SocraticGadfly: 10/20/19 - 10/27/19

October 26, 2019

Sayonara to the Big 12 in the College Football Playoff

With both Texas and Oklahoma losing today, no Big 12 team is going to college football's version of the Final Four, IMO.

Oklahoma can win out the rest of the regular season and beat either Texas, Baylor or "whomever" in the Big 12 title game and ... no.

Texas is now at two losses and damned near three after needing a last-second field goal a week ago (I first typed "a weak ago") against Mad Hatter Les Miles' Kansas Jayhawks.

Baylor is currently the only conference-undefeated (and overall undefeated) team in the Big 12. Everybody else has two losses outside of Oklahoma. But Baylor still has to play the Sooners, Horns and Longhorn-killer TCU, plus West Virginia. They're losing once at least.

Update, Nov. 1: The Halloween-scary ugly win for Baylor against West Virginia last night underscores that this is still smoke and mirrors for the Bears as much as reality.

TCU looks kind of salty now, but lost to K-State and in a blowout to Iowa State, who lost today to the Cowpokes. And, other than having played the Horns, like Baylor, they face arguably the tougher half of their remaining conference schedule.

There might be some fluke that lets the Sooners in the Big Dance if they win out, but I don't see it.

Most likely option this year is two SEC teams, Clemson and the Big 10 winner. (Sit down, ye Oregon Ducks.)

Update, Nov. 18: Alabama's loss to LSU, plus Tua being out for the year, has knocked it out. But a one-loss Georgia winning the SEC still trumps Oklahoma winning out. And, either Utah or Oregon winning out to win the Pac also would trump the Sooners winning out, IMO, in case LSU wins out and a two-loss Georgia team doesn't cut the mustard. The Big 12 has more ranked teams than the Pac, but both Oregon and Utah are higher than Oklahoma.

OK, what if a two-loss Georgia team (losing to Auburn) beats LSU? Unlikely but not impossible for this scenario to happen. I think you still have two SEC teams.

The Sooners' best chance is Clemson losing. I highly doubt South Carolina beats them in the regular season finale, but Virginia in the ACC title game? They're not that bad of a team.

Update, Nov. 23: Well, well, well. The Sooners win in a fugly game over TCU (I did NOT think Hurts picked up that last fourth down) and ... Oregon loses to ASU. A lot of people think that a Big 12 winning Oklahoma would advance over a one-loss Pac 12 winning Utah, but not over a one-loss Pac 12 winning Oregon. Well, that's out the hole now.

October 25, 2019

Pew Research tells Texas Dems to still be wary
about "counting on" Hispanic votes

I first blogged about this in detail six years ago, and did a follow-up four years ago. I provided some updates within that six-year piece about new demographic information.

I am NOT primarily talking about Texas Hispanic voters' abysmal turnout rates. That's a whole nother story and well known to many.

No, I'm talking about how many Texas Hispanics ain't Catholic (and maybe aren't social justice, let along libertarian theology, oriented within their Catholicism).

And, THAT is where the new Pew Research

Here, let's just let the image do the talking.

I think that's pretty obvious and self-explanatory. And I'll gander, that with allowances for rural Valley Texas, Texas overall matches Hispanic trends in greater NYC, Florida and the West Coast.

Protestants, especially of evangelical stripe, are more likely to vote Republican.

BUT! Protestants didn't replace those lost Catholics; Nones did, followed by non-Christian religious. Among Hispanic Christians, I'm guessing Santeria, etc. might be as much of the non-Christian rise as are Hispanic Buddhists, Hindus, etc. The biggie, though is the Nones.

And, especially among minorities, I don't think we have a strong grasp on how Nones vote. They may be less likely to vote Republican than Democrat, tis true. But they may also be more likely to look for third party or independent candidates, OR more likely to look to stay home if they don't find a close match.

October 24, 2019

All things Marlin, Texas continues to slide downhill

First, the biggie.

It cost Marlin ISD (cuz TEA will never, EVER reimburse it) $68,000 (and counting?) to push out former Superintendent Michael Seabolt. Seabolt decided to resign (and without his remaining contract money) rather than fight. The story says that was probably a wise decision. Another reason why, in hindsight, his throwing predecessor Michael Steck under the bus doesn't look good. (That's not to say that Steck, alone or in conjunction with TEA monitors in place at that time, didn't fluff how well he was doing.)

That's not the only oops on the school side.

Eddie Ellis Jr., a member of the board of managers appointed by TEA to replace the former elected school board, resigned after the Waco Trib asked TEA why it appointed him after he had pled guilty to a federal misdemeanor on theft of government property. That IS a good question. The plea was more than 18 months ago. Under the plea deal, Ellis should have told TEA about his guilty plea.

Update, Nov. 3: Seabolt is now under TEA investigation.


But hey, city of Marlin? Not far behind with former employees.

Mart Police Chief Albert Cavazos, a former Marlin PD officer, has been suspended by Mart for issues related to hiring a former Marlin patrol officer who was suspended there. Sergio Collazo resigned from Mart after this news came out, and he's also been indicted.


And in sad news, someone I considered to be a friend, Sandy Hodges from the Falls County Clerk's office, who brightened my days on Friday afternoons for three years, has passed away.

Hey, Sema Hernandez actually raised some pocket change

Sema Hernandez may have the best overall ideas and positions — and maybe be the ONLY candidate who actually states all her positions — among the dog's breath of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to face John Cornyn. (On stances, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is close but not THAT close, as to the degree I can glean bits of her foreign policy, it looks nothing beyond conventional. And, as a good leftist of sorts, I vote on foreign as well as domestic policy stances. She may also be the closest on how much she's actually told about her stances.)

That said, I have also repeatedly called out Sema for turning into Just.Another.Politician.™, for her endorsement of Bob on a Knob O'Rourke after last year's Senate primary even though he did NOT, NOT, NOT (he didn't, Scap) actually endorse single payer AND although many Our Revolution chapters refused to endorse him.

I've also called Sema out for misreading the 2018 primary and her results, instead saying that quite possibly it was about her last name first and everything else a distant second.

I, for somewhat different reasons than the likes of Kuff and John Coby, have also wondered, this cycle, why, if she's a serious candidate AND the first-announced candidate, she hasn't raised any money.

Oh, I'm sorry, I was wrong!

FEC third-quarter filings show the Sema for Texas Committee has raised ... $7,551.

And four cents. (Sema individually still shows nothing.)

But OOPS! (Update, March 4, 2020.) She forgot to file her final pre-primary report. And also forgot to file an end-of-year report before that.

Probably, after she finishes below 10 percent in next spring's primary, some conspiracy theory will be next, followed by an announcement she's running for governor in 2022.

Beyond her misreading the 2018 primary, as far as campaign issues? I think she's simply not that good of a political candidate. And, without money, you can't get paid help. And, her would-be suck-up to Beto and state Dem powerbrokers didn't attract either one. Which gets back to that second link above.

October 23, 2019

Texas Progressives talk Bonnen, Ike Dike, more

Texas Progressives say RIP to Elijah Cummings, note that "thoughts and prayers" don't stop tornados in Dallas from happening (remember the "prayed it away" stupidity in 2015?) and didn't stop them from being started in the first place, all while wondering what the Houston Astros can do in this year's fall classic and whether they don't deserve to lose instead due to incredible boorishness about domestic abuse.

This corner also quotes Rick Perry and says "Adios, mofo," to state Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, who has now announced he's not running for re-election.

Texas politics — Bonnen

What's next for the state House, the Speakership and more, now that Bonnen is leaving? My updated take here.

Off the Kuff rounded up a variety of reactions to the infamous Bonnen-Mucus tape.

At D Magazine, Matt Goodman weighs in on Bonnen's now revealed hatred of city and county government. Goodman offers a good reveal of the Lege's growing practice of bracketing, which used to be limited to just private member's bills. (It was bad enough there.)

Robert Rivard compares Bonnen to Joe Straus and finds him wanting.

Stephen Young also looks at Bonnen's future.

Texas politics — other

At the Observer, Justin Miller asks how vulnerable John Cornyn might be. Sidebar: The infamous perpetual candidate Gene Kelly gave Cornyn his first break, winning a primary over a Dem lawyer who might actually have beaten Cornyn for chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Brains has his P Slate on constitutional amendments. I agree.


Janis Joplin gets a new bio.

TransGriot celebrates the opening of an LGBT center at Prairie View.

Texas Signal notes that Dallas and San Antonio have joined Austin in renaming Columbus Day.


Trump's tariffs aren't only against China, and not all of them not against China have been ended. In fact, new ones started Friday on Scotch, non-sparkling European wines, various European liqueurs, cookies and biscuits, some European pork products, and all your European cheese mainstays. Above my pay grade on restaurants, but tariffs on European food and wine are hurting the Dallas haute cuisine scene.

Fort Worth

Jim Schutze from the Dallas Observer jogs over to Cowtown news and reminds us that Atatiana Jefferson reportedly had a gun in her hand. This does nothing to address the stench of general Cowtown policing problems, but? I think Jimbo is on better ground here than his pre-trial bromancing the case of Amber Guyger. That said, per others' comments about Jefferson and the gun, including a family member saying she was NOT pointing it at anything but a window, I am not sure that Schutze is on THAT MUCH better ground.


Brains offers his P Slate in Houston elections.

Dos Centavos has his Stace Slate.

In the wake of new stories about the natural artificial sand dunes the Corps of Engineers has proposed as part of its "Ike Dike" being a cost-overruning tissue of lies, I've updated my story from a year ago calling it a cost-overruning tissue of lies back then. ("Word" to Kuff and partially to Brains; I don't know if David Bruce Collins ever drank that Kool-Aid or not.)


Socratic Gadfly talks about Beto, aka Bob on a Knob, O'Rourke, batting 0 for 2 on recent constitutional issues.

Texas Monthly profiles Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and details how this grifter insinuated himself into Trump's 2016 campaign, became a Trump Trainer as part of that, and what he's doing so far for 2020.

If Texas isn't in play, then why did Trump come here, the Trib asks. And even though Dennis Bonnen, according to Mucus' tape, worries about Trump's influence, Cornyn as well as Cruz sucked up to him.

Alex Jones lost his appeal on the Sandy Hook lawsuit. He'll surely take it to the state Supremes next. Note how we don't talk about him as much between the lawsuit and the social media boot?


SNL goes hilariously over the top with its open last week on the LGBTQ Dem Debate:

Close some national parks? Sounds radical, no? I actually agree with the idea, and the mindset behind it. If neither duopoly party is going to fund the Park Service more, shut some sites down. Read all the "related" pieces linked at bottom. Some are good or OK, others are stupid.

Brians looks at Dem Debate 4, especially the Medicare for All part.

The Lunch Tray connects universal free lunch to higher test scores.

October 22, 2019

Winners and losers in Canada's elections

By parties, there's two clear losers and three clear winners.

The Liberals and NDP lost.

Greens, getting up to three seats, the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives won.

Other losers?

Justin Trudeau individually, and also NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

Now, Singh's defenders will surely argue that he was campaigning on a very limited budget. I'll argue back that he's been party leader for four years; whose fault is it that NDP finances are so bad?

Another loser?

Once again, Canadian polls seem not as accurate as American or British ones, as an alleged late NDP "surge" proves to be not even close.

Possible winner?

The Canadian public, especially if the NDP price of a full coalition includes electoral reform. But, pre-election, it did not.

Possible winner? The reality of Canada more aligning with the American myth of Canada, given how Singh faced down some ethnic-religious animosity.

In the air to a degree? The future of the NDP. Yes, it dodged minor party status. Yes, Singh raised some new platform issues. But, what all does a social democratic party stand for in a post-industrial country?

Another bone (or four) to pick with High Country News

And it's by far from the first. A clear sign of, not so much a love-hate relationship, but what these things really reflect —

A love-frustration relationship.

It is frustrating at times. I've let my subscription lapse once and am getting closer to letting it lapse again. (I've been a semi-regular subscriber for 15 or more years from now, more on the "regular" than the "semi.")

What has me hacked off this time?

Their annual photo contest, or more specifically, the announced winners and editor's choices.Per the first link, and a blurb below the slideshow at the second link, the contest was about the Western night sky, and more to the point, about issues with light pollution in the Western night sky.

I quote from the contest announcement at the first link:
Light pollution is an increasing issue across the West, but we think there are still places where the night skies are incredible. This year's photo contest will put that theory to the test. Send us your best pics of the Western night sky.
OK, with that said, I refer you back to the second link. Because HCN, even with an otherwise semi-antiquated website, strongly tut-tuts on others posting their photos, even by link showing the photo, I can't do that. I'll refer you to the photos by number.

And I can copy the captions, which helps.

No. 7: Desert Gold: In Joshua Tree National Park, light painting, plus overflow lights from Palm Springs in the far distance, make for a magical, golden image.

Light painting might violate the spirit of the contest. Having the fake alpenglow from an ever-more-bloated Palm Springs directly violates the spirt of the contest, in my opinion.

That one is the worst, but not the only.

No. 9:  Sprite Sky: The photographer had just passed through Kingman Ariz., when this large and distant electrical storm made its appearance. They managed to capture this and a dozen more "sprites." The green hue to the sky is due to the airglow that was present. The orange illumination in the clouds is light pollution from below.

Again the shooter, and the editor(s), glorify the light pollution, it seems, though not as much or as directly as in No. 7.

No. 11: Coyote Gulch: Polar star trails are captured from the floor of the Escalante Canyons of Southern Utah. Another camping party just downstream filled the canyon with light and music late into the evening.

Again, "filled the canyon with light," and the shooter deliberately cropped it INTO the picture and HCN seems to salute it.

Also, the "and music" seems to glorify noise pollution as well. That's even as a new piece at Atlantic decries the continuing loss of quiet spaces. and, Rainbow Bridge, near Escalante Canyons, is a proposed International Quiet Park. And, HCN has also written about THIS issue in relation to Olympic National Park and work by Gordon Hempton, founder of Quiet Parks International.

And, that's not all.

For other reason, we need to look at ...No. 8: At Joshua Tree: A quieter-than-usual Joshua Tree National Park during the federal government shutdown in January. Pictured here is the aptly-named Jumbo Rocks Campground.

My emphasis added.

Former NPS head John Jarvis said at the start of January that it was a mistake to leave any parks open. He cited overflowing bathroom sewage at Joshua Tree.

Lemme see, I think Joshua Tree was supposed to be SHUT DOWN then? Uhh, yes, unless photographer Matt Harding got in there before campgrounds there were shut, over these issues, unless he was only a day-tripper.

Since I don't know the details ... I'm not totally comfy with HCN choosing this picture either.


Anyway, as noted, I'm moving closer and closer to not renewing my (digital-only) subscription when it is due for renewal. This is just another reason of several. Reposting old articles semi-regularly, even more when they're featury articles with no news-updates reasons to repost, is another. Killing online comments? I kind of get that, especially if your web content software is clunky, but it seemed to me to be a cop-out. Especially when they're non-responsive to my Tweets AND when staff has little interaction with commenters on HCN Facebook posts.

Their horrible handling of SJW Instagram influencers was the most recent previous goof. Part of the horror, besides the actual horror, was to learn that HCN doesn't run any online letters to the editor. (I never did flip through old PDF issues to see if it ran in print or not.)

The complaint before that was about killing onsite comments. (And I just thought of an issue related to that and to this current blog post. HCN says its website is too clunky to run moderation filters or do lots of other things. But, it's not too clunky to prevent me, with a Javascript window, from doing the old "copy link address" to show any of the photos I'm talking about above.)

And before that, it was a related, and bigger one — my idea that HCN, like national Democrats, tracked the Overton Window too much in a rightward editorial drift.


In addition, about half of HCN's main stories, at least online, are co-published with folks like The Guardian's environmental desk, and thus, in many cases, paywall-free.


Update, Nov. 27: I've gotten more emails from HCN in the last two weeks telling me my subscription is running out than I've gotten social media feedback in the last year or more on either positive or critical HCN story feedback.


Update 2, Nov. 27: Is HCN's website really as clunky as I've heard more than once from staff? Seems hard to believe. It's non-clunky enough to keep people from either downloading or screengrabbing photos. It's non-clunky enough to have a hard paywall.

Seems like, on killing onsite comments, the website is non-clunky enough it could have made comments moderated. It was already spending staff time on ex post facto moderation, and a moderation system probably would have driven away some commenters. 

Or, per a suggestion of mine, I think the website is non-clunky enough that it could have limited commenting to subscribers.

That said, it's also non-clunky enough that a 2018 letter to the editor counts as a paywalled story.


Update 3, Jan. 15, 2020: I forgot until now that HCN ran a piece last year conflating a carbon tax with cap and trade, and as usual, didn't respond to me on social media. Nor did the authors. Former HCN editor Jonathan Thompson is the only writer there to regularly engage with me, and invariably it's to defend not just his writing, but the magazine, as he did on the "rightward editorial drift" above.

October 21, 2019

The future of Dennis Bonnen — has just imploded

BREAKING UPDATE OCT 22: Bonnen pulled the viper of Mucus too close to his breast. He has just announced he is NOT running for re-election.

Surely the GOP Caucus pressured him, and also the "Straus Republicans" may have said in the wake of "I'm going to screw cities and counties, and even more next term" that Mucus recorded, may have said they couldn't support him.

Did anybody quote Rick Perry's famous "Adios, mofo"?

Update related, Oct. 25: Bonnen won't face charges. I'm not surprised, but NOT for Kuff's reasons. Per the old "prosecutors can indict a ham sandwich" plus the fact that a Lege media pass is a thing of value, there was an argument for indicting Bonnen, rather than letting it go. Contra Kuff, it's arguable that there was a quid pro quo here somewhere.

And now, to the original, with new information in the same color as above.

A few quick hits here.

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen offered a resolution calling for him to resign at a meeting of the House GOP Caucus just after Mucus released the tape of their meeting this summer. (I've updated that story here.) He eventually withdrew it and no vote was taken; whether that's good news for his political future or not remains to be seen. There could have been a quid pro quo where he binds his future, at least as Speaker (not talking about his House seat) to a caucus vote. If that is the case, do House Dems, if they hold serve or get closer to a majority without hitting 76, look for a new dance partner? If so, who?

As for Bonnen's overall political prospects? Other than the occasional Libertarian, per Ballotpedia, he's not faced a general election challenger for more than a decade.

So? It's a 50-50 that Bonnen is Speaker again next year.

It's 90-10 he is re-elected to his seat unless he chooses not to run.

And, per the above? Texas Democrats? Can't take you that seriously, unless just like with Drew Springer up here on the Red, you start running state House candidates in every district.

That last paragraph still stands. And is even more important now that it's an open seat.

OK, next question is, what more authentic Straus Republican than Bonnen is going to look to be the leader of Straus Republicans? What sort of Democratic dance partner will they find? And, how soon and how public will a battle for this position start?

Related questions: Will the House GOP caucus push Bonnen to go ahead and resign as Speaker now? What if this push happens and he resists?

Also, what gave between the "offered a resolution" last week and the new announcement today? The Trib has the answer. Monday night, five Rethugs, all in Bonnen's general political territory and all, like him, not full on Tea Partiers (but more conservative in some ways than Straus, and who knows what Bonnen-like secrets lurk in their political hearts) told Bonnen they couldn't support him. Some additional support started flaking off later Monday. Clearly, Bonnen couldn't stay as Speaker, on a straight numbers count.

The Trib's not running again story said he'd lost more than 30 backers. And it, and others, has this unintentionally ironic comment by Mucus:
"He had gone from 3rd constitutional officer in Texas to a cautionary tale."
Yeah, the cautionary tale part is NEVER TRUST MUCUS. (Nor the man that Jim Schutze calls Christofascist Tim Dunn who's behind Mucus.) This is so elementary that it shouldn't need repeating, even to a Mucus suck-up like Bonnen. (Schutze pegged this totally right long ago about the not-so-Strausian Bonnen.)

On the other hand, you can trust Mucus to be more right than the Snooze, not that that's hard to do.
That said, Bonnen still could have run for his seat even while stepping down as Speaker. Tom Craddock is still in the House, as Example No. 1. Maybe I'll have enough for a folo in a couple of days.

I will say for now that Bonnen's too-clever-by-half hubris did him in. The House gym rat thought he could run circles around everybody else and instead entrapped himself.

That said, Mucus has the same too-clever-by-half hubris, and it may also wind up backfiring. Now, every House Rethug who isn't full-on Tea Party is probably looking over their shoulders at others in their band, wondering who else might be a rat fink, not a gym rat.

Imagine no American Indians

Per a Quora question about the most important single issue in "American" history, the header says what this is about.

Imagine a "New World" that would indeed be new by, as well as for, Euro-Americans because nobody came here from Siberia 20,000 or more years ago.

Think of how different the New World is with no pre-European population. (I’m setting aside whether or not Polynesians sailed to South America; if they did, it seems unlikely they left permanent genetic descent, and besides possibly bringing the sweet potato [history still disputed], left little cultural descent.)

First, a bunch of charismatic megafauna would have stayed alive, such as larger-sized bison, Columbian mammoth, New World camels and maybe even saber-toothed cats, among others.

Now, humans.

Erik the Red left Greenland mainly because of the end of the Medieval Warm Period, but early Inuit helped speed him along. Would he have stayed otherwise? Maybe.

Leif was sped off by people who were likely Algonquin-speaking Indians as well as climate, just like Erik, plus being that much further from Europe and European supplies. (As far as we can tell, neither Norse settlement made their own iron.)

Probably climate would have driven both away.

So, Columbus would have come to an unpopulated world. Without the help of Caribbean natives, he would have found no gold.

Would he have made a second trip? Unlikely.

So, next? Pedro Cabral gets blown off course just as in reality. Do the Portuguese stay with no American Indians? If so, do the Spanish follow? Are the French and English then likely to follow?

With no easy New World gold or silver and nobody to tell them where to look, no natives to enslave, and less reason to enslave Africans, the New World is populated and developed but slowly.

And, without American Indian crops? No corn, tomatoes, chiles or potatoes, among other things, in the Old World. No Irish peasantry because of no potatoes. Etc. etc.


Contra Brains, and some people from the SJW world, there's no reason to be so PC as to cross out "American Indians and replace that with "Indigenous Americans."A plurality of the people prefer American Indian, including activists like Russell Means, a former leader of the ... American Indian Movement. Indigenous American is preferred by a few, though we'll see if that catches on. "Native American" has been seen as white-foisted by many American Indians, among other things.

That all said? With an individual, if one knows their tribal heritage, use that reference.

October 20, 2019

Friday Night Lights: Keep your head up

I was covering a game between a team in a four-person district that has a guaranteed playoff spot and another that should have blown them out, but injuries (hit thin-roster small schools harder) and maybe "trap game" mindset, high school level, meant the game was in doubt until more than halfway into the fourth quarter.

The first picture should illustrate the theme. The home team, the "not good" team, in black, muffed the punt. But it still recovered.

Looking for the "big hit," which has carried down from the NFL through college to high schools, may be a partial cause of this.

It's shown more in the next picture.

Seems like the defender had a shot at a pick if he hadn't already made an early commitment to the big hit. (It's an old-barn, old-lights Class 2A field and I had to crank the ISO like hell, as far as any noise issues, but still got the ball "stopped," or nearly so.

Third picture cuts back the other way.

As it stands? A play on, I think. Looking through the lens, plus memory, plus the previous picture or two in this particular burst, if the receiver had been looking up and then making a cut inside, he might have drawn a defensive pass interference call.