SocraticGadfly: 9/8/19 - 9/15/19

September 13, 2019

We as a nation and the Democratic Party
have gone BACKWARDS on gun control

The AR-15, 25 years ago, was specifically listed as among weapons banned under the Bill Clinton era Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

Last night, at the third Democratic debate, Robert O'Rourke called for AR-15s, and other guns, to be banned again. And Democrat senator Chris Coon went apeshit.

Coons said he is working with Republicans to pass more modest gun control measures.

Judging by the rest of The Hill's story at the second link, his measures are modest indeed, and like Winston Churchill's one famous putdown in the House of Commons, Coons surely has much to be modest about.

A "notification" when someone banned from buying guns tries to buy one? We should have that already in place federally and in all 50 states.

Here's Coons on O'Rourke:
“I don’t think having our presidential candidates, like Congressman O’Rourke did, say that we’re going to try to take people’s guns against their will is a wise policy or political move,” Coons said.

Whether or not it's a wise political move (and it may be more that than you think, Coons), it's a good policy move — with some editing.

Let's start with the ban part of O'Rourke's call being THE POLICY 25 years ago. A buyback is the logical next step forward off that. That said, given the current Supreme Court, a mandatory buyback would almost certainly be found unconstitutional. But legislation on a Cass Sunstein "nudge" angle could sweeten the pot for buybacks. As part of a new assault weapon ban, declare that the use of a weapon on an assault weapons ban list for any crime automatically federalizes the crime, or even federalizes it and enhances it one felony degree. Or something similar.

That said, and sorry, fellow ardent gun control advocates, I think a mandatory buyback would be unconstitutional, but not on Second Amendment grounds. I think it would be deemed ex post facto legislation. I would consider it that. I do also think a mandatory buyback might lead to other, violent, problems.

But, back to Coons.

Besides, you're almost certainly being played by Pat Toomey and other Rethuglicans anyway, Coons.

To a man, or woman, GOP Congresscritters are either scared shitless of the legendary power of the NRA (which ain't necessarily reality any more) or else, like, say, Dan Crenshaw here in Tex-ass, or Briscoe Cain at the state level, really are gun nuts.

These are the same people who just say "enforce the current laws better" then work to carve out loopholes in those laws that people like eBay use.

Stop following the Overton Window, Chris. 


That said, Beto having quote-printed T-shirts for sale shortly after the debate, and having his website updated to show Trump as white nationalist, shows this was all a canned, packaged plan.

THAT that said, how much actual lifting did Bob on a Knob do on gun control when he was in the House? He was kind of a ConservaDem on many issues himself. And, Puff Hoes reminds me that he refused to campaign for Gina Ortiz Jones, or more, refused to campaign against travel buddy Will Hurd, last year. That could be seen as somewhat of a gotcha.

OK, his gun ratings? Both the NRA and the even more nutbar (yes, true) Gun Owners of America ranked Bob very lowly, but neither one ever gave him a zero. And, if he really thought gun rights were this ardent of an issue 12 months ago, he would have done more for Jones and against Hurd than just sharing a donor contacts list.

No, Tulsi Gabbard is NOT 'the peace candidate'

Yes, this is the ultimate fallback for the Tulsi Twerkers and Kool-Aid drinkers, despite that I blogged already six months ago that she supports drone warfare. (And, that she still hasn't called out Indian for imposing martial law in Kashmir, due to her RSS connections.)

But, it's just not true.

And not, not just says me.

Medea Benjamin. You know, the founder of Code Pink?

Here's what she says in ranking Democratic presidential candidates on peace issues, specifically about Gabbard:
Gabbard’s actual voting record on war and peace issues, especially on military spending, is not nearly as dovish as that of Sanders. She voted for 19 of 29 military spending bills in the past six years, and she has only a 51 percent Peace Action voting record. Many of the votes that Peace Action counted against her were votes to fully fund controversial new weapons systems, including nuclear-tipped cruise missiles (in 2014, 2015 and 2016); an 11th U.S. aircraft-carrier (in 2013 and 2015); and various parts of Obama’s anti-ballistic missile program, which fueled the New Cold War and arms race she now decries. 
Gabbard voted at least twice (in 2015 and 2016) not to repeal the much-abused 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, and she voted three times not to limit the use of Pentagon slush funds. In 2016, she voted against an amendment to cut the military budget by just 1 percent. Gabbard received $8,192 in “defense” industry contributions for her 2018 reelection campaign. 
Gabbard still believes in a militarized approach to counterterrorism, despite studies showing that this feeds a self-perpetuating cycle of violence on both sides.
She is still in the military herself and embraces what she calls a “military mindset.”

Let's unpack some of this.

First, Sanders is not totally a peace candidate. Note his military Keynesianism of lusting for F-35s for the Vermont National Guard, among other things. He is better overall in 2020 than 2016, though.

And, Gabbard's voting record shows she's not close.

ANY candidate voting for Moar Nukes is NOT, NOT, NOT a or the "peace candidate."

That's not to mention that as an establishmentarian a media outlet as the New York Times says that the weapons Gabbard and Obama supported building more of could be more tempting to use than older ones. "More thinkable," was what one brass hat called them.

Nor is any candidate who opposed repealing the AUMF a "peace candidate." Period. End of story. Brains and David Bruce Collins need to read this. 

Finally, unless she's filling out a legal obligation to the Guard that started before she entered Congress, which she surely is not, as a member of the military, willingly and not for money, she's part of the problem, not part of the solution.

There's this. The old duopoly "Peace through Strength" angle. This Tweet was deleted, but I screengrabbed it.

I fired back, to another, nondeleted Tweet that, "if that's how you can define Tulsi as a 'peace candidate,' I reject the idea that you're a 'peace voter.'" 

And I do. As with other things Tulsi, black is white and white is black in this world.

Said person had deleted that Tweet, so I had to screenshot it. They then got passive-aggressive when I called them on that, deleted a second Tweet, then posted a third and said "screenshot that." Rather, I told them BYYYYEEEEE. And then did one of my two normal Twitter actions.

Dalmia ties the truth of Gabbard as I do, in fair part to her Islamophobia. (Media Benjamin takes a pass on that one, sadly.)
Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, has made opposition to war her signature issue. During the second round of the Democratic debates, she was the only candidate who promised to "end wasteful regime change wars" and "take the trillions of dollars that we've been wasting on these wars and…redirect those resources into serving the needs of our people right here at home." But that doesn't make her a peacenik; it makes her an America Firster, like President Donald Trump. Indeed, although she went out of her way to condemn Trump as a "warmonger," there isn't much daylight between her position and his. ... 
Gabbard purports to be a dove when it comes to wars of regime change. But like Trump, she is a self-avowed hawk on Islamic terrorism. She repeatedly slammed President Barack Obama for shying away from referring to Al Qaeda and ISIS as "Islamic terrorists."
This ties back to the Twerker I screengrabbed above. This America First angle reminds me of the bon mot Tacitus made about ancient Rome, smartly putting it in the mouth of Briton chieftan Calgacus:

Ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant.

Or, in English

They create a desert and call it peace.

Dalmia then goes in for the "kill shot." Hate to use a military term, but with Gabbard and the TulsiTwerkers, what else is there?

As with me, three and a half years ago (yep, Kool-Aid drinkers, I've been on her that long), Dalmia goes back to her Hindutva Hindu nationalism support.
But perhaps her most disturbing transgression was her outreach to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi's militant brand of Hindu nationalism is fundamentally transforming a liberal country into an illiberal one where violent attacks on the minority Muslim population have become a daily occurrence—not because Indian Muslims are terrorists or radical extremists, but simply because they consume beef or refuse to chant the names of Hindu gods. Yet Gabbard, who, like me, was raised in the Hindu faith, has become close to Modi.
With this coming from a fellow Hindu, it cuts harder. Or it should.

One Twerker, "liked" by others, either missed, or deliberately ignored, the Hindutva angle. I called him out.

Finally, Max Van Dyke of International Policy Magazine. He gets at some "slipperiness" issues with Gabbard.

Van Dyke opens with the ultimate insult for the Twerkers. On foreign policy, Gabbard is an Obamiac!
Throughout her campaign, Gabbard and her supporters have sold her as the ‘peace candidate’ who will take on the military industrial complex and ‘end the wars.’ It is undeniable that her biggest selling point among her supporters is her perceived ‘anti-war’ stance on foreign policy. Yet a closer examination of her record on foreign policy reveals there’s more complexity: she appears to be following in Obama’s footsteps on foreign policy.

Now, more to the slipperiness:
Gabbard’s entire foreign policy blueprint would not be possible without Obama’s. Gabbard has been clear on her stance in opposition to regime change wars. However, the qualifier ‘regime change’ does a lot of work in that formulation. Furthermore, during an interview with the Hawaii Tribune Herald, Gabbard described her views on foreign policy with the following; “when it comes to the war against terrorists, I’m a hawk. When it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I’m a dove.” Elaborating in her views on the war on terror during an appearance on NDTV, Gabbard told an interviewer that the U.S. has a responsibility to “root out evil where ever it is” to defeat “radical Islamic extremism.” One might easily mistake this as a quote from Dick Cheney. 
The War on Terror is vague by design. ‘Terror’ is not a clear enemy. It’s a vague opposition that theoretically exists all over the globe and can never be fully eradicated. 
Van Dyke earns extra kudos for calling out chief Gabbard Kool-Aid mixer Michael Tracey as a hypocrite on some of this. 

He then ties this back to Obama:
Nevertheless, Gabbard continues to support the use of drone strikes around the world and continues to support the War on Terror. By using the Obama trick of moving from ground troop wars to drone wars, Gabbard has been able to sell herself as an anti-war peace candidate. Yet her advocacy of using drones to fight terrorism “wherever it is,” necessarily leads to unending warfare. 
And, Gabbard, per Evgeny Morozov, might be seen as a "solutionist" on drones.
Even if one grants the ‘very limited precision strikes’ justification, her own supporters, when used by anyone other than Gabbard, view that as unacceptable.
And, of course, claiming that drones were "precise" even as he bombed Afghan wedding parties was a trademark of Dear Leader himself.


Meanwhile, per the person I screenquoted above? Some of the other flak I've recently gotten on Twitter is "interesting." The people delivering it even more so.

Bohdar Herman. Says he's a small-l libertarian. May be a capital L one. This supporter of "the peace candidate" retweets gun nut dreck ultimately connected to discredited gun nut pseudo-social scientist John Lott, banned from Twitter. Nuff said. Promoting gun violence ain't peace, dude. He's the Twerker I called out, above. I've read, per Edward Isaac-Dovere, that a lot of cryptocurrency people are also backing Gabbard. GACK. Ties in with paleocon and Ron Paul-tard promoter Michael Tracey touting her, though. Greens and Green-leaners who support crypto are way the hell deluded, in general, and if this is part of their Tulsi backing?

Twerkers who are clueless, humorless twits. Or Twits. Or Twats:
Same Twerker lied in another Tweet. Said that Gabbard had recently made a statement about Modi and met with Indian opposition leader. She met with the opposition long ago, and has had no statement about Modi, let alone about Kashmir in specific, on either of her Twitter accounts since the start of the month. No press releases on her Congressional website. Nothing on her campaign website.

The lying in general is bad enough. The fact that it's almost sociopathic in its bald-facedness is what makes it worse. That said, since she does a lot of interviews on conspiracy theory media outlets, it's not surprising.

This Twerker? Not the first of these I've run into before. I of course told this person and others on the chain that I am a Green and that they're humorless and clueless.

Other Twerkers? I fire back on Twitter when you make non-factual claims. And comments here are moderated.

September 12, 2019

Dallas Observer does hit job on wind farm

The Dallas Observer runs a lot of good stuff.

But occasionally, it has a real clunker. That includes, in an ongoing saga, Jim Schutze anointing himself the white knight of Amber Guyger’s PR team or something.

More seriously than that?

A wind farm already exists in Cooke County and the Observer
is either ignorant of this and didn't try to find out or else this
was part of a hit-job mentality.
For whatever reason, the Observer sent an “editorial fellow” who SHOULD know better, and whom I therefore suspect of doing a hit job, up to cover community opposition to a wind farm out in Era, in Cooke County, northwest of Denton.

First, Meredith Lawrence has an M.A. in journalmamism from Columbia School of Journalism. Hence my all-caps “SHOULD” know better.

As for the not actually, or maybe a hit job?

This was a HUGE, one-sided hack job by Lawrence. I don't know if it was deliberate on her part or she just got hugely played.

Ditto for the Observer management.

It didn't even have the obvious question (if one knows the area) of asking foes how many of them have natural gas leases. (Many do; Cooke County is in the northern tip of the Barnett Shale.) That is itself an important factor. Natural gas prices are pretty much in the terlet right now; a new wind farm would only add to that. It would also reduce demand for future drilling.

Related to that? Two pieces of information, one easily already available and one just updated.

The already available? In three years, according to Wiki, wind electricity will be cheaper than every form of natural gas electricity except an advanced version of combined cycle power plants. It's already cheaper than all non-combined cycle gas power plants.

Second? And reflecting what I said about gas prices being in the terlet otherwise? Oct. 2, Comptroller Glenn Hegar reported natural gas production taxes for September were down 34. 5 percent from a year ago. Oops.

It also repeated some either unsubstantiated, or at best, not rigorously tested, claims about wind turbines.

Wind turbines aren't perfect, no. That said, many residents in Cooke County who have turbines on their property on a wind farm ALREADY IN PLACE (ALSO not mentioned in your story) have no real problems with either lights or noise.

Nor, in referencing the conflict of interest lawsuit, did Lawrence try to get even a pro-forma comment from county officials or try to get any background on the issue from local media.

Finally, the wind farm is "Wildcat," not "Wild Cat."

IMO, the Observer needs a folo story for some credibility.

That's especially since Era is WAY out in the boonies from Dallas, and not even on the Dallas side of the Metromess. (In other words, if there WERE a real issue, this would be more the territory of the Fort Worth Weekly, not the Observer.) And, as noted, Lawrence made no effort to look at the other side, or sides, of the issue.

Because of that, I have no idea why this piece was assigned in the first place other than to be a hit job. And, if Lawrence as an editorial fellow does such things on her own, without assignment, then Observer management needs to rethink such things.


They've been contacted, both Lawrence and management. They've not responded.

And, if an MA from a major J-school leads to stuff like this? It probably is an indicator that journalism degrees and credentialism in the journalism world are overrated.


In what appears more her speed, the Observer next had "editorial fellow" (by her background, sounds like "glorified intern") Lawrence do a hard-hitting piece on Texas raising the tobacco age to 21. She's halfway redeemed herself with a decent job on how environmentally friendly or not grass-fed beef is, but it's still a "huh" piece for an urban alt-weekly. (I googled after initially blogging; the amount of stuff she did for Oregon Public Broadcasting, while more than "none," was "slim" indeed.) And, Observer, if you think this is clickbait? I have Ghostery and you should stop living by clicks anyway.


And, as for Observer management? Era, Texas, on the Fort Worth side of the Metromess extended, but nowhere close to being in either half of the Metromess, can get a news story. BUT, Oktoberfests in North Texas can't include Muenster's?

Howie Hawkins in Dallas

Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins had about 2 hours in Dallas to visit with Greens and Green-leaners interested in getting to know more about him Saturday.

Hawkins was introduced by his campaign treasurer, Travis Christal. He then spoke for a little over an hour, then fielded questions. He apologized if anything he said was repetitious. He'd been in Arizona until late Friday, helping with a party ballot access drive there, and said he had only had about two hours of sleep.

He said that he got every Bernie Sanders backer who dropped by his ballot petition table to sign. Note the smartphone and the "Bernie" image in the photo at right; it embiggens when you click it.

He said that many of the signers said that, if Sanders didn't get the Democratic nomination, they'd vote Green in the general. We'll see; I'm sure many of them who said that in 2016 didn't follow through.

That said, Hawkins did say that, on the issue of "lesser evilism" voting that "You're defeating yourself before you even start."

First, one thing I liked was his realism. He said it's highly unlikely he'll be elected president, if he gets the party's nomination, but Greens need to be out there fighting. He cited his 2014 New York gubernatorial campaign, where he forced Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo to the left, including signing an anti-fracking bill, to get re-elected.

"We move the debate. We don't have to win the election to move the debate," he said.

Hawkins didn't cross the line into AccommoGreen territory, and I don't think he ever would (unlike Jill Stein in 2016) but that's always an issue that bears watching in my book. I agree with his idea, but Greens should never run assuming that that's going to happen or assuming they can make it happen.

Back to where I was two paragraphs ago.

Hawkins started his talk with ballot access issues. He noted that in Canada and Britain, a minuscule number of signatures were need to run for parliaments there, versus the thousands required for U.S. Congressional races of independent candidates or third-party ones whose parties lack ballot access. (Mike Gravel has now urged his supporters to help Hawkins on this.)

He said that being retired after more than 30 years of unionized labor gave him the time to help with this at various states, as well as the time to heed calls by many to put his organizing experience, and his political experience, to run for president. And this is important not just for 2020, but for the rest of the decade and beyond, he said.

Speaking of the unionized labor, he also noted that President Barack Obama, whom he later called the Deporter in Chief, had agreed to sign off on reducing pension protections, at the push of current Democratic presidential candidate and then Vice President Joe Biden.

From there, Hawkins enumerated three "life or death" issues:
1. Climate change
2. Income inequality
3. The revived nuclear arms race.

The first issue should be obvious to any Green. So should the difference between the Green Party's Green New Deal, spearheaded in part by Hawkins, and the Democrats' watered down version of that.

Here's Howie's now explicitly ecosocialist Green New Deal.

On the second? In terms of job security and other issues, Hawkins noted that, after FDR, every Democratic president has had at least one Congress in their term or two terms where the Democrats controlled both houses, and yet, income inequality and job insecurity have risen under them as well as under Republicans.

As an ex-Marine who has seen tactical nuclear weapons, Hawkins said that tactical nukes as well as a revised push for strategic level nuclear arms — especially missiles with much higher speeds and thus less warning times — were an existential threat.

I totally agree here. And ANY Democrat (that's YOU, Tulsi Gabbard) who voted to expand our nuclear arsenal is NOT a peace candidate. Period. This is another aspect of the Tulsi Kool-Aid vs reality that too many Greens are still drinking. That would be the "I support Moar Nukes" Tulsi.

So, it's Howie that is a peace candidate — along with other Greens who have the same stance on nuclear weapons.

Hawkins finished by looping back to ballot access and tying it to larger issues of Green organization. He noted that the largely white background of the party was an issue. However, he said just taking a walk in a minority neighborhood wasn't the best way to improve this. Rather, trust and relationships needed to be built, he said.

He didn't address a pet peeve of this blogger and a number of other Greens — namely that the national party's "decentralization" plank in its Ten Key Values tends to favor "paper" state parties in places such as Ohio. I don't know how much of an issue that part of party organization is for him. But it is for me. I see today's national GP as being like the Articles of Confederation era national government.

And, I did disagree on the issue of "open borders." To me, open borders is almost like free trade instead of fair trade. Yeah, the EU may have open borders (to a degree; you generally don't qualify for welfare benefits when you move to a new member state). But, that's within the EU only.

The US and Mexico's economies are not integrated to the degree the EU member states are. As far as something more parallel to that? EU member states in southern and southeastern Europe are tired of Middle East refugees coming to their countries, but wanting to ultimately go to Germany or Scandinavia, and then in turn being blocked.

As for the economics? Measured in purchasing power parity, the US per capita income is more than three times that of Mexico and far greater than that of Central American states.

The gap between Germany, the best-off larger EU nation (I'm excepting Luxembourg, Ireland and Norway) and Bulgaria is only about 2.25 to 1.

On the flip side, re refugees and the EU starting to rethink open borders? The gap between Germany and Syria is FAR larger than that between the US and El Salvador.

I don't know what else can be done better beyond ending military interventions and destabilizations (which is plenty big enough), but I'll take a pass on open borders. To me, in the US vs. Latin American situation, it comes off as a sort of Wilsonian nation-building internalized.

I do know it's not just me on this issue. About 15 years ago, The Nation had a piece supporting open borders and got strongly attacked by readers.

Had he meant something like Julián Castro's reduced penalties, civil only, for illegal border crossings, which Tulsi Gabbard has called "open borders" on wingnut media sites, it might be different. But he cited the EU and he clearly means open border.



Note: I have not yet formally committed to a single candidate, but Hawkins is on my shortlist along with Dario Hunter and Ian Schlakman. I wish I had been able to squeeze in going to the state convention down in Temple to hear Hunter but I couldn't. I hope one or both is in the Metromess in the near future.


Down in Houston, David Bruce Collins still doesn't agree on Hawkins take on All Things Russia, but says we don't need purity tests and likes what he heard overall.

As for purity tests? We all have them. We just have different parameters for how we construct them and how loose or tight of boundaries they have.


Green candidates will be on stage together at the GP Black Caucus hosted debate Sept. 20. I'm now reminded of what Bruce Dixon thought of the mix of tokenism and paper-party issues that led to at least some people getting on said caucus last year.

September 11, 2019

Texas progressives kick Royce West, Eddie Lucio, Goeb, Abbott

The Texas Progressives wishes blowhard Donald Trump would follow blowhard Hurricane Dorian and Sharpie himself out to sea. Short of that, we wish short-term forecast meteorologists would stop the reverse weather porn of forecasting seasonal, or even slightly below average temps, for the Pointy Abandoned Object State™. Until then, here's your roundup for the week.

Texas politics

The Trib bemoans the potential effect the end of straight-ticket voting could have on downballot races while, in a matter of framing, ignoring the boost it could have for third-party ballot access maintenance in downballot statewide races. #Fify, Trib.

Off the Kuff discusses some strategies for dealing with the latest voting restriction ploys.

The Observer looks at ConservaDem Eddie Lucio getting not just one but two primary challengers. Gus Bova notes that Lucio has consistently "punched down" on a lot of people in his 30 years under the Pink Dome. Many Hispanics as well as Anglos in his district hate him. Question is: Are there enough of them — and will enough of them turn out — to unseat him? Now, if only some Dems in Houston would do the same to the Texas Senate's No. 2 ConservaDem, John Whitmire.

Also at the Observer, Christopher Collins talks about homeless NIMBYism. (Of course, homelessness has more than two sides on its causes as well as its solutions. And, there's bits of NIMBYism in all of that.)

Federal judge Keith Ellison is threatening to lock up some TDCJ folks if they don't stop the cruel and inhumane sweatboxes without air conditioning in Texas prisons.

Danny Goeb, our Lite Guv, after the Odessa shooting, backed some mostly cosmetic changes, but did include closing the "stranger to stranger" gun sales loophole, and the NRA (Nazi Redneck Assholes) is so wingnut it's even sniping at him.

Austin's ABC station collected the emails that pissed-off people flamed Greg Abbott with after the El Paso mass shooting.

Dan Solomon doesn't see much value in "expedited executions" for mass shooters.

Guest columning at the NYT, Chris Hooks offers his explanation for the so-called Texodus.

Better Texas Blog worries about lower Medicaid and CHIP enrollment numbers.

Texas politics, US Senate race

Dems seeking to replace John Cornyn debated in Frisco recently. Gunz was the big issue; most candidates said they support some sort of buyback program. (I'll have a "roundup" piece coming soon.)

Yours truly saw the Texas Trib's piece on Royce West's federal financial disclosure forms, and knocked out an update to his old "baggage" pieces about Royce.


Jim Schutze writes about how Eddie Bernice Johnson is apparently ready to sell out South Dallas. (If she's involved, surely Our Man Downtown, John Wiley Price, is getting a cut somewhere, somehow.) Schutze also says Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson's real conflicts of interest are far greater than his on-paper ones. And, for the trifecta (including the third time he's done this) Schutze continues his "interesting" or weird Amber Guyger bromance.


Gwendoline Wu presents ten apps to improve your Houston living experience.


The latest Permian oil boom is sending the Pecos cantaloupe (they're grown on both sides of the state line, at least a few) to the graveyard.

The Current reviews a new animated series set in San Antonio.

The TPA wishes The Bloggess good luck with her planned bookstore.

National politics

SocraticGadfly took an initial look at Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins and his intra-Greens controversial statements on Russiagate shortly before his visit to Texas. (A follow-up post is coming, about his Dallas stop.)

Columbia Journalism Review, with input from climate journalists, says that the CNN climate town hall was better than many expected. Well, within Democrats, it did.

Other national

Urban Edge examines the connection between wealth and tree distribution in American cities.

September 10, 2019

And where will the St. Louis Cardinals finish?

We're close enough to the finish line to ixnay late guesses in the poll that I've had up. So, I did a screengrab Friday, and you can see the results at left.

I voted "second and wild card" myself. I thought the Cubs were likely to win the division again, but, especially after the Paul Goldschmidt trade, which I loved but which didn't deliver as much as expected, I assumed the Birds on Bats would hold off the Brew Crew for second.

As of now, the Cards still sit in first, even as small rumblings continue around Wrigley's Friendly Confines that Joe Maddon could be out as manager after this year. You'd think Chicago had turned in to Boston or Philly as an ungrateful sports town, eh?

Interesting that nobody picked "third and wild card." Worries about the Rockies and/or D-backs out west, or Philly after the Bryce Harper signing, may have been a factor in thinking that only one WC would come from the division (which seems true). Harper, BTW, is doing just about as I expected when I told some of the more mouth-breather division of Cards fans on Twitter we didn't need him. Notable, while his D isn't as bad as last year, it's on the minus side again, and probably won't get better in the future.

The Birds still seem to be doing a bit of smoke and mirrors. The Cubs have a higher overall scoring margin on the year and the Cardinals' staff still is less than inspiring, especially the starters. Maybe Dallas Keuchel didn't seem needed, but call me back when we get into the playoffs. Keuchel is still eating innings and while not fantastic otherwise, is at least solid. For the Birds, Miles Mikolas continues to scuff, Michael Wacha continues to suck, and who knows what Adam Wainwright will show up?

Jack Flaherty is having a very good year, but Keuchel is better than every other starter for the Cards and do you really want to entrust a 23-year-old with being your playoff "ace"?

Speaking of ... should the Cards hold on for the division title, they'd be matching up against the Braves in all likelihood.

It's true that the bullpen has been firmed by the coming out of Giovanny Gallegos, acquired in the Luke Voit trade. But still, I don't see the Cards winning this. Braves in either 4 or 5 games.

Royce West baggage, the latest and greatest

I have repeatedly mentioned the "baggage" that Royce West would carry into this race. Well, his financial disclosures show yet more of that. He's worth between $9-$28 million, and — shades of Tony Sanchez — runs a tax consulting company in partnership with the company of GOP megadonor G. Brint Ryan.

Who? The Trib explains:
Ryan is a multi-millionaire Dallas tax consultant and CEO of Ryan LLC. He and his company’s political action committees have poured millions into the coffers of state and federal campaigns and political causes — mostly benefiting GOP candidates — including over $100,000 to the Republican National Committee and the party’s congressional fundraising arm since Donald Trump was elected president, according to state and federal filings. 
Ryan also served as a tax adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign and his company paid the $100,000 fee for Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial 2017 speech at the University of North Texas, where Ryan serves on the system’s board of regents, according to published reports. Ryan’s state PACs have given West at least $37,000 for his Texas Senate campaigns since 2006, state filings show.
That's PLENTY of oops right there.

Being in bed with a Trumper in this election is HORRIBLE optics. And, there's no Eddie Bernice Johnson to bail him out on this one, and it's not a local race. The Trib notes that federal election reporting requirements (didn't Julian Castro a few weeks ago teach you that?) are much stricter than the Tom DeLay bullshit here in Texas.

But, but, that's not all.
West reported a 40 percent stake in RyanWest LLC, which touts itself as a minority-owned company. As a partner in the firm, he also reported receiving $20,800 over the period covered by the federal report. It’s not clear who else has an ownership stake in the firm.
It IS clear to these eyeballs, though, that that's a violation of the spirit of minority-owned companies, unless other minorities own 11 percent AND were not fronted ownership money by Royce.

The Trib also notes that some of West’s financial filings conflict with other financial filings.

Oh? He and his staff also engaged in the self-inflicted wound of “not returning phone calls.”

If that, plus what I've linked about West's connections to the Dallas Inland Port shenanigans, his abandonment of South Dallas development after he got his UNT-Dallas built and other things isn't enough? If the Trib's federal campaign filing analysis isn't enough?

A full decade ago, Jim Schutze had a laundry list of All Things Royce in the ethics world. That, in turn, leads me to the question of whether money or power motivates him more.

Of course, should he run the gantlet of the Democratic primary successfully AND topple John Cornyn in the general, he'll have less of either. He'll be a first-term backbencher, one of 100 rather than one of 31. He'll have to be a full-time Congresscritter, not a part-time Legiscritter with a grifting (for both power and money) law office. All of his current legal clients among school districts would likely drop him like a hot potato if having him on retainer threatened federal education funds for them.

I’ll give you 50-50 odds that Royce West turns out to be the Loopy Lupe Valdez of the 2020 primary. The difference is that, with credible opponents, he’s not getting the nomination.

September 09, 2019

Family ties and Bernie exceptionalism

Ahh, ahh, Liza Featherstone, and ahh, ahh, Jacobin.

The magazine is determined to counterweight much of the mainstream media's apparent antagonism to Bernie Sanders by doing a full 180 of puff pieces.

Liza Featherstone is the latest, claiming that it's OK to bring up family and friends ties of political candidates, and starting with Elizabeth Warren's daughter, then turd-polishing Bernie's own problems and issues by silence and omerta.

The reality, as I tweeted back to her, is that there's nepotism a-plenty at both the Sanders Institute (where Featherstone mentioned  and Our Revolution HQ.

Liza then went on to talk about Jane Sanders as "a former college president" without mentioning either her real-estate speculator role in causing its closure (indeed, the closure isn't mentioned at all) or the fact that nepotism played a role there, too. (It can be added that Jane's daughter tried to follow stepdaddy as Burlington mayor.)

Bernie himself, in some of his real estate peculations as Burlington mayor, has his own partial connection to the college closing.

Beyond THAT, Liza didn't even mention Jane's name as part of the omerta. In a petard-hoisting moment, I could also argue that comes off as looking potentially sexist, too.

She also doesn't note Our Revolution being a 501(c)4 and opacity / lack of transparency issues related to that.

Bernie himself, also presumably under the influence of Jane, had IRS transparency issues in 2016.

We can discuss whether or not nepotism is by its very nature a class-based issue, as Featherstone has said her piece was about class based issues.

We can also ask whether or not Featherstone was implying Sanders had some monopoly on family values among top Democratic contenders:
We can’t expect everyone affiliated with a presidential candidate to make a virtuous living. We live, after all, in a rapacious, dirty system. (Though it’s worth noting Bernie Sanders’s children include an advocate for the disabled, a progressive politician, and a yoga studio owner, while his wife is a former college president who currently runs a left-wing think tank with the help of another of their sons.)

I say that's exactly what Featherstone was intending.

Featherstone could probably counter, if she wanted, that this is Jane's daughter by a previous marriage. I'd fire back that Bernie named Jane to run Our Revolution already knowing about the nepotism at Burlington College.

And, on classism, I'd also bring up the 501(c)4 issue.

Bernie has gotten better on some things in 2020 vs 2016, like some aspects of foreign policy. On the other hand, IMO, on all the above and more, he's gotten worse, or more just another Democrat, on personal life issues. What hasn't changed is that Berners in both election cycles will try to talk away or talk around his shortcomings.

Finally, and I don't care if some SJWer think it's sexist, as one did three years ago, I have long thought that Jane wears the pants in that family.

Speaking of family ties, Featherstone and her hubby, Doug Henwood, appear to remain good Nation-reading, Nation-writing, so-called leftist Democrat duopolists.

Bye, Liz. On my previous main Twitter account, I said bye to Henwood long ago, after he repeated Adolph Reed BS claiming New Mexico was one of the whitest states in the union, among other things. (Before that, Henwood, economics writer and all, got the Gini coefficient rankings of American states backward in a "gotcha" attempt to claim that Utah was the most unequal state in the union.


Not the only recent Jacobin turd-polishing. Seth Ackerman a few days ago claimed the New Deal really was socialism of a sort.

Sorry, Seth, but I'm going to refudiate you by repeating an anecdote Howie Hawkins related.

FDR reportedly told Socialist presidential candidate Norman Thomas that he should like how the New Deal was carrying out Socialist platform ideas. Thomas reportedly replied: "You're carrying them out on a stretcher."


Jacobin is fairly useful for kicking mainstream Democrats. Other than that, and beyond the Bernie fellating, it's hit and miss on a lot of stuff.

Top blogging in August

For the month of August, multiple of my most popular blog posts (not all written in August) dealt with media issues.

But, over the last 30 days, the No. 1 post was "Bonnen vs Mucus vs Dems." I remain convinced that Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and wingnut de luxe Michael Quinn Sullivan, the emissary of Christo-fascist Tim Dunn, were negotiating something or another, and continued to do so after Mucus first went public about their not agreeing on terms Bonnen allegedly offered.

No. 2? My re-read and re-review of Richard Frank's "Downfall," posted for the anniversary of Hiroshima bombing. I have no problem disagreeing with many fellow leftists who find the bombing there, and even more, Nagasaki, so abhorrent that they rewrite history.

Nos 3, 5, 6 and 9 were directly or indirectly about media issues.

In No. 3, I bemoaned the closing of Pacific Standard, but told others in the media spinning false narratives that its demise was largely self-inflicted.

In No. 5, I talked about the proposed craptacular Gannett-Gatehouse merger, and some likely effects specific to Texas.

At No. 6 was the second installment of my callout on Julian Assange whataboutism by people who are convinced without any doubt he's a journalist (I remain ambivalent about where he falls, and note that Snowden has never claimed to be one), but beyond that, ignore his part in peddling the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, etc.

No. 9 was about reasons not to trust Politifact.

The others?

No. 4 looked at the possibility of Rust Belt 2016 Trump voters undervoting the 2020 presidential election (or sitting out of voting entirely). It drew Twitter flak from a junior-grade Trumpist who later was refuted by a steelworker calling him an idiot.

No. 7? Trump's Greenland follies, updated for Sharpie genius and Dorian.

No. 8? I looked at the possibility of Amazon becoming like the People's Republic of China, specifically in the possibility of doing something parallel to Beijing's forcing American manufacturing companies into technology information surrender. In this case, it's Amazon possibly doing like that to reverse engineer small appliances into its own brands just to slap Alexa or Dash controls on them.

No. 10 was an update on the real estate grifting connected with the Texas high speed rail project.