for four years. And, people who have been long-term readers know what I think of Sierra in particular and Gang Green environmental groups in general. And, that explains why it hasn't credited the Green Party.

And more research. Stephen O'Hanlon's Downingtown is semi-ritzy. The man I presume is his dad would appear to have a ritzy yet small-scale law practice.

And, at least one claim, per its Twitter feed? To eliminate all greenhouse gases by 2030? Since cow farts are greenhouse gases, unless Sunrise makes the entire country vegetarian, that simply ain't happening.

But, per the tweet embedded below, that is exactly the claim.
I also find it interesting that Sunrise Movement's Twitter account says it was started in September 2013 ... which is long before the Sunrise Movement was allegedly started. (Both the "@" and the actual name are Sunrise-related, as you can see in the embedded Tweet, so it's not like it originally started as something else.

Finally, do not cite Modern Monetary Theory as a magic wand to pay for all of this. (I'm not specifically referring to the Sunshine Movement here.) I consider that some left-liberals, and a few leftists, version of snake oil or voodoo economics. Unless you find a magic way to eliminate the bond market as well, it doesn't work that way. It's one of my biggest disagreements with Michael Hudson, for the amount of good he has to say otherwise on economics.

Finally, none of this distinction between the GREEN New Deal and the Green New Deal matters as much, arguably, as the fact that Speaker Pelosi and House Democratic leadership allies of hers gutted the powers and mandate of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. (Update, Feb. 7: Pelosi has left AOC off the committee.)

And, the chair of that committee, Kathy Castor, is now talking about how "woke" Dear Leader was on climate change in his 2009 stimulus bill. Since that bill fell short on stimulus help, let's be honest and note that while it did "something" green, the something it did was entirely neoliberal, markets focused. (Of course, per all of the above, the AOC GND has too much of that itself.)

Update, Feb. 22: The New Republic, of all places, not a leftist outfit, now asks if some Dems (not necessarily AOC) are deliberately trying to steal Greens' thunder.

January 08, 2019

The Dallas Morning News is Snoozing toward Gomorrah

Having spent most of the previous decade at a group of suburban Dallas weeklies, I'm long familiar with the Morning News and have long called it the Snooze.

A $24.99 T-shirt that used to be, at least, on sale
at the Snooze Store! And, since the pic is off a
hyperlink, not direct upload, presumably the, no THE,
Dallas Morning News is still engaged in late-stage
capitalism grifting.
A.H. Belo long liked to pretend its shit didn't stink, even as it dumped some whoppers, starting with the Cue Cat! As I noted in one post, that was just one of many stupidities in the online world, detailed again here. Or here, where a former Google exec presumed Snooze readers would be unaware of the existence of AdBlock. (I know this "ads-free viewing" is still around today, but often with "hard" screens if you either don't pay or else don't turn off AdBlock. OTOH, many other places, like the Snooze then, had "soft" tut-tut screens.)

Those stupidities have real-world effect.

It's whacked another 40-plus people as ad sales continue to slip. (A 7.5 percent adhole on Christmas Eve, per my tracking of them, is horrendous, so this isn't a made-up problem. And, as is my wont, that counts obits as adhole inches.)

That's not the worst.

Giving 40 top execs $1.2 million in bonuses for a good financial management job achieved in part by whacking people? SEC link here.

THAT is the worst.

But, unsurprising. Also not surprising is the hypocrisy of publisher Grant Moise with his hand-wringing, when he got nearly $500K in stock options, bonuses and that management goals compensation — that alone being $250K. CFO Katy Murray got $100K just for the realignment. (And, this isn't the first time this issue has popped up.)

Weird are some of the positions that were NOT cut until this round. Example? The Snooze killed its Sunday book review pages, part of what used to be a full-section Sunday Review, a decade ago. But, it still had a books editor, even if part-time or freelance?

Sidebar: This may, or may not, be connected to a hedge fund buying a chunk of the Snooze. And, if you thought the paper already was slouching toward Gomorrah, that would be the kiss of death.

Three years ago, I looked at the background of executive editor Mike Wilson and managing editor Robyn Tomlin and saw beancounters at bottom. More on Tomlin here.

Meanwhile, as late as the most recent election, its op-ed stances continued to dig in determinedly into the right-hand batter's box only, despite all of Dallas County clearly tilting blue now, and the first ring of suburbs in Collin getting at least a tint of purple.

And, the Snooze has less and less room for further error.

Having outsourced its pagination to Gatehouse 18 months ago, there are no copy editor jobs to cut.

If selling the old Belo building, per the story about the layoffs, was predicated on Amazon HQ2 coming to Dallas, does that mean it's not attracting other offers? Sounds like it. (Jim Schutze has now given some kind of confirmation to this idea, that the Snooze was indeed hoping to roll the Belo Building over to Bezos.)

There are no papers left in Belo besides the Snooze itself and other Dallas properties. (Some in Dallas died in failed experiments almost as bad as paywall cluelessness. And the Denton Record-Chronicle disentangled itself from the Snooze last year.)

A third stab at a paywall may, or may not, be successful. The reporter says the paper is still losing circ as well as ad revenue, which means that online subscriptions, if they are moving upward, aren't having a huge effect, at least not yet.

And, the story itself is a bit dishonest, saying the cuts are 4 percent of the Snooze's Belo parent's workforce. They're far more than 4 percent of the people at the Snooze.

As for re-invention? The Snooze has been doing that for almost a decade.


That said, this is the worst ... that I know of.

I first saw Matt's link by a quote-tweet of a quote-tweet:
Hixenbaugh works at the Chronicle, which has had its share of controversial layoffs, even as it claims to still be making money, and even as it's owned by Hearst, which being privately traded, doesn't have to tell the SEC what sort of bonuses its execs get and why.

January 07, 2019

Texas Progressives offer first hot take on 2019

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy and healthy new year — and 181 Texas Legiscritters a spring of common sense — as it brings you the first roundup of 2019.

 Off the Kuff took a closer look at how the candidates for Harris County offices did in 2018.

 SocraticGadfly made a New Year's resolution for other people: stop reading self-help books and the late-stage capitalism they're predicated on.

Here are some posts of interest from other blogs and news sites.

Alex Jones tops this year’s Bum Steer Awards from Texas Monthly.

Daniel Williams shares his research on the effect of ballot length on voter turnout.

Better Texas Blog explains the Comptroller's revenue estimate.

Texas Tribune reports that, in the wake of an inconclusive investigation into sexting from his cell phone’s number, state Sen. Charles Schwertner is giving up his committee chairmanship.

Elise Hu presents her New Year's resolutions.

Is it a hypocrisy smash-up? Texas Observer describes how many MAGA-heavy Panhandle towns would be dying — except for an influx of immigration.

The Texas Living Waters Project has New Year's resolutions for all of us on water conservation.

At the Dallas Observer, taking an insightful contrarian stance in the wake of the Amber Geyger and Bothell Jean case, Jim Schutze explains how, on police shootings, officers face sometimes-tough legal circumstances.

Juanita is already done with the lies about SNAP.

BeyondBones shares a piece of local TV history.

David Bruce Collins discusses his trip to Big Bend.

The Waco Trib reports on Barry Johnson replacing Abel Reyna as McLennan DA.

The Green Party, national and Pennsylvania state versions, hoists itself by its own decentralization key value petard in calling for the UN to take over cleanup at Japan's Fukushima reactors.

Alternative history: Nixon picks Rocky or Ronnie, not Jerry

In 1973, after Ted Agnew resigned as Nixon's Veep as part of his plea deal on his income tax evasion charges, Tricky Dick was the first president — and the only to date, of course — to exercise the portion of the 25th Amendment on filling a vice presidential vacancy.

We know he eventually picked Jerry Ford, of course.

But, he had two options besides that.

One was Nelson Rockefeller and the other was Ronald Reagan.

(Note: While my first counterfactual about Reagan running for the presidency was influenced by Bob Spitz's new Reagan bio, linked there, this one popped into mind several weeks ago when recently I read Evan Thomas' Nixon bio of a couple of years back.)

First, the actual history. How likely was Reagan to get it?

Not very.

Nixon still thought of him as an intellectual lightweight, just as he did at Bohemian Grove in 1967, when both were there and Nixon had the first inkling that California's new governor might run in 1968 for the presidency. Nixon retained that feeling into the 1980s, bombarding Reagan with Cabinet nomination and foreign policy suggestions. (Nixon strongly opposed George Schultz at State, which is part of why Reagan chose Al Haig for the spot originally; when Haig left, he smartly ignored Nixon the second time around.)

Ford was Nixon's favorite if nothing else for the reason that Nixon thought Congress would never think Ford capable of being president and thus wouldn't impeach him. WHY Nixon thought the man who had risen to be House Minority Leader would be thought incapable, Nixon never said, to the best of my knowledge.

Of the two who finished in the cold? Nixon personally liked Rocky, and thought better of him temperamentally, than Ronnie. But, he thought Congress would think Rocky could very much be president, and thus he would not be a counterweight, unlike what Nixon thought of Ford.

Anyway, to the counterfactual.

Nixon nominates Reagan. Congress knows he's an even more ardent Nixonite, if anything, than Ford. It knows his reputation as a hands-off governor. But it still hopes at this time that he won't be elevated to the top spot, and it knows he has no real ethics issues. He's confirmed no sweat.

Then, we get to Aug. 9, 1974, with actual history proceeding normally, and Ronald Wilson Reagan becomes the 38th, not the 40th, U.S. president. What happens?

First, at least as soon, if not sooner, than Ford did, he pardons Nixon. And does so with more unseemly language, claiming Nixon was victim of a witch-hunt, etc. This backfires with him even more than Ford's pardon did in reality.

Second, while not totally in the grip of voodoo economics, unlike 1980, he already is willing to listen to nutbar ideas in the dismal semi-science. He thinks a tax cut will help, which it might due to Keynesian reasons. He also thinks the budget needs to be balanced. He also also thinks that Nixon and Kissinger have been coddling the Russkies, that we need to stop SALT II, that we need to ramp up defense spending, and that we need to look at revising, or even jettisoning the ABM.

Reagan has no moderating James Baker as chief of staff. Nancy does get somebody better than Ed Meese to officially be in charge of day-to-day operations, but Meese, as in 1981 and beyond, is the eminence grise. In early 1975, Kissinger resigns, or is pushed.

This opens the floodgates to GOP challengers, who perceive Reagan as unbalanced, as having forfeited any honeymoon, and as politically vulnerable, as well as a possible boat anchor to Republican hopes. Bob Dole, Howard Baker and George H.W. Bush all jump in. So does the more moderate Charles Percy.

Reagan's old comments on making Social Security at least partially voluntary get dredged up in the media. Reagan "obligingly" doubles down on this shortly before the New Hampshire primary, served by a second-rate, and only quasi-official, campaign staff. (John Sears, having been given an advance tip to keep his powder dry and wait for official word, runs Percy's campaign when he announces.)

Reagan, though otherwise popular in New Hampshire, sees support crumble, with semi-next door Dole having already won (by plurality) the Iowa caucuses, followed by Percy, which has prompted other more moderate Republicans, like Charles Mathias, to either look at running or unifying behind Percy, the tacit candidate of the Rockefeller wing. Republican governors Bill Milliken and Jim Rhodes also make noises about favorite son candidacies.

Reagan can't get all the hardcore New Hampshire conservatives behind him. He does nail down Gov. Meldrim Thompson, but Dole, fresh off Iowa, convinces publisher-kingmaker William Loeb to, if not endorsing him, to at least offer no official endorsement.

Reagan wins by plurality in New Hampshire, but fails to break 30 percent. Dole and Percy both run strongly, followed by Baker. Bush, perceived as quasi-moderate at this time, can't break 10 percent, but vows to stay on until Texas.

Percy appears to have the Massachusetts primary wrapped up, and likely Vermont. Others won't contest his Illinois. So, focus goes to Florida, on March 9, and North Carolina, on March 23. Baker convinces Floridians he's the new moderate-conservative southern Republican that's needed, even as a counterweight to the surging Jimmy Carter. He wins there by plurality, with Dole and Percy in an essential draw for second. Reagan's Social Security comments have him finishing even behind Bush.

Reagan, with his Irish up, still hopes to pull out another win in North Carolina. But, despite Jesse Helms' backing, Baker does what he did in Florida. Dole is third and Bush fourth, with Percy focusing on April's Wisconsin race and beyond.

On March 31, 1976, eight years after LBJ did the same, Reagan withdraws.

Percy wins Wisconsin by majority and Pennsylvania by plurality. Bush finishes second to Baker in Texas, narrowly ahead of Dole. Dole pulls an upset in Indiana, edging both Percy and Baker. Baker wins Georgia.

Bush withdraws, and it's essentially a three-person race, outside of possible favorite sons.

With most primaries now leaving the South and going to the Midwest and West, Dole eyes making up ground, and he does.

However, Percy, with Dole and Baker splitting conservatives, takes winner-take-all California by plurality, enough to push him over the top for the nomination.

He names Baker his Veep choice.

Moderate to moderate-conservative Republicanism is rescued. Percy narrowly beats Carter in 1976, but winds up a one-term president. Presumably, the Shah's health, a Carter-like response by Percy, and the taking of hostages play out as they did in actuality.