SocraticGadfly: 4/19/20 - 4/26/20

April 25, 2020

Not interested in Internet-spying job search agencies

Endeavor Agency recently sent me an unsolicited email about executive and semi-executive job placement. The company VP offered a video interview time.

I decided I would go to its website instead.

I was on Chrome, not Firefox, at the time, and apparently some tracker got through.

Same VP of placement emailed just an hour or two later and bluntly said: "We saw you looking."

And, dude, that's the last I'll look.

I don't like the use of whatever trackers you use to tell people are looking.

I also don't like the crudely framed (not in the four-letter word sense) response.

April 24, 2020

Coronavirus: Officially not "just the flu"

Many people claimed that early on. Sadly, certain Greens, along with alt-right types, are proving there is some truth to the horseshoe theory, by claiming that, if not a hoax, it's being overhyped and overpushed. The usual angle among a stereotyped portion of Greens: Antivaxxers worried about Big Pharma doing a forced vaccination. Well, per the old issue, your rights end where my face, and my breathing space, begin.

As for the facts on the ground?

US  deaths are past 50,000 now, with less than 2 months of in-depth testing. That's more than, on average, the CDC estimates the flu kills each year, and it's approaching the worst flu year in the last decade. By the end of next weekend, we'll likely be past that 61,000 worst year case on flu deaths.

So, let's just stop this nonsense.

Beyond that (update), Jeremy Samuel Faust notes that COVID deaths are actual statistics, while annual flu deaths are guesstimates run through algorithms. And he's right in one way; having reported on flu seasons before, I know that pneumonia is used as part of the calculations, whether directly linkable to a flu infection or not.

Tim Shorrock: another allegedly outside-the-box steno,
stumbles, this one over Dylan, JFK and Camelot

Tim Shorrock writes a paean to Bob Dylan's new song about the JFK assassination, "Murder Most Foul."

There's two main things to note from the piece.

One it that Shorrock claims Dylan is NOT promoting JFK assassination conspiracy theories:
The effect of the song, with its pointed lyrics about treachery and betrayal, are similar to the sound Dylan captured in 2012 on Tempest. … (T)here is little joy to be heard in this recording, where the subject is dark and unfathomable: President Kennedy “being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb” by unseen men seeking to collect “unpaid debts” who killed “with hatred and without any respect.”

But, contrary to some of the hot takes you may have read about it, the point of the song is not to publicize JFK conspiracy theories or take us on a nostalgia tour of the 1960s.
Really? Let's look at the lyrics.
Twas a matter of timing and the timing was right
You got unpaid debts and we’ve come to collect
We’re gon’ kill you with hatred and without any respect
We’ll mock you and shock you, we’ll grin in your face
We’ve already got someone here to take your place
The day that they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly - so quick by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman, howl
Rub a dub dub – it’s murder most foul.
That right there has "conspiracy theory" written all over it.

And if you think that doesn't, this does:
What is the truth and where did it go
Ask Oswald and Ruby - they oughta know …
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline.
Dear Tim and Bob: "I did it. Here's the receipts." Yours, Lee.
Oh, Tim and Bob? "If you're wondering, yes that's me."
Wow.

And, what's also sad is that Shorrock can make his claims in the face of such clear evidence. And, the evidence is clear, starting with the fact that there is no such thing as a "magic bullet." In fact, per Wittegenstein, except to reference-quote it to refute it, I refuse to use the phrase.

But, that leads to reason two.

Shorrock appears to believe the myth of Camelot.

This is laughable, if not tragic because Shorrock believes it.
At its most essential level, “Murder Most Foul” marks the collapse of the American dream, dating from that terrible day in Dallas, when a certain evil in our midst was revealed in ways not seen for a hundred years—a day that, for Dylan, myself, and others of our generation is forever seared into our collective memory. The murder and the hidden machinations behind it, he tells us, robbed us of Kennedy’s brain, a symbol for the positive, forward-looking American spirit that he represented.
Shorrock knows — and if he doesn't, fellow Nation contributor Rick Perlstein could tell him — that JFK had no such positive spirit, definitely not on Vietnam.

Nor was JFK (or brother Bobby) a positive, forward-looking American on civil rights. Martin Luther King knew that. In fact, the best thing Jack ever did for civil rights was get himself killed so LBJ could make him into a martyr.

Nor was he a positive forward-thinking American on the Cold War, other than the test ban treaty. He blew Cuba out of proportion after ignoring early warnings about what Khrushchev was doing. He did trade missiles (in Italy as well as Turkey) for missiles. He did so without ever telling LBJ this, which may have had a small part in LBJ being so tough on Vietnam. He talked about a phony missile gap in the 1960 election campaign. He was an unrepentant friend of McCarthy. Please, Tim. If Dylan doesn't know all of this, I know you do. Stop.

He had this, much earlier:
Like Kennedy’s murder in 1963, the federal government’s utter failure to protect the people in 2020 is a collapse of biblical proportions. 
Uhh, wrong!

There was no "collapse of biblical proportions." LBJ did escalate Vietnam, but Jack had no secret plan to leave. He had a public plan to leave AFTER it was clear South Vietnam could survive on its own. That's what's NSAM-263 indicates. And, to make sure that the US could leave sooner rather than later, it calls for military incursions into Laos. Shades of Nixon!

April 23, 2020

Texas Progessives round up the normal news and idiocy

The Green Party has its Texas convention and other things rumble along outside the world of COVID. Unfortunately, the oil world is not rumbling along even as Glenn Hegar  plays make-belief and we miss a golden opportunity to nationalize some oil companies.

Dig in, but don't despair too much. And don't open any Overton Windows.

Texas politics

The state Green Party convention broke strongly for Howie Hawkins for president. David Bruce Collins, the Senate nominee, has details.

Off the Kuff looks at the initial ruling in the TDP's lawsuit to expand vote by mail access.
Texana

You can run, but you can't hide, Greg Abbott, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar:
And, the lies and the brags, and their combination especially, gall me. Texas political leaders like to brag about a booming economy when, for most of the past 20 years, the booms have been fueled by two things: "Earl" and Ill Eagles. But, now that earl's in the tank, and the #MAGA folks keep pushing to "build the wall," there's no wiggle room. As for Hegar, he lies about Texas not having an oil-dependent economy as much as his predecessor, Susan Combs, lied about protecting the dunes sagebrush lizard.

The Observer has a long read about Texas inmates stuck in solitary. It is disgusting, but unsurprising, that Texas has more inmates in solitary than the rest of the states combined.

The Lunch Tray notes a somewhat favorable ruling in a lawsuit over USDA school nutrition rollbacks.


Austin

Grits looks at racism problems in Austin PD and the department's and city's unwillingness to do more.


San Antonio

The city is demolishing its oldest public housing site, a heart of its Mexican-American heart. That said, calling the city the Mexican-American capital of the U.S. seems as much branding as anything. Just because it's larger than a say, Albuquerque or Santa Fe, both of which are older but smaller, and in Santa Fe's case, Californicated, doesn't make it true. Or, in the part of Texas that's really New Mexico, El Paso. El Paso is more Hispanic than San Antonio, though the current city is only post-Guadalupe Hidalgo. Albuquerque is somewhat less Hispanic, but older.


National

Great piece here, primarily Texan, but also national and ultimately global. DeSmog Blog, at that link and linking to a piece by Johanna Bozuwa, explicitly says it's time to look at nationalizing oil companies.

The Keystone XL pipeline had a federal permit cancelled by a judge.

May futures for WTI went negative. While that was IN PART because the contract was expiring Tuesday, the Wall Street spinners can't totally spin the future of oil for months ahead. Oil will be backed up in June as well, and the contract for June is already not looking good.

Nancy Pelosi appointing Donna Shalala to honcho Dems' oversight of the coronavirus bailout money illustrates to a T why Pelosi refused (of course, on the ground House Dems had few people working on it, either, right AOC?) to do an Emoluments Clause impeachment.

The Southwest is gonna be screwed by climate change. Really screwed.

Primo Nutbar was claiming, almost surely untruly for a variety of possible reasons, that Jesse Ventura was asking to be let in the Green Party prez circus.

April 22, 2020

No, Jesse, No! (and apparently, he ain't) —
er, unless his ass is kissed

Not Jesse Jackson, but Jesse Ventura, formerly "The Body," talking about asking to be let inside the Green Party presidential candidate tent now.

Jill Stein was stanning for him last November. She discussed that, Russiagate and Howie Hawkins' take on it and more in this excerpt from an interview by Primo Nutbar, officially known as Primo Nutmeg. (I've briefly mentioned him before here, and run into him in more depth on Twitter. He earns the renaming.)

The "more"?

NOTE: See updates at bottom.

And new update here:

Jesse claimed "the logistics are not going to happen." He claimed he'd have to give up his job and lose health insurance. I have no idea what this claim means. If he means his RT talk show? The Fairness Doctrine doesn't exist, so no, he wouldn't have to do that, and it's questionable whether RT being registered as a foreign agent means he'd have to quit. If he means that he'd have to not work in order to actively campaign? That was always going to be the case.

This gets more "delicious" with another story from this announcement, where he says he's open to the GP nominating him at a brokered convention. Really, Jesse? But, wouldn't you still have to quit your RT job because it's RT, or else just to have time to actively campaign? In either case, the same limitations apply as if you decided to run now.

What a lying sack of shit. Or box of dicks.

Beyond that, Jesse is over 65 and thus eligible for Medicare.

There's also one other possibility. Maybe Jesse didn't want to have to file an FEC financial disclosure, for whatever reason.

And an earlier update.

Now, Cimbrelo is a DSA Rosey who became a Green after St. Bernard of Vermont lost again, then like a good St. Bernard, started sheepdogging. I have no idea what connectedness he has to Ventura, and like Primo Nutbar, he trades in "on background" claims by not naming names.
Also, like Primo Nutbar on April 23, Jesse himself has said nothing.

On Book of Face, Cimbrelo claimed he'd been tapped to be Jesse's Massachusetts chair for Jesse. Why? What makes him special there? And was somebody playing him?

Back to the original.

When Stein heard about the idea of libertarian Jesse Ventura (noted as such in my review of potential GP candidates), and conspiracy theorist Jesse Ventura (he is), running for the Green Presidential nomination, and that antivaxxer RFK Jr. would be his wingman if Jesse had his druthers, she was all for it. He's also a HAARP conspiracy theorist.

And finally, he's an antivaxxer. He will of course claim "I just want people to be informed." Well, dude, no you don't. You'd have a person like Paul Offit on the show if you did and NOT RFK Jr. This is the RFK Jr who says we only had to get a few shots in 1954. Yeah, dude, and things like the polio shot WEREN'T AVAILABLE. We also had no vaccine against the highly contagious measles, or German measles, or mumps, when you were a kid.

Finally, for Bobby Kennedy Jr. to pounce on Offit's saying it was like he'd won the lottery with the money he got for the rotavirus vaccine? Wow, I guess a megamillionaire heir to the Kennedy family fame and FORTUNE is begrudging the son of a shirtmaker some money.

Beyond the outright conspiracy theories, just in his time as governor of Minnesota, he seemed to be as much a political weathervane as Trump.

As for Primo Nutbar, who started this?
Jesse was blathering about running last November, which is why Stein was stanning for him then.

Of course, back then, it was as an independent.

See, Jesse's also got an ego almost as big as Trump's. He wants to be courted, maybe?

Or, Primo Nutbar was just making shit up. Not surprising.
There you are. And so, I tweeted back to Primo asking him to name names on these sources.

And, I've since retweeted this tweet by Ventura and tagged Nutbar in it.
BOOM.

After that, noticing that Nutbar had retweeted other Ventura tweets since I first called him out? I Tweeted to him again, asking him to retweet the Tweet above, which of course he won't. (The next morning, 12 hours later, he hadn't. Bernie→ Green Congress candidate Kenneth Mejia had retweeted Primo's claim, so I did a Tweet-all on that.)

And, since I'm in that kind of mood? I reported his original tweet and one other to Twitter.

Another option is that we have a Mike Gravel in reverse. Some Ventura aide is trying to push him to run, and that's Primo's "sources."

Or there's a third option.

Essentially, Primo played telephone with his friends, perhaps including assistants to / entourage of Ventura, and now is his own source, and is OK with that because he wants Ventura to run and birds of a conspiracy theory flock together.

Or, there's a fourth reason. (This, and the reasons above, are not mutually exclusive.)

Nutbar is pretty well known for not liking Howie Hawkins among Green candidates. With Hawkins off to a strong lead over Dario Hunter, maybe Nutbar is looking for a last-ditch attempt to block Howie. (I don't totally agree with Howie on Russia, but he's far from all wet. Meanwhile, Nutbar is one of those allegedly outside-the-box America is always wrong on foreign policy stenos. And, stenos they are.)

(Update, June 26: Primo broke the news two weeks earlier that Jesse was crapping in the bed of the Green Party and would write in his own name for prez. Here's my take on not only that basic fact, but related, and ongoing, censorship by the Green Party, since their official Facebook group IS official that makes the censorship official.)

==

Meanwhile, Kenneth Mejia is (perhaps willingly) being led around by the nose on this.

I say the perhaps willingly because the 2018 Green congressional candidate claims he was a Biden supporter. Really? Yes, really per his Twitter profile. And his currently pinned post makes things only worse.
Re his profile, and related indirectly to this, I subtweeted:
And even that may be generous.

Mejia's also either an idiot or lying about something else, namely the claim that Ventura's not a Libertarian. He voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2012 and 2016 and publicly said so. A month later, he said so again, as late as August 2016. FYI, Johnson is a lifetime member, by purchased membership, of the Libertarian Party. I was told since my original post that Jesse actually voted for Stein in 2016, and apparently so. ("Apparently so" means this is his claim; who knows whether it's true or not. Note that in neither the first or second link, does he even mention Stein.)

"Congrats." He was still a Libertarian in 2012, a professed Libertarian in 2016, and became a flip-flopper some time between then and November 2016. Does that really make you feel that much better about him? Especially, per that link that he reportedly interviewed Johnson ON ELECTION NIGHT. Let that hypocrisy sink in. (The Reddit piece is based on an Alex Jones video; dunno if it's archived elsewhere, since Alex is not on YouTube any more!)

But wait, wait! It gets even better!

Here's Jesse and his campaign guru in his Minnesota gov run, Dean Barkley, giving The Donald himself two hours of advice about how they ran Ventura's gov race and what Trump might learn!



And, like Ron Popeil? That's not all, folks!

Go to just before the end of the piece. The announcer notes that Ventura said in 2015 he'd be OK being selected as Trump's Veep.

(More ass-kissing here. Jesse thinks that Trump's money is proof he's smart. No, it's proof he inherited his dad's money and his dad's mob ties.)

So, got that clear? Having voted for Johnson in 2012, and claiming in the summer of 2016 he would do so again, before flip-flopping to Stein, in between all that, Jesse gave Trump campaign advice after saying he'd be good running with him.

And speaking of Trump? I caught Ventura in a Trumpian lie In this 2018 interview, he says he doesn't Tweet. Funny, his Twitter account was started in 2013, and at least recently, he tweets or retweets several times a day.

Meanwhile, Mejia keeps trying to split hairs, to juice Green interest for all the wrong reasons, to let himself be led by the nose by Primo Nutbar, or else to willingly lead others by the nose.

He keeps talking and talking and talking and talking  ... about this alleged letter of interest. I've asked him to show me a PDF.
And, with that, I decided to start reporting Tweets of his. Category: Misleading about an election.

And, a good old word from when I was a kid? "Twerp" would be a quick one-word summary of my take on Mejia.


==

Someone else on the GP Facebook group mentioned Ron Placone. (I assume they meant him, not Ron Pacone.)

Placone is a comic who has appeared on Jimmy Dore (nuff ced) and who I'd never heard of before. But, teh Google and his Twitter feed showed he had a speculative YouTube video a few days ago that asked the rhetorical question "WILL Jesse run?" Note the diff?

Primo Nutbar either misheard the video, or else decided what the hell. And signal-boosted and further distorted.

This is otherwise a circle-jerk by people wanting to circle-jerk and be circle-jerked.

==

As for Greens who stan for Jesse in general? I didn't need new psychological research to tell me that celebrity worshipers have mental health problems on social media. Besides, you're about as bad as Libertarians waiting for the next ex-Republican to save them.

And, I suspect Mejia is flacking the Jesse untruth because he's been the benefit of celebrity worship himself within Green Party circles.

==

Update, April 29: I was asked on Twitter, if Jesse DID enter the race AND got the GP nomination, what my vote option would be?

Simple. Howie Hawkins already has the SPUSA nomination, and SPUSA's Mimi Soltysik was available by write-in here in Tex-ass in 2016. That said, between COVID and the possibility of Howie getting both nods, I'm not sure what, if anything, SPUSA has done, not only in Texas but other states, for ballot access this year.

Oh? For a variety of reasons, I almost pulled the SPUSA lever in 2016. In hindsight, as a "marker" if nothing else, I wish I would have.

==

Update May 1: Because I don't have any plans on voting for him, I didn't think (even with all the above information) that Jesse would be Just.Another.Politician.™, but he is!

Because, as it turns out, on April 27, he said:
So, parsing this?

I tweeted back tonight:
There you go. Mr. Johnson→ Trump→ claiming Johnson again→ allegedly Stein voter, you wanna prove that just maybe you're NOT Just.Another.Politician.™? Now's your chance.

In reality, this is as likely as Primo Nutbar naming his sources for his original leak 10 days ago. (Said leak now stands in a new light, though.)

I also have to "love" at least one Green Jesse-stanner who tried to explain away all the flip-flopping WITHIN that one, election, year, as Jesse just changing his mind. Out of curiosity, I double-checked the date on Jesse's 2016 comment about voting for Johnson again, and it was AFTER the Libertarian convention, so he couldn't have been angling for the Veep spot (like he DID say he wanted to run with Trump). Add to all of this that Stein, like Johnson, had run in 2012 as well as 2016.

Finally, one more shot at Jesse the conspiracy theorist. WHOSE show was he on when he announced he had voted for Stein after all?

Update, May 16: I webmailed the GP a request for that letter two weeks ago. Earlier this letter, at that account, I got a "welcome to the Green Party" form letter email back. I immediately responded with this: "Hey, thanks for sending me a form letter. Now, send me a copy of the letter of interest that Jesse Ventura's minions sent the Party. I asked for it a full week ago or more."

(Update, June 26: A week ago, I asked the party's Presidential Campaign Support Committee, by email not webmail, to cough up the letter. Hasn't happened.)

==

Jesse Ventura wasn't "progressive" as Minnesota governor, either. He repeatedly attacked the state teachers union, for example.

There's an issue behind that, too.

Jesse claimed property taxes were regressive. Maybe that's because he has a 32-acre horse farm.

Sadly, I forgot that these rumors aren't true. As David Bruce Collins reported in 2018, they were flying then. Also sadly, DBC didn't look the reality of Gift Horse Jesse in the mouth more, as I commented back then on lesser info than I have now.

Earth Day 50 part 3: There will still be blood for oil


The blood will come in many forms.

Cheap oil being used to undercut renewable energy for electric vehicles. (This is a big part of what we need, and folks know it.)

Cheap oil letting people get lazy about burning gasoline.

Oil-stanners refusing to admit that King Hubbert was actually correct.

Banks not learning the lessons they allegedly have about fracking.

Oil drillers and producers lying about not being corporate socialists.

Banks "ramping up the curve" on carbon emissions by subsidizing money-losing fracking.

Citizens of petrostates like Kuwait, which was already slated to run a sixth straight deficit budget, having more of whatever safety net Kuwait has getting cut.

This is all despite Peak Oil, as formulated by King Hubbert, being true.

Imported workers from places like the Philippines in the petrostates, having their grunt jobs cut, and perhaps being the target of anger.

American political bullies, who existed long before Trump, and who go back before Dick Cheney to Jimmy Carter and his Carter Doctrine, insisting on an American "right" to cheap oil. 

Climate change cutting crop yields in many places.

Many Americans not caring about any of this, even when it's American grains crops that start losing yields.

The blood of extinct species, which will not magically be resurrected in some Jurassic Park future.

On things like that, remember that Democratic guardians have done little better than Republican ones. Federal agencies, especially FWS, have deliberately refused to enforce things like the Endangered Species Act.

Earth Day 50, Part 2: Peak Oil was true

I have blogged off and on about Peak Oil for a decade or so.

I was an active commenter on places like the old Oil Drum. Remember folks like Jerome á Paris and others.

Sadly, it eventually folded up.

That was in part over the Bakken find in North Dakota, followed by the Eagle Ford in Texas. After it folded, the new round of fracking in the Permian came along and many people said it had finally, totally disproven King Hubbert.

Had it?

Hubbert's whole idea was based on the rational exploration for new oil with new technology when old, conventional oil became too pricey for a variety of factors.

None of that actually happened.

We know now that a lot of the fracking, especially a WHOLE LOT of the fracking in the newest developments in the Permian, was underwater from the start, and drillers chased more wells for the same reason Aubrey McClendon did with Chesapeake. He was facing a giant Ponzi scheme. And, unable to avoid it longer, he committed suicide, cursorily investigated, and his wife got his life insurance.

Well, it's true that we have well exceeded our 1970 peak. On paper.



But, if I whack off 25 percent of today's production, a reasonable guess as to what percentage is underwater, and following Hubbert's sanity-based (always a short commodity in the awl bidness) reasoning, we haven't.

Now, it's true that there may have been the occasional well in the past that was not profitable. But, once the government started regulating prices, starting here in Tex-ass with the Railroad Commission really moving into oil (shipped on rail cars in the 1930s) over the "hot oil" fights, that's not been true until now.

So, no, if you're counting profitable oil, versus unprofitable oil that shouldn't be getting pumped right now, we haven't proven Peak Oil wrong.

And we won't in the future.

The Permian wells that have been cannibalizing each other? I suspect forced closures is going to affect some subterranean pressure issues. Reopening them on condition of refracking them in 2-3 years will just be more expensive.

Permian drillers, and the lying banks subsidizing them, have, to take a coronavirus idea that applies perfectly because of the steep production curve of a fracked well, have ramped up the curve of production, versus climate change, rather than flattening it and nudging the world more toward energy alternatives.

Earth Day 50: some sobering thoughts



50 years ago, the nation's national symbol (contra Ben Franklin plumping for the wild turkey) was facing extinction due to DDT and hunting, among other things.



115 years ago, this beauty, a snowy egret, was facing extinction due to the whims of capitalist fashion.

Both photos are from Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, which both illustrates how far American environmentalism has come and how far it has to go.

The first NWR was created 115 years ago to protect those egrets and other birds whose feathers were being used in then-popular hats. The first ranger at one refuge in south Florida was killed within a year. Another was killed a couple of years later. And it still happens.

More "bird refuges" were created by Theodore Roosevelt and other presidents. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was created to protect wildlife and run other wildlife services in 1940, out of the previous Fisheries Commission and other agencies.

Unfortunately, Hagerman NWR exemplies problems with American environmental protection. It was created after Denison Dam backed up Lake Texoma, out of government-purchased land that wasn't flooded. And, as with many refuges, the feds only bought the surface estate.

The Texoma area, especially in the 1940s, was a fairly productive oil area. One Texas tributary of the Lake is Big Mineral Creek. The wildlife refuge is dotted with dozens of pumpjacks. And, as climate change is expected to increase average rainfall in this area, that means more flooding, which means more oil at the bases of those pumpjacks gets washed into the lake, and that other areas get flooded more.

And, that's the least of recent problems of the FWS. It was a willing collaborator with former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs' fake protection of the dunes sagebrush lizard, stinking to high heaven with various types of actual corruption, and collaborating with a person who likened Endangered Species Act listings to Scud missiles. It sold out protection of Rockies wolves. It has been reluctant to do anything about Southwestern jaguars.

And, there's other problems yet. The folks who actually administer the drilling permits? The same Army Corps of Engineers that built the damned dams in the first place. Not the "greenest" of folks by any means. (Many of the national wildlife refuges these dams created were first made part of the Park Service. It eventually backed out of them. But, give the NPS something like Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, even though its act of creation clearly violates the NPS' Organic Act, and it won't say boo because of bucks. As in Glen Canyon makes a lot of them, but a no-fee NWS doesn't.) That said, this is the same NPS adding cellphone towers to parks — a process accelerating under Trump, but started under Obama.

But, this post goes beyond FWS. Or NPS.

The ultimate threat to our planet is climate change.

And, despite many Democrats, and some Greens who should definitely know better like Jill Stein, while Trump pulling out of the Paris Accords was not good, the accords themselves were and are nothing more than toothless Jell-O.

Two people made sure of that: Xi Jinping and Barack Obama.

So, if you really want to celebrate Earth Day, stop voting Democrat.

April 21, 2020

Glenn Hegar bemoans the oil price catastrophe;
still no Abbott call for a special session


For years, I've bemoaned one of Texas' quieter GOP lying sacks o shit, Comptroller Glenn Hegar. He's been basically a one-note liar, and that lie has been that the Texas economy is not oil-dependent. And, to the degree many Dems in Texas have played along, this is a duopoly lie.

Well, Monday evening, after the May futures contract for West Texas Intermediate went negative and punched him in the face, Glenn's lying chickens came home to roost and he pumped out this presser:
(AUSTIN) — “Today’s market activity was unprecedented and likely indicative of very limited storage capacity. May contracts traded well into negative territory as the market prepares to shift focus to June contracts. While down somewhat, June contracts traded in a relatively stable range. While this unprecedented volatility is concerning, the greater impact to Texas will come if demand remains historically low for a prolonged period of time and supply gluts continue to strain storage capacity.
“Severance tax reductions would primarily affect the state’s Rainy Day Fund and State Highway Fund, and to a lesser extent general revenue available to meet budget needs. Contraction in the energy industry also will affect other sources of tax revenue, including sales and franchise taxes.
“The Texas budget is based on the average price of oil in each year of the biennium, thus daily market activity doesn’t significantly affect revenues, which are forecast based on average prices rather than spot prices or prices for specific futures contracts. That being said, given the historic nature of today’s market moves, we are carefully monitoring trading as June contracts come into focus. Should prices remain depressed over a long period of time, we anticipate the impact will be reflected in a reduction in the revenue forecast we'll be releasing in July." 
OK, let's look under the hood.

The first sentence is a "no shit Sherlock."

The last sentence of the first paragraph is the start of hand-waving. That is because traders, as well as the general public, weren't looking at June futures. It's hand-waving in another way. As I blogged six whole weeks ago, already seeing the oil economy blowing up from both the early coronavirus news AND the OPEC+ disintegration — disintegration happening in part due to a global oil surplus, the surplus is going to get bigger. Already a month ago, OilPrice.com, per that blog post, predicted 3 million barrels a day by the end of June.

At that same link, I called you out as a lying sack o shite then for claiming "the fundamentals of the Texas economy remain strong."

And, the fundamentals were weak then and abysmal now.

First, the OPEC+ cuts. They've already been at least partially priced in the market, per this piece. It also notes that OPEC, Russia and Mexico can no more achieve a 20 percent cut in a matter of days than the US can. It will take weeks to safely shut down that many wells. Also per that piece, the 20 percent cut includes previously pledged cuts and other things.

Reality? The global trim will be 1/3 the projections.

First, part 2. That same piece notes that producers right here in my and Glenn Hegar's Tex-ass are refusing to budge on making big cuts today, tomorrow or weeks from now. That's because the independents have their backs against the wall and even small cuts on marginal wells, on either fracked or conventional oil, will kill them. (Also, per the "hot oil" days of the 1930s, I do agree that it would be "interesting" to see the Railroad Commission try to enforce any cuts.

Third, you have the "energy independence" bullshitters like this retired Army colonel who should know better.

Second paragraph? Standard government presser pablum. But, here in Tex-ass, it's also being used as a "marker" for next time Democrats in the Lege want to tap the Rainy Day Fund.

Third paragraph.

May futures contract prices as of end
of day, Monday, April 20.
Average prices? Many people are predicting the spot market will regularly have $15 oil next month. I expect June futures to be below $20 well before the late-May call. And, Chicago Merc has July and August futures below $30. Indeed, as of noon Tuesday, the June futures had dropped below $15.

And worse yet as the day wore on. By the end of day Tuesday, the June crude oil option was $13 and change and ALL 2020 MONTHLY OPTIONS were below $30.

Dude? You need to release an updated revenue forecast before the end of May, NOT July. Look west to New Mexico.

Speaking of, Gov. Strangeabbott needs to look west, too, and call a special session of the Texas Legislature. With the two-year budget cycle, no off-year short session unlike NM, and with the Lege not having the constitutional power to call itself into session, there WILL be blood for oil — blood of the people who will be most hurt when the Lege whacks away in 2021.

Meanwhile, a bigger bag of wind, and a big bigot, Railroad Commission Chairman Wayne Christian (name fits as in Religious Right wingnut, hates #TehGay, etc.) has appointed a capitalized Blue Ribbon Task Force for Oil Economic Recovery. It's an entirely industry-led group. It will surely refuse to address the main problems with drilling even before the coronavirus, namely, as reported here before, that many wells:
1. Are producing something closer to condensate than oil;
2. Are cannibalizing other wells;
3. Have an increasing water cut.

But, it's not just oil. As Wall Street on Parade notes, commodities futures of all sorts are collapsing. Notably, ag prices. I've read about Californians plowing under lettuce. Now Floridians are plowing under truck farm crops. Which means that Texans surely are.

Texas progressives: Coronavirus week 6

To start this week, this NYT roundup piece has everything you need to know about "the new normal" for the next year and beyond. Include:
1. The hammer and dance of reopenings then (if there's people with brains) new, more limited shutdowns
2. The continued lack of US testing compounded by the lack of tracer testing;
3. The lack of a virus. (Per the likes of Paul Offut, don't expect one in a year or even 18 months.)
4. A "stimulus check" that is really nothing more than an advance against next year's taxes and is nothing close to Canada and Europe;
5. A likelihood that MAGA fellating red-state denizens will eventually be hit worse, which will compound Point 1.
For us to get back to something close to the old normal, we'll need to remember that we cannot get all the way back there, and these six other things as well as that one, all detailed here.
Finally, between now and then, we need to remain skeptical of prediction models with bad results.



That's the best of many a cartoon I've seen the past few weeks.

OK, so Gov. Strangeabbott decided to "reopen Texas" by CLOSING SCHOOLS for the rest of the year. Got it.

Have fun, tech-neoliberals, with continuing to tout ideas of salvific technologism. Because, unless you want to put workplace-type remote video monitors on kids' Chromebooks (and I shudder to think that I might actually be tempting somebody), you can't force kids to do an online classroom.

In the bigger picture of the world of Strangeabbott?

Mimi Swartz dealt with this sort of yahooism from Abbott, Danny Goeb, John Cornyn, Rand Paul and others in a recent NYT column. Her bottom line is that none of these folks are idiots.
They represent the stubborn if expediently applied strain of anti-government independence that is inherent in the Texas character, which conveniently dovetails with being a Trump toady. 
Ken Paxton may really be that stupid, though. That said, Swartz went light. Because Texas is near the bottom of states on coronavirus testing, she could have mentioned that actual cases

I dealt with some of this, and other Abbott hypocrisies of last Friday's announcement, on Twitter.
And an ongoing plaint of mine:
With that, we're off to the rest of another week of a split Roundup. Regular stupidities come later in the week.  The original week of split news is here. For the March 23 week, the same split is in effect. More coronavirus news here. And ditto for the March 30 week; COVID news here. And for April 7 week, here. Week 5 is here.


State

R.G. Ratcliffe of Texas Monthly poo-poos Abbott's reopening plan as a Trump-like way to avoid responsibility for decisions. He notes Christofascist Tim Dunn is leading a push for Danny Goeb-like libertarian Social Darwinism on reopening the state. At the Observer, Justin Miller is harsher yet, talking about Abbott's "cabal of billionaires." Democrats have their own ideas; they have no authority, but they may have fall political traction. Kuff has a broader roundup of reaction.

Can Texas hospitals handle COVID? They say they can, but with the state still near the bottom of the country in testing, how can anybody really know?

Voting by mail will get at least a temporary expansion.

Jim Schutze takes WFAA's Jason Whitely to task for craptacular interviewing of Friend of the Donald and hypocritical black doctor friend of Tuskegee Experiment-type medicine Dr. Robin Armstrong. (I thought of Tuskegee as soon as I heard about this, and I mean, as soon as I heard the original news. I've tweeted WFAA. Nothing.)

The Rag Blog documents the nuttery of the Infowars rally in Austin.

COVIDIOTs let the Houston Livestock Show start as planned even though they knew they should be concerned. As a newspaper editor, I know that 4H and FFA kids didn't want it cancelled even when it was. But foresight as well as hindsight was aavilable. And the top COVIDIOT was a Dem, Sylvester Turner, abetted by another, Harris County Judge Linda Hidalgo. Per that Pro Publica piece, we'll see other such COVIDIOTs in weeks ahead. What happens if one of them is a "sponsor" of Pro Publica's partner, the Texas Trib?

Dwight Silverman documents the problems that the Houston startup scene is experiencing right now.

Francesca Rattray touts the benefits of child care for essential workers.

The Bloggess shares how she is coping.

Louie Gohmert, aka Gohmert Pyle, said "hold my beer" to anybody trying to keep him away from the front of the COVID medical quackery line.

National

Socratic Gadfly looks at restaurants by type and class and wonders who will do better, who worse, on surviving coronavirus?

Who's the biggest hack, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, or Dr. Oprah for stanning for both and starting them off to the big time? Orac writes, and I Twitter poll-tweet.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer punked the "Operation Gridlock" nutters, telling them that enough stupidity could lead to further closure extensions. Yep, she's right, it was a political rally. Deal with it.

Politico covers third parties' problems with ballot access in the "new normal."

Therese Odell has had it with phony TV doctors.

Counterpunch has a breakdown of who is behind the various anti-shelter protests. What's brought into relief to my mind is that the "citizens" (ie, militia) groups have NEVER challenged the Koch-type plutocrat groups.

National/Global

The IMF says the world economy will contract by 3 percent in the second quarter, worse than in the Great Recession. Worse yet, the US economy will contract 6 percent, even as both duopoly parties think a stereoid-ramped-up capitalism as usual is the answer to the Trump Depression.

Past weeks

Week 1 is here and week 2 is here. And for April 7 week, here. Week 5 is here. Here's Week 7, and Week 8.

April 20, 2020

The Saudis milk Arizona for all it's worth,
but state woes were at least partially preventable

I hope Arizonans like growing alfalfa for Saudi Arabia even as their own towns and counties that aren't getting Central Arizona Project or other Colorado River moisture dry up. And cave in. No, literally, per that link. The silver lining, to the degree there is one? After enough of the state literally implodes enough from ground subsidence, maybe more of them will move back to Iowa, Illinois or Minnesota. You know, where the water is.

IMO, Obama, as part of the Great Recession bailout, should have bought out free and clear people in Phoenix and Vegas who were underwater (reverse pun recognized) on mortgages — but with a legally binding stipulation they didn't move back to anywhere in the Colorado River Basin for 20 years. And, since the bailout would ultimately benefit banks, they'd have to sign off on not "replacing" these people.

Now, I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on teevee. But I'm sure this would have been doable, in one or another way, shape or form.

If banks squawked on the "no replacement homeowners," a real prez simply would have given cash equal to the base payment value of what was left on the mortgage (base payment, as in no interest portion) and then required the same deal out of these folks. In exchange, if the banks kept squawking, a real prez would have offered a wink and a nod to these migrating homeowners about what federal law, at least, would not do to them. If the banks squawked further, some FDIC audits might have been a wake-up call.

Unfortunately, Dear Leader, compromising the compromise away in advance, and putting Lil Timmy Geithner in charge of most financial elements, wasn't a real prez.