SocraticGadfly: 10/4/20 - 10/11/20

October 10, 2020

Top blogging for September — stupidity abounded!

As is sometimes the case, not all blog posts were from September. Many were old ones that gained new attention in the last month. Top 10 count is as of Oct. 3.

No. 1 was just that — an old piece about the overrated cult of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. No. 2 was current and related — my fact-filled, cult-free obit.

No. 3? Another old piece with renewed interest — my take, after the 2018 election on the roses of DSA Roseys vs the sunflowers of Greens on Twitter.

No. 4? Brand new. My take on Judge Marmolejo's transparent idiocy in trying to reimpose straight-ticket voting.

No. 5? Also a fact-filled, cult-free obit. This about Green Party leader and Howie Hawkins campaign manager Kevin Zeese.

No. 6? Back to stupidity for the second time this month. This time, it's Ed Butowsky and Ty Clevenger's.

No. 7? Stupidity again. Three Texas Greens back on the ballot in part due to the stupidity of Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs and career staff.

No. 8? The Texas SD30 special election, now in a runoff. Given the wingnuts involved, this also could file under stupidity.

No. 9? Phat Albert Pujols hit No. 661 to pass Willie Mays.

No. 10? In light of 2 and 5 and other things, my current relationship to the Green Party.

October 09, 2020

WRR: Unconstitutional Sunday programming?

 A few weeks ago I blogged about WRR, Dallas' classical radio station, about to enter its centennial year.

Now, many Dallas listeners know that it's required to carry live Dallas City Council meetings as part of its ownership by the city of Dallas.

Many others know that it has Sunday religious services. 

Given its ownership by a government, I find this unconstitutional two ways.

It violates the First Amendment both by establishing a religion in general, and by establishing Christianity as the only religion on its airway.

What about it, ACLU? ACLU of Texas?

It would be an interesting suit in which to be a plaintiff. That said, as I'm not a resident of the city of Dallas, I probably would be bounced for lack of standing.

October 08, 2020

Texas Progressives tackle Abbott election issues and more

Lots of stuff on the Texas Progressives plate this week. Rulings by Gov. Greg Abbott, fraud claims by members of state AG Kenny Boy Paxton's staff and more, so let's dig in.


The Dallas Observer notes that, due to COVID, the Reverchon Park deal is bust. Good. Maybe the city can start from zero next year and do something better.

Is Republican state Rep. Lynn Stucky of Denton in new trouble?

Evan Mintz is amused by a local referendum that will require public approval and flood impact studies for the construction of... sidewalks in Houston. 

The Houston Press reports on local universities' reactions to the latest Trump plan to limit international student visas.


Off the Kuff covers the two lawsuits filed (so far) over Greg Abbott's order that limited counties to one mail ballot dropoff location. That said, I tackled this showing how Kuff and diehard Democratic tribalists might have have an ethical case but have zero legal chance. Kuff's second piece does note there could be a slim chance it could prevail in state court. BUT? That's not where it was filed. And, by the time it's venue-booted? There will be no more time. Chris Hooks weighs in to note it's a typical Abbott move, and likely focused at retaining the state House as its main focus. That said, the Texas Supremes have shot down Peter Hotze et al and now ruled that the extension of early voting is legal and that the relators filed suit too late.

How much is smoke and how much is fire on the request by current and former Paxton staffers for both state and federal investigations? The worry is enough that Strangeabbott and Danny Goeb have both carefully distanced themselves from Kenny Boy.

Grits for Breakfast reminds us that meaningful police reform is a long haul. 

The Texas Signal notes the Boratting of Sid Miller.


RIP Mac Davis. Texas Monthly has a reminiscence.

Scott Bedgood finds out how high school quarterbacks are dealing with the weirdest football season in recent memory.


American Airlines sucks more and more. Is it a deliberate pandemic cheapness gamble? Texas Monthly has more.


Four Texas Congresscritters are even more nutters, for the record, on QAnon than is Gohmert Pyle.

Immigrants rights group RAICES claims Biden can be "pushed." Yeah, right. People said that about  Obama.

Therese Odell responds to the suggestion that as someone who writes about reality TV, she has some responsibility for Donald Trump.

October 07, 2020

Fricking frackers shooting themselves in the foot again

In the oil patch, TWO factors happened this year: COVID and OPEC+.

Although the latter's actions, of Saudi Arabia and Russia losing trust in each other, and both wanting to bury American frackers, of "opening the spigots," did technically happen after the start of coronavirus in China was driving oil prices a bit lower, it was largely independent of that.

And, although they partially pulled back, and partially in response to a Trump request, those days are over, too.

So are the days that hinted that American drillers, especially frackers, would learn from this. (Have they ever in the past?)

Oil production has started inching up again in Texas.

Even as WTI prices fell back below $40/bbl.

Are the two correlated? Most likely.

The increased production is probably not the only thing driving the price slip, or maybe, to put it another way, it by itself has not caused the degree of the price slip. But, it's a factor.

Wayne "God loves free markets and Andrews Texas" Christian, head of the Railroad Commission, dissed going back to its 1930s production control roots this summer, saying North Dakota and others wouldn't play along.

Left unspoken? Christian not asking for federal, nationwide production controls. Now, that said, between the PPP and elsewhere, lots of oil people both big and small got government prop-up money. But, once again, the lack of a national energy policy was the bottom line. The Federal Energy DE-Regulatory Commission continues to to just that.

Meanwhile, as readers of this blog, DeSmog Blog and elsewhere know, frackers have a lot of money on the books to Wall Street banks, a lot of it coming due within nine months or so. So, they're looking for any angle possible. 

What they really should be looking for is a bigger sucker to buy them out.

Of course, since they're getting We the People to pay for their abandoned well clean-up, they're probably hoping for more PPP-like help from suckers of both duopoly parties in DC. That DeSmog Blog link refers to their loans on the books, and self-bonding on well cleanup, among other things.

Specific to fracking, it notes that more wells, deeper wells, and shorter-lived wells (any regular reader here knows that I've written before about how part of the reality behind the fracking hype is a short-term production spike that then quickly declines again) means more orphan wells.

Also per that link, the real problem isn't suckers in DC claiming to represent We the People. It's suckers (or willing sellouts) like Wayne Christian in Austin, and counterparts in places like Denver and Santa Fe. If frackers can dump old wells on state agencies, they will. Period.

Remember that when your neighbor bitches about cleanup after abandoned wind turbines. Especially if they have a gas lease.

Drivers stanning for Uber and a new book

First, the book.

Worked Over: How Round-the-Clock Work Is Killing the American Dream

Worked Over: How Round-the-Clock Work Is Killing the American Dream by Jamie McCallum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jamie McCallum writes in the vein of David Graeber and James Livingston, with on-the-ground observations as a sociology prof.

One fascinating idea broached by McCallum is “universal basic services.” Think basic income on steroids, including national health care, but also child care, adult social care and more.

McCallum also rightly notes one other power of national health care — employers lose leverage over employees when they can’t use the puppet strings of “benefits.”

The book also made me suspicious of people on Twitter and elsewhere, claiming to be Uber and Lyft drivers, who oppose California law reclassifying them as employees. Per the book, it’s clear that they currently have no real control over their schedule. So, are they that brainwashed, or are they company moles, part of management, or company shills/Oreos, paid to be traitors to their class?

Also of note is the sheer volume and number of times where union management, whether blue collar like the UAW or white-collar like state teachers unions, have been toadies to management on strikes and related issues.

One other thing of note is that McCallum looks at least a bit of how this micromanaging by technology is playing out not just on factory floors or the gray collar/service world of ridesharing and retailers, but is in the white collar world. COVID has only exacerbated companies trying to electronically peer over the shoulder of “creative” freelancers and now, work at home white-collar staff. That’s in addition to the “work more” as a competition that’s invaded the white collar world, too.

View all my reviews.

Speaking of Uber and Lyft, this leads to a new piece at Capital and Main about California's Prop 22 and how many drivers of color are supporting it. (For the unfamiliar, the Cal Assembly said a couple of years ago, by law, rideshare drivers are employees, not contractors. Prop 22 would roll that back.)

I've seen a bunch of drivers stanning for Prop 22, per the book. It's bad enough that White drivers are doing that, but Blacks and other minorities?

Per the Black orgs supporting it, I have no doubt Al Sharpton is being paid off; I just don't know how much. Otherwise? This is one of those big delusional moments, if Black supporters are focusing on racism on racial grounds and as something only governments do. Contra that, this is, per Doug Henwood, one of those times when race and class intersect and indeed largely merge. 

October 06, 2020

China-stanners' lies, including those by Green Party thought leaders

The detention camps for Uyghurs (and Kazakhs and other largely Muslim, and Turkic ethnicity) minorities, have been built. Documented, with more new ones being built.

The Chinese plan to do all this was leaked. Documented.

Yet, China-stanners, from Rainier Shea of the People's Republic of Humboldt Bay, and I presume, the likes of World Socialists, on one "side," to the allegedly outside-the-box stenos (Blumenthal, Taibbi, Maté, Chariton, Ames, Levine, etc.) on a second "side," continue to lie. As did the late Kevin Zeese and partner Margaret Flowers. (Things like this are part of why I once removed Counterpunch from my blogroll.) Danny Haiphong, the worst thing to happen to Black Agenda Report in the past five years outside of Bruce Dixon's death, is another of the China-stanners. And, I've not forgotten he drinks the Tulsi Kool-Aid.

And, stanners? You might get away with claiming that ButtFeet, ie BuzzFeed, is part of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment? Cory Doctorow? Not so much. International Consortium of Investigative Journalists? Not so much. More from them.

Patrick Cockburn at Counterpunch? CERTAINLY not part of the MSM, but he can note Chinese repression while also noting it's "interesting" that they've suddenly gotten US attention. And, re Tulsi-stanner Haiphong, he can ALSO note it's interesting that Modi's lockdown of Kashmir has gotten about zero attention from Trump. (It's also gotten very little attention from the leftists above, whether they're actually Tulsi-stanners or not.)

And, speaking of media, more reminders that China is not tussling with just the US. Australia, after new rows with Beijing, now has no media there. And, an Aussie journo shoved out two years ago is now telling his, and his family's, story. Shades of Ed Snowden warning Glenn Greenwald et al to have all phones and computers Internet-disconnected, Matthew Carney says that people in Beijing were at one point remotely controlling his phone.

Speaking of Australians? A Down Under think tank now has an interactive map of all the reported sites. On the other hand? ASPI gets US government money, even as NR tries to downplay that.

This is a piece that will likely have occasional follow-ups. And, yes, the "thought leaders" is deliberate.

Are there radical Muslims in Xinjiang? Yes. Might China be worried about them? Yes. Does it need this degree of repression? No. Might the US and the rest of the West be using real claims, as well as claims it may have stirred up, as a wedge issue? Yes. 

Can China easily address this? Yes. Has it? No.

To me, one factor that points to this being genuine is former detainees talking about a "points system" for re-education. We already know Xi Jinping is working on doing this with ethnic Han on social media; it only seems rational to assume that he started this, in spades, with the Uyghurs (and Kazakhs and others) detained in Xinjiang.

Per this Atlantic piece, let me ask a rhetorical question: If the U.S. government were doing these things to American Indians (as it DID do in Indian boarding schools a century ago) your response would be?

As for Zeese and Flowers? They have been key advisors to Green Party presidential nominee Howie Hawkins, who has taken huge heat from some Greens and an even bigger number of pseudo-Greens over his comments about Russian interference in the 2016 election. And, sadly, Howie has done a fundraiser with Haiphong's fellow China-stanner at Black Agenda Report, Margaret Kimberly.

Update, Feb. 6, 2021: Flowers has responded to a call-out on Twitter over the latest revelations, contained in this new blog post calling out Max Blumenthal, and I have responded.

My first response in a two-parter:

And my second.

Flowers didn't want to stop digging, and offered this:

To which I offered the first of a three part thread response:

The "Uyghurs were there" response should nail it.

If it doesn't? Since the Stalinist USSR, or before that, Russian Potemkin villages, authoritarian and totalitarian governments that have wanted to deceive those who are ready to be hoodwinked have easily done so.

And, if that's not enough, via the app Clubhouse, which recently briefly broke through the "great firewall of China," I can now tell Flowers the petards are also hoisting on her "Chinese terms" in another way. Diaspora Chinese, and also Taiwanese Chinese, told mainland Chinese that they needed to learn some things about Xinjiang.  

(Update, March 12, 2021: I suppose we should discuss freedom of the press in "Chinese terms" as well, if we're going to be all bent over backward?)

What's a mix of funny, sad, ironic and hypocritical is that Flowers, one of the leaders of a third party, is engaging in two-siderism.

What's also a mix of funny, sad, ironic and hypocritical? Flowers' saying we should let Xi Jinping Thought go unchallenged is exactly the type of argument that could be used by the U.S. bipartisan foreign policy establishment.

It's also not the first time Flowers (and partner Kevin Zeese, when still alive) have peddled the Xi Jinping Thought Kool-Aid.

Richard Wolff, to the degree he touches on the issue, also seems to be a Xi-stanner.

What's also disgusting is the attempt of many of these people to both have their cake and eat it, too. They'll first deny that Uyghur camps exist, claiming it's all American propaganda. BUT, many then go on to say that the presence of radical Islamists means that China has to take actions like this — while still not expressly acknowledging China IS taking actions like this.

This is a classic Idries Shah issue of more than two sides. The camps exist. They're not vocational camps. But they may not be as bad as US claims. And US claims are being made in the light of geopolitics. But, that doesn't mean the claims are totally wrong. And, I wrote that all in 30 seconds. Wasn't hard, was it? More than two sides, folks.

While we're here? Let's add lies by omission by the China-stanners.

That would include ignoring Xi Jinping upping tensions with India to the point of warmongering.

Then, there's the ignoring the complaints many developing nations have had over Chinese economic exploitation in Belt and Road Initiative projects. What's the Mandarian equivalent of "Coca-Colonialism"?

Flowers' response confirms why I made the right decision in not voting for president last year. And, should the Georgia GP be "de-accredited," that will confirm I have made the right decision in no longer identifying as a Green.

October 05, 2020

A shitstorm US Senate race in New Mexico

I remember, just over 20 years ago, when Greens were so strong in northern New Mexico that they actually did lead to a Republican, Bill Redmond, being a short-term GOP Congresscritter for the First District. Now, they can't even muster a statewide candidate for this year's Senate race, featuring an inside-player neoliberal House member, Ben Ray Lujan (and a grifter off a New Mexico insider family name) as the Dem candidate. The sadness is even greater when you note that the Libertarian in the race is a climate change denialist, Lujan is a neoliberal minimizer, and the Rethug wouldn't even answer questions. Let's add in that the Libertarian, Walsh, is an ex-Dem.

Yes, I know that the pandemic has hindered third-party registration efforts. 

But, at least in the gov's race, Greens haven't run a candidate since 2002. And, they did well, with David Bacon taking 5.5 percent. Since then? Nada? Tom Udall, vacating the Senate seat, had no Green (or Libertarian) opposition in either 2008 or 2014.

It's like the momentum in the Place Different from Nader's 2000 prez run, which had the pre-2000 background in the north, has wasted away.

Texas Progs / coronavirus, wk 27: Truth and lies about Trump

The big news this week, of course, is that Trump "got it" and had to go to Walter Reed, even as questions abound about White House testing laxity and protocols.

Well, no, that's not the big news. The big news is all the sycophancy surrounding this, starting with Trump's doctor refusing to give straight up information, then the Trump Train falsely using HIPPA to try to defend this, then culminating in Ivanka Trump defending her daddy with a staged photo.
Well, I answered that (more than once):
Then, there's the lies claiming these photos' EXIF were manipulated by AP. Answered that, too:
Sadly, there's some Democraps (or beyond??) claiming the other way around, that Ivanka et al manipulated data on pix a week old.

Followed by us learning more about how bad Trump's condition really is behind Ivanaka's bullshit.

And learning more about Dr. Conley's apparent lies and restatements on Trump's infection timeline indicate he likely PERSONALLY AND WILLFULLY INFECTED OTHERS. And, not just Republican or Democratic pols, people like White House service staff and Bedminster staff.

Here's the skinny, from New England Journal of Medicine, on dexamethasone and COVID. I quote.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is associated with diffuse lung damage. Glucocorticoids may modulate inflammation-mediated lung injury and thereby reduce progression to respiratory failure and death.
Now we see the level of Ivanka's PR lies.

And, with all of this and more, if Dr. Conley has Trump released by the end of the day today, he's violating his Hippocratic Oath and so are any Walter Reed doctors that sign off.  And, they did, even acknowledging that he was NOT yet outside a window of concern. Yeah, he would have left anyway, but you still do your duty and he's marked as booking it against doctor's orders.

Meanwhile? Don Jr. reportedly is actually worried about Daddy Warbucks, or at least his actions.

Speaking of?

To wrap one post from the regular roundup in here?

SocraticGadfly has semiregularly, for several months, split off coronavirus news from other items in his version of the weekly Texas Progressives Roundup. Last week, he tackled COVID political tribalism coming from MULTIPLE sides and called ALL of it out.

Speaking of THAT? Coronavirus issues are dividing black and white churches, at least in Georgia.

Meanwhile, yours truly noted that not all COVIDIOTS inside the Beltway are Trump Trainers. Looking at you, WHCA.

In a great longform, Zeynep Tufecki explains that on coronavirus, even more than R0, the spread rate, epidemeologists are talking about k, the dispersion rate. That is, how much of the problem is due to superspreader "bursts" vs more steady "drips."

Finally? Julia Ioffe describes her own journey through multiple negative tests until physical symptoms finally got a doctor to override test results.

October 04, 2020

Texas Dems' new suit against Abbott will quickly die

For the unaware, in the middle of last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott partially tightened his expansion of early voting rules that he had done because of coronavirus.

He had initially allowed counties to have several drop-off stations for in-person submission of vote-by-mail ballots as well as adding a week to early voting.

He pulled back on the "several drop-offs" and cut it to one. 

And now he's being sued. Twice And, in federal, not state court, on First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds as well as Voting Rights Act grounds. More here. And here. Complaints are here and here.

This is going to get crushed. And, in fact, the crushing may start with a venue rejection.

Next? There is no First Amendment ground on this case. None, so even if the feds don't bounce this on venue issues, that won't fly.

Second, as the Fifth Circuit rejected the Twenty-Sixth Amendment based attempt to expand vote by mail, the Fourteenth and VRA claims here that are age-based will also be bounced.

Back to state courts it will be, and they'll reject it, too.

Is this unethical by Abbott? Absolutely.

Could it backfire on him, at least a bit, also affecting outer-ring suburban voters? Possibly.

Is it illegal? Most certainly not.

Finally, given this is NOT Judge Marmolejo ruling, it will likely get crushed in state court when sent there. There's really not a lot of parallel between the two cases, legally. Abbott is modifying an executive order which had suspended part of the state's election code on early voting. He's not junking his original modification, nor is he being even worse and trying to tighten state election code. In the straight ticket voting case, it was an attempt to end run an established state law.

So, again, unethical? Yes. Illegal, no. Sorry, Kuff, both on your take, and on your degree of weirdly bromancing Abbott's degree of good action on coronavirus stuff before this in the last graf.