SocraticGadfly: 2021

February 24, 2021

ERCOT board resignations: who to replace them with

The Trib told us yesterday that five ERCOT board members quit, including Chairwoman Sally Talberg, and an applicator for a sixth board spot withdrew their application.

It also included this information about what type of people need to be on the board:

In order for ERCOT to maintain its certification as an independent organization, the board, which should consist of 16 members, must include five who are completely unaffiliated with “any market segment.”

Well, how do we fill that?

Ideally, we'd have one unaffiliated member representing an environmental organization. I'd "accept" someone from Sierra, but would prefer someone from a harder-headed group like Center for Biological Diversity.

A second would represent a consumer advocacy group. Somebody from Texas Public Citizen would fit the bill.

A third would be from a university or research center with specific expertise in climate change.

None of this will actually happen, of course.

But, it should.

Texas Progressives say: RIP to cold weather and hello to blame-shifting and more


Above: Lake Texoma, frozen at Hagerman NWR.

This is an extra-long read, and so, in addition to splitting COVID-related news off again this week, as I have for the better part of a year, news besides the Great Texas Freezeout is also being split off. Take your time and read through all of this, to get nice and angry and politically active.

Besides the actual damages, we're already seeing political damage control and spinning. Rethuglicans are realizing the original "blame wind turbines" isn't really gaining total traction, and that they might have to do more — or at least convincingly pretend to do more.

Meanwhile, some centrists aren't fully getting on line. With that, let's dig in.

• Texas Monthly interviewed energy expert Joshua Rhodes about the situation. It's OK overall, but ... this portion of interview

Why are we able to keep the air conditioners on but not able to keep the heaters on? On the hottest summer day you can imagine, say it’s 105 degrees outside, and you’re trying to keep your home at 75 degrees. That’s a 30-degree difference. If it’s 10 degrees outside and you’re trying to keep your home at 70 degrees, that’s a 60-degree difference. While homes that are built up north are designed to hold heat in, our homes are basically designed to keep heat out and get it out as fast as we can. So, we’re not designed for this.

Rhodes later admitted via Twitter that he hadn't spoken well, that he really meant Texas houses aren't designed for this. Agreed. Although, I think his apology for not speaking better was somewhat CYA.

The real problem is cookie-cutter developers building cheap-ass mini-McMansions in our metro areas. Build the houses 1/4 smaller (or more) and get rid of all the Plano chic extra hips and valleys. Make R-11 or whatever insulation in walls into R-17 and R-17 or whatever in roofs into R-30.  Either he knows this and he's a tool or he doesn't and his credentials are suspect.

• Today's Democrats in Tex-ass are going to pretend they as a group had nothing to do with last week's problems. Wrong. The Wall Street Journal kindly reminds us that neoliberal ConservaDem Steve Wolens, aka Mr. Laura Miller, the neoliberal ConservaDem Dallas mayor who wanted to sell WRR and has since shilled for so-called clean coal, and other things, was among then members of the Lege who gave us the particular deregulated electric market we have. (And, didn't object to the Texas grid remaining unconnected from the rest of the country.)

And, while Dems in today's Lege may be less ConservaDem heavy than in the past, they haven't disappeared. As an independent leftist, I won't let Hinojosa et al flush Democrap institutional history down the toilet.

• That said, the WSJ kind of repeats the mistakes of Rhodes .... in saying Texas houses weren't insulated for this. What they're really saying it that Texans (including many ConservaDems) think it their doorknob-given right to waste massive amounts of electricity on air conditioning houses and businesses with skimpy insulation.

• The other real problem, per a reprinted (re-electroned?) Observer story from 2019, is not just winterization of the system. It's a lack of margin and lack of resilience in the electric supply and transmission system, and how climate change is exacerbating this. Coronavirus taught us in our medical supply chain just how important these issues are. And, given the degree of climate change denialism inside the Pink Dome — and, as the story notes, perhaps inside ERCOT — this is going to be a tough issue.

• Ed Hirs, the Cassandra who pointed out the looming problems with shale-based fracking nearly a decade ago, and was quoted in my pied for the Roundup linked below, goes into detail about how this happened. As noted, back in 2013, he said the state has a Soviet-style electric system.

I am pulling two quotes from this. First, this: 

“All these free-market Texans go into rapture over competition and deregulation, but the fact is the market is still heavily regulated. It’s not deregulated, it’s just regulated differently.”

Then, this:

Citing Rick Perry’s remarks that Texans would rather go four days without power than kowtow to federal interference, Hirs had this response: “Those are bold words for someone who is not on a dialysis machine.”

And, to riff on Ed? Rich wingnut Texans on dialysis will have a generator and still say "fuck regulation."

• Abbott says he will mandate winterization. Stay tuned to see if he holds the Lege's feet to the fire, and what the fine print says.

• ERCOT CEO Bill Magness, mentioned in that piece, gets a full interview. His picture is in the dictionary next to the word "waffle." Otherwise, the fact that ERCOT is not really climate change denialists, but climate change ignorers, is scary.

• El Paso shows the value of both adequate winterization and of being connected to the national grid.

• When Texas Republicans eat their own, frozen division. Video clip at this Fox page has (or had) Jesus Shot Sid Miller laying down the lumber on Strangeabbott.

• Wayne Christian was ranting about renewables on Friday, Feb. 19, after that big, not so nobly-Platonic lie, had been refuted three days. He later followed up and claimed he had been misunderstood. Well, maybe. I also think that, like Jesus Shot Sid, as a statewide-elected public official and a Rethuglican, this was his "kick Greg Abbott" stance. To refudiate him, he WAS still attacking renewables in the form of claiming Texas spent money just on expanding the grid to fit renewables better rather than on winterization. 

Why not BOTH, Wayne?

• The Observer spoke with nine Texans, including a Harris County Jail inmate, about how they survived.

• The Trib did a piece on rural Texans and the freezeout. Personally, I can tell you that "we muddled," and the difference between that and big-city Texas, though not as severe as with COVID issues, was still marked. One issue was that many small water systems froze up, period; trickling or not trickling home water lines was going to make no difference.

• The Observer also offers a peek at the upcoming battle to shift blame in the Lege and Abbottville over the whole fiasco.

• SocraticGadfly offers his take on some of the issues in The Great Texas Freezeout of 2021 with a sports metaphor: "Nature Bats Last 1, Texas Exceptionalism 0."

• Off the Kuff worries that Republicans in the Lege are determined to learn all the wrong lessons from the freeze and the blackouts it caused.

Tim Boyd and Gary Gates told Ted Cruz to "hold my beer," especially Boyd.

• Andrew Exum reveals the difference between performative governance and actually governing. 

•  Jef Rouner offers a crash course in ERCOT. 

•  Paradise in Hell channels Sen. John Cornyn.

February 23, 2021

Coronavirus week 46: Grifting in LA and other things

The LA Times has been running a video series about coronavirus issues, hosted by its owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. That's "interesting" enough. Beyond interesting is an episode with a South African geneticist, where Soon-Shiong repeatedly plugs a vaccine being developed by a company he owns, specifically to fight the South African variant of COVID. (The good doctor is now talking about selling the paper to focus on the vaccine ... and selling to the vulture capitalists at Alden.)

This is why scientists are right in saying medical doctors aren't scientists. An MD and professor at Johns Hopkins is claiming that COVID will be almost gone by April due to herd immunity — which sets the herd immunity percentage way too low. Dr. Marty Makary is a surgeon, so he surely doesn't have an M.S., let alone, a Ph.D., in virology, immunology, etc. Add to it that he doubled down on his claims, and did so on Faux, and there you go.

Pfizer claims its vaccine stops COVID's spread, not just blocks symptoms, at 90 percent efficiency.

Fauci: Face masks into 2022 might not be a bad idea. He also said don't one-dose the Pfizer or Moderna jab.

Gottlieb: Case downturns are a good sign, even with the rise of the newer variants. He also said herd immunity won't come without vaccination of children. Shut up, wingnuts, and Dr. Makary. The best Cabinet secretary in the Trump administration by a country mile; would be nice to see him get a new official post if he wants it. Also, while not thinking it was lab-created, he wants more Chinese transparancy.

February 22, 2021

Tim Boyd symbolized everything wrong with Texas Rethuglican wingnuts

We've seen not just political damage control, but plain political damage, in the wake of the Great Texas Freezeout.

Contra The Hill and elsewhere, Cancun Ted will survive here in Tex-ass, but, his presidential aspirations (which probably aren't as high in 2024 as he thought before this) may take a hit.

Former Colorado City Mayor Tim Boyd, though? Dug himself a mile-deep Randian pothole, as well as showing cluelessness about what government is supposed to do, before resigning. More here. And, we can't bag on him on Twitter cuz he's not there and he appears to have deleted his Facebook. That's sad, because in a follow-up post, he never apologized, and claimed not to be speaking as mayor, though he had not resigned as mayor at the time he had made that comment. Nor do I feel sorry for his wife. If she's been so gaslighted by him to continue to defend him so ardently that she got fired IN A RIGHT TO GET FIRED STATE, WHICH WINGNUTS CLAIM TO LOVE then that is what it is.

Of course, there's a whup-ass level of hypocrisy behind his wife getting hoist by her and her hubby's joint petards. Now, if she got physical threats? That's uncalled for. But, getting fired? She brought it on, and surely supports other people getting fired by implementation of conservative cancel culture.

There's additional hypocrisy going on here, too.

The likes of Tim Boyd love to talk about "personal responsibility." They love to apply that ... only to others. (Like Cancun Ted, there.)

But, when personal responsibility bites them in the ass or kicks them in the nads? Different story. Then it's all about "stop picking on me."

In addition, in a relatively small place like Colorado City, in a county, Mitchell County, that went nearly 85 percent Trump, local folks hearing themselves called weak, lazy or socialist were probably pissed off. Probably royally pissed off.

So, he's a political Dum Fuq even at the local level. How did he get elected in the first place?

February 20, 2021

More SJW pandering: High Country News still doesn't want me back

I think it's been three full years now since I cancelled my digital-only subscription to a magazine I once loved but with which I now have a love-frustration relationship. (That applies, IMO, to some relationships you and I have with other people, too; love-frustration is much more the thing than stereotypical love-hate.)

Anyway, just after New Year's, HCN offered me a rock bottom buck an issue digital only subscription. I pondered a few days, then said "no" to myself. 

Thank doorknob.

The magazine that pandered to Melanin Base Camp a couple of years ago and let it run a passel of lies under guise of an opinion piece is back again.

This time, it's over a piece, one co-published elsewhere, I believe (like elements of Melanin Base Camp) that dives into social justice warrior pandering. It's about state CROWN acts that would let Black women wear their hair in "natural" ways and would also require more transparency on "natural" hair products for Black women over possible toxicity.

There's both hypocrisy and an elemental logical fallacy in the piece.

The hypocrisy? For Blacks, "straightened" hair is not natural, no more than Whites getting a curling iron and more for Afros. (Indeed, two of five pictures in a slide show at the piece show Black women with straightened hair.) And, many Black women's "natural" hair care products, especially many with the most toxicity? Straighteners.

The elementary logical fallacy is of course the naturalistic fallacy. As I tweeted back to HCN, and the author after tagging her in a follow-up tweet, angel-cap mushrooms and arsenic are both perfectly natural.

And, I said "no" to the same $12 subscription offer last summer for myriad other reasons. They include failure to distinguish between carbon cap-and-trade and carbon tax, failure to correct errors in a story about inland ports, and (additional hypocrisy and irony alerts) running a puff piece about "real Cherokees vs Elizabeth Warren" that .... ignored Black Cherokees! (I forgot to link, in that "myriad" piece, publishing Indian legend and noble savage myth as truth.)

Half of the good stuff, or at least interesting stuff, they do have anymore, comes either from The Climate Desk at The Guardian or from Hakai Magazine as co-published. There's also issues about claiming their website was/is clunky while already, years ago, it had Javascript warnings whenever you'd right-click a picture, warning you that copying was not allowed.

February 19, 2021

Post-capitalism of a sort: Specific example

In comments at another blog post, Tiago asked me, per my graphic, what exactly I meant by a non-Marxist post-capitalism rather than anti-capitalism. 

I can now offer a specific example. I'm not saying I agree with it totally, nor am I saying it's the only post-capitalist option out there, but? "Doughnut economics," as described in this story, are one example, and an example with an explicitly environmental focus. Is it perfect? Of course not? Is it even going to wind up being the best option? As currently formulated, likely no. Is it a good starting point, despite bashing from non-wingnut conservatives to Branko Milanovich on the left? I say yes. Robert Hunziker has his take on doughnut economics at Counterpunch.

February 18, 2021

Texas Progressives have some warmth for the winter's record cold

Speaking of said cold, last week, Gov. Strangeabbott, ERCOT, et al, warned about possible rolling blackouts. I "Loooovvveeeee" how ERCOT, Rethuglican state leaders, and some Democraps as well, all love to brag about how Texas' electric grid is largely unconnected from the rest of the nation — until that's a problem. I was in Odessa a decade ago when we had a storm dip down there with snow and single-digit lows. Tex-ass, esp. in that area, had to "borrow" electricity from across the river in Mexico. It's just another part of the bullshit called "Texas exceptionalism."

Reminder to wingnuts: This is why we use the term "Climate change," which includes but is not restricted to, "global warming." Note to #BlueAnon: This is a reminder of why Status Quo Joe's "climate action plan" is bullshit, and AOC's Democrat version of the "Green New Deal" ain't much better, especially in light of her actions, or lack thereof, related to it since becoming a Congresscritter.

Reminder 2 to wingnuts: Will you defend Havana Ted Cruz now becoming Cancun Ted? 

So, from the frozen-in-spots Red River, let's dig in.

Trumpianism

Real estate bimbo Jenna Ryan is the latest Capitol seditionist to trot out the Nuremberg defense even as Corona Cornyn and Havana Ted Cruz joined with the great majority of Senate Rethuglicans to acquit Der Grüppenführer. 

Hypocrisy, chutzpah and more. Dad who believed in #StartTheSteal drove his 18-year-old son to DC on Jan. 6. He participated in Start the Sedition and is charged with assaulting a cop. Dad wants kid released to him rather than held in confinement.

Could Trump be tried for election fraud? The Fulton County (Ga.) DA is looking at it.

Lincoln/Black History

SocraticGadfly, for Lincoln's Birthday and Black History Month, looked critically at two new history books that try to make Lincoln into St. Abraham of Lincoln in one particular area.

You may have heard of Prince Hall Masons. Here's what you should know about their namesake, per some Black History Month news.

Texas

Good fucking bye to Austin police chief Brian Manley, who shows how "liberal" in Austin more and more is white techno-neoliberalism, given how long the city manager and city council have co-signed his bullshit before now.

Off the Kuff looks at the possibility of appellate court redistricting in this legislative session.

If you're a high schooler, no, sorry, you don't get a complete pass on taking STAAR.

General

Police union grift in New Jersey gets detailed. It's probably worst there, like many things New Jersey, but it's still cautionary.

Rick Casey connects the Capitol insurrection and the Republican push for voting restrictions to the Big Lie of voter fraud.  

Therese Odell sorts through the voluminous evidence in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.  

Space City Weather explains how we get snow instead of sleet or freezing rain.  

The Great God Pan Is Dead brings us a little D.H. Lawrence.  

Paradise in Hell lets us in on the secret of the most affordable city in America.  

Andrea Zelinski tries to make sense of Texas secessionists.

February 17, 2021

Hot take on uncritical leftists supporting Jimmy Dore Thought

As regular readers here know, I've done several blogposts about uncritical, nonskeptical leftists peddling, and drinking themselves, the Kool-Aid of Xi Jinping Thought.

Now it's time to turn domestically and look at Jimmy Dore Thought for the first time.

I just do not get why Greens like David Bruce Collins think Jimmy Dore is a good dood, ignoring that his political framing on Force the Vote was likely wrong, and all of Dore's other issues.

Oh, yes, all those "other issues."

Per Rational Wiki, with which I do NOT fully agree on what is conspiracy and what is conspiracy theory, Dore is:
A JFK conspiracy theorist;
A 9/11 falser;
A Seth Rich conspiracy theorist.

This ignores his bromance with/whitewashing of the Boogaloo Bois, which DBC also ignores. That said, elsewhere, DBC ignores Caity Johnstone's past support of red-brown alliances in trumpeting her calls for "unity" on the left.

Sidebar: Dunno about Dore, but Greenwald is also a sexist, which DBC may not know. Glennwald has sexism going back 25 years, and yes, gays, despite bigotry against them, can be sexist — in fact, some of the most vociferous sexism I've run across has been from gays.)

Given that many people, like Bob Fisk at Douma, have pointed out realities otherwise, Rational Wiki is full of shit in saying that claims that Assad didn't do every chemical weapons attack attributed to hims is a conspiracy theory. And, sometimes Rational Wiki is not just wrong, it's full of shit, and there's no other way to put it. I've done an editing note, similar to ones at Wikipedia, and we'll see if it sticks.

And, if people claim I'm hypocritical? No, based on how I know how to use evidence and critical thinking, I know the difference between a conspiracy and a conspiracy theory. So, both conspiracy theorists and Rational Wiki can go get stupid.

February 16, 2021

Nature Bats Last 1, Texas Exceptionalism 0

That's the running score from Winter Storm Sucks-Ass, though I am sure that Congresscritter Chainsaw Dan Crenshaw is far from the only Tex-ass wingnut to claim otherwise.

Despite the Electric Reliability Council of Texas itself saying that frozen controls at ALL non-renewable power plants were a serious problem with electric generation AND that it knew in advance that some wind turbines would be offline due to icing, AND that their lost power was only a small percentage as compared to the much larger loss from frozen controls, etc., ALL as documented by Politifact ...

That didn't stop Chainsaw Dan Crenshaw from lying his ass off on Twitter.

In a Tweetstorm of epic stupidity even by his standards, he tried to not only blame renewables, but blame California for doing some sort of Vulcan mind meld on Texans to pawn off renewables.

How do you deal with that?

Well, moving beyond Politifact, the REAL problem is one that Texas exceptionalists often boast about as not a problem, or even a benefit.

That is that Texas' electric power grid is largely disconnected from the rest of the nation.

And, this is NOT the first time that's backfired.

West Texas, the High Plains and Permian, had a pretty back cold snap a decade ago. Texas had to "borrow" electricity from Mexico.

Indeed, the StartleGram's editorial board references this (well, in terms of how it messed up Jethro Jerry Jones' Super Bowl) and says, bluntly, heads need to roll at ERCOT. 

The Chronic piles on, in a news story with this quote:

The ERCOT grid has collapsed in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet Union,” said Hirs. “It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.

Sadly, a lot of ConservaDems in Tex-ass have peddled the ERCOT Kool-Aid right along with Rethuglicans.

Coronavirus week 45: Local COVIDIOTs, gummint ties? And more about the British variant, and mask battles




The first half of the header relates to the photo above. I was at the Gainesville Tom Thumb Saturday; it had BOGO on Peet's coffee. It wasn't until I was in line ... and shifted from an express line I thought would be slower to one I thought would be faster (and was wrong) that I noticed the person in front of me in the new line was maskless. And, by the time I got to the checkout, I also noticed that people in what was now the line on my right were maskless. And, it was crowded due to Snowmaggedon panic buying. Anyway, I couldn't get my smartphone out quickly enough, then turned from "selfie" lens to "you" lens, to get a pic of the person in front of me, who was with another person, until after they were checked out and out the doorway. And, I try not to be too blatant when I do this; I didn't want to shoot pix of people in the next line while I was checking out.

Anyway, I saw the car this pair of ladies got in, and I shot the picture above while the passenger was in it. The driver had parked their shopping cart and was coming back, and saw me and yelled at me for taking a photo. I yelled at her for her passenger being maskless. Worse? While the plate may be California, the driver had on a City of Gainesville Parks and Rec Department sweatshirt. AFAIK, the driver doesn't work for the city's Parks and Rec Dept. I don't know if they work for the city at all or not.

As for Tom Thumb? I know they're busy. I also know that COVIDIOTs are kind o rampant here. Bad enough in Denton two weeks ago, at least at Winco. That said, I gave Tom Thumb a shot again two-three weeks ago after not going there since November. I haven't gone to Wally at all. And, they're going to be boycotted again for a couple months.

• This all plays out under the shadow of Texas passing 40,000 coronavirus deaths.

• The so-called British variant? Per Wired UK, maybe we should call it a mega-variant, as it picked up 17 genetic changes at once in its first big change. (Remember that it has since picked up some of the changes that originally distinguished the South African variant.) It appeared to have acquired these all at once, inside a COVID "long hauler," which in turn offers cautions about evolutionary changes in other long haulers, I would think.

• The battle for masks in the main city in the worst-hit county in the worst-hit (and most stubbborn) state: Read about the fight for COVID sanity in Minot, North Dakota.

• Instagram has banned RFK Jr for being an antivaxxer COVIDIOT.

• Childhood vaccines may be here by fall.
 
• A week ago, I wondered if metropolitan areas had overworried school closings. Now, the CDC has issued guidelines for opening.

• Especially if you're a worker in a right-to-be-fired state like Tex-ass, your boss or company can boot you if you refuse the vaccine. That said, SHOULD it? Skeptical Raptor looks at broader ethical and public policy issues. That said, 10 states, including some with high woo factors, are considering state laws to override the EEOC.

• The first COVID cases in China, it now appears, were actually in October 2019, not December. The question now is, how much did Beijing, or at least Wuhan and WIH, know this all along?

• Collin College has a president who is a COVID minimalist at best, as well as hating the First Amendment. That said, if the fired instructors were "instructors" (ie, adjuncts) and not tenured profs (likely, as community colleges use primarily adjuncts and Collin is at 62 percent) they're likely SOL on getting reinstated. Even if not adjuncts, community colleges generally don't have "tenure track" faculty the same way four-year or four-year plus graduate colleges and universities do. And, since Tex-ass is a "right to get fired" state ...

• Texas Monthly touts DIY coronavirus testing stations and notes that many of them have served minority populations and others that have been underserved. Problem? Story doesn't look at accuracy rates of these mom-and-pop testing shops.

• Much as #BlueAnon likes to tout Lina Hidalgo at the helm in Harris County, at least at the national level, having a woman as leader doesn't lead to better COVID outcomes. (Hell, Kristi Noem shows that.) Rather, it's the macho, or lack thereof, in the SOCIETY. And we all know about the posturing of Der Grüppenführer.

February 14, 2021

Not fully buying Scott Alexander's Kool-Aid

The publishing blogger of Slate Star Codex, Scott Alexander / Scott Siskind, pushes back hard at the latest New York Times piece about him and his work.

First, contra Alexander, I suspect there's at least one psychologist or psychiatrist in this world who is a currently practicing clinical psychologist who blogs about psychological issues and does so under his or her real name. I KNOW there are such people who write books. 

So, on that count, he's full of shit.

Second, anybody who favorably links to "Mencius Moldbug" is also questionable. Even if he was "denounced," repeatedly linking to him without regular denouncement leaves you questionable. Per the Times, so does who's on your blogroll.

Third, beyond the Times playing "gotcha" by using a real name in its initial reporting, IF Alexander was being read avidly by Bay Area tech-libertarians who are within, say 4 degrees of Kevin Bacon to Peter Thiel, hellz yes, I want to know who's writing that. That also includes if he's a water carrier for opposing so-called "cancel culture."

Fourth, the Times story provides more background on why Alexander yanked the original SSC. It wasn't a crude takedown AND the Times author notes his full name was easy to find. Shades of Actual Flatticus aka Chris Chopin, whom this guy Siskind sounds more and more like. (Per comments on his Substack above, the fanbois are as thick as the late Chopin had on Twitter.)

Fifth? As far as fears of harassment? It was Cade Metz, the NYT author, who got that. NOT Siskind.

Sixth, the name "Slate Star" seems designed to appeal to the "Gray (Slate!) Tribe" idea.

February 13, 2021

Xi Jinping Thought is on a computer motherboard near you!

China busted for supply chain hacks, or rather, per Schneier, it's been ongoing for a decade-plus and we're getting new reporting about it. Schneier's lead is this new piece by Bloomberg.

And, it's pretty serious. Per him, read the whole thing if you have time. Part of it is about cat-and-mouse by US intelligence in whom I have less than full confidence. Part of it is lies by "deep state" career bureaucrats in association with computer manufacturers.

THIS part is interesting:

Bloomberg Businessweek first reported on China’s meddling with Supermicro products in October 2018, in an article that focused on accounts of added malicious chips found on server motherboards in 2015. That story said Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. had discovered the chips on equipment they’d purchased. Supermicro, Apple and Amazon publicly called for a retraction. U.S. government officials also disputed the article. 

So ... deep state denialism, and arguably, in this case, sad to agree with Trump, but it was that. Permanent bureaucrats, surely. 

Supermicro goes on to say that its own computer networks have been breached. Talk about hypocrisy and chutzpah on calling on Bloomberg to retract its old story!

Then there's this on Lenovo:

Another Pentagon supplier that received attention was China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. In 2008, U.S. investigators found that military units in Iraq were using Lenovo laptops in which the hardware had been altered. The discovery surfaced later in little-noticed testimony during a U.S. criminal case—a rare public description of a Chinese hardware hack. …

Lenovo was unaware of the testimony and the U.S. military hasn’t told the company of any security concerns about its products, spokeswoman Charlotte West said in an email. U.S. officials conducted “an extensive probe into Lenovo's background and trustworthiness” while reviewing its 2014 acquisitions of businesses from IBM and Google, West said. Both purchases were approved. …

After the discovery in 2008, the Defense Department quietly blocked Lenovo hardware from some sensitive projects, the three U.S. officials said, but the company was not removed from a list of approved vendors to the Pentagon.

Geez o fucking Pete!

The Pentagon claimed to have quarantined the found Supermicro attacks so it could let them run and find out more about the Chinese reach. It claims this quarantine was undetectable. How do we know that?

As Bruce said, read the whole thing. WITH an open mind.

Whether leftist anti-imperialists or something else, I found it interesting that half or more of comments on his post as of late Saturday afternoon were engaged in at least partial denialism.

National third-party left news roundup

There's several big things going on in and related to third parties of the left. 

It's enough that I thought it needed to be broken out of my version of the Texas Progressives weekly roundup and made into its own post.

The Lavender Caucus' request to deaccredit the Georgia Green Party on false claims it is "transphobic" has been approved by the Accreditation Committee for forwarding to the National Committee. I think Georgia Greens are (sadly) likely to lose, and to be further tarred and feathered in various ways in the process. Click the link to learn the truth about its 2020 platform. I offered my personal take on the largely fact-free, science-light claims of the Lavender Caucus last summer, and have had follow-ups since then. I'll have additional follows after the NC vote.

Ryan Knight has ended active involvement with the Movement for a People's Party and says he won't go back unless it makes socialism a core issue. For right now, assuming he's not a communist, that leaves Greens and SPUSA. We'll see how this plays out. I've seen the MPP, based on its convention last year, as a mix of butthurt Berners (including grifters on that like Nina Turner and Nick Brana) and conspiracy theorist types, especially Jesse Ventura fanbois. Especially on the second part, I don't know if that's part of Ryan's concern. Stand by. I offered my take on all of that AND on Ryan as a Tulsi Kool-aid peddler in a piece at the start of last fall.

Meanwhile, the MPP has officially been registered with the state of California. Per its presser, it needs 80K signatures for ballot access. This is interesting because, among states where Greens have had the most dropoff is in the Golden State. At the same time, at the sub-presidential level, California is a top-two / jungle primary state. As of right now, its efforts have the highest potential payoff level in Maine, since that state has ranked choice voting.

At IPR, Fernando Reports that MPP is facing further crack-ups. Just after it registered with the state of California, Our Revolution's LA branch said it was disaffiliating from MPP. It in part reflected Ryan's claims, and in part claimed organizational issues, including various forms of authoritarianism, and that this was enabled by a lack of bylaws, etc.

On Twitter, David Bruce Collins says he's staying Green for now, but keeping an open eye on the development of the MPP. (Said a day before Ryan's announcement and obviously a few days before the news out of California.) Off Twitter, DBC supports Caitlin Johnstone's plea for greater left unity. Lemme see, this is the same Caity who called for red-brown alliance a few years ago, and I don't think ever repented of this. On Twitter again, DBC thinks Jimmy Dore is a good dood, ignoring that his political framing on Force the Vote was likely wrong, and all of Dore's other issues. (He also ignores, if he knows about it, Glenn Greenwald's history of sexism. Note: It goes back to before Greenwald was famous.)

Update, Feb 20: New grifting by MPP over Houston's electricity and water woes, flagged on Twitter by Miami Geoff.
Oops!

Green Feminists have responded to the Lavender Caucus' complaint against the Georgia Green Party.

February 12, 2021

Abraham Lincoln, black colonization pusher — until his death? Rethinking St. Abraham of Lincoln

With it being estimated that there's more than 16,000 Lincoln bios in print, it's definitely hard to find new angles or new interpretations for new authors.

Two new books within the last six months or so have done just that, though. Unfortunately, in both cases, what has been good, even occasionally splendid new work, has been offset by whoppers in historical errors I know the authors could have avoided, and in both cases directly related to the header.

Here you are, first with:

The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery ConstitutionThe Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution by James Oakes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is good overall, but it loses a star on Lincoln and colonization. With Oakes, it's more a throwaway than a full-throttled claim like that of David S. Reynolds in "Abe-Abraham Lincoln and His Times," (see below) but Oakes claims Lincoln stopped discussing abolition after 1862.

Update: Book lost a star due to email exchange with Oakes:

You have to be obsessed with colonization to give a shit about this. I’m not and I don’t. 

 Here’s why:

 Q. Of the four million slaves emancipated by the Civil War, how many did the federal government colonize outside the United States?

A. Zero

 I’m interested in explaining what happened, not what didn’t happen.


My response:

I'm "obsessed" with historical accuracy. I guess you're admitting you're not.

PLUS, you knows it "goes to motive" on explaining persona of Lincoln.

Oakes' main claim is half-true by the letter, at best, and totally untrue in spirit, as he allowed the Emigration Bureau to discuss Belize colonization in 1863, asked AG Bates in 1864 if colonization was legally still on the table, and reportedly discussed the issue with Spoons Butler just before his assassination. (See extended note at bottom.)

Given this, and that Oakes like Reynolds tries to "soften" old Lincoln statements from charges of racism, it's no wonder Reynolds blurbed it. Add to that the fact that they're peers at CUNY and even both went to Berkeley and there probably was some cross-pollinization.

As with Reynolds' book, were the five-star elements in it not fully five-star, the book would have gotten three stars because of this willful and egregious failure. (As with Reynolds, it is both; I know he knows the history I just cited.)

View all my reviews
And followed by:  

Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His TimesAbe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times by David S. Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would have loved to five star this book. And, even with some of the early problems on one issue, I was still leaning that way. But, more problems on that issue meant I couldn’t do it. And, if it weren’t so good otherwise, it risked falling to three stars.

(Update: In hindsight, and seeing James Oakes is peddling some of the same untrue claims about Lincoln abandoning colonization after 1862, and with these claims getting bigger play in Reynolds, I have decided that for this and other reasons noted by myself and mentioned by other reviewers in various places, the rating must be reduced to three stars after all.)

First, the good of what’s billed as the first ever “cultural biography” of Lincoln? Reynolds delivers in spades in many ways.

One area where he really impressed me was on Lincoln’s religiosity. He notes that his parents attended an anti-slavery Baptist church in Kentucky, and were steadfast in their own stance. Beyond that, Reynolds talks about Lincoln’s younger adult deism, and how he soft-peddled that as part of his political rise. At the same time, along with other biographers, especially after the death of son Willie, he shows Lincoln, though still not a churchgoer, moving toward a more fatalistic version of conventional Calvinism.

Reynolds is also good on Lincoln’s legal practice. Many biographers focus on his 1850s railroad cases. Reynolds looks at how many divorce cases the younger Lincoln handled, for women as plaintiffs suing on grounds of desertion. He adds that Illinois was one of the few states that allowed women to file for divorce on desertion as well as abuse, and that it was fairly generous, for that day, on what counted as abuse.

Fast forward to the 1850s. Reynolds talks about Lincoln avoiding ‘isms,” a charge Democrats hurled repeatedly at Republicans. He notes that Lincoln was like French tightrope walker Blondin, who had crossed Niagara Falls at this time. He adds how Lincoln sometimes made this modeling conscious, and how many newspaper columns and cartoons in the 1860 election explicitly drew this out.

He also talks about how Abe, not just Mary, was interested in spiritualism, especially after Willie’s death. Again, he puts this in the context of a rising national interest in spiritualism, fueled largely but by no means entirely by the Fox sisters. Among his contemporaries, Ben Wade, Josh Giddings and Garrison all had at least some degree of interest. Lincoln conversed with both Robert Edmonds and Robert Dale Owen, the son of utopian Robert Owen, and listened seriously to Owen on matters both within and outside of spiritualism.

(Sidebar: This puts paid to the lie by folks like the Freedom from Religion Foundation that Lincoln was an atheist.)

That’s just a sample.

On the non-cultural side, Reynolds does a good job of recognizing Anna Carroll’s contributions to the war effort. I had read basically nothing about her before.

Several problems with the book, though, and they all center around slavery. Reynolds isn’t quite doing the Spielberg movie version, but ….

First and foremost, no, Lincoln did not stop talking about colonization in 1862. His administration continued discussions with Central American countries well into 1864, and in 1865, Lincoln purportedly said he had only abandoned it at the time for political reasons. Spoons Butler said that Lincoln, the day before his assassination, asked him to continue to look into it. It’s dishonest of Reynolds to not even mention Bernard Kock and the Ile-de-Vache (Vache Island) scheme. More here

It's true that Vache Island wasn't actively promoted after 1862. But, colonizing Belize? That was an activity the Emigration Bureau did promote, under Lincoln's auspices, into 1863. And, per Wiki, Lincoln continued to have at least a background attachment to colonization into 1864, even if he and Butler didn't discuss it in 1865.

The question is, ultimately, after the war itself started swinging to the US more instead of the Confederacy and 1863 elections went pro-Republican, how much was Lincoln’s diminished public push for colonization his own change of mind and how much was change of politics? That first link, especially, needs reading. Basically, I find Reynolds, given the amount of knowledge he has otherwise, to be intellectually dishonest.

Second, he “sanitizes” some of Lincoln’s somewhat racist comments in the 1840s and 50s. No, they were racist, if not the worst racist for his age, and they weren’t all told in the service of politics.

Third, he claims the republic was strong against the slave trade, citing that the death penality was made a possible punishment in 1820. Reality? The Lincoln Administration’s imposition of it, once, was the ONLY time in the 42 years. More reality? The US refusing to cooperate with Britain in African shore naval policing. MORE reality? Very few cases brought in the US. W.E.B. DuBois may be too high, but, as of the start of the Civil War, I’d estimate 100,000 blacks had either been post-1807 illegally imported (whether from Africa or the post-1832 British Caribbean) or descendants of such people.

In addition, I found a phrase here and there jarring, such as calling Elizabeth Keckley’s son “light complexioned.” Of what relevance is that? None, obviously.

On the 13th Amendment? Lincoln may not have personally handed out favors. (I can’t remember what Speilberg claimed.) But, did he know that Ashley and others WERE? Yes. And, some of the favors being peddled? Federal jobs are executive branch appointments. For instance, only Abe (or Andy Johnson, later) could have named George Yeaman ambassador to Denmark. The movie part about Lincoln personally lobbying Yeaman at the White House is true.

And, again, I know Reynolds knows this. If not, he should

It’s anachronistic to call a Lollard like John Oldcastle a Puritan.

Per reviewers elsewhere, applying labels like "conservative" and "progressive" to the battle over slavery is also anachronistic and serves no purpose.

==

As with Spielberg's movie, promoting untrue claims about Lincoln does nobody any good today. All it does is give openings and fuel to libertarian pseudo-historians attacking Lincoln for violating civil liberties and stuff like that. (For the wondering, I'm referencing Thomas DiLorenzo. Yeah, Oakes, I know academics reject him, and largely rightly so, but a chunk of the general public eats him up. And, I haven't even mentioned Lerone Bennett, who would kick your ass if still alive.)

And, yes, that note applies to you, Prof. Oakes. And, assuming this is part of why Reynolds never responded to my email, it applies to you as well. And, I'm not going to add further email exchanges to the book review, or the full amount of them here.

Suffice it to say that I never claimed Lincoln uttered public calls for colonization after 1862, so I'm not even further answering that. The fact is that, officially, even without public pronouncement, Lincoln kept colonization on the official governmental plate through the first two-thirds of 1864. And, as is documented, he talked to Bates about it as late as late 1864. And, as great a historian as Foner is, if he uses the lack of PUBLIC discussion post-1862 to also pretend that colonization wasn't on Lincoln's plate after that? Well, Mr. Oakes, then Eric Foner, as great as he is? Is wrong.

And, all the links on the Reynolds review apply to Oakes as well. Hell, they apply to Foner if he really claims that Lincoln making no more public calls for colonization after 1862 means that he abandoned the idea of colonization general. The first of the three links in the one Reynolds review paragraph has Seward claiming in 1877 that Lincoln never abandoned the idea. Gideon Welles is quoted as saying the same, also in 1877. While Bates, Seward and Welles were on the conservative side of Lincoln's Cabinet, outside the Cabinet, Butler was an eventual Radical. George Julian, who also said after Lincoln's death that he supported colonization to the end of his life, was a Radical in the 1860s, though later a Liberal Republican then a Democrat. Samuel Pomeroy, also a Radical, recounts this as well.

Let's also add that both books are biographies of Lincoln, or biographies of select slices of him, NOT histories of the end of slavery in the US. That's another reason Oakes and Reynolds are guilty of intellectual dishonesty. And again, applies to Foner, too, if he really holds this.

And, contra Oakes' vituperative response to my "goes to motive" comment? It DOES go to motive. You come off as promoting a St. Abraham legend on the subject of colonization, per my header.

For the reader? Lincoln's colonization schemes were always voluntary. To riff on his famous 1862 letter to Horace Greeley? If he could have Black freedom and basic civil liberties while keeping all African-Americans in the U.S., that was his preference. But if not, he stood ready to continue to keep colonization on the back burner.

As for taking two stars away? With Reynolds, even more than Oakes, it wasn't just for this, it was for several other reasons, all obvious in the review. Both authors sanitize Lincoln's comments. Plus, I note Reynolds' wrongness on the slave trade and other things, including his "jarring" comments. 

Oakes lost the second start for being contentious.

As for "goes to motive"? Much historical speculation ink has been spilled on how Reconstruction would have played out differently had Lincoln lived. Surely, he would have cracked down on the Klan, Knights of the Camellia, etc., quicker than Johnson did. He would have done other things more firmly. But, if Butler, Wells, Seward, Schurtz, the Blairs, etc., are all right, would he have started peddling colonization again, even with a Lincolnesque version of "see, I told you we can't live together"?

February 11, 2021

Texas Progressives wonder when the Xi Jinping honeymoon by leftists will end, along with the gunz honeymoon by wingnuts

The Roundup this week begins with gun nuts and ends with Xi Jinping Thought nuts.

Only in AmeriKKKa does a 95-year-old man resident in an assisted living center have a gun .... and kill someone with it.

And, only in Tex-ass does a dog shoot its owner.

Related to this other gun nuttery? SocraticGadfly talks about the bogus claims of new NRA Pander Bear Drew Springer.

That leads us to other Texas news in the Roundup.

Texas

Fracking lovers, including Gov. Strangeabbott, worry about nuclear fuels waste contaminating the Permian. That said, when you have a company like Holtec, even more sleazy than frackers?

Now that more and more Dems are voting by mail, Strange wants to extend GOP vote suppression efforts to that, picking up with last year's battles with Harris County and elsewhere. The same piece notes Abbott trying to separate himself from nutbar state party leader Allen West. The Texas GOP fired one staffer who was at the Capitol insurrection.

Off the Kuff discusses a recent poll of Texas political attitudes.

Is JC Penney doomed to continue to follow Sears into zombieland? I don't see it recovering, or even holding on to what it's now holding on to.
 
 
National

Josh Marshall is wrong: QAnon IS a conspiracy theory. Doesn't stop it from ALSO being a political movement. See "Native American Party." This is philosophy of language, or set theory, 101. These are not mutually exclusive items.

So, with executive privilege eventually prove thicker than seditionist blood, on the possibility of the Biden Administration trying to block House Dems' access to Trump's tax returns?

Nevada wants to let large tech companies who relocate to the Silver State to form their own counties. No, really, and for the love of god, why? The gov claims it's to replace economic development money.

The average age of an arrested seditionist is 40, per a George Washington University database. Many have a lot to lose from being arrested for something, that contra Josh, is a conspiracy theory as well as a political movement — and a cult, arguably. The Atlantic has additional details; 2/3 are over 35, 40 percent are small-biz owners. Contra Rod Dreher (not linking to the piece I have in mind) were in in a position to need to do business with the type of business they owned and could deliberately not do business with their company and be visible about it? I'd be there.

The Texas Signal profiles Solar Winds, the Austin company in the middle of that giant Russian hack.
 
Therese Odell attempts to explain The Watchmen and Avengers: Endgame to Ted Cruz. 
 
Grits for Breakfast dives into the data provided by the 2017 Sandra Bland Act.
 
The TSTA Blog wants to know what Greg Abbott will do for teachers in this legislative session.

Global

Globally, no, Chinese Maximum Leader Xi Jinping isn't telling new lies about the origins of COVID-19.

Rather, Uyghur women are telling the newest truth, it would seem, about how Xi's China has treated them: rape cases, along with sexualized torture and other claims. It's a long read, and a must-read. Too bad the likes of Howie Hawkins and Margaret Flowers of the Green Party, Rainier Shea of the People's Republic of Humboldt Bay, and Max Blumenthal of East Chinastan Daily News will try to poo-poo it. (Actually, Flowers already tried, and failed, on related material about Chinese police surveillance in Xinjiang; had she made one more response to me on Twitter, I would have easily and willingly gone Godwin's Law on her, with pleasure.)

February 10, 2021

Top blogging for January 2021

List is a little late, as of Saturday, the 6th, but better late than never.

As normal, these were not all blog posts written last month, but they were the 10 most popular for last month.

No. 1 was a 2015 weekly Texas Progressives roundup. (That said, when old posts like this that seem to have no current relevance start taking off, I always wonder why. But, I don't see a comment with spam URL links to be triggering that.)

No. 2 and trending upward? My post from last month giving the St. Louis Cardinals two big thumbs up for trading for Nolan Arenado.

Third? Week 40 of my weekly coronavirus roundup, which spotlighted maskless COVIDIOTS running around a Love Field baggage carousel, later updated with Love Field giving ME the runaround and Southwest giving me the silent treatment.

Fourth? My laughing at the idea of Trump forming a Patriot Party, MAGA Party or any other new party.

Fifth? COVID roundup week 41, putting antivaxxer loon RFK Jr and his ilk in the spotlight.

Sixth? Calling Glenn Greenwald and his ilk confused, idiots or whatever with their protests about Trump's Twitter ban. (Since then, although I'm not a fan of hers, Glennwald has gone sexist on AOC and has gone endorsement by fellow traveling by appearing on red-brown alliance/Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Jimmy Dore's show.)

Seventh? Via Russ and Pam Martens, my two cents on the GameStop bubble. It should be noted that my local GameStop is closing.

Eighth? One of my top 10 all time posts, Actual Flatticus / Alan Smithee / IRL Chris Chopin keeps trending. It's really too bad he died before this election; I would have loved to seen his anti-third party but anti-money schtick put to the test.

Ninth? Trending from even longer ago? Timothy Treadwell was really nuts, and is still really dead.

Tenth? My Janis Joplin-inspired paean to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales.

February 09, 2021

Coronavirus, week 44: Have we overworried on schools? Now underworried on restaurants? And, those no-shows

• A lot of people, primarily conservative but within that, not all wingnuts, have argued that we're causing harm by keeping schools virtual only in many major urban areas. The argument goes on, but the proponents of reopening schools may be right. Higher education correlates with longer life (note old caveat with internal second caveat: correlation does not necessarily imply causation), and even short term disruptions can throw learning off track, especially for lower income students on the wrong side of the digital divide. This doesn't even address free and reduced lunch issues, school as a relatively safe place and more.

• Viral genome swapping has long been a problem with flu strains and vaccines. Now, word comes that the British coronavirus variant has picked up part of the additional variant in the South African strain. The Brazilian strain has similar evolution to the South African one. Immunologists are looking for hope amidst this, saying it shows COVID-19's evolutionary path and wells. We'll see.
 
• More help may be on the way. Johnson and Johnson has officially filed for an EUA for its 1-shot vaccine. Cliff Notes: It's not as good as Moderna or Pfizer against mild to moderate cases, but is just as good against severe cases. Part of its Phase 3 trials were in South Africa, so we should soon get news if it's better, or not, against the COVID variant than those two vaccines. The biggie for distribution and many other things? It's a 1-shot, of course, and it can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures for months.

• ProPublica argues that many states loosening up restrictions on indoor dining (we've never, but briefly, had serious restrictions here in Tex-ass) is only inviting trouble with the rise of the new variant forms, noting that poor restaurant ventilation will likely help them spread faster. Let's remember that at least the South African variant can re-infect people who had the initial version. In addition, the British variant has now reportedly picked up the South African variant's main additional difference. Carl Zimmer confirms this.

• In Dallas, City Hospital at White Rock already had 150 or so no-shows for their second Moderna vaccine as of late last week. Logistics of making the second appointment appear to be part of it, which may be compounded by English language challenges in a heavily Hispanic service base. But ... how many are cancelling over first-shot side effects? And, do we have any nationwide information?

Many Texans, reportedly 1 in 5, don't even want the first shot.

Of course, thanks to Gov. Strangeabbott's mishandling, or nonhandling, of vaccine distribution, many people who want/ed the shot(s) still can't get it. (And Strange lied his ass off in the State of the State, including ignoring the fact that he was delivering his address to the Lege virtually.)

Meanwhile, while Strangeabbott expanded the vaccine-eligible list from "frontline medical worker types" to include all those over 65 (thought they had a duty to die, Danny Goeb?) he ignored the non-medical frontline workers, ie, grocery store employees, contra CDC recommendations. (We know what Strange thinks about federal recommendations.)

• China's Sinovac vaccine has turned out to be a semi-bust in Brazilian tests. 

Still robust? Likely quasi-official Chinese social media networks peddling lies about vaccines in the US that could almost be lifted from folks like NVIC.

• Still not robust, contra claims by the likes of Strangeabbott, Goeb and Comptroller Glenn Hegar? The Texas economy. American plans to furlough 13,000 without federal biz help being extended. United is cutting 14,000. Southwest says no furloughs, but it's pushing early retirement.

• Death begets death: The ghoulish federal execution death cult of former president Donald Trump and his attorney general henchman Bill Barr likely was a set of COVID superspreader events.

• Death begets violence: The pandemic put QAnon on steroids.