SocraticGadfly: 7/21/19 - 7/28/19

July 26, 2019

Fight climate change and picture the sounds of silence

In just a town of 15,000 or more, even, picture:

Air quality problems cut in half due to no internal combustion engine exhaust, no gas pump vapor leaks and more.

Noise pollution greatly slashed, with tire and wind resistance noise still moderate concerns, but internal combustion engine noises gone.

Picture even getting halfway there, if half our vehicles are hybrids and half are all-electrics.

Picture the nearby power plants to make this happen being coated glass panels soaking up the sun, or 100-foot steel blades slicing through the air.

It's all available.

For a couple of Trillion with a T dollars.

That's the real cost to really fight climate change, per Carl Beijer. And he's right.

But that's freedom — just another word for nothing left to lose but a lot of carbon dioxide molecules.

Per the header, your typical larger city wouldn't be totally silent, of course.

You'd still have the sirens of emergency vehicles. Hybrids, rather than full electrics, would still have some internal combustion engine noises. Large cities would still have airplane noises near airports.

But, the changes would be huge.

People in larger cities might hear sounds and not know what they're hearing.

Until someone like me says "That's a mockingbird" or something like that.

And, some of this would be changes of more than a century.

New York City 125 years ago had tens of thousands of horses, or more, tromping its downtown every day. They were pulling buses, streetcars and delivery wagons as well as personal carriages.

They were creating their own levels of noise pollution plus even more air and water pollution. (Think of all the horse shit. Think next of all the dead horses.)

July 25, 2019

RIP Mark Kleiman, classist War on Drugs hypocrite

RIP Mark Kleiman, an overrated classist and a hypocrite in the War on Drugs. The truth is that addiction cuts across race, class and socioeconomic guidelines, so if Kleiman really were worried about pot potency, he should have looked at ritzy pot shops just as much as worrying about Walmart. I first saw this via Popehat's Twitter; Ken, if you're going to write over-the-top, and IMO untrue, encomia (Kleiman was NOT a "giant of his field") I'll Tweet out the reality, as I already did Tuesday night with those links.

The only thing, IMO, he truly got right was that marijuana legalization is not a panacea. And he screwed the pooch on that by bringing in his classism.

That takes care of the "classist" part. Well, not quite.

Let's spell this out more, with the alcohol analogy.

Did Kleiman ever call for additional taxes on Two-buck Chuck, Ripple, Mad Dog or T-bird? On vodkas with fake Russian names?

I'm hearing crickets right now.

Actually, the National Review encomium is anti-crickets. It notes that Kleiman explicitly accepted the way things were with alcohol but said we should take a different cultural tack with pot.

To extend the issue, since Kleiman often compared alcohol to pot? People become alcoholics on Glenlivet or sauvignon blanc just as readily as on Two-buck Chuck or fake Russian vodka. And rich white Republicans become alcoholics or addicts at generally the same rate as poor black Democrats. And, if Kleiman really knew that much about addiction, he would have known that, too.

To put it another way, per Grits' recent trip to Canada? One could have steep enough taxes on it, yet have a "generic" version of legal marijuana sell cheaper at Walmart than black market skunk weed currently does.

Now, the "hypocrite" part.

Kleiman was a Hillbot, and a big one, in the 2016 Democratic primaries, to the point of doing some "gotcha" on Bernie Sanders. That and more is at the second link. Shock me that Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly mourns his passing so much.

I wanted to do something more than the brief mention I put in yesterday's Roundup, in part because I had personally (online) tangled with Kleiman over this and other things.

First, beyond Hillary Clinton's well-known "superpredators" comment, which itself tied at least indirectly to the War on Drugs, Kleiman ran a group blog with a mix of neoliberals and a few neocons sprinkled in. I didn't think that much of the intellectual level of his writing partners, either. He was so bad I put him in a mock Clinton Cabinet.

Hell, Kleiman was an apologist for ConservaDems when Shrub was still president.

Also, this genius thought the Bundy family out West were NOT terrorists. They were at that time, and even more beyond then, with them and their friends at the Malheur NWR standoff.

If Ken White really thinks Kleiman was a giant, rather than offering a powder-puff encomium, I've got to further question his legal judgment, beyond his being a First Amendment weaponizer. Otherwise, Popehat overrates Kleiman as much as ActualFlatticus overrated Jay Sekulow.

He was a leader in the field. A giant? Not so much. Any drug policy analyst who loved DARE, as Wiki reports Kleiman did? DARE was a great tool for police PR, but not police-community relations. DARE was actually kind of full of it, and still is. And outside the field, his dyed-in-the-wool Democratic stance, per his Bernie trolling, was fairly narrow. His love for Hillary was surely infused with the same incrementalism that infused his drug policy.

Even worse, per Wiki, is his consulting firm taking money from PMI Impact, a public policy outfit of Philip Morris, now Altria. PMI Impact fights illicit tobacco trade. Of course it does. Not because it cares if people are smoking or not, but because it wants them smoking legal, Philip Morris-made cigarettes or e-cigs, as it actually was in this case.

My personal background with Kleiman was some online tangling with him during the 2016 Democratic primaries. Per the hypocrite link, I thought he was playing "gotcha" with Bernie Sanders, at least to a degree. Then, we tangled further over the classism issue. And, if Kleiman really was such an expert on drug policy to include being knowledgable about addiction, he knows what I've told you above about addiction statistics.

I didn't know until writing up this post, though, about him taking Philip Morris blood money. And, that's exactly what it is.

One wonders if he opposed full-on legalization of pot because of taking tobacco blood money and being a hypocrite on alcohol.

Also interesting. Anti-War on Drugs crusader Glenn Greenwald and the gang have nothing on Kleiman at the Intercept.

July 24, 2019

Texas Progressives think there's too many ConservaDems

A plague of ConservaDems erupted over Texas Monday, with Royce West's announcement he was running for Senate and Wendy Davis jumping in the 21st District Congressional race. Surprisingly, given her 2014 iconic image, her website is NOT plastered in pink.

Well, this outpost of the Texas Progressive Alliance tackles that and much more.


SocraticGadfly shows and describes why Texas arts aficionados who have any chance to see the late-life Monet exhibit at the Kimball need to go.

Here's more on how climate change's heat will affect the area.


David Bruce Collins has questions for Metro and bike riding in greater Houston.

Off the Kuff looks at the young candidates for City Council in Houston, where the municipal electorate tends to be pretty old.

Streetsblog cheers Houston's elimination of minimum parking requirements in two near-downtown neighborhoods.

Texas politics

Wingnut leaders of our state deplore large county prosecutors dropping pot cases because the state has legalized hemp and they can't test THC that precisely.

Royce West is in the Senate race, and beyond his baggage and ignoring his one key state senate issue, is in the race as a clear ConservaDem. I'm sure some of Kuff's fanbois, if not Kuff himself, are gloating and perhaps hoping I'll eat crow. No problem. I admitted at the link that I was wrong, and stated why I think I was wrong. You're still wrong about puffing him.

Wendy Davis, perhaps without pink tennis shoes, is back and running for Congress. Why?

Indivisible Houston commits to flipping Texas in 2020. (With who, per my two ConservaDem comments above, plus my past take on the Indivisible movement, remains to be seen.)

Better Texas Blog urges a vote against HJR38, the double secret illegal anti-income tax constitutional amendment.

Juanita applauds former CCA Justice Elsa Alcala's departure from the Republican Party.


The Texas Observer reports on how the Texas Department of Environmental Quackery wants to let Port Arthur petrochemical plants do more polluting.

The biggest wingnuts in Texas' anti-abortion movement are stealing language from the fight against slavery.

Clayton Williams is still a grifter, this time with West Texas water.


In his weekly Dems 2020, Brains has a long pullout from an In These Times piece. It's about how the focus on more small donors has itself given rise to a cottage industry of rounding up small donors, being done by corporations such as ad agencies. Worse yet, a lot of the begging, pleading and groveling for, and hawking of, "bundled" small donors (no other phrase for it) is being done on Fuckbook.

RIP Mark Kleiman, an overrated classist hypocrite in the War on Drugs. The truth is that addiction cuts across race, class and socioeconomic guidelines, so if Kleiman really were worried about pot potency, he should have looked at ritzy pot shops just as much as worrying about Walmart. I first saw this via Popehat's Twitter; Ken, if you're going to write over-the-top, and IMO untrue, encomia (Kleiman was NOT a "giant of his field") I'll Tweet out the reality, as I already did Tuesday night with those links.

Dos Centavos scoffs at the weak Republican response to Trump's latest racist diatribe.
Jim Schutze mixes scoffing, snark and deeper sarcasm in response to all the people saying they'll leave America if Trump is re-elected. Presuming I vote Green again, Jim, I'll be staying, and don't condemn me for costing a bad Democratic candidate. Otherwise, I totally agree with the story. Get a grip, folks. Get politically involved at all levels. And, to loop this back and move beyond Jim? Stop voting for ConservaDems.

White and black evangelical Xn women remain unreconciled after Sparrow in Dallas, and even appear to have moved further apart.

The Lunch Tray wants a real federal response to lunch shaming.

July 23, 2019

Wendy Davis is back: Why?

One time, and likely still, gun nut (and other things) Wendy Davis is now running for Congress, 21st District. Click the tag for more about her 2014 guv run nuttery; no mention of pink tennis shoes this time. The district might be winnable, but as it's neither Fort Worth homeland nor really in her Austin legislative/legal lobbying home, Davis might face carpetbagger comments.

Hell, I wanted her to go away four and a half years ago, when she bombarded us with spam emails after her crushing loss to Abbott.

Here's why, to save you part of the click throughs:

Wendy went along with border crisis nuttery in 2014 — I hope to be held against her, given the current national political climate on immigration, by whoever else is in the Dem primary.

She went to the right of Rick Perry on pot.

She pandered to moderates and endorsed ConservaDems, in other nuttery.

Years ago, she sued the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and over op-eds, not news stories.

And, this one's a biggie. Dems, or libruls of any stripe, who disrespect the First Amendment in ANY of its five clauses are pissing me off more and more by the day.


In 2014, Davis lost to Greg Abbott FAR worse than Lupe Valdez did in 2018. Yeah, yeah, "Trump" or whatever, but? Abbott far outran other Republicans in 2018. It was 59.3-38.9 versus 55.8-42.5 in 2018.

Kuff said, in his piece about her entry, that 2014 was a bad year for Dems. I do know she lost worse than Alameel did to Cornyn, but Cornyn was an incumbent, and Abbott wasn't, at least not as gov. But, her pandering got her to do no better than Van de Putte did against Danny Goeb. Kuff, given VDP had some pandering of her own, maybe it was more a bad year OF than FOR Democrats.

Back to Wendy today.

The person on Twitter who I saw writing about this said her website (the second link from top, the "running") was basically content-free. Yep, it's a nothingburger.

Like the other Texas ConservaDem with inflated reputation who announced an office run Monday, Royce West, Davis talks about "healthcare costs" but the Groucho Marx secret phrase of "Medicare for All" or "single payer"? Missing.

July 22, 2019

The NOT "battle-tested" Royce West jumps in Cornyn race

Texas State Sen. Royce West has jumped in the race to face John Cornyn, months after Julian Castro did his own Hamlet, while more candidates entered the race in the meantime.

Don't forget to tip the multiple Pullman folks who will be handling your baggage, Royce. And, that Dallas Inland Port and other John Wiley Price baggage doesn't even include the baggage of lobbyists which I didn't mention in the original. Nor does it include the baggage of grifting on your legal contracts with Dallas ISD, which I did belatedly add.

I wonder how much the fake "Mr. Ethics," Chris Bell, will jump on this. After all, he needs a signature issue to boost his viability and visibility, and this is tailor made for the person he once presented himself as being in the Lege.

Besides that past "baggage," it's time to critique what West said today.

First, you're NOT "battle tested." Your past election history is full of cakewalks. You faced a token Republican in 2012, a re-run of him plus a Libertarian in 2014, and NOBODY in the 2018 general election. Let's go back further. Un-primaried and un-generaled in 2002. Ditto in 2004.

In fact, you've NEVER been primaried. "Battle tested" my ass.

Second, "affordable universal health care" could mean all sorts of shit, as Beto O'Rourke used similar language. Unless you explicitly say "single payer" or "Medicare for all," smart minds can only assume you're against it, Royce. That squares with Mark Jones of Rice saying that West will be looking for Biden voters.

Let's also note that he will be the oldest candidate in the primary. Given that many Texas Dems are following the national trend of looking for younger, fresher voices, this isn't such a good thing.

I will credit West for everything he's done in the Texas Senate on the issue of racial profiling. But I'm not going to let pass his history of grifting off his law office, his ties to John Wiley Price — especially over the Dallas Inland Port — and other issues.

And, contra my initial prediction, maybe the age issue has something to do with him running. He's 66, and so what if he has baggage. If he loses here, he's not up for re-election on his state senatecritter seat for three more years. And, he's never been primaried.

With that, I don't know which is sadder — the number of Lege seats the Dems haven't even tried to contest in past elections, or the number of their own seats where incumbents have never, ever been primaried.

From outsider insurgent to Just.Another.Politician.™?
The odyssey of Sema Hernandez for Senate from Texas

Sema Hernandez, the chief Democratic primary challenger to Beto O'Rourke, was the first announced candidate for the 2020 Senate nomination. But, she's been getting very little Texas MSM support so far. And, per the header, I have one eyebrow raised over her actions since losing the primary in 2018.

Make that two, with TruthOut's great Aug. 29 story that explicitly notes how Bob on a Knob's downtown El Paso gentrification push specifically targeted, and hit hard, working-class Mexican-American homeowners. Enough had been blogged about (and linked by Brains) on O'Rourke's real estate grifting during the election that this is definitely (as I have just tweeted) yet another weak spot for Sema in bromancing Bob on a Knob.

On Senate runs, and people like Brains (and once, me) attacking Kuff for not naming her more? Well, as of early July, she still hadn't filed an FEC financial report, even though being officially in the race for months, per her FEC filing statement. In case we have any whataboutism, M.J. Hegar already has done just that, among others. (There is a Sema for Texas committee listed, but no money there, either, per the FEC in early August.)

She also didn't file at all in 2018, which means she didn't get $5K then. But, she's filed WELL in advance of the 2020 primary. As in Dec. 26, 2018. And she's still not at $5K? Well, there's "insurgent," and there's "not getting much money love." Sema, in imitation of presidential candidates, did an official campaign kickoff on June 8, six months after putting herself officially in the race. We'll see how much she draws, as presumably this will boost her over the $5K limit.

And, as of July 20, Open Secrets agrees: still not $5K. And the FEC also doesn't even list an "elect Sema" type committee, unlike with Michael Cooper, who ran for the Lite Guv nomination in 2018 and is also in this year's Senate race. Also, per Kuff, with whom I don't agree on a lot of things, she has an Act Blue donation link and isn't getting love there, either, I guess. So, Brains, Scap, etc.? Don't blame Kuff, or others, for them not talking about her more. Blame her. Announced nearly 7 months ago, kissed Beto's ass hard even before that, has an Act Blue link, and still hasn't raised $5,000? And, not with Nina Turner's endorsement, either?

And, the $5,000 is a threshold for filing. Doesn't mean you can't do an FED financial report with less than $5K. Michael Cooper's only raised $3K, or a bit less, and he's done a filing.

Kuff is right on this. Given that a seeming top tier of West, Bell, Edwards and Hegar are sure to each haul in $1 million by the primary date, not yet having $5,000 has to indicate that Sema isn't a serious candidate. Relying on an appearance two years ago and one-way butt-kissing of Bob the Knob O'Rourke won't help.

Aug. 5: I mentioned all of the above, with a callout of sorts to Sema as part of a five-person Tweet response to a Tweet from a friend. We'll see what she says about the fundraising.

And a name probably won't help either.


As for how well she did in 2018? Well ... maybe it was insurgency ... and maybe it was her last name. Whether one likes to hear it or not, Sema's 2018 performance was generally no different than other Hispanic Democrats of the past 25-30 years running for statewide office in a Democratic primary.

"Just saying."

(Ray Madrigal ran for land commissioner 12 years prior and since 2014, has threatened to become a perpetual candidate. Gary Espinosa, AFAIK, ran for nothing either before or after challenging Ann Richards. Rick Noriega has shown that a Hispanic can win a statewide nomination; that said, he was already a state senator. Victor Morales, in his long-ago 1996 upset showed that even a low-spending Hispanic can win a primary, and against Democrats with as much name recognition as O'Rourke, or two of them, to be precise. And Hernandez has gotten lucky that Joaquin Castro is taking a powder. But, there IS a second Hispanic also already declared.)

But ... if you're going to pander to Beto, pander to the Texas Democratic Party poo-bahs, etc., and run a second time for the same race, shouldn't you have raised $5,000 for that run four or five months after filing? Note: None of the other Hispanics mentioned in that Trib piece ran for a statewide office a second time.

And, speaking of Hispanics, we have one other one already in this race, which wasn't the case in 2018, and activists urging on another. We have two African-Americans in Cooper and West. And, we have one other Houstonian besides Hernandez. Penny-ante fundraising won't get you anywhere in campaign competitiveness.

Correct that!

As of Aug. 12, there are now officially THREE Hispanic Democrats who want to replace John Cornyn and TWO of them who are, at least halfway, officially for #MedicareForAll. Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez brings not only that but a history of union organizing and more to the race, though she did say she was open to starting with "the public option." (Bell, West, Hegar won't even go that far.) I guess Sema is going to have to stop relying on air-kissing Bob the Knob, bragging about how well she did in 2018 and coasting on her name to get $5,000 in campaign cash and actually have to file an FEC report before primary time. Ramirez also has Sema's "story," being the daughter of immigrants. And, people connected to Bob the Knob have actually not air-kissed but made real contact with her; a lot of them are going to be working her campaign. More at the Chronic.

Further indicating Sema 2018 may have gotten votes on name or heritage as much as anything? African American Kesha Rogers, notorious LaRouche candidate, was second in the 2014 Democratic Senate primary, with 22 percent in the first round and 28 percent in runoff.


Meanwhile, back to Sema endorsing Beto a year ago and not apologizing for that, pulling primarily from my long “Is Beto a ConservaDem?” post.

As Beto continued to get hammered by David Sirota, Norman Solomon, Elizabeth Breunig, Zaid Jilani and others (with me adding my own tidbits) over his Congressional voting record after his Senate run was done but before he entered the 2020 prez race, taking money from the oil and gas industry for that, taking money from the FIRE sector for that, refusing to walk the walk on marijuana reform laws (I checked; that blog post of mine was before Sema officially endorsed Beto) and more, the following questions arise about her endorsement:

1. Did Sema Hernandez know all that? (She should have; she saw the first version of this ConservaDem piece as it was updated at that time, without the oil and gas info, before her endorsement, if I recall my Twitter timeline correctly.)
2. Why did she make that endorsement, other than moving into Just.Another.Politician.™ territory?
3. Will she own up to being, in any way, Just.Another.Politician.™?
4. Will she, if worried about fellow Roses or about the Our Revolution folks in Houston and DFW and elsewhere who refused to endorse Beto, try to rescind her endorsement?

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

These are all issues that hold true whether or not Beto allegedly gave an explicit promise to back single-payer (not the "universal health care" fudge) after she endorsed him. (BTW, based on his actual 2018 history with Sanders' bill, I don't believe such an explicit promise was made. I already told you that, Scap.) Beyond THAT, both Sema and Scap know that "universal health care" 10 seconds past the cue-in spot of a Beto interview that Scap claimed refudiated me is a fudge.

Heck, it's arguable that Sema gave herself an early start on drinking that Beto2020 Kool-Aid that I recently blogged about. And that's despite other reasons for her not to have guzzled.

As a first-generation Mexican-American, she might at least be concerned about his gentrification pushing on the El Paso City Council. I mean, I am voting strongly on single-payer, but, I'm aware of other stuff, some of which is semi-litmus-test level itself.

And, now that she's attacking Cornyn for talking fossil fuel money, will she repudiate her endorsement of Beto since he did the same?

Nope. In fact, she doubled down on the suck-up after O'Rourke announced his Prez run.
Shock me.

And, what actually were those kind words of support? Were they anything beyond pro forma stuff?

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

And yes, Point No. 4 is true. Our Revolution's Harris County branch refused to endorse Beto, as David Bruce Collins noted. Remember, Sema lives in Houston, and she surely knows about this non-endorsement, which makes her look more conservative than at least some other Texas Dems. The state Our Revolution also did not endorse Beto, if I read between the lines of its website putting an asterisk with his endorsement that stresses this was straight from national. That would seem to be confirmed by the North Texas chapter also NOT endorsing Beto.

And, B-and-E as recently as mid-March gave Sema a pass on her Just.Another.Politician.™ endorsement of R.F. O'Rourke last fall.

I also see that Sema is taking a Kool Kids of Politics social media page from Beto and upping the ante by now creating an Instagram account. (And, no, I'm not linking. I'm just asking that we don't get video of Sema going to the dentist.)

See, too me, that's a wrong move politically.

If you really want to be cool, AND smart as a politician? Snapchat. No electronic paper trail remains after those snaps dissolve, right? Can't be quoted on what you say there unless somebody does a screengrab.

If Sema wants to boost her chance of getting my support in the 2020 primary, per my Beto Kool-Aid piece, she could start by repudiating her endorsement of him last year, since he never did unequivocally back single-payer and since he had other problems as well.

Is Sema totally Just.Another.Politician.™? No, not totally. But, IMO, she has one foot clearly there, and as with some AOC stuff, having one foot there is also an "eyeballs" problem, given the nature of her 2018 Senate primary run.


So far, with Drew Springer getting Greens back on the ballot while also opening the state of Texas to being sued (and, HB 2504 WAS a "wedge," Drew), any Green who's not a yellow dog or a blue dog is my first choice.

Then, we go to Democrats.

Michael Cooper is my No. 1 as of right now. Hernandez is a fairly distant No. 2 and remains there until she apologizes for her putting one foot, at least, into the Just.Another.Politician.™ world. And, I'm not holding my breath right now about that.

Amanda Edwards might be No. 3?

Hegar? Yet more distant No. 4 as a military ConservaDem who as of now has nothing on policy on her website. Shades of Wendy Davis, but Hegar's been in the race a couple of months.

West No. 5?

Minor candidates more minor than Sema? No. 6.

Chris Bell will remain in last, and so much in last that if the Greens don't run anybody, rather than undervote him as I did Beto in 2018 I might vote Libertarian as a message.