SocraticGadfly: 4/26/20 - 5/3/20

May 02, 2020

MAGAs flap about Flynn to avoid speaking about Stone

Twitter earlier this week had the MAGAs all talking about how the FBI had reportedly tried to entice NSA head nominee Michael Flynn (a grade A nutter) to lie to them, so as to get something to hang him on.

That was even as the FBI released its Roger Stone search warrant, which showed at least some details of his contacts with Julian Assange, and specifically about Julian Assange's info on stolen DNC emails.

Yes, stolen, both wingnuts of the left AND right on on Seth Rich conspiracy theories. (Over the past nine months or so, I've had various lefty-like horseshoers drop or even block my on Twitter over this. Their loss.)

The Hill has the basics. Stone was trying to get Assange to dish more, and promised to protect him from the feds, which REALLY comes off laughable given that it was Trump, not Obama, who had him officially indicted.

Politico has more, including possibly indirectly tying him to Flynn. That would be Stone's allegedly talking to Israel about information allegedly held by the Turkish government. Let us remember, that (IMO) Flynn as NSA designate did nothing wrong with talking with Russian ambassador Kislyak BUT was certainly unethical and illegally lobbying for Turkish President Erdogan over Gulen and the 2016 failed coup. Let us not forget he was guilty of that. Period. And more has come out since his plea.

Beyond this being another nail in the Seth Rich conspiracy theory coffin, it's another nail in the hypocrisy of MAGAs. Flynn was grifting for money on his "deep state" connections. But they still want to give him a pass.

Besides THAT, the new Flynn revelations don't really mean what MAGAs think they do.

May 01, 2020

Coronavirus, Greens, and the horseshoe theory wingnut breech (and the Capitol insurrection)

Wingnuts and horseshoe theory wingnuts among certain sectors of the left have both claimed that coronavirus death counts are way wrong.

Medical experts agree.

Some say they're off by 100 percent.

As in as much as 100 percent TOO LOW.

So, when you read reports of 65,000 deaths, or whatever the number is at coronavirus tracking pages, you need to really think as much as 130,000.

Meanwhile, per an update to the header, there's something horseshoe-y about many Greens' claims about the Jan. 6 quasi-insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. See the second update below. 

There's additional problems. A number of states generally aren't checking nursing home deaths. Here in Texas, the Freedom of Information Foundation has been prodding for information, with the hint of possible legal action if that is not forthcoming.

As the story notes, the CDC told states two weeks ago to start counting suspected as well as test-confirmed deaths, but this will take time to percolate through state pipelines.

And, for hospitals or medical examiners who may be overburdened now? The story also notes that nasal swabs can be gathered from the deceased and frozen for later study. Also, blood samples can be frozen, then tested later for antibodies.

Coronavirus officially became "not just the flu" last week, despite a growing number of lefty as well as Trumpist and further right conspiracy theorists. And per this, it probably was unofficially "not just the flu" by the start of April.

This additional testing is important for other reasons.

We will have some sort of coronavirus issues in the fall, per both Dr. Redfield and Dr. Fauci; even Dr. Birx, more of a toady than Fauci, agrees. It's likely to be less severe than in the summer but still real, and conjoined with influenza.

And, it's likely that, not only will it be a new problem in the fall, but also next spring and beyond.

Meanwhile, people on the GP's official (and public) Facebook group are acting like many a libertarian type in fighting alleged government tyranny if a vaccine IS developed, but also going down the wingnut road in claiming conspiracy theories about coronavirus itself, only in this case, the pharmaceutical industry is the villain.

Please.

==

Updates: Contra Noah Berlatsky at the now dead Pacific Standard, who claims that horseshoe theory is semi-worthless and used to oppress leftists, it's real. Given that, from all I can tell, he's not an actual lefist (dude has written for REASON!) he's full of it. (I have since Tweeted him this link and gotten no response.)

(Update, April 19, 2021: This reminds me a bit of Green Party nutter and (former?) Ron Paul-tard William Pounds, profiled by me here. That said, I don't think Pounds has ever claimed to be a leftist.)

Reading between the lines? I think he's saying that both lefty and righty anarcho-libertarians (a concept that also proves the truth of horseshoe theory) are being attacked by conventional conservatives.

Well, in these quarters, you're also being attacked by a semi-conventional, or more, leftist. Deal with it.

Just came across this late-April Atlantic piece that says 30 percent of Americans believe in some version of coronavirus conspiracy theory, which breaks into one of two big subtheories: Either it's being overhyped when it's really "just the flu," or it's a bioweapon. Even though Trump has preached the second, that has many greenie types who believe it. (That said, over the past year or so, my learning curve on just how many Green Party greens are NOT leftist or even that close to it has ramped up.)

==

Update, Jan. 8: A number of Greens are claiming that the insurrectionist assault on the U.S. Capitol two days ago was at a minimum staged theater, if not a full false flag. See poll at top right of the blog.

Update 1A, Jan. 10: I put up a post about that at the official GP Facebook group, asking how many believed that. That's a moderated group. Well, 8 hours later, the post was not in the moderate queue nor was it on the page. I posted that fact as a comment to the post about the party's official statement on the riot or worse. Such censorship by admins (and NOT the first time by ANY means!) reflect poorly on the party, since it is an OFFICIAL party outlet. Specific to this issue, party officials trying to censor learning just how many numnutz it has on this issue is ALSO problematic.

Update 2, Jan. 8: Now that we have COVID vaccines, antivaxxerism is raising its head more and more among Greens, along with anti-quarantine and similar stances. Per places like Wiki, there is arguably a political stance that can be called "libertarian socialism," but without understanding "libertarian" in its European, not American usage, you wind up with nutters like some Greens. I also have little doubt there are Greens who, like fired pharmacist Steven Brandenberg, believe the vaccines can change DNA. April 19: This even more reminds me of Pounds, who used the term, as did others, on the GP's official Facebook group, for which I turned off most notifications long ago. I occasionally used that in the past about myself, but, BUT, only within European understanding of the word "libertarian."

Mike Gamms, the Green Party and "censorship"

"Censorship" is in scare quotes because, per First Amendment understanding, only governments can censor. Private businesses cannot.

But, it appears that, in the everyday sense of the word, is what the Green Party is doing on its official Facebook page.

Gamms was duly nominated to run for New York's 27th Congressional District. And, since then, he's been an ass. In the GP group, he's arguably been the most vicious attacker of any non-trans advocate of the several attackers in that group. There had been extensive argument about whether or not he actually was a GP candidate and thus, whether or not his picture should be on a photo-poster of candidates. The state party didn't have him listed.

Well, Erie County Greens don't have a website, but they do have a Facebook page. So I messaged.

And this was the response.
We did endorse him, but the endorsement was withdrawn after he made several posts on social media that many felt were problematic. He is still on the ballot as a Green because there is no way to remove him, but the State Party has stopped assisting/promoting his campaign.
And if you don't believe me? I screenshotted it. Not going to bother posting, but just in case, I still have it.

So, I posted at the end of the long set of comments about that photo-poster that regional and state Greens had essentially "unendorsed" Gamms.

Commenting was turned off after that.

I at the same time, in early April, posted that as the start of a new thread. Yes, national Greens might want to bury that issue, but turning off comments on the thread where I first posted means that many might not see it.

A full week later, the post, screengrabbed below, had still not been approved by moderators.


I goosed the GP's official Twitter account at that point. I don't know if that did the trick or what, but it's no longer in the "pending" cue. That said?

It might have been deleted. And I did a FB group search. And didn't find it.

This is no bueno.

Knowing WHY Gamms made his "problematic" comments connects me to why this maybe wasn't posted as a separate piece. And, I don't know if the person(s) who admin the official GP Twitter overlap with the Facebook group at all, but they've been nonresponsive on this and other things.

All of which have a big why behind them.

So, this is going to be the first in a likely series of posts.

Update, May 18: The GPUS has named Gamms to its national Dispute Resolution Committee, representing the Lavender Caucus.

Update, May 19: Gamms reportedly, in a new height of arrogance, stupidity, or both, refused to read tea leaves and tried to get elected as a delegate to the national convention by the GPNY. And failed.

Update, June 5, off a May 31 original dateline: Gamms is caught embarrassing New York State and local Greens in a George Floyd protest. From a TV station:
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Green Party of Monroe County condemned its own candidate oveer his actions at Saturday's protest in Rochester.

The local Green Party released a statement Sunday night saying Mike Gammariello, who is running for New York's 27th Congressional District, was photographed instigating violence.

The statement says that Gammariello's actions violated directions from the protest's organizers.

The Green Party also pointed out that Gammariello is Caucasian.

The statement also mentions that the party separated from his campaign last month over comments made toward other Green Party members.
There you are.

April 30, 2020

Critiquing Abbott's Phase 1 of 'reopen Texas'

It's due to start tomorrow, but a lot of affected businesses are saying nuh-uh, even as many non-Republicans wonder if part of Gov. Greg Abbott's Monday order was designed to try to push people back to work and off unemployment. (Per the Trib, since unemployment applications are now more restricted, that's official. More here; unless you meet certain specific guidelines, you cannot refuse to go back to work if your business has reopened and expects you.)

Most movie theater chains have already said they're not reopening. Can't blame them. Studios have stopped production on many movies, and those that were already ready for release have been, if hot properties, sent direct to streaming video, prompting a battle between AMC and Universal.

Most chain restaurants say 25 percent indoor service isn't enough to make a profit, or even enough to have less of a loss than they are right now. Plus, trying to push waitstaff back to work? If they all go back to work, they're fighting for 25 percent of tip money.

Meanwhile, exercise buffs say, why can't I go to a gym where either I or staff can disinfect equipment between uses? It sounds reasonable, and it would probably be easier for a gym than a restaurant or theater to limit patronage.

Speaking of?

How do restaurants and theaters enforce this? Do they call the cops if they see potential gate-crashing?

In Georgia, the iconic Waffle House taped over two of each three stools, on counter seating. Tables are movable, if you have room to stack 3/4 of them, and that looks kind of ugly. Booths aren't movable, and it looks ugly, albeit necessary, albeit pricey for that amount of plastic, to cover an entire booth, or three out of every four.

I suspect most restaurants, as well as theaters, will simply wait until May 18.

Abbott's "50 percent provision," that allows counties with five or fewer cases to go direct to 50 percent occupancy, has slipshod language, especially for him being a lawyer.

It says they can do this with "five or fewer laboratory-confirmed cases." Missing? The word "active." DSHS says it means active, but still.

In any case? None of this will address the implosion in the oil patch, anyway. And nothing will address its hit on the budget except a special session of the Texas Legislature in this banana republic.

And, contra the #MAGAs, or since were in Texas, the Death Panels Danny Goeb stanners, none of this can force companies to reopen.

Besides the logistics issues, I'm sure they're looking at a state that is ahead of only Virginia (astounding, considering how much of Virginia is metro DC and rich) and Kansas in testing rates, and they're probably also looking at a governor who has lied almost as much and in almost as Hitlerian of fashion (so sue me on Godwin's Law) as Trump on testing availability.

As the nation passes the 60,000 deaths mark, on the one hand, and with a 17-year-old in Dallas suburb Lancaster dying on the other hand, Texas likely isn't near its peak cases, or deaths, yet.

I don't go out to eat a lot, but there's no way I would go to a restaurant right now.

Texas Progressives: Earth Day, gentrification, more

As coronavirus-specific news slows, this may be the last week this corner of Texas Progressives splits the two.

There's plenty of non-coronavirus news to talk about.


Earth Day / environment

SocraticGadfly had a trio of posts for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The first, complete with photos, looked at the past 50 years of wildlife preservation efforts — the good, the bad, the ugly. The second said that King Hubbert was correct, using the parameters he did of rational, profitable exploration, that the US hit Peak Oil in 1970. The third, per the Daniel Day-Lewis movie, said there will continue to be blood for oil.

David Bruce Collins has Earth Day thoughts, including his take on Michael Moore's iffy "Planet of the Humans."

That insect apocalypse that was all the buzz a year or two ago, while bad, is not as bad as first reported and water bugs are actually increasing.

Andrew Wheat explains how rightwing oligarch Tim Dunn loves the "nanny state" when it benefits his bottom line. Dunn, the "Christofascist" of Jim Schutze, will leech off the gummint teat for oil.

Stephen Young answers your questions about how oil can cost less than nothing.


Texas politics

The Texas Observer details just how far John Cornyn has his head buried up Trump's ass.

Off the Kuff looks at the ways that local election officials are trying to prepare for the July and November elections.


Texana

The Texas Observer takes a close look at gentrification in Texas.

Nearly 4 percent of the methane produced in the Permian is being leaked.

Dos Centavos is making tortillas, as we all should be right now.

The Bloggess takes you on a creepy tour of her house.



Dallas

Before COVID, Dallas had plenty of job openings. If you were younger and less well-off, especially, and looking for semi-entry level jobs, good luck getting there. DART can't help you very well in general and, as yours truly knows from Today Newspapers days, the South Dallas burbs don't belong. Neither do many of the big booming, richer ones to the north and northeast. And, DART's focus on light rail? It will never admit it, but yours truly knows that's focused at higher dollar people.


National

Contra rumor mongering by non-disinterested party Primo Nutmeg, Jesse Ventura is not running for the Green Party nomination. (And is not desired in these corners.)

Contra Never Trumper GOPers and Democratic National Committee type apparatchiks, I highly doubt that the Justin Amash who IS running for the Libertarian nomination would take more votes from Biden than Trump. And, if that's true? A Libertarian taking more votes from a Dem than from a Republican would show just how bad Biden is.

The credibility of another allegedly outside-the-box left-liberal journalistic steno crumbled, as Tim Shorrock showed himself to be a JFK conspiracy theorist.

Paradise in Hell deconstructs the Trumpian snake oil show.

April 29, 2020

Marlin ex-mayor: Delusional or grifting over old VA?
Shouldn't you be worrying about old city finances?

More than two years ago, within six months after Sterling Real Estate Development bought the old Marlin Veterans Administration hospital building off the state of Texas, it became QUITE clear it was trying to "flip" the site. At first, seeing former Marlin mayor Elizabeth Nelson and former Marlin city attorney Denny Lessman involved with Sterling's shell sub-company officially owning the site, I thought maybe there was something real.

The Marlin VA hospital in its glory days, or near them. The
shuttered facility was purchased about three years ago
on a promise of being re-opened while being re-purposed
for other veterans-related needs, yet nothing has happened so far.
Photo by Waco Tribune/Rod Aydelotte
But, within weeks after that, I had a chance to sleuthe enough to prove otherwise.

Sadly, Nelson is either delusional or grifting. She still is PR-fronting for them over Sterling's latest whackadoodle idea.

Sterling wants to make the old facility, which I assume has been TOTALLY untended since it bought it off the state of Texas and then couldn't flip it, into a COVID treatment site.

Former city attorney Lessman, who long ago saw the light and stopped stanning for Sterling, says "no way."

And no, Sterling, I don't believe your claims of your original plans for the facility. Just not credible. AND, I don't recall you mentioning them at the time, either, you know? And, I know that because I wrote about this in depth more than two years ago. Per that link, the website the then-Sterling sub-company shell that owned the facility (it has a different name now) created to put out news, that website is no longer operable. Shock me.

And, Nelson? It's time for people in Marlin to ask you to be honest. How much is Sterling paying you, even if you make it easy by being delusional?

Also, sadly? Although he focuses on oil, Chronic biz columnist Chris Tomlinson — along with Chronic biz writers — have never picked up the Helltown hometown threads of Sterling.

As for Sterling's original plans to also buy the Falls Hotel? Maybe they could partner with the Chinese who were kicking the tires a while back.

Or ... maybe, rather than planning to flip the property? There's some sort of deliberate tax write-off here. Something along Trumpian lines. I never could find a website for the parent company and still can't today. Or, maybe it's even worse than a tax write-off. In that case, Nelson, paid or Pollyanna, is playing the sucker to something nefarious.

==

Instead of flaking for Houston real estate developers, mayor, you should be worried what District & County Attorney Jody Gilliam finds in her city financial impropriety fishing expedition.

At the same time, it IS Jody Gilliam, and yes, given everything in the story, it IS a bit of overreach. Nonetheless, if the numbers, discovered in the city's audit, are even halfway true, when did $300K, or the full $600K, go missing and why? The voided checks and changed names on accounts are also scary.

April 28, 2020

Texas Progressives: Coronavirus, week 7

Coronavirus officially became "not just the flu" last week, despite a growing number of lefty as well as Trumpist and further right conspiracy theorists.

Yes we will have some sort of coronavirus issues in the fall, per both Dr. Redfield and Dr. Fauci; even Dr. Birx, more of a toady than Fauci, agrees. It's likely to be less severe than in the summer but still real, and conjoined with influenza, even as a number of Greens are demonstrating that the horseshoe theory is not totally false in some matters political, with people on the GP's official (and public) Facebook group being like many a libertarian type in fighting alleged government tyranny if a vaccine IS developed, but also going down the wingnut road in claiming conspiracy theories about coronavirus itself, only in this case, the pharmaceutical industry is the villain.

And, beyond mortality, this is a serious issue. In a Twitter thread, an epidemiologist explains that the coronavirus, like, say, smoking, can have long-term pulmonary effects even if it doesn't kill you. (Thus also proving Nietzsche wrong.)

However, hopes of many and fears of libertarians and anarcho-greens aside, we will not have a vaccine by then. We may not have a vaccine in 18 months. Nautilus explains the process of vaccine development and also dives into some ethics issues.

Meanwhile, Gov. Strangeabbott incrementally "reopened Texas" Monday even while continuing to tell Trump-level lies about testing.


With that, let's dive in. The Roundup is again broken into two parts. Week 1 is here and week 2 is here. And for April 7 week, here. Week 5 is here. Ditto for Week 6. Here's Week 8. Weeks 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13.



Dallas icon Neiman Marcus, struggling for years after a boatload of debt from a leveraged buyout, could be the first of several department store chains to not just go bankrupt but maybe just disappear. The coronavirus has accelerated existing issues.

Related? Texas Monthly has a longform of the history of Nieman-Marcus, which has been out of Marcus family ownership hands since before the start of the century. That said, per what TM describes, I expect this is another Texas institution that, like Half Price Books, will go the way of the dinosaurs and the dodo.

Update, May 6: It has officially filed for bankruptcy.


Vanity Fair has the receipts on why Dr. Rick Bright was pushed out of his vaccine development position.


Related? Dr. Stephen Hahn jumped from a frying pan he had cooled down at M.D. Anderson into the fire of being Trump's FDA head right before the coronavirus hit the fan, along with Trump pressers. It doesn't help that his immediate predecessor, Scott Gottlieb, along with Shrub Bush FDA head Mark McClellan, have been questioning recent FDA performance. But, Hahn got his job in part for being a political donor and player. Tough shit. (Hahn, per the Vanity Fair link, is also implicated in signing off on Trump's hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.)


Could reopening restaurants with table social distancing help the "reopening"? (California is considering similar, but also with temperature testing requirements.) Maybe, and maybe not. In any case, in wingnut states, accelerating reopening timetables can't force people to dine or shop. That link shows that people were self-isolating from restaurants before official government closure orders.


Fort Worth bars are talking about reopening early. Marketing stunt, or for real? If so, will the Cowtown city council and cops do anything? Speaking of bullshit, Abbott's alleged reopening of bars for takeout is exactly that. But Cowtown bars don't attack him.


Related? Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has yet to arrest Shelley Luther after this


Jim Schutze enters the land of make-believe with his bromance for Andrew Cuomo, the biggest hard-on since the one he had for Amber Guyger.


Who says antibodies will prove coronavirus resistance? WHO itself says that's not true.


Trump's USDA is why Florida, California, Arizona and southern Texas veggie farmers are plowing under crops.


Dr. Deborah Birx, given every chance to disinfect herself, remains a Trump Toady.


Ilyse Hogue points out how the pro-coronavirus protesters are trying to hijack pro-choice language.


Gavin Rogers wants us to remember our most vulnerable neighbors.


Grits for Breakfast interprets the state Supreme Court ruling on the Abbott executive order on bail.

April 27, 2020

AOC the JAP

AOC, of course, being short for the "much beloved in these precincts" Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

JAP being an acronym that, I believe, took off in the 1960s and has nothing to do with orange meatballs and Nippon.

Soooo ....

Per the AOC Wiki page, as I first blogged a full year ago, I'm waiting for her likely ungrounded claim to have Sephardi Jewish ancestry to be deconstructed. And, since nobody else jumped in, I guess it's me doing this.

This isn't just on her. In New Mexico, many Hispanos claim to have Sephardi ancestry and its more likely that they're descended from Protestant Adventist converts of the late 19th century. And, as for a breast cancer mutation proving Sephardi Marranos in New Mexico? Uh, no, Jews haven't so often married within their religion as the story claims, among other things. Also, Smithsonian doesn't tell you that those families denied being Jewish, as NIH reports.  And the British Medical Journal notes the mutation arose more than once. It also tells you that this mutation has been found frequently in ASHKENAZI Jews, an entirely different kettle of fish. (Smithsonian's breathless story also fails to note this issue.)

There's just too much "looseness" to satisfy me here still. Beyond that, if the mutation goes back to before the start of the Common Era, it could have arisen in Herod's Idumeans or something. And, yeah, I'm going to go there — at times, it comes off like Oklahomans claiming to be one-eighth Cherokee. That's you, up in Massachusetts.

Seriously ... given that an estimated 3.5 million direct descendants of Marranos exist today? Scattered all over Latin America and beyond? I highly doubt her claims. And, I find it "interesting" that she made them between the election and starting office. She may sincerely believe what she said her family found. I'm skeptical.

What? AOC might be  Just.Another.Politician.™? Quelle horreur!

Actually, we'll probably hear from AOC the Kabbalist next.