SocraticGadfly: 2020

February 27, 2020

Dems2020: South Carolina and beyond
in the headlights of Bernie Sanders, Cuba and Castro

After New Hampshire, I cautiously said the nomination seemed to be Bernie's to lose. Still with caveats, I said that more strongly after Nevada.

What is his best reasonable outcome beyond this?

1. Finishing a strong second to Biden in South Carolina. It is Biden's firewall with black voters; I don't expect Sanders to win. But, with him gaining support among black voters, if he finished within 5 percent of Biden overall, that's what I'm talking about — in part.

The other half of the deal is finishing more than 5 percent ahead of anybody else. I don't think that's going to be hard to do. Mayor Cheat has had his claims of black support called out as lies. Neither Warren, nor new face Klobberin Klobuchar, seem that strong among black voters. So by percentages, something like 35-30 between Biden and Sanders with the others all sharing the remaining 35 percent, wouldn't be bad. Something like 37-33, which gets Sanders inside the 5 percent mark and leaves everybody else with just 30 percent? If Sanders does that well in South Carolina, it's big. Keeping "Bloomie" below 15 percent would also be big. And most polls show it to be about that 5-point gap. I doubt that Tom Speyer's money binge in the Palmetto State will have a big payoff. I also doubt that all of his support is draining away to Biden. Public Policy's poll is likely an outlier. On the other hand, Biden, with the help of Bernie's booers, seems to have gotten a post-debate bounce there.

Meanwhile, ConservaDem thought leaders, after Nevada, are trying to figure out if it's better to roll back to Biden and try to resuscitate him, or else to hang tight with Mr. Stop and Frisk.

2. On to Super Tuesday. Winning a plurality here in Texas as well as California (and polls show this as possible here in Texas) would be the biggies. As of Wednesday, here's 538's poll roundup.

And, if Warren can't win, or even come close to winning, in Massachusetts? She needs to drop out. If she doesn't, she's officially in vanity candidate territory, or vanity plus identity politics.

On Klobuchar and Minnesota, it's currently a toss-up. But outside there, she's expected to be abysmal. She needs to drop out, too. Neither is likely, I'll admit.

I'm personally curious about Oklahoma. Will all of Warren's Indian heritage grifting blow up in her face? And blow up enough to be distinguishable from her generally bad performance?

Majority wins in his home Vermont, and Maine as well, would make the "inevitability" start to rise, as well.

If all of the above happens, given the way that delegates are awarded in many of these primaries, it's possible that Sanders would rake in half the total.

538 is saying probably just about half. Contra Berners, though, Biden's favored in Alabama, and Oklahoma and Tennessee are toss-ups. Bernie ain't running the table.

I think the other "desirables" for Sanders are to keep Warren and Klobuchar from any wins outside their home states (if that happens) and to keep Buttigieg and Bloomberg to no more than one win, if that.

If all that falls into place, the nomination is definitely his to lose.

As for ConservaDems (and some others) freaking out about Bernie Sanders' comments about Fidel Castro (and other things) on 60 Minutes?

First, he was going to get asked these questions anyway. It was a good forum to "defang" these things to some degree, as everybody who knows Bernie's past history knows he has these old comments about Cuba, Nicaragua and the Sandinistas, etc. Better to get them asked early. Repeated follow-up, along with Bernie holding the line "because the truth is the truth," will defang them more.

Second, as I quote-Tweeted:
The idea this will have a massive sway in the general election, if Sanders is the Dem nominee, is ridiculous. Those 3rd-generation Cubans might be breaking for him anyway. And on the flip side, for many reasons, he has no shot at 1st-gen Cubans. Might it cost him somewhat among the 2nd-genners? Yes.

Third, as for Berners claiming Anderson Cooper was a "meanie" or whatever?

Take off your paranoiac anti-rose-colored glasses. Cooper was firm but fair and to the point. Exactly the type of interview Sanders needed on these questions.

Fourth, per "the truth" link? If Tom Steyer really agrees with #PunyPete on it being wrong to ever say anything good about leaders of other countries? It's this type of bipartisan foreign policy establishment bullshit that has us hated in Latin America outside of conservative elites as is.

Sanders still isn't a real non-duopoly thinker there, himself. He's been weak on the coup attempt in Venezuela. But, he's better than any other Dem.

Ryan L. Cooper not all he gets cracked up to be, not on the prez race

He's pretty insightful as far as analysis among national political bloggers and blog writers.

But when we move to straight-out opinion takes? Not so much, and not so liberal as you might think.

It's "fine" to write at The Week that you won't vote for Bloomberg. But, taking the #VoteBlueNoMatterWho stance otherwise? Blech.

I'm not a single-issue voter, unlike, say, a fair chunk of ardent pro-choicers or pro-lifers. Or, gun nutz. (That said, I am not sure how many truly single-issue voters there are.)

But I am, pretty much, a three-issue voter. One domestic, one foreign, and one combination.

The domestic one is single-payer. And, as I get older, but not yet that close to federal government finish lines, it becomes more and more important. And, within Democratic candidates, Sanders is the only one who clearly, and regularly, backs single-payer. Warren schwaffles, and she probably has a plan for that. Gabbard has openly supported both single-payer and a public option. Yang did NOT support single-payer, contra his own claims. Buttigieg and Biden both support nothing more than improved Obamacare.

Foreign policy? Israel, Palestine and the Middle East, along with broader bipartisan foreign policy establishment stances that need to be rejected. Sanders is the "least bad" on Palestine, things like Venezuela's Juan Guaido, etc. But he ain't great.

The foreign-domestic issue? Climate change. Again, Sanders is the "least bad" but not great. Howie Hawkins' original Green New Deal is better than AOC's Democrat version, which has been watered down since she proposed it — as well as being personally undermined by her by example. No Democrat policy here treats this with the needed amount of alarm.

But, if you're fully, nor nearly fully, outside the duopoly, but you're also not fully committed inside it? Even if you're not a BernieOrBust person, is Biden really THAT much better than Bloomberg?

That said, if, unlike Cooper, you claim to be an actual #BernieOrBust person, visit the polls at right.

February 26, 2020

Texas Progressives Roundup, part 2 of 2:
Uber nuttery, other Texana and the best of the rest

Can't get to spring training?

Can't get some place to heckle the #CheatingAstros?

If you're under 18 and a baseball lover or a baseball team hater, please check with your parents before taking certain modes of transportation.

And, with that, we move beyond the Texas politics nuttery of this week's roundup, so busting at the seams we split it in half. Part 1, about Texas politics in the last week before primary election day, is here.


Texana

A Mount Pleasant mom is suing Uber for one of its drivers giving her under-18 and unaccompanied kid a ride to Atlanta to run the bases at the Barves stadium. No, really. Against Uber rules for sure, and possibly criminal? Also in bad taste. Go to Busch and run the Cardinals bases. Or go to Florida and bean Dusty Baker.

Sulphur dioxide in parts of east and central Texas has fallen 25 percent after the closure of three older, especially dirty, coal-fired power plants. Martin Creek still needs to be closed, and yes, per the Observer, increases in other pollution still need to be tackled.

Per new information from DeSmog Blog about "Peak Permian," many newly fracked wells are producing what's closer to condensate than traditional oil.


National

Congrats offered by Gadfly to four Green Party activists who have (for now) beaten the rap on their Venezuelan Embassy occupation trial. He also notes that, per the judge in the case, this is why he rejects Democrats' "Oh, the SCOTUS" call every four years.

Related? Justice Sotomayor accuses the current majority of pro-Trump bias on immigration. If only the four in the minority (and Tony the Swinging Pony Kennedy before he left) were more vigourous on issues besides reproductive choice and sexual relations freedom, and now, immigration.

Two consolidated "faithless elector" cases, consolidated, go to the Supremes April 28. I see this as a slam-dunk constitutionally; neither state political parties nor state laws can "bind" presidential electors. Period. National popular vote initiatives that are adopted on a reciprocal basis are likewise unenforceable.

In anticipation of Sanders' then-expected, now-finalized win in the Nevada caucuses, Brains analyzed the Dem Debate there.

Speaking of, Sanders pretty much knocked out of the park when interviewed by Anderson Cooper.

With Yang dropping out and Tulsi Gabbard pushing the Basic Income theme, SocraticGadfly again looked at libertarian vs progressive versions of BI and then dove into discussions about just how we should define the "gig economy" and who — within looser definitions of that group and perhaps outside tighter definitions — might benefit from different versions of BI.


Cultural

A Gabriel Garcia Marquez exhibit is running in Austin.

A new documentary, Trans Pecos, looks at the beauty of the greater Big Bend area and its threats from oil fracking.

Texas Progressives Roundup, part 1 of 2: We look at
lots of ConservaDems and wingnuts as primary day nears

Texas Progressives ponder what various millionaires and billionaires would actually taste like (Trump, fatty like an old goose; Bloomberg, astringent) while inviting Christine Costello and others to read this week's Roundup.

Who? Read yourself.

Go ahead. I dare you.

This week's roundup is so big, we're splitting it into two! Texas politics here, and the rest of the weekly news worth reading from Texas this afternoon, which is here.


Special

The TPA wishes Scott Henson a fast and full recovery from his cancer surgery.


Texas politics

CD Hooks at Texas Monthly has an in-depth profiler of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and how her election — and her political inexperience at times — have changed the commissioners court there. Bet ConservaDem Annise Parker regrets not running. One fail, though: Hooks doesn't name the political party of tough-on-crime, bail-em-high ConservaDem Kim Off, I mean Ogg.

Henry Cuellar's primary gets more interesting. Sanders as well as AOC, among others have endorsed challenger Jessica Cisneros. Speaker Nancy Pelosi values ConservaDem Cuellar enough to personally campaign for him.

Meet 10 unknown ConservaDems who like: publicity, Mike Bloomberg, and per old JFK days, presumably some "walking around money."

If not a full-on ConservaDem, she's a full-on identity politics grifter: Meet the person who as until just six months ago named only Cristina Tzintzun, after being born Christine Costello, adopting her mother's maiden name and Mexifying the first name. Note the MISSING "Ramirez," adopted from her now-ex husband while they were divorcing, and wonder why. The Senate primary is almost certain to go to a runoff and gun nut ConservaDem M.J. Hegar almost certain to get one spot.

Speaking of runoffs, on the Rethuglican side, in the most Rethuglican friendly House district in the nation, Gadfly said he expects Josh Winegarner to face one of three likely other Rethugs in a runoff to succeed Mac Thornberry in the 13th District.

Off the Kuff makes some predictions about the primaries.

Sean O'Neal finds Ted Cruz's pro-choice side.

Raise Your Hand Texas released its first poll about public education.

The Texas Signal finds the latest contender for Worst (Would-be) Congressman from Texas. When you make the man now holding the seat, Mike Conaway, look reasonable, it's bad.

Politico profiles a Pee Bush (no, NOT the Land Commish Pee Bush) as he runs for Congress in suburban Helltown and tries not to be a wingnut, saying he's both a compassionate conservative and a Trump Train rider.

Trump is reportedly again considering East Texas wingnut Congresscritter (which one? John Ratcliffe, not Gohmert Pyle) to be his DNI.

February 25, 2020

Snowden: Permanent Record or First Draft of Hand-Waving?

Permanent RecordPermanent Record by Edward Snowden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The book gets three stars for the questions it raises, and no more for that than not answering them. The questions aren't about the NSA et al, they're about Snowden and his imperfect record, and they're the basis for the review, which I think catches him in at least one full-on lie.

That’s my honest take on Edward Snowden after “Permanent Record.”

With more questions than answers, this is an expanded version of my book review, diving further into some of these questions the book raises, why I think some of his responses to the outside world's interpretation of his actions (and not just the deep state and its political supporters' responses — some left-liberals and leftists raise one eyebrow, at least, about Snowden) are hand waving, and more.

The questioning starts about three-quarters in, when he tells us he’s made “The Decision,” and now he’s trying to figure out who in the media to approach. He’s also said that most journalists reporting on NSA issues are basically noobs about technology. One of the two he most extensively hooked up with, Greenwald, certainly is.

But, he mentions one name at this same time: James Bamford. Bamford is not, AFAIK, a tech noob; after all, some of his writing has been for Wired. And, having written multiple books on these issues, he knew then and still knows his way around both CIA and NSA.

So, question 1: Why didn’t Snowden approach him? Or, per Bamford’s interview with Snowden in Moscow, and Bamford mentioning him, Bruce Schneier? Per that link, I also find it interesting that Bamford didn't ask Snowden that very issue himself. No, I don't think there's some Bamford-Snowden conspiracy; I just mean "interesting" in the everyday sense that Bamford overlooked this. I Tweeted my original review to Bamford and asked him this very question; no response.

That leads to question 2. Snowden talks about cooling his heels in Hong Kong while getting people to bite. What journalists DID he talk to besides Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman and Ewan MacAskill? Or did he talk to any? Related — given that his goal was to leak to a trusted professional journalist or three, how much advance planning did he do? Or not? Care to connect this to other things, Snowden?

Question 3: What is he not revealing about his time in Hong Kong before meeting Greenwald and Poitras? See this link for some discussion of this issue. More here. I’m not saying I agree with every take, and I certainly don’t agree with the person’s or group’s background — that site looks to be straight “The Resistance,” and on Snowden, the pieces seem to be smears. And, since it links to Edward Jay Epstein, a lawful program can still be highly immoral. See “separate but equal.” And Snowden never claimed the programs were “rogue.”

Question 4 goes straight to Snowden: If he did get other serious nibbles, did they not pan out? Did he cut them out? Why? This ties back to both questions 2 and 3, of course. Again, without a detailed timeline from Snowden (which could include a hacker busting into his credit card and/or any cellphone records), we're left to wonder.

Question 5, or really, a series of related questions: What does he think about Poitras and Greenwald (actually Greenwald, basically) ultimately NOT publishing most of what he gave them? As in about 90 percent? What does he think about the lies, as I see them, by Greenwald and Intercept flunkies, that Intercept, owned by a billionaire, didn’t have the money to do more? What does he think of this decision including sealing access to these files, especially since Intercept is the only place to which he gave full access? More on that whole issue at this site, one of many places to discuss the issue. Snowden looks like he had less than the best judgment, in part given Greenwald's subserviance to Pierre Omidyar before Snowden tagged him.

Question 6: Given Omidyar’s own access to the national security state, did Snowden not think of this possibility in advance? I mean, Glenn worked for Pierre on salary. He wasn't an independent journalist. He wasn't even a regular, but contracted, contributor like he was with the Guardian. Again, seems to "go to character, your honor" (on both Greenwald and Snowden), to use an old legal phrase.

Question 7: Did he not, at this point, rethink going to Wikileaks? If he did not think of that, why not? Is he that technologically constrained inside Russia today?

Question 8: Had he thought about Greenwald stovepipeing this information? Had he considered Greenwald’s past, or even some of Poitras?

Question 9: Did he really not think that the almighty US Government would find him sooner rather than later? In other words, why didn’t he book a flight to Ecuador as soon as he cut the video with Poitras? Why linger in Hong Kong? For THAT matter, why not go directly to Ecuador, which gets directly to Question 10, and directly to catching Snowden in what seems to be an outright lie.

Question 10: How does he reconcile him allegedly having a plan to go to Ecuador with him stating a dozen pages earlier that he chose NOT to originally go to Latin America (page 284) because “Africa and Latin America were no-go zones too — the United States had a history of acting there with impunity.” Given the other denials of transit, why not fly to, say Ecuador’s embassy in either Beijing or Hanoi?

And, at that point, I think we’ve caught Snowden in an outright lie.

Question 11: The passport and the time frame. Edward Jay Epstein notes that, a day before he left Hong Kong, the US had ALREADY invalidated his passport except for return to the US. Therefore, his claim it has been invalidated in midair is a technical Jesuitical truth at best and a lie at worst. Care to address that?

Question 12: Why does he never mention direct Russian involvement? Why does he never mention he lives in a country that spies on people more than the US? If the US claims are all true, why didn’t Hong Kong arrest him? How much was Beijing involved?

Question 13: This is unrelated to the spying, but if you were such an idealist, and already at least a bit informed at age 20, why didn’t you oppose the Iraq War? Related: Why, as late as 2011 in Hawaii, were you that shocked that we gave raw intell to Israel?

Tentative thoughts and answers.

Unlike The Resistance grifters et al, I don’t think Snowden is a traitor. I do think, though, that per the amount he talks about games in the book, he is, was, has been, and will continue to be running his own game, and it’s not the one of naïve idealist. Is it as an Assange-type anarchist of sorts? He did officially support Ron Paul for Prez in 2012.

Answers to specific questions.

1.    Roping in Bamford would have avoided issues, or exposed issues, under 3, 5, 6, 11 and 12 at least. Whether this was deliberate or not, not talking to somebody smarter than Greenwald left Snowden more open to claims of being a Russian plant or dupe than is necessary.
2.    I don’t know that Snowden will ever tell us that.
3.    I’m not sure how much is “real” in those links; they are from a Resistance group. Nonetheless, it at a minimum leaves Snowden open to charges of being disorganized in the face of all of the issues.
4.    Related to 2.
5.    I doubt Snowden will ever tell us that, either. In part, it gives him an ongoing game to play with the NSA. In part, given his espoused libertarian tendencies, and his relative dismissal of the degree that Big Biz spies on us, I think he kind of likes it. Maybe he knew more in advance here than he lets on.
6.    See above.
7.    No, because it would have undermined 5-6.
8.    See above.
9.    This one is really a puzzler for me. Since I don’t think he’s a Russian agent, the best I can lay this to is further disorganization. At a minimum, it doesn’t speak well for him overall.
10.    See 3 and 9. But at what point is this actual disorganization vs apparent disorganization?
11.    Obviously Snowden had to fly. Literally. It’s a semi-white lie to enhance his martyrdom.
12.    Beyond the obvious reason of having worse accommodations in Russia, or even being turned over after being wrung dry? The Chinese angle still makes me wonder. I’m sure it’s in the background somewhere.
13.    The “idealism” is probably about 1/3 pose, if not more, by 2003. By 2011, it’s entirely a myth. If not, Snowden really IS an idiot.

==

Some of these questions are by no means unique to me. For example, Ken Silverstein has told me that he thinks the Russkies honeypotted Snowden. Now, he's married, isn't he? Yeah, but plenty of married men get honeypotted. Or maybe it was a gay honeypotting.

View all my reviews

February 24, 2020

In re Christine Costello, I mean Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez

Normally, women look to DROP their ex-husband's last name upon divorce; it's almost never that they look to ADD it. But Texas Dem politics is a strange beast.

Let's dive in.

AOC (the self-alleged Sephardi Jew, and yes I am blogging about that in more depth sometime) has also endorsed Cristina Tzíntzún Ramirez, the self-alleged only real Hispanic in the Dems' Senate race, which of course was news to the best-ideas, most-treading-fiscal-water Sema Hernandez. I expect the runoff to go to her vs ConservaDem gun nut M.J. Hegar.

Speaking of? A former CTR employee throws her under the bus as a "union buster" and a general fake.
Give that a listen then hit the next three clips. She is attacked for her management of JOLT and other things.

Or just go to clip four, where we hear of how CTR became fake Tex-Mex by legally changing her name from Christine Costello. Here you are:
Given her treatment of employees, and the capitalism-driven use of identity politics? Put her down as a ConservaDem too! Let's keep the thread going! Whole thing is on Soundcloud. The employee interview with Maria Yolisma Garcia starts at 25:08.

Let's get back to the name change, per Wiki's page on her.

As I told JV on Twitter, the "Tzintzún" I get. It was her mom's maiden name, and she went with it long ago.

But the "Ramirez"? She stole that from her soon-to-be-ex in the fall of 2019, four-plus years after they got married, and also several months after they officially separated and just a month or two before getting divorced.

Note that. That's what I teased up top.

So why?

I'm guessing that for Tex-Mex Hispanics (don't forget that Costello/Tzintzún has, in either accidental ignorance or more a willful dissing of Sema Hernandez, claimed she's the only Mexican in the race or something to that effect), CTR's PR staff thought that Tzintzún was too highbrow or something.

Wiki offers the clue to that, noting she entered the Senate race Aug. 12. "Ramirez" probably sounded more everyday Tex-Mex, even though she is coming off as #FakeTexMex.

Back to JV.
Since entering the race, she's played political cutesie and footsie other ways. She made it sound like she was for single-payer, before quickly backpedaling to the public option stance.

Sema Hernandez has the best overall stances in the race.

That said, despite fellating Bob on a Knob O'Rourke in fall 2018, and falsely or self-delusionally claiming she'd gotten him to back single-payer (he didn't, she didn't, and she's never done a mea culpa), her own attempts to play Just.Another.Politician.™ have backfired. She hasn't gained a lot of traction in the polls and gained nothing financially. By the end of last year, she had just barely broken the $10K mark or so in contributions. What she'll do next, I have no idea. Ditto on what #FakeTexMex will do if she doesn't make the runoff vs gun nut M.J. Hegar. (She's almost certain to get one of the two runoff spots; the other is up in the air.)

David Bruce Collins is theoretically running for the Senate on the Green Party line, but the HB 2504 lawsuit and related issues are complicating matters. Assuming he gets past the complications, he's my vote in the general election.

February 23, 2020

The Dem nomination is now even more Bernie's to lose

After a moderate win in New Hampshire two weeks ago, I first said this.

Now, after a bigger win in Nevada that saw him take an absolute majority in Hispanic voters there and run about even with Biden on black voters, albeit with still a relatively small sample size, it's even more his to lose.

Even 538 admitted this was a possibility last week before the day-of-voting Nevada caucuses.

Meanwhile, #PunyPete is ramping up the #AnybodyButBernie stuff, as is James Carville's cuter younger brother, Joe Lockhart, with him appealing to #MiniMike Bloomberg to get his shit together.

Another winner? Per this piece, ranked choice voting, which was used in the early voting portion of the Nevada caucus.

Yet another winner? Harry Reid. Of course, he combines with the first loser of the night besides #PunyPete and other Dems, and that would be Michael Tracey.
Contra Michael Tracey, who ain't quite Dick Tracey, Harry Reid said quite clearly, just days before in person voting in Nevada, that he was NOT part of any "anti-Sanders camp." He has opposed Medicare for All and said it won't get passed, but the New Yorker reports he has a personal fondness for Sanders. And in July 2016, Reid said Bernie didn't get a fair shake and that Dancing with the Schultz should have resigned earlier as DNC chair.

I'd already read the first piece, at Bloomberg, so that's how I knew Tracey was wrong. But, it showed up on the first page of hits when I did a web search, via the sometimes-good, sometimes-awful DuckDuckGo instead of Rainbow Satan. If people think that Reid saying Bernie should not get a nomination if he only has a plurality of delegates DOES put him into an anti-Sanders camp, wrong. He's just reading party rules.

Another loser? John Ralston of chair-throwing fiction writing fame from the 2016 caucuses.
Shock me.

Yet another loser?

Assuming David Sanger and his media Peter Principle world represents much of New York Times and other Holy of Holies MSM thinking? #AnybodyButBernie and #AnybodyButTrump are walking hand in hand under the MSM cover of #RussianInterference. Isaac Dovere, with a hack job claiming Sanders was dumb enough and egotistical enough to think of primarying Obama in 2012, is another MSM lackey of this sort. Andrew Stewart has already shot holes in this.

Overall chess match winners and losers?

Bernie is a winner for taking a near-majority in his plurality. He probably is a winner again for Mayor Cheat finishing third to Biden, not second.

Biggest loser? Warren? Or Klobuchar?

Tough to tell.

Klobberin Klobuchar, pandering and all:
Couldn't break 5 percent and was deep in fifth place after her strong New Hampshire finish. Contra Chris Tomlinson and the Chronic's editorial board, I suspect "Minnesota Fake Nice" doesn't play well in general among younger Democrats of color.

Note: All placings are with approximately 50 percent reporting as of near midnight Central time.

Warren was fourth, but a distant fourth. Small consolation that she finished ahead of the Klobberer, who hadn't had much time in Nevada. Seriously, Warren-stanners, it's time for her to look for her exit.

When that happens, it will be "interesting" to see if she:
A. Endorses Sanders;
B. Endorses nobody;
C. Endorses somebody else.


B is certainly the most likely, and not just because of recent bad blood with Bernie. Earlier exiters have, for the most part, endorsed nobody yet, other than hinting at #AnybodyButBernie maybe. But, the language she uses when leaving will be key.

And, yes, she should leave.

And, yes, contra the Super PAC she's now lined up, she's going to have the campaign fundraising stream start drying up pretty quick. Bernie and Status Quo Joe will be 1-2 in South Carolina, one way or the other. Puny Pete's faked endorsements won't boost him above a distant third. They're been called out as fakes too much. Plus, MiniMike needs momentum before Super Tuesday, so he'll try to boost his black voter cred by attacking those fake endorsements, too.

If Puny Pete doesn't break 15 percent in South Carolina, he's in trouble next.

Speaking of Bloomberg? I'm sorry, a Trump Trainer of some sort nutbar enough to retweet Styxexenhammer calls him "Bloomie":
Must be the kinder, gentler, MiniMike turning over a new leaf. Probably like the New Nixon.

Yang, while not endorsing Sanders himself (I don't know that he did when he withdrew) has called for other candidates to drop out lest nobody have a majority at the convention and superdelegates come into play. 

February 22, 2020

Green Party activitsts beat the Venezuelan Embassy rap for now

A big congratulations to Green Party activists who have, for now via hung jury, beaten the rap for their Venezuelan Embassy occupation trial, despite Judge Beryl Howell acting almost in collusion with the prosecution by how much in the way of defense tactics she refused to admit.

That said, per her background, it's no surprise that this Obama nominee would make such rulings. Former Assistant USDA in Eastern District of New York. Then, top assistant to Pat Leahy and eventual general counsel on staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She has some good points, like on FOIA expansion. But? The former prosecutor helped write the Patriot Act. And CALEA. And DMCA. And, despite a previous pro-First Amendment ruling? Not this time. (In 2004, the Society of Professional Journalists gave her a First Amendment award for her FOIA work. Can they take it back?)

And, for her work on the DMCA, she was rewarded, before heading to the federal bench, by being a lobbyist for Recording Industry Association of America. (One of her first big cases on the DC District was to reward the RIAA.)

In other words, pretty much a standard neoliberal Dem, and on the Patriot Act, despite some Dems later claiming "not me," a standard bipartisan foreign policy establishmentarian.

Judges like this are why, when Dems shout and/or moan "Oh the SCOTUS" every four years, I have a ready answer. The gamut of civil liberties issues carry far beyond reproductive rights (for which Congressional Dems have never restored Medicaid funding for the poor) or sexuality and sexual relationship rights.

February 21, 2020

Basic income and the gig economy, part 2
vs national health care and other angles

Several years ago, in one of several blog responses (or per Twitter, more subresponse than response) to basic income guru and evangelist Scott Santens, I  said BI should not be used as the primary fix for gig economy problems. Do that, and you open the door to gutting Social Security next because the self-employed pay both employer and employee portions of FICA tax. Beyond that, many issues with the gig economy have arisen because neoliberal Dems, tacitly, and big-biz and libertarian conservative Republicans, openly, have supported the NLRB cutting rules on who's a contractor and who's not.

It's time to expand talk about the "gig economy" more, especially as more and more Democrats, and even a few non-duopoly semi-lefties, mouth the business conservative "e-word" — "entrepreneurship," and also as third-party backers, and even a former leftish third party state leader, think BI is the fix for their issues, even to the point of ignoring the anti-third party stances on other issues many BI pushers hold.

There are three definite classes, and possibly a fourth thrown in by some people, within what is loosely called the "gig economy."

The first is what is often referred to as the "precariat." This is people working a mix of one or more regular part-time and/or less regular freelance jobs because they can't get full-time work, which they prefer.

The second are those who work one job, generally full-time, but it at times may be less than that. They have been defined as "independent contractor" not "employee" by their company. They generally don't want this, and may have fought or tried to fight it. It's these people I refer to in the "beyond that" in the last sentence of the first paragraph. Think somebody like a truck driver.

The third are white collar people, usually with specific skill sets, who have usually made the choice to work as contract labor. From what I can tell, this includes Scott Santens, as well as many others in the IT world. It also includes a number of writers and editors.

The techies have generally made the choice on the idea of selling their services to the highest bidder. They're often young to youngish, at least under 40. That said, I can't find Santens' age with a quick Google but, from what I can tell from his bio, he's definitely over 40 himself. Big companies might hire them, but they may want the money from not paying health insurance — and the money from the employer's contribution as well, which they wouldn't get by being a staff employee and opting out. They often work full-time when on contracts, but can hit dry spells between contracts.

The fourth possible category are people who, even if the business is not full time year round (like Laura Palmer as a wedding-focused videographer) have started their own businesses.

I have the most sympathy for the first class. I have close to that for the second.

I have little for the third, probably less than for the forth in some ways, depending on the size and income flow of the business for people in category four.

Now, let's dive in.

The first class? They're just not making enough money and not getting the opportunity to do so. For them, more money comes before not having health insurance or other benefits. BI could certainly help them. Other things would help as much or more, though. That would include a higher minimum wage, moving to a 35-hour work week to free up working hours, and other things, like Howie Hawkins' proposal to expand the current Earned Income Tax Credit into a full-blown negative income tax.

The second class? Experienced semi drivers can make decent, if not fantastic wages. But, if they're "independent contractors," they're not eligible for unemployment benefits, they're also not covered by workplace safety inspections and many other things. And they're not eligible for company insurance. So, BI might help them somewhat. National health care would help them more, including letting them go full Johnny Paycheck on their bosses. They're often old enough that they don't want to go without insurance if they can avoid it. Fighting harder on NLRB rules plus national health care is the best way to help these people.

The third? Let's go back to that made the choice phrase. If you want the benefits of being your own boss, including with the business wingnuts' e-word, then IMO, per the old "moral hazard" issue of economics, you should accept taking your own risk as well. If you're looking for BI to "tide you over" between six-month or one-year contracts on occasion? I have two options, one current and one that would require a change of law.

The current? Save more money while you're working. And you can do that, in many cases.

The change of law? Rather than, like Santens, ATTACKING (sorry, Scott, but you're trying to steal my pie) my unemployment benefits, I'll let you "opt in." To riff on national health care, it's the "public option" for unemployment bennies. Ditto on workman's comp, if you want to use BI to attack that.

And, I'd offer the same opt-in to the fourth class as well. That, along with national health care, would make it easier for you to be entrepreneurial.

Back to the third class. If Santens, and his disciples, also think Social Security will go broke and that's why he wants to replace part of it with BI? You're ATTACKING again and I will fight you.

Now, back to my piece about former Green Party Texas co-chair Laura Palmer and her YangGanging.

I don't know if she's thought this through or not. But, she may not really be in the same bucket as Santens by employment class. I was going to say their ages might be different, but see above. Maybe at, if not yet over, 45. And, if she really is a Green, she's not in the same bucket as him on things like cryptocurrency, I hope. (That's not to mention Santens being a Davos writer. No, really!)

As for Santens' "the robots will steal all our jobs"? As with Yang, that fear is probably overstated to a degree. Going beyond Politico, though, it's also misfocused to a degree. If computer software can write up sports briefs and county real estate sales into stories, and now, on the video side, Reuters has a VR bot newsreader for teevee, why can't I program a bot to scrape BI postings by others and create Schotte Ohnezehn?

That said, although Santens hasn't maybe written directly about that? I suspect he knows that. Another reason he's writing these BI articles, and as a libertarianish type in Class Three, touting the cures of cryptocurrency as well. Follow the money, even if cybermoney.

Finally, the fact that Santens has a Business Insider piece from 2016 saying that Trump might be the Basic Income Moses leads me even more firmly to the conviction that Santens is politically agnostic on many issues.

He's never, IMO, directly undercutting his idea that BI would fight climate change, addressed the stone cold reality that the energy consumption of cryptocurrency is a huge threat to our climate. (You say go green and renewable even more? Right now, we're just doing little more than running in place on that.)

Oh, back to what I say is much more important than BI — single payer. Santens does support that, but even there, it's ultimately with BI wrapped in it. No. If we go beyond "just" single payer, it's gotta be to a British-style National Health System.

So, to summarize? The "gig economy," without further descriptive qualifiers, is a vague phrase that covers a huge class of people. Subclasses within this have different needs, most of which can be met better by one or more other actions than by basic income.

February 20, 2020

#DeleteFacebook? Why not Twitter? It may even help you

Plenty of people Tweet on Twitter about encouraging others to delete their Facebook accounts, usually with the Twitter hashtag above.

Well, I've never heard of Facebook helping a company hack a contract employee's personal Facebook account.

Unlike Twitter, which IS alleged to have helped a company hack a contract employee's Twitter account (he has the email confirming that), then lying about doing so through silence and PR babble.

(Oh, the company is the slimy SB Nation, owned by the slimy Vox.)

But Cambridge Analytica!

Well, on the other hand, Facebook doesn't have, and hasn't had as far as I know, employees working as moles for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, unlike Twitter.

The story notes that the infiltration took off with a request by a Saudi official for the one mole to grant a blue-check verification for a Saudi media person's account. After suitable gratuities, he started looking for in-real-life info on anonymous Saudi dissidents on Twitter. He couldn't do much, but he made contact with another Saudi national at Twitter, a site reliability engineer with all sorts of access.

And so, Twitter's peddling of the idea of anonymity backfired.

I personally have had one of my Twitter accounts hacked by another individual. Twitter has never acknowledged this, and while suspending the account after it was hacked, has refused to kill the account and thus free that email address.

Personally, I have never seen Twitter as a company as being nobler in any great way than Facebook. It's just that it's enough smaller, its ignominity does less damage. I'm sure that if Jack Dorsey had Twitter as big as he wished, between intermittent fasting, sniffing Gwynneth Paltrow candles and whatever the hell else New Agey he does, he'd try to do Cambridge Analytica-type dumb shit just like Hucksterman. 

February 19, 2020

Dem Debate quick thoughts, mainly on Bloomberg, bit on Bernie

For a man who so calculatingly delayed his entry into the race (he did plan this, bet on it) Bloomberg sure wasn't prepared for oppo research hitting him this quickly and this hard.

And he's sure been thin-skinned about it. This and more showed up in the Las Vegas debate. Politico has a decent summary.

But this isn't just MiniMike. The Donald is the same way. Ross is Boss Perot was the same, too.

It's the CEO syndrome. Corporate heads get largely insulated from criticism by servile boards and on-demand corporate PR staff. They forget about two big things: The media, and two other branches of state or federal government. Trump has gotten enough fawningness from GOP legiscritters that unconstitutional things like his misprision of funds on the fall for which Dems refused to impeach gets covered over by them, too. The third branch? On this, in the American federal judiciary system, the wheels of justice aren't even grinding slowly. To show my age, they're like a 78 rpm record played on the old 16 rpm speed. (Yes, more than 33s and 45s existed at one time, folks.) Compounding the problem is that the Supreme Court, IMO, not only could but should be exercising original review on a lot of these issues and refuses to do so.

Anyway, Bloomberg got some hard hits and didn't take them well.

Bernie? His health probably is good. But, the non-disclosure makes him look like a backtracker. That's because he IS a backtracker on previous pledges, stanners. Just own up and admit it was a gaffe by Bernie, because it was. Now, how he gets off this hook, other than simply saying that the doctors' statements he's offered have met the bar of transparency and moving on, I don't know.

Back to Bloomberg, speaking of backtracking. Five bucks says he doesn't release his back taxes before the April 15 IRS filing deadline. That, too, will be calculated, not because a billionaire can't pay salaried accountants and tax attorneys to work enough overtime to make it so.

#WheresWarren?

That was a hashtag trending on Twitter Tuesday evening.

I've skewered the cults of Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg. I've just skewered, period, both Gabbard and Marianne Williamson. I've even, going back to pre-2016, pointed out that while Bernie is the best Democrat, he's still well short of non-duopoly ideals.

But until now, I've not skewered the #StillWithering cult of Elizabeth Warren that much.

I have, along with many, many others, noted the stupidity of her DNA test — something that plays right to Trump's strength. As someone who grew up in the Southwest and is belatedly repenting of some of his father's comments about American Indians, I've commented on her stereotyping and such — while also using the opportunity to skewer Cherokees for their treatment of Black Cherokees.

But, I've not skewered her cult.

Until now, or rather, until last night on Twitter.

Let's dig in!

Starting with presidential history:
Can't go wrong there.

Next, speaking of Warrent, alleged media blackouts, DNA tests, and presidential odds?
That's about the truth. Got some Oklahoma Cherokee Moon Pie in one of those plagiarized cookbooks of yours?

Where's Warren? Well, he could be all sorts of places, but I just listed one of the ones he mentioned:
Ooowww WOOOO!

Well, speaking of President Warrens, besides the one of history, there's two would-be ones:
I'm surprised that he didn't pull the trigger in 2000. Did Clinton talk him out of it? Annette Benning? Past girlfriends?

Where's Warren? Spinning his webs in Nebraska.
Geico geckos, anybody?

Where's Warren? Trying to find a successor to the Expos!
As I said ...

Where's Warren? Six feet under but wishing he could get out, if immaterial souls existed:
Maybe Rob Manfred and John Roberts could be forcibly switched? Couldn't be any worse for either the Supreme Court or pro baseball, could it?

Where's Warren?
Damned if I didn't think of this before!

Where's Warren?

In reality? She's cringing in fear of doze meanie BernieBros, because Culinary 226 claimed somebody threw a chair at their Neera Tanden-loving secretary-treasurer or something. And, of course, nobody's proven anything beyond, as Bernie said, some Twitter yahoos saying something or another.

There is one good thing out of this. It may undercut some Berners' penchant for conspiracy thinking. Yes, many in the MSM may not be enamored of Sanders, and many of them may be ditching Warren on electability grounds. But, some of these things are just .... mistakes.

Texas progressives salute the start of early voting

Texas Progressives wonder what the start of early voting will show on turnout tea leaves while giving you updates in local, state and national political and other news.

Brains offers his initial glance, leading off with thoughts on the Donkeys' Senate nomination race.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, I saw not a BernieBro, but a BernieBarbie, engaging in what could indeed be considered stereotypical conspiracy thinking:
Yes, I'm in the media, so I know about ballot order issues. But, if you don't know? It's called "asking," not going off half-cocked (or less).


Texas politics

The cult of Bob on a Knob O'Rourke and his new PAC has both upsides and downsides for Texas Democrats.

Austin Merikan Stateless, now under the ownership of Craphouse, endorses ConservaDem MJ Hegar in the Dem Senate race. San Antone endorses ModeratoDem Amanda Edwards. I presume the hometown Chronic will do or has done the same.

The Observer anti-endorses incumbent DAs Kim Ogg in Harris County and Margaret Moore in Travis County. (Your blogger thinks both counties needs more prosecutorial reform, but sides with the more moderate challengers in both cases and rejects the idea of a blanket refusal to pursue any felony drug cases.)

Paradise in Hell interprets Sen. John Cornyn. The Texas Signal comments on Cornyn's low name recognition.


Texana

Socratic Gadfly had more sad trombones for Texas sports, this time just for Dusty Baker worried about Cheating Astros players getting beaned, even as Commissioner Rob Manfred appeared determined to show he could do worse PR than Astros owner Jim Crane.

Claytie Williams is dead of pneumonia at 88. I hope he laid there and enjoyed it.

Following up on last week's article about lung-clogging shit-laden Panhandle feetlot pollution, the Observer notes that photojournalism groups say state law forbidding drone photography of feedlots is unconstitutional — and they're suing.

The Lunch Tray takes a closer look at Unilever's decision to mostly end child-directed marketing of ice cream.

The Rag Blog talks about an Underground Railroad route in Texas.


Dallas

Oh, Lordy! Pun intended! Dallas' top Trump ass-kisser, and possibly Protestant ministry's top Trump ass-kisser, Robert Jeffress will be interviewing Sarah Sanders during Sunday, March 1, worship services, while continuing to claim he's not a political stooge.

Jim Schutze calls out the Snooze for refusing to run a piece that eventually dropped in the StartleGram about DART bleeding money. He then calls out former Snooze sister WFAA for a totally wrong story on Jim's Car Wash.


Houston

Mayor Sylvester Turner showed he's full on ConservaDem with his endorsement of Mike Bloomberg. Sly has since claimed that Mini Mike apologizing for stop and frisk was why he endorsed him. Really? Julian Castro surely has it right in noting the apology came just before the former Republican decided to seek the Dem nomination.

Houston is one of the cities where the Border Patrol will embed with ICE, and new thuggishness will likely result. Keep the ugly word "tonk" in mind.

Off the Kuff interviewed three candidates for Harris County District Attorney: Kim Ogg (the incumbent), Carvana Cloud, and Audia Jones.


National/Texas politics

Brains notes that Bernie now leads in Dem polling in Texas; he also snarks well on Sylvester's Sellout as part of Bloomberg buying up everything and everyone in sight.

Gadfly raised eyebrows at a former GP state co-chair getting into Jill Stein-for-Bernie territory by stanning on Twitter for specific Dems even while part of a Greens ballot access lawsuit.

Jenny Rollins looks at Sen. Mitt Romney's lone Republican vote to convict Donald Trump in the impeachment trial through a Mormon lens.


National

Robert Nagle endorses Elizabeth Warren for President.

Mustafa Tameez criticizes the Trump administration’s recent attacks on so-called “sanctuary cities.”

February 18, 2020

Ty Clevenger faces new Seth Rich conspiracy theory problems

Counsel for NPR's David Folkenflick, whom Seth Rich conspiracy theory nutter Ed Bukowsky has sued for defamation and who is represented in part by Seth Rich conspiracy theory nutter Ty Clevenger, had filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 11 of federal court procedure, which covers violations by legal counsel. The original motion was under seal on the details, presumably because, per that original, a co-counsel of Clevenger's could not be reached. We now also have the full deal.

This isn't the only time Clevenger's allegedly airtight legal beaglery has been challeged; last fall, he beat the rap on a motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim.

But it was nowhere near a slam dunk. The length of the magistrate's response indicates that it was getting careful consideration.

In the new filing? Let's see if the feds know that Butowsky and associates also have allegedly discussed spying on Rich's family.

Meanwhile, Clevenger faces California Supreme Court sanctions; let's hope that court knows his scofflaw history on such things.

(Update: I read the link when I got home. The Cal Bar gave him a hand-slap of a two-year suspension from practicing in California, itself probated three years. It did consider his previous sanctions, but did NOT consider him being a scofflaw on paying them. It listened to his friends saying he had integrity, when his integrity, to the degree it exists, wouldn't extend to gays and Muslims.)

Anyway, Rich nutters and Clevenger nutters are already circling the wagons with the usual claims which I refuted long ago.

February 17, 2020

Sinema-Cassidy isn't bipartisan, but is fake help for child care
and no matter the issue, it's bad tax and fiscal policy

In a column, Chris Tomlinson ignores two things about Trump's fake tax credits child care bill. (Note: Per the first half of the header, it IS fake; per the second half, there's a deeper issue, which is what prompted this blog post.)

One is that Arizona "Democrat" Kyrsten Sinema is considered even more in the GOP camp than Joe Manchin by many Congressional rating services.

The second is that the bill is bad policy.

On Twitter, Chris claims that Pelosi and House Dems would incorporate Sinema-Kennedy into any child care bill.

I doubt it. They'd incorporate ACTUAL tax credits, yes; I highly doubt they'd do this.

Per the "actual," all this bill does is let parents borrow ahead against future tax credits. Chris admits that in the column. Per the Pelosi angle?

In fact, House + Senate Dems have (sad trombones, not bipartisan) have a bill that would make child care more affordable in the first place.

All the Trump bill would do is have parents, 5-10 years from now, at risk of having their taxes audited for using child care tax credits that they've borrowed to exhaustion already, followed by stamping their feet over wanting to be "reimbursed." And yes, the Merikan ppl are like that, and yes, there's a good chance Congress would "cave." A Democrat president would cave, too. Look at the "Bush tax cuts" becoming the "Obama tax cuts." And, yes, Chris, I think there's a good chance you know this would be a likely outcome.

I think it's the alleged bipartisanness or whatever that seduces Chris. More on that below.

That said, if Dem Congresscritters did do a volte-face someday and adopt the Trump idea lock, stock and barrel? It would still be bad policy. It would be even if Greens somehow got a Member of Congress and that person introduced such an idea.

So, no, Chris and sorry. This one is a clunker and it's #FakeChildCareHelp, to modify a Trumpian hashtag.

Also, Chris, as a business and economics columnist, knows about the Obama tax cuts. He knows this would be bad business policy if something similar were proposed in business tax deductions. (Or I hope he does.)


Well, I hope he would oppose it, even though he calls my stance here an ideological purity test.

I Tweeted back asking if he would support a bill that, for whatever reason, allowed eXXXon to "borrow ahead" against the depletion allowance. (Given that fracking has put oil prices in the toilet, this isn't a totally out of the blue hypothetical.)

Or, lest Chris think I'm picking on Big Oil, let's say there's a multi-year tax credit for putting in solar panels. Would I support borrowing ahead against that? Or for non-oil businesses, to borrow ahead against depreciation schedules? No.

(I'm not an informed expert on the tax code; AFAIK, there may be some stupid tax code subsection that already allows this in some area. It would most likely be a section of corporate tax code if it exists. Well, if it DOES exist? Two wrongs don't make a right here more than any place else.)

And, other pieces agree with me. This one explicitly notes that Sinema-Cassidy is essentially a tax loan.

Or, since I'm in full snark mode now? What if we had paid, rather than unpaid, family leave time, to go back to the subject matter of this fake help bill? Would you be OK with "borrowing ahead" on that, if the paid family leave split between two years?

Chris, in an earlier Tweet, justified borrowing ahead my claiming parenting expenses are frontloaded. Actually, the only one that is, really,  is the costs of birth itself. Like many things in US medicine, it's overpriced, which is an issue itself.  But for this discussion? The main issue is that we don't allow that elsewhere in the individual tax code, and a childbirth itself is not a deductible expense.
And, while the Warren bill isn't perfect, it explicitly addresses lower income needs much better than Trump's bill does. Tax credits in general are targeted at the middle class, and within that, the top half of the middle class. This bill is no exception.

Finally, if he claims that Pelosi would incorporate this if it didn't have Trump's backing? Well, first, Trump (as he notes) has failed to do anything real on this issue. So, it's bad policy that's also serving as a would-be reward for bad political behavior. Second, Trump has had the chance to back the Warren bill, or even do a slimmed-down, but real, GOP alternative to it.

So, let's go back to the Tweet that started this:
No, Chris, not true. I'm actually suggesting Warren's bill as one of many good bills that's the enemy of a not-good bill.

I don't often blog about such things, but this is bad enough policy, the bill itself, along with bad ideas in the column, and not thinking through how this would play out, means I had to respond. A column like this, to complete the trifecta, is a bad column serving as a reward for bad policy that's serving as a would-be reward for bad political behavior, and that justifies bad policy no matter the issue. No purity tests involved.

The "bipartisanship" angle may not all be Chris'. After all, early voting starts tomorrow, and even the higher ups at the Chronic are loosening up a bit. But not much. Klobuchar (the viable, non-Biden centrist) got their endorsement for president on the Democratic ballot. (I assume they'll endorse any Democrat short of Sanders in the general, but do no endorsement if he gets the Dem nod.)

==

Now, while you're here, about the first name on that bill.

Sinema isn't even up for re-election until 2024. So, she clearly believes in this boondoggle. (And she's been touting the idea since last July.) On the House side, Texas ConservaDem Colin Allred has proven his true colors by being a co-sponsor.

Texas 13 — Josh Winegarner and who else?

Texas' 13th Congressional District is the most GOP-friendly in the nation. With incumbent Mac Thornberry being term-limited out of either running or being ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee, the Newt-era Contract on America alum decided to leave after nearly 30 years.

As one might expect, such a one-party district for the Rethugs has brought out not just wingnuts, but wingnuts squared, as I noted about a recent campaign forum.

That said, it also has people who might be called non-wingnut IN TODAY'S GOP, and with some brains in their skulls.

With a 15-person field, it's obviously headed to a runoff. Which two get in?

It's looking more and more like Josh Winegarner is one of those two. Winegarner started rounding up endorsements from the time he entered the race, and earlier this week he got the most coveted of all — Mac's.

(Thornberry said he had pledged he would "not try to pick [his] successor" when he decided not to run. So, he just said that Winegarner is getting his and his wife's votes. That's an endorsement by any name, and most the other 14 surely consider it trying to pick his successor. I would.)

Winegarner worked for both Phil Gramm and John Cornyn, as well as being a lobbyist for the Panhandle-polluting Texas Cattle Feeders' Association. So, he's connected. And born in the district.

That said, per the top link, Winegarner isn't totally non-nutbar, either. For public consumption, at least, he said Trump's wall would stop terrorism. Bullshit.

So, who is the other?

Amarillo City Councilwoman Elaine Hays challenged Mac two cycles ago and she was born in Bridgeport, so she knows both ends of the district. She has a good shot at the other spot.

Her main contender for that second spot is probably Chris Ekstrom. Per Ballotpedia's partial list of endorsements, he's got the real wingnuts, including Former Fetus Forever Fuckwad Jonathan Stickland. And the district has real wingnuts, represented by candidates like Catherine "I Swear" Carr, who expressed her fear of "Sahara law" at a forum. That said, Ekstrom, like Ronny Jackson, is arguably one of the carpetbaggers Mac warned about. And, his claim to be the only real conservative may be off-putting.

Wichita County Commissioner Lee Harvey has a shot if the plethora of Amarillo area candidates split much of the vote. But I rank him third behind Hays and Eckstrom.

Winegarner doubled down on being a wingnut on the wall last week. Mac actually called out Trump for his misprision of funds on diverting Pentagon money to wall-building. Winegarner blamed Democrats for that, showing he's either unaware of or doesn't care about the constitutional process of budgeting. Ekstrom and Jackson went further and attacked Mac.

(Sidebar: This all leads to discussions of what the word "conservative" means today. If it means prudence? None of these folks are. If it means following established principles, none of these people are. The Constitution mandates and stipulates a budgeting process and Mac got it right.)

Trump made an endorsement in the almost-as-crowded CD 11, where nearly as long-termed an incumbent, Mike Conaway, is retiring, per the Trib's "carpetbaggers" story. Nothing here, though, at least not yet. And, with early voting starting tomorrow, I doubt there will be. Even more candidates, Mac being around even longer than Conaway, more elbows being thrown. Trump advisors are telling him to stay out, surely, even if Ekstrom (I assume) had strongly asked for the signal boost.

That said, I don't think Winegarner can avoid a runoff.

And, he might not win a runoff, no matter his amount of lead, but below 50 percent, on March 3.

Let me explain.

It's possible that the true wingnuts coalesce behind whoever finishes second, especially if it is Ekstrom and not Hays. It's then possible that Trump makes that endorsement in the runoff.

February 15, 2020

Dusty Baker is worried about
his poor widdle Cheating Astros being hurt

New Cheating Astros manager Dusty Baker has already asked MLB to be extra vigilant about beanballs being thrown at his unapologetic players this year.

That's after Ross Stripling of the ripped off/choking Dodgers has said it's already crossed his mind with the Indians Mike Clevenger kind of leaning that way, and Reds free thinker Trevor Bauer has said of the the hypocrites that "I'll never let them forget."

Indeed, we should not.

Besides, there are many things opposing players, and opposing management, can do besides beanballs.


For example, in honor of Jose Altuve? "Restaurant Buzzer Night" giveaway. Make sure those first 10,000 fans get extra loud buzzers.

Turn off the hot water in the visitors' clubhouse.

Spike the water for the visitors with ExLax.

Speaking of spiking? Going back to deadball days, first basemen on visiting teams could get their spikes extra sharp. Easy to "accidentally" step on someone's foot on a close play.

Or, since many people think Altuve rooked Yankee Aaron Judge out of an MVP? Baseball rules about takeout slides aside, when the Astros play the Yankees, when the Yankees are at bat, if Judge gets on first base, if I'm Altuve, I ain't resting easy at second. Or, when Altuve is at bat, catcher Gary Sanchez could make his throws back to the mound come pretty close to Jose. (Mark May 15-17 Houston and Sept. 21-24 New York, right in a pennant race, on your calendar. Sadly, neither in regular season nor spring training, do the Astros play the Dodgers this year, so Cody Bellinger or teammates can't get on-field revenge. But Stripling was traded from the Dodgers to the Angels, AL West rivals of the Astros. Getcha popcorn!

Speaking of, on Monday, Mike Trout went off. So, let's just turn Trout lose in the Astros dugout to kick ass and take numbers.

Other than Altuve, the basically unbelievable Carlos Correa is probably also high on other teams' payback list.

Baker himself played the game for years back in the old days. I'm sure he can think of plenty of other paybacks, that will be hell.

That and more? The players will have earned it. Former Astro Tony Kemp says he refused to participate. So, any current or former from 2017 Astros who haven't said that? Per the old cliche, silence gives assent.

So, take to heart the three letters at left. And take to heart a friendly reminder that you haven't won a non-cheating pro sports title in Helltown for 25 years and counting.

That said, this in part continues to be Rob Manfred's fault for not punishing active players. And, to the degree that players union head Tony Clark, if contacted by Manfred, resisted such ideas, also his fault. Besides CBA issues for the next players contract, I'll bet players union meetings in months ahead are kind of heated at times on this issue.

February 14, 2020

YangGanging from the third-party world

I have been following Laura Palmer on Twitter for some time.

And, on two counts, I simply don't get her YangGang enthusiasm.

First, she as a former state co-chair of the Texas Greens, thinking that Yang is, overall, closer to Green Party positions than Bernie Sanders is itself a head-scratcher.

Second, although she's never run for elective office, and therefore this isn't QUITE as bad as Jill Stein endorsing Bernie Sanders in the 2016 California Democratic primary, she IS a former state party official. This is a lot closer to Stein's action than to Green/Democrat stool straddler Brains, who's never held a GP position, calling himself A Bernie or Green Buster or something.

I think she's doing it primarily for Basic Income issues.

To me, that's way down the list, WAY down the list, of political priorities after national health care (which Yang wasn't even close to supporting), followed by real action on climate change, then other things. And that link on Yang's national health care head-fakery is why I said above that Palmer's enthusiasm for Yang over Sanders is a head-scratcher.

Yang strikes me as being at the left edge of tech-neoliberalism and nothing more.

Beyond that, he proved himself to be Just.Another.Politician.™ on Israel-Palestine issues.

That said, he dropped out as of New Hampshire primary night. Will he endorse any other Dem already? So far, none of the dropout Dems have endorsed anybody else. And, I'm curious to see what Palmer will do.

And, I didn't have to wait.

Tulsi Gabbard, despite, as far as I remember, never before talking up Basic Income (a Googling claims she has supported it), has all of a sudden made it a key talking point, along with an explicit pitch to the Yang Gang. And Palmer is retweeting away.



That's despite the many issues, like voted for more nukes, to opposing BDS, to her general Kool-Aid, and to her not clearly and explicitly supporting single-payer (on her campaign website, she tried to have her cake of Medicare for All while eating the public option), that should make her anathema to a good Green. (I know not all Greens are ecosocialist lefties, but I think the party's moving that way.

There's also the issue of what version of BI Gabbard supports — the lefty or the libertarian conservative version. PplsWar, who is "interesting" a absolute dickhead on Twitter, says it's the latter. I'm on record as strongly against that version, and against BI "guru" Scott Santens' version of it. Santens does a call-out of him. That said, per Politico, and contra what a Yang staffer told me on Twitter, it seems Yang himself supports at least a semi-libertarian version. I have a separate post looking at Yang and Gabbard's BI issues here.

Palmer seems to actually have some animosity toward Sanders, and I'm guessing that it's in part due to his non-embrace of BI. Among her retweets, when Yang dropped out, was one claiming that Bloomberg made a better appeal to the YangGang than Sanders.

Back to the first longer paragraph, though. There's another complication with her having been an ardent YangGanger. She's a plaintiff to the suit against HB 2504 and related third-party ballot access issues; she's listed individually on plaintiffs but the details of the complaint make clear it's on behalf of the party. The Texas Secretary of State's lawyers could theoretically submit her Twitter feed as evidence to try to claim lack of standing, or at a minimum, that she doesn't actually have that serious of interest. The first argument would almost surely be rejected; the second, if accepted, wouldn't hurt other plaintiffs. But it still wouldn't be good optics. Arguably, it's not good optics for the party, either.

As for me? Yes, in the past month or two, I've tweeted or mainly retweeted more pro-Bernie stuff. But, I've also retweeted anti-Bernie stuff, like old blog posts about him and F-35s, or him and BDS. In other words, I don't support Sanders uncritically. Also, in November, I plan to vote Howie Hawkins or Dario Hunter, assuming one or the other is the Green nominee. Had Yang somehow gotten the Democratic nod, I honestly don't know what Palmer would have done, off the top of my head.

In any case, Hawkins has his own proposal for income security, which is based on expanding the current Earned Income Tax Credit into a negative income tax.

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On the big ticket behind this all, I haven't done in-depth blogging about either BI or issues behind it — or the person behind much of the push for it on US social media, Scott Santens — for some time. I have new posts on both coming up.