SocraticGadfly: 5/23/21 - 5/30/21

May 28, 2021

40 percent, Gang Green, Paris, climate change Obamiacs

Here's a few "ripped from the wire" thoughts about today's AP story.

In case you missed it, per the World Meteorological Organization, the target temperature of the Paris Accords' nonenforceable 1.5 C, has a 40 percent chance of arriving in the next five years. Yes, nonenforcable. It's why I long ago said the Paris Accords were Jell-O

 Sadly, per the AP piece at the first link, Michael Mann (along with many of his "climate MSM" fellow travelers) appears to be, not a climate change minimalist, but a climate change "moderate." He, Katharine Hayhoe and others of their ilk are like GangGreen environmental groups. Hayhoe and some others have been political noobs before, including doubling down on attacking those who pointed this out. Like me. Per that link, we could perhaps call them "climate change Obamiacs," who think that singing Kumbaya enough will fix this. It's people like them that lead me to continue to wonder if the James Kunstlers aren't right after all.

And, while it's nice that a climate-concerned hedge fund has now gotten its candidates on eXXXon's board of directors, remember that the bottom line is the capitalist bottom line for these companies. Engine No. 1 even admits this. Remember, per Einstein, expecting more of the capitalism that got us into this situation to fix it is insanity. And, remember that this is the approach of Gang Green environmentalists and climate change Obamiacs.

A weird story about PTSD and car accidents

OK, on Tuesday of two weeks ago, Pocket gave me this story from The Atlantic: "We Should All be More Afraid of Driving."

Summary? Joshua Sharpe works for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Reports on "police scanner news," to put it bluntly.

That includes car wrecks.

Of which he's had two himself.

The first? Hit a woman standing in the middle of I-75. Here's the intro: 
I thought I saw something in the road.
Meth addict, as it turns out.

Years later, he makes contact with her. The accident allegedly scared her straight, but it's unclear whether that lasted or not.

OK, for a while afterward, Sharpe peeled back on ambulance chasing. But eventually, picked it back up again.

Four years later? Second accident:
I thought I saw a car veering toward me. 
It was a bright morning in February 2018. I was driving to work on Clairmont Road when a car suddenly appeared to be merging into my lane from the right, bound to hit me. This time, I did swerve. I wrenched the wheel and turned into oncoming traffic.
Note the parallel in the opening?

That said, as he eventually did after the first accident, he contacts the others involved. The driver of the truck basically half hates him. The passenger fully hates him.

What's missing from the story?

No attempt to contact the swerving driver. No attempt to find out who it was, in fact.

So, I DM'ed Sharpe on Twitter after tagging him, then seeing his account was open to messages.

Here's what I asked:
One thing about your Atlantic piece on accidents I just DON'T GET! You said the 2nd accident was caused by a swerving driver, but ... you never talk(ed) to him. Did you never even try? Or was the "thought I saw" not actual, and itself an artifact from PTSD from the first accident? (I've been in one wreck bad enough to have a plate in my left forearm, so I get the background.)
No response yet.

To me, beyond the basic warning of the story, not having this information just leaves it limp to me.

Maybe Sharpe did "hallucinate" a swerving driver? Maybe he's afraid to say that, even though that could be part of his message? Or per highway traffic engineers, there's the lack of mention just how big today's pickups are. Whether the accident was his fault due to a PTSD episode, or an actual swerving driver's fault, it might have been less severe had he not swerved into a monster F-250.

Philosophically speaking, it seems to be a version of Job's "it rains on the just and the unjust." But, Sharpe never really comes close to saying that. Instead, I'm implying that he's inferring that.

May 27, 2021

COVID week 59: 600K

Per Worldometers, whose version of COVID statistics both in the US and globally I've used since the start, yes, America has passed the 600,000 fatality mark. The death rate remains at 2 percent, yet another reason this is more than the flu.

Texas is over 50,000 dead and yet, at just one-third vaccination, even as Strangeabbott has done his latest Jesuiticial x barratry shift on this and banned all local governments, including schools, from requiring masks after the middle of next month.

That's despite ongoing denialists and other nutters either pretending otherwise or else claiming that the olde "they," this time of science, is hiding the truth about either a leak of a virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or worse. Massimo's got one of these. My responses explain it all, or enough of it.

Shock me that HCQ nutter Sen. Bob Hall is now trying to prevent employers from checking on vaccination status of employees, and worse. Typical wingnut, claiming to support capitalism except on the many occasions they don't. I am surprised the Bobster hasn't claimed that a Chinese electromagnetic pulse weapon caused COVID.

The Trib reports on doing a medical residency during the pandemic.

Meet RFK Jr., Mercola and the rest of the "Disinformation Dozen" of COVID (and in many cases, pre-COVID) antivaxxerism. NPR has a summary, noting that many (signaling out RFK) are nutters about other things like 5G.

Skeptical Raptor says Rand Paul is wrong; it's still better protection to get a vaccine after getting COVID.

The Raptor also reports on "nice, polite Canadian" antivaxxers deliberately scheduling appointments, then cancelling of course, at vaccination clinics.

May 26, 2021

Ken Silverstein takes on the ALLEGEDLY "thinking outside the box" stenos

I'm talking about the likes of Max Blumenthal (and his lapdog Mona Holland), Aaron Maté, Ben Norton, more and more Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, and their sometime fellow traveler Matt Taibbi, and more and more Glenn Greenwald.

 For these people, I even invented the label "allegedly outside the box thinkers." 

(Mona Holland is not a "name" other than the [former? still not sure on that one] lapdog of Glennwald. But, she's included for, within the last month or so, tweeting that Max is "factual." Max ain't Factual or Factor, except a factor in being lead suck-up to authoritarians of various types.

Well, Ken Silverstein, focusing on Max, has their number.

Per what Ken and I have written, he's a HUGE peddler of Xi Jinping Thought Kool-Aid, for example. He has been or is on the control of Russian or Chinese state media. And, hey Max and Mona, this is NOT like the New York Times. It's like Max would be working for Voice of America.

Ames and Levine fooled me for a while with their "Fancy Bear" and "Cozy Bear." But, now that we know that Guccifer 2.0 hacked both RNC and DNC, that right there has put paid to their bullshit, as I noted with an extensive overhaul of my original Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear thoughts.. So has the involvement of Disobedient Petulant Media, the batshit crazy of Bill Binney and Ray McGovern and more.

Related? I've directly Tweeted Maté more than once to ask if he's a Seth Rich conspiracy theorist. Crickets. Same applies to most the others above. I think Holland is grounded enough to not be that crazy, but when you play with fire and become fellow travelers with arsonists, you leave yourself open to suspicions.

And, yes, "fellow travelers" is the right word. In all its Tankie glory.

(Update: Ken has a new piece on Aaron, who now looks like as big a dipshit as Max.)

Look, it's easy to say Xi Jinping is committing cultural genocide AND that the US and much of its media is hypocritical for piling on. If you can't walk and chew gum, or walk and fart at the same time (that's what LBJ actualy said about Jerry Ford) on this, take your twosiderism out the door.

That also goes for Green Party nutter fellow travelers like Margaret Flowers and the late Kevin Zeese, along with 2020 prez nominee Howie Hawkins. Flowers said we should treat Xi on the Uyghurs "in Chinese terms," which almost got her a Godwin's Law rebuke on Twitter, and will if I ever see her doing that again.

It goes in spades for Tulsi Gabbard, who, per Jeff Morley, is surely not a Russian agent, but who knows about whether she's one for the government of India?

Back to Ken's piece, as not to hijack it too much.

Besides Max taking Russian and Chinese teevee money, Aaron is reportedly wining and dining on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's dime. Per Ken, some of the stenos, including Max and Ben (Rania Khalek also gets thrown under the bus) have wined and dined on Venezuelan kleptocrat Nicholás Maduro's dime. (I'm less sanguine about Hugo Chavez in some ways than Ken is, but yes, he was more the real deal than Maduro.)

Per Ken's piece, specifically, Tweets by Grayzone-mocking Crayzone, Max's sense of humor is appalling. Disgusting. Glenn Greenwald level or worse of disgusting.

Third, on Syria, as far as something more nuanced? "Fisking" and all, I learned far more about Syria from the late Robert Fisk than from any of these folks.

Fourth, in general, Max in particular, as Ken notes, has even less in the way of journalistic ethics than Glennwald, it's arguable. And, that's pretty low.

Fifth, at a link within his piece, to a 2019 piece by Stew, I think, Ken notes the real problem with Maxie: Like his dad, he's an unrepentant Hillbot. That's why he hates Nader. Why he semi-hated Obama. Why he hated Sanders. And, why he's a neoliberal leech. 

Sixth, since originally posting this, I've called out Aaron and some of his sycophants for not answering Josh Frank's tweet and included the Seth Rich conspiracy theorist wondering. Moar crickets! (Aaron does claim that only Cenk and other Young Turks are attacking him, and he did so, per Twitter, with another appearance on the show of KNOWN Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Jimmy Dore. This was the same Dore to whom alleged lefty Maté blubbered last fall that "we" just "have to elect Status Quo Joe" or words to that effect.)

Glenn Greenwald has "No Place to Hide" on Snowden-tied lies, and neither do any of his defenders / enablers

As is the norm, on a book with political, philosophical or other import of a sufficient level, I'm here doing an expanded version of a Goodreads book review. Added material will be underlined, as I used italics in parts of the original review, in stuff I quoted from the Snowden book.


No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance StateNo Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Good passion for a real cause is undercut by obfuscations at the time of writing and seeming after-the-fact lies. Given that Greenwald to this day continues to lie about his initial support for the Iraq War, despite those lies being easily refuted, none of this should be a surprise.

First, a quick take on Snowden. I don’t think he’s a traitor, but I don’t think he’s an innocent nothingburger, either. (I don't think he's committed a material violation of the Logan Act or something like that, either; that said, I don't think he's been 100 percent forthcoming on every interaction of note he's had with foreign actors. That starts with, not his visit to Hong Kong, but his planning for that visit, as I detail in my review of his book, linked below.) And, he told multiple lies in his book, one of which is passed on by Greenwald. (That, again, concerns planning for his trip to Hong Kong and which countries he was looking at, and which he was dismissing, as potential asylum sites.)

With that, let me give you my take on this book and related issues.

First, the passion. Snowden rightly exposed the NSA’s snooping, which Greenwald (and many others) had been wondering about for some time. That and calling out the lying of members of Congress on this issue, or timidity of others, or timidity of The Guardian, is half of the book. And, overall good, but not perfectly good on the Guardian, because that’s part of what gets Greenwald hoist by his own petard.

That said, even more, his TOTALLY unethical recording of witnesses during l'affaire Matt Hale massively petard-hoists. More on Greenwald's hypocritical dickishness on confidentiality is here.

So, let’s dive into all that.

Sections in italics will be quotes from my review of Snowden’s “Permanent Record.”

First, on page 30, Glenn claims that Snowden carefully reviewed everything. Then why was 90 percent of it not published? Glenn engages in what I’ll call “tracks-covering” on page 48, when he says much of this was for journalistic backgrounding. Then, why not publish at least summaries of it?

This is all related to Greenwald eventually NOT publishing about 90 percent of Snowden’s material and instead handing it over to Pierre Omidyar. Given that people like Tim Shorrock have speculated Omidyar is using this for private industrial espionage, as documented here, Glennwald (a popular slapdown for him) posturing in anger over the NSA enabling corporate spying rings hollow. What’s even funnier is that story is linked at the site to which Glennwald’s own proposed NSADisclosures.com flips to.

That said, that then gets again to the “lying in hindsight.” So, at the time in 2013, when The Guardian seemed slow (by Glennwald’s standards) to want to publish, Glenn was ready to dump everything on that NSADisclosures site. But, six years later? No, no, the public doesn’t need to look at it. Bigger names than me have hammered Greenwald over the head on this issue and he's refused, blatantly refused in his Glennwaldian way, to address this.

And, on 56, Glennwald hosts himself by his own petard in attacking the “mainstream media,” foreign policy and national security division. I quote:
“Yet another unwritten rule designed to protect the government is that media outlets publish only a few such secret documents and then stop.”

BOOM. I sank your battleship, Glennwald. (Actually, you sank yourself and I just pointed it out.)

Next is passing on Snowden’s lies about his planned itinerary.

Question 10: How does he reconcile him allegedly having a plan to go to Ecuador with him stating a dozen pages earlier that he chose NOT to originally go to Latin America (page 284) because “Africa and Latin America were no-go zones too — the United States had a history of acting there with impunity.” Given the other denials of transit, why not fly to, say Ecuador’s embassy in either Beijing or Hanoi? (Update: Or, given how Beijing was already elbowing into Hong Kong's independence, why not just stay there???)

And, at that point, I think we’ve caught Snowden in an outright lie.

Question 11: The passport and the time frame. Edward Jay Epstein notes that, a day before he left Hong Kong, the US had ALREADY invalidated his passport except for return to the US. Therefore, his claim it has been invalidated in midair is a technical Jesuitical truth at best and a lie at worst. Care to address that?


On page 49, Glennwald buys Snowden’s lie, full stop on his travel plans and never addresses the technicality of the passport issue.

Obfuscations aren't as serious of an issue, but they're not nonexistent, either. Glennwald has no problem quoting Tim Shorrock that 70 percent of every national security dollar is spent on private contractors, but quickly zooms past how much of Snowden's employment was for those exact contractors, not the NSA itself. And, beyond the dollars amount, he never really looks at the security issues of private contractors vs the NSA, nor the alleged cost-effectiveness vs the actual reality. Side note: Stuff like this is why Glennwald is not a leftist, has not been a leftist and never will be a leftist.

Finally, why Greenwald? Snowden’s never answered that. I mean, let's take Greenwald vs, say James Bamford, who interviewed him in Russia, or Bruce Schneier. Bruce isn’t a “journalist” per se; he’s an academic/public policy person. But Bamford is, with even bigger chops in critical and skeptical national security writing, primarily magazine world and books, than Greenwald, and that was definitely the case before Greenwald started working on the Snowden files. Greenwald has never indicated that Snowden told him why.

My guess, as I said in my review of Snowden’s book? Greenwald came off as inept enough in the tech world that he might not challenge Snowden’s account where it needed to be challenged.

Backdrop?

Snowden talks about cooling his heels in Hong Kong while getting people to bite. What journalists DID he talk to besides Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman and Ewan MacAskill? Or did he talk to any? …

What is he not revealing about his time in Hong Kong before meeting G & P? …

If he did get other serious nibbles, did they not pan out? Did he cut them out? Why?


Greenwald never gives any indication that Snowden told him he talked to other journos. So, either Snowden’s confirmed in another lie (and my theory on “why Glennwald” is confirmed) or else Snowden’s playing his cards that close (and possibly my theory of “why Glennwald” is confirmed).

No, finally finally.

I hate books that don’t have a print index at the back.

AND!!!! Per Snowden? Glennwald’s website is “not secure” according to teh Chrome.

No, finally, finally, finally.

Let’s not forget that this is a man who continues to lie about the fact that he supported the Iraq War when it was first launched, even though he’s easily refutable from the public Internet domain. Lying that blatantly has a whiff of the narcissistic at a minimum, maybe of the sociopathic.

And so, with the benefit of hindsight, Glennwald gets two stars compared to Snowden’s three. (Go talk about that with “good Socialist” Swanson Tucker Carlson, Glenn.)

Speaking of that? Glennwald was surely looking for an excuse to leave the Intercept when he did. The fact it wouldn't print his Hunter Biden screed, which he was calling news not a column, and for which he's been edited before at the Intercept and elsewhere, gave him his opening. That said, the fact that he's getting $1-2 million at Substack vs $500K at the Intercept, with total hands off? Yeah, he was looking to jump and would have done so even without an excuse.

And, beyond that, Glennwald has descended into new levels of Twitter trolling and thuggery in recent months. A fair chunk of it builds on sexism he exhibited before he became famous. And, yes, gay men can be sexist. Oh, can they.

While I'm here, Mona Holland, who has had plenty of chances to ditch, not just lessen, her playing robot in the Czech original sense to Glennwald's godbot, can tell her own lies. Like claiming Grayzone is factual, when Max Blumenthal has lied about the Uyghurs, and as nailed by me, lied by omission about GG's setup at the Intercept. Speaking of, as recently as two years ago, she was reportedly very much his robot on Intercept commenting. I think she had backed off somewhat in the last two years, No, take that back. At Substack just over six months ago, she was still defending him. Glenn's commissioned hack job from Ralph Cipriano on Larry Krasner, detailed by me at this link, MAY HAVE been too much for her in some ways. (She did retweet David Menschel to that effect.)

That's enough digression. This is about Greenwald.

For my full Snowden review, go here.

View all my reviews

May 25, 2021

Texas Progressives and moar Lege stupidity from both duopoly aisles

That's most of this week's Roundup as we near the finish line. Without further ado, we dig in.

The Lege

SocraticGadfly looks at recent bills by the Texas Legislature and has a mix of supportive and critical thought for both critical race theory and gender critical radical feminism.

OK, file this under another sweetheart deal for Big Oil. That's who benefits most and most obviously from the train wreck semi wreck that is HB 19, which would make it harder to sue trucking companies for what their drivers do. Yeah, it also benefits Uber and Lyft, but Big Oil is the big beneficiary. What's even more disgusting, but not totally surprising, is all but one Senate Democrap and about half of House Democraps support this. The Observer has more on just how disgusting this is. Sadly, though, it tries to blame just Rethugs for the bill. Once again, Bernard Rapoport is turning over in his grave.

Gunz for all gun nuts, no questions asked, looks like it's coming.

Poor Ruth Hughs. Another Dum Fuq Texas Secretary of State designee by Strangeabbott doesn't get a confirmation hearing. She was the one who either accidentally or deliberately misinterpreted Drew Springer's HB 2504 from 2019 during last summer's run-up to the general elections, leading the Texas Supremes to reinstate Greens and Libertarians on the ballot. Sadly, the Lege has agreed with her misinterpretation this year and third party candidates, not just nominees, will have to pay filing fees even though they don't have primaries.

The Observer notes that, probably deliberately, the House and Senate's budget differences means that Strangeabbott gets final say on distribution of supplemental federal education money, which ultimately means that he'll again try to attach clawbacks to it unless the Biden Administration again tells him no.

The Lege and cops

It would be nice for small towns to ferret out potential bad cops before hiring them from elsewhere. Hearne, mentioned in the Trib story about this, has a history of this, far beyond the one incident listed, and frankly, I think their current city manager is halfway full of shit in trying to make this look so hard. (I have personal knowledge of some of their history.) That said, per the link, the two halves of the Lege may manage to accidentally or semi-deliberately gut such reform again.

The two halves of the Pink Dome are also wrassling over other criminal justice bills.

Other Texas gov

Off the Kuff analyzed the 2020 election returns in State Senate districts.

Grits for Breakfast hypothesizes that "anti-defund" legislation could have the effect of redefining what it means to be a "police officer" in this state. 

Jessica Montoya Coggins brings us some drama over racist language from The Real Housewives of Dallas

Mike Siegel calls attention to a progressive candidate in a runoff with a conservative incumbent in Grand Prairie.

Texana

The LBJ Library opened its doors 50 years ago. Here's the story. (Long read.)

Friend Chris Tomlinson is co-author of a new book about the legends of the Alamo. Texas Monthly has an excerpt about Phil Collins' collection of memorabilia and whether it's all that. (Long read.)