SocraticGadfly: 2022

May 21, 2022

Small town manners and values? What a laugh: they don't exist

At one time in MeriKKKa, supposedly, good old law-abiding, god-fearing White folks, the menfolk half, took their hats off when inside.

Not any more.

At a graduation ceremony at a rural outpost of such an alleged world last night, by my eyeballs' guesstimate, 20 percent of the White menfolk kept on their cowboy hats or baseball hats.

It's not the first time I've observed that such values don't exist. Paying for things on the honor system in these parts doesn't always happen, either.

May 20, 2022

Coronavirus Week 109A: Really? "Cases don't matter"?

At The Nation, Gregg Gonsalves demolishes this claim.

Unfortunately, he doesn't look at the politics behind this, especially the politics behind the CDC's officially backing the "cases don't matter."

It's StatusQuoJoe and Democrat Congresscritters worried about the midterms, just like Trump was about the 2020 election. I've said this more than once. And, because they're also worried about the inflation they caused, in part (through poking the Russian bear with the NATO sharp stick too much), they won't adopt most of Gonsalves' push, like new money to get people boostered, get more masks, support school masking etc.

I've talked about this before, and again. Already in February, I said politics were likely behind St. Anthony de Bureaucrats Fauci's talk about the "timeline" for COVID becoming endemic. Before that, in December, I noted Status Quo Joe's fails on not having a multipronged COVID strategy. Then in March, I first blogged about a possible new surge, which Gonsalves references.

The biggie? In April, I said Biden's CDC basically went Shrub Bush and said "Mission Accomplished" in the face of Judge Mazelle's ruling on federal mask mandates.

Meanwhile, Ed Yong also weighs in on the "cases / hospitalizations don't count," and makes clear the CDC is saying BOTH. And, it's Biden's CDC, in case Ed doesn't emphasize that enough. As part of that, he notes the health care system remains in crisis, even if COVID deaths themselves are not (yet) at crisis levels.

This:

Is the bottom line.

Much of the system is still intolerably stressed, even in moments of apparent reprieve.

Well, the line below that is that Biden doesn't care. 

Yong notes how PTSD is ripping through the system. And, again, white wingnuts who think you're safer? Just as deaths are higher per capita in your rural areas, so are the health care effects.

Smartphone addiction in church

And not from a parishioner.

With a private as well as public high school in my current newspaper bailiwick, I occasionally, as in once a year, have to stick my head inside the local Catholic church. As in, for the Catholic private school's graduation ceremony, which includes a full Mass.

Well, cellphones do go off occasionally in church. Hell, in "real church," 15 years ago, I heard one go off during a Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert. It was about 2 minutes into the first piece on the program. Andrew Litton stopped. Full stop. Then turned around. Then, he made a decorous, but forceful, "suggestion" that everybody check their phone and turn it OFF. ("Vibrate" as an option was rare that long ago.) Then, he restarted.

Anyway, the local priest must have had his brick on "vibrate." And, must be addicted.

And, being Catholic, not a Baptist brother preacher, further illustrates.

No more than 2 minutes before the start of the processional, he reaches under his cassock, whips out his brick and checks it.

Really?

Short of one of your parents facing near death (remember, he's Catholic, no home life family), why are you needing to check your phone at that time?

You're not.

Sidebar: The Mass bell again reminds me of a Pavlov's dog experiment.

May 19, 2022

Ukraine, week 9: Mayday on VE-Day in Moscow

Per a presumably accurate translation, Putin's May 9 Victory Day speech went kind of flat. Rehashing of old tropes. No actual declaration of war nor deeper incitement to patriotism. Kind of laughable at the end to appeal to living in a multiethnic country.

NATO's secretary general Jens Stoltenberg joining the Team Biden warmongering ante-upping? He claims "Ukraine can win this war," .... if it gets extra help, natch. No talk of NATO trying to facilitate peace talk. No talk of cutting off Russian oil imports, which would be the real sauce actual extra help but that NATO/EU can't afford. 

Turkey is making noises about blocking NATO membership for Sweden and Finland — unless sufficiently bought off by the US in the Middle East. One human rights sellout coming up? 

Could Finland have a "caveated" or "opt-out based" NATO membership? Discussed here, but color me skeptical on NATO membership wanting that, especially when it's coming from a British touter of Finland joining.

Are there still hopes for a compromise peace? A Medium blogger discusses the possibilities while also passing along rumors that Putin has blood cancer.

Taylor Lorenz may have been right in her piece a few weeks ago on right-wing outrage, but she's simplistic at best in her piece about Biden's Orwellian Board of Disinformation. Plenty of leftists questioned it as being a likely nat-sec nutsack PR front to push, and push hard, the Biden / NATO / bipartisan foreign policy establishment party line on the war. We looked at Nina Jancowitz's past history and that was easy to call.

May 18, 2022

Coronavirus, week 109: We're STAT, hear us roar like snowflakes

A good overall piece by STAT, with snooty marketing behind it, caught my eye last week and I didn't get it in last week's roundup of COVID news.

First, the good takeaways, good in terms of information summary, not good morally, of course.

1. COVID was the second-leading cause of death in 2021 in the age 25-44 cohort in the US. It was No. 1 already in the age 45-54 cohort. So, while it primarily killed old people, people younger than 55 have no "safety."

2. Rural people had a higher per-capita death rate than people in metro areas. Probably a mix of factors were involved. On the socio-political side, antimasking and antivaxxing stances were bigger out there. Vaccines arrived later to rural areas, as well. Rural health care is sparse, and what's available is limited.

3. Being "boosted" isn't that much of a benefit. No, really. During the Omicron peak, people who were boosted did have some benefit from being boosted, but not huge, per a graph on site. Plus, there's no indication that the benefit was due to a booster shot itself, or entirely due to a booster shot, versus the idea that people who got booster shots were more conscientious about masking, more likely to have an N95 or KN95 than a plain mask, etc. And, the piece doesn't claim that (to the degree you could control for this in advance, or investigate it as part of the big picture) that this was allowed for.

Now, the snooty marketing.

Author J. Emory Parker's Twitter name? (Not his @.) 

"J Emory Parker [LGBTQ flag icon] Subscribe to STAT+."

I saw his first paragraph, and the start of his second, which said:

Officially, the U.S. will almost certainly reach an awful milestone in the next two weeks: its one millionth recorded Covid-19 death. In reality, this milestone was likely unofficially crossed days or weeks ago, and we’ll never know the exact toll or the identity of the pandemic’s actual millionth victim.

About which I Tweeted to him:

And he said, on Twitter, in essence:

Would you literally read my second paragraph?

To which I Tweeted back:

I can't embed his tweet because? He blocked me. No, really.


So, I screengrabbed that, as shown above, and, because I hadn't blocked him yet, cc-ed him and STAT's Twitter accounts with it.

As for the COVID death reality? I blogged about the 1 million mark nearly two months ago.

AND, Stat, don't expect me to cite you in the future. Certainly, I'll cite nothing by this snowflake.

May 17, 2022

Court rulings and more on the law, and medical ethics, on transgenderism/sexualism

The slash in the header is because this blogger distinguishes between transgender and transsexual, as does the National Institutes of Health. Several state rulings related to that in the past week. 

First, a mixed bag ruling from the Supreme Court of Texas. It said the Department of Family Services was NOT answerable to Kenny Boy Paxton or Strangeabbott, but did NOT order it to stop all investigations of parents of gender dysphoric kids, who may, or may not, wind up as either transsexual or transgender adults. Instead, it said only that DFS could not investigate a family suing them, which is an invite to more lawsuits.

Second, a Dallas County court-at-law judge told GENECIS it could reopen, pending a full ruling on May 26, and forbade Children's Medical Center from blocking that. I'm curious as to what Judge Bellan will eventually rule. I stand with the Mayo Clinic on use (and possible overuse or misuse) of puberty blockers. I also note that MDs within the trans activist world (and yes, I don't have a problem with that phrase) have raised the same cautions.

In short, I'm not a two-sider on this issue, and you shouldn't be either. And, that's why I'm waiting for the full ruling. Maybe Children's Medical Center/UT Southwestern has legitimate concerns that GENECIS is pushing puberty blockers too much? GENCIS says it offers counseling with the blockers, so it does meet that stipulation of Mayo — something that puberty blocker pill peddlers (they exist) don't. And, let us remember that what's called "gender affirming care" in the eyes of one person — and one MD — could be "sex disaffirming care" in the eyes of another.

Texas Progressives: More on abortion, other political issues

538 has good polling details on how much Americans support abortion AT what stage of a pregnancy and WITH what restrictions. Pro-choice people, even if not "abortion on demand" types, should keep things like this in mind.

Mimi Swartz takes a look at Jonathan Mitchell, mastermind behind Senate Bill 8 and possible Alito whisperer.

Off the Kuff emphasizes that striking down Roe v Wade is just the beginning for anti-abortion fanatics, not the end. 

Related: Janneke Parrish shows what the reality of life after a miscarriage is like now in Texas.

SocraticGadfly talks about the "great muddled middle" of exactly when, and with what restrictions, people support abortion rights.

Connecticut, and a few other states, are preparing for the possibility of wingnut states trying to file charges or civil suits against Connecticut doctors.

==

Other politics

A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit issued a per curiam (problematic in its per curiam lack of explanation) lifting a stay on a Texas bill that banned social media companies from blocking users, without ruling on the constitutionality of the bill. The tech company plaintiffs have appealed to SCOTUS to keep the stay in place while the original district court lawsuit continues. 

DosCentavos gives us a list of Greg Abbott's shenanigans of the last couple of weeks.

Wingnut wins in school board elections don't look good for Democrats (or Greens or Libertarians) in the fall.

Somebody gave the Court of Criminal Appeals a heart and a brain when it said a district court needed to look at intent on the conviction of Crystal Mason for alleged vote fraud.

Not the Onion, but the Scrambled Onion, as I call it, settled a defamation suit by two Georgia elections workers over #StartTheSteal claims. It broadcast a prerecorded message admitting their claims were bogus, per the story, which doesn't admit a $$ amount on settlement.  

Amber Briggle had a deservedly lovely Mother's Day thanks to Beto O'Rourke.

Reform Austin speculates about Greg Abbott's political ambitions.

Therese Odell wades into the latest idiocy in the conservative war on Disney.

==

The DMA has a big new Cartier exhibit, previewed here. It's emphasis is on Islamic influences on the House of Cartier. This is its only North American stop.

Evil MoPac sums up other Texas cities with a mild level of humor. (Via Kuff, the "mild level of humor" is my add.)

May 16, 2022

Texas electricity still sucks, as does ERCOT

So, ERCOT tells people here in Tex-ass to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees this last weekend because several power plants were offline for summerization? 

Can't ERCOT either get these plants to look ahead on a 10-14 day forecast to see that cooler weather might be upcoming, OR ... take into account climate change and do this earlier?

And, speaking of, ERCOT promised it would be promulgating rules on summer weatherization as well as winterization. Those rules are supposed to have been out by now. Where are they?

Strains on the Texas grid are only going to increase with increased Californication of the state. Yes, it gets hot there, but generally not humid like here. These people will be running the summer juice, and one reason they left that state is because of a failing electric system.

May 14, 2022

Texas Greens worried about pseudo-Greens?

Note the following resolution, adopted last month at the state convention:

"A disciplinary list should be created and composed of the names of individuals who are not in good standing with the Green Party of Texas. Those named shall not be recognized as officers and will not be eligible to represent the state party on national committees."

What IS that about?

Trans activists hating on GCRFs? Jesse-stanners hating on Howie-lovers from 2020?

Not that I bigly care. 

On candidates, I've already said that Deliliah Barrios didn't float my boat, and what she told to Ryan Knight failed to change my mind. Hunter Crow? The less said from me the better.

I can vote Molinson, as Dems are likely to nominate a ConservaDem as land commish candidate, and still help the GP stay above 2 percent. Since there's no judge candidates, a Dem not running for a CCA spot now means nothing.

May 13, 2022

More "sauce" on David Sirota

Last week, after blogging my piece calling The Squad as really The Fraud for embracing Biden's Ukrainian warmongering bill, I twice Tweeted the link to David Sirota and his latest online news site, The Lever, asking him why he hadn't said anything. I added more thoughts to the original piece as to my guess on why, and will expand further here.

I also called them out to talk about how Nina Turner is actually anti-BDS, per Mondoweiss, and otherwise on Israel-Palestine issues, walks back half her allegedly pergressuve walk. Stand by for ... nothing, in all likelihood. 

Sirota doesn't talk a lot about foreign policy stuff (including BDS, I think, judging from Sirota likely being part of the effort to whitewash Bernie's record on BDS and Zionism), from what I see on Twitter, and when he does, he appears to keep one foot inside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment box. And, since he said nothing about Nina Turner, more of the same. Google only returned less than 5,000 hits for "David Sirota" plus "BDS," and showing how little Sirota has said on it, and how crappy Google results can be at times, despite "David Sirota" being in quotes (in other words, to say Google must find it, and those aren't just reference quotes for this blog post) multiple Google hits among the first 10 didn't even have his name.

As for The Fraud? My guess is that as the descendant of "Eastern European ethnics," Sirota indeed keeps one foot in the bipartisan foreign policy establishment box on Cold War 2.0 stuff. Scratch that. He's actually Jewish. But, see below.

Of course, for all his callout of "Team Blue," Sirota IS Team Blue himself. Democratic candidate consultant, wife a Colorado state legiscritter, etc. He might puff Susan Sarandon on Twitter, but puff Jill Stein or Howie Hawkins? Not.A.Chance. And since, per that link, he thinks DSA Roseys are actual socialists, he'll never throw them under the bus. Also,  (Nor did he ever say much about Bernie not ever saying much about climate change.) And, assuming he still eyeballs being a candidate consultant in the future (and possibly the dubious two-hats ethics that involves, which he did with Bernie), he'll continue not to overly criticize anointed "pergressuves."

Update: And dayum, I never looked at Sirota's Wiki page before. Team Blue indeed! Worked for the devil itself known as AIPAC! And, per a DuckDuckGo search, tweeted about it, then deleted it. Per the Atlantic, that was part of a massive Tweet-scrub when he joined Bernie's campaign. Guess like Miami Gator Geoff Campbell, he thought that didn't look too progressive?  Oh, and went to high school at a tony private school.

So, let's call Sirota this: A suaver, more urbane, moderately more leftish-liberal version of Cajun attack dog James Carville.


May 12, 2022

Coronavirus week 108: Types of immunity

Back after a week off on the theme to various notes for this week.

Katharine J. Wu says that Omicron's numerous variants and mutability have put paid to herd immunity. But, she says we can still talk about what's reasonable to hope for on U.S. societal immunity. She also notes a lot of this depends on addressing class-based privilege on medical treatment. (That's not happening.)

May 11, 2022

Ukraine week 9: Realities of Azov, Swoboda, Right Sector

Via a Twitter friend, I saw this great paper by a Canadian academic that addresses the reality of all those issues.

One thing the bipartisan foreign policy establishment and its fellow travelers, the nat-sec nutsacks and their fellow travelers, will tell you and I is that the far right parties didn't get much electoral support in 2014 or later. Ivan Katchanovski notes that those parties had a degree of importance and influence beyond their electoral numbers.

Next, he notes that both Russia and Ukraine (and Western backers) have politicized things connected to the Euromaidan. This is the first time I've heard that the Ukrainian government claimed the Odessa genocide was a false flag.

It's an academic paper, of 2016, so not "up to date," but still invaluable.

And, Katchanovski has dipped his toes in the Haaahhvahd word himself, per his vita.

==

Remember #BlueAnon talking about Trump as a loose cannon on foreign policy? Well, folks, Counterpunch has your number on Team Biden. Hell, per the story, Teapot Tommy Friedman has your number, down to the exact same point of Europe being alarmed.

And, another ignorant woke fail by High Country News

The magazine, in talking about what a name means behind Western place names (and going into colonialism behind that, natch) asks a Navajo for the native name of the San Francisco Peaks.

And, never asks a Hopi for THEIR name for the peaks. Nor even entertains that perhaps still today, and definitely hundreds of years ago, the Hopi likely would have seen the Navajo as colonizers.

I commented on their Facebook page, but once again, it will do nothing.

The only time HCN has responded to me was when it had a clear factual error on logistics hubs west of the Mississippi and that was to blame the Salt Lake Trib as originator of the story and saying it would make a correction if and when the SLT would. (I provided them, from my years in Dallas, the clear evidence they were wrong.)

They did and said nothing about the atrocity called a Melanin Base Camp story. They labeled it "opinion" online, something they'd basically never done up to that point in print, probably because they knew the "opinion" was based on factually incorrect information and even at least one outright lie. That was when HCN put the "woke" key in the ignition switch for good.

And, I still won't resubscribe, HCN.

May 10, 2022

Sinn Fein is BIG non-Ukraine news

The Northern Ireland wing of Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist political party, won a plurality in Northern Ireland local parliamentary elections Saturday. I don't know if somebody will coalition with it, or if it will form a minority government.

The big question is if Sinn Fein thinks it has the public backing to call for a union election with Ireland. If it does, the Good Friday accords, per that link, allow it.

No. 2 was the Democratic Unionist Party which of course would oppose that. No. 3 was the Alliance Party, which at one time was unionist but now takes a neutralist stance on this issue, indicating how things have evolved over 20 years.

The Ulster Unionists sagged badly, as did the DUP. (Sinn Fein actually won no new seats; Alliance was the big winner.) It appears the Northern Ireland Protocol has indeed kneecapped unionism.

Sinn Fein + Alliance + Social Democratic and Labor Party make a majority.

That said, per the Good Friday deal, unionists get the No. 2 leadership slot guaranteed if not in leadership. And, the DUP has already indicated it will pout and perhaps not fill the slot, thereby gridlocking the government, if London doesn't toss the protocol. This only makes the DUP look ever more reactionary. I mean, that's why the previous government fell, and the DUP lost major votes. If it continues this attitude, leaving the UK will happen. Guaranteed. It's just a matter of time.

Sadly, Unherd has a piece by a British academic similar to one I saw on The Conversation. Both tut-tut the idea of an early referendum. Both, after making pro forma statements about the DUP living in the past, say that it's really Sinn Fein living in the past. Both appear to be whistling in the dark.

That said, per what I said halfway through, while I'm not a British academic poo-poohing the chance of the "other union" happening by referendum, we really need to see what Alliance says. We really, really need to see what Alliance says if the DUP try to wreck the train and the train station.

Texas Progressives talk abortion, trivia and more

Off the Kuff reminds us that Texas Republicans are way out of step with public opinion on abortion. 

Stace lectures us all regarding taking advantage of Democratic majorities before it's too late.

Therese Odell vents her fury at that draft opinion.

Your Local Epidemiologist demonstrates that abortion is still health care and won't just go away in a post-Roe world.

The Texas Signal brings Rep. Veronica Escobar's warning that the Republicans will push for a nationwide abortion ban. 

Jessica Shortall has no trouble connecting the pending evisceration of abortion rights to a broader culture of misogyny among its proponents.

Yours Truly will have thoughts for next week's Roundup.

"I'll take 'Obscure Texas Democratic trivia' for $1,000, Alex." "Answer: This man was the last Democrat to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate." "Question: Who was the just deceased Bob Krueger?" The interesting thing, per the link, is how much Slick Willie and Miz Ann Richards harshed on him for losing the special election to Kay Bailey Hutchison. I mean, Krueger was a ConservaDem and had served in the House before. He wasn't a neophyte and I don't think screwed the pooch in anyway. It's just that this was the first installment of the Republican tsunami.

Austin is trialing what is called basic income, but really isn't. True UBI isn't means-tested, for example, but the Austin pilot is. That's not to say what Austin is doing is bad; it isn't. But, it's not basic income. Thus, there's nothing to really be learned from it — other than neoliberalism strikes again.

Dallas County DA John Cruezot has indicted three area police officers on brutality charges related to 2020 George Floyd protests.

The Texas State Bar is suing Kenny Boy Paxton. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

SocraticGadfly says that the Squad is really the Fraud and that Chomsky went a bridge too far on various Russia-Ukraine War issues.

Amanda Marcotte digs into Greg Abbott's desire to use the Dobbs decision to push for an end to public education for undocumented children.  

The Bloggess talks about depression, joy, and music.

Jessica Wildfire talks about progressive survivalism. I have my doubts.

James Dorsey has more hope for moderate Hindu nationalism than I do. In fact, I find the idea an oxymoron.

May 09, 2022

Abortion allowed? Yes, but "how much" and for "how long" in a pregnancy?

In light of the SCOTUS leak, the Trib reports that 78 percent of Texans think abortion should be allowed in some form. Bold is very necessary on this issue; here's the poll, which does not put options for what allowances for abortion people accept within a trimester framework.. I think most Texans — including a plurality of Democrats, although perhaps not a majority — don't want third trimester abortions without a fair range of restrictions. Outside maternal life or health issues, I don't want them. (And, yes, that means no "rape or incest" allowance. If the adult, on rape, or the minor child, on incest, hasn't reported it before being visibly into a pregnancy at the six-month mark, then when? And, otherwise, though framing it differently than the Religious Right, I do see a "liberty interest" based on fetal viability.

Update: Addressing the concerns I have with the Trib piece, 538 has good polling details on how much Americans support abortion AT what stage of a pregnancy and WITH what restrictions. That said, even its opening question is weaselly with "all or most circumstances." One of those is not the other. What the poll also shows, as 538 notes, is that many Americans don't understand Roe, and don't know that it might be more radical — and certainly was more radical when the ruling came down in 1973 — than they realize.)

Update 2: On Twitter, Ryan Burge (via Kuff) claims that a majority of Americans favor "abortion on demand" at all times. His polls don't agree with what 538 et al show. nor does he cite his original source, assuming that that source is not himself. He does work for Religious News Service, and is an academic, but has copyrighted by himself on his graphs. 538's second-trimester info is so much different than his, and falls in line with what I've read elsewhere, I am taking him as wrong.

In short, I'm in that "great muddled middle" that some pundits talk about, with the exception that I'm not muddled at all. First trimester, since, unless Roe is officially overturned, we're stuck with the trimester system? No restrictions outside parental notification for minors. Third trimester? Nothing other than maternal life or health.

Second trimester? The feds could let states have their say fully and freely here. Personally, I'd split the trimester in half and extend the no restrictions out there to the 20-week mark, then after that, the material life and health, maternal mental health, rape and incest, and previously undetected fetal abnormalities.

That said, as a few liberals and a few leftists acknowledge, Roe was badly written as case law. Rather than penumbras and emanations, Blackmun should have gone straight to unenumerated rights, with privacy, including reproductive privacy, being one of those. Unfortunately, he was working off Griswold, where Bill Douglas went that way. (Or, better yet, Blackmun could have used Goldberg's concurring opinion in Griswold, which specifically cited the Ninth Amendment, making a very rare appearance in constitutional law.)

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Democrats of the first two years of Dear Leader's first term squandered chances to federally codify Roe, and Obama his own self was OK with back-burnering it, the old canards about how Greens in 2016 "really voted for Trump" are rising again. Not true. I voted against both Trump and Clinton by voting for Jill Stein. (And, I considered Mimi Soltysik, and wish I would have. Google him yourselves.) And, in 2020, I voted against Trump and Biden AND Howie Hawkins. I may undervote the presidential race in 2024 if I don't vote Green and/or don't have a leftist write-in option. I can tell Dems right now I'm not voting Biden.

As for WHY Obama decided to deprioritize this? Maybe because national Democrats thought it was a good fundraising issue. Well, Republicans play "politics of outrage" better.

As for the FACT that Obama did "back-burner" the Freedom of Choice Act, I discussed that and more a week ago.

First climate change shit could hit fan in 3 years

I reported last month that the latest UN IPCC climate crisis report says that without strenuous human action, we're likely to hit 3C — nearly 6F for Americans — of climate temperature increase by 2021.

The first major issue, beyond temperature increase itself, of an actual climate crisis, could be the disappearance of the Thwaites Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Shelf. This glacier is so large that its full disappearance by itself would raise global sea levels 2 feet. Think of what that would mean for The Netherlands. New York City. Miami. Small Pacific islands.

And, this would likely not happen on a slow-but-steady basis. Instead, the ice shelf holding it back could break off all at once.

And, yes, this could happen in the next 3-5 years. It might be longer than that, but even somewhat less alarmist predictions say 10 years. More at Science News.

When this happens, do you think it will provoke countries of the world into collaborative mandatory action? Or will it provoke one of two countries in the world — the only two countries for this to stick — to start this process on their own with a combination of a carbon tax and a carbon tariff?

You know that answer as well as I do, sadly.

It may be too late to stop Thwaites' disintegration, but not too late to stop bigger climate crisis problems. I've long said we need a carbon tax PLUS a carbon tariff to put the whole world on one page. How strong does that need to be? The IPCC says $140-$590 per ton of carbon. I'd shoot on the high side.

Meanwhile, Texas ConservaDem Congresscritters want Biden to "drill, baby, drill."

==

Reminder: This all hits farms. While much of the hit is in India and sub-Saharan Africa, it's also in the southern US.

May 07, 2022

The hot mess of Cooke County GOP women

Notes from a primary runoff candidates forum held Thursday.

It’s “nice” that Cooke County Republican Women’s invocation person supports #StartTheSteal and at the same time violates Second Timothy (even while not saying which Timothy she was quoting before the meeting).

The “start the steal” was later reflected in one question to candidates about election integrity. All questions were determined in advance by the organization, so can’t blame the audience.

Next was her reading from 2 Timothy 2, namely verses 1-2, although not citing it as such:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.

Big old oops!

She ignored 2 Timothy’s comment by pseudo-Paul saying not only in that same book but later in that same chapter:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet.

By no means close to the first time I’ve seen the Religious Right have wimmin citing the bible before a mixed audience, while referencing directly or indirectly “old time religion,” and of course, “a Christian nation,” while ignoring that …

THEY’RE SINNING. At least, by pseudo-Paul's definition, they are.

She also, on “start the steal,” ignores Romans 8. “Submit unto governing authorities.”

Start the Steal was referenced again in the second question for county judge candidates. Fortunately, both candidates politely called bullshit on it, in essence.

And, of course, all of them there are ignorant of the history of the United States and John Adams’ famous 1798 quote to the Pasha of Tripoli.

And, on county tax rates, it’s “nice” that Republicans in general ignore capitalism whenever it hurts them, such as wanting a cap on valuation increases.

It was also “nice” to have the GOP women go nutbar in asking judge candidates, as in a small county, the judge is the emergency management coordinator, how they would handled COVID.

Next was “lobbying.” For the Texas GOP, lobbying is of course fine if you’re a biz, but saying that the Texas Association of Counties or Texas Municipal League are “lobbying” is the usual bullshit.

May 06, 2022

Russia-Ukraine week 8C: Nice story of brotherly love, but is the framing all true?

Yes, I wound up with a third different "main idea" on the war this week, so, three threads. Here's the third, with some ancillary thoughts as well.

Nice story at the Atlantic by Peter Pomerantsev about Ukrainian villagers being forced to share their basement with five Russian soldiers after the invasion. The captain, he claims, was spouting Putinesque propaganda about fighting the Americans and the villagers said "there are no Americans here." But, should we really trust that the captain meant he was literally going to be fighting Americans, versus the idea that he was fighting Ukrainians being egged on by the US and NATO who were willing to fight to the last Ukrainian? Given that Pomerantsev is a fellow at a nat-sec nutsack think tank at Johns Hopkins, part of a larger institute named for Aristotle Onassis' chief Greek shipping rival, and whose other fellows include Anne Applebaum and Yascha Mounk, we should probably be skeptical of the exactitude of correctness of his framing. That's especially since his book, "This is Not Propaganda," talks about all of the "theys" engaging in propaganda, or information warfare, but never the "us," er, the US. Add in that he partnered with Michael Weiss on one book and the picture is complete.

==

Via Independent Media Institute, I am reminded that Russia, as a BRICS member, is part of its own development bank. How much that would let it dodge asset freezes by the West, I don't know. The IMI note is part of a larger piece about the Global South and non-alignment issues. Tying this back to Pomerantsev? Let's remember that the West blocked Russia from most favored nation status long after granting it to China, and Pomerantsev is part of that international post-Cold War crowd.

==

Speaking of framing? Counterpunch has a piece on Mearsheimer (and Stephen Cohen) questioning the framing  of the dominant narrative, like Mearsheimer and Walt did, what, 20 years ago with the US' "dominant narrative" on Israel. Relevance to Pomerantsev? Obvious. It's so in-depth it notes that Cohen even said that, in the aftermath of the semi-coup or whatever at the Maidan, Putin felt he HAD to have Crimea back to prevent it from becoming a NATO "aircraft carrier."

==

James Dorsey discusses how Russia being bogged down in Ukraine, combined with Biden mishandling the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, has left Saudi Arabia looking for a security guarantor. There will likely be ongoing ripples from the war moving through the Middle East. Biden has an opening right now to call for a full cease-fire in Yemen, and condition a new security guarantee to that. (Let's not forget that getting heavily involved in Yemen was reportedly one of MBS' big ideas even before weaseling his way into Crown Princehood.)

==

Japan shows how one can condemn Putin without being a Russiophobic POS. Tie to Pomerantsev? Possible.

==

Counterpunch's Patrick Cockburn laughs at BoJo upping the heat on British warmongering.

==

Will Russia's demand to be paid in rubles for natural gas end dollar hegemony? And if so, will that actually be good for everyday Americans? Thoughts here.


May 05, 2022

Russia-Ukraine week 8B: The Squad's fraud, or let's just say the Fraud Squad?

Ilhan Omar, AOC, and the rest of the Squad are officially frauds. See this embedded Tweet on Omar's claims versus reality.

And, yes, the vote checks out. EVERY Democrat in the House voted for the euphemistic bill called the "Ukrainian Lend Lease Act."

Sadly, it's Xi Jinping Thought touter and Dictator Danny lover Max Blumenthal who did the gotcha at the tweet.

That said?

I'm not shocked that the Squad is the Fraud Squad and a bunch of nat-sec nutsack fellow travelers. To put it another way, like St. Bernard of Sanders, they're collectively Just.Another.Politician.™ in Just.Another.Political.Party™.

The real issue is that, for all their alleged revolutionary fervor, when the chips are down on bipartisan foreign policy establishment issues, none of them will buck party leadership. This may even include on foreign aid to Israel. Protestations of Palestinian support will be made, but direct votes against Israel are unlikely to happen.

On Twitter, I called out David Sirota and The Lever to talk about this. I also called them out to talk about how Nina Turner is actually anti-BDS, per Mondoweiss, and otherwise on Israel-Palestine issues, walks back half her allegedly pergressuve walk. Stand by for ... nothing, in all likelihood.

Again, though, it's not just the "Squad." NO House Democrat voted against it and NONE were absent. Even a Barbara Lee and a Sheila Jackson Lee voted in favor. (Saint Bernard voted for as well, as the Senate passed this as a voice vote amendment, per the full history.) Sadly, the 10 House Rethugs who opposed it are probably Tucker Carlson fellators rather than nuanced independent thinkers.

On the Democrat side, another way of putting it, per a blog post about week 7 of Russia-Ukraine war thoughts? NO Democrat will give peace talks a chance.

Of course, for all his callout of "Team Blue," Sirota IS Team Blue himself. He might puff Susan Sarandon on Twitter, but puff Jill Stein or Howie Hawkins? Not.A.Chance. And since, per that link, he thinks DSA Roseys are actual socialists, he'll never throw them under the bus. Also, Sirota doesn't talk a lot about foreign policy stuff (including BDS, I think, judging from Sirota likely being part of the effort to whitewash Bernie's record on BDS and Zionism), from what I see on Twitter, and when he does, he appears to keep one foot inside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment box. (Nor did he ever say much about Bernie not ever saying much about climate change.)

==

Besides wheat, the war is shorting sunflower oil globally, and badly. Late-stage capitalism is pushing a ramp-up in the highly problematic palm oil as a "solution." I've heard none of the Fraud Squad talk about this, or about how their voting for the arms bazaar, which Omar six weeks ago admitted it is, will only make this worse in all likelihood.

==

Both Nadal and Djokovic as individuals, as well as the WTA and ATP, have called out Wimbledon's Russia-cancelling. None of the Fraud Squad has condemned this.

Keep saying no to an Ike Dike

In his usual violation of at least spirit if not the letter of fair use regulations through his massive block-quoting, Kuff blogs about a new piece in the New Orleans Times-Picayune talking about the Ike Dike proposals for Houston. NOLA's lead-in is talking to the Army Corps of Engineers project manager who led the work on Crescent City's storm barrier system several years ago.

Kudos to the TP for saying the system would likely be woefully inadequate, just as the one in New Orleans is.

It has only 1 percent protection against 100-year storms, and that's using a definition of "100 year storm" that is itself getting outdated as we speak. This:

The Ike Dike is essentially a pre-disaster project done at a post-disaster scale.

Is the bottom line on that.

But, given that the Corps routinely underestimates costs for projects like this by massive amounts, a post-disaster project's costs? Maybe $100 billion?

At the same time, contra Jim Blackburn? The barrier islands alternative/complement isn't a solution, either. Those artificial barrier islands will be easily eroded. Who pays to maintain them? And, when the Thwaites Glacier disappears in Antarctica, they'll be underwater most of the time, too. Pre-disaster project.

I talked about all this and more five years ago, with an update four years ago, per links I dropped in Kuff's comments.

1. Environmental destruction would likely be worse than planned.
1A. The Corps is NOT an environment-friendly agency. A&M Galveston probably the same. This is an exercise in engineering wet dreaming for them, above all else.
1B. Given the Corps’ history, its construction cost estimates should be at least doubled if not more than that to be brought into the realm of reality.
2. An Ike Dike would do nothing to protect against surges on the inside side of Galveston Island, which is a lot of Helltown’s problems.
2A. An Ike Dike would certainly do nothing to protect against flooding from inland low pressure systems, definitely a lot of Helltown’s problems.
3. Options? Yes there are options. One of them is moving. If you really think you have to have it, a payment option for wingnuts and neolibs alike to back is a national carbon tax. (And, the pivot away from fossil fuels that would lead to would itself mean we'd have less need for petrochemical plant protection in Houston cuz they'd be doing less.)

May 04, 2022

Russia-Ukraine week 8A: A bridge too far by Chomsky?

In a snippet from a much longer interview posted by Glennwald, Noam Chomsky not only doubles down on a stance of his since the start of the war — a negotiated peace, with which I heartily agree — but laughably says that Donald Trump is the person to do that.

Chomsky's justification for invoking Trump is laughable and laughably misunderstanding of Trump. Trump wasn't looking for abandonment of NATO nearly as much as he transactionally wanted European members to pay more — and a goal that Putin's invasion is achieving.

Beyond that, as demonstrated this past week, Trump himself is a mountain of nationalistic and macho bluster, which he would unleash on Putin. And, he then pivoted back to #StartTheSteal. If Chomsky thinks this person should be the person who would lead to a negotiated peace, let alone be the person to guide it, he HAS lost it.

Full interview here if you have the time to watch it. I don't need to bother.

Sigh.

That said, I think I "get" where Chomsky is coming from, and in a sense it only makes it worse.

Like Adolph Reed, Doug Henwood and others, he's a leftist duopolist.

So, he's touting Trump to "own the Dems," or at least to "own the Dem establishment."

This is almost as stupid as the likes of Walker Bragman doing the same with touting Xi Jinping Thought. (There's even less excuse for Howie Hawkins, Margaret Flowers and People's Republic of Humboldt Bay Commissar Rainier Shea to do that, as the first two represent Green Party thought leaders, and I think Commissar of Northern California Nationalities Shea is also outside the duopoly.)

It's still stupid. No excuse for Chomsky to be Trump puffing.

And, as noted, I saw the clip via Greenwald. "Shock me" that he is playing this up for the same reason as Chomsky, only more malevolently in his intent.

Top blogging of April

These were the most read posts of last month by readers. As normal, not all of them are from last month. Older ones will be marked as such.

No. 1 was from last month, based on new information. "IPCC confirms we're facing climate change shit creek" is very true.

No. 2 was also from late last month. It was about who was the worst hack re Judge Mazelle's ruling ending federal mask mandates on public transportation — the judge herself, Nate Silver, Biden's CDC and ultimately itself, or the first airlines, who ghoulishly rushed to the head of the non-implementation line.

No. 3? My take on the sharp elbows in the Texas Democratic Party leadership battle.

No. 4? What new things I learned, or maybe, how little new she showed, when Texas Greens' gubernatorial candidate Delilah Barrios appeared on Proud Socialist Ryan Knight's podcast.

No. 5 was one of my weekly Russia-Ukraine roundups, and focused on Noam Chomsky triggering nat-sec nutsack snowflakes, and also touched on Google's vaguely worded demonetization aggressiveness.

No. 6 was one of the Texas Progressives weekly roundups. It probably trended high because I mentioned "back alleys" in the header and it included the arrest of Lizelle Herrera.

No. 7 was another of my weekly Russia-Ukraine roundups. It talked about other war crimes — ones allegedly committed by Ukrainians, including shooting Russian POWs — just before Bucha, and how little the West covered them, and also, how Counterpunch Radio's Eric Draitser comes off as being as much a nat-sec nutsack fellow traveler as he does an independent leftist voice.

No. 8? Technically old by links but also from last month. My top blogging of March was sports-heavy, but with Sports Reference ban-hammering me and FanGraphs sucking, that won't happen again! (sigh)

No. 9? My most recent Russia-Ukraine roundup, calling for both countries (and the US and NATO, ultimately) to give peace talks a chance.

No. 10? A callout of how the Texas State Teachers Association is using unfair economic comparisons to call for yet more juicing of teacher pay. And yes, here, the word "juicing" is deliberate, per that post.

And, interestingly, I think that's the first time in months that a monthly roundup of top blogging has had all its posts from the last month.

May 03, 2022

Texas Progressives talk Texas exceptionalism, elections, virtue signaling

Ross Ramsey tries to have his brisket and eat it too, fellating Texas exceptionalism while at the same time talking about all the things Texas needs to be fixed to be exceptional. I won't miss you from the Texas Trib any more than Evan.

Will Texas adopt a new teacher certification test? And, does this test have racial bias issues, as is the contention in some states?

SocraticGadfly said that the Green Party's call for a gas boycott from Earth Day to May Day ultimately came off as virtue signaling.  

NOT virtue signaling? Or maybe, in some twist, it is? Baylor is granting its first charter to an LGBTQ organization. (It still faces multiple Title IX-based lawsuits.)

Justin Miller calls out the billions and counting fiscal cost of Strangeabbott's border bullshit. With the primary over and this not likely being an appeal to "independents" in his November showdown with Beto, this too is virtue signaling.

Strangeabbott says that Texas Hispanics are about to break GOP. The Monthly says polls say otherwise

Stace tells us about Greg Abbott's sudden change of heart regarding who pays for his welcome wagon.

Off the Kuff wants to know where the coverage of mail ballot rejections in the May election is. 

Will investors seeking to recoup past fracking-based losses lose their block on new drilling in the Permian? Russell Gold notes that a biggie like Schlumberger is interested, but labor and supply chain issues have the next block on drilling. Halliburton says US-based fracking outfits are booked through the end of the year.

Is Texas facing a California-like wildfire future? The Observer says it sure looks that way.

Beyond native Texans, Californians who are Californicating Texas are driving highway-NIMBY suburbanification of the Metromess.

Slate says SB8 is affecting not only abortion availability, but women's thinking and decision-making process.

Jef Rouner shows how more and more of Texas' government is now under Greg Abbott's control.

Rick Casey looks at one San Antonio school district's response to a book-ban inquiry.

Laura Morales shows how Greg Abbott's anti-trans executive order also harms intersex people.

Michael Li breaks down the weirdness of New York's Congressional redistricting process. 

Paradise in Hell reacts to the Elon Musk Twitter news.

Few quick thoughts against both halves of the duopoly on the SCOTUS abortion leak

In case you haven't died or lost Internet access, it's this leak.

And, this is going to attack people in both duopoly parties, so let's start with Bernie Sanders

And, yes, I mean every word in my quote tweet. I blogged in 2007 calling for Dem Congresscritters to make a COLA as part of the minimum wage hike. Didn't happen; they wanted to keep it a political wedge issue IMO. At just 3 percent average inflation per year, compounded since 2010, we wouldn't be at $15/hour but we would be well over $10/hour right now.

As for codifying Roe? Ain't just me saying that. Plenty of leftists have called out Dems in the last year for not doing that when Dear Leader, aka Preznit Kumbaya, could have done with the Freedom of Choice Act, and then "deprioritized it." Bernie knows that and knows better. But, like the "Squad" (more coming soon), he's really a Fraud and  Just.Another.Politician.™ in ,Just.Another.Political.Party™. People who know better know that St. Bernard of Sanders ain't.

I mean, at the state level, Colorado is now the 15th state to do just that. But, even now, Congressional Democraps won't do it, instead bottling this up in a House committee and refusing to make Senate Rethuglicans engage in an actual filibuster.

Now to the wingnuts.

First, Yahweh himself is an abortionist, as I blogged about his own words in Numbers 5. Yep, he is. And, a woman in adultery? He doesn't care about her, contra modern "ministries" that say "keep the child, then have it adopted."

Second, per Francisco Ayala, if you believe in the "dual omni" (omnipotent and omnibenevolent) god of Christianity, then "God is the greatest abortionist." Stats don't lie, with at least one-quarter if not one-third of human conceptions spontaneously aborting. And don't say "original sin" or I'll kick you in the nads.

Back to #BlueAnon.

I vote, to the degree my presidential candidate would have anychance of election, in the hope of having Supreme Court candidates strong on the First, Fourth and Sixth Amendments. The reality? As exemplified by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG, tain't so. That's just one of several posts I've written about the reality of Dem-nominated Justices. The departing Breyer is the worst. Kagan is a close second. They jointly sucked donkey dongs on the Bladensburg Cross. Of course, Dear Leader himself played bipartisan with lower court nominees.

As for WHY Roe wasn't codified? Democrats' version of GOP "politics of outrage," IMO. Drive voters, and even more, drive fundraising. And, right on cue, Texas Dems prove me right.

May 02, 2022

The old Dallas County Community College District — imploding?

Dallas College, the old DCCCD, seems to be imploding, the Dallas Observer reports. (Long read) The DO says it's not all due to the consolidation, which was needed in some ways (I had no idea that in the old days, each of the seven campuses was independently accredited), but that the consolidation, COVID and other factors have triggered a clusterfuck. Insiders, both faculty and students, cite other incompetence they say COVID and digital learning accelerated, including "participation trophy" grading and instruction.

It's sad. With several years in Lancaster, I knew a few faculty and staff at Cedar Valley. To see this today? Especially when the participation trophy grading, if true, hurts minority students the most?

April 30, 2022

Coronavirus week 107: Fool me once, fool me six times?

That, in the header, is Jessica Wildfire's take. She notes that vaccine protection is continuing to wane, that more and more people have long COVID, that children appear more vulnerable that first thought, and more. The header for this week comes from that.

Also posted in the regular Texas Progressives Roundup for this week, I looked at political COVID hacks connected to Judge Mazelle's mask mandate ruling.

Your Local Epidemiologist talks ventilation and filtration on airplanes.

Speaking of six, Stat has a great piece with six questions and issues about what's next with COVID. 

Xi Jinping Thought's zero-COVID lockdowns may have turned the tide in Shanghai, though more than 4 million there are still locked down, even as fears that Beijing will be next loom, and the lockdown has caused China's biggest productivity loss since the start of the pandemic. I'm not excusing Status Quo Joe Biden for the US economic contraction in the first quarter, but it clearly is at least in part not his fault. (Rising gas prices, in part over stepped-up poking of Russia with the NATO sharp stick, connected to Putin's invasion, ARE Biden's fault.) And, this is another callout to actual and alleged left-liberals and leftists, like Walker Bragman, Adam Tooze, Howie Hawkins and Margaret Flowers to stop being Xi Jinping Thought stanners. Neoliberals on the capitalist take like Max Blumenthal, and real tankies like Rainier Shea, are in another class altogether.

April 29, 2022

Russia-Ukraine Week 7B: Give peace talks a chance

Patrick Cockburn says neither side will "win," and that it looks more like Syria and that if we recognize that, the sooner we get to negotiations.

Ed Luttwak also weighs in on how to get to negotiated peace. 

And, without getting specific other than calls for "security guarantees" for both countries, Jeremy Corbyn also calls for a negotiated piece.

So, that's two leftists and an early-generation neocon all saying, like Chomsky last week, "let's be real about getting real."

Per the first two, I think that at a minimum, a plebiscite on the Donbas would need to be part of this. Probably, even though Ukrainians wouldn't like it, since it was part of the Russian SFSR until 1955, accepting the Crimea as being part of Russia would also need to be part of that. So would an official pledge by NATO to not offer membership to any additional former Warsaw Pact countries (ie, Serbia) or to any former SSRs, ie Georgia, or Armenia, as well as Ukraine. That fudges Sweden and Finland, of course.

Contra nutters at Counterpoint (SMH) last week, it does NOT mean reparations by Russia. Not unless the US wants to make good all the costs of sanctions against it in return, and you and I know that's not happening.

===

The Fellow Travelers blog, rather than focus on the efficacy of sanctions, has a piece looking at sanctions' "legitimacy" and "distinction," fitting both into norms of international law and the former into the UN Charter as well, and finds US-led sanctions against Russia failing on both, especially with contrasting them with a leading BDS group's push for sanctions on Israel.

April 28, 2022

Russia-Ukraine week 7A: Give gas a chance

So much Russia-Ukraine news, including one bigly item from last night, I split the update into two.

Let's jump in.

==

Guess we may have to talk about Polish and Bulgarian tankies as well as the ones I mention below. And, tankies in any MSM that claim Russia actually cut off gas supplies to those two countries. It did no such thing. It merely stood by its ruble-denominated payments demand and they won't pay. And, it's said that if Poland and Bulgaria try to "siphon" gas out of the pipelines, it will cut the pumping back to the rest of Europe. The EU and President von der Leyen is already throwing a hissy fit, calling it "blackmail." And, sanctions aren't? No, you brought this on yourselves. Good luck during the three years or whatever it will take to build new LNG terminals. Re-elected French President Macron is lucky this didn't happen a week earlier.

I don’t want EU citizens to suffer any more than average Ukrainian citizens to suffer from the invasion or average Russian citizens to suffer from punitive sanctions, but … if the shoe fits just well enough to pinch, to mix metaphors, pinch it shall. And pinch it needs to.

==

Ukrainian tankies (you are) hate Jacobin, interestingly. Here's why? Editor Branko Marcetic first wrote about how weapon sales to Ukraine are going into an untraceable maw. That came after he told the truth about the Euromaidan.

And, it's these tankies that kept Minsk Agreements (starting with autonomy for the Donbas) from ever being implemented within Ukraine. That's going to be a hurdle for peace talks. The tankies will blather about these parties only getting 2-3 percent of the vote. That's not so significant if you take into account how much they have influenced rightist but not ultra-rightist parties in Ukraine.

This indirectly connects with gas pipelines and Ukrainian development, too. 

==

Counterpunch is right on something else. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky may be well over his head on international geopolitics, with his abandonment of all earlier statements about openness to Ukrainian neutrality, etc., being replaced by his willingness to fully line up with what the US puppetmaster says.

April 27, 2022

Learning more about Delilah Barrios

Texas' Green Party gubernatorial candidate was on Ryan Knight's podcast recently.

A few thoughts.

First, the Lege is who passes constitutional amendments to send to the public, and they need a 2/3 vote of both houses. You didn't mention that; if you think it would be hard as a GP candidate to get along with the Lege in general, on constitutional amendments, it would be climbing Mount Everest.

About two-thirds in, Barrios notes she reached out to Sema Hernandez, via friends, but never really heard back from her. She added that Hernandez is focused on helping "Democrats like her" or words to that effect.

Barrios sounded disappointed, but also mildly surprised.

Given the way Sema sucked up to Beto after losing the 2018 primary, to the point of claiming O'Rourke supported single-payer, or at least implying he did, when he did not, this surprises me not at all. It doesn't surprise me that Barrios was surprised, either, I think. But, it is something else to note. Namely, that she was kind of naive.

I mean, I noted almost three full years ago that Hernandez seemed well on her way to becoming Just.Another.Politician.™. And, I ventured into other territory, like the issue of being a Hispanic Dem and running for office in Texas. But I then ventured back to just how much she air-kissed Bob the Knob, either being clueless about just how much a ConservaDem he is, or else not caring. Also, between there and here, I noted that Sema didn't have much pull among 2020 Texas Dems in a much more crowded Senate race. So Barrios was barking up the wrong tree.

Related to that? Barrios "marveling" at the number of people of color who voted for Trump. On Blacks, it's surprising to me, too. On Hispanics, it's not at all surprising. If Barrios doesn't grasp that a lot of Hispanics want tighter border controls, it's another bit of cluelessness. That doesn't mean it's right (or that it's wrong) to have this desire, but the desire is real.

Interestingly, one thing she did NOT mention to Ryan Knight was how she dislikes Bob on a Knob's stance on gun control, which I blogged about not too long after she announced her candidacy. Maybe she figures that one doesn't poll well with Greenie types? And, if so, then she's potentially following Hernandez into non-New York JAP territory.

Also, from then versus now, her concern about COVID on that podcast, and her talk about being a "health care professional," was ... uh ... INNNteresting given that on that first blog of mine, I note that she is at minimum a fellow traveler of COVID antivaxxers and at max a full-on antivaxxer on all vaxxes herself. (That's not a total surprise; Greenies and Libertarians, and especially eco-libertarians, are high on antivaxxerism in general. Also, via Orac, a full 10 percent of medical doctors are antivax or the loverly "vax hesitant," so surely, among surgical nurses or whatever Barrios does [she said she works in surgery, but I'm guessing not a gas-passer], the percentage is much higher. Hospital nurses in general have shown this.) Anyway, she was asked nothing, and volunteered nothing, about her COVID stance. (At my previous blog post link, she not only stridently called out the Green Party for supporting vax mandates, but linked to a website that claimed COINTELPRO type infiltration of the GP's Steering Committee. And that favorably cites conspiracy theorist Jimmy Dore.)

Beyond that, she did little if anything on the podcast to convince me that she's resolved some hugely, BIGly self-inconsistent political positions.

==

Update, May 16: Big "marketing" fail by Barrios has now come to my attention. The Student Vote Empowerment Coalition of DFW is holding an event tomorrow at Dallas' Skyline High. Strangeabbott is skipping, shock me. But? Beto is going to be there, as is Libertarian nominee Mark Tippetts. Via an independent PR consultant, I saw about this event, organized by SMU law prof Eric Cerillo. 

Saw that Barrios wasn't listed. I asked him why.

Cedillo said "we" (he and others involved with the event, I guess) tried:

(W)e attempted to reach out to the Green candidate on a number of occasions to invite them to the forum but they were unresponsive.

There you go.

If she couldn't come due to work or something, I understand. But, not responding? Bad marketing for her AND bad marketing for the party.

April 26, 2022

Texas Progressives: Biden driving the car off a cliff?

To start this week's Roundup, I cannot recommend enough this piece by Jessica Wildfire. It's a bit hyperbolic on COVID, as no, not each new variant is worse than the previous. But, it's good enough there, and it's totally spot-on on environmental issues, the Russia-Ukraine war and more. But, her Substack offers more concrete thoughts on COVID. (Her Substack is generally good, though also a bit hyperbolic at times.)

As Texas home values skyrocket, and Rethuglican voters realize they don't REALLY like capitalism when it makes them pay a bunch more in property taxes, the Texas Lege feels the same way. #fify TexasTrib. (And, the Californios moving here? Will they be moderates? Moderate conservs? Or will they push the Lege to adopt a full-on equivalent of California's infamous Prop. 13?)

Off the Kuff isn't really interested in moving up the date on the Presidential primary in Texas.

SocraticGadfly looks at the several political COVID hacks connected to Judge Mazelle's mask mandate ruling.

Stace offers some thoughts (on Viernes) regarding Greg Abbott's political play-calling on the border and at the death chamber.

CultureMap has found your next dream job.

Your Local Epidemiologist talks ventilation and filtration on airplanes.

The Current brings us the Ray Perryman projection about how much Greg Abbott's border-truck-inspection stunt cost us.

April 25, 2022

Green Party's #GasolineBoycott is virtue signaling

I saw this call for a "gas boycott" from Earth Day to May Day in my email last Friday.

Here's what the call is for:

We must hit profiteers where they feel it. Let’s slow the cash flow through the economic pipeline that fuels the banks, oil barons & war makers from Earth Day to May Day – ten days to steer away from war and climate crisis!

  • Use public transportation, or bike or walk where feasible.
  • For those with no alternative to driving, consider carpooling and reducing non-essential driving.
  • Demand elected officials – from the local to national government – prioritize alternative transportation: sidewalks, bike paths & public transit. Run the war makers and oil-igarchies off the road.

Demand alternative transportation.

Pledge to Join the Gasoline Boycott Now.

Uhh, pass.

"Use public transportation" is the biggie. Those buses run on gasoline, or diesel. There are hybrid drive buses here and there, but they're few and far between. Ditto for LNG buses or propane ones, and both are still fossil fuels, anyway.

Ditto for putting "public transit" under alternative transportation. Plus, upper-middle-class white neoliberals think that "public transit" includes and starts with light rail, which doesn't help working-class people.

And, there's the time factor of virtue signaling.

Like by Cassiday Moriarty, a national GP muckety muck of some sort.

She talks of her personal involvement:

For the duration of our Earth Day to May Day boycott of gasoline, I’m taking a leap that feels a little risky.

I’m riding the bus to work.

Now, I know that to many, many people that does not seem like a big deal — and if you live in a place with great public transit, I'm happy for you!

But I live in Indianapolis, which only just recently began real, desperately-needed investment in our bus lines after many years of neglect. Taking the bus stretches my usual ~20 minute commute to at least 1.5 hours (a best case scenario that assumes no delays).

That's all nice, but ...

If you're working two jobs, that's simply not feasible.

Even more so if the jobs aren't that close to each other. Plus, beyond money, having time to burn is a luxury.

And, I doubt Moriarty is going to continue this after May Day. After all, she hasn't been doing it up to this time.

Let's also remember that gasoline, and fossil fuels, are only one tranche of the climate change battle.

April 23, 2022

The hell with you, too, Sports Reference

Not quite two weeks ago, I wrote a post about the dangers of Russia-cancelling. I linked at the sports stats site Hockey Reference to Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitols, as a Russian athlete facing this danger as well as conductors, opera starts, etc. I also linked to Enes Freedom and his ongoing yuks. You'll see neither listed here. Stand by.

Well, if you're familiar with any of the Sports Reference sites, above all Baseball Reference, you know that it has a program for bloggers where if they link to players, and they're a signed-up blog, your blog post, after SR has scraped the web, will be listed below the first set of stats.

Well, mine wasn't. I had not originally signed up for Hockey Reference. Just BR, plus the pro basketball and pro football sites. 

But, about two years ago, I guess due to complaints from teh Google, they changed the program. No longer could you just link the HTML of a player's site. Instead, you had to create a reference link, using a Javascript tool, that had a "no follow" as part of the code.

I didn't know if I had to sign up for Hockey Reference or not. After a few days, I figured I did, and asked.

My bad.

Tuesday, a Sports Reference email said I was being delisted for violating terms of service.

One is profanity.

And, I guess my post from earlier this week, "Oh, hell no, the Cards just did it and signed Pujols," since it wasn't my first F- or H-bomb, was over the line.  Now, it wasn't my first, but it's not like I did it every week. Three times in the last six months, I think. (If memory serves me right, it was one F, one H and one S over about six months.)

And, when they delist you, they delist you. 

All former blog post links gone.

And, not even a warning. 

Just, "bye."

Well, I'll link to Fangraphs in the future. And, Fangraphs used to have a guest blogging feature on site that I used a couple of times. That said, Fangraphs is baseball only. But, I can write a guest blog there, then post it here later, in an expanded version and link back there, if I'm still in good standing.

Scratch that, no I won't. I posted a community blog there, like not one but two different ones I did eight years ago. Two weeks later, it has yet to be approved, so the hell with you, too, Fangraphs. And, if only paying contributors can blog there now, at least tell me. (I both emailed and Tweeted Fangraphs more than a week ago, and zip on the response.) That said, both those old blog posts have an "urgent" message at the top, asking for support so that Fangraphs can cover the 2021 season. Yes, you read that boldface right. Sounds like there's maybe a fair amount of "phoning it in" there? I would try to jingle them on Hucksterman, too, but they don't even have a Facebook page. (B-Ref does.)

==

Sidebar 1: I have been dropping a few more four-letter words on Twitter recently. So, maybe something to watch. Or maybe not.

Sidebar 2: That said, Sports Reference XXX's out an f-bomb, or maybe even an h-bomb, in the header and any body text in the first 25 words or whatever their "capture" length is. So, it's not like family bloggers saw the actual word.

Sidebar 3: A warning would have been great. A deletion of the blog posts in violation of the policy, along with the warning, would have been fine. A deletion of the offending posts without a warning would have been acceptable. A full blog deletion — and without a response indicating this was why, and this was the only reason why? Not acceptable. And, maybe it wasn't the only reason why. Maybe they run Ukraine up the flagpole and salute it, and considered my Russian cancel culture post unpatriotic spamming.

Sidebar 3: I had done a lot of sports blogging recently. And, with getting older and no longer being a Green, either, had been thinking about doing more outside of political blogging. Maybe this is a push I needed.

April 22, 2022

A century-plus of both Ukrainian and Russian nationalism entangled

That's my take on Orlando Figes' "A People's Tragedy," about the Russian Revolutions, plus the run-up to them starting with the coronation of Nicholas II, and more importantly for this blog post, the follow-on to them, with the Russian Civil War and War Communism up to the death of Lenin. What follows is an edited and expanded version of my Goodreads review.

A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891 - 1924

A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891 - 1924 by Orlando Figes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simply fantastic, and especially because it continues past 1918 through Lenin's death and the start of Stalinism. And, as of the time I write this review, the 1918-20 period of the civil war is quite valuable in re the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.

I’ll confess to not reading all of this book, and I’ll explain why. Knowing the end date, I wanted something that looked hefty enough to cover the ground of the two revolutions, including their playout in Ukraine, plus the Civil War, plus the NEP after War Communism. And Figes delivers in spades.

The chapter that starts with Brusilov and the Summer Offensive, then moves to the Kornilov-Kerensky showdown is just about exactly at the midpoint. Figes shows how a V.N. Lvov, no relation to the prince, expanded on Kerensky’s message to Kornilov and basically set him up. So, Kornilov said, “if you’re going to declare me a rebel, I’ll be one.”

This is the best portrait I’ve read of Kerensky, including showing his Napoleonic complex in all its shabby detail. It probably shows why he had no interest in the proposed Stockholm Peace Conference and was fine with the Allies blocking their social democrat parties from attending — if they even wanted to.

One point about Prince Lvov, before he stepped down from heading the Provisional Governemnt, I’d not read before. He urged the government to make terms with the other nationalities, speciflcally the emerging first Ukrainian Republic. And it did not.

Figes is arguably at his best in showing the playout of the civil war in Ukraine, with Russian Whites and Don Cossacks making an uneasy alliance. Nestor Makhno (had never heard of him before, like the “other” Lvov) and his Blacks were in almost as uneasy an alliance with the Reds. Meanwhile, Greens, peasants who attempted their own degree of political organization if and when savvy enough, were also in the mix.

[As I've noted elsewhere, starting with Alexander III, Tsarist Russia was expanding its campaign of Russiafiction to three areas, two of them nominally separate from Russia, but both under the control of the Tsars. The first? Ukraine. The others? The Grand Duchy of Finland and the Kingdom of Poland. The latter lost some of its autonomy after 1829-31 rebellions, and the rest of it after 1863.)

Figes also notes how, even before cancelling the Constituent Assembly because the Left Social Revolutionaries won a plurality, despised the Russian peasant for backwardness, superstition and alleged intractability. Early on, they were willing to crush them, as soon as they didn’t need them co-opted against the Whites. Class warfare was stoked to empower them, and to crush the rural gentry before the Bolsheviks crushed them.

Also, Figes reminds that the Soviets and the Bolsheviks were not the same. Essentially, Lenin decided he had to co-opt the Soviets and call the November revolution before the All-Russian Congress met. And, Lenin, and other Bolsheviks’ attitude toward factory workers wasn’t much better than toward peasants. By the end of 1918, already, they were replacing Soviet worker cooperative factory management with Bolshevik-imposed factory managers. In all of this, Stalin didn’t go that much beyond Lenin, Figues says.

Also, Lenin getting the Tenth Party Congress in 1921 to pass a ban on factions made the Central Committee the ruler of the party and thus of Russia. And, gave Stalin a tool.

Figes also takes the Left Socialist Revolutionaries to task. At times like the Kaplan assassination attempt on Lenin, they weren’t prepared to act, and weren’t ready to think outside the box of the Russian version of “rule of law,” and were in general idealists.

In his conclusion, Figes says that, given what Nicholas II did to pull the rug out from under the Duma in particular and democratic reform in general after the Revolution of 1905 had faded, the liberals of the first revolution in 1917 had no chance.

Figes does have a stumble or two, not huge, in the next to last chapter. Darwin, unlike Huxley, did not believe in “materialist determination” of human nature. It’s arguable that the eugenics half of Nazism DID have Enlightenment connections. After all, it DOES go back to Plato. And “Robot” entered English from Czech, not Russian. And, that one is well known.

(I intend to expand this review even further at my blog, along with some alternative history questions Figes provoked.)

View all my reviews

And, here are those alternative history questions.

What if Kerensky had told the Allies to go get stupid, and before wrangling within the Provisional Government, had sent a team to Stockholm? (He’d have had to follow it up with a Lenin-like “land, peace and bread,” or “peace” at a minimum with a promise to work on the “land.”)

What if Fanny Kaplan had succeeded in assassinating Lenin? Trotsky was the most dynamic Bolshevik, but his support within the party was thin. Stalin was still more of a backbencher. Who would have succeeded? Could the Bolsheviks stay on?

Per Figes, had Denikin marched earlier to Tsaritsyn in 1918, could he have united with Kolchak? I personally doubt it, because, the revolt in his rear of 1919 probably would have been greater.

What if Makhno had played coy on Trotsky’s request to attack Deniken’s left in 1919? Could we have had a true three-way civil war at some point? What if he had made more formal common cause with Green-type peasant groups, to the degree they were becoming militarily active in Ukraine, and to the degree we consider him, as largely a cavalry leader, separate from peasant rebellions?

Not exactly a counterfactual history, but why did February 1917 succeed and February 1921 not? Probably because the last remnants of Tsardom were fighting the Germans and Austrians, while the Bolsheviks had defeated the Whites and Poles and had no other exterior enemies.