SocraticGadfly: 8/2/20 - 8/9/20

August 08, 2020

Georgia schools get an F on COVID after one week

You probably saw the pictures from North Paulding High School in Paulding County, Georgia, metro Atlanta, last week. The ones with crowded halls, no social distancing, and very few masks. The student who took some of the first of those photos, then Tweeted them, Hannah Watters was SUSPENDED by the school district before it eventually came to its senses. (A second student was also suspended; not clear from this BuzzFeed vs. the link above, what the status is on the second student.) But it remains unapologetic, and the superintendent refuses to even consider the idea of enforcing a mask mandate.

Update, Aug. 9: Supt. Brian Otott said North Paulding HS will have to go online for two days. And, had the gall to say this:
“I apologize for any inconvenience this schedule change may cause, but hopefully we all can agree that the health and safety of our students and staff takes precedence over any other considerations at this time,” he wrote. 

Update Aug. 12: NPHS remains closed until next Monday. And it will reopen under an alternating days plan. Otott may finally be admitting nature bats last, but at a school board meeting, COVIDIOT parents were out in force.

(Broader update, Aug. 15: Gov. Brian Kemp, playing Greg Abbott, is trying to split hairs by letting local governments pass mask ordinances beyond any (currently non-existent) state ones, but ONLY on public property.)

It DOES have a couple of cops, as well as parking lot attendants; masks could be enforced more than they are. Turns out the district, one of suburban white (and presumably highly wingnut?) types, also has an online instruction racism problem.

Confirmed on that, per person who says she is Hannah's sister. (Don't see Hannah's own account; maybe she Tweeted by third party or its deleted, or she posted via Instagram?)
There you go. (Confirmed that someone named Shannon Ammons does teach there. And, this Shannon Ammons on Twitter is a wingnut.)

Meanwhile, another suburban Atlanta school district has gotten COVID hammered. Once again refudiating Tex-ass' own COVIDIOT John Cornyn and others on kids and coronavirus, the first to test positive in Cherokee County was a second-grader. It now (Aug. 12) has 925 students and staff ordered to quarantine. And, on the Georgia coast, a 7-year-old died. Seven-year-olds don't die from the flu.

Paulding County becomes an immediate object lesson in what not to do, and that "not" is a superintendent claiming we can't enforce masks. Sure you can. You've got a student code of conduct. There's probably a public health area already in there, and it probably, in a vague way, addresses this. If not? Next board meeting, which should be a specially called one on, oh, about this Monday night, you amend the student code of conduct. Period.

Paulding County school board president? You PUT THAT on the agenda if your COVIDIOT superintendent won't. You also start asking if you need to start a job search, re the student suspension as well as the refusal to enforce masking.

Cherokee County reminds us of the seriousness involved, and of what's likely to be popping up in spades at North Paulding High School in a week or two.

Or right now:

And the district isn't helped by having a school board president as wingut as the super:
Part of this is surely the old maxim that a fish rots from the head down. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is likely tied with Florida's Ron DeSantis, and ahead of Greg Abbott and others, as the worst governor in America on coronavirus issues. Atlantic has more.

But it's not all head-down rot. Meet Marjorie Taylor Greene, the person who could be Paulding County's new Congresscritter. A real work of art.

August 07, 2020

Is Mike Pence practicing pre-Nov. 3 social distancing?

Let us say polls are right and stay right through Nov. 3 and Joe Biden is elected, and by a fair margin.

What next for Mike Pence?

Behind the preternaturally white hair and the love for Mommy likes a slick politician.

And Trumpism, even with a Trump loss, is likely to stay ascendant in the GOP for years. The Lincoln Project's honchos have already admitted that.

So, Pence wears masks more and avoids dogpiling on semi-Toady Fauci, to what end? Is he looking at bridging a quasi-unbridgeable gap between Trumpers and Never Trumpers? I doubt he can pull it off in 2024, but the fact that he's doing these things now, and this may be the reason why, might be his small personal take on Trump's re-election chances.

Where is the urgency on climate change?

With Joe Biden and national Democrats, it's the same as with coronavirus: Blame Trump for what's wrong, propose inadequate fixes.

CJR has a long roundup piece, starting with the latest scientific findings. The low end, on temperatures, of doubled atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at 2.6C, not 1.5C. That's almost 5°F for the Celsius-illiterate. The high end dropped just half a degree C. It also notes that major investors begged the Fed and the SEC to require companies to put their climate exposure risks on their books. Sadly, CJR's Jon Allsop then stans for Biden's climate plan, contra my first paragraph, and doesn't even mention that it doesn't even mention fracking. (McKibben also doesn't mention that.)

The likely hotter temperatures then, especially coupled with the increasing likelihood of Western inaction, given what I just wrote, means more global refugees. ProPublica covers that.

Maybe we can give them all oil roughnecking jobs, since oil is now going to bail out our National Parks maintenance backlog. And, per High Country News, many ConservaDems like this Tom Keukes are just fine with that.

August 06, 2020

Texas Progressives discuss bad cops, Lege races and more

Protests about racial injustice, bad cops, and federal bad and intrusive policing continue. A truce of some sort appears to have taken hold in Portland, Oregon, but there's no guarantee on how long that will last.

Meanwhile, here in Texas, the first early polling is discussing whether Texas Democrats can regain the state House. So, let's dig in!


SocraticGadfly, in light of ongoing protests about policing, talked about bad cops he has personally known.

Texas Elects' latest predictions on the Lege are for Dems to pick up six seats. Not enough for a majority, but enough to tempt a Joe Straus disciple to replace Dennis Bonnen. And, there are some still in the Lege, less wingnut than Bonnen; many, like Bonnen, represent suburban metro areas, and presumably are less interested than Bonnen in throwing those cities under the bus. (Capitol Inside, a month ago, predicted a 15-seat flip, which I find hard to believe.)

Off the Kuff pondered the implications of having a Democratic State House on the redistricting process.

Gus Bova peeks at the battle to unionize the Dallas Snooze. This is the same A.H. Belo of the infamous ad "welcoming" JFK to Dallas, of a current editorial page editor being a former Shrub Bush flunky and all sorts of wingnuttia in between, with the occasional non-wingnut columnist claiming to be a librul. And I haven't even mentioned homophobe Rod Dreher's time there. At D Mag, Eric Celeste and Jim Schutze (nutbar alert!) weigh in as well.

Texas Elects also predicts three Congressional seats will flip. That said, on the Congressional side? Dems are raising more money than Republicans.

Gadfly also said there are more than two sides in the case of Garrett Foster's death in Austin at the hands of Daniel Perry.

John Coby castigates CD22 candidate Troy Nehls for racial profiling during his time as Fort Bend County Sheriff.

The Texas Signal brings news of a mutual aid effort for Hurricane Hanna in the Rio Grande Valley

Reform Austin urges greater vigilance in protecting the right to vote.


Federal judge in Portland considers idea of federal cops being required to wear numbered jerseys.

Smart or not, on James Murdoch resigning from the board of News Corp, leaving his dad and brother in editorial power? It's even less likely he'll get them to change from outside.

ProPublica looks at some of the laundry list of complaints against NYPD cops.

Big Oil (along with big banksters) has funded many nonprofits that have funded police militarization and other police-friendly initiatives, above all, police foundations.

The racism history in what is today Manhattan Beach, suburban LA, illustrate the Black-White wealth gap. Land being taken from Blacks on primarily racist grounds. Redlining. Restrictive covenants. Even if these things eventually stopped, land and other wealth are heritable, so the effects continue for generations.

August 05, 2020

Will Greg Abbott get primaried in 2022?

No, I don't think it's totally idle speculation.

Is there a betting line on how soon before Abbott caves to Christofascist Tim Dunn or someone else on the "masks on"? Is there a betting line on Danny Goeb eyeing the idea of primarying Strangeabbott in 2022?

The way Former Fetus Forever Fuckwad and soon to be out of the Lege Jonathan Stickland and Tony Tinder(holt) ripped into him, a cave-in could be right around the corner. (Tinderolt remains an asshole about masks even after getting the corona himself, and overhyping it in the process.) And, if not Goeb, somebody eyeing a run in 2022. Besides, Abbott's order exempts churches and thus does nothing to address the superspreader church issue. I'd like to see Lina Hidalgo or Clay Jenkins say churches are businesses and members are customers, and order churches to mask their members. On the third hand, the megachurch denizens can, as long as they don't come near me, keep on trying to enter this year's Darwin Awards contest all they want. Beyond that, I think local health authorities can close churches as well as schools if necessary, no matter what Kenny Boy Paxton says.

Abbott's already gotten pushback from some wingnut counties, not all of them small. Ellis, Johnson and Upshur counties are among those where county judges said they won't enforce the mask order. A county with less than 20 active cases, Cass County, doesn't have to enforce the order IF it opts out. But, Judge Becky Wilbanks claiming Abbott's orders have been ambiguous? Not this one. His previous "blood on his hands"? Yes. Ellis and Johnson counties are both problematic. Both are over 150K and both are part of the Metromess. (Dunno about Johnson, or cities like Cleburne, but Ennis in Ellis County used to be a hotspot of racism to boot.) Smith County? That's Tyler. Over 200K people in the county, and also, a longtime wingnut hotbed of racism.

Wingnut deluxe Steve Hotze is now in on the fray, as the Trib has a copy of a voicemail he left Abbott's chief of staff over protestors, saying activated Guardsmen needed to "shoot to kill." Per the link and its ties to "Masks On," Hotze's also filed suit over that order.

Following up on the Bar Lives Matter stupidity from a month ago, over Abbott's orders to shutter bars, bar owners are suing the state as well. Dear bar owners, and a substantial minority of patrons. If bar lives really mattered, many of you bar patrons would get your ass to a sobriety meeting and many of you bar owners would tell those who needed to go that they indeed ... needed to go.

Part of the problem of "superspreader churches"? It's superspreader church choirs. And, while I don't think bar owners have a legal leg to stand on, Abbott continuing to exempt churches is hypocritical.

So, the two questions in the second paragraph are related. The sooner Abbott caves on "Masks On," the more likely he is to avoid being primaried. If so, who Dunn and other wingnuts among the Xn Right part of Big Oil decide to back financially will be a big tell.

As far as primarying Abbott? Goeb is over 70 already, and besides, would surely MUCH prefer bitching from the sidelines rather than being on the spot and perhaps on the firing line. I'm sure he's taken note, federally, of Paul Ryan shooting at John Boehner, then bolting the House entirely himself after a relatively short tenure as Speaker. Any of the county judges above? They are all up for re-election in 2022. Doubt any would leave a likely guaranteed nomination, and very good chance of general election win, to take on Abbott. (Ellis County has been 72-75 percent GOP on presidential elections this century; Johnson County 73-77 percent; Smith County 70-72 percent.) Now, if some big-name, among wingnuts, county sheriff said he or she wouldn't enforce the mask order (assuming they're re-elected this year), that would be a possibility, but still remote.

Among state agencies? Nobody's touching "Come to Jesus shot" Sid Miller at Ag. Comptroller Glenn Hegar isn't in East Wingnutistan and is too smart to primary Abbott anyway. Would Pee Bush try to run to the "left" of Abbott? Only if he's wounded enough, and there's already an East Wingnutistaner in the race.

Then there's those currently out of politics. The dreamy former state Sen. Don Huffines is making noises. So is nutbar grifter Shelley Luther. The Trib has more. Would Stickland jump in? Would he be desirable to the wingnuts? As for this trio, I think the men in East Wingnutistan would take a hard pass on Luther as a golddigger type. Note that no wimmen hold elected statewide legislative or executive office and haven't since Hegar replaced Susan Combs. (Had to add the qualifier because of CCA nutbar Sharon Keller. Would SHE be tempted? I just threw up in my mouth.)

Right now, I rate the odds of Abbott being primaried at 2-1 against. Yes, people are making noises, but we're a long ways off. Another issue to watch before we horserace this more is this year's Lege election. If Dems get enough suburban votes to break their way to retake the House, then the Freedom Fries folks will likely try to drive the state GOP even harder into the right hand ditch. If Dems gain, but don't take control, first-ring suburban and central city Republicans will look like Rockefeller Republicans, and will have to figure out "do I stay or do I go now?"

August 04, 2020

Texas Progressives discuss coronavirus, week 19

As coronavirus cases continue their new surge, as national deaths pass 160,000, and Texas passes 7,000 deaths and passes California in death rate, it's time to dig in to another week of separate coronavirus coverage from Texas Progressives.


DosCentavos takes a look at COVID-19 national reporting on Mexican American-heavy South Texas. A combo of bad public policy, bad leadership and bad personal decisions has made South Texas a pandemic hotspot.

Texas State Rep. Tony Tinderholt had a severe case of COVID, enough to hyperbolically make him claim he was about to die (it's clear, per the story, he wasn't) but is still a #COVIDIOT, unapologetic for pushing Abbott to "reopen Texas," still claiming Abbott's actions to temporarily close restaurants and keep him from eating Freedom Fries was "illegal." I thought Herman Cain's death might enlighten some wingnuts. I guess I was wrong, especially given that Tinderholt was in a high-risk population. (Meanwhile, Trump is claiming Cain didn't get it at his Tulsa rally. Bullshit.) And, of course, there's Gohmert Pyle.

North Texas is running low on ICU space.

TEA has early last month said local health authorities could prophylactically close public schools. Then Kenny Boy Paxton, with a DUBIOUS reading of section 97.6(h) of the Texas Administrative Code, said no they couldn't. Now, following in the wake of a piece two weeks ago by CD Hooks about the Jesuitical Greg Abbott, he's doing it again, trying to Solomonically split this baby.

To me, as I said on Twitter, and contra Kenny Boy, the rule is clear, and, just to kick him and Abbott harder, IMO, could be used to close churches as well. Read:
The health authority is empowered to close any public or private child-care facility, school or other place of public or private assembly when in his or her opinion such closing is necessary to protect the public health; and such school or other place of public or private assembly shall not reopen until permitted by the health authority who caused its closure.
First, that seems to pretty clearly allow prophylactic closure with "protect the public health." Second, re churches? "Public or private assembly."

Jon Fischer lays out the possible ways that the 87th Legislature could be different under pandemic conditions.

El Paso Matters reports on new Republican Party of Texas Chair Allen West meeting with El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen and other law-enforcement officials, all without masks and in seeming violation of a local health order forbidding gatherings of more than ten people.


Yet more cases of kids catching COVID at summer camps. At the camp in question, kids, even if older, weren't required to mask up, hence, the question of just how much kids can indeed be "spreaders."

Fauci talks more about mistakes the country made. Is he, belatedly, slipping more of his Trumpian leash?

MLB won't really shut back down, even as the Cardinals join the Marlins among the COVID-stricken. Manfred's leaning on Tony Clark will get him to lean enough on team player reps to do some cosmetic fixes, and more players will get COVID and baseball will slouch further toward Gomorrah and irrelevance. (I've paid little attention to this season, and if the "temporary" universal DH becomes permanent, and games slow down even more, will more fully move on.) Commish Corleone ignoring, as with the Cardinals, the number of non-players with COVID, including the possibility they're the source, will only fuel tensions for a year ahead, on labor negotiations, if he continues to blame players first. That said, players need to step up. And, the union needs to make sure to address any cultural issues Latino players may have.

Even as the coronavirus kabuki theater of "scrub and spray everything" continues, Zeynep Tufikci notes that we continue to ignore adequate ventilation, or doing other things about it. (My one local school district, as part of otherwise necessary improvements to its high school's HVAC system, got a new return air system that has UV-C sterilization. How much the UV-C will do, vs. Tufekci's ideas on things like HEPA filters or opening the windows more and shutting off the damn AC — if many school district buildings even have non-fixed windows — is of course open for debate.)

Juanita has many thoughts (but maybe not so many prayers) about Louie Gohmert catching COVID-19.


Russia claims it will have a mass vaccination for coronavirus in October. I, like health experts, agree that putting something on the market that quickly raises questions of both safety and efficacy. Hell, Putin might just jab people with a placebo if he thinks he can get away with it.

The "risk society." An era of "second modernity" fueled by uncertainty. Sounds like today, no? Well, Ulrich Beck wrote about just this, three months before Chernobyl.

August 03, 2020

What will Nov. 3, and beyond, actually bring us
on presidential election results?

Some very interesting, and possibly scary, thoughts, per the latter part of the post today.

Bill Barr: Officially Trump's fixer, says Norm Eisen. NPR adds more, about how Billy Bob is enabling Trump's BS on voting by mail. Speaking of ...

Despite Trump AND Republicans consistently for years claiming that Democrats, especially minorities, are most likely to "cheat" on voting by mail, many Blacks still distrust it, even during the pandemic. The story notes that Black and Hispanic ballots by mail are rejected at a higher rate than White ballots. (No information on Asian or American Indian ones.) Since Trump's postmaster general is cutting OT pay, and thus further slowing the mail, I can't blame their stance. Speaking of ...

Ben Smith discusses how media in general and TV in particular could botch election coverage. Speaking of ...

Look at all the different ways a transition in a disputed presidential election could play out. Dems lost the EC twice this century and yet, other national Dems haven't pushed Elizabeth Warren's effort to abolish it. (Yet another reason I'm not a Democrat.) Dems continue to fear ANY new traction for Greens more than they do continued Electoral College problems?

Eisen was one of the participants in role-play gaming this, which had one of four possible scenarios:
Each scenario involved a different election outcome: An unclear result on Election Day that looked increasingly like a Biden win as more ballots were counted; a clear Biden win in the popular vote and the Electoral College; an Electoral College win for Trump with Biden winning the popular vote by 5 percentage points; and a narrow Electoral College and popular vote victory for Biden.
In the scenarios, the team playing the Trump campaign often questioned the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which often boosted Biden as they came in — shutting down post offices, pursuing litigation, and using right-wing media to amplify narratives about a stolen election.
My guesstimated order of likelihood, within the four?
No. 1, 35 percent;
No. 2, 40 percent;
No. 3, 10 percent;
No. 4, 15 percent.

Per Smith, yes, the US not having a national election commission (a real one, not the joke called the Federal Election Commission) is itself a problem.

And, in none of the four scenarios, do I expect Dems to be any more solicitous of getting rid of the Electoral College than they are now.

Libertarianism and the American myth of the self-made man,
'Little House on the Prairie' version

I've long believed this myth is BS, but between a just-read book and a Pocket item, I'll refute it in detail.

The book? Did you know that the "Little House on the Prairie" books have a direct connection not just to small-l but capital-L Libertarianism? You do now.

Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House BooksLibertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books by Christine Woodside

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had heard a little bit about both the collaboration between Wilder and her daughter Rose, and about Rose's libertarianism, but had never read anything.

Very interesting.

First, Rose is regarded by the Libertarian Party as one of its "Three Founding Mothers," so there's that. Capital-L Libertarian. (Ayn Rand being one of other two.) She also had as a kind of adopted grandson the man who was the LP's 1976 presidential nominee. Rose did praise Rand, but not uncritically by any means, saying she was helping lead pseudo-intellectuals away from liberalism but "making a cult of pseudo-individualism." (Rose also got at least one economics prof blackballed during early Cold War years.)

On the personal side, she was such an anti-government wingnut that she refused to apply for a ration card during WWII. Yes, really. So, no sugar, coffee, cheese or meat, as Woodside notes.

Laura was not that. She was stoic, but wasn't interested in all of this politics.

And, the writing collaboration?

Rose had achieved a moderate degree of fame, on novelistic short stories, essays, etc., before the ida of Laura writing even popped up. That said, as Little House book fans know, as was shown by Laura's one belated book, Laura did NOT have a pie-eyed version of Libertarian rugged individualist optimism from her real life on the prairie. She had stoicism — and a certain degree of realism about what actually happened, though she appears to have pulled an occasional fudge herself.

Roger McBride, Rose's quasi-adopted "grandson," gave us the TV show. Woodside estimates the entire Little House "enterprise" may be worth as much as $100 million.

An interesting read indeed.

There are two reasons I didn't go five-star.

One is that it didn't really "grab" me. That said, as a kid, I was never a fan of the books, or the TV series.

The other is that Woodside didn't have more on the Rose-Laura dynamics than she actually did. Now, there simply may not have been more to find, but that's still something to be noted.

View all my reviews

Lies have been part of the self-made man myth. For example, Laura misremembered details of a gold miner evicted from the Black Hills. The reality was that Custer's expedition there promised to eventually make him good on his land. There's other instances, too.

This long read from John Swansburg at Slate, complete with some relevant family history, documents the evolution of the myth from Ben Franklin through Henry Clay and onward.