SocraticGadfly: 8/22/21 - 8/29/21

August 27, 2021

Politics: Why does the Christian Century hate Palestinians?

A couple of weeks ago, at my philosophy, secularism and critical religion blog site, I tackled this issue from more the religious angle.

Now, I want to go more into the politics angle.

I'm excerpting from, and editing, that post.

First, the claim that it does hate Palestinians in general, and Palestinian Christians in particular, is a fair one, based on this open letter in Mondoweiss that the Christian Century refused to publish in response to an editorial there.

For secularists, non-Christians, and Christian laypeople who don't know the Christian literary world, Christian Century is not a fundamentalist or conservative evangelical magazine. It's also not a liberal evangelical outlet; in other words, it's not Sojourners.

What it is, is the voice of ecumenical mainline Protestantism. In other words, churches whose denomination leaders, colleges and seminaries, and most pastors in the pulpit do NOT believe in a Rapture, do NOT believe that, contra Paul in Romans, "all Israel will be saved" before the Apocalypse, and have no religious reason to suck up to Israel at the expense of either a separate Palestinian state, or full Palestinian rights within a one-state solution. (Think Episcopalians, United Methodist Church, liberal wing of Lutherans and Presbyterians, etc.)

The quote I reference, for the non-evangelical types? Romans 11, specifically, quoting 11:23-26a:

23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! 25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved.
No, liberal Protestants don't believe that as a literal event, just as they know that Paul was wrong about a Second Coming in his lifetime or soon thereafter. They also don't (on paper!) believe that we must support Israel with foreign aid for this reason. (See below on foreign aid, in more detail.)

Back to the details of the rejection. Specifically, this claim:

When US Christians talk about Israel and Palestine, we should do so with care, recognize that we’re guests in someone else’s conversation, and resist easy answers.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

As long as the United States government gives foreign aid to Israel while turning a blind eye to settlements, it's our conversation, too. It's the conversation of every American citizen, whether mainline Protestant, other Christian, Jew, Muslim, or even secularist.

And, as such, it's wrong when it says that only the "two-state solution" is viable.

For starters, Israel itself has made it non-viable, with a border wall that would be the envy (and is) of Donald J. Trump, followed by settlements in pre-1967 Palestine protected by that wall, followed by harassment on the other side of that wall and more. Either the editorial board of Christian Century knows this, and knows this is why liberal Zionists like Peter Beinart have jumped ship on the two-state solution, and they're being obtuse to their readers, or they don't know this and are being obtuse to themselves, or there's a split, like an apparent split on other things Israel, and the board needs to abandon the will o'the wisp of "consensus."

Showing how behind the times they are, the editors cite an EIGHT-year-old piece of theirs explaining why they think the one-state solution is not viable. People who know better have long ago rejected those ideas.

It's shameful, politically and otherwise, for the Century to have not published the response to its editorial. And, that goes above and beyond its getting this issue wrong in the first place. It's shameful, period.

It's also shameful, and hypocritical, because liberal Protestant Christianity, in things like the civil rights movement, has long believed in political activism.

August 26, 2021

Texas Progressives talk IPCC, climate change, Texas media



(The Dixie Fire, above, was already surging nearly three weeks ago, as seen by yours truly while climbing Lassen Peak.)

I pulled this out from the rest of the Texas Progressives roundup because I wanted to.

SocraticGadfly has a two-fer on some recent major climate change-related news. First, he explains what the Lake Mead water cuts will mean — and should mean for Arizona, and beyond that, eventually the whole Colorado basin. Second, he calls out some Texas media for pulling punches on matters related to the new IPCC report.
 
Counterpunch agrees that there's still too much hopey-dopey in such reporting.

Christopher Collins has a measure of redemption for the Observer this week by calling out a book on a West Texas solar plant for assuming that capitalism will be key to addressing climate change. (One of Gadfly's spankees was the Observer.)

Earthworks has the goods on how oil companies in the Permian are not only continuing to flare natural gas, but often doing so illegally by not even bothering to get a cheap permit from the toothless Railroad Commission.
 
Pro Publica reminds us that climate change is already hammering farmworkers

New Mexico energy watchdog and public power advocate Mariel Nanasi shows why big environmental organizations can't always be trusted on the details of pathways to increasing renewable energy. (Sidebar: This is another thing Yale Climate Connections won't tell you when it touts the wonderfulness of "green jobs." The first I thought of and told it is that many environmental orgs still aren't that labor-friendly.)
 
He's not closely connected to climate change issues, but he was VERY closely connected to the Southwest, notably the Anasazi. RIP David Roberts.

Texas Progressives go for a ride with Allen West

Just as long as his wife ain't driving!

Ahh, wingnut Twitter. When this news broke, one MAGA Tweeter claimed she'd passed a breathalyzer. I told him that the Trib story, linked above, didn't mention a breathalyzer. It DID say she refused a blood draw but the cop got a warrant. It also did say that she failed a field sobriety test. (Update: New stories mention, in order, the officer smelling alcohol, one of three field sobriety tests being failed and two being borderline/inconclusive, a breathalyzer that wasn't done correctly or didn't have usable results, then Angela Graham-West first consenting to a blood draw and then changing her mind and asking for a lawyer. That last is within her legal and constitutional rights, but people like her hubby don't want the general public to know that. What we have is CLASSISM. On the matter at hand, she was also reportedly talking on a cellphone when stopped and presumably beforehand. That, in turn is why Tex-ass is so weak on cellphone laws. Talking and driving with a 3-month-old grandson? Too bad she can't get a ticket for just that. As for what happened? I venture she had one-three drinks ... probably no more than that. Her blood draw will probably come back right around 0.08 but no higher. But, by law, Mr. Law and Order GOP ex-chairman, cops, and courts, can use more than BAC results.)

Havana Ted / Cancun Ted Cruz doesn't want to be a disloyal jackass, so he's public now on saying he'll vote for Abbott rather than West or Huffines. (Talk is cheap; on election night 2016, after claiming he would vote for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, Jesse Ventura ("The Body," or "The Rug," as in "lies like one") admitted he didn't. Cruz will still be a jackass, just a loyal one, at least for public consumption.

A federal judge, whose president of nomination the Trib doesn't identify and is so underground that Google doesn't show me, has ordered an injunction on the Biden Admin's ending of the Trump Admin's renegotiated extension of Texas' 1115 Medicaid waiver.

Stace honors journalist, poet, playwright, and cultural critic Gregg Barrios , who passed away suddenly last week.

Insurrectionist real estate agent Jenna Ryan has pled guilty over her role Jan. 6. She supposably says she won't go to jail, but that's for a judge to say in November, as no official news of that has been announced. Given her straight lies plus schwaffles from the day she was arrested, she is of course not credible.

The REPUBLICAN controlled Maricopa County, Arizona, Board of Supervisors, wants the GOP controlled state senate to pay $2.8 million for election equipment damaged during the #Fraudit.

Biden did fuck up the Afghanistan withdrawal, starting from the premise that he should have known Trump's original withdrawal timetable and plan had no actual plan. Nonetheless, we needed to withdraw and it was right. Why doesn't the MSM interview people like me, Popular Info asks. Besides, we knew a whole decade ago how corrupt Afghan officialdom was, Mondoweiss reports.

When neoliberals fellate their own.

Beyond Bones assures us that dinosaurs loved their children too.

August 25, 2021

My thoughts on the withdrawal from Afghanistan

A good starting point is last Friday's "Roaming Charges" scattershooting column by Counterpunch's Jeff St. Clair. A few takeaways.

First, for L/libertarians now fellating Ron Paul? St. Clair reminds us that Paul voted FOR the Authorization to Use Military Force. Oops!

Second, for the Berners, while he opposed invading Iraq from the start, he supported invading Afghanistan from the start.

Third, we're reminded that the late drunken Snitchens, aka Christopher Hitchens, enthusiastically supported both wars from the start.

Now, me.

I supported the invasion at the start. But not with huge enthusiasm, and with caveats, the second of which I publicly spoke about in a newspaper column.

Had I known at the time about the Taliban willing to (allegedly, but hold that thought) talk about expelling al-Qaeda, and maybe even handing over Osama bin Laden, I wouldn't have supported the war.

OK, more on the "hold that thought." We now know that the Taliban was ... "talking turkey." We still don't know how sincere they were, what details they had attached to an expulsion, let alone a handover, and whether those details were unacceptable not only to the Bill Clinton-Democratic foreign policy establishment, let alone the more neocon Bush-Republican foreign policy establishment, but to people outside the foreign policy establishment box, as I was just starting to become at that time. There might have been real and legitimate sticking points. Or, the Taliban might have been stalling. I am not saying either WAS the case; I am saying either COULD HAVE BEEN the case. I've called out Howie Hawkins, Margaret Flowers and the late Kevin Zeese for playing twosiderism with Xi Jinping; we don't need twosiderism with the Taliban, either. (That said, the Taliban offered a deal again after the war started. Part of that was an amnesty request for then; in our hubris, we said no. That piece also makes the no-brainer observation that we could have left after nailing bin Laden's hide to the wall.)

Update: Here's another good big picture timeline of US involvement. That said, from all we know from stuff like this, Counterpunch's claim, via an Afghan informant, that the Taliban was ready to hand over bin Laden pre-9/11, with few strings attached, seems ... uh, not likely. And, Mohabbit may have had some axes to grind. In addition, the interview was by Alex Cockburn, who may have been committing one of the two sins that led me to de-blogroll Counterpunch for a number of years. That sin? It's the same as today's allegedly outside the box stenos like Max Blumenthal and Aaron Maté — a reflexive anti-Americanism that engages in twosiderism and says that everything the bipartisan foreign policy establishment gets wrong must therefore be right. (Xi Jinping and the Uyghurs is today's obvious example, whether seemingly a sincere belief from the likes of Aaron, or presumable grift/PR flak from the likes of Max.) 

Sidebar: Alex's other sin was, IMO, pushing the envelope of anti-Zionism into antisemitism. Now, my knowledge of how much and how readily the cudgel of conflating these two is used by Zionists has grown a lot since then. But .... within leftism and left-liberalism, other people raised an eyebrow at times about him.

Second, had I known at the time what eventually became evident, that even as the Afghanistan invasion was being launched, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld planned a "pivot" to Iraq, which meant scraping up a thin global coalition of troops plus not always reliable Afghan allies to supplement the thin American troops that wouldn't be augmented, I wouldn't have supported the war.

Per what St. Clair says much later in the piece, any idiot is capable of knowing that the vaunted "boots on the ground" are needed for actual occupation; bombs don't occupy anything. And, under "lessons not learned from Vietnam," the U.S. military still over-values bombing. 

A second good read is from John Pilger, who reminds us that we're reaping what we sowed with our coup in the late 1970s after the overthrow of King Zahir Shah. Behind the US-backed coup? Zbigniew Brzezinski, the biggest Darth Vader of US foreign policy this side of Kissinger. More here on Carter-era meddling, and picking the wrong side when we did. And, more yet on how Carter also intervened in an inter-Yemen war when there were two of them, also prompted in part by Zbig. (Blue Anon leaders like Josh Marshall don't want to go back this far.)

Nor, per one tweet of a Friday thread of mine about this issue, do we need conspiracy theories.

First, for my thoughts on conspiracy theories vs. actual conspiracies in general, go here.

Second, in general, one factor on conspiracy theories vs. actual conspiracies is a, roughly, 20-year lifespan for evidence. If actual evidence supporting a theory doesn't pop up within 20 years, it almost certainly never will, and we can increase our assuredness that it is a conspiracy theory, not a conspiracy.

Take the late 1970s House Select Committee on  Assassinations. It found no major new evidence about JFK, RFK or MLK assassinations, and certainly nothing that would support actual conspiracy.

With that in mind, we're approaching the 20-year mark on Pat Tillman. I've seen nothing new to convince me, or even come close to convincing me, he was fragged. If he had been, surely somebody would have leaked a discussion by now.

His planned meeting with Noam Chomsky? Maybe known to a few military friends, but almost certainly NOT to high brass. And, in any case, we don't know exactly what Tillman planned to talk about.

How close the range was when he was shot? Well, even in modern war, sadly, the "fog of war" is real. 

==

Back to St. Clair, and other things.

Jeff wonders, of the many Afghan interpreters we're trying to fly out, how many participated in translations of torture sessions. To further his thought, how many deliberately misinterpreted them, just like some of our informants who were settling old grudges?

Didn't the neocons "own themselves" on this war 40 years ago?

If the Mujahideen were the “moral equivalent of the founding fathers” of Afghanistan, as some in the Reagan years proclaimed, then the Taliban must be the Afghan version of the Federalist Society, intent on enforcing an originalist interpretation of Sharia Law. The Taliban session at the next CPAC will be must-see streaming.

Yes.

St. Clair mentions Ted Rall. His infamous "sap and sucker" cartoon, with words like that on the white crosses of a U.S. military cemetery, looks even more disgusting with nearly 20 years of hindsight. AFAIK, Rall never discussed the economic necessity that drove many people into military enlistment in our all-volunteer army, despite being an alleged leftist-leaner of some sort.

==

Biden did fuck up the Afghanistan withdrawal, starting from the premise that he should have known Trump's original withdrawal timetable and plan had no actual plan. Nonetheless, we needed to withdraw and it was right. Why doesn't the MSM interview people like me, Popular Info asks. Besides, we knew a whole decade ago how corrupt Afghan officialdom was, Mondoweiss reports.

==

Beyond rejecting Pat Tillman conspiracy theories, I also reject those by Craig Unger, Michael Moore et al that Afghanistan was "all about the oil," or "oil pipelines," or whatever. Yes, US goverments and US and multinational companies had held talks about pipelines — and even more, discussed possible mining for heavy metals — in years before the invasion, but the relative lack of troops, even in the early days, puts the kibosh to that idea being serious as well. And, since the invasion, other ways to move oil from Central Asia have been developed. Besides, on the pipeline issue, Afghanistan's largely mountainous terrain says that's not realistic, not for major pipelines.

Yeah, the idea sounded tempting about 2003 or so. That's why Moore's problematic movie was such a hit with the people who are today's #BlueAnon. But, while Moore is a great polemicist, and a great auteur, he's not always so great with command of facts.

August 24, 2021

Dan Ariely, alleged fraudster

I've read several books by Dan Ariely, and came to appreciate him as the seeming dean of a younger generation of behavioral psychology researchers, standing on the shoulders of giants like his mentor, Dan Kahneman and Danny's collaborator, Amos Tversky.

I'd even referenced him in an newspaper column about 18 months ago in the early days of coronavirus, specifically citing his "Predictably Irrational." Extended thoughts in that vein are here. A non-Goodreads/Amazon review is here.

The one book of his that I have reviewed at Goodreads is ...  wait for it below ...

And, now, he has been accused of research fraud. And, if this finding is correct, simple and childish research fraud. (For a deeper dive, here's the blog, with the particular blog post, that first discovered this.)

"WHY?" comes immediately to mind.

My best guess is that he'd gotten himself up a creek without a paddle on some previous claims, hitting the rapids or even the full waterfall version of Replication Bias, and decided to fix things.

But, really? Just adding numbers to a column in an Excel spreadsheet? Wow.

There's also a fat-assed Irony Alert. The allegedly fraudulent research was used in a 2012 co-authored paper about ... 

HOW TO REDUCE DISHONESTY!

And, that one book of his I reviewed? "The Honest Truth about Dishonesty." AND, a paragraph of the review needs quoting:
He also notes that, short of sociopath types, while most of us cheat, most of us don't cheat that much. For instance, on matrix-completion tests where people are paid based on personal claims of number of tests completed? They'll claim to have done a couple of extra, but not double what they actually did.
AND AND AND!

The alleged fraud was in 2012. Guess what year that book was published. So, that just confirms things. He had said shit in the book that wasn't true, I presume, had now learned that it wasn't true, and was in CYA mode.

And, the #fail was indeed childish. Beyond just adding numbers to an Excel column, a different font was used for these new numbers. (Sadly, it was Calibri, then Cambria; no Comic Sans involved. That said, that's like a modern version of one of the classical manuscript errors. I most font sets, Calibri and Cambria are adjacent to each other in a scroll list; this is like a medieval scribe either skipping or reduplicating a word.)

And, it's not like Ariely was a scrubbeenie. He was a tenured prof at Duke; he'd taught there before and came back, per Wiki.

Beyond the link above? Story is now in the Economist, which also notes the 2012 hypocrisy squared book publication date. Wiki says he's asked for the paper to be retracted.

So, the "alleged" is in the title and the body only for purely legal reasons.

Per Proverbs?

"The guilty flee when no one pursues."
 
==
 
As far as his overall writings? "The Honest Truth about Dishonesty" is obviously trash. I assume that anything later also is. "Predictably Irrational" is enough earlier it may well be OK. But, maybe not. And, shouldn't we just start calling Ariely himself "Predictably Irrational"?
 
Since Ariely wants the paper retracted, after first tweeting Retraction Watch during the day yesterday, I posted a comment on their most recent post last night. It went into moderation, I guess because of the link. And, as of this afternoon, it had NOT posted. So, I posted a comment on their FAQ / comments policy page. And, it went into moderation.

Anyway, the story has now metastasized, whether Retraction Watch runs anything or not. Samuel Goldman, going beyond the replication bias, argues that what we have is a clear case of "star professor" sucking up the oxygen of grants, etc., and having incentive to Lather.Rinse.Repeat.
Manipulation to produce favorable results is exactly what behavioral economics would predict in this situation. So it's ironic that one of the leading practitioners of the field seems caught in a trap that his own ideas help explain.
Goldman also goes "there" with Ye Old Petard Hosting reference:

Well, it's true!

And, backed up by the Daily Mail. (If they're doing a story, we're officially in dogpile time.) It says that one co-author expressed concern about the data at the time, but Ariely said "We're all good."

And, NEW shit has been dragged up. His Wiki page, newly updated, references an Israeli journal that says while Ariely was at MIT, without institutional review board approval, he used electric shock on participants in an experiment.

And, via the "fonts" link above, I don't need to be harshing Retraction Watch's mellow. It reported earlier this year about ANOTHER Ariely issue: a 2004 paper that got an "expression of concern."
 
BuzzFeed has a piece that documents more replication issues. And, per that, we probably should just cut to the chase and call Ariely an outright liar. Ariely is, indirectly, trying to blame the insurer for whom he did this study. But, he's done that in the past — until busted. In a study a little over a decade ago about dentists allegedly themselves not always knowing when a cavity is a cavity, when issues arose, he blamed Delta Dental. Problem? Delta said it had never given him the information he was talking about.

And, with all of this new information? The note of concern is for work from before Predictably Irrational was published. So is the unauthorized electroshock. So is the fake cavities research. So, we can't trust it, either, can we? And, personally, having referenced it in a column, this is kind of like a source going bad.

Per Goldman, academia is also very political, and I suspect some long knives have been laying in wait for Ariely, re why this is so popular. And, I think a lot of people have probably had suspicions for a long time. That said, will Duke put him on some sort of probation?

That said, maybe we should thank Ariely in a way. He's shown that, if the emperor of behavioral economics and psychology isn't totally naked, it's probably about as thinclad as that of evolutionary psychology. After all, others, including one of his aforementioned mentors, Dan Kahneman, have had their own replication problems (though they didn't make up data to try to hide that, as far as we currently know).

That said, outside of academia, through jobs like "chief behavioral officer" at Lemonade, he's been laughing all the way to the bank, and the statute of limitations for suits over some of this have certainly expired.

A sad RIP to David Roberts

I had read about his initial throat cancer diagnosis, and his energy-sapped recovery. I had read about people criticizing him on his first trip to the Southwest after that, talking about him not being just snippy but downright angry.

However, if you read this 2018 piece at Backpacker by him, you'll realize how much he was sapped, and how much he realized that, and maybe rethink, if you were one of the people who downgraded his book after that trip.

Because, after that, as the piece noted, the cancer metastasized.

Seeing Backpacker rerun it (even, weirdly, without an editor's note), I ventured a guess and hit Google. And yes, last week he died.

I first came to know him through "In Search of the Old Ones." Like Mark Reisner's "Cadillac Desert," it's a book I've not only read, or not only re-read, but re-re-read. I'm not sure if it's been more than three times, but it probably has.

Unlike Stephen Lekson and others whose books on Chaco I have, he wasn't a professional archaeologist or anthropologist. He was originally, out of a college, an A-class mountaineer who  did some pioneering trails at Denali and elsewhere. Then, he became a professor, focusing in teaching outdoor writing, and more and more of that, in expanding his horizons and adding to his own books, led him to the Southwest.

You can tell that he listened, listened a lot, and listened well, to old-timer Anglos, whether professionals or not, who knew "where to head" for truly special finds but also had a "code" of never fully revealing their location. Roberts internalized that, and in his own way, parallel to but different from Ed Abbey and Jim Stiles, came to loathe the hordes overwhelming the greater Four Corners. (He definitely differed from Stiles in that he didn't kiss Mormons' asses.)

Growing up in Gallup, New Mexico, yet being taught relatively little about this world around me by my parents — one trip to Chaco, one trip to the then Bisti Badlands, and nothing to Canyonlands, in nine years, for example — he was a sort of mentor to me. I'm not a professional mountain climber, nor that level of equivalent as a hiker. I have never through-hiked anything with water stashes. Yet, in part due to him, I've done a certain amount of putzing around on Cedar Mesa and in and near Grand Gulch. (My footprints there at right.) I've seen a few sites that are enough off the beaten path that I saw nobody else while hiking out or back in.

Thank you.

I read several other of his books, some of which were more about hiking and less about Anasazi, and others that were more about Indians, but peoples other than the Hisatsinom, as the Hopi call the Old Ones. That piece is by Craig Childs, one of Roberts' two best-known mentees as an author along with Jon Krakauer. It was a sidebar to a long story at High Country News (back when it was much better than today) by Childs.

As for Roberts' books, to get back to that? I grokked his sequel to "In Search of the Old Ones," titled as "The Lost World of the Old Ones" and reviewed here by HCN. It didn't quite grip me as much ...

His book on the Pueblo Revolt, main-titled "The Pueblo Revolt," was great for telling us as much about what we don't know, and even more about why we don't know some things and likely will. His book on the disappearance of Everett Reuss, "Finding Everett Reuss," was just fantastic, a non-fiction "whodunit" with twists and turns. (BUT ... WRONG on the ending.)

"Sandstone Spine," reviewed here, was about Roberts, with two friends, hiking the length of Comb Ridge (a first for Anglos or Spanish, and probably period) as his way of working through a midlife crisis.

"Once They Moved Like the Wind" is surely the best basic-level overview of the final Apache wars.

Finally, among those of his I've read fully, there's "Devil's Gate," an honest look at the tragedy of the 1856 handcart trek, a tragedy inflicted on the Mormon trekkers almost entirely by Brigham Young himself, a tragedy he tried to cover up as well as his part in it, in a cover-up second in Mormon history only to the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

==
 
Update: First, per his CaringBridge website, this is how he died. And, David was as honest in dying as in living, as people who knew him in person have long attested. In refusing an oxygen mask, and being told the result, he said, yes, he would "die." He didn't use "pass," unlike hospital staff. He then dictated a last entry to his wife Sharon, per the end of the piece. 

He was also honest about being an atheist, another kudo. And, also honest about the bullshit of the alleged power of positive thinking. (That said, that piece has some people, like BLM rangers at Kane Gulch, claiming Roberts, contra his claims in "In Search of the Old Ones," HAS revealed too much. Personally, while acknowledging it's plausible, among his various takedowns, I remain less than fully convinced Peary cheated on the North Pole.)
 
I wouldn't suggest this publicly to Sharon, but I hope she does something like Ed Abbey's friends did. Bury his body or scatter his ashes somewhere on Cedar Mesa.

==

Update two: Per the "wrong" on Everett Ruess, I'm going to have, at some point in the near future, a much more complicated retrospective. It is not going to be a "takedown," though I can do those, as I did somewhat with Ruth Bader Ginsburg (why did she never go by her actual first name, "Joan," anyway?) or fully so with the likes of John McCain. But, there's other things that need to be addressed as well as that — though his reaction to botching the Ruess ending and how he reacted are both ... symptomatic.)

August 23, 2021

Coronavirus, week 72: Pfizer OK, the endemic disease, endemic Strangeabbott

LEADING with the breaking news: Pfizer is the first vaccine to move beyond EUA to full FDA approval. That, in turn, makes nugatory another part of Strangeabbott's GA-38, which barred vaccine mandates on EUA vaccines. So, Clay Jenkins? Require a vaccine mandate, just specify Pfizer (for now). Moderna is expected to get its full approval soon so you can add that. Johnson and Johnson, I've heard less about.

With that in mind, San Antonio ISD, which had previously announced a vaccine mandate last week in defiance of Abbott and Kenny Boy Paxton, is now legally in the clear. (And, if Abbott tried to update GA-38, he'd surely bring Biden on him in spades.) Paxton and Abbott — as well as folks on "the other side" like Clay Jenkins, have been radio silent today on vaccine mandates.

Now, to the original start of this week's roundup.


Coronavirus will eventually become endemic. When it makes that transition, and how strong it remains, are still up in the air. Sarah Zhang discusses this in terms of a background of breakthrough infections, new variants and more. And, that all ties to current vaccination rates, too. 

Amanda Mull adds to this about how Delta has made COVID risk issues more variable than ever.

The endemic Abbott? His maskless breakthrough infection self-own aside (and, remember, as a paraplegic, he's a higher risk), the GOP alternatives of Allen West and Don Huffines are of course even worse, Democrats and loser-in-chief Gilberto Hinojosa will probably pick another loser, and Drew Springer and fellow GOP Legiscritters priced Greens pretty much off the electoral market on filing fees, and the federal lawsuit on that (the wheels of justice in Merikkka always grind slowly, but often, they do NOT grind exceedingly fine) doesn't get heard until early next year. (That said, Greens could nominate a COVID-denying conspiracy theorist; in the same vein, Libertarians could almost certainly nominate someone to the right of Huffines on public health issues.)

How bad ARE breakthrough infections? We don't know. Given that Strangeabbott reportedly cut line and timelines to get a booster vaccination and STILL got one (and is stonewalling questions about getting a booster), we know they're bad enough.

We DO know, with the clearest proof yet coming from his recent statements about vaccine rates, that Dan Patrick, er, Danny Goeb, is a racist.

We DO know we're up to 58 school districts (plus other local governing entities, of course) resisting Abbott. Sicko Kenny Boy Paxton, in an apparent attempt at intimidation, is maintaining a running list.

Off the Kuff puzzles over some frustratingly vague polling data related to attitudes about mask and vaccine mandates.

Yet more on what we know and what we don't know on why, even within areas that aren't high in vaccination, some are hotter spots than others.

We had 1,000 deaths in a day for the first time since March.

Despite the new CDC moratorium on evictions, Texas judges are rubber stamping them.

How crazy are the antivaxxers? They booed Trump at his own rally for saying get a shot. Between "inner heat and light," HCQ and ivermectin Trump and Platonic Noble Lies, twice-over, Fauci going off on his own, Trump and his administration led to this, though.

Get a fucking shot, indeed, Kirk Cousins. Oh, wanna quote the bible on your Twitter bio? I'll quote back: Submit to the governing authorities for they have been appointed by god.

The Texas Politics Project takes a deeper dive into polls about schools and COVID. 

Matt Dulin looks at the effects of vaccine hesitancy and access.

Steve Vladeck explains what that Supreme Court action on mask mandates for schools really means.

Madison Yandell asks three questions about federal COVID relief funds for education.

Robert Rivard wishes Greg Abbott a swift recovery and a change of heart.