SocraticGadfly: 11/17/19 - 11/24/19

November 23, 2019

What? A Burger? vs In-N-Out? A better option

Houstonians awaited with either bated breath or anger (versus What? A Burger?) the arrival of In-N-Out, and it's here now. Hell, Helltown? You're LA with skeeters and humidity; you ought to love Cally burgers.

Second, New Mexico's Blake's Lotaburger makes a better, original green chile burger, while spelling the word right, too. STFU and SMH.

Ask El Pasoans, the Texas city that's really culturally part of New Mexico, was historically part of it until Texas stole it, and might want separation today.

The reality is that What? A Burger" love is "born here or got here as soon as I can virtue signaling, just like Chick-fil-A for the wingnuts. (And it may not have actually kicked anti-gay folks to the donations curb after all. However, the folks that claim it hasn't? They don't have any proof, just Frankie Graham spinning. Plus every Christian person with a picture on their Twitter feed just happens to be a white Merikan Xn.)

That said, some New Mexicans overrate Lotaburger, and I'm virtue signaling both in favor of New Mexico and against Texas exceptionalism, which is as bad as American exceptionalism.

#FridayNightLights — change your perspective

In photography, there's a couple of basic rules for creativity that are simple.

One is the "rule of thirds." Think of your picture as like a tic-tac-toe grid, and have the main lines of strength and action in the photo align with the two vertical and two horizontal lines. (Newer versions of Photoshop have an optional setting on the crop tool for it to show the grid when you use it.) Things like faces should be at the upper left and upper right intersections within the grid lines, without getting anal about it.

The other, that many beginning shutterbugs have heard, is "change your angle."

They hear that, and they only think horizontal angle. Or, if they do think of vertical angle, they forget it again, often because it requires more work.

Well, I was at a recent sports photojournalism seminar at TCU, and one of the presenters talked abut changing vertical angles.

For football, he said he shot on his knees on kneepads. Especially on fields with a high crown, he said he got a great perspective.

I've shot on my butt in basketball, but basketball players are smaller, and don't have the weight of pads. I'll pass on not being on my feet for football shots.

But, said presenter, having mentioned going into the stands for hoops and volleyball to change the vertical the other way, didn't mention, when possible, doing the same for football.

I was shooting Whitesboro vs Bushland tonight.

They played in Iowa Park, which is a semi-sunken stadium. (It's a slight climb uphill from the ticket gate to the stands, and you come in at the top of them, so semi-sunken would be 80 percent or so sunken.)

Having gone to the press box for first, coffee, then food at halftime of a cold-for-Texas 40-degree game, at the start of the second half, I thought, "I'm going to stay at the top for a while."

And, I got the picture you see at left, as well as others that are available for use in the Whitesboro paper.

This one is just a throwaway on quality, but you can see that if I were shooting it at ground level, it just wouldn't have worked.


Change your angle.

Change your perspective.

Oh, and to riff on an earlier Friday Night Lights post? I saw a horsecollar tackle called as such tonight.

November 22, 2019

Conspiracy or conspiracy theory?

As a non-duopolist leftist, I run into many nonsense claims. I hear other things that sound ... maybe real?

Well, it's time to tackle some of the more popular ones in American history of the past 75 years or so.

Here's the definitions:

A conspiracy is an individual or group actual acting in some underhanded way. A conspiracy theory is a claim or theory of such an event, not proven. That's the denotative definitions of both. Neutral language.

That said, and rightly so, "conspiracy theory" often carries a lot of baggage in a connotative definition. I'll give you mine as a good workaday one and that's what we'll use here.

A conspiracy theory is a claim or theory of such an event, disproven to a reasonable degree by both countervailing empirical evidence and logic, whether Occam's Razor or other items on the logic side. In other words, this is Informal Logic 101. Less than 50 percent strength of empirical evidence in your warrants and less than (as best as we can determine) less than 50 percent likelihood in your reasoning? If you fall short on one or the other, you're in a gray zone. Fall short on both? Conspiracy theory. Deep-fried conspiracy theory if your empirical claims not only fall short of truth but are demonstrably false.

Speaking of? I think there's a 20-year empirical evidence window that's also involved. No amount of suppression is going to hide all evidence for longer than that. Take the late 1970s House Select Committee on Assassinations. It found nothing new in support of conspiracy theories about the assassinations of JFK, MLK or RFK. Period. And, no, it did not.

Issues that are simply pseudoscience won't be addressed; pseudoscience or similar that spills over will be, in at least one case.

Let's jump in, with an update as of Dec. 3, 2023 to add a new conspiracy theory to the top of the list:

May 7, 1915:
Winston Churchill "likely" (note weasel word) coordinated the sinking of the Lusitania and Woodrow Wilson used it to drag the US into World War 1, per this Mises Caucus Libertarian.
Conspiracy theory. (And a weak one at that.)

First, on the US side? Wilson used this to SO MUCH drag the US into WWI that he asked for a declaration of war against Germany a full 23 months later! Now, he DID use the Lusitania to tighten the screws on Germany and unrestricted sub warfare without similarly tightening the screws on Britain on blockade by extension and food as a blockade tool, which led William Jennings Bryan to resign as Secretary of State — something that Wilson wanted even before this. But, drag the US into war? Wilson ran in 1916 on the slogan "he kept us out of war." (That said, note past tense.)

Churchill? Already on the outs in the British cabinet; would be shuffled out of First Lord of the Admiralty to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster just two weeks later over Gallipoli. This was a Cabinet demotion; imagine in the 1913-47 US government, being moved from Secretary of the Navy to official secretary of the cabinet. (Yes, I know that under the British constitution, it's No. 2 in precedence to the PM's office itself, but as far as what it actually does, it's a nothingburger.) But, apparently, this is Mises Org doctrine!

Dec. 7, 1941:
Franklin D. Roosevelt knew in advance the Japanese were attacking Pearl Harbor.
Conspiracy theory.

We knew from the breaking of diplomatic codes that Japan was considering war. We hadn't broken their military codes and therefore had no idea Pearl Harbor was a target. Also, FDR actually did not want war with Japan. Instead, per James Bradley, Dean Acheson helped cause that. Finally, no, the "vaunted" McCollum memo doesn't say what you think it does.

Aug. 6, 1945:
The Hiroshima A-bomb was really just a "signal" or warning shot to the USSR and Uncle Joe Stalin.
Conspiracy theory.

And a revulsive one.

July 8, 1947:
The U.S. Army Air Force covered up an alien landing at Roswell, New Mexico.
Conspiracy theory as stated.

Conspiracy when restated that "the U.S. Army Air Force may have covered up the crash of a Project Mogul nuclear test balloon at Roswell, New Mexico." (The "may have" is important because the July 1947 actions aren't clearly a cover-up.)

November 1960:
Richard Daley stole the election for John F. Kennedy

The claim that Daley voted the tombstones or whatever in Chicago, but that Dick Nixon didn't want to undercut Kennedy's claim to legitimacy, is a tale of long telling, with many parts to it.

One of those is the "Poor Dick" image. Picture Pat with Republican cloth coat nearby.

The reality appears to be — as was then the case in other elections — that Republicans did their own vote-stealing in downstate Illinois and Dick's campaign staff was told this would be brought up if he went further.

LBJ surely stole votes in Texas, too; whether enough to swing the state remains unknown. But even Illinois plus Texas would only have thrown the race to the House, with Dixiecrats backing Harry Byrd.

Nov. 22, 1963:
A group of conspirators, who were or who worked for (take your pick): Castro, the CIA, LBJ, Moscow, the Mafia, or others, killed JFK in Dallas.
Conspiracy theory.

Previous presidential assassins Charles Guiteau and Leon Czolgosz were as nutty as Lee Harvey Oswald. John Wilkes Booth was as histrionic. From his own POV, beyond the megalomania of his one-man "Fair Play for Cuba" group, Oswald was defending a cause, and he really would have gone ape-shit had he known the truth of Operation Mongoose. And, beyond the evidence of Nov. 22, his previous attempt to assassinate Gen. Walker also tells against him.

As does all the physical evidence. I've discussed this plenty of times, most recently for the 50th anniversary.

In addition, the reality of Jack's Camelot was far different than Jackie O's legend-spinning, but —ironically? — was about exactly like the musical.

JFK is a good one to look at the two tools for distinguishing actual conspiracy from a theory. Occam's Razor is not foolproof, but it's a great start for the informal logic involved.

So, other possibilities?
1. LBJ? Too depressed.
2. CIA? Coups abroad leaked as they were happening. Think of one here.
3. FBI? Why? Hoover had already browbeat both Jack and Bobby.
4. Castro? WAY too smart to piss off the US like that.
In short, as illogical to us as Oswald seems, he's more logical than alternatives.

The empiricism fork also applies here.
1. The double-hit or double-strike bullet? It's not "pristine." Look at an actual picture.
2. Grassy knoll? Photo is a Rorschach test at best.
3. Kennedy's head? Gunfire to the brain does to exactly that.
In short, the man with the Mannlicher, etc., has plenty of empirical evidence pointing at him. None points elsewhere.

Aug. 4, 1964:
LBJ uses a fake incident in the Gulf of Tonkin to drag America into war.

One real attack happened, inside what North Vietnam claimed as coastal waters and the US rejected. A "radar ghost" non-attack on Aug. 4, two days after the real attack, opened the door for LBJ.

That said, CIA's Air America was bombing NVM from Laos at the same general time, and inserting (quickly captured) infiltrators. And, the Maddox was deliberately sailing inside NVM's claimed coastal waters. Johnson has never said what the big game was, but he appeared open to wanting any opportunity to expand his powers on Vietnam.

Plus, per the above, what's not to say that a still-living Jack Kennedy wouldn't have done similar?

April 4, 1968:
Either other assassins than James Earl Ray, or James Earl Ray as a cutout, killed Martin Luther King.
Conspiracy theory.

Ray as a bitter, mudsill racist ex-con, had plenty of justification in his own mind.

June 30, 1968:
Somebody besides Sirhan Sirhan killed Bobby Kennedy.
Conspiracy theory.

Just a week earlier, and less than a year after the Six Day War, Palestinian-American Sirhan had seen a picture of Bobby in a Portland, Oregon, synagogue (during Oregon primary campaigning) wearing a yarmulke as the congregation celebrated Israeli Independence Day. And, as with the other two assassinations, the empirical crime scene evidence is all there.

Late October 1968:
Richard Nixon, through intermediaries, tells South Vietnam not to participate in peace talks.

Tricky Dick did this and LBJ knew it but couldn't figure out how to tell the public (if he really did want Humphrey to win). Nixon helped kill another 20,000 troops plus millions of Vietnamese.

October 1980:
One of Jimmy Carter's debate briefing papers sets was stolen.

I think there's enough evidence to indicate the material was stolen.

October 1980, and before:
Reagan campaign staffers meet with Iranians to get the hostage release delayed.
Conspiracy, it seems

This one is tricky. Gary Sick has a decent amount of evidence, but not enough to be totally firm in my mind. Hence the "it seems."

Middle 1980s:
As a spinoff from Iran-Contra, the CIA helped import cocaine to America.

First, Gary Webb wasn't the first to report on it. Bob Parry was, per the Intercept and others. Parry was a full decade earlier, though with less information. That said, Webb, as many supporters of the general idea do concede — RationalWiki is good here — Webb overstated some of his claims, and some of the overstatements were bad enough to saw off his own limb. Might have happened anyway, but he helped make it happen. RW notes professional jealousy might have driven other newspapers to pounce on his mistakes.

Sidebar: I consider it a conspiracy theory that the CIA murdered Webb rather than him committing suicide. Wikipedia adds that he had reporting issues on earlier Mercury News stuff and at the Cleveland Plain Dealer before that.

Sept. 11, 2001:
Rather than 10 hijackers in two jets, the (take your pick) CIA, Mossad, Saudi government directly acting took down the Twin Towers by (take your pick) pre-loading explosives on building girders, running suicide bombers into buildings or whatever.
Conspiracy theory.

Read Popular Mechanics.

Various times after Sept. 11, 2001:
The U.S. anthrax attacks remain a puzzler. I reject conspiracy theories that would try to tie them to 9/11, but I remain unconvinced — as do many other people — that Bruce Ivins did it. And, it's a botched investigation like this, as with Bobby's rushing Bethesda on Jack's autopsy, that fuels conspiracy theories. It's also (another?) black mark on his career that Bob Mueller refocused the FBI investigation on Ivins.
Conspiracy theory on a 9/11 connection, played up by whoever was the perpetrator. Unknown on classification otherwise.

Spring 2016:
A disgruntled Democratic National Committee employee named Seth Rich stole party and Hillary Clinton campaign emails then sent them to Julian Assange, instead of Russian cyberhackers stealing them, and that Rich was then killed to cover this up.
Conspiracy theory.

It's pathetic the number of people who aren't RWNJs who peddle this. (Some of them, if they believe in at least one of the above and are consistent Dems, let alone Greens, are of course LWNJs. And those people do exist, too. Ray McGovern at Consortium News endorsed Jill Stein, and is both a 9/11 falser [sic] and a JFK conspiracy theorist, so, whether or not he believes Seth Rich was murdered for a theft — and he does believe the emails were stolen, at a minimum — he's a LWNJ.)

Here's my counterargument.

If Seth Rich actually did steal the emails, why would either DNC linked operatives or if not the DNC, whoever his handlers were, kill him? After all, nothing that allegedly linked him to the emails became public until Assange started pushing the conspiracy theory idea after Rich's murder.

And, that then said?

"The guilty flee even when nobody pursues them," the book of Proverbs says.

So, why DID Assange peddle the conspiracy theory?

Just connect those dots.

Aug. 9/10 2019:
Jeffrey Epstein's suicide.
Who knows as of this time???? But, probably not. Maybe a 2 instead of a 1 on a 1-10 scale, but no more.

OTOH, per Lawyers, Guns and Money, given the scads of rich and famous who benefit from Epstein not speaking at trial, and given that he'd apparently attempted suicide a week earlier? At a minimum, jailers are criminally culpable at not having him on 24-hour suicide watch, or should be. In reality, they aren't; they could be civilly liable, but who would sue them. Did they — and if so, on some sort of orders — goad him into a second, successful attempt? Even so, "goading" is not a criminal offense. And, if he's off suicide watch, allowing an extra bedsheet is not allowing in contraband. Beyond THAT, in part due to jails and prisons being run ever more on the cheap, suicides inside bars continue to grow.

On the third or fourth hand, per Ken White, lots of prisoners die in abhorrent situations. His 32 stories are just the tip of an iceberg of jailer and prison system callousness, low pay, control issues and more.

And, many of those are suicides. We in Texas know Sandra Bland all too well, sadly.

Beyond the Roswell incident, some pseudoscience partially moves into conspiracy thinking world.

Earthquake conspiracy theorists (yes, they're a "thing") are a very good new example of that overlap.

Every one of these is a conspiracy theory:
1. No, the government isn't hiding a bunch of UFO evidence. "Truthers" believe that aliens magically visit only them when, in psychological reality, aliens advanced enough for interstellar flight would have no reason to visit earth, and no reason to visit "peons" and only them if they DID make contact.
2. No, the government isn't hiding Bigfoot, or Nessie, etc. And no credible evidence of such critters has been presented.
3. No, the pharmaceutical industry hasn't bought off the government to keep autism-causing vaccines on the market. That's because vaccines don't cause autism. This also ignores how the government's Vaccine Court works, the degree of and percentage of profitability for vaccines within the pharmaceutical industry and more.
4. No, HAARP isn't causing contrails, or climate change, or mind control. Contrails don't exist, your car and your hamburger cause climate change, and no mind control weapons exist today. That's also contra nutters like Bill Binney at Consortium News.

On all of this, there is a growing body of behavioral psychology research which says the more people feel out of control of their lives, the more likely they are to accept conspiracy theories. And no, the internet doesn't cause people to feel they lack control. The public internet was still a toddler at the time of 9/11, and not in existence at all for older events.

Part of why conspiracy theories may seem more common today is that, in aeons past, our ancestors attributed them to the gods, as in the claim that Yahweh broke the siege of Jerusalem by killing 185,000 of Sennacharib's soldiers. First, he didn't have that many, but, per Herodotus, it was likely the plague.

But, speaking of the gods? As I blogged recently, in many ways, conspiracy thinking is the new Gnosticism.

Anecdotally, it also seems that many believers in conspiracy theories also believe in pseudoscience or pseudomedicine. On pseudoscience, I'm thinking things like calling GMOs Frankenfoods. On pseudomedicine (not counting medical-related conspiracy theories like chemtrails), it starts with "wonderfoods" and usually goes to supplements next.

On the former, I know a lot of "greens," and a lot of Green Party Greens, who believe in Frankenfoods and also some conspiracy theories. On the pseudomedicine, I know people who believe at least one conspiracy theory and who also take supplements with expectations that aren't scientifically indicated, and in amounts that aren't scientifically indicated and are even contraindicated. Without going into too much detail, I know multiple people who think melatonin is a wonder drug sleep aid (no, it actually just resets your body's hormonal system in general) and in taking it at 10x a generally recognized as safe starter dose or more, and without medical consultation, could be doing harm if anything. You certainly can overdose at 30 mg, and taking any large amount without a doctor's consultation, given individual sensitivity, is not smart.

All of this puts me in mind that the "horseshoe theory," while not totally right, has a degree of truth, and not just on narrow political conspiracy theories like Seth Rich. Look at pseudoscience like antivaxxerism, or pseudomedicine on foods and nutrition.

November 21, 2019

The reality of JFK's Camelot

Somehow, six years ago, in blogging about the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, I missed this excellent piece by Richard Woodward at Daily Beast. I was referenced to it by one quote from it on a book about visiting dead presidents' sites.

I'm going to start with another quote, though:
Be thankful you weren’t alive in the 60s.
Woodward says this by way of introduction to the Kennedy cult that sprang up shortly after his death.

He notes that the weekly photomagazines Life and Look were the first and foremost perpetuators of what became an "industry" surrounding the life and death of Jack in the first four years after Nov. 22, 1963. It was, of course, the dual 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King and Jack's brother Bobby that took the shine off this.

Woodward then asks, and answers, a rhetorical question:
Would Kennedy be so revered today had he not been shot and killed in Dallas? The question isn’t improper. The 100th anniversary of his birth in 2017 is unlikely to provoke this scale of outpourings. Of the estimated 40,000 volumes devoted to his life and presidency, more than 2,600 are concerned solely with the circumstances of his last day on earth.
And, indeed, he's right.

He then fingers the early culprits besides Life and Look.

Second were two other media outlets who dueled as much as Life and Look. These would be the news divisions of NBC and CBS. For the young'uns, ABC wasn't really a thing back then. This was Cronkite at CBS trying to catch up to Huntley and Brinkley at NBC. (Yes, Uncle Walter was not the top gun on TV news at this time.) It was the TV news folks who asked Dallas PD to make it that Oswald's jail transfer could be live TV and so exposed him to being shot by Jack Ruby.

No. 3? Though Woodward says it largely got things right, the Warren Commission — and reactions to it — kept Jack in the limelight. But he does agree with its findings:
Only in the last decade has the labor and judgment of the Warren Commission and the FBI been appreciated again. They interviewed hundreds of witnesses, analyzed hastily written by forensic documents, and put together a coherent report in only 10 months — record time for a Washington panel. The wheel has turned, and the Report’s endorsed view of Oswald’s acting alone has once more become the standard interpretation. 
There’s no denying, though, that it left a dividing line. Depending on where you stand on the issue of a possible conspiracy, the other side is bound to label you either a “government stooge” or a “grassy knoll nut.”
I'm comfortable with being called a "government stooge," because it is the truth that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Let's hope, as Woodward indicates, that the "young'uns" do continue to see the truth more and more.

Last? Jackie. And certainly not least. She fueled the Look vs Life battle in part herself, ultimately with the Camelot schtick. For people who know the best think JFK did for civil rights was getting himself killed so LBJ could make him into a martyr, it is schtick indeed. For people who know Jack had no formal plan to leave Vietnam, just an aspiration to do so once it was clear Saigon could stand on its own, it is schtick indeed.

Besides, Jackie misread Camelot! Not just the Broadway play itself, but its story line.

Here's the Woodward quote that lead me to Google:
Don’t let it be forgot that Camelot, despite what Jackie wanted us to think, was a story about infidelity by beautiful people who brought down a government. It does not end happily.
That said, it actually IS, if you think about it, the perfect parallelism.

Jack was good-looking, and also, of course driven by sexual infidelity. So, infidelity by beautiful people. Even more than Barack Obama, he also was unfaithful to the portion of the American public who actually expected him to do more than he did on those civil rights.

And, it did end unhappily, in part because of Jack's sexual escapades.

Beyond his limo, at his order, not having its bubble top up, one other thing helped kill Jack.

He was wearing a second, supplemental back brace Nov. 22, 1963. It was so rigid that his body couldn't do the natural reaction of slumping and/or pitching forward after Oswald's second shot, the first that hit him, the double-hit bullet. (That's the only name it gets here.)

A CNN story has part of the story. But not the directly relevant to the assassination.

But Newsweek does, referencing Sy Hersh's "The Dark Side of Camelot."

At one of Jack's sexcapades White House pool parties, in September 1963, he tore a groin muscle trying to grab some "prey." Because of this, he was wearing more rigid back bracing than he had before, when he was in Dallas.

And thus ...

Per Woodward, JFK's infidelity brought down his own government.

Per the dead presidents' book, presidents tend to start fading away from public memory after 50 years or so. Let's hope that starts happening more. Let's hope it's true in general and we can hold on and hold out against Grover Norquist on Ronald Reagan divinization.

November 20, 2019

Texas progressives watch "As the Trump World Turns"
and much other political programming too

"As the Trump World Turns" continues it daily soap opera installments. The live feed is from Washington, D.C., but the script was written in Kyiv.

So, with that, we give The Donald the Ukrainian language version of what I, as a joke, have, and have had since the 2016 election, as my pinned Tweet in Russian:

Зробіть Америку знову великою, товариш Трамп!

With that, let's dive in!

Texas politics

Off the Kuff did a series on who's lining up to file for office in greater Houston (reminder, not statewide) for Congress, for statewide positions, and for SBOE, Senate, and the Lege.

Texas Monthly talks about what the coke-possession arrest of Rep. Poncho Nevárez says about the whole, or much of, the Lege. (Oh, good riddance to another ConservaDem in a safe seat. Can Gilberto Hinojosa get somebody better?)

The Texas Signal reminds us that redistricting technology does not have to be used for evil.


Private wall builders who made news this summer in New Mexico claim to have started prep work for a similar project near Mission.

Supported by everybody from Ted Cruz to Kim Kardashian, Rodney Reed gets a stay of execution.

The TSTA Blog explores the myth of the Texas Lottery.

Houston and environs

The Observer has the details behind a suit against the state and the feds by low-income, largely minority Harvey survivors over alleged disparities in recovery assistance. Part of the problem is that homeowners get direct cash help; renters don't.

The amount of cheating apparently engaged in by the Houston Astros continues to expand.


Jim Schutze previews the latest Dallas City Council-connected corruption trial.


SocraticGadfly looks at the growing number of "Nones" and ponders the possible First Amendment implications, along with offering his own hopes.

Brains continues his prez 2020 series by lamenting that Julián Castro is likely not to make the next Dem debate.

G. Elliott Morris finds the key data that capture the cultural currents that made Obama supporters flip to Donald Trump. It's kind of interesting. And kind of makes sense, especially with hindsight, as many things do.

Paradise in Hell is trying to learn the lessons of the Trump regime.

Juanita recalls the good times with Rick Perry.

Stephen Young notes the local connection to Trump minion Mina Chang.

November 19, 2019

The downsides of Wrong Kind of Green

Recently, I wrote a blog post about Wrong Kind of Green, and frequent and prolific writer Corey Morningstar's in-depth series about how neoliberal environmentalist NGOs have, a la Noam Chomsky, "manufactured consent" around Greta Thunberg.

The ultimate goal seems to be a "capitalism as usual" battle against climate change.

This I reject.

But, I also reject a lot of the background mindset of Wrong Kind of Green.

First, 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. Not so at all. Pre-Columbian Contact, American Indians had slavery, the bestiality of Aztec human sacrifices and other things. Today, American Indians have Utes drilling for oil and gas, others tribes operating casinos, etc. etc. And, please don't try to blame all of that on American Indians being co-opted and brainwashed. The potlatch culture of the Pacific Northwest, which also existed pre-Contact, shows that something along the lines of western capitalism was here before Columbus was. (In the most extreme potlatch events, slaves were killed on the same bonfires used to destroy material goods.)

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. Period and end of story. And Marx himself was as dogmatic as Herr Hitler.

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.

For me, this plays out in my voting. I'm currently a Green at the presidential level and in most other cases where available. If the GP screws the pooch enough, my next destination would be SPUSA. But, I could never go further "left" than that.

November 18, 2019

Howie Hawkins half wrong about Russiagate?
Yes, and many Greens are well more than that

I blogged a couple of months back about how Green Party presidential nomination candidate (and now, Socialist Party USA nominee) Howie Hawkins was about half-right, half-wrong, on all things Russia and Russiagate. Basically, he's right about Russia meddling in our elections; he's wrong about it being for Trump only, let alone the insinuation that collusion actually happened.

Many Greens, though, reject his claims entirely.

Some think he's simply not credible because he's doing his two-track campaign in apparent violation of party rules. I understand the anger. But, that doesn't make him non-credible.

Others? They're simply, if not full-on conspiracy theorists themselves about the DNC emails, or even Seth Rich's murder, at least fellow travelers. (On that part, Howie was also half-right, half-wrong. If Russia is indeed meddling, it also is not just a a duopoly issue.)

Even before Hawkins made his fullest statement, I knew he had some thoughts on this angle, and I was secretly hoping his nomination would flush many conspiracy theorists out of the party.

That desire is becoming ever more strong, and going to be ever more publicly expressed, due to reactions on the party's official Facebook page. (Since its settings are "public," I'm not breaking any social media ethics by noting this.)

Even before the biggest stuff — Howie's two-track run — hit the fan there, I'd blocked former online friend George Hayduke, and also unfriended him on Twitter. Jasun Thor Easley got the next block. Others likely will be soon, starting with William Pounds. The hours and minutes of my life are too valuable to waste, especially with a thread troll and hijacker like Easley.

Even people who I generally thought more "sober" disagree when I call out conspiracy theorizers.

Jonah Earl Thomas, for example, asks how I could call Jesse Ventura and RFK Jr. conspiracy theorists but not Jill Stein? He does so, in part, by having a different take than I when Primo Nutbar interviewed Stein about the possibility of them heading the Green Party ticket. She sounded enthusiastic enough to me, Jonah. And, for being an apparent Seth Rich conspiracy theorist, and doing whataboutism on it while calling me a Democrat, Jonah's now blocked. So is John Phillip. And, yeah, I feel like naming names.

As for the larger issue of antivaxxerism in the Green Party? The "horseshoe theory" is partially true on conspiracy theories. And antivaxxerism also runs strong in lefty Dems like Kennedy, and the more ardent core, on this issue, of capital-L Libertarians, along with some libertarian and Religious Right Republicans. As far as Stein as antivaxxer, Jonah? Wasn't just a Democrat talking point. Many movement skeptics, regardless of party, raised it. So did some SPUSA socialists. (That party also has a more nuanced stance than Greens on GMOs.) It wasn't just Dems, Jonah. She added to that with some of her claims about cellphone radiation and stuff. In all of this, she didn't necessarily go to outright pseudoscience, but she was definitely in the land of fringe science at least.

As far as the baseline of Putin meddling? Per my key blogging on this, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul said, around the start of Trump's presidency, that a number of RNC computers had been attacked, just like DNC ones, at about the same time in 2016, and a few, though far fewer than DNC ones, had been hacked. That's noted in my first link at top And, Guccifer 2.0 is pretty damned clearly a Russian agent, and the so-called Forensicator who has tried to claim otherwise is shit-full of whataboutism.

And Andy Greenberg of Wired has a whole book about it and other Russian cyberwarfare, Sandworm.

Oh, and it's not just me. Jeff St. Clair, publisher of Counterpunch, also thinks you Seth Rich conspiracy theorists are nuts. (Sadly, St. Clair, along with managing editor Joshua Frank, have crappy editorial control in general over free[lance] submissions that they publish, as he's let his own site fuel this bullshit.)