SocraticGadfly: 5/10/20 - 5/17/20

May 16, 2020

Justin Amash: The Jesse Ventura of Libertarians
pulls politicus interruptus and ends his prez plans

Justin Amash pulled a Jesse Ventura today. Less than a month after announcing an "exploratory committee" for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination, he pulled back out. Politicus interruptus. His claimed reasons — political polarization at an all time high, and COVID-related issues — were true three weeks ago, and sound as specious as Ventura's.

Independent Political Report has some very good comments after taking text from a set of Amash Tweets. Many of the commenters are fairly active in the Libertarian Party. They note that Amash might have been able to get the nomination, but that he and his backers were surprised by the degree of resistance. 

Per the politicus interruptus, if Amash thinks that polarization between duopoly parties will die down in the next four years, he's an idiot.

As for being surprised by the resistance? He was trying to jump in the game as late as Jesse, and unlike Jesse, until recently had been a member of a duopoly party. The fact that he didn't check on the level of animosity by some Libertarians toward recent ex-Republicans reflects poorly.

Now, if he seriously wants a Libertarian prez run in 2024, and assuming that his independent (not-identified-as-Libertarian, AFAIK) bid for Congressional re-election fails, what's he do to keep visible over the next four years? What's he do to become more Libertarian?

As for being a Congresscritter? The Freep notes he has two months to file as an independent, or he can be nominated as a state Libertarian candidate in early August. That said, his comments indicate that his ship has sailed for good from the Republican Party.

I should add that I don't see Amash as being a publicity hound, unlike Ventura. I think his interest was sincere, even if his lack of foresight was problematic.

That said, per the "seriously" three paragraphs above? He has to decide if he's a Capital-L Libertarian, or more of a Never-Trumper Republican with some actual libertarian leanings. (At least he's not like Squirrel Hair, Rand Paul, a big fake on both halves.)

In addition, some Libertarians thought Amash has been too supportive of government economic prop-ups during the current coronavirus crisis. On the other hand, party purists ignore that many L's and l's support basic income, not just Amash.

That, in turn, I think gets back to the "opposition" issue.

Gary Johnson was also a former Republican. BUT ... like the majority of capital-L's, he was pro-choice. He also didn't try to straddle pro-gay marriange/anti-gay marriage lines with the "let's not have the gummint regulate marriage," when it's not just regulation, it's tax benefits and other things. Any small-l or Capital-L who doesn't address ALL of that, or didn't, and also didn't note state law differences on domestic partner rights, was/is a hypocrite.

As for Capital-L's, especially, on no help for anybody, not just no help for Wall Street, at this time? American libertarianism is politicized Social Darwinism, pure and simple.

Laying down a 'marker' on Tara Reade

Or Alexandra Reade, or Tara McCabe, or Alexandra McCabe, or whomever.

Or let's give Tara Reade her real name:
"Crack Cocaine for BernieBros."

Nope. Biden still ain't dropping out. DEAL. ...
And then? STFU, for doorknob's sake.

Update, May 22: There IS someone dropping out. Doug Wigdor is dropping out of being Reade's lawyer. Guess the falsification of her academic record and possible perjury over it (see below) was a bridge too far.

Given Wigdor's Trumpist background, Reade is being thrown away like the Religious Right did to Norma Jean McCovey after giving Ms. "Roe" a few bucks to concoct a conversion story.

This big new piece by Politico, which references Lynn Hummer, whose blog I'd seen a couple of weeks ago, is a good starting point. Besides being a grifter, her degree of litigiousness stands out. Think about both of those elements now.

Let's take a peek:
“You can use these words: manipulative, deceitful, user,” said Kelly Klett, an attorney who rented Reade a room in her home in 2018. “Looking back at it all now, that is exactly how I view her and how I feel about her.” 
 “She has a problem,” said Lynn Hummer, who owns a horse sanctuary where Reade volunteered for two years, beginning in 2014. 
 She described Reade as “very clever, manipulative. ... I do think she’s a liar.” 
Hummer provided an email from an exchange in which, within weeks of starting at the ranch, Reade asked whether she could bring her car on Hummer’s property to hide it from “the repo man.” Hummer declined. 
In another instance, Reade came by the ranch desperately seeking $200 to pay the rent, Hummer said. On the way to Reade’s house, Hummer said she didn’t notice that Reade texted her and upped her request from $200 to $350.
Again, just laying down a marker.

More on her litigiousness here.

UPDATE: And a big new "boom" from the New York Times. She allegedly lied about her credentials when testifying under oath as an alleged expert witness in California domestic violence cases. Getting around paywall issues, Reddit summarizes the basics. And yes, like the million or more Elizabeth Loftus has made as an expert witness, per one Redditor, she surely was paid. Some more unwinding of threads here. Basically, part of her lying appears to be claiming to have a BA, when she didn't. And that's at CNN, no paywall. Assuming this is untrue, why did Seattle University admit her to law school in the first place? Of course, her backers will say that's proof she got the degree.

Second is Jon Chait. Yes, he's an idiot on All Things Trump.

But this? Interesting. First, he says that when Reade first popped up, he was more inclined to believe than disbelieve. (He does say that this wasn't going to change his take on the Democratic nomination process.)

He references not only Politico, but two other pieces, from PBS and Vox. I'd already read that one.

As for Chait's political choices? I assume that he was not only rallying behind Biden, but had already supported him.

From within the media world, a good piece here on "trauma reporting" and Reade. It sidebars that Biden's suddenly attracting these stories, and one that was demonstrably false was trumpeted by The Intercept, among others, before its falsehood was demonstrated.

Finally, there's Reade's infamous Putin-stanning slobber-drool piece on Medium.

Two things.

First, contra the alleged outside the box stenos of certain portions of left-liberal foreign policy opiners? One can oppose Putin, distrust how Trump approached Assange in 2016 (as he signal boosted Seth Rich conspiracy theories and also, IMO, probably had a good guess as to the provenance of the hacked emails, covered in MUCH DEPTH by me), and criticize the bipartisan foreign policy establishment at the same time.

Second, beyond "grifting" in a generic sense, maybe this is actually psychologically neurotic.

May 15, 2020

The most important Democratic VP nomination since 1944

C'mon, Biden-stanners.

Admit it. You're worried about Status Quo Joe's health. Trump makes "word salad having a stroke" simply because he's a babbling egotistical idiot with a high, solipsistic ego level for a career business CEO or a president.

Biden has recently made "word salad that sounds like it comes from having had a stroke, or at least a mini-stroke." And, we have a history of this in our chief execs. Woodrow Wilson, and his wife covering for him.

(Do you really think this is just a stutter, or his attempts to control one? If so, then why hasn't it been this bad before?)

FDR, of course, hadn't had a mini-stroke by summer 1944, as far as we know. But, FDR's health started going downhill after the late 1943 Tehran Conference. And everybody knew it.

And Dems claimed that FDR would lose with Henry Wallace as vice president again, and FDR accepted that James Farley and AFL labor leaders were correct. It's true that Wallace did turn out to be kind of naive about the USSR during early Cold War years. And? FDR was kind of naive during the war. It's also true that FDR had killed the Bureau for Economic Warfare in 1943, but that appears to be more a turf battle issue than Wallace mismanagement. It's also true that FDR did not pick him to run the War Production Board established in 1942. So, it's possible that Wallace wouldn't have been a good prez.

As for Truman being a boon on the ticket? The 1944 election results were little different from 1940. Roosevelt was down 17 electoral votes and just over 1 percentage point in 1940. How much Truman kept him from falling even further is unknown. What is known is that Dem bosses thought Truman a centrist and a safe pair of hands.

As for 1960? LBJ was important for JFK's election. But (other than doing far better on civil rights than Jack would ever have done), he wasn't important for US history, and certainly wasn't seen so at the time. Nobody expected Jack's assassination, of course, and how many top Dem insiders knew much of anything about the reality of Jack's Addison's Disease is an open question.

Elizabeth Warren would be the least bad of Biden's options, but I doubt he'll pick her. He's going to want to go younger, IMO, and also possibly minority. That means Kamala Harris. People who know know about her "cop" record as California AG and her playing footsie with a Mnuchin bank. Joaquin Castro is probably a bit of an unknown, and I think Biden wants a woman. Amy Klobuchar might be nice, but if it's not Harris, it's likely Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. I think she would be better than Harris. But that's a low bar. Whitmer will have the flip side of opponents to her tough stand on sheltering in place pushing themselves forward elsewhere.

And, while Barack Obama needed to show the general public a safe pair of hands as his Veep, since he was trying to be the first black president (and then fucked America by claiming to be the first post-racial one instead) 2008 wasn't as important as this year. For people who weren't racists, Obama had some level of competency, obviously, and plenty of good health.

Update, May 21: "Vetting" Klobuchar doesn't make her his choice, and we don't know who leaked this — her staff or his. But, if Biden really is leaning that way, he's a bigger idiot than Hillary Clinton over Tim Kaine.

Update, May 28: A note from the flames of Minneapolis. Amy Klobuchar is the former DA for the Twin Cities who batted 0-for-30 in trying to convict bad cops. From that link to the original story in the NYT, noting that in more than two dozen cases, she didn't use her discretion to file charges herself, and instead punted them to a grand jury. And more here. And here. Maybe, if she had done something, he wouldn't have engaged in more police brutality after she went to the Senate.

Update, June 12: Klobuchar put a black teen behind bars for life for a non-murder level killing in a case that is badly if not fatally flawed.

Sidebar: If you really need shaky claims by Tara / Whomever Reade to vote against Biden, you've got problems otherwise.

May 14, 2020

Texas progressives: The other stuff

It's rare that Texas makes national headlines for anything GOOD that involves politics and/or media.

Well, it got a BIG national headline from the Pulitzer Prize folks, specifically for editorial writing about the Texas prison system.

Other chunks of this week's roundup are about prisons, crime, racial bias or related issues. Let's dig in.


Jeff Gerritt is a hero — and a dude, Capote-style, and fully deserves his Pulitzer. He's got bigger balls than I have, for sure. He's got bigger balls than Jim Schutze, perhaps, and he's out in the boonies, vs. Schutze being in a big city. Anderson County sheriff Greg Taylor? Is an asshole and shall remain so.

Schutze? Yeah, it's not local, but there are state prisons in the Metromess. Could have given Gerritt a shout-out. And didn't.

Grits notes the Texas appellate court system suffered a ransomware attack. No telling how bad it is; apparently they're not talking much besides saying it was "contained." As he notes, state district courts in Amarillo area also refused to pay, and still have problems a year after their ransomware attack.

Paradise in Hell brings us an important butt-shaking legal update.


SocraticGadfly has, over the last 10 days or so, written twice about the Jesse Ventura for Green Party presidential nominee nuttery. He first talks about how this shows how much Jesse is Just.Another.Politician.™ In a follow-up, he said he wants to see exactly what was in the "letter of interest" Jesse's minions sent to the Green Party and who signed it, as the Green Party currently risks looking like Just.Another.Political.Party™.

David Bruce Collins blogs about the upcoming GP National Convention officially going virtual, and a proposed language change for nominations, while not discussing, if this is "likely" to be adopted by state executive committees, how that squares with the current square-off between the Lavender Caucus and the Georgia GP, in which issue I suspect DBC has a different stance than I do.

Will Trump lose his appeal at the Supreme Court to hide his tax returns? George Conway, using the Jones vs Clinton petard on the civil side, says yes. But ... what if he does?

Glynn County, Georgia is a cesspool of racial bias in policing; DA Barnwell was a personal cesspool long before we learned of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting. Meanwhile, SCOTUS will possibly take a new look at qualified immunity grants that let many cops off the hook on shootings. See this excellent new piece from Reuters about how often it's been granted in the past.

Beyond Bones would like to put your mind at ease about those murder hornets.


Read the truth about the history of passports and where we might be headed in the future.

May 13, 2020

Ahh, another error from High Country News

This time, it's based on an error it didn't check from a newspaper.

The mag claims that, if built, Salt Lake City would be the site of the only "inland port" between the Mississippi and the Pacific.

Having reported about plans for the Dallas Inland Port before they came to fruition, and blogged about it, and shenanigans related to it., and having known that original developer Richard Allen had this plan based on the big inland port he'd already built in the Bakersfield, California, area, I knew this wasn't true. This story about inland ports, froim a trade journal, lists others west of the Mississippi, too.

The error was originally in the SLCTrib, by a guy who worked in Reno before that, and seems to have been around enough he should have done more fact-checking. Or he simply should have heard about Allen's California site. Allen's website shows both, plus the KC hub he also owns.

On Twitter, I've asked both the Trib and HCN to correct. Asked HCN on Facebook as well.

HCN has responded on Facebook; said it would contact the Trib.

So ... you have different people running your Facebook and Twitter accounts, at an outfit your size? That's weird itself.

May 12, 2020

Texas progressives: Coronavirus, week 9

In yet another example of how philosophy is very much a real-world discipline, a philosopher of science talks about how the philosophical preconceptions behind various theories of pandemic modeling can affect their applicability to the real world, and thus their usefulness. Good thoughts, especially the idea that "pandemics are global but prediction is local," as shown by the response clusterfuck here in Merika.

Meanwhile, a Johns Hopkins expert said last Friday that NO STATE fully met the "reopen" criteria. Maybe that's why CDC folks below the Dr. Redfield level expect a spike in deaths because of "reopening" too soon.

Speaking of? Meet the four horsemen of the Trump coronavirus apocalypse. Tim Dickinson includes Redfield as well as, of course, Trump himself.

Coronavirus truth

Orac has another callout of antivaxxers as coronavirus conspiracy theorists. He then looks in more detail at Judy Mikovits, who goes a whole new level of nutbar; she claims not only glyphosate is to blame (nutty enough) but plutonium from satellites.

Coronavirus Texas

Fuck Lying Shelley Luther, Fuck Greg Abbott, Fuck Ted Cruz, Fuck Briscoe Cain, and speaking of that, apparently fuck ConservaDem Kim Ogg. That got it covered? Not quite. Texas Monthly reports she'd qualified for a Paycheck Protection Plan loan before she stepped into Judge Eric Moye's courtroom. She's also selfish and a hypocrite in other ways. (Here's the info on her LLC-incorporated business. The Lewisville residence at which it's located? Valued at a cool $1.5 million. Shelley herself owns other houses and properties. Suburban slumlord? A house, it seems, plus a mother-in-law cottage, or something, on the same site, both in Pilot Point. Combined value? $400K.)

Speaking of? Mark Cuban went undercover and found that about NO DALLAS BUSINESSES were following 100 percent of Strangeabbott's reopening protocols. Texas is gonna be like Trump nationally; it will waste the "safety time" it had from the shelter orders and have this blow up.

Dos Centavos tells us about his hometown's battle with COVID-19, and whose experience with Greg Abbott isn't much different than that of Big City leaders.

Off the Kuff adds Rep. Chip Roy to the active roster of death squad enthusiasts.

Coronavirus has hit a beef plant in Amarillo (and another, nearby in the Panhandle) and another in Corpus. And Tyson's chicken plant in Center, where am employee lost a finger several years ago, which along with other things, led to some federal fines. (Things have to be BAD in the meat world for the feds to fine you.) In Dallas, Quality Sausage allegedly bought off employees to keep working despite COVID and, reportedly, COVID deaths.

TEA, per a letter to school districts suggesting an early start for the 2020-21 school year, is clearly expecting new rounds of disruptions and shutdowns.

Scott Braddock chronicles Greg Abbott's various power moves during the crisis. Lisa Gray interviewed Braddock about the "full-on culture war" that Abbott and others are leading over COVID-19. Paul Basaldua shows how recovered COVID-19 patients can help others by donating their plasma. Dan Solomon hands out some awards for coronavirus performance.

DosCentavos reminds us that Texans are modeling their leaders' behaviors as Texas continues to reopen amid COVID19.

Coronavirus sports

Texas Monthly notes the NFL may be trying to will a 2020 season into existence.

Over in the NBA world, on the other hand, Commish Adam Silver told players last week that the 2020-21 season could start as late as December and even then, start without fans. 

Coronavirus national

Trump is starting to lose his electoral grasp on old white voters, a key part of his constituency. That said, it's "funny," you Democrats, that only 5 percentage points more of Merika trusts Biden to protect Social Security than Trump. Given Biden's past record, Merika is right to distrust him, too.

Schadenfreude is indeed a biatch. Wisconsin wingnuts who attended a protest in Madison fighting against shelter-in-place orders may have contaminated themselves.

Is Trump scaling back his coronavirus focus not because he's been an idiot at the podium, but because it's hitting black folks and other minorities far worse than whites?

I've already called out "horseshoe theory" on coronavirus conspiracy thinking. Antivaxxers are doing nothing but proving me true. See the Orac link above as well.

Trump wants to ramp up his political rallies in June as part of pretending the new normal can be the old normal. Given red states' hurry to "reopen," we're going to see a lot of "schadenfreude" rallies like the "reopen Wisconsin" one above.

Also at that same link? Toady Birx claims the CDC's tracking estimates are inflating death counts. Since in our federal US system, death counts come from state health agencies, as on the excellent Worldometers site, this can only be considered a lie.

May 11, 2020

Needed: Parliamentary government in the US

Actually, what we REALLY need is multiparty parliamentary government. Almost impossible to pull off under the current constitution and the equal vote provision in the Senate. But, we could get close with a set of amendments.

1. End electoral college.
2. Extend House terms to 3 years.
3. Shorten presidential term to 3 years, but with 3 terms not 2. So, there are no midterm elections.
4. One half of Senate every 3 years.
5. Go back to where we were before one late tweak to the Constitution at Philadelphia. Don't allow the Senate to amend "money bills." And, get the House to insist on a broad interpretation of "money bills."

You do all that, and we're at semi-parliamentary.

More radical?

Add some "national level" representatives based on proportional representation from presidential vote.

Try to do the same with "national senators" and argue each state still has an equal vote to other states.