SocraticGadfly: 8/11/19 - 8/18/19

August 16, 2019

Greenland tells Trump: We're not for sale, no way, no how

Where's the back nine?

So, Trump allegedly wanted to buy Greenland, which has produced much hilarity on Twitter, including mock (and maybe real) Nigerian 419 scams being reverse-grifted on Trump.

Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that some people think Trump is ADD and has fixated on Greenland and can't let go.

But, that still doesn't address the WHY of that fixation. CNN says maybe it's about mineral rights and potential, as does the link at top.

So, let's dig in.

1. If it's true that Trump's a launderer of Russian mafiyya money, even with no election connection to Putin, could this be a part of that? That pristine snow and ice cleans up a lot of things.

2. Maybe he's eyeing new golf courses. Since the Scots won't give him a blank check at Turnberry, he's going to expand that. And, this would also be a way of laundering Russian bankster money.

3. Maybe he wants to buy it for new collateral on a Deutsche Bank loan.

4. Maybe, as with Michigan, he wants to be its Man of the Year.

See, the stories all state Trump is acting as President of the United States. (We have, as a nation, bought Alaska, the Danish Virgin Islands and the Gadsden Purchase lands, among other things. And we've tried to buy Greenland before, under Harry Truman, so that too is nothing new.) And it WOULD #MAGA: Make All Greenland American.

But maybe he's just acting as Donald Trump, business mogul. And, yes, him conflating himself and his office is nothing new, as my points 1-3 indicate.

Meanwhile, the #Sharpiegate over Hurricane Dorian has hit Greenland, too.

It IS petty and moronic, as, per Newsweek, one Twitterer has noted, but, that's Donald J. Trump to a T. And, the Bernie --->Trump nutters (who were really more Trumpists all along IMO), drink the Kool-Aid willingly, as do straight, unadulterated Trumpists.

That said, behind Trump's bid for Greenland? Mike Pompeo and his Pompeo Doctrine.

August 15, 2019

Gov. Strangeabbott task force notes: terror fears 1,
Immigrants and First Amendment 0

So, Gov. Strangeabbott has named an anti-terrorism task force.

Two problems. One of them is getting a lot of play.

The other, sadly, very little so far.

First, in the wake of the racist, anti-immigrant terrorist shooting by Patrick Crusius, the task force is stacked with anti-immigrant hardliners. So no, Strangeabbott, the ACLU of Texas has legitimate concerns and your snide dismissal is unwarranted.

Second, banning Internet message boards by 8chan or whomever, or banning individual acts of specech unless they contain specific, overt calls to violence, is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. It's a shame, but no surprise, that our gov and former state AG doesn't understand, or else doesn't accept, the First Amendment.

Related to both of these issues, but specifically to Point the Second, I wait seeing what (if anything) the Snooze and other major dailies say on their editorial pages.

Sadly, per the Snooze, ACLU of Texas legal director Andres Segura only, and ONLY mentioned the anti-immigrant issues. No comment on the first amendment issues. Glenn Smith of Progress Texas, in supporting a crackdown on 8chan, didn't mention the First Amendment himself.

This sets aside issues of how much this is real, and how much is head fakes, on the bottom line issue of GUNZ. Abbott has dismissed red flag laws in the past, and Danny Goeb is even more a nutter on gunz than he is.

In other words, expect, per Shakespeare, much ado about nothing.

Goodbye, Pacific Standard

I'd read Pacific Standard Magazine when it was still Miller-McCune News. Even had a feed for it as a widget on this blog, though after installing Ghostery on my various browsers in the past, I forgot to whitelist it, showing I'd followed it less, though I did come across some of its stories on Twitter and elsewhere, such as an occasional piece co-run, or secondarily run, in High Country News.

And now, it's gone.

The news was announced several days ago; the last official day is/was today, Aug. 16.

It was more than a would-be West Coast regional version of The Atlantic. Rather, it aimed to be a mix of a more activist version of a High Country News, a more environmentally focused regional TruthOut and similar.

I get employees being angry, per Daily Beast, especially full-time or contract editorial employees. But, I think managing editor Nicholas Jackson let his anger get the best of him when he told the terminated employees to "consider what sort of legal options might be available to them."

The story makes clear that its board, at least in their own comments, worked to do due diligence on severances and all other legal issues. It also seems like they were probably somewhat blindsided by founder and chief funder Sarah Miller McCune's decision to pull the plug.

OTOH, per the LA Times, even if she is a billionaire, I can't blame her. If 90-95 percent of the mag's revenue was from her largesse, via a foundation, you have to consider making that call, IMO. It never had a paywall and without that, if you're online only, as it recently had become, you're facing trouble, because specialty mags like that don't sell a lot of ads.

I also think it lacked focus. A story about India and Kashmir is nice, but it goes beyond punching above its weight to simply writing out of its league. There are places like LobeLog who have people with a much stronger foreign policy background and who also aren't part of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. In fact, LobeLog had a MUCH more detailed piece six days earlier.

So, having caught up in a degree to my Ghostery-fueled neglect? To be honest, I didn't miss THAT much.

It appears that PS Mag was the sole beneficiary of the Social Justice Foundation. Whether McCune, 77, is pulling the plug on the foundation entirely, or instead moving it in new directions, wasn't announced.

I'm not sure why the exiting executive editor of Deadspin included Pacific Standard with other mags and news sites she said didn't get how to run a newspaper or magazine, as I tweeted to her with this link. Rather, on the revenue side, in this case at least, it seems on-site staff was as flummoxed as owners. And, on the expenses side, per above, the editorial staff lacked as much focus as anybody.

August 14, 2019

Texas progressives clean out their Mucus,
talk the reality of El Paso and borders

The Texas Progressives hopes that if you have children starting school, they're in a district without armed gunmen providing safety from possible outside armed gunmen, and that state GOP wingnuts would get a clue about gun control and student mental health

It also wishes we'd go to a 200-day school year, like other developed nations.

Texas politics

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. OTOH, Ramirez did say she would be OK with starting with the old bugaboo of the "public option." I guess Sema Hernandez is going to have to stop relying on air-kissing Bob the Knob O'Rourke, 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. She also has Sema's "story," being the daughter of an immigrant mother. 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.

With perfect, or perfectly bad, timing, Nonsequiteuse beseeches Beto to come back to Texas and run for Senate again. Juanita is singing from the same hymnal. Nancy Ohanian, the biggest nutter among the group that runs the allegedly pergressuve blog Down With Tyranny, even mentioned Tzintzún and STILL wants Beto back. And people wonder why I'm not a Democrat, and at more and more races below the presidential level.

Socratic Gadfly offers an up-to-date analysis of where we're at on Dennis Bonnen vs. Michael Quinn Sullivan, along with guesstimates of what led to the crash and burn between them.

Off the Kuff looks at some finance reports from State Rep incumbents and candidates.

G. Elliott Morris looks at the battle lines for 2020.

Rey Saldana has a San Antonio lesson on climate change.

El Paso and the border

Patrick Crusius is no anomaly. Dan Patrick, at the state level, Gus Bova says, has been blathering anti-immigrant toxicity longer than Trump. Behind that, in turn, is a long Texas history of anti-Mexican border violence, documented by the Observer. Behind THAT, in turn, is 100 years of the Border Patrol and immigration control legislation, documented by LobeLog. As the Observer notes, the eugenics movement, which also caught fire in the US with World War I, the first Red Scare, etc., is wrapped up with this. That includes Zyklon B's use as a delousing agent at the US border. Connect the dots from there.

In related demographic issues, Jim Schutze ruminates at length about fitting in and the changing nature of our suburbs.


Karl Richter favorably reviews "Texas Flood," the new bio of Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Former Dallas County Schools head Rick Sorrells gets seven years in the federal pokey for his part in the laundry list of fiscal shenanigans there. I'm still surprised that John Wiley Price's name isn't attached to this. Did Dwaine Caraway's involvement drive him off? Did Sorrells mention something or another but it wasn't enough? Did Our Man Downtown think the scam was too transparent from the start and stayed away?


The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal district court and ruled the Indian Child Welfare Act, which has an Indian-preference rule for adoption of American Indian children, was constitutional. Score this as another loss for AG Kenny Boy Paxton, who like his predecessor, Greg Abbott, bats well below .500 against the feds.


SocraticGadfly used the most recent anniversary of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) to give his most detailed refutation yet to some leftist and liberal claims about WWII in the Pacific and the use of the atomic bomb.

August 13, 2019

More reasons not to trust Politifact

All the fact-checking agencies have problems from time to time. With many of them, part of their problem is that they have a target audience of the gamut from Never Trumper Republicans to mainstream Democrats — ie, the sweet spot within the duopoly.

But, per a Politifact scoring of Rachel Maddow's "guns" question to Bernie Sanders, there are other reasons to question Politifact, as I explained there.

What Politifact is doing the scoring? Politifact National or a state Politifact?

What? There's more than one Politifact?

Damn straight, and Poynter doesn't explain why it uses just one media outlet in state-level Politifacts where it does that, rather than a university's journalism department, which it does elsewhere. And in those states, it doesn't explain why it uses just that university J-school.

Is there some "branding" involved? Behind that, some financial consideration?

Wouldn't surprise me.

Beyond that, though he's writing about the Washington Post's fact checkers, and about them versus Sanders as being too radical, Jeet Heer's cautions can be extended beyond that. Politically weaponizing fact checking is a dangerous proposition. In this particular case, he says it can give Trump an opening to questioning the whole enterprise.

Tis true both ways, Jeet. Spin-doctoring fact checking in Bernie's favor, as I have just pointed out, does the same thing.

August 12, 2019

Bonnen vs Mucus vs Dems

Several updates to the original post, all in italics. If you're familiar with the basic story, just hit the italics for updates on the news and the news analysis.

Update, Sept. 13: The Rivard Report says there's a common thread on the "Bonnen Ten" he wanted to target. All, Republicans and Democrats, opposed the Bonnen-backed bill that would have made it illegal for local governments to hire lobbyists, or even to belong to alleged lobbying associations like the Texas Municipal League or Texas Association of Counties.

The Report notes that the bill wasn't at its first rodeo this year, but Joe Straus as speaker had always eighty-sixed it. This alone shows how far right of Straus Bonnen is.

So, note to Texas Democrats? If you don't win the House, but do increase your numbers, look for somebody who is to the left of Bonnen within the GOP as a new dance partner. The leverage is yours.

Related? At the Trib, Jay Root and Cassandra Pollock have gotten a voicemail of Bonnen denying Mucus' allegations.

Per that piece, yes, Bonnen's trust level in the House may be beyond repair. Texas Dems, see "leverage" above.

Update, Oct. 16: As has been reported everywhere, Mucus has released what he says is a full, unedited tape, plus a transcript.

Looks even worse for Bonnen than before. He comes off as more anti-Democrat than before, and even worse for trying to hold on to the Straus Republicans, comes off as very anti-local government. Per a few paragraphs below, I think Jim Schutze gets this right. Bonnen is a Mucus ass-kisser, always has been and always shall remain.

For Dems, if they get closer to 75 next year November, but don't go over, are they going to look for a new dance partner? (This assumes Bonnen is still even around. I don't think he's on too thin of ice legally, but does he get primaried? Face a serious general election challenge?)

Here's the skinny, as we await what the white cowboy hat boys report back, or don't report back, to the Lege, and what it then tells, or doesn't tell, the general public.

What this really is about, as Jim Schutze cuts to the chase, is what he says the lamestream media (or, as I call them, the Austin version of inside the Belway stenos, or Mopac stenos) won't report: "Christo-fascist Tim Dunn." The subhed is about how Speaker Dennis Bonnen, as Schutze points out in exquisite and painful detail, has long, long kissed the ass of Dunn's consigliere and fixer Michael Quinn Sullivan, the normally-known-as Mucus.

As I see it, behind all of this (nutgraf at bottom) Bonnen and Mucus may have been talking at some time, then things broke down. Schutze's backstory and timeline details only increases that likelihood, IMO.

House Democrats a week ago wanted Mucus Sullivan to release the recording of his talk with Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

And, Aug. 9, Dallas-area state Rep. Ana-Marie Ramos, reportedly named on the tape, sued Sullivan individually and an "unknown named political committee," (presumably Empower Texas?), to get it released.

OTOH, the Snooze reports that many Republicans fear the tape's release would lead to mutual destruction within the GOP.

The House General Investigating Committee is going to take a look at the mess. It started meeting today. Per that link, the suit above is the state Democratic Party's and not just Ramos' baby. Getcha popcorn.

While there was some speculation that Bonnen — and House GOP Caucus leader Justin Burrows of Lubbock — could avoid any potential criminal liability by fully spilling the beans at the meeting, based on a reading of committee language, so far, that ain't happening. The committee met for about an hour and then voted to call in the Texas Rangers. Bonnen says he's fine with that; Mucus has not had a comment in any media writing up the meeting and the vote.

Oh, Schutze is right here, to a T. The Snooze's story today (not linking) as well as the "mutual destruction" one, for example? Dunn is not mentioned a single time.

Will the committee subpoeana Mucus about the tape, if he hasn't released the full thing to the public, whether voluntarily or under the force of the Ramos suit? Will the Rangers seek that tape as part of their remit? (Remember, Mucus has sponsored James O'Keefe type stuff in the past, one of the worst actions at the Schutze link.) Will there be a division within the committee, either on partisan lines or others, of how much laundry to air? What if Mucus says (whether he actually did or not) that the tape was destroyed, that it has an 18 1/2 minute gap, etc?

As first reported a week ago Bonnen blinked when Mucus first mentioned taping the meeting. As per others, I'm puzzled as to why Bonnen met Mucus in the first place on such a situation, and why he didn't assume in advance Mucus was taping him. He may be a rookie as Speaker but he's not a freshman as a legiscritter.

As for the result? He WILL face a Speakership challenge, assuming of course that Dems don't capture a House majority. (If that happens, he'll never be Speaker again.) He'll survive, by reaching across the aisle, but the price of survival will be higher.

As for the issue in parentheses? The bigger picture issue is how does this affect the Texas GOP brand in the state House? And, how much worse might Mucus make that if he decides to try to primary some urban-area moderate-conservative for Texas Republican House members?

Up in Texoma, Drew Springer, a Bonnen ally (interesting how someone who's a full-on wingnut in some ways, IMO, nonetheless isn't an ally of them overall, isn't it?) says that party rank-and-file have said almost nothing. At that link, Bob Garrett notes the House GOP caucuses in October. Circle that on your calendar. Burrows, who was in on the meeting, could be forced out. (He resigned as of Aug. 16.)

As for House wingnuts, not to mention their Senate counterparts, thinking Bonnen is too Dem-cozy? Well, two of the 16 state Senate committees have Democritter chairs. True, Whitmire and Lucio are ConservaDems, but still. But, the big deal is that Bonnen, like Straus, reflects a traditional, as in pre-Danny Goeb as Lite Guv, degree of bipartisanship in House committee operations; the Trib has more.

One other thing I don't get is Bonnen naming specific Dem names. Was it to tell Mucus that he thought he was being evenhanded? Or was it a quid pro quo to go say, "Look, I'll give you free reign on whoever you recruit against these freshman Dems in exchange for ..." Per a summary of the tape blogged by a Mucus ally,  Daniel Greer, that seems to be the case. But that's still within the big picture of Bonnen seeking to reign in Mucus.

And that's the dumb part. Joe Straus, for all his own fakery in not being THAT far different from many harder-right House members (no I don't really miss you yet and "good luck" against Abbott if that is your plan, knew that was simply impossible.

Related dumbery is Bonnen thinking Mucus cares about the House GOP as a whole, or a GOP House majority where not all are forsworn to Christo-fascist Dunn. Rather, Mucus would probably revel in the GOP losing control in 2020 as an excuse to boot Bonnen and go for a wingnut as potential 2022 speaker.

That said, per the new Sept. 13 updates, this is looking less and less like Bonnen caring and more and more like Bonnen trying to figure out the terms of mutual backscratching.

In turn, Mucus figured he'd landed his fish, and so started moving his Overton Window rightward, and eventually went too far for Bonnen.

There's one other puzzling thing. Per Chris Hooks' longform at the Texas Monthly, Mucus waited until six weeks after the meeting to go public. I'll assume that means negotiations of some sort were happening until a breakdown. Is THAT more embarrassing to both sides than the tape itself? And, if I am barking up the right tree, how far along were negotiations and what eighty-sixed them?

The Snooze's James Barrigan has more details of the timeline. Tis true that Mucus rejected any alleged offer early on, but even that took a full week. And it took another full week for Bonnen to respond that there was no offer.

Folks, negotiations were happening. I don't have to be an inside the Mopac steno to know that.

Also, per Barrigan, Mucus, not Bonnen, surely led in the tracks-covering. Witness that it only took one day, not a full week, after Mucus said "I got a tape!" for retiring Former Fetus Forever Fuckwad Jonathan Stickland to call on Bonnen to resign.

Speaking of tracks-covering? Aug. 23, Gov. Strangeabbott publicly endorsed the just-resigned Burrows. I presume rumors were already floating about Christo-fascist Tim Dunn wanting Burrows primaried? The Trib adds that even Danny Goeb is calling for party unity on this issue, rather than publicly backing Mucus, as one might think.


Ross Fischer, former head of the Texas Ethics Commission, says "Hardball politics is not a crime." He's right ... IF this is not a crime. And, this is the former head of a ball-less, spineless state agency even by Texas standards.

R.G. Ratcliffe reminds us that, even if it began as hardball politics, there are still plenty of possible criminal charges.

My thought? Tea Party Rethugs and Bonnenites will get the House committee to accept (and seal, if possible?) the stRangers report and then whitewash to the public while tamping down Ramos and Hinojosa and state Dems as much as possible.

Your latest Texas high-speed rail update

The Texas bullet train recently dodged a legal bullet about its ability to use eminent domain but it still retains a stupid route, as I have said before. Whether Brains is right that it’s too late for that to be addresses or not, along with other issues, remains to be seen. Kuff, like Brains, likes the bullet train.

Whether it actually gets built and then, whether as a privately financed line, it asks for state help because of its stupid route and stupid stops, also remains to be seen. (After all, stupid routing ideas are part of what derailed California's bullet train, at least for now.)

There's several people that agree with me on ever-growing comments on Kuff's link that Texas Central was, has been and is selling a pig in a poke. A lot of libertarian-type wingers at groups who know how to crunch numbers, like Reason, are also saying that ride counts are not just inflated but WILDLY inflated. (That said, contra the wingers, airports are subsidized in various ways, too.)

Let's also note that that legal bullet was only temporarily dodged. Courts could still rule that Texas Central cannot use eminent domain.

And, speaking of locations, in south Dallas at least, Jim Schutze says the train is a land deal first, transportation deal second. And he too says he thinks the ride projection numbers are pretty aspirational.