SocraticGadfly: 1/26/20 - 2/2/20

February 01, 2020

Howie Hawkins tells Chomskyites to STFU

Likely Green Party (and already SPUSA) nominee Howie Hawkins tells Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich and other DemFirsters to STFU about their call for a safe states strategery. (It's a long read, but worth it.) And they DESERVE to be told to STFU. Chomsky, after all, pitched his tent in Hillaryland in 2016, then after the election called out everybody who attacked him for openly supporting lesser-evilism.  The Chomskyites responded in part to a Counterpunch piece by Howie late last year, entitled "The Green Party is not the Democrats Problem." A real disappointment on that letter is Norman Solomon. He's long called out Democrats for writing blank checks to Zionism. Sanders isn't writing totally blank checks this year, but the amount on them is no more than ... $27. And Solomon knows this.

Update, March 28: Ehrenreich, as I didn't know, is founding co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. Per this interview, she's a self-proclaimed Maoist. What she's doing inside the Democratic Party, I have no idea. At least, in the interview, she admits that until recently, the DSA was just like other Dems on Israel and Palestine. And that of course includes Sanders.

Gang Green environmentalist Bill McKibben also wants Howie to drop out, and also offers nothing in return, as Howie notes. Bill, you too can STFU.

And, so, they all need to hear what Hawkins says.

But, if you don't have time for the whole of Hawkins' long response, I'm going to pull out a few bits, at least.

First, Michael Albert, one of the signers, has been peddling this since pre-2004. I opposed David Keith Cobb as an AccommoGreen running a safe states strategy way back then. Jill Stein's flirtations with Bernie in 2016 came close to the same in some ways, and her open endorsement of him in the California Democratic primary plus hints she would stand aside for him were worse.

Second, Hawkins says that Albert and Bill Fletcher have ... misinterpreted, at least, some of his December 2019 words, Stein 2016 words and more.

Third, he claims "special pleading" by their claiming Trump is a "special danger" and notes we've heard that before. Like Bush 2004, and Cobb was dumb enough to go along with that.

Fourth, with the majority of Dem Congresscritters supporting Trump's defense bill, along with similar from Shrub Bush and Dem President Obama, yeah, national Democrats can't be trusted on this issue. Even Bernie, though voting against Trump's bills, has long been a "military Keynesian" on F-35s. I and others called him on this in 2016. Actually, I first called him out in 2015!

Fifth, what states are "safe" or not? Good point there. Look at 2016. Give these DemFirsters an inch and they'll claim 30 states, not 10, are "unsafe."

Sixth, at the state level, when Dems have had unitary control, they've bailed on things like state-level single-payer. Look at California. Perfect reason not to trust Dems. Neoliberal gov in Gavin Newsom, a state Lege that  undercut a referendum push for real online privacy, Betty Crocker as the senior senator and more.

Seventh and going beyond Hawkins, none of the letter signers offered any quid pro quo. Hawkins noted that presidential campaigns by Greens are used to try to leverage ballot access for state and local races. None of the letter signers offered to put their names behind easing Green (or general third party) ballot access.

Fuck em.

January 31, 2020

Bernie loves George Wallace? Not really

First, the story from the Brattlesboro, Vermont, paper in 1972 that was breathlessly broadcast by the Washington Examiner?

Contra wingnuts on one side, and Hillbots and ConservaDems on the other, it doesn't say what it's claimed to say. He offers SOME praise to Wallace and none for his racial stances. Second, even that "some" is offered within the context of larger political issues.

Second, I'm not sure of the exact date of this video clip, but it's clearly sometime early-mid 70s, and Bernie explicitly calls Wallace a racist.

So, I'd say "let's stop this nonsense," but it won't.

The Examiner piece also mentioned some past background of Biden, so it's clearly just trolling to murk up Democratic waters.

BUT? The Hillbots, ConservaDems and DNC establishmentarian warriors were the ones most touting it.

So, as I said on Twitter last night, Bernie needs to invest some money into hiring some staff for self-directed oppo research. More of this stuff is going to get hauled up. That said, he quickly addressed this one soon after it popped up.

And, the story earns the Bernie of the 1970s an additional kudo. Like me today, he was back then calling NOT just for single payer, but a full-blown British style National Health Service.

January 30, 2020

Chris Bell, certified progressive

Yes, Mr. Milquetoast Certified ConservaDem is now a "certified progressive" as he seeks, along with many others, the Democratic nomination to face incumbent John Cornyn in the U.S. race.

Says who?

Says Progress Texas.

Via Brains, Progress Texas is a contributor to the bastardization of the word "progressive," when it lets "public option" candidates claim to be "certified progressive." Yours truly stopped using the word "pergressuve" as a replacement for "librul" years ago because of this.

I tweeted, TP responded:
There you go. As for the 10 items on the questionnaire? Toothless, especially the first, on health care, which nowhere has the words "Medicare for all" or "single payer."

So, a refresher course.

Just over four years ago, "certified progressive" Bell endorsed a Republican in the Houston mayoral runoff. He was politically smart enough not to endorse Buzbee this time, shockingly. And, in the past, since his one term in Congress, Mr. Ethics has been less than totally ethical.

That said, half the Dem candidates or more in this race couldn't pass the single-payer test. And, if Item No. 10, gun control, had anything less toothless than vague generalities, it would flunk other candidates besides Hegar.

The last issue?

The actual responses aren't posted. So, we're taking Progress Texas at its word that Bell et al uttered something more than vague generalities responses.

If Sema Hernandez didn't answer the questionnaire for the reasons above, I don't blame her.

Are drilling, fracking and flaring going to ruin Big Bend?

I recently posted about my first visit to the park in more than 8 years.

In addition to things new in the park, and often not for the good, there's new on the way down there.

While most of the big new fracking efforts in the Permian Basin are at its west-northwest northwestern areas (think between Pecos and Carlsbad) there is some to the southwest, as well.

Driving Highway 18 from Monahans to Fort Stockton, then back four days later, I probably saw about 20 flaring sites on the west side of the highway. Flaring is only allowed with a permit, but the feds hand them out like candy, and were doing so already under Obama; it's not just a Trump think, Doinks.

I even saw a few flares south of Fort Stockton on US 385.

First, Big Bend is an International Dark Sky Park. We don't need flaring messing with that.

Second, flaring doesn't cleanly burn all gaseous hydrocarbons. Poorly combusted and uncombusted ones escape. And in the winter, when prevailing winds can often be from the north, head to Big Bend. The Bend has been polluted enough in the past by Mexican power plants, some of which are starting to clean up. (Boquillas has solar panels!) We don't need this instead or in addition.

One independent driller would like to see the RRC do its job on natural gas flaring, with the hope that would slow drilling enough on oil to prop the price up more, and also help natural gas prices. That would help the pollution, of course, but would mean a bigger potential long-term problem on climate change.

And it wouldn't address leaks from gas wells, which will remain a problem whether flaring is due to laziness, downstream bottlenecks, general overproduction or some combination of the above.

Per NM Political Report, we know that leaks are getting worse on the New Mexico side of the Permian.

Nor will it address the fact that most drilling in the Permian (and much drilling for gas in general, and somewhat for oil) is a late-stage capitalism Ponzi scheme.

January 29, 2020

Texas progressives tackle Sahara law, Texana grifting, more

This corner of Texas Progressives thinks that, once again, people on Twitter need to get a life (and stop threatening to end another's life) over the death of their favorite celebrity or whatever.

In the meantime, there's enough nuttery in this week's Roundup for you to enjoy. PLENTY of nuttery.

Texas politics

Socratic Gadfly invited people who claim they live in the land of the biggest wingnuts to learn about Texas' 13th Congressional District, the most GOP-friendly in the nation, where Sahara law is apparently even worse than sharia law.

Aren't YOU special? The Texas Trib interviews five and only five (unless more are to come, but it didn't say so) of the Texas Dems seeking the Senate nomination. And, no, Evan, I ain't sitting through hour-long one-on-one schmoozefests. Gimme a written transcript. Or don't you have enough donor money for that?

Texas Lawyer floods the zone with judicial race coverage.

Via Brains, Progress Texas is a contributor to the bastardization of the word "progressive," when it lets "public option" candidates claim to be "certified progressive."Yours truly stopped using the word "pergressuve" as a replacement for "librul" years ago because of this.

I tweeted, TP responded:
There you go. As for the 10 items on the questionnaire? Toothless, especially the first, on health care, which nowhere has the words "Medicare for all" or "single payer."


A second case of coronavirus has hit the state. Two notes. One? Fuck the QAnon types spreading conspiracy theories and fuck social media sites enabling this. Two? Fuck American exceptionalist types hand-wringing over this.

John Sharp has a beef with people who have a beef with beef, or who have a beef with trying to have your beef and eat it too.

Long read: The Observer looks at solitary confinement in state prisons.

Texas Monthly fails to tell the whole truth about Anglo Texan grifting in Fredericksburg and Marfa.

The Lunch Tray remembers a time when both parties supported feeding school children healthy food.

Sean O'Neal watched 911: Lone Star so you don't have to.

The City Not So Different

After the Austin City Council voted for the city to officially ride easy on marijuana enforcement, Police Chief Brian Manley said "no way Jose" back to the council. So, don't smoke if you got it at SXSW.

Reform Austin looks at the campaign finance report from ten key State House races.


If Kobe Bryant really deserved to have his number retired in Dallas, Mark Cuban could have either done it long before his tragic death, or else waited a few days rather than slipstreaming on the grief.


Fort Worth Weekly's Edward Brown writes about political problems in Tarrant County impacting him personally as well as for the mag.


Off the Kuff did four candidate interviews in HD26: Sarah DeMerchant, Lawrence Allen, Rish Oberoi, and Suleman Lalani.

Mean Green Cougar Red is skeptical of fare-free public transit.


Brains previews Dems' run-up to Iowa.

Therese Odell returns to Impeachment Corner.

January 28, 2020

Kobe Bryant and a dark day at the Bezos Post

This is an update to my previous post about Kobe Bryant after his death in the chopper crash.

The Bezos Post has suspended a reporter for tweeting about this, and apparently given her zero support for death threats. (And, this is not even the first time that's happened! See below.) The Bezos Post is NOW claiming that her Tweets of screenshots of death emails to her might violate Twitter policy or company social media policy. That may well be true, but, suspending Sonmez is gigantic overkill. That's especially as she's not the only person to face death threats, as well as it not being her first time to face them.

Besides, I'm calling bullshit.

(Update: I'm calling more bullshit on harassers, too. Perhaps not all of them were motivated by this, but per CJR, it looks like we can blame Donald Trump, followed by Breitbart and Daily Caller, for a fair amount of this.)

In the first link, Daily Mail quotes Post ME Tracy Grant:
"The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of colleagues."
It's clear to these eyes that he's referring to the original set, not the email inbox screenshots.

Post ME Tracy Grant isn’t on Twitter, which of course has a hugely low signal-to-noise ratio. But, I got her email address.

I sent a link to my blog post with these three observations:
  1. Between the first story from the Daily Mail, and later stories, the Post's explanation seems to be, uh, "shifting."
  2. The suspension not having a "date certain" (ie 24 hrs) is overkill.
  3. If you didn't mention the rape allegations/case in your original story, shame on you, not her. Other reporters needed a bit of undermining. Hell, Red Satan ESPN mentioned it in its initial story.
OK, the biggie, No. 3. The Post did mention it, with basically the same amount of mention as Red Satan. Could they have mentioned it more, per their own columnist and ersatz ombudsman Margaret Sullivan — who, probably with a muzzle on, doesn't talk about her own paper? Yes.

So, Nos 1 and 2. On No. 1, if Grant responds at all, it will be corporate boilerplate. On. No. 2, the suspension is still too harsh. The Post's own Erik Wemple calls it "misguided" and talked about her tweeting "a very good story from the Daily Beast." He also noted the Post was apparently following the old maxim of "speak no ill of the dead," which is "a fine rule for everyone except for historians and journalists." On the last part of 3, I don't know if it "undermines" or not, but, it does surely undercut corporate policy.

And, speaking of death threats, both Bryant prosecutor Mark Hurlbut and the victim got plenty. ESPN has a new story about Hurlbut and the case. And, per some of my friends, more and more of that leads me to think that being less and less of a sports fan looks more and more attractive with things like this. Twitter wasn't around in 2004 and Facebook was in its infancy, but the death threats were still unloaded.

But WAIT. It gets MUCH worse for the Bezos Post.

The editorial union calls out Grant and editor Marty Baron, noting they have previously tried to silence Somnez from speaking on this issue, even though she's a sexual assault survivor herself. As the guild says, it's also not the first time Post management has failed to protect her on this. The Guild also calls out the Post for uneven application of social media policies, explicitly noting (shock me) how they favor management.

And now, Baron's officially entered the world of hypocrisy, Orwell or something, with a statement about this issue and social media policy now posted on Twitter.

The guild also notes, as I did above, that management at Bezos Post can't tell a straight story on this. The Post has since reinstated Sonmez, but per CJR, without apology, or much communication in general, from the brass hats. (Hold on to that thought.) Per CJR, her initial Tweet was apparently just a semi-bare retweet of the old Daily Beast story.

That CJR piece also notes that major media outlets want journos with lots of Twitter followers, but don't want them putting controversial comments on Twitter. It also reminds us that the sexual assault she previously alleged was by an L.A. Times staffer, and I recall the Reason story about that, against which she was pushing back. More on that here. The Bezos Post IS disgusting.

(Update: And the disgust gets worse. Now, re Sonmez, many staffers are saying sexism is rampant at the Bezos Post. And, several years ago, Marty Baron allegedly threatened to fire Wesley Lowery for tweeting about racism in the Tea Party.)

With that, let’s get to brass tacks, first on Kobe, then on the Bezos Post.

Do I think Kobe “did it”? Yes. Do I think he used high-dollar lawyering threats (including of dragging his accuser through the mud) plus the knowledge that a criminal case needs a unanimous verdict, to push her to fold? Yes. Might some African-Americans be glad that Kobe, without even going to a trial, pulled off his version of an OJ? Possible; I don't know. That said, back to sexual assault. I think Big Ben did it, too, to make clear that, restricted to modern athletes, this isn't a "black" issue. Nor is it a gotcha issue; Roethlisberger also didn't apologize. And if he dies in a plane wreck two years after retiring, I'll mention that.

Did Kobe, out of a genuine heart, guilty conscience or both, redeem himself to some degree with some of his later activities? Yes. But, let's also not forget his comments, from that very piece by the Daily Beast after the civil criminal case was done, that he should be like Shaq and just buy women off with cars or whatever.  (Per one Twitter respondent, not the one first mentioned, I had the timeline wrong, and it was between the criminal and civil sides.)
According to the police report, while he was being questioned by the officers about the alleged sexual assault, Bryant said, “I should have done what Shaq does,” adding, “Shaq gives them money or buys them cars, he has already spent one million dollars.” The report added, “Kobe stated that Shaq does this to keep the girls quiet.”
So, beyond thinking "he did it," the idea that Kobe 100 percent redeemed himself is also not so true in my book.

And no, contra the National Catholic Register, his statement after settling the civil suit after the criminal case was dropped was not an apology. I know that it reads a lot like the church's non-apology "apologies" for priestly sexual abuse, so that's why it claims he apologized. But he didn't. Nor did he, at least not immediately, apologize after using the word "faggot" on court in 2011, and was called out for hypocrisy. The NCR might think that doesn't even need an apology, though.

Now, for an analogy, because I love them.

I can "apologize" for robbing a bank while saying that I recognize "you don't view the incident the same way I did," that it was simply a "direct personal deposit withdrawal." And, Kobestanners, reading through the whole thing? Kobe trying to look noble and civic-minded about the lack of a criminal case saving the state of Colorado money? Like this was a sacrifice by him?

Look given the bullying the victim had already had, this is the closest she was going to get to an actual apology. And she knew it, I'm sure.

Nor did the alleged Solons at the Post think about the f-word either. (Red Satan also didn't have it in its piece.) And, the Twitterer whom I muted didn't even try to claim he'd apologized for that.

OK, now to the Bezos Post.

This is also an object lesson on how today's mainstream media hides behind corporate social media policies for largely capitalist reasons.

And, because of the way social media works, and to make sure I don't totally succumb, I let this "percolate" for 24 hours. Had I posted right away yesterday, I wouldn't have gotten the Post Guild's piece.

As for social media hagiography, I remember similar at the time of Kirby Puckett's sudden death. I told one person, to get outside of sports, this:
Said person had claimed that Sonmez, in her activism, needed to tell "the whole truth." In an earlier Tweet, I said, she did. Well, actually, she didn't mention Kobe's anti-gay comment, but she might not have been aware of it.

CJR, in its coverage of Kobe, referred to "The Resistance" elevating Poppy Bush against Trump as to why social media hagiography often didn't work. A direct tie-in to what I just said.

As for this being a "black" issue? Nope. That's why, although they're politicians not athletes, I made sure to mention Bush and McCain. As I did with white leftist media icon Alex Cockburn. That said, back to sexual assault. I think Big Ben did it, too, to make clear that, restricted to modern athletes, this isn't a "black" issue.

Nor is it purely a sex crimes, or even purely a crimes issue. Christopher Hitchens, whom I called out after his death, had a well-earned (by her) takedown of the fakery of Mother Theresa.

As for the respondent? Look beyond athletes for black heroes, too, IMO. For both you and your kids, if you haven't.

And, whatever color, or gender, you are, even if you virulently disagree with Somnez, if you can't or won't call out the death-threaters first, the Bezos Post second, then her third — in other words, to riff on Gale Sayers, if you can't put your ego-anger third behind those two issues, with the truth of the first being obvious and the truth of the second now revealed to you — you've got a problem. If you won't call a cesspool for what it is, you're an enabler. That's part of why I quit Quora.

The biggest lesson for Sonmez? Can't believe people 15 years younger than me need to be told this.


Or, if you have to for the company, GET YOUR OWN BURNER ACCOUNT. OR THREE.

I understand that a Sonmez might have more support if she's seen as Tweeting her own story with her own real name, on her own sexual assault two years ago. On this, though, especially given what happened two years ago, both as far as online attacks and lack of support by the Bezos Post, might discretion have been the better part of valor.

The second biggest lesson for Sonmez and anybody working at ANY media corporation, whether MSM or "New Media"?


That includes you, Post Guild. The piece was good, but short of some real union action, like a strike, or better, a slowdown — give us a blank front page in the print version! — you're tilting at windmills.

Because management will care about the hierarchical power of capitalism as well as the money.

And tie to this, this new CJR piece about how even media companies as allegedly librul as Slate are using Trump's National Labor Relations Board interpretation and backstopping on labor law to be more and more anti-union.

And, speaking of capitalist parasites?

Nike is fine with being a capitalist parasite on Kobe's death, but not with anybody else being a capitalist parasite on its parasitism. (Red Satan got that one wrong, claiming it was Nike's reluctance to grift, rather than its reluctance to let others grift off of it. That shouldn't be surprising, though, given that Red Satan author Nick DePaula has the of writing about NBA shoe deals, and is a U of Oregon alum; in other words, is is someone who will smile while letting Nike have prison sex with him.) The Daily Beast piece has the truth about Nike grifting on Kobe as soon as his legal hands were clean and untied.

Although not involving death, maybe it's time to cue up Colin Kaepernick? Of those two, in my book, it's still an open question which is the bigger grifter. (Nike is by total dollars, of course, but by percentages, or by faux idealism?) And, as for my Twitter correspondent saying that Somnez had been harshing his mellow on Kobe hero worship, maybe he needs to remember Charles Barkley saying "I'm not paid to be a role model."

There. I've killed about a dozen sacred cows and gored several oxen.


Update, Feb. 19: Sadly, a submitted piece at Counterpunch goes Kobe-stanning about halfway through, and while it throws the Eagle victim partway under the bus and directly attacks Gayle King, it ignores his faggot comment entirely. The reality, contra a linked story, is that a putative rape victim failing a mock trial is probably not that rare, and secondly, doesn't prove that Kobe didn't do it, in this case, especially since the mock trial occurred after her name had been made public and other information had been revealed. And Counterpunch still hasn't given me the time of day on two submissions.

The pseudoscience called Marxism
— details of why it's pseudoscience

These thoughts have been posted on Twitter, left as comments on others blogs and websites, occasionally on my own, but have not been unified into one big piece for some time.

Time to rectify that.

Yes, Marxism is a pseudoscience.

NOT because it's within economics. Economics is a science, albeit arguably the least scientific of the social sciences, outside behavioral economics, which is actually doing some scientific, empirical work.

But it's a pseudoscience above all because it's based on a crappy philosophical theory that is pseudoscientific when edited, folded, spindled and mutilated to be the basis of a theory in ANY scientific field.

That crappy philosophy, of course, is Hegelian dialectic as developed by Fichte. The idea that one person presents an anthesis to another's idea? Yes, individual people work that way. The idea that waves of history operate in thesis-antithesis-synthesis? Bullshit. Bullshit as a philosophy let alone anything more.

First and behind this all is that it's wrong in being based on Continental idealism in general and German forms of that in particular. Just because all your nouns get capitalized doesn't make it profound when stated in English. (Sidebar: Perhaps this is why Marxism never got the same footing in the Anglosphere as on the Continent, and ditto for both areas of Europe's extensions. And, to the degree it did catch on, it has been through further filtrations beyond the original that have in general moved beyond even the likes of the Frankfurt School on the Continent.)

Second, Marxists, changing the "idealism" of Hegelian dialectic into "materialism" doesn't make it any sounder as a philosophical theory or any less pseudoscientific when used as the basis for any scientific theory.

Marxist, and Hegelian, dialectic, are both pseudoscientific, or worse. Really, per Wolfgang Pauli, it's "not even wrong."

In addition, Fichte somewhat, and Marx even more, seemed to be guided by 19th century positivism, which is also not even wrong. Positivism is, by and large, a direct forerunner of today's scientism, which is also not even wrong. And, even to the degree it might be true in the "hard" sciences, while I laud behavioral economics, individual as opposed to group behavior will never reduce to positivistic laws in economics or other social sciences.

Positivism, and the scientism that follows on it also has another fatal error embedded within it. As the likes of Steven Pinker today show, both operate from a progress-based theory of history, perhaps fueled by seeing evolution, as put on a scientific footing by Darwin, as progress-based. (Just as he generally, though not always fully, rejected Social Darwinism, so did Darwin respond to would-be progress-theory interpreters of evolution.)

And, the classical economics with which Marx was trying to work? Beyond its general assumption of a rational homo economicus, which behavioral economics has crushed to death, it's ultimately based on Adam Smith's Age of Enlightenment era idea of a "wind up the universe like clockwork" Deist divinity's "rational hand" guiding all.

Uhh, no.

And, no, Smithians, while you're here, the claim that the rational hand is NOT Deist theology at end is untrue. I've blogged about that before, too, and there's clear traces in Smith.

So, while economics today isn't pseudoscience, one can argue that it was 150 years ago, and that Marxism is therefore pseudoscience squared.

I do want to thank Andrew Stewart of Washington Babylon, on Twitter, for prodding me to put this together, starting with my disagreement with his take on the 1619 Project, as noted in my update to my original piece. And I could tell it was Stew, not Ken Silverstein, by the first response.

As to the claim behind our Twitter back-and-forth that was the final impetus for this piece?

Uhh, no, not all racism issues, not even in modern, capitalist times, reduce to socioeconomic class ones. I told Stew that and provided links from this blog — stuff that led to me and Doug Henwood arguing and him eventually blocking my old primary Twitter account. (The likely last straw for Henwood, per that second link, was me saying Reed was either mendacious or an idiot when he called New Mexico one of the whitest states in the nation.)

Let me go further, though.

Empirical counterexamples are always the best final weapon for undercutting bad theory, and I have two from today.

Two instances of how racism indeed affects social class, but, although it might have indirect effects on economic standing, does not directly focus on economic standing let alone directly target it.

This Marxism I fully endorse!
I'm taking about the race-essentialist Zionism that drives not only the Likud bloc but almost all political thinking in Israel and the Indian caste system, that, cross-pollinated with Islamophobia, is seeing a resurgence as we speak in India from the BJP and its Hindutva allies.

And old Chinese racism against Europeans pre-dates European forms of modern capitalism (but don't forget that China invented paper money way back in the Tang Dynasty!) and was culturally based.

And, I know Stew knows (or should know) all of this, though he, Henwood, Adolph Reed and others would likely differ in interpretation. That's their problem, not mine.

I am some sort of socialist. I might even become some sort of pre- or post-Marxist Communist some day, though I doubt it. I'll never be a Marxist, though.

Related to that? I am, in a small bit, some sort of post-capitalist. Anti-capitalist, though? Never. That's in part because that phrasing might imply support for the Marxist dialectical system.

Now, that said, I know that many people call themselves "Marxists" as a signifier of generic social rebellion, or a generic protest against capitalism or other things. In other words, many people think "Marxist" has a certain je ne sais quoi, from what I can tell.

Sloppy usage is not excused at this site, though.

If you're an anarchist anti-capitalist, but not actually a Marxist, then call yourself an anarchist. Ditto if there's some other "ism" you fit into more than Marxism.


I have gotten strong push-back on Twitter from friendly fire!

The biggest objection is that Marxism as a theory is political philosophy, and thus not a science. I content that it was established as a theory of economics first and foremost and that economics is a social science, ergo, like any other social or hard science, the theoretical framework as well as individual experimental or other allegedly empirical elements can be examined to see whether they're pseudoscience or not.

Erik Weissengruber accepted my premise, but said that, on the actual empirical / experimental side, Marxism actually was panning out. That said, that piece is predicated on the labor theory of value being true.

Per Wiki, there's the additional issue, and I stand partially guilty on Twitter responses, that Marxian economics can stand separate of Marxism.

So, as I update, and incorporate thoughts from others on Twitter, and what they provoke within me, I will work to focus on Marxism the big picture, not Marxian economics. Besides, to the degree I hold fast and prove fast that Marxism is pseudoscience, the economics falls with it, ultimately. And, somewhat contra Wiki (and referencing a goal of mine to use Zionism peddler Jimmy Wales' site less and less), even among more heterodox (from Marxism) Marxian economists, I don't think it can stand TOO independent of Marxism. I mean, this week's Existential Comics from Corey overlaps Marxism and Marxian economics. Those who claim it can, per my note at the tail end of the original post, are probably using the word "Marxism" too loosely.

First, Marxism is more than political philosophy. And I know that philosophers always get nervous about scientific turf-field creepage. But, political science is a science, a social science. And, history is at least halfway between the humanities and the social sciences.

So, I think it's a legitimate critical essay to call Marxism pseudoscience, and not just individual outshoots of it, like the labor theory of value in Marxist hands.

If one doesn't accept that political science is an actual social science, then we're at a linguistic-usage fork in the road. And, by the time of Marx's death, per the history of the field, I think we can distinguish political science from older political philosophy. Per my reference to positivism, I think people like Marx were making a conscious effort for that distinguishing.

And, at the same time, re my friendly critics, I have talked in the past about "philosophism" as a philosophy-driven counterpart to scientism.

January 27, 2020

High Country News does it again on climate change issues

Ten months after being called out by me for confusing — or to be less charitable, conflating — a carbon cap and trade system with a carbon tax, High Country News is at it again, now offering a he-said, she-said piece claiming carbon offsets work, but wondering if they might be an excuse for big companies. Given that Eric Niiler works for Wired, shock me that he'd write something like this. And, it's not even he-said, she-said, it''s he-said, he-pretended-she-said. The last two paragraphs reflect this:
(T)here are signs that offsets might help in the long term by forcing carbon-polluting industries to become a bit more creative.  …  (I)t may buy us a bit of time, time that is fast running out.
No, they won't. They'll buy more excuses, is what they will do.

So, they're more than that, more than an excuse for big companies. They go beyond the companies.

They're like a modern version of indulgences for environmentalists. In other words, they're an excuse for middle-class, upper-middle-class and rich neoliberal white environmentalists to not face the need for radical, post-capitalist changes to the domestic and world order. Those largely white neoliberals would include, per my first link, most readership as well as staff of HCN, environmental groups like Sierra Club and its youth movement front Sunrise Movement, and Democrats ripping off a Green New Deal from the Green Party and any actual Socialists who want to join in. 

And, no, that's not a new thought on offsets as indulgences. I blogged about that THIRTEEN years ago. As I did about the degree of difficulty in monitoring such offsets. 

That offsets Niiler's "creativity" claim here:
Swiss livestock company, for example, sells a special garlic-and-citrus cattle feed supplement to help cows produce less methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. It just gained approval from Verra, a nonprofit that develops standards for carbon offset projects. Farmers who use the feed and lower their methane emissions can then, after an audit, sell the carbon credits as an additional source of income.
If you are going to be a capitalist, also, Niiler, how do you know if this feed blocks as much methane as claimed? What's the carbon cost of the supplement? And? How do you even price other social costs of this versus just biting the bullet and eating less beef (or less dairy from Brown Swiss)?

Why not tell people to eat less meat? Maybe in part because HCN still promotes the myth of the rural West, in spite of it being the most urbanized part of the country and in spite of BLM or USFS fattened cows only producing about 3 percent of US beef?

Showing nothing is new under the sun, Pro Publica wrote about the difficulty in monitoring offset programs in the so-called developing world just last year. Niiler even linked to that (with HCN's usual problem for me, at least on Chrome, of the link refusing to open in a new tab. Or open at all.) Of course, that's why they've been migrated there. It's deliberate. It's even harder to monitor, let alone oversee and run herd on, a tree-planting program in Brazil than one in Oregon. Niiler doesn't even talk about that.

And, all of this ignores the biggest issue. Contra Niiler period, carbon offsets by their nature are just designed to hold carbon emissions flat. They're specifically NOT designed to reduce said emissions, when we desperately need them reduced. Holding carbon emissions flat is like asking the electric chair executioner to drop the voltage from 20,000 to 15,000. He's still going to kill you.

Just click the "carbon offsets" tag below to read more.

Of course, Sierra has been a hypocrite on carbon emissions issues for that long itself.

January 26, 2020

So, Mark Cuban is retiring Kobe's number???

I get it. It's a tribute to retire the jersey number (24, not 8, but why on which number) of Kobe Bryant after his death in the chopper crash.

But, you know something? Neither the Mavs nor the NBA as a league has/have retired the numbers of Earl Lloyd, Sweetwater Clifton or Chuck Cooper. See here for more.

For those unknowing of those three names? Drafted in the same year, they were the NBA's collective Jackie Robinson.

As for Cuban? Retiring Dirk's number I assume is coming. Derek Harper, Ro Blackmon and Brad Davis I understand.

But, you want to be remembered?

Instead of joy-riding on Kobe's oxygen (and his unrepentedness), do a real solid.

Ditto for the Lakers, who of course already retired both Kobe numbers, along with Wilt, Elgin Baylor, James Worthy, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Magic, Kareem, Shaq and others.

Even if retiring Kobe's number is something worthy to do, Cuban, it could have waited 24 hours. Or 48. Or more. Or been done two years earlier.

And, per an alleged rape in Eagle, Colorado, where Kobe likely bought / bullied his way out of criminal trouble but has never admitted that, be ware of who you honor, as a full person.

Update: The Bezos Post has suspended a reporter for tweeting about this, and apparently given her zero support for death threats. Fact is that Red Satan ESPN, while not going into detail, mentioned the rape case in its original story. If Bezos Post is going to be more craven than that (I don't know if its initial story had anything about this, but I HIGHLY suspect it did not. The Bezos Post is NOW claiming that her Tweets of screenshots of death emails to her might violate Twitter policy or company social media policy. That may well be true, but, suspending Sonmez is gigantic overkill, especially when it's not a 24-hour timeout or something like that.

Besides, I'm calling bullshit.

In the first link, Daily Mail quotes Post ME Tracy Grant:
"The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of colleagues."
It's clear to these eyes that he's referring to the original set, not the email inbox screenshots.

Post ME Tracy Grant isn’t on Twitter, which of course has a hugely low signal-to-noise ratio. But, I got her email address.

I sent a link to my blog post with these three observations:
  1. Between the first story from the Daily Mail, and later stories, the Post's explanation seems to be, uh, "shifting."
  2. The suspension not having a "date certain" (ie 24 hrs) is overkill.
  3. If you didn't mention the rape allegations/case in your original story, shame on you, not her. Other reporters needed a bit of undermining. Hell, Red Satan ESPN mentioned it in its initial story.
(I also tweeted Sonmez to ask if the Post’s original story had anything, even an ESPN “aside,” about the rape case.)

OK, the biggie, No. 3. The Post did mention it, with basically the same amount of mention as Red Satan. Could they have mentioned it more, per their own columnist and ersatz ombudsman Margaret Sullivan — who, probably with a muzzle on, doesn't talk about her own paper? Yes.

So, Nos 1 and 2. On No. 1, if Grant responds at all, it will be corporate boilerplate. On. No. 2, the suspension is still too harsh. On 3B, I don't know if it "undermines" or not, but, it does surely undercut corporate policy.

Back to Cuban. (I have a separate blog post to focus more on the media issues.)

Basically, to me, this comes off as the kind of brash tackiness Cuban was known for when he first bought the Mavs. I don't see it as being as much a magical tribute as others probably do.