SocraticGadfly: 9/22/19 - 9/29/19

September 27, 2019

Knee-jerk anti-Resistance pulls twosiderism
on Trump's Ukraine kerfuffle

I've got a longer blog post coming in a few weeks about alleged outside-the-box journos and the Tulsi Gabbard Kool-Aid.

But, seeing some stuff on Twitter in the last 36 hours, instead of appending what's below to the end of that, wanted to do a separate blog post.

Aaron Maté has been very good about challenging the Trump-Putin collusion line. I don't know where he stands on the whole issue of Russian meddling in US elections, but he probably wrongly throws the baby out with the bathwater by rejecting that, too.

I also know that, although he hasn't done a puff piece interview of Tulsi Gabbard, unlike Matt Taibbi, he has, by silence if nothing else, helped peddle the Tulsi Kool-Aid.

OK, on to the Trump-Ukraine issue.

On the parallel issue of McResistance, or being reflexively against it, we do need to mention another person by name with Maté — Benjamin Norton.

And, before we go too far, this word from old friend Idries Shah:

In case it's not yet clear, per the header and the one tag, yes, I think there's plenty of twosiderism going on.

On the Ukrainian kerfuffle, Aaron first started saying it was perhaps either a Trumpian trap game for Dems or else just more Mueller type stuff. So I tweeted him this from Silverstein. Then, a day later, he clearly pulled in his horns with this tweet:
Overton Window movement isn't just left-to-right politically. It includes other things like this.

So, I Tweeted Aaron and Max this from Silverstein with the "ask" that they have him on the show.

(Also of note: Aaron deleted the tweet I first quote-tweeted.)

And, I guess we need to add Yasha Levine to the list, too. Aaron retweeted:
Fact is, Yasha, that several people, including myself, asked Vogel how he was making this claim and others pointed out facts to undermine it.

And, of course, Michael Tracey is there:
Says the man with the extremely deliberately poor track record of peddling Tulsi Gabbard Kool-Aid lies and calling Lyin Ted, Booger Cruz, Rafael Cruz "charming" (and likely to be the Prez nominee in 2016) in 2014. That's Michael Tracey for you, folks!

Later on Thursday, Ken specifically called out Tracey, and one of his Tweets, by name. He's right in that this might be a dud, but, he's right on the main point. This isn't some extension of Russiagate.

Shit, Judge Napolitano SAID ON FOX that he thinks Trump committed a crime.

And Friday? Chris Wallace is now part of the reality-based community:
Well, there you have it.

Well, not yet you don't. Friday evening, Trump's diplomatic envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, resigned amid reports he was in on the wheeling-dealing.


Update, Nov. 8: Aaron got kicked on his former news site, The Real News over his twosider-stanning. (Watch out, world, "stanning" is going to get attached to more!) Matt also got a bit of kicking. Ryan Cooper and William Rivers Pitt are pretty insightful themselves. So, contra this DSA Rose who's still part of the duopoly, and where I saw the link:
I'll take them first.

Conspiracy theories are the new Gnosticism:
What might that mean for modern politics and society?

The psychology of conspiracy thinkers appears complex.

On the surface, it might seem simple. More and more social psychology research ties acceptance of conspiracy thinking to perceived loss of control over life.

But that itself can’t be the sum of it. Many people who lose a greater amount of control over life than they previously had do not buy into conspiracy thinking. For example, 95 percent of people who have strokes (very conservative estimate, surely more like 99.5 percent) don’t claim their stroke (if they even use that word) was caused by chemtrails.

Per the medieval Western Church pondering the mystery of salvation, “Cur alii, non alii”?

So, the psychology is more complex than “loss of control.”

But, acceptance of conspiracy theories is also about more than psychology. Trying to reduce the likelihood of acceptance of conspiracy theories to loss of control is like Orwell’s tale from India about the blind men describing an elephant. Even outside of that, limiting the discussion to psychology would be like men with severe astigmatism trying to describe it or something.

Movement skeptics or Skeptics™ folks might say that conspiracy thinking is anti-scientific. Well, partially true with anti-science conspiracy theories such as the chemtrails above or faked moon landings, but not even fully true there. And science, other than social sciences, isn’t involved at all with politics or history conspiracy theories.

But philosophy is.

Logic, basically classic informal logic and the classical logical fallacies, are obviously in play, even if Massimo Pigliucci says we should stop calling people on fallacies, even when they’re committing what would be considered classical fallacies by any disinterested observer.

(Based on that, I look at the difference between specific actual conspiracies and conspiracy theories in this blog post.)

But, other areas of philosophy are involved, too. One is epistemology. Another is philosophy of language, specifically on agreeing on language used to describe and to “frame” an event. And, in some cases, it and epistemology may overlap here.

Then there’s the role of the Internet.

The ramp-up of misinformation in general, and conspiracy thinking in particular, has been fueled by the Net in general and social media in particular. That's even more the case, I think, with disinformation, which is deliberate, per the distinctions the author has at the link. The question is, is this something desired by conspiracy theory promoters? Are a higher percentage of them, than of the general public, anarchists in some way? If so, which came first, believing conspiracy theories or anarchist tendencies?

And, is conspiracy thinking, or at least promotion of it, an addictive behavior inside the addictive behavior of being online in general and being online with devices and/or social media in particular? (There's ironies here. I'm including this in a blog post that could be just for "the machine," and the author wrote this piece which could also just be for "the machine.")

Beyond THAT, though, those theories still get no closer to the cur alii, non alii than we have been so far.

One author at Psychology Today postulates a second reason. (I’m taking understanding and certainly as ultimately a subset of control and thus not a second reason.)

And that is the positive self-image angle.

David Ludden doesn’t use the word, but … I just thought of it.

Conspiracy theorists are Gnostics. They believe they have secret, esoteric knowledge. And that does help their self image.

Beyond that, the rise of the social media has made it much easier for people to self-sort. For instance, there’s several sub-conspiracy theories within the JFK assassination conspiracy theory world, as in, LBJ did it, or the Mob did it, or Castro did it, or the “deep state” did it, etc. (I've been at Dealey Plaza on a Nov. 22.) Facebook groups, and probably even more, sub-Reddits, are among leading avenues for allowing these to grow.

Not to underestimate the power of the spoken word, and the ease of making videos now, YouTube is probably No. 3. Especially now that it’s becoming easy to fake videos.

Now, the parallelism with Gnosticism may not seem complete. For example, where is the difference between “adepts” and “learners” or “auditors”?

Well, with things like “closed” or “secret” Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, it’s right there. You may have to have demonstrated a certain amount of knowledge on “open” Facebook, Twitter, Reddit larger groups, etc., before you gain admission to one of these groups. And, since it’s a group run by a leader, you’re always at danger of expulsion.

The psycho-history angle also has parallels.

This, then, actually ties back to real live Gnosticism. Gnosticism arose in the late Hellenistic era, but took off when? Under the Roman Empire, certainly the most powerful nation state west of China both in external power and in internal control of its citizenry before modern times. And, east of its borderlands, the Parthians semi-organized, and then the Sassanids more organized, an empire of sorts of their own An America where, ostensibly democratic fronts, people worry about the big brother of big government, big business or both, is very real. (Or, to extend Rome-vs-Persia, it was like an early Cold War.)

The loss of control ties with an attempt to regain control, even if the area of control has to be massively circumscribed.

That said, to the degree we do take knowledge and certainty itself as a third issue, that links back to philosophy, namely, epistemology.

That’s more insight, but still not total insight on the cur alii, non alii.

And Undark seems to have another piece of the puzzle, from neuroscience. 

People who understand much about our hominid ancestors know that they are believed to have had a penchant for two things: agency imputation and pattern detection. It’s also believed that the most evolutionarily successful hominids were those that overdid it to some degree, because the price of a false positive was far less than that of a false negative.

According to two researchers, one Dutch, one American, Elizabeth Preston says that conspiracy theorists are likely to have a high level of false positives on pattern detection. The Dutch researcher, with a Dutch colleague, adds that many conspiracy theorists may also imbibe in another early hominid issue: xenophobia toward outgroups. Given that issues like that are how more conservative people allegedly differ from more liberal people, per the Big Five personality scale (I think the claims are overblown), this could be seen as a partial additional explainer of some politically conservative conspiracy thinking.

Also, per David Hume reminding us that the reason need always follow the passions, conspiracy theories are always emotionally driven. That's even more the case than with traditional motivated reasoning.

This ties, in this case, to the regaining of control, and with it, the gaining of a sense of power. Asking people to surrender psychological power is as difficult as asking them to surrender physical power. Tie this, then, into the world of modern democratic and semi-democratic politics. Conspiracy thinking can control, and can be used by leaders to control, political behaviors.

But, that's not the biggie. The biggie, here in the US is getting people to accept that our nation's population has doubled since Eisenhower era America and that the world population is headed toward 8 billion.

So, let's let James Tiberias Kirk weigh in:

 That's right, there are about a million things in this universe we can have and about a million (really, more like a billion) we can't.

It IS no fun facing that.

But, being in the reality-based world involves accepting just that fact.

So, how do we get conspiracy theorists to stop this? Probably not easy.

A better question is, how do we stop potential conspiracy theorists from becoming actual ones?

My thought is that that, on the level of our daily friends, rather than trying to refute the conspiracy theory that's tempting them, to instead point out many other things in their daily lives that they don't control, and then, ask them if this really upsets them.

After that, maybe a transition to the idea that "some" people (while making clear that you're not marking them up) believe in conspiracy theories due to a perceived loss of control. And then, if they're willing to talk more about the particular conspiracy theory, only at that point, tackle that issue.

Ditto for the purely Gnostic issues of insider, esoteric knowledge. Point out the many things that they do actually know, some of which may not be known to very many people. Encourage them to maybe brag on that a bit more in their daily lives — while not sounding like a Cliff Clavin.

September 26, 2019

Kevin Durant, Warrior whiner

Best of luck to KD in rehabbing his Achilles and on his future with the Brooklyn Nets, but in his recent Wall Street Journal interview, Kevin Durant comes off as a whiner about his time with the Golden State Warriors.

I've read elsewhere that he and coach Steve Kerr reportedly didn't get along. The story mentions that he and Draymond Green had issues.

But he says it's more than, and different from, that, as far as why he decided to check out. He mentions feeling an outsider when he first came there, and name checks Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala as, from coming up within the team, leading to that outsider feeling.


First, you knew that going there. And now, going to the Nets, a team with no A-grade people who came up with the team as draft choices (Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are nice, but not all that), you'll get to avoid that, in addition, with friend (really?) Kyrie Irving as a fellow free agent taking the first vagabond hits, you'll be spared that further. (At least Kyrie manned up on his time with the Celtics, or did so for show.)

Second, you'll have people wonder if that's part of why you chose the Nets.

Third, on claims that you never choke, you'll have people wondering if you didn't like the pressure.

Fourth, with the dissing of the Warriors offense on top of this, you'll have people wondering how much you tried to fit in, in the first place.

Have fun with the Nets. You've already been called out as a whiner elsewhere. And, this makes you look more mercenary, not less. Either deal with it better or stop inflicting it on us.

If part of this is being an introvert, that's fine. Just own up to it.

September 25, 2019

Texas progressives laugh at populist governments

Texas Progressives, beyond crying at home over Donald Trump's latest ineptitude and Joe Biden's latest gaffes, wonder which Parliament will collapse first — the House of Commons with Boris Johnson or the Knesset with Bibi Netanyahu.

In the meantime, dive into this week's Roundup with all sorts of good stuff.

Texas politics

Off the Kuff looks at the Crystal Mason illegal voting conviction, which just had its appellate hearing.

Stephen Young is enjoying the Dan Patrick/MQS fight.


The Trib profiles hot-shot lawyer William Brewer III, the legal beagle right arm to NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and the bitter feud between him and Ollie North. Showing modern national neoliberal Dems' issues with reliance on just a few professions for money and political flak, Brewer is a big donor to Dear Leader and others.

Jim Schutze pens, by my count, part four in his ongoing bromance with Amber Guyger, although this one is more dispassionate than the previous three. Dallas Observer colleague Stephen Young gives a more straightforward overview of what to expect in her trial for killing Botham Jean. Per Young's account, you get a better idea than that of Schutze on the iffy issue of charging her with murder, not manslaughter. (I think it's probably a bad charge, myself, even given her alleged racial animus background which Schutze has continued to ignore.)


The Observer notes that Imelda likely was the FIFTH "500 year flood" to hit the Houston area in five years. Hey, former mayor Annise Parker? Still expecting Helltown's population to pass Chicago? If it does, it will only be because of forced job moves. (Sidebar: Who elects worse mayors, Houston or Dallas?)

And, with this hitting the Petrochemical Coast, OilPrice wonders why eXXXon et al don't have their refineries better protected against such flooding.

In light of the Abiqaiq attack, a reminder that Saudi Aramco owns the largest refinery in the US at Port Arthur.

As promised, David Bruce Collins provides an update on his interview with the Chronic on All Things Green in Harris County, mainly that it's now up. (Sadly, the neoliberal Sunrise Movement, in comments, is kind of horning in. And, if its comments are true, some Houston Greens need to look a gift horse — or rather a horse thief regifting said horse to Democrats — more closely in the mouth.) And, I think Janis Richards is wrong about that thievery putting the GP on people's lips. And as I said in comments there, if a state party co-chair believes that, it means party marketing efforts will remain a long slog. (And, a day later, here's Texas 10 Democratic Congresscritter candidate Mike Siegel, guest-posting at Down with Tyranny, with nary a word about the Green Party.)

Brains updates Houston municipal election news.

Above the Law laughs at Houston mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee.

And, it appears that among the mayoral candidates, Derrick Broze is indeed interesting — three-quarters almost tear-jerking success story, but blended with one-quarter of some combo of Marianne Williamson and Jill Stein on woo plus bad health advice. (Were I in Houston, I'd still vote for him, despite the one-quarter, but it wouldn't be easy.) As for his 5G worries? If Broze were actually informed, he'd know the actual 5G worry is Chinese snooping, not health issues.


The "abortion sanctuary city" movement gains steam. Please, Austin, counter with the "capital punishment sanctuary city" movement.


SocraticGadfly ranks some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates by cult level of their following.

Six Green Party presidential candidates were at a forum sponsored by the party's Black Caucus. Independent Political Report has full video.

Decades of U.S. meddling in Central America by presidents of both parties may have hurt El Salvador more than any other country there. Now Trump wants it to be the dumping ground for refugees from all that meddling.

The Lunch Tray has thoughts about flavored milks.

Paradise in Hell channels Trump.

September 24, 2019

Greta Thunberg and her minders
and Green New Deal delusions and schizophrenia

With Greta Thunberg officially hitting rock star status by speaking to the UN General Assembly yesterday, maybe it's time to talk about the people behind the throne.

It's sad, but not surprising, to see Jacobin and Liza Featherstone, a hardcore leftist  Democratic Party supporter along with hubby Doug Henwood, trotting Greta Thunberg up the flagpole and saluting her.

Jacobin, after all, in its own delusions, tries to shove everything left of Elizabeth Warren into one of two pigeonholes — it's "gotta" be either Democratic Socialists of America Democrats stuff, or else quasi-Marxist socialism. On environmental issues, it ignores the Green Party's ecosocialist Green New Deal, continuing to focus on, and criticize, the Dems' weak tea version without going further.

Anyway, what I am talking about?

Featherstone recently wrote a simplistic piece called "Why Greta is Good." But it's not just her and Jack in the Bin. Counterpunch felt the need to channel The Intercept and repost a Thunberg interview video.

Worse yet? Jill Stein, who comes off as less and less of an in-depth thinker or even close to it all the time, channeled "brave support" for Thunberg as a way to bash Obama, quote-tweeting Dear Leader meeting Thunberg. In turn, I quote-tweeted HER:
So, what is the reality?

Well, let's go to Wrong King of Green. Its focus is monitoring international NGOs who are pimping for a neoliberal-driven attack on climate change. It's occasionally a bit harsh for me, but much of it is spot on. (It also can write LONG for a blog at times; you're forewarned.)

WKOG recently wrapped up not two blogs, but one, then two whole series of blog posts about who's behind co-opting Thunberg. And co-opting it is. Per one person who responded back to me about  using the "alleged," I said I was writing from Thunberg's point of view. I honestly don't think she recognizes she's being co-opted, even though she is.

And, the truth hurts.

Hurts enough that WKOG has gotten a lot of pushback, enough that another of its writers has done a follow-up piece, defending Cory Morningstar's original work and noting CLEARLY that it is an attack in the NGOs co-opting Thunberg and in the words of Noam Chomsky, "manufacturing consent."

So, let's look further at Hiroyuki Hamada's defense of Morningstar.
The series does not attack the 16-year-old activist at all. It points out those organizations and individuals which closely surround her in forming a momentum for their agenda. It delineates how the mobilization fits within the larger framework of corporate “environmentalism”, colonialism, global capitalism and imperialism. The trickery of the accusation that the work attacks a child and smears the youth-led activism follows the same pattern of lies and deceptions unfolding against serious journalism for some time. It reflects how the establishment successfully dominates our minds as it dominates the hierarchy of money and violence. 
The NGOs know this. So why are the Featherstones of the world not digging deeper? Let alone the Jill Steins of the world, as Thunberg's backers surely (I hope) do NOT like many elements of Howie Hawkins' explicitly ecosocialist Green New Deal.

Hamada next notes that, to the degree the NGOs and their plutocrat backers have a long game within modern capitalism, they're in it for the long game.
Morningstar’s series meticulously documents how powerful global organizations seek ways to cultivate a consensus for their trajectory. And it carefully states, with facts, why the trajectory does not lead to achieving their promises—preventing climate change and other environmental calamities. The illustrated mechanism has been revealed over and over through their past crimes—the co-ordinated actions of industries, bankers, politicians, NGOs, UN, global financial institutions and media have culminated into colonial wars, cover-ups of nuclear disasters, regime change, and other corporate, colonial and imperial policies. 
Again, there you go.

That's versus this from Featherstone:
As for the idea that Thunberg is embraced by elites and the media, what is the implication? That she’s trying to distract us from joining the more radical, grassroots environmental movement that would otherwise be bombing ExxonMobil headquarters and kidnapping the Koch brothers? To anyone who has been watching closely as the mainstream environmental movement cozies up to the worst companies and politicians, fundraising off the plight of the cutest endangered animals while entire ecosystems are imperiled, that’s a darkly laughable fantasy.
This is itself naive at best, disingenuous at worst. And, given both some of Featherstone's other writings on other issues and what I said about Jacobin above, I'm more and more inclined to be less charitable.

No, Liz, it's NOT that "she’s trying to distract us from joining the more radical, grassroots environmental movement,"  it's that the NGOs behind her are trying to do exactly that. Seriously? You actually wrote this? GACK!

And, the last sentence is a head-fake. It's those NGOs, as well as the plutocrat funders, that Morningstar calls out. Many of us have known fair chunks or more of the truth about Gang Green environmental groups for a decade or more.

And it's not just climate change. David Rieff wrote a whole book about the international capitalist investment world and the NGOs they fund mucking around in the world of international hunger and  food needs.

As Rieff notes, it's an uphill battle fighting these forces.
I am convinced that the truly powerful revolution that is occurring today is not in (these) insurrectionary episodes ... but rather in what Jon Cray has called 'the emancipation of market forces from social and political control.'
It's more uphill when the Jacobins of the world and the Featherstones and others who write for them won't take a closer look at whose side they may be on. And Counterpunch? I think it posted that video from The Intercept as a bit of knee-jerk anti-American exceptionalism it still indulges at times.

Think about what Featherstone wrote, and if NGOs found a "Thunberg of world hunger," and if Featherstone would write the same. SMH.

Back to Hamada.
Moreover, I must say that it is extremely odd and disingenuous that the series has been portrayed as a refusal to take any action, instead insisting on ideological purity. Such an attack has been coming from those who have been pointing out the same moneyed network in forwarding corporatism, colonialism and militarism by manipulating popular opinions. 

Maybe it's because the hunger poverty movement never found a Thunberg. Maybe for them, Thunberg is a walking, talking, breathing version of the (made in China) polar bear plush that Sierra Club or some other Gang Green group wants to send me for a membership contribution. Students going on climate strike may just be a group-level walking, talking, breathing version of a polar bear plush; in an earlier piece, Featherstone kind of wrote them up that way.

Or maybe it's because social media wasn't so powerful a decade ago. In a new piece, Morningstar reminds us that Thunberg's social media accounts were created FOR her not BY her.

And, the NGOs plans — or the plans of the plutocrats who are these NGOs biggest funders — are laid clear. The game is up when Henry Paulson talks about the "investments" needed to fight climate change. Ultimately, this will be neoliberal NGOs' alternative acronym — No Governments OK. These NGOs will surely insist on capitalist business leading the charge.

But of course. It's easier to do this than to have to carve loopholes in legislation, let alone fight any government that ever get serious at a national level about a carbon tax plus a carbon tariff and is big enough for both the tax and the tariff, and their pricing level, to change the playing field.

Jacobin's simplicity goes beyond Featherstone, though.

Two days earlier, also Jack in the Bin, Aaron Eisenberg wrote a simplistic call to ban private aircraft. Banning just private aircraft is itself a token of ideological purity that would only address a tiny slice of the world carbon emissions. In the US, it would also be an unconstitutional bill of attainder. Bye, Aaron.

And, congrats on being co-opted, Liza.

Congrats to many others, as well.

If you want to really address climate change, try a BDS movement against the corporations backing her indirectly or directly.


As for the yacht? It IS nice. But, the question isn't, for me, how carbon-free is it.

Rather, it's "Why weren't some NGO CEOs and plutocrat funders riding it?"

The real answer to that? Well, another Jacobin piece supplies that. The world's richest 10 percent are responsible for 50 percent of carbon emissions. They're not going to actually sacrifice if they can help it. They're going to drum up a mix of window dressing and getting OTHERS to sacrifice.

As for the message? Well, Greta's message is nice, but what is it really, beyond, "Live up to the Paris Accord"? After all, people who know, and don't have a Gang Green stake in pretending otherwise, know that they are
A. Toothless and
B. Too weak even if not.

That said, Greta's own message began with "don't fly" and "don't eat meat," starting with convincing her parents on both.

But, while air travel does put out carbon dioxide (and other climate and weather affecting emissions), it currently contributes just 2 percent of the world's emissions. Other parts of transportation, ie, cars, contribute more. Has Greta asked her parents to drive an all-electric vehicle? What vehicles drive her around after she arrives somewhere? And, did she ride on an all-electric train (preferably powered by renewable energy) when she went to Davos?

This, then ties back to her backers.

No air travel sounds nice if you're in a compact area like Western Europe or the northeastern U.S. What about sub-Saharan Africa? India? Is this another case where the developed world is asking the developing world to pay for its past "privilege"? I'm sure Greta isn't thinking about this. But her backers have surely been told they need to be.

And, what about manufacturing?

The US outsourced not only jobs, but pollution, to China years and years ago. China is now dragging its own feet on producing more green power. And, it never really did get started on increasing energy efficiency of older factories.

There are all sorts of small wedges that add up in the battle against climate change. Using smartphones less, anybody?

On the energy production side, how safe can nuclear power be? How efficient can "next-gen" fission plants be? This is a battle within the environmental world.

I am "accepting" of nuclear power being a part of the picture if it has to be, but am not a proactive incorporator of it.

Beyond other sympathetic backers of Thunberg (which I am for her drive) noting that the mills of justice grind slowly, sometimes they don't grind at all. China is led by an authoritarian potential president for life who is backsliding. Russia is led by such a person who's never committed to battling climate change. The Arab Gulf states are led by mono-economy sheiks who don't want to cut off money to their burgeoning populations. (Oh, and some white western leftists? Suggesting reining in population is NOT genocide, unless you're going to accuse Deng Xiaoping of genocide against his own people decades ago.)


Sept. 26: Unfortunately, in his newest update, Morningstar seems to be falling into the fallacious belief that native peoples are Roussellian noble savages on the environment. Tain't so.

That's far from the only problem with WKOG, too.

One is either a moral self-blindness or something similar. Calling wind farms "Fossil Fuel+" because they expropriate indigenous people is true to the degree that's true. That said, it's no more true than it is with fossil fuels themselves. If they use this to mean we not only need to de-carbonize but de-electricize? No, you first. Shut down your website. It's just like with people pushing population reduction around the world. No, you first.

The biggest problem of WKOG is that most writers there are Marxist. Marxism, whether in its traditional form or modern spinoff, is pseudoscience within what's already the scientifically weakest of the social sciences. No, really. Hegelian dialectic is crappy philosophy and pseudoscience when used as the basis for a theory of economics.

Beyond that, I wouldn't call myself an anti-capitalist. With WKOG, I see enough problems with capitalism of today to call myself a post-capitalist, at least in my yearnings, but not an anti-capitalist.

Beyond that, what IS capitalism and when did it start? I certainly see capitalism as being centuries older than when Adam Smith wrote "The Wealth of Nations." Does it go back to when Croesus allegedly issued the first coinage? Tang China's first paper money? Medieval Italians' double-entry bookkeeping?

Or maybe, to riff on "The Gods Must Be Crazy" and some anthropologists, the invention of the triad, basically, of cultivated agriculture, settled civilization and private property.

September 23, 2019

A dog's breath of candidates running for US Senate in Tex-ass,
and it doesn't look like it's getting better

The race sucks less than it did until early August, but still.

Hope to doorknob Greens have somebody enter.

Note to Dems: I vote for federal offices based on foreign policy as well as domestic policy. That includes, of course, the Middle East.

You'll see why as we get into the weeds of this post more.

First, an up-front note. Per a Trib poll of a week ago, more than half of respondents don't know who the fuck any of these people are. At least, they don't know enough to express an opinion. Hegar drew a whole 11 percent; she also led West by 1 point in name recognition, though Royce may rank that high for grifting news reasons.

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez at first seemed the best bet so far overall. An activist with connections, recruited by Beto Bros, and at least halfway committed to single payer. Has union ties and has a strong party background. However, the commitment to single payer is not 100 percent, as she said she's OK starting with "the public option." I don't like compromising away compromises in public, first. Second, "the public option" isn't THAT much easier either fiscally or politically.

And, I don't know her stance on Israel / Zionism and other major foreign policy issues.

She does now, a month in, have a campaign website. But, I still can't know her positions on things like that, because she doesn't list them. She does, though, continue the hedging on health care, saying "I want to ensure every Texan has high quality health care." On the website, she doesn't mention single payer OR the public option. Just that statement.

I've already taken another bit of dislike. Candidates who can't have an "issues" button, link or menu, but CAN have a "merch" link as well as a donate button? Pass.

Per a Beto 2018 election staffer, at the Frisco debate, she was the only one to explicitly back the Dems' Green New Deal. That said, I think Sema Hernandez' overall policy points incorporate the same idea.


Sema Hernandez? From 2018, on paper, has the platform that most agrees with me. But, as I wrote in a longform, she put one foot, at least, into Just.Another.Politician.™ territory with her air-kiss bromance with Bob is a Knob O'Rourke, including endorsing him, which has not led to a counter-endorsement. As I said there, until she officially repudiates that, I wouldn't vote for her, if I were in the Dem primary.

I'm not going to mince words. Going into into Just.Another.Politician.™plays directly against why some people supported you in 2018. Plus, you know your Beto claims weren't true. That said, since you ARE in that JAP territory, it's not working.

So STOP FUCKING DOING IT! And stop fucking loopking back to it.

Per the Beto 2018 campaign organizer, you're making unsubstantiated and likely untrue claims, as in the first debate in Frisco:
She also connected her advocacy for Medicare For All in 2017 and pressure put on Beto O’Rourke to part of his later success: “we pushed Mr. O’Rourke to support Medicare for All and after our endorsement on that basis, his poll numbers went up for the first time in 18 months” [Citation needed].
Yes, citation needed.

Here's what she Tweeted recently.

She still hasn't done that repudiation, and despite that bromance with Bob, a Nina Turner endorsement, and announcing already late last year, she apparently still hasn't raised $5K. And, you can't have it both ways on claiming you're attacking the establishment when a year ago, you were trying to suck up to them.

Frankly, I think she misread the 2018 election and expects other things to happen by magic.

And, that's still not happening. If you're thinking you can run an Obama-like campaign off social media? Well, he raised a cool $1 billion in his prez run to pay a bunch of Silicon Valley types for a bunch of microtargeting.

And, otherwise, Sema? Establishment Dems were never going to reciprocate your puppy-dog chasing after them.


Michael Cooper? Seemingly progressive in the 2018 Lite Guv race. He ran as a semi-team with Tom Wakely, definitely the most progressive gov candidate. Problems, though, with him? Yes. First, despite announcing in March, as of August, his website had nothing but a picture and a donate link. No stances. AND, if I'm reading this Facebook post correctly, he might be pro-life. Pass, until his website is updated and this issue is clarified. (As of last week, still nothing more.)

And, of course, for this and any candidate who ran for either some statewide state-level office, or a federal, i.e., Congressional, office in either 2016 or 2018, not having formulated positions, publicly posted, is simply unacceptable.

Also, for whatever reason, he was not at the Frisco debate.


M.J. Hegar? Been in the race almost as long as Cooper, raised more than a million bucks already, and finally has gotten around to issues on her website, which confirm her past in the links below. And she took a pass on discussing the issues in her 2018 House run. Add in that I'm generally uncomfortable with veterans running qua veterans, and pass? Yes, pass, as she's a "public option" person right now.

She's also a gun nut, and in the past, dipped at least one toe into the capital-L Libertarian politics world.

She's also refused to directly support single-payer and has opposed the weak-tea Democratic version of a Green New Deal.

She also, for whatever reason, was not at the Frisco debate.


Amanda Edwards? I'm not from Houston, so I don't know as much about her background. She does have a website, but without an issues link. OTOH, in talking about her mom's cancer, and her dad's, she says she will work to "expand access to quality, affordable health care coverage."

In other words, she too opposes single payer.

And, overall, probably slots near Hegar.

"Be the solution"? That's Yevgeny Morozov "solutionism" bullshit to a T. Gack.


Royce West? Outside of his work on racial profiling, a ConservaDem who couldn't mention "single payer" in his announcement. And, loaded with baggage. So much baggage that he's a bigger grifter than I ever before guessed. And, that's not just me calling him a ConservaDem. Rice political scientist Mark Jones, the speed-dial guy for Austin's equivalent of Beltway media, says he's more conservative than both Hegar and Edwards.

That said, I'll disagree that Hegar is "radical." She was a Republican, for doorknob's sake, as late as 2017. See above for more.

Dear Mopac equivalent of Beltway stenos: Take Mark Jones out of your Rolodex with him uttering such stupidity.


Chris Bell? A ConservaDem period, and an ethics hack. Other than his now 15-year-old "Mr. Ethics Guy" stance against Bug Man Tom DeLay, what does he actually have to run on? Best I can figure is he hoped to corral Houston votes before Edwards jumped in and ConservaDem votes before either West jumped in or it became clear that Hegar herself is in many ways a ConservaDem. (And, if she doesn't win the primary, maybe she'll enter perennial candidate territory.)

On the big, top-notch issue? I would crap my pants if I heard Bell supported single-payer national health care. That's how doubtful I am that he supports the idea.


Adrian Ocegueda? Behind even Sema on name recognition and probably on money. Still trying to pass off his technocrat wonkery as a key campaign issue. Pass. OTOH, since Sema apparently still ain't at $5K maybe he is ahead of her on money.

On the big, key issue? Based on his "policy wonk" answers to issues questionnaires when he ran for gov in 2018, I'm sure he's against single payer, too.


Some "Jack Daniel Foster" is out there, but on Ballotpedia, can't even spell Frederick Douglass correctly.

And now (why?) Midland City Councilcritter John B. Love III has decided to enter the race on "small town values."

Thanks to Drew Springer, I don't have to worry about dodging the Dem primary to sign a Green ballot access petition. Thanks to the wedge his bill opened, if we're lucky, other minor parties and independents will have lower hurdles for that in the future.

That said, right now, unless Sema does a mea culpa, Cooper clarifies some positions or Ramirez does the same, I'd undervote this race. (File that purity test in your not a professional political organization blog world Juanita Jean.) I want to keep my powder options dry, in case some independent, or the SPUSA, gets ballot ideas, first.

Second, Sema is (was? tell me that your Bob the Knob bromance didn't affect this, either) the only one I know of to actually support single payer. I started this two months ago precisely to let other candidates post websites with issues stances, etc. Speaking of, should we expect more Bob on a Knob type political stances from Ramirez in weeks and months ahead?

Third? An interesting tidbit. Ramirez and Hegar are both using the same DC campaign consultant shop.


To all the Dems called out for having websites that are nothing but big donate buttons? I called out Greens in the past for trying to run campaigns entirely on Facebook. This is only a small bit better.


Way-too-early guesstimates?

Hegar becomes the ConservaDem rallying candidate. That squeezes out Bell, of course. Royce is squeezed out by a younger, more attractive, cleaner centrist black Democrat, Edwards. Ramirez gets the Beto cult and serious-minded more liberal Democrats.

Two of those three make the runoff. But which two? And yes, there will be a runoff.


Cornyn now has his first primary challenger. "Reagan Republican" Mark Yancey has jumped in the race, to run from Cornyn's left within today's Texas GOP; 2014 GOP opponent Dwayne Stovall, with very little splash, was already in; that said, Stovall was second-highest vote-getter among Cornyn's several 2014 primary foes.

State Sen. Pat Fallon, a Drew Springer buddy and a wingnut indeed, is rumored to be eyeing the race. Cornyn recently rounded up and released a bunch of endorsements to try to fend that off. And, yes, Fallon is wingnut indeed. I know the Tea Party guy, and four years ago, D Mag said he was as bad as Former Fetus Forever Fuckwad Jonathan Stickland. Fallon's not up for state senate re-election until 2022, like Royce West.

September 22, 2019

Yu Who? Cards sweep Cubs in Wrigley, clinch playoff spot

Yea, Yu Darvish was great through 8, with 12Ks and all. But because Craig Kimbrel has been a tire fire, Joe Maddon had little choice but to let Darvish pitch the ninth?

Result? Two Cardinals runs in the inning and the Birds are back in the playoffs for the first time in four years, clinching at least a wild card.


It was the first four-game sweep in Wrigley since 1921, per Derrick Goold's wrap-up.

Jose Martinez's big lead-off triple keyed things.  Tyler O'Neill's pinch running speed made sure that Dexter Fowler's sacrifice would tie the game.

Tommy Edman then singled, then stole. And Paul Goldschmidt, first-year struggles and all, paid off on his new contract by doubling to send Edman home.

Andrew Miller then showed that he still, at least selectively, "has it" with a four-batter save.

Looking ahead? As I said 2 weeks ago, I'm still not confident how well this team matches up against the Braves, mainly because they augmented their rotation midseason with the Dallas Keuchel signing. But let's cross that bridge when it gets here.

That's assuming, of course, the Cardinals win the division and aren't just a wild card. Magic number is down to 4.

As for the Cubs? With Kris Bryant the latest injury news, it's likely no postseason at all.

Maddon's fault? Theo Epstein's? Injuries?

GMs always boot managers to save their own skin, so the man who won free drinks for life on Waveland Avenue three years ago may be gone.

Of related note? Yeah, Dex sucked last year. But, in 2017 and this year, he's played even to Cards-rejector Jason Heyward and at 2/3 the cost. (Look up their respective WARs.) Plus, he just has two years left on his contract and Jay Hay Kid has four.