SocraticGadfly: 6/27/21 - 7/4/21

July 02, 2021

Coronavirus week 64B: St. Anthony of Fauci and COVID tribalism

Even more than my previous piece on COVID, tribalism and twosiderism, per the theme of this newsletter, the release of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails has underscored just what the problem is, and how bad it is. And, because that original piece had gotten so many updates since first writing it, I thought a tighter consolidation of the original, with focus on the key points on both sides of the twosiderism, and sharpening how bad this has gotten, especially on the "BlueAnon" side, was needed.

People believing that there was a conspiracy to cover up a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology — whether they believe that the virus, if originating from there, was being bioweaponized or just gain-of-function research that escaped — are all called cranks and conspiracy theorists by natural-origin defenders who refuse to admit any other possibility having more than the remotest likelihood.

There are a few, like me, who think that the natural origin theory is more likely, but nowhere near a lead-pipe cinch.

There are those who think a lab leak is even more likely than I do, but still stay within the confines of reasonable science.

But, we’re few and far between.

Rather, it’s the natural-originers refusing to consider options at all who shove aside others who tilt toward that explanation but want to still investigate.

And, it’s the conspirators, whether conspiricizing about bioweaponing a coronavirus, as some inside Trump’s State Department and some on far-right media have done, or those “just” conspiracizing about a massive coverup of an allegedly massive, and very deadly, leak of a gain-of-function program that escaped, who have pushed out others on “their” side.

And, the two extremes have become like Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby to each other.

And, they like that. If they’re in the media, for either side of the false dichotomy, it juices their ratings, clicks, etc.

If in the media or not, it juices adherence to them by their tribalists. Let’s look at some of the specifics of either side.

It starts with Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed did the FOIA request to get these emails, which far-right websites and Twitter accounts first called a leak. Leopold planted his flag firmly in the other half of the tribalism camp, though, with a story that totally fellated Fauci as a master scientist who has always, all along, had all things COVID under his control. 

Leopold “conveniently” ignored Fauci’s past telling of a Platonic Noble Lie about mask-wearing, followed by a second Platonic whopper about herd immunity.

As I've noted before and elsewhere, by the start of March 2020, if not in late February, people like Zeynep Tufekci were calling out Fauci, or beyond or instead of calling him out by name, insisting that masks really did offer at least some degree of help both ways — protecting others from ourselves AND protecting ourselves from others. And, Fauci has remained unrepentant about this, about shading his definition of what constitutes gain-of-function research and more. He also has allowed associate Kristen Andersen to lie on his behalf. None of this, of course, proves a lab-leak is the more likely cause. They only show Fauci’s mendacity.

Are such leaks possible? Yes, says former FDA head Scott Gottlieb.

And, Pro Publica did a piece about leaks at a North Carolina lab studying coronaviruses — a lab with ties to WIV.

Reinforcing this as an idea worth considering? Shi Zhengli of Wuhan Institute of Virology had connections with that lab — via the controversial Peter Daszak.

The reply of Dr. David Gorski, commonly known by his blogging nom de plume, Orac, and a leader in the “they’re all cranks” set? Note that Gottlieb touts his press clippings from far-right groups, ignore Pro Publica and ignore Fauci’s past Platonic lies. Given that Orac has been a tribalist on various matters related to “movement skepticism,” this is no surprise.

Pretending to have a new angle? On Substack, it’s Leighton Akira Woodhouse, attacking “the new clerisy.” It’s not a total strawman; much of modern American research science IS dependent on government grants, and between that and its bureaucratization, that does cause problems.

But, Woodhouse then reveals his “other side” affinities when he touts crank cures for COVID and more. He then tops it off by blaming tribalism for this problem without admitting his own contribution to it.

Woodhouse also has been touted by Glenn Greenwald. Glenn has no appearance of being an outright Trumper, but IS a Biden-hater who left the Intercept over that. He’s also on record on Twitter as rejecting most masking mandates.

Back on the “they’re cranks” side, Nautilus gives space to Tom Levenson. Levenson eventually tries to gaslight readers by claiming that a weaponization angle is the only endgame for lab-leakers and that this all boils down to Trumpism. This totally ignores that Mr. Neoliberal anti-Trumper, Jon Chait of New York mag, has pushed for more of a look at the lab-leak idea.

Jonathan Cook at Counterpunch tries to get past twosiderism, but does a less than stellar job. While attacking much of the “mainstream media,” he ignores the tribalism of far right media who, before Jan. 20, 2021, even if not believing in bioweaponization, were totally Trumpist in looking for tools to attack Fauci.

Per Cook and others? The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists piece by Nicholas Wade has been cited by at least some lab-leakers, and attacked by the “they’re cranks.” It’s interesting yet problematic. Contra the likes of Orac, maybe it wasn’t in a biological journal because they all rejected it, because Wade isn’t a PhD, or both. And, the Bulletin ran it because of its long history of writing about the politicization of science. It's also part of a set of articles at the Bulletin by various authors that entertain the lab-leak theory. 

At the same time, Wade comes close to strawmanning himself. He also has a problematic past as a fellow traveler of Charles Murray on promoting racialism.

To wrap up the issue? The tribalism and twosiderism, as should be clear by now, ties in with American duopoly tribalism. 

And, per Alina Chan and 17 other scientists who co-signed a letter to Science magazine and are part of more and more scientists not worried about being considered crazies by #BlueAnon tribalists, either among the general public or among the likes of Orac, we may finally be moving that way.

And, that’s a good wrap-up spot.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Gebreyesus, while indicating he doesn’t think it’s likely, in March called for more investigation of the lab-leak theory.

Why can’t the “they’re cranks” do that, while still ignoring actual cranks?

Tribalism.
 
Someone like Zeynep Tufekci cuts through tribalism, why can't Orac?

July 01, 2021

Texas Progressives talk election audits, other nuttery

Texas politics

A Quinnipiac Poll says three-quarters of all Texans, and even nearly 60 percent of Republicans, oppose permitless carry. Ditto for a plurality of all Texans and one-third of Rethugs opposing the so-called "fetal heartbeat" bill. Of course, these numbers mean nothing today. Call me back in November 2022. 

The federal unemployment pay boost has ended; evictions go back to normal process in a month. And, landlords are jacking rents again. How much will this further increase income disparity? (In case you're wondering, Texas is among the worst states in income inequality already.) And, that's on top of what happens when hurricane season starts.

Same old ERCOT: It won't say which plants were down and why earlier this month.

Off the Kuff discusses a couple of polls that show no great love for what the Republicans have been doing lately.

Grits for Breakfast calls Greg Abbott's vetoes "a final punch in the nose for the bipartisan criminal justice reform movement". 

The San Antonio Report presents the results of a four-month investigation into the root cause of February's winter storm crisis. 

The Texas Observer explains why title insurance in Texas is a total scam.

Texas-lawsuits

Wendy Davis is leading a lawsuit over a Biden campaign bus being harassed by Trump Trainers last fall. The law enforcement officers included in a parallel second suit? "Qualified immunity," of course, even if this is something new, and what the city of San Marcos has said about this.

House Dems and Lege staffers are suing, asking the Texas Supremes to overthrow Strangeabbott's veto of the Lege funding budget.

Facebook lost a big lawsuit at the Texas Supreme Court vis-a-vis its platform being used by human sex traffickers. But (shock me) it was largely based on crappy legal thinking, the ruling was.

Texana

Gene Kelly, often hidden behind the long shadow of Herb Kelleher, is stepping down as Southwest Airlines CEO. Texas Monthly gives him a profile. Joseph Guinto argues that Kelly, not Kelleher, was the company's most successful CEO. It was Kelly who changed the "cattle call" to "A, B, C" and who bought Air Tran and ATA and gave Southwest the once-unthinkable: International flights. And, pre-CEO days, he started the fuel-hedging program.

Many border residents aren't much enamored of the DPS' latest call-up to try to stop Ill Eagles.

I had never before heard about Bass Reeves, Black Deputy U.S. Marshal in 19th-century Arkansas, Indian Territory and Texas. Sadly, the tale as it connects to today reflects continued racism.

Melissa Thiel wants to erect a monument about the 1930 Sherman race riot outside the Grayson County Courthouse. County Judge Bill Magers won't even let it on the commissioners court agenda.

Space City Weather previews the 2021 hurricane season.

National

The New Republic is right: We're not a democracy, and no, wingnuts, not in your claim of "we're a republic so duh we're not a democracy."

As a skeptic and secularist, I've long considered pseudoscience to be part of, or behind, many religious beliefs. But, per a mask-resistant Air Force pilot, I guess pseudoscience itself is, per se, a religious belief.

A big kudo to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis for signing into law Senate Bill 87, the Farmworker Bill of Rights. It makes Colorado the first state in the nation, ahead of any West Coast states, to give migrant farmworkers some real labor rights protections, as described here. (Side note: Colorado also recently implemented a law requiring employers to post a reasonable pay range when advertising jobs. And corporations HATE it.)

RIP Mike Gravel.

Start the Steal

Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, the group doing the pseudo-audit of Maricopa County, Arizona, votes, was in a just-released election fraud video. And, the filmmakers appeared to get special access to the psuedo-audit. (The film has also seemingly left itself open to suits by Dominion's Eric Coomer.

The Atlantic interviews former AG Bill Barr about his semi-effectual semi-break with Trump.

In Michigan, the state Senate's GOP-led State Oversight Committee has rejected all claims of "widespread or systematic fraud." Trump's response: Siccing the Trainers on the committee chair and GOP state Senate majority leader.

Sports

SocraticGadfly puts on his sports hat and drops three NBA stories. First, he salutes the Mavs for hiring Jason Kidd. Second, he says the Sixers need to trade Ben Simmons. Third, he says shut up Scottie Pippen.

Mean Green Cougar Red ponders an expanded college football playoff.

Global

Chris Carter, the creator of the X-Files, says he rejects the new UFOlogy. Beyond that, the Pentagon report says little about UFOs and much about us, says Adam Mann.

Xi Jinping Thought, like the Trump Train, can lead to calls of treason against the insufficiently enthusiastic.

Joe Biden's Secretary of State Tony Blinken hating on Palestinians isn't a surprise. After all, Status Quo Joe himself is status-quoing Trump actions here.

UFO pseudoscience by Daniel Brito

Sadly, it's at Ken Silverstein's Washington Babylon

(Sigh). Well, Daniel Brito, after a smooth intro, spills the beans on what he really thinks with his comments about Roswell, which are all wet. The reality of the explanation, and why previous mis-explanations were offered up due to Cold War reasons, by Occam's Razor, etc., makes good empirical and logical sense. 

Beyond that, per the Skeptic's Dictionary entry, what is called "Roswell" is actually a conflation of events over several years.

But, Brito would rather settle for illogic and even hoaxes, like the hoax pic largely behind "Belgian triangles." That's it, pictured at left.

I’ve also been (for free, wouldn’t pay) to the tourist trap museum in Roswell, and having grown up in New Mexico, am familiar with the land, the soon-to-be Air Force air bases, missile tests etc. 

And, yes, it's a fucking tourist trap. And, when the director or someone overheard me decades ago, saying, sotto voce, words to that effect, he said, "You have to believe." That's exactly it. Belief. Like religious belief, and like it, per the book of Hebrews, in the absence of actual evidence seen.

Reality? Contra Brito, without bothering to look for the actual skeptical info on any of his specific UFO reports?

I've also been more than once to other sights of allegedly unexplained phenomena, like the Marfa Lights. The skeptical explanation there, from my personal knowledge of the highway, fits fine.

As I said at Ken’s site, and expanding:

1. The lack of understanding of actual physics that would be involved by many people confident that UFOs are actually alien visits.

2. The arguably personality-disorder level of narcissism that leads many to thing "hey, UFOs visited ME!" Erm, and not Biden, Putin, Xi, UN General Assembly, etc.? (Daniel, you may claim the book addresses that; I highly doubt that. In addition, the creator of X-Files said last week in an NYT column that the Pentagon's new releases don't say what most people claim they say. It's true that pilots may not have that problem, but, Kean's, and UFO enthusiasts' in general, take on military spottings, overestimates military training outside what's narrowly necessary to get a military job done. And, that one too is not original with me.

3. The lack of understanding of science research in general; if there are aliens within our galaxy, they'd be able to learn plenty about us without leaving home, and for a lot less, with massive telescopes etc.

4. Related to that? The economics of interplanetary manned spacecraft. Oops, forgot that one! (This is new to me, but, I'll be adding it to the narcissism argument and others in the future.)

5. As for specific claims he makes? I'm not wasting time googling for the skeptical take on everything, as noted above, but Rational Wiki has a perfectly rational explanation for black triangles in general. As for the Belgian Lights triangles? The "base" photo, touted by UFOlogists for 20-plus years, was a hoax, as noted at actual Wiki.

6. The assumption that, of ALL these aliens, all have just stopped by for curiosity, chit-chat and an alien cup of coffee. Really? NONE of them are like the aliens in the old Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man"?

7. The appeal to family trees, in the book’s author, and other prominent touters such as Hillary Clinton is a form of false appeal to authority, or appeal to the crowd or popularity and as such, logically fallacious. Just because RFK Jr.'s uncle was JFK doesn't make his antivaxxerism any more true. 

8. As for Part 1 of his series? Harry Reid pushed UFO study as a tourist gold mine for Nevada. Ted Stevens was a warhawk bordering Russia and wanted unknown objects studied for military reasons. Not sure about Inouye. 

Re Reid? Laughing boy Brito doesn't ask if the Pentagon periodically gets in an apparent UFO tizzy to gin up its budget. Of course now, the Air Force and Navy have to fight for anti-UFO dollars with Space Force! UFOs, the final frontier!

9. Speaking of? Chris Carter, the creator of the X-Files, says he rejects the new UFOlogy. Beyond that, the Pentagon report says little about UFOs and much about us, says Adam Mann

Mann has several good things to say. I'll give you two excerpts:

Though it contains no indication that any of its incidents could have been caused by things not of this Earth, it will be seen as a major victory by those who have been pushing for increased government disclosures about strange lights in the skies.

The new report is less a major turning point in our understanding of life in the universe and more a product of our current cultural climate, a time when expertise and authority are increasingly being called into question. The debate over UFOs instead highlights the limits of knowledge and humanity’s continued need to believe in something beyond our mundane experience of the world.

To me, that ties in with the psychological angle of narcissism on those who claim to have actually seen UFOs that must be aliens. People in an America of 330 million and world of 7-plus billion are looking to escape the mundane.

That said? There's this one group that hasn't really seen such things and doesn't expect to.

But before rushing off into such flights of fancy, it might be good to consider that another group of sky watchers, astronomers, rarely report seeing unidentified aerial phenomena. “No one would be happier than astronomers if UFOs turned out to be alien spacecraft,” says Andrew Fraknoi, a retired astronomer and member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), which promotes critical investigation of extraordinary claims. “Imagine getting to talk about astronomy with creatures that traveled through the stars.”

Mann has more in that vein. But, astronomers are "experts," and possibly part of the dreaded "them," and get government money, etc., so must be distrusted. Besides, Fraknoi IS a member of "them" — skeptics! Right, Daniel?

In addition, Mann notes what I noted about Roswell: UFOs arose out of the Cold War. 

A new piece at NY Mag goes back further, to chaff and other early anti-radar measures in World War II. Stealth bombers, whose triangle shapes match these non-bogie bogies on modern radar screens, is just an extrapolation of that technology. The piece also, interestingly, raises not only the possibility of "but Russians" or "but Chinese," but says, more possibly so, is "but defects in software powering modern American radar."

And, kind of undercutting Brito's breathlessness about Leslie Kean, she wasn't sole author of the 2017 NYT story about the Pentagon's research.

In addition, as Poynter notes, there's questions about just what the Pentagon program actually was and why the enthusiasm right now.

That said, contra Mr. Blumenthal? In the past, hallucinations and fabrications have been part and parcel of UFO reports. Publicity seeking certainly has been. Whitley Streiber presumably has been doing both! Why would anything be different now?

And, he and the other three "expert witnesses" for Poynter should take note of the economics, as at the link above. They note the tech level, if any of these things are actually real, are (apparently) beyond the level of the US, Russia, and China. They don't even look at the cost issue if any of these things were real. Nor do they note the sociology and public policy angle — if any of these things are real, why aren't world leaders getting visits?

Or, as Michael Shermer said a decade ago, it's not UFOs OR UAPs, it's CRAP. Shermer covers some of the inflations of the original description of the Belgian Triangles by some of its military by later persons, including the Leslie Kean so beloved by Daniel Brito.

(I had originally had Part 1 linked as part of this week's Texas Progressives roundup along with other pieces on the new Pentagon report, thinking, per Reid, that Brito was writing a "follow the Congressional grifting" piece, until Part 2 rudely disillusioned me.)

Finally, note to Ken Silverstein: I know you've got Part 3 scheduled. Please, no more after that. Had Brito done something halfway along the lines of Poynter, we could talk.

Update, July 9: Brito has done it and written that Part 3. (I wouldn't be getting big payout click-link bucks anyway, so the "no follow" is turned on.) Among many failings of motivated reasoning, Brito calls proto-New Ager C.G. Jung a crank (and he is) but touts Apollo 14 astronomer and later parapsychology touter Edgar Mitchell as a serious guy for writing the forward to a UFOs book when in reality, he's also a crank.

Apparently, Ken isn't listening. Brito now has a podcast with Stephen Bassett, which goes FAR over Ken's 11 minutes. Rational Wiki doesn't have a page for Bassett, but it does have for a co-loon. As for Brito saying Bassett is serious. So was that German guy writing about his struggle. And, Bassett expanding from UFOs/UAPs to an alleged Presidential statement that the "ETs are here" (Alleged, because no actual Presidential statement saying that actually exists) shows the type of claims inflation that happens with UFOs is a good example of retrospective falsification or similar.

No, finally two: Mr. Brito has an interesting recent past. He's also full of himself as well as shit if he thinks this is an "indispensible guide." And, he joined Twitter only last month, and to tout his indispensible bullshit, I'm sure.

No, finally part three, and Ken, you should already know this yourself. —Brandolini's Law, that is, the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude greater than the amount needed to refute it. Brito's podcast shows that by the amount of stuff he simply throws around.

Of course, Ken might be a true believer himself, by the amount of space he's given Brito already, with more to come.

June 30, 2021

GCRFs vs the LC: A pox on both houses within the Green Party over the Georgia Green Party; expel BOTH!

I'm not like Abe Lincoln in every way, but I do, like I see him, fashion myself as somewhat of a "cogitator," someone who gnaws for a while on a serious issue, and even after lengthy gnawing, reserves the right to update his thoughts.

This is a follow-up to my previous post on this issue, as the Georgia Green Party gets closer to deaccreditation. 

To translate the initials? As some may guess, the former is gender critical radical feminists. The LC may be more obscure, but it's the Lavender Caucus within the Green Party, which represents the LGBQTIA+ (and hey, can't "I" stand for "incel" as well as "intersex"? #Boom!)  people within the Green Party, and yes, more and more, you see a "+" at the end of the alphabet soup of the expanding list of identity groups.

Let's start right there with that word, "deaccreditation." Or "expulsion," if you will.

And, by pox on both houses? I mean exactly that. Expel or deaccredit both the Georgia Green Party AND the Lavender Caucus. This is going to be primarily about the former, not the latter, but I'll touch on both.

My personal ties will get a bit more revealed here.

When the GaGP was first facing the threat of deaccreditation, a group eventually called the "Dialog not Expulsion Caucus" was formed. I think I heard about it via an unofficial Green Party Facebook group. I eventually signed its statement.

Now, in my previous post, I noted "I can't say more," three or four times, in parentheses. To be upfront, I am a member of a private email group of DnE support statement signees. To be more upfront, I'm probably the second most active non-GCRF member, in terms of commenting. By the letter of anonymity, I can dish on whatever I have said there, and certainly whatever I think about general happenings, and as long as I don't come close to direct quotes of others, and don't mention names along with specific indirect referencing of ideas, I think I'm observing full well the spirit of anonymity as well.

In short, I'm not a spy, and didn't enter the group as a spy.

OK, I think that's all the backgrounding I need.

LC members have consistently claimed that GaGP representatives have consistently refused, brushed off, or loopholed out of offers to dialog. Given some of the nastiness within the GP's Accreditation Committee, where the deaccreditation process started, I think some of the terms for dialog by the DnE Caucus (not an official GP caucus) were legit.

I don't know if all of them were legit back then, and didn't check on every one. I have a life beyond this.

Today? With more learning? I'll bet some of them were NOT legit. Over the past couple of weeks, there's been a GCRF-driven pivot that first styled itself "The Emergency Committee to Save the Green Party." As this, and the DnE, are on websites that aren't (AFAIK) part of the "dark web," no confidentiality violations here.

I think this IS a GCRF statement. (Can't say more.)

I do think its backers, vis-a-vis the dialog notes above, don't want to dialog with non-GCRFs within Dialog not Expulsion. I personally haven't even tried. I have said I wouldn't sign that thing, and reasons are listed in my previous blog post up top.

My perception of unwillingness to dialog, and how this relates to my take on issues going back 14 months ago, has thus been updated, per my first paragraph.

With additional observations, I've updated other thought as well.

First, contra the likes of Margaret Elisabeth, Fernando Mercado and others, I've long insisted that it's the trans activists who conflate sex and gender.

Now, I'm pretty sure that it's NOT "only" them that does this. I still won't say that this is as common among GCRFs as among trans activists, and its certainly done via a different approach angle, but does that conflation exist among GCRFs as well? Yes.

At my previous post, I talked about what I called "sex essentialism." I'm going to copy part of this and expand on it.

I've seen people like this say "you're not a woman if you don't menstruate." In addition to being an attack on transsexuals, it's also fallacious within a poor version of sex essentialism.

So, female marathoners aren't women? Female survivors of Auschwitz, Dachau and other camps weren't women? 

"But that's temporary!"

OK, then females with hysterectomies aren't women? Post-menopausal females aren't women?

And, while I "get" where "The Declaration on Women's Sex-Based Rights" is coming from, nonetheless, it at least to some degree participates in this same sex-essentialism mindset. Other parts of the site are strawmen. Is there really work on trying to give men the possibility of getting pregnant? That's not happening in 500 years, and what everyday male is asking for that anyway? AND, even if it became possible, I reject the idea that this is sex-based discrimination. This sounds like a turd-polished version of wingnuts' "barefoot and pregnant." Or Nazi Germany's "kinder, kirche, kuche" minus the middle term. (So I went Godwin's Law; sue me.) By the same logic, an attempt to let human woman have the ability for parthenogenic conception would also be sex-based discrimination. So is cloning. (There would be other good reasons, starting with medical ethics, extending to general ethics, and from there going into medical skills issues, to not do any of these, but that's a whole nother set of issues.)

And, while attacking the idea of "transgenderism," the Declaration doesn't even use the word "transsexual." GCRFs who are either clueless about, or refuse to admit the reality of, the "fraughtness" of human fetal sexual development and related issues, do the same. This is, at a minimum, a form of conflation of transgenderism and transsexualism. At a maximum, it approaches cultural genocide.

In short, whether the Declaration's drafters hearts were in the right place or not, it's a flawed document. I had only looked at the summary when I signed the DnE support, not the full thing, but even a careful look at the summary should have given me pause.

Sadly, by now, I the Declaration has become pretty much set in stone as "the" alternative to trans activism. It certainly is set in stone as the GCRF alternative.

Second, given that the Accreditation Committee's original action was what, two months ago, has there been a GCRF-based subcommittee within DnE long planning a "pivot" like this? I don't know, but it's certainly possible. 

That said, time to skewer the LC and the Accreditation Committee, which has officially drafted the document seeking the National Committee to officially deaffilate the GaGP.

And? The objections it raises are largely what the Declaration gets RIGHT, IMO. To the degree the Declaration's drafters worry about gender identity without conflating sex and gender is right, but it's the LC's first point of attack.

Second, the AC admits that the Green Party's platform statement supporting gender fluidity is nonbinding. So, they shoot themselves in the foot.

On the other hand, the AC charges that there wasn't advance notice of the meeting that ratified this becoming part of the GaGP platform, which ties back to my suspicions.

And, most damning of all, Hugh Esco, then the GaGP secretary, reportedly contacted the Women's Human Rights Campaign before the adoption of the Declaration, saying it had been adopted. That's from December 2019, and technically, is about the GaGP's Coordinating Council adopting it, while yes, the Declaration wasn't actually officially adopted until February 2020. Hugh might argue to the LC, AC, and NC that he's narrowly, technically right, but he certainly sells it to the Women's Human Rights Campaign as full adoption by the state party.

How many people were at the 2020 GaGP state convention, in turn? How many took an even more cursory look at the Declaration than my first look? How many were influenced by how Esco and allies sold it? I'll admit that I might not have fully challenged the framing.

So, in summary? The Declaration is not all wrong on transgenderism. It IS ALL WRONG, by a combo of commission and omission, on transsexualism. The same holds true for GaGP leadership and allies.

Expel them. 

But, still don't expect me to support the LC, either. Or the AC, which in that official complaint language doesn't use the word "transsexual." And, the LC and its allies, like Mike Gamms and half a dozen others I blocked on Facebook, have made terroristic threats, to put it bluntly. Their own "framing" contributed to me not looking more closely at the Declaration. And, to the degree it's all been done unrepentantly, it is part of why the LC also needs to be expelled.

The LC and AC don't want to dialog, IMO, and wouldn't even if the GaGP had started off in better faith. Per this Guardian piece, I don't think the "trans activists" want to dialog in general. 

Couple of final notes.

One, the GaGP seems to be one of the "paper" state Green parties, like Ohio was under Bob Fitrakis, as lamented by Mark Lause. It's why I've pointed out before that "decentralization," along with the other Ten Key Values, was originally drafted for suggestion only. In this, it's no different in the last 12 months than the Alaska Greens being hijacked by Jesse-stanners.

Two, on the terroristic threats, the LC and allies faithfully uphold every stereotype? generalization? that gender critical radical feminists have about trans activists. It's really still a stereotype; my "Bayesian" differentiation is that at least 50 percent of the members of a group have to live up to a "caricature" for it to be a generalization, not a stereotype. At the same time, the LC has chosen not to refute them, so, stereotypers plus fellow travelers maybe cross 50 percent and it is a generalization.

Three, had I known six months or so ago everything I know now about the Georgia Green Party and its intellectual dishonesty, I would have been less willing to sign the DnE statement. On the other hand, as I've said, it's not totally wrong, and per the paragraph above, and the paragraph with the Guardian link, I might have signed it just as part of a fuck-you to the Lavender Caucus.

Since I'm not a Green, as is, once the expulsion is official, I expect to leave the DnE email list and to become even less caring about GP issues. I've not looked at either the official FB group or the one unofficial one in more than a month.

===

Update: While "TERF" is a technically accurate alternative description, it can be a pejorative. Besides, it's a #twosiderism framing issue, as I note on Twitter, as part of a thread written in response to David B. Collins' recent post:
Per Wittgenstein and people yet more modern, it's a linguistic "game" issue.  And, I am not playing on either of the two sides who aren't the only two.

Collins is also misinformed, or more, uninformed, otherwise. Not all supporters of the GaGP, even ones more willing to accept their alliances, are gender-critical radical feminists.

Collins also doesn't mention calls for/threats of violence by the likes of Mike Gamms, and the GPUS and LC's failure to disavow them.

A transsexual male weighs in from the influencer world

Thomas McBee, a transsexual (my blog, my language, McBee) male weighs in from the NYT opinion pages.

He has a number of words for the gender critical radical feminists, self-identifying as a former "queer feminist."

He also rejects the "born in the wrong body" phrase as dehumanizing. From what I've talked about the fraughtness of human reproductive fetal biology development, and how sexual identity fraughtness (male/female) parallels that of sexual relationship identity fraughtness (gay/straight), I'd say it's probably less than fully accurate as well as dehumanizing. I think that's part of his take, too.

That portion of his column I thought was pretty good. His own take, that it's "wrong," at least if people understand that in a moral sense, or, that's my understanding of his angle, is certainly correct. At the same time, when "we," or certainly when I, want some descriptive language, what do we use besides "fraughtness"? Because, it's not "normal." No, I'm not going to put that in scare quotes. It's not normal. But, at the same time, I'm not going to use a word that's the opposite of normal that could be seen as pejorative.

In terms of evolutionary biology, fetal development of an individual fetus that eliminates its reproductive ability as an adult is not normal. That's true above all for a physical limitation, but along the lines of my repeated discussion in the past about psychological constraints on "free will," which I do put in scare quotes because, in traditional terms, neither it nor "determinism" exist, it's also true for psychological constraints on reproduction as an adult.

He rejects claims that there's a "trans activist movement" to recruit people, though. That said, he ignores more and more states letting kids as young as 13 get on puberty blockers. He ignores more and more doctors ignoring the Mayo Clinic and not requiring counseling at the same time as these blockers are administered. And, he ignores activists pushing for other states to have similar rules and other activism.

I did Tweet him, and while I wasn't rude, and while I didn't use the word "transsexual," I DID use "sex-dysphoric" rather than "gender-dysphoric." Period. My Twitter, my language.

June 29, 2021

Coronavirus, week 64A: Zeynep Tufekci speaks big truth!

And, #BlueAnon probably won't like it, as it challenges a bunch of tribalism.

Public intellectual Zeynep Tufekci has written a long piece at the NYT about the possible origins of COVID. It's very interesting. VERY interesting. She starts with the relative stability of the H1N1 virus and says that, ACCIDENTALLY, the Chinese government appears to have caused that stability. Tufecki addresses all the things that I have before in giving Orac and others from #BlueAnon (as well as wingnuts) a good smackdown — lab insecurity, "gain of function" research at the UNC lab where Dr. Shi, along with Dr. Baric, worked, and lab leaks for other pathogens, like hoof-and-mouth disease from a British lab. (Note: I have a follow-up to my smackdown coming later in the week. It's already mostly written; I'll try to remember to include whether or not he talks about Tufekci's piece by then. Actually, in another week, given her second Substack piece, at bottom, I'll have yet more.)

Next, she notes that social media users in China, before Xi Jinping could institute a Xi Jinping Thought crackdown, were among the first skeptics of the official WIV story. (Orac hasn't told you that in the past, either.)

She then notes that the virus the Chinese identified as 96 percent like SARS-CoV-2 had first been identified in 2012, not 2016. She notes that this and other facts were mentioned in the 2016 paper about this virus. In short, Chinese lies related to COVID go back 5 years.

What's really clear in all of this is that the Obama Administration's 2014 decision to pause gain of function research was correct. It's even more clear that outsourcing US gain of function research to China in 2017 was as disastrous as outsourcing our manufacturing there. What's also really clear is that a number of WIV's actions, as Tufekci puts it, "weren't deviations from international norms."

Back to WIV, though. Tufekci busts Peter Dazsak in lies about his claim that WIV didn't collect bats. It did then and likely still does.

After that? What Orac also probably won't tell you in the future? A number of signers of that (in)famous Lancet letter of early 2020 have since at least partially repented of their stance.

One, Bernard Roizman, an emeritus virologist at the University of Chicago with four honorary professorships from Chinese universities, said he was leaning toward believing there was a lab accident. 
“I’m convinced that what happened is that the virus was brought to a lab, they started to work with it,” he said, “and some sloppy individual brought it out.” He added, “They can’t admit they did something so stupid.” 
Charles Calisher of Colorado State University, another signatory, recently told ABC News that “there is too much coincidence” to ignore the lab-leak theory and he now believes “it is more likely that it came out of that lab.” 
Peter Palese, the virologist who wrote about the 1977 flu pandemic, said that “a lot of disturbing information has surfaced since The Lancet letter I signed” and that he wants an investigation to come up with answers.

Tufekci goes on to note that a number of other virologists and related scientists who did not sign the Lancet letter but supported its general ideas have also since changed their minds.

Next, Tufekci hints that Dr. Shi, despite head-fakes at transparency, not only isn't actually transparent but is likely a liar when she claims zero infection of anybody at the lab.

But wait, that's not all!

On her Substack, Tufekci explains the backdrop of the piece and promises a further breakout there.

She also has a SECOND follow-up, and among its hot takes are a specific decrying of the attitudes behind that Lancet letter. 

Biggest takeaway? She uses the phrase "cover-up."

She also thinks that people saying "don't make people mad" were in reality not wanting to talk about lab leaks.

Finally, this, which is DIRECTLY relevant to Orac and others of #BlueAnon. It's a long quote, but needed:

Again and again, throughout the past year, the more unlikely and extreme scenarios get “debunked” and the many actual questions and sensible and factual worries have been treated like… they don’t exist. 
After enough of that faux “debunking” and knocking down of genuinely unhinged stuff and/or strawman versiions of reasonable questions, people have gotten used to treating the entire question of virus-origins as something of only interest to crazies, or of no interest to anyone because there is no question there. 
Any discussion about potential lab/research connections are then deemed to be “conspiracy theories” (used in the sense of extremely unlikely or impossible events being speculated on because of other reasons), rather than substantive discussions we can use as figuring out how to take steps so as not to find ourselves here again. 
In this worldview, just saying there is a cover-up and that there are real questions about the virus origins, can be called a “conspiracy theory,” too, if you define conspiracy theory to mean any scenario in which authorities and people in power are lying, and are potentially coercing and pressuring everyone else, including the scientists. In reality, given this is China, such deliberate obstruction is obviously likely.

And, Orac has posted twice at his site since I first started trolling him on Twitter. (I have no problem admitting that that's what I'm doing, but also have no problem saying that he deserves it.) He hasn't addressed Tufekci at all; he has worried SO much about ivermectin that he blogged twice about it.

It's exactly things like this that led me to add her to my

June 28, 2021

No, the Rosenbergs weren't innocent

I can't blame their kids for believing that, at least in the case of Ethel, but I don't have to accept it. I certainly don't have to accept that as a claim from the new book by Anne Sebba about the Rosenbergs, or specifically about Ethel, let alone from a Rag Blog review. (And, in fact, Michael and Robert Meeropol have accepted Julius' guilt, so Allen Young is wrong even on that!)

Reality?

Both were guilty. That includes Ethel aiding Julius.

AND? It's also interesting that Sebba's book is only about Ethel. (OTOH, Sebba is almost exclusively a woman's biographer, per her Goodreads page.)

Setting aside Judge Kaufman's railroading of the trial, and setting aside David Greenglass' decades-later partial recantation of testimony against sister Ethel, that is still true today.

 And was then, and was evident at the time, setting aside those issues above.

The release of the full grand jury testimony in 2008 made that even more clear. 

The release of the Venona documents before that, specifically, material on them, made it clearer yet, as well as making clear that the Rosenbergs' espionage was not limited to the Manhattan Project. It also covered things like Anglo-American work on proximity fuses, themselves radar-based, America's first jet fighter and more. In these instances, rather than just confirming someone else (Klaus Fuchs), some of what the Rosenbergs were passing on was firsthand. 

Of course, these claims of Rosenberg innocence are part of a litany of unskeptical lefties' purity tests that always start with the fact that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were uniquely evil, were dropped as anti-Soviet threats, and were not even the best way to end the war.

The reality is that (setting the Holocaust aside, or in East Asia and Japan, setting aside the Rape of Nanking and Unit 731), the bombing of Dresden and firebombing of Tokyo were at their own high levels of moral dubiousness, that the two bombs were dropped as the least bad (I have NEVER said "good" so STFU) way to end the war, and that blockade would not have ended the war for months, resulting on ongoing American, Allied and Japanese military and POW deaths, plus the deaths of more Japanese from starvation than from the two bombs. 

Again, I've refuted this, or explain how authors have refuted this, in depth, starting with my review of "Unconditional," then to an expansion of my review of Frank's "Downfall," to a blog review of all the big issues at the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima,

The only real question is, given everything, and setting aside the issue of the morality or not of the death penalty in general (I oppose it), should the Rosenbergs have been executed?

I say, probably not on Julius and definitely not on Ethel.

But, both were guilty. Yes, Allen Young and yes Sebba. (Venona shows that she recruited Greenglass, and much more, regardless of whether she typed Julius' notes up or not. Alexander Vassiliev has offered more. Mark Kramer offers a LOT more.) And, per comment near the top, it's interesting the focus on just Ethel. It's like even a fair chunk of non-skeptical lefties recognize the case for Julius is a lot harder to make, especially since their own kids have abandoned it.

But, as John Schindler (yes, I know his own history) makes clear in the first link in the above paragraph, no, there's plenty of goods on Ethel. And, reading blurbs of the book, like other hand-waving lefties, Sebba appears to officially ignore Venona.

As for the Rag Blog? It doesn't have that many posts, and of the ones it does, at least one-quarter of them that stick in my mind are non-skeptical leftism like this.

June 27, 2021

RIP Tulsi Twerker and 9/11 falser Mike Gravel

RIP Mike Gravel. 

In reality? Just.Another.Politician.™, including supporting the Vietnam War for election reasons before he was against it. (Even more problematic was this lie was told when the man he was challenging, Sen. Ernest Gruening, was on record with long-standing opposition to the war.) As part of that run, he was one of the first candidates for national-level office to hire an official campaign consultant, Joseph Napolitan.

Tulsi Twerker and 9/11 falser. (And a UFO falser, which probably also needs mentioning given that the Pentagon's report on its investigation of latest unidentified flying object (that's what a UFO is and nothing more!) spottings by pilots etc is coming out now.

Per Wiki, In his time in the Senate decades ago, opposed Carter's eventually passed plan (supported by Ted Stevens!) for creating the state's current large national parks and preserves system. Supported the Alaska pipeline, and wrote an amendment to the bill for its authorization that blocked the use of the National Environmental Policy Act as part of review of its construction and indemnified it from any lawsuits related to that. He opposed President Carter's groundbreaking Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. In general, had zero serious pro-environmental record. Arguably an anti-environmentalist, as least in his Senate tenure. (He also opposed filibuster reform and sometimes backed Southern Dems against Northern ones just to be a pain in the ass. He joined Southern Dems in voting for Clement Haynsworth for the Supreme Court, even.)
 
Another example? He opposed Nixon's anti-ballistic missile system, but told Scoop Jackson he'd support it if Nixon opened yet more Alaska oil drilling. That included drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yes, by 2008, he opposed ANWR drilling, and did so. It's nice that he became more environmentally minded, but would have been better if he admitted earlier that he was wrong.

If really a "progressive" across the board, would have left Dems for Greens or something, not Libertarians, in his 2008 departure from Dems. This would be the same Libertarian Party who back then, as well as today over the suicide of John McAfee, has fanboi members repeating the "taxation is theft" bullshit. In reality, given his lie above, I suspect he jumped the shark to Libertarians instead of Greens purely on vote numbers.

Yeah, he did support the Green New Deal and the Paris accords in his 2020 non-run "run." But, that was the Dems' ripoff version of the GND, and the Jell-O Paris accords. A real environmentalist? Maybe he evolved beyond his original Senate tenure, but that says nothing.

Counterpunch's puff piece says that he was environmentalist in other ways. Being against nuclear fission power may or may not be environmental, esp. if you want all-electric cars and other things. (And, it IS a puff piece; it omits everything I have in this piece. AND, it's a puff piece because it's by his daughter. Hey, St. Clair, is this going to be a regular deal? You essentially ran an Anchorage Daily News type family-submitted obit, not an obit story. Would you do this with, say, Tulsi Gabbard?)

Counterpunch has doubled down and is fellating his memory in a podcast. He may (or may not) have BECOME a man of principle. He sure as hell wasn't when he first got elected. He quite arguably was an anti-imperialist. Anti-capitalist? How many anti-capitalists run for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination? (Gravel later admits he's not referring to socialism "in the classical sense." And, you know? Fascism didn't nationalize most businesses, but it did nationalize what they were supposed to be doing.) Again, it seems he looked at past Libertarian and Green vote totals, and saw which third party was bigger. Just.Another.Politician.™

Also, a Sarah Palin whisperer when the Schmuck Talk Express named her his Veep.

He did have his good side. Rational Wiki notes his support for various "direct democracy" initiatives.

But, given that Gruening was already against the war, Gravel actually brought little to the table in his political career.

And, since Tulsi Gabbard was and is NOT an "antiwar" candidate, his endorsement of her — his, not the college fanbois — actually undercuts his previous antiwar activism.
 
And, given that he told lies in his 2008 Libertarian run as well, Just.Another.Politician.™is something people need to remember about him. He lied then about stopping Nixon's Alaskan N-tests. He also lied about killing the draft by filibuster; on both these, see explanatory footnotes to his Wiki piece.

And, yes, he did call for people to help Howie Hawkins get ballot access last year. Did he actually endorse him? Well, it's a big argument, and it's filtered through Primo Nutbar and other things. But Wiki says Gravel didn't endorse him, by not listing Gravel among endorsees. And, as an independent leftist not a Green, this is yet another reason I won't vote for Howie in 2024 if he gets the nomination.

Speaking of, whether it was Gravel his own self willingly, or the college fanbois of the Gravel Institute dragging him around by the nose, he did get wrapped up with Primo Nutbar on this issue. And, it never got clarified. That was along with the fanbois backing Bernie, but then Gravel himself coming out personally as a Tulsi Twerker.

As for him lowering income inequality in Alaska? Given that he opposed the parks-and-preserves plan of Carter, even after compromises were made, I'm not buying that one, either, Ms. Mosier. On Indian affairs? He at one time wanted to abolish the BIA. (I know, from reading books about the modern Wounded Knee and more that the BIA is problematic, but, if your plan is to do nothing but abolish it?) He did fight for in-Alaska high schools for Natives. I'm unaware of any major connection he had to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act beyond being an original cosponsor and a couple of small amendments, not all of which passed. (That didn't stop him, about a decade ago, from BOTH claiming unwarranted credit AND still bashing Carter over ANICLA in the same interview. He bashes Carter when it was really his own fault; his meddling with previous versions of the bill led Carter to invoke the Antiquities Act.) His full record of sponsorship of Senate items re Native Americans is here. As Wiki notes, his Senate record on Indian affairs was "complicated."

So, this is not a full takedown obit, but it IS a semi-takedown, and as such .... #NotTooSoon. I had long know about him on 9/11, and of course, Tulsi just popped up with his 2020 campaign. I had never before looked in-depth at his Wiki page, though. The Vietnam stuff was new to me. And disconcerting, not just because it happened but again, it's not been "repented" of since then.

The final take? We all change. I grew up a conservative Republican. But, I admit I've changed, and I admit I rejected religious conservativism from both parents, racism from my dad and other things. Gravel seems to have pretended that he never changed. Second, regular readers know I loathe conspiracy thinking. Third, regular readers know I loathe Tulsi Gabbard. Enough said. (Unless you're at Counterpunch and choose not to say these things.) 

Counterpunch IS helpful in other ways. It has Gravel claiming Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat, deserves the American Medal of Freedom. Anybody who actually knows anything knows that Felt started leaking because he was butt-hurt that Nixon wouldn't name him as J. Edgar Hoover's successor.

And, I need to stop. I'm starting to engage in motivated reasoning.