SocraticGadfly: 2/23/20 - 3/1/20

February 28, 2020

Helltown Houston, Annise Parker, Ed Abbey, Chicago

Trust me, as normal on blog posts like this, I'll wrap all these things together.

On Thursday, a large chunk of the east side of Helltown shut down for hours, including the U of Houston and many, many restaurants, when an 8-foot (sic: foot not inch) water main broke in the area of the east I-610 loop. Can we thank former mayor Annise Parker for not having this maintained better? Can we thank her for ignoring  Ed Abbey's dictum about growth for growth's sake and cheerleading to pass Chicago while ignoring this? Yes and yes in my book. In the schadenfreude world, I've long awaited Helltown flooding without a hurricane, without even a weak tropical depression, and now it happened without a drop of rain. Seriously — Houston has infrastructure problems (obvious, now) on top of public service pension issues, just like Chicago and those other northern cities Parker wants to sheep-steal from.

This could certainly happen to Big D, too, which like Houston has had a succession of neoliberal mayors of all races, but in Houston it's made worse by the mayors with the strong-mayoral government system. So Parker doesn't have a city manager to blame. Nor did Bill White before her, nor Sylvester Turner today.

Oh, Abbey's whole dictum, for the unfamiliar?
"Growth for growth's sake is the theology of the cancer cell."
Still true today.

Real Cherokees vs Elizabeth Warren,
VERSUS Black Cherokees vs. Real Cherokees

I'd been threatening to do this on Twitter since Wednesday morning, when the issue of Warren and her American Indian false moves, plural popped up.

I've blogged and Tweeted about Warren plenty, from the exposure of her claims to American Indian ancestry to the stupidity of her doing a DNA test, then over-interpreting it while publicizing it, and all sorts of things in between.

But, I'd also referenced, on Twitter, black Cherokees from time to time.

And now, with Oklahoma's primary coming up on Tuesday, and folks behind a Medium site called "ewarrenisnotcherokee" writing her an open letter about these issues, it's time to fire back.

Since I'm a deliberate contrarian (I'm also at times a troll on Twitter, but columns like this are deliberate contrarian stuff, not trollery), this is right up my alley.

That's in part because the "real Cherokees" behind some of this stuff hoist themselves by their own petard, and most of them know the history they're swimming upstream against when they do this.

Let's start here:

While the average American thinks of Native Americans as a racial category, we are actually political groups.
So, that means you can't exclude black Cherokees on blood quantum grounds. At least not logically and non-hypocritically.

What? What? What? you may be telling yourself. Who are these "black Cherokees" and why have they been excluded from anything and why can't they be?

Well, Wikipedia calls it the "Cherokee freedmen controversy." I'll give you the nickel version.

Slave cabin kitchen, Chief Vann House.
The Cherokees, like others of the white-labeled "Five Civilized Tribes," practiced chattel slavery of Africans, just as did whites. (Set aside that many American Indian tribes, including the Cherokees, practiced other types of slavery before the Columbian contact. It was different in large part because slave status was not generally heritable.)

Chief Vann, the owner of the slaves who lived in that cabin, owned more than 100 by the year 1800. That put him in the top 10 percent of all slaveowners in the U.S. Son Joseph Vann had more than 200.

This also led to things like slave codes in Indian Territory and above all, in Cherokee lands there, just as in southern states. HNN has the details.

Of course, after 1865, this was illegal. These tribes had fought as co-belligerents with the Confederacy. Post-Civil War treaties generally required them to give their freed slaves tribal citizenship.

Starting in the 1980s, the Cherokee, along with Creek and Seminole, started tightening tribal rolls. See more here for "Black Indians" in general. (Specifically, in 1983, Black Cherokees lost voting rights because they were "not Cherokee by blood.")

The hypocrisy grows deeper with the Cherokees, because the efforts to exclude the freedmen used blood quantum as a tool. This process was completed under the (great, or "great") Chief Wilma Mankiller.

In a long and messy legal process with multiple parts that eventually moved from the Cherokee court system to the federal court system, the federal judiciary eventually restored freedmen's citizenship.

Here's my analogy, and where we're going to hear those petards further.

If the Cherokee (and other tribes) are sovereign nations, it is still and nonetheless under a certain aegis of the federal government. That would include the Fourteenth Amendment. As black slaves, sub specie slavo, were members of the Cherokee Nation, I think a correct extension of the Fourteenth Amendment supports the federal court ruling. Wiki also notes that the 1866 agreements, if the Cherokee want to play up the sovereign nation angle, have treaty status and there's an argument to be made that they can't be unilaterally broken. (OTOH, the USofA did just that regularly.)

Beyond that, as Wiki also notes, the Cherokee have willingly incorporated other people, whether individuals or groups, in the past.

This particular issue also seems to be fueling intra-Cherokee conflect between the Cherokee Nation, incorporated after people of the tribe got back full tribal election rights, and the old United Keetoowah Band. The UKB does use, and require, a blood quantum (one-quarter) but, at the same time, offers honorary associate memberships. And, to square the circle, a number of signatories of the open letter specifically identify as UKB members.

Cherokee Chief John Ross,
not a Cherokee if one
follows UKB blood quantum.
And, to throw the circle into total disorder, famed principal Chief John Ross wouldn't meet the one-quarter blood quantum.

In all of this, as some Cherokees also admit, there's a certain amount of racism. What? Racism by Indians? Yes, and click that "black Indians" link above for more, and it exists among Indian tribes who never had slaves, either.

And, given that the court ruling was just six years ago and final acceptance just three years ago, this is still an open issue.

So, I challenge every signatory of that letter to declare his or her personal stance on the Cherokee freedmen issue. That goes double for any hypocrite signatories identifying as UKB.

I've already asked one directly. On Twitter earlier, I responded to a tweet from a friend who had responded to Rebecca Nagle, a signatory of that letter:
Having since, via Memeorandum, seen that letter, I went back to the Tweet, rechecked the name, and of course, did a search down the page on Medium and found her name.

So, I Tweeted back to her, Dave and the other two:
And, I'll either have a response or not. As of the time this went live, I did not.

Yeah, Twitter's low signal-to-noise ratio means one shouldn't read too much into it, if Nagle doesn't respond.

On the other hand, I'm not just tagging her, I'm responding to part of a dialogue. 

So? If she doesn't say anything? Per the old proverb: "Silence gives assent."

Meanwhile, another signee, Santee Dakota Kim TallBear, writes a piece about this for High Country News. Hypocrisy from her for not mentioning the black Cherokees, and what I will only take as willful ignorance from HCN, and not the first time from it on identity politics. This one, with Instagram Influencers in the great, capitalist-invested outdoors, claiming they were being picked on because racism, not capitalism, was a doozy. (And HCN has never pulled back on it.)

Per this New Scientist profile piece about her, it appears the Santee, like the UKB Cherokee, use a blood quantum.

So, both among the Santee and among many Cherokee, we gots us a bunch of fricking hypocrisy.

I want to get back to pre-Contact versions of American Indian slavery, which continued post-Contact. In many such cases, slaves were eventually adopted into the tribe. Which means, of course, no blood quantum for the new adoptee.

I don't agree with Dawes-type termination, but all of this indicates that the federal government would be best behooved by having a uniform policy, not just on tribal membership, but on many other things, with all tribes/nations.

It's true that tribes have had to jump through hoops at times with the federal government, as the modern Cherokee Nation essentially replacing the UKB shows. Having grown up in the Southwest, I know this. That said, in a general sense, the feds have not forced specific methods of tribal membership determination on particular tribes except in cases like this where other legal issues were involved. Nor did Southerners, whether individuals or state governments, force the Cherokee or others of the "civilized tribes," whether qua tribes or qua individuals, to adopt chattel slavery in addition to older non-heritable versions of slavery.

Once again, I agree that fictitious appropriation of American Indian history — whether by Elizabeth Warren or someone else, and Cherokees or another tribe involved — is a real problem.

But, we need to talk about the actual forms of such history, not whitewashed or New Agey versions of such.

And, as for the racism? It's real. Growing up next to the Big Rez, I know plenty a Navajo expressed anti-black comments.

As for HCN? This is just another log on the smouldering fire of why I let my subscription lapse and have no current plans to renew it.

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.

Update, 10 p.m. Feb. 29: Bernie didn't come close to being a close second, as Biden is close to an outright majority with most returns in. The only good news in the big picture is that both Buttigieg and Warren finished behind Tom Steyer, who is now dropping out. Given that he didn't have much support before SC, there's no real "swing" from him to other candidates.

And with that, those polls at right are still relevant for right now.

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.


Obviously, this post is semi-null with the joint dropout of Klobuchar and Buttigieg, followed by both endorsing Biden, along with Bob on a Knob O'Rourke here in Texas and Harry Reid nationally.

I predict that, just in a special election in a Texas Lege race last month, Beto's gonna have kind o short coattails. What influence Reid has nationally, and, if Bernie gets the nomination, how he wants to eat his crow — if at all — will be interesting.

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?

Update, March 6: A day after the Warren withdrawal, and both at The Week and his personal website, Cooper hasn't come out as a #NeverBiden person. On his Twitter feed, he has challenged Biden, but he hasn't come out as #NeverBiden there, either.

Update, April 12: On The Week, Cooper says Biden is the worst possible candidate to face Trump. But he still won't say he won't vote for him. (Which means, IMO, that if Bloomberg had stayed in, and his Daddy Warbucks bought the Dem nomination, Cooper likely would have sheepdogged.)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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. UPDATE, and important one, on this, March 14, 2022. How I missed this before, I don't know, but Assange his own self reportedly told Snowden not to go to Latin America and to go to Russia instead. This is another capper on suspicion about Assange and, per Dick Tofel, why he's not a journalist.
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.

Update, Sept. 21, 2023: Bruce Schneier talks about his experience of working with Greenwald, how both Greenwald and Barton Gellman held back files from their initial reporting and more.

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.