SocraticGadfly: 3/28/21 - 4/4/21

April 03, 2021

I tackle the latest Betomania lead balloon

So, Robert Francis O'Rourke ain't running against Strangeabbott. Probably a smart move in several ways.

First, he loses again, and he's now a three-time loser, not a two-time, counting his aborted and abortive 2020 prez primary run. Even Tricky Dick Nixon wouldn't beat that.

Second, he would lose again. No Trump on the ballot, Dems don't do as well in 2022 as in 2020. Plus, Strangebbott, even with the Abbott Blackout, isn't straight off loathsome the way Cancun / Havana Ted Cruz is.

Third, shock me that this is the usual Beto pandering. A subhed on the Snooze piece says that, after his initial comments, he added the word "currently" to his plans. The Trib offers more on the weaselly update.

Given the fact that he suggested alternatives by name in his original piece, it's clear that Rump Fuck O'Rourke's original statement was firm. He wasn't running and dear Dems, take one of these people instead.

THAT said, the ideas he had in mind were themselves semi-laughable. 

Lina Hidalgo and Clay Jenkins, as Harris and Dallas County judges, have a certain insider following, but aren't that well known statewide. Also, Hidalgo is in her first term. ALSO, county judges statewide come up for election in 2022, which means either one of them would have to leave their current office.

So, next option for Gilberto Hinojosa is, I guess, either finding a state Senatecritter who's tired of office or else a private bidnessman (Tony Sanchez 2.0?) with name recognition and suitable Dem chops. Exactly zero come to immediate mind, other than, if actors are businessmen, wing-waiting ConservaDem Matthew McConaughey. I've already given my take on him not once but twice, at least in passing both times.

Third option is hoping Abbott gets primaried from the right and loses.

April 02, 2021

Top March blogging — it was COVID heavy

I'm pleased and pleasantly surprised that my weekly coronavirus roundups are getting read.

More than one of them was in the top 10 for the month.

But, COVID nuttery topped the list.

Namely, the arrest of "Galveston Karen" Terry White  — who later, as I noted in an addendum to the post — was arrested again at a Home Depot in another city.

No. 8 was in somewhat the same vein, as I blogged — with photos — about the number of Karens who ignored a Denton Kroger's mask rule the first weekend after Strangeabbott lifted the statewide mask mandate. For good measure, I added in Kroger's PR bullshit response after I DM'ed it on Twitter.

No. 2? COVID roundup Week 48, which tackled the FDA tackling Mercola, HEB being PR weaselly and more. No. 4 was Week 49, which included the one-year anniversary of Rudy Gobert and the NBA shutdown making the virus Public Enemy No. 1. No. 5 was Week 50, discussing herd immunity and related issues.

No. 3 was about the Texas Lege and its kabuki theater after Winter Storm Uri and the "Abbott Blackout." No. 9 was the Texas Progressives roundup three weeks later, which included some follow-up blogging by me on that, and was the general theme of the roundup — more kabuki theater.

Are we woke or real on Status Quo Joe? That was the rest of March's top blogging. To go with earliest first, I talked about Jeff Greenfield, Jamelle Bouie, Ryan Cooper and others being "woke" about how allegedly transformational Biden's stimulus bill was. That included telling them they knew better, or should. In response, at No. 6, a week later I had my own, and others', observations about the realism of what Biden did and did not get passed, as well as the realism of what this boded for the future. Finally, at No. 10, I talked about some of the woke folk greenwashing Biden.

April 01, 2021

Texas Progs talk stupidity in the Lege (no April Fool) and more

All the state political and news mags note that, due to COVID, The Lege is a bit behind the curve on normal business, setting aside that redistricting will have to wait for a special session.

The Lege is NOT anywhere near being behind the curve on already serving up a heaping helping of numnutz stupidity.

And, with that, let's dig in.

Briscoe Cain shuts down his own committee. Nuff said about a wannabe successor to Former Fetus Forever Fuckwad Jonathan Stickland.

The Monthly (while also saying its paywall is going back up, so I'll read and link less) says that Legiscritters to watch include Kelly Half-cocked and Lois Cockwhore. And, the REAL successor to Former Fetus Forever Fuckwad Jonathan Stickland, Bryan Slaton.

Warren Buffett is trying to grift, and grift hard, on the Abbott Blackout.

Will the George Floyd Act make it across the Lege's finish line? If so, how mutilated will it be? Here's a first look.

In things related to both the Lege and Helltown, Off the Kuff speculates about Sen. John Whitmire's political future.

Voting issues

The Lone Star Project presents Greg Abbott's long history of discriminatory vote suppression.  
John Coby got a preview of Harris County's new voting machines. 
The Dallas Observer warns of the threat to voters with disabilities in the Legislature's vote suppression bills.


Skip Hollandsworth (among many, of course) remembers Larry McMurtry.

H-E-B, tied with What? A Burger? for Texas' biggest business cult (Bucee's is third but coming up hard on the outside) is coming to Big D. The Snooze's story couldn't even mention Winco among chains already established there. (I'm not a cultist for any supermarket chain, but still ...)

Gentrification, or whatever, of East Cesar Chavez in Austin .... has its first issue.

Tom Hanks fan? I am. But the Observer says his new movie traffics too much in stereotypes, and excludes more portrayal of American Indians.

Also at the Observer, Karl Richter loves "Hiding in Plain Sight," the new quasi-biography of Lady Bird focused on her White House years audio diary. I think it's not that good, even problematic. Or worse.

Stephanie Stradley answers all of your questions about the Deshaun Watson lawsuits.

SocraticGadfly talks about being real versus being “woke” on the scope of Biden’s stimulus bill and what’s permanent in it and what’s temporary. (Being real also includes being real about the “greenwashing” that’s already being done on Biden’s environmental ideas.)

Mitch the Turtle and the Kochtopus are freaking out about HR1. That's even though, for NON "dark" money, it would actually vastly increase the money flow, and is also anti-third party, as explained by Mike Feinstein. Feinstein's right; the voting rights stuff in the bill is great, the dark money disclosure is at least decent, but broad chunks of the bill suck.

March 31, 2021

James Madison was no Thomas Jefferson

Allegedly, James Madison (childless by Dolly) had one or more kids with a slave. An alleged descendant speaks. I've never heard of this before, although it appears to be at least 15 years old and so, unlike Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, where rumor abounded long before DNA testings pretty well confirmed it, I reject this.

Per that second link, it's maybe possible that his father had slave children. And, other links say that's been claimed.

Otherwise, the Kearse oral tradition resorts to special pleading with claims like "maybe Dolly had miscarriages" when she had children by her first husband. Beyond such special pleading, it simply wanders, as shown here. Maybe the Black Lives Matter surge led Bettye Kearse to write this again last year. That said, Medium, by letting the "she descends from James Madison" stand, diminishes itself.

And, "interestingly," neither Bettye nor other Kearses participated in an archaeology dig at Madison's Montpelier plantation led by descendants of his slaves. 

At this point, I think we're into a grifting story more than anything else, with the grift in this case being for fame and name far more than for money.

March 30, 2021

Coronavirus news, week 51: Impending doom ahead? Chinese obstruction ongoing?

• Yesterday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new CDC head, decided to "lose the script" and warned of a feeling of "impending doom" with a new spike in COVID cases. She specifically pointed toward more travel (spring break in Florida, are you listeninig, Ron DeSantis?) and loosening restrictions (are you listening, Strangeabbott) as among causes.

That said, overall, I'm glass-half-full on this. The spike isn't bad, and it's just one week. That said, I'm glass-half-empty, too. A renewed word of caution isn't bad.
Update: Zeynep Tufekci weighs in, and says that with the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, Walensky is not all wrong to be worried. She adds that, if a fourth surge takes off, it's likely to hit mainly the young. That may — or may not — have a lower death rate. Stay tuned.  Tufekci also recommends governments being prepared to induce ring immunity, as much as they can, with targeted vaccination protocols as needed, in the face of localized surges.

• The same first link notes the Biden Admin will NOT have a "vaccination passport." That said, for non-domestic travel, it doesn't matter, as many European and Asian countries DO have something like this. And, stop lying about this, wingnuts.
• On "60 Minutes," Lesley Stahl looked at continued Chinese slow-walking (and gutting of the terms of conduct) of the WHO investigation. Jamie Metzl, a Clinton NSC staffer, called out the Potemkin village nature of this. He also is a cosigner of a letter calling for full WHO access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab. I don't think this was anything weaponized. Was it research that got screwed up, or had inadequate containment controls, though? From what I've read before, quite possible.

But British zoologist Peter Dazsak is still trying to peddle the "wet markets" idea. I don't where where SARS-COVID2 DID come from. I do know the wet markets theory sounds less and less plausible. And Dazsak admits his WHO team, the one that went there, was not tasked to look at the possibility of China selling them a line of bull.

There's a lot more there. And a third interviewee. Read the whole thing.

The Xi Jinping Thought Kool-Aid drinkers will probably attack Metzl.

• The drive for a COVID vaccine has opened the doors to new vaccines. Many, like the Salk oral polio vaccine, will not use needles. And, of the needle vaccines, new "building blocks" for them may hit the market. Read more here.

• Two Houston restaurants, next to each other, and both Italian. One still requires masks, the other doesn't. Given the size of Roma's dining area, and that it's open at 100 percent, as well as not masking? No way in hell I'd go there.

• Sorry for restaurant employees, and those in other businesses hit hardest by COVID, on trying to get unemployment bennies. But, I've not sat down inside a restaurant for over a year now and things aren't changing anytime soon.

• Masks on is still the rule in Austin for right now.

• COVID was Dallas County's No. 1 cause of death in the last year.

March 29, 2021

Kendall Scudder takes the mask off as a ConservaDem

Beto ORourke

When I was living in Sulphur Springs and he stepped forward to run against Tinfoil Bob Hall for the state Senate, I said thought he was a nice guy, and decent.

BUT .... given that he, as pictured above, was ready, willing and able to ride the ConservaDem coattails of Robert Francis O'Rourke, I had my doubts about just how "progressive" he was.

And, per the header, the mask is off with him already openly touting ConservaDem (if that) Matthew McConaughey to run for gov against Strangeabbott in 2022. AND, as part of touting his true Texan bona fides, he BRAGS, Scudder does, of being a Dem with a concealed carry permit.

"Sorry," Scudder, but any Dem in an urban place like the Metromess who BRAGS about that doesn't have a "progressive" podcast.

AND, to bust your chops? When you spoke before a candidate forum in your state senate run ... teachers union regional group, a Dem-friendly group was that sponsored it ... you NEVER talked about gunz, let along bragged about a concealed carry permit.

In short, you were pandering for Dem votes and thus already three years ago were Just.Another.Politician if you didn't talk about gunz, let alone tout the idea of doing concealed carry, especially when many librulz, let alone leftists, were worried then about concealed carry and abhorred its expansion. (Said expansion included the 2015 Lege expanding concealed carry licenses to include open carry. Other nuttery has followed, such as gunz in college dorms.)

I assume his Armadilla Strategies, as a Tex-ass political consulting firm, works most with ConservaDems. As for his partner there, Lillian Salerno? The "about" at Armadilla puffs her 2018 run to be a Congresscritter. Ballotpedia has the reality. She barely beat out Republican Brett Shipp (sic) to go to the CD 32 runoff against Colin Allred, where she got her hat handed to her, after he took nearly 40 percent of the vote in a seven-person first round. I'm pretty sure it wasn't that she couldn't find a political organization with enough transparency, rather that no campaign consulting group with real skillz, and the money needed for them, was getting into that runoff. 

I also have little doubt that their Pod Bless Texas podcast promotes a ConservaDem version of Texas exceptionalism.

March 28, 2021

China just brought a new day to the Middle East

The New York Times has the MSM angle on a 25-year aid deal that Beijing has just inked with Tehran. Politico offers more. China gets a guaranteed oil supply, while also indicating that, with that guaranteed oil supply, the days of Trump's return to sanctions are over. (Would China have done this if Trump were still large and pretending to be in charge? Given that, per the NYT, an initial version of the deal was in place last July, the answer to that is a clear yes.)

From outside the MSM, James Dorsey, who's on my blogroll for exactly reasons like this, offers up his own analysis. He doesn't think China can fully thread the Iran-Saudi Arabia needle, but also notes that China is looking to "manage" and not "resolve" major bones of contention in the Middle East.

It's doubtful that, even if the Obama deal is put back into place, and Iran acts like a semi-good neighbor from there, that larger issues such as Iran's missile program and its support for Hezbullah can be restrained. Per Dorsey, on the "manage" not "resolve," it's also doubtful that China is going to go too far in trying. At the same time, the Saudis and the UAE back China's Uyghur crackdown, Dorsey notes.

That said, even if "manage" is the word, China has shown it's a new day indeed by inviting Israelis and Palestinians to Beijing for talks. If nothing else, as Beijing has no Zionist lobby or a Pat Buchanan-type Amen corner to supplement it, it will bring a different angle than the US. (And, having no large Jewish community of dissidents, also, a different angle than Russia.)

Back to Iran: If the final deal is like a draft from a year ago (which partially answers my parenthetical question) Beijing gets the oil at a discounted price. In return, not only does it invest in broad sectors of Iran's economy (which fits its Belt and Road strategy to a T), it also plans joint military training.

Also interesting: Xi Jinping proposed this in 2016, before he got his mandate to serve more than two terms. Playing some 11-dimensional chess. That said, the pain of Trump's sanctions probably led Iran to set aside qualms it's giving too much to China. But, Ayatollah Khamenei personally ordered the go-ahead.

That second NYT link has the details of what this presumably still involves, after last year's initial version. A Chinese Navy port is among the military cooperation. A possible Iranian version of China's Internet "Great Firewall" is another.

Side note: Politico is so ignorant of Mandarin and Chinese culture that the author of its piece, and their editor, apparently don't know that "surnames" come first in China.
Juan Cole has also weighed in, saying this is probably pressure diplomacy by Beijing, noting how it's already attacked Biden Administration foreign policy as part of general US foreign policy. Cole adds that this is the biggest China-Middle East connection since the days of the Mongol Empire.  And, Philip Weiss adds that Biden could, if he chose, with AIPAC looking weakened, go back to the Iran deal without adding new preconditions. He should have done that under cover of the new administration, but might have been worried about expending political capital. Beijing now gives him cover, unless he's worried about being accused of kowtowing.