SocraticGadfly: 2/21/21 - 2/28/21

February 26, 2021

Xi Jinping Thought lies on COVID get further exposed

The story from The Hill is more than a week old, but it deserves more airplay. COVID started in China earlier than we have heard before, with multiple variants already around at the formerly alleged ur-time of December 2019. And, the person now called Patient Zero was NOT connected to the wet markets of Wuhan.

I still do not think this was a lab escape, but, it leaves China more and more open to facing such accusations. In addition, it puts its defenders — whether defending how well China handled the virus in general or how few cases and deaths it has, claims that look more and more like Xi Jinping Thought lies — on the defensive, though they won't admit it.

Worse yet, WHO representatives claim that Chinese officials pressured them to try to claim COVID came from outside China.

As of yesterday, China allegedly had just 90,000 cases and 4,636 deaths. I find those numbers not just lies, but Seth Rich conspiracy theory laughable lies.

And, it's also why I find Max Blumenthal and Howie Hawkins/Margaret Flowers/Kevin Zeese et al peddling Xi Jinping Thought lies about the Uyghur camps to be yet more laughable.

February 25, 2021

Texas Progressives also say RIP Rush Limbaugh, where's Jim Schutze and more

There was enough non-COVID, non-freezeout news to break the weekly Roundup into three parts this week. 

That starts with you know who in the header.

• Peggy Noonan has an insightful never-Trumper type of Republican take on Rush Limbaugh. It's not fully true in its own big picture; for example, she ignores Reagan's Neoshoba, Mississippi, dogwhistle kickoff to his 1980 campaign and other things that show that sometimes, "how it was said" on race issues (though not so much on sex issues) rather than "what was said, or intimated" was what separated Reagan and Limbaugh. And, given her work for St. Ronald of Reagan, she either knows his dogwhistles or else she's morally obtuse. In short, this is like Strangeabbott trying to spin his way away from ERCOT.

• Noah Horwitz gives a proper sendoff to Rush Limbaugh.

• Rick Hasen analyses the SCOTUS refusal to grant cert to Trump's Pennsylvania lawsuit, including the "ticking time bomb" behind the dissent of Clarence Thomas et al. It's ... interesting that Kavanaugh did not follow through on the first tilt of his hand.

• Jacobin has the legend-free facts about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was Tony Blair's lapdog in a previous life. New Zealand, which I did not know before, has ZERO capital gains tax. No wonder likes of Peter Thiel talk about decamping there. Of course, for Jacobin to talk about her as a hypocrite when its own publisher refuses to leave the two-party box here in Merika is itself hypocritical.

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

• For Black History Month, via the Observer, a look at County Line.

• Also for Black History Month: Racism and Monopoly.

• With Austin PD Chief Brian Manley gone, will a new chief force the Austin Police Academy to clean up its horrible act?

• Sometimes "cancel culture" is real, says this leftist who supports BDS but looks askance at SJWs. And cancel culture appears to have hit UNT.

• Jim Schutze has now been AWOL from D Magazine's Frontburner for a month. And, that may be intentional. His Facebook says he's a "contributing editor" for D Mag but a "FORMER columnist." So, he's been put out to some sort of pasture.

• Half of Rethugs would ditch the GOP for a MAGA Party if Trump started it. (Which he won't.)

• Ralph Nader attacks Nancy Pelosi and House Dems for their stupidity on Trump's second impeachment (and background of stupidity on the first), for reasons I totally agree with, as I called out Pelosi for the same.

• Therese Odell goes deep into the latest controversy surrounding The Bachelor and its longstanding problems with race.

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. Former director Tom "Smitty" Smith, who discussed ERCOT's board here, comes to mind.

A third would be from a university or research center with specific expertise in climate change. Inside Texas, though too milquetoast for me on climate change, Katherine Hayhoe is a prof at Tech ... and an evangelical Christian of some sort.

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?