SocraticGadfly: 2022

November 29, 2022

Texas Progressives: Bits and pieces

Off the Kuff looks at the mishigoss over provisional ballots in Harris County, which for now at least resulted in a favorable ruling for counting them all. 

SocraticGadfly looks at the Pro Publica/Vanity Fair longform on the likelihood of the WIV lab leak hypothesis for COVID, and notes it's comprehensive and holds up well, some tribalist-type pushback aside.

Why is Herschel Walker still not only claiming, but getting, a homestead exemption here in Tex-ass even though he registered to vote in Georgia a year ago, contra wingnuts?

Steve McCraw, grifting off Uvalde for more DPS dinero from the Lege.

Immigrationmonger Joe's Border Patrol has done at least 372 cases of family separations, all in violation of federal policy. What has he said? Done? You know the answer. 

Meet the Houston Catholic immigrant refugee site still publishing Dorothy Day's old paper, The Catholic Worker.

Gohmert Pyle is not going quietly into the lame-duck night.

Biden is ready to kowtow to whomever Netanyahu puts in his new cabinet.

RIP Funky Winkerbean.

Happy 100th, Charles M. Schultz.

Texas Monthly tries to explain the year in book banning.

The San Antonio Report brings news of a successful attempt to use drones to transport donor organs within Texas and Oklahoma.

The Texas Observer attends Denton's Trans Pride Fest.

 Steve Vladeck explains his family's Thanksgiving traditions.

November 28, 2022

The EU boo-hoos about Biden; I boo-hoo back

The EU complains of Warmonger Joe's war profiteering off natural gas prices (while also attacking the Inflation Reduction Act as trade protectionism). Both are true, but? What are you going to do? Talk is cheap and don't feed the bulldog. In the case of the former, Germany, especially, knew something like this could have happened. Speaking of, what is post-Brexit UK charging for its North Sea natural gas?

On the latter, the answer is simple. On green energy subsidies, pass your own version of an "Inflation Reduction Act."

Beyond that? YOU signed off on sending arms to Ukraine yourself; not American warmongers' fault if you can't mong fast enough.

Beyond that, and more seriously? Your two leading nations gave Zelenskyy blank checks when he refused to implement the Minsk Accords.

More on why Marxism is pseudoscience

I've written about this before, from the deductive side. Hegelian dialectic, in addition to being crappy philosophy, is pseudoscience by its very nature when made into the backbone of any scientific theory. (This sets aside the issue that economics in general at the time of Karl Marx was close to pseudoscience.)

Now, we have something new from the inductive and empirical side. Joe Costello, whose dad droned decades as a hollowed out (Eliot's Hollow Men) factor worker, notes that Marx's definition of who the industrial proletariat is (or was in Marx's time) was totally made up, trying to apply Roman peasant farming to the 19th century industrial world.

Understanding the history of labor, socialism, and Marx is like opening one of those Russian Matryoshka dolls, one nestled inside the other. Obviously, the industrial labor force was created by industrialism. However, socialism's agrarian roots preceded industrialization. Marx used industrialization to redefine socialism, wrongly claiming his socialism was scientific as opposed to its “utopian” forebears.
Marx's thinking had all sorts of wrong headed ideas and fatal flaws. First, in one of the great misreading’s of history, he relabeled industrial labor, “the proletariat.” A term derived from the Ancient Roman republic, proletariat was a census designation for economically disenfranchised citizens, who did nothing but “reproduce.” For most of the republic's history, Rome was largely comprised of small farmer citizens, but as its empire grew, land ownership was increasingly consolidated. Ever more in debt and away fighting the latest war, the majority of small farmers lost their land to ever larger entities, then ended up in Rome. Here they became the proletariat, an economically disenfranchised, politically enfranchised citizenry reliant on the state for food, housing, and entertainment.

Costello doesn't stop there, though.

He also faults "the Old Moor" for not considering inputs beyond labor, most notably energy. Given how steam power launched the Industrial Revolution, this is a worthy ding. He also notes that capitalistic change, and capitalistic control, extends far beyond the "means of production." Give the whole thing a read.

Back on my site, there's also the angle of the "no true Scotsman" card being played by Marxists today.

November 25, 2022

Obama flunky tries to spin tale of Blue Texas

Josh Simpkins at the Observer tries to spin a tale of Texas, and the South, as more bluish than is actually true. Most his anecdotes are undercut by reality. With Huckleberry J. Butchmeup, aka Lindsay Graham's, 15-week abortion bill, that was US Senate, not South Carolina Lege, and Mitch McConnell (rightly, it would seen) didn't want that being a midterm election issue. Virginia and abortion? It's a purplish-blue state where Youngkin was elected governor over a Clinton retread seeking a second term. Polling on abortion is notoriously subjective. As for what Texas voters say they want in terms of things like Uri relief? They didn't vote that way. But, when you're a former Dear Leader flunky who also has Aspen Institute ties, per his editorial tagline, directly or indirectly, you're paid to spin tales like this.

November 23, 2022

Texas Progressives talk turkey and dysfunctional government

First, yes, Warmonger Joe's Dems had about the best showing possible during midterms; that doesn't mean your turkey, and even more, your King's Hawaiian Rolls, don't cost more than last year. They do.

With that, let's dig in.

First, Harris County's elections system is still crap, and there's no Stan Stanart to be fired. Per the Trib story, with a 4-1 Democrap majority on the Commissioners Court, IMO, Lina Hidalgo is under the gun to fix this, ASAP. It's really not Cliff Tatum's fault; it's the fault of not spending for software and other needs, and not fixing it makes her look yet more dysfunctional.

Next, SocraticGadfly offers his 2022 election post-mortem for Texas Democrats and Greens

Off the Kuff has a different idea about how to assess the performance of the Texas Democratic Party and its candidates in this election.

The Public Utility Commission's neoliberal bribery scheme to "fix" the power grid is drawing skepticism. Members of the Lege need to look at themselves, first, and ask if they're going to actually write legislation. They then need to look at themselves, second, and ask if they're going to draft a constitutional amendment to prevent a Gov. Strangeabbott from vetoing said bill, or any other, and essentially telling the Lege "fuck you" for two years without an every-year legislature or the power to call themselves into special session. Until then, Legiscritters like Lois Cockwhore will remain hypocrites.

Will the Lege finally tighten rules on concrete batch plants? Color me skeptical until it happens.

Sooo, Jarred Patterson wants to make "Peter Pan" a drag show?

Shock me Sm-elon Musk tried to start exploiting Twitter workers almost immediately. It's SOP at Tesla.

Your Local Epidemiologist reviews the current mortality data for COVID. 

The Austin Chronicle explains why Texas is so vulnerable to climate change.

Juanita is mad about that judge who barred the League of Women Voters from attending a naturalization ceremony.

In the Pink Texas takes a breath after the midterms.

November 22, 2022

Why does Warmonger Joe hate Brittney Griner?

Why does Warmonger Joe hate Brittney Griner? I mean, it's no secret that, allegedly, the Russians want Viktor Bout sprung. It's also no secret that the judge who presided over his conviction even thinks his sentence is way too long. So why is Warmonger Joe's team pushing back against Russian claims that talks are moving forward?

As for sites like this Grid News talking about her horrific prison conditions? It's not the Ritz-Carlton, for sure. Is it worse than Angola? One of Texas' non-airconditioned prisons? The LA County Jail that's among the main reasons Sheriff Alex Villanueva lost re-election?

To stay within women's prisons? It seems like IL-2, per Grid's description, is no worse than the typical medium-security women's prison, and far less bad than these Dirty 15, of which, though not that many are in the US, the majority ARE in the Global West.

November 21, 2022

Coronavirus Week 128: Masks do work; correlation is not causation

Time Magazine had three public health officials, one an academic, report on a new study about just how well masking works at schools. The horse is out the barn door on COVID, and I presume it will not get severe enough to require state-level or higher mask mandates. But, in case we have another viral pandemic and either wingnuts or Saint Anthony of Fauci pops off again, good to keep in mind.

==

The second item is the biggie. Walker Bragman and some other have been talking about the rise in child RSV cases and wondering if, or even speculating that, it's due to undiagnosed child COVID cases of the past two years.

Really? What if, instead, it's due to the amount of protectiveness that mothers gave toddlers and pre-schoolers the last year reducing their potential naturally-developed immunity? There IS such a thing, and, beyond the Great Barrington folks' angle, it DOES work that way.

Going straight to childhood COVID angles is not only confusing correlation with causation, it's assuming correlation where it's not known if it exists, and ergo, if violates good science because, contra abduction, it does NOT reason to the best inference. Indeed, the RSV rate is higher than the last couple of pre-COVID years. That COULD be due to COVID-based susceptibility. Or, as I note, it COULD be due to diminished natural immunity. And, it also COULD be due to this year's variant being a bad one. It COULD also be due to the last two possibilities interplaying.

But, it likely IS a bit of tribalism against both the Great Barrington types and against Team Biden and Rochelle Walinsky et al for not doing more, and hence being subject to your bankshots.

November 18, 2022

Beat-0 is a wild eyed bomb thrower? Greg Summerlin makes me laugh

So said ConservaDem de luxe Greg Summerlin on my 2022 election post-mortem, probably having come there from Kuff, where I'd posted it.

I'm going to pull-quote the whole thing:

To win future statewide elections in Texas, the Democratic Party needs to nominate moderate, mainstream candidates who can appeal to both rural and urban voters. In short, our candidates should support legal (not illegal) immigration, border security, law enforcement, the military, low property taxes, civil liberties, investments in our infrastructure, better healthcare, and improvements to our educational system (while respecting parental input). Our candidates must support a person's right to own a handgun, shotgun, and/or hunting rifle, but should advocate for restrictions to military-style weapons (e.g., AK-47, AR-15). Our candidates should be pro-choice, in accordance with the guidance provided under Roe v. Wade. They should support renewable energy AND responsible oil and gas drilling (yes, we can both). Our candidates must also publicly reject the radical positions advocated by some members in the progressive wing of our Party (Critical Race Theory, "defund the police", transgenders in women's sports, socialism, open borders, etc.). In summary, if we want to win, our candidates must be tailored to the views of mainstream Texas voters.

Well, Greg?

If the likes of you think critical race theory is some secret tool to make all white schoolkids hate themselves, to expand on his comment and my response? Greg, I'm glad you're an EX HCSO deputy. And, if you think Beat-0 was some wild-eyed radical, when did you leave the Republican Party? As linked in the original but reposted here, Beat-0 WAS a Pander Bear (that's what you want) on O and G. Rurales? Dude went to Muleshoe even though I said it was stupid and that contra both him and you, the votes aren't out there. The reason the votes aren't out there is because most Anglos in those places believe the same bullshit you do.

 If you really think this is a problem with Democratic gubernatorial candidates? I give you, in order:

  • Republican-voting Tony Sanchez;
  • Chris Bell, Republican in sheep's clothing;
  • Bill White, bland national neoliberal apparatchik before becoming bland neoliberal Houston mayor
  • Wendy Davis, Capitol-connected insider and grifter
  • Loopy Lupe Valdez, a "centrist" Dem to the degree she had much in the way of articulated positions on anything, and ex-military and tough on crime
  • Beat-0 the Pander Bear.

There. You need not darken my doorstep again.

Since you ARE an ex-deputy at the HCSO, you either know, from the Commissioners Court there, that "defund the police" is Rethuglican BS, or else you are such an ignorant law-and-order winger you should go back to being a Rethuglican. If you weren't, then THAT's the problem: people like you are lifelong Dems. And, the fact you support the now-about-to-be less than 2 Rethugs on the Comm Court shows how deep your BS is. Seriously; you lost me right there.

But, while we're here on cops? Why don't you ever write about cops shooting suspects, especially suspects who shouldn't be suspects, without cause? (To your credit, you do actually call out Derrick Chauvin; that said, having known or known of multiple small town/small county bad cops and constables, the problem is worse than you would admit. Militarization of police is a problem that I'm sure you wouldn't admit.)

And, one more, on your "thugs attacking cops" in Harris? Robert Soliz was found not guilty Tuesday. Let's see how much you support "law and order" by what you say about the verdict.

Critical race theory? I've blogged about that. Even read a touchstone book, Derrick Bell's "Silent Covenants." That's surely one more than you're read. Per the first link in this graf, I think transgender people in sports is a complex issue, and I don't totally disagree with you. That said, there's probably fire on your part behind that smoke.

The only thing I learned from your blog is that the Chronic was bad enough to endorse Mealer.

The only thing I've learned from you is that probably the likes of Gilligan Hinojosa, instead of picking up paychecks from rurales Dems like Bill Brannon, instead of focusing on GOTV, need to do a better educational job on Republican half-breed ConservaDems like you. If you're spilling this nonsense elsewhere, Greg, whether intending to do so or not, you're recruiting people to vote Republican. So, as I said before, if you were a Rethug previously, you'd help Texas Dems by going back.

November 17, 2022

Why is the AP giving a Warmonger Joe lackey a pass?

Sam Husseini has the goods at Counterpunch about how the Ukrainian missile that landed in Poland became an allegedly Russian missile.

A few key points.

First, this is indeed bad journalism, as Husseini documents. Burn the source, AP, as I tweeted.

Second, in addition to burning the source, does the buck stop there? Did this particular member of the Nat-Sec Nutsacks™inside the Biden Administration act on their own, or does the leaking food chain go higher up? Does it go to Warmonger Joe? How close? And, if it did not loop in Biden, what's he doing about it? 

Second, part 2: Did this Anon Y Mouse coordinate with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or any of his advisors?

Third, per the Internet Archive, which Husseini links, Poland didn't sign off on claims of the provenance of the missile, re allegations it was Russian, until after the warmonger inside Warmonger Joe's administration said something.

Fourth, Responsible Statecraft details how this unspooled and came close to a NATO Article 5 declaration.

Fifth, sadly, per Twitter yesterday, claims that this was not a Russian-made missile are now proven false, as the first pushback gets undermined. I don't think the people I read are official Russian PR Twitterverse, but, they're going to be assumed to be that in the future by a lot of people.

Sixth, with the shit hitting the fan, will the Congressional Progressive Caucus call out the Biden Administration on this, or will it be as cowardly and craven as it was a month ago? (As of the time I wrote this, even just the Fraud, er the Squad, let alone the whole not-so-Progressive Caucus, had said nothing.)

Texas Progressives talk shop

The Lege's Sunset Commission said TCEQ needs to get tougher on big and repeat offenders. It also needs to be pushed to follow through on the possibility of getting tougher on concrete batch plants.

The PUC claims to have a solution to prevent future Uri situations. In reality, it's neoliberal bullshit.

The Texas Butterfly Center is alive and semi-well.

The Rio Grande, like the Colorado, is overused and overappropriated, though it gets less attention. Texas, largely hypocritically, sued New Mexico over water issues a decade ago. That's been settled, High Country News reports, though details are sealed. Let's hope the piece is right about the Supreme Court looking seriously at water rights issues. There's the added issue that this isn't a complete settlement, but only between Texas and New Mexico. BuRec hasn't signed off, and its joining the Texas suit is itself arguably hypocritical.

Off the Kuff gives his opening thoughts about the 2022 election. 

SocraticGadfly takes an in-depth look at the latest story on COVID possibly being a lab leak, per reporting by Pro Publica about a Senate minority report.

CultureMap Houston discusses the greatest Texan musician you've probably never heard of.

Texas 2036 proposes its 2023 legislative agenda.

G. Elliott Morris examines how and why the better pollsters and poll aggregators got the 2022 midterms right.

November 16, 2022

Texas 2022 election post-mortem

The Trib notes that some suburban "collar counties" that had been trending more blueish reversed that trend. Fort Bend County was the biggest reverser, of counties it samples, followed by Denton County, in my area, which had been close to getting purplish but now is not again. I continue to blame Beat-0 the Muleshoer. Denton is exactly the type of place he should have been not just doubling down on, but tripling down on, in his campaign. And, he never should have lost Tarrant, which turned slightly blueish in the two previous elections.

These things had downballot results, too. Tarrant County might have a Democratic county judge had Beat-0 spent more time there.

Meanwhile, Jamarr Brown, who is the executive officer for Gilligan Hinojosa on SS Democratic Minnow, openly admitted Dem leaders were a fail on GOTV and messaging. Hello, in that story, even Gilberto himself admits the party has problems. Turnout was at 47 percent, which the Trib gives a smiley face by noting that, while below 2018, it was better than previous midterms.

At the Monthly, Michael Hardy compares Texas Dems to Charlie Brown, as in, especially, of Lucy pulling away the football scenes. This:

Carroll Robinson, a Houston law professor and chair of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats ... is one of several state Democratic leaders who told me the party needs to improve its campaign infrastructure, especially in rural counties, where it performed even worse than in 2018. But when consumers haven’t purchased your product for nearly three decades, it raises the suspicion that you are selling them a lemon. When Ford took its infamous Pinto subcompact off the market in 1980, it wasn’t because the company lacked a robust dealership network but because the Pinto had a well-documented tendency to explode.

Is all you need.

As far as "dealership network," Hardy notes that, despite Beat-0 the Pander Bear, Dems did WORSE in rural Texas than 2018. But, nobody, not Brown or Robinson, is talking about making Gilligan Hinojosa walk the plank yet. Well, Kim Olson, who lost the party headship race to Gilligan this summer, did just that, via retweet, but nobody's followed her lead. And, a Scott Uhl ConservaDem's idea of who should lead the party? Pass. Besides, as I noted at the time of that election, Olson herself is a hypocrite. And, yeah, per a political analyst in Hardy's piece, Dems are close to hitting permanent minority party status. That's between the old BS about "demographics as destiny" and the new BS about "nonvoters being sekrut Democrats."

As for the "bench" for 2024 to challenge Havana Ted, count Hidalgo out, IMO. The contracts cloud will probably still be over her head. The Castro bros will continue to take their hard passes. Nobody of the few Dems in the state Senate is interesting. Maybe a Clay Jenkins, not mentioned in that link two paragraphs above above, steps forward?

As for next year's Lege, Republicans appear to have added one seat in each chamber. Surely not enough for Tony Tinderholt to oust Dade Phelan as House speaker, but the extra seat on the Senate side will just embolden Danny Goeb more.

Forrest Wilder, in his run-Dems-up-the-the-flagpole-and-salute mode, blames GOP redistricting.

Dan Solomon goes worse and says Dems need a celebrity candidate. First, weren't Beat-0 and Loopy Lupe Valdez kind of that? Second, he ignores that Matthew McConaughey took a hard pass. As for ones he suggests? Gregg Popovich could be covered with Primo stench in two years. Eva Longoria ain't doing it.

Kuff weighs in with his own surprisingly good thoughts, starting with having some D officials from "battleground states" do a review of the Texas party, which he acknowledges isn't likely and also may only have a long-term, not short-term, solution. But, it's a good one. Look at how purplish Aridzona's become in relatively short time. Why can't Texas do that? He also notes that this may involved tougher federal action on the border and immigration, which Texas Ds may not like. Well, Aridzona's also a border state, and it's been turning purplish even in the face of all this. So, while Kuff I don't think intended it that way, that part could be seen as a bit of excuse-making for Texas Ds.

==

At least Texas Dems aren't Texas Greens, who suck, full stop, and probably have no more plans to do real change than do Dems.

==

Side note: Harold Cook, Democratic campaign whisperer and more, and apparently in ill health after a stroke a couple of years ago, is dead. Stace has a personal reminiscence

==

If the likes of Greg Summerlin think critical race theory is some secret tool to make all white schoolkids hate themselves, to expand on his comment and my response? Greg, I'm glad you're an EX HCSO deputy. And, if you think Beat-0 was some wild-eyed radical, when did you leave the Republican Party? If you really think this is a problem with Democratic gubernatorial candidates? I give you, in order:

  • Republican-voting Tony Sanchez;
  • Chris Bell, Republican in sheep's clothing;
  • Bill White, bland national neoliberal apparatchik before becoming bland neoliberal Houston mayor
  • Wendy Davis, Capitol-connected insider and grifter
  • Loopy Lupe Valdez, a "centrist" Dem to the degree she had much in the way of articulated positions on anything, and ex-military and tough on crime
  • Beat-0 the Pander Bear.

There. You need not darken my doorstep again. And, a more detailed take on Summerlin's plaint is here.

November 15, 2022

Russia-Ukraine: Zelenskyy doesn't want displomacy either

I said two weeks ago that Joe Biden didn't want diplomacy in the Russia-Ukraine War. (He and the Nat-Sec Nutsacks™ are probably, as old Cold Warriors, seeing analogies to Russia-Afghanistan.)

Per Al Jazeera, neither does Zelenskyy, or so it cites Dmitri Peskov, Putin's PR mouthpiece, claiming about Ukraine. It also directly cites US Secretary of State Tony Blinken claiming — in the face of what seems to be good evidence otherwise — that Russia doesn't want to talk.

The Al Jazeera is via Scott Dunn, a generally good to very good read on Medium.

Of course, Zelenskyy's C-in-C really, really doesn't want negotiations.

==

Xi Jinping, per James Dorsey, would like something different in Ukraine, and is, essentially, continuing to work on a situational basis on how many pairs of kid gloves to wear while handling Putin.

==

Latest confirmation of what many of us already know? Ukrainian corruption is so bad that Russia is apparently already getting its hand on arms meant for Ukraine, per details on how it's buying the drones it's getting from Iran.

There you go.

In exchange, the source said, Russia sent a British NLAW anti-tank missile, a US Javelin anti-tank missile and a Stinger anti-aircraft missile. Those weapons somehow "fell into Russian hands" on their way to Ukraine as military aid, the source told Sky.

==

The latest sign of how low Aaron Maté has fallen.

Seriously, Aaron, how unserious can you be? You know that many of the Never Trumper Rethugs support this war. As one person responded to you, both neolibs and neocons support it.

November 14, 2022

Texas Greens, like the national party, are past their "Best By" date


Nationally, unlike Mark Lause and Brandy Baker, I held out slim hope after the 2016 election for the national party.

The playout of the presidential nomination process, with Dario Hunter playing the race card even while being used by libertarian Green fanbois of Jesse (the still Libertarian Body) Ventura, pretty much eliminated most that hope.

And, when presidential nominee Howie Hawkins, at the instigation (sic) of advisors Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, started peddling the Xi Jinping Thought Kool-Aid on China in general and the Uyghurs in particular, that tore it. (Howie's halfway correct or more answer on Putin and the 2016 election makes me think that loving the Xi Jinping Thought Kool-Aid was NOT a totally unprompted idea on his part.

Now, we move forward two years to Texas Greens.

First of all, just three candidates for office. Libertarians are down as well, but we're not talking about them.

For governor? Delilah Barrios, Second Amendment absolutist, whose muse on this issue is diametrically opposed to her stances on other issues, like national health care. Barrios apparently sees no cognitive dissonance, which means she must be laser-focused on Sameen's stupidity (it is) as a gun nut (he is).

For railroad commissioner? I was not a fan of Green Hunter Crow even before this race; when you're under 30 and already entering perennial candidate territory, that's a good starting point. And, any Green saying gas should be $2 a gallon is a fucking idiot on climate change; that's like writing blank checks. BUT! That's just the starting point. He's ALSO a Texas secessionist! 

Then, for land commissioner? I'd love to give you a link to Alfred Molison. The best I can do is his Twitter; he has no website and not even a Facebook page, unlike our 2014 nutter for governor, Brandon Parmer, who was on Facebook, though but rarely for campaign stuff. And, whether for retweets or his own original tweets, his Twitter has not been used since 2020.

Molison did the best, at 1.6 percent. Makes you wonder how he'd done with an actual online presence. Crow was at an even 1 percent. Barrios was below 0.5 percent, and I hope me calling her out on gunz helped depress the vote.

Greens have one more shot to break 2 percent, in 2024, or it's back to the petition-circulating, signature-gathering drawing board. Two statewide races of prominence: Inflation Warmongering Joe vs. whoever the Rethuglicans nominate, and other third party candidates, in the presidential race, and Havana / Cancun Ted Cruz vs some Rethuglican and other candidates for the Senate. Other than that, it's three state Supreme Court races and three Court of Criminal Appeals seats. And, since Greens, and Libertarians, have been passing up those judicial races more and more? Realistically, it's two races. Really realistically, Greens will need to hope that Democrats nominate a truly crappy ConservaDem to run against Havana Ted, because if it's either Trump the Comeback Kid or DeStan getting the GOP prez nomination, that race will be way too tribal for Texas Greens to hit 2 percent there. (The mind boggles if Hunter Crow turns 30 before that Senate race.)

Note: David Bruce Collins says it's through 2026; I think the state law is "election inclusive," so 2016, 18, 20, 22, 24. Interestingly, Molison "liked" his Twitter response to me.

This is on the state party in another way. If a candidate doesn't have a website and won't create one? You build one. And, you bill the candidate the cost for that, even if it's a cheapie "Google Sites" like Crow's. And, you make a candidate sign an agreement to that end as part of officially being nominated.

I did a search on the GPUS website. Sadly, under its platform page, its subsection on climate change has just one line about a carbon tax, or carbon tax plus carbon tariff. That's re Crow. On Barrios, only three hits, and all of them news releases, about "Second Amendment." On Molinson, since I don't know in detail why he ran, I have no idea if he has any positions at least halfway hinky with GPUS, or issues basically not discussed.

INNNterestingly, per his Twitter, former friend Brains may also be an ex-Green? His profile says only that he's "not a Democrat." BUT? It DOES have the DSA Roseys rose emoji. And, the presumably anarchist blag flag emoji. NO sunflower or other emoji that would be most commonly associated with Greens (I have not seen the four-leaf clover, though green, as Green.)

==

That said, Greens aren't alone. Since the Mises folks took over the Libertarian Party at the national level, many Libertarians have stopped donating, even as a number of state affiliates do battle, even splinter, over whether or not to affiliate with LP National, which in turn is trying to go Xi Jinping on state parties that won't toe the line. Their most recent LP National meeting will shed more light.

November 12, 2022

Nicholas Humphrey drops new ideas on origin of consciousness

Per an Aeon interview about a new book of his, the British philosopher has ideas that I would very largely agree with.

His analogy with "Moby-Dick" is very good, as an introduction to the idea that sensation, vs mere perception, is about brain narratives.

And, the kicker? (Aside from him ignoring or not knowing, or omitting them because extinct, that dinosaurs were also warm-blooded.) Interesting. Warm-bloodedness, and not only greater control of one's self vis a vis one's environment, but more rapid, and more active, response to it? Makes sense. And, especially since I have noted the amount of hype about the octopus in recent years, I agree with his take on them not demonstrating sentience.

And, I'll keep an eye open for his book!

November 11, 2022

Election denialism cuts both ways, #BlueAnon

Beyond my blog post on Monday about the WSJ and Josh Barro's takes on Inflationmonger Joe's "look at those Republicans" pre-election speech, I'm extracting two things from my blog post on Tuesday about Texas Progressives' last pre-election thoughts.

Election denialism cuts both ways, per the header, and Dems' comments can turn off Dem-leaning voters. Lev Golinkin, also not a wingnut, also says Dems should look in the mirror. Golinkin specifically notes that "Russiagate" didn't happen, despite the NYT's feverish pre-election attempt to revive it, while at the same time calling out the reverse-conspiracy types by noting Russia DID meddle in our elections, even while no state or local voting was hacked, etc.

Putin got even more bang for a small amount of money than bin Laden did with his four airplanes, and Putin's still alive today.

Plus, let's not forget Hillary Clinton angling for Trump to be her opponent. There's LOTS of self-inflicted Democratic wounds that cut both ways. I agree with Golinkin that Democrats "triggered" Trump, while I'll also go beyond him in noting that Trump provided plenty of bad optics, such as calling on Assange to release more emails, that led to that.

I'll also note, which Golinkin and Matt Bivens, at the first link, don't, and that is that Putin is way too smart to have entangled himself with Trump in formal collusion. I've said this plenty of times before.

Per that Monday post, the WSJ was right that Stacey Abrams is a degree of election denier. That said, she did concede quickly to Kemp this time.


November 10, 2022

Texas Progressives: non-election news

Anti-abortion people will stop at nothing. They used a shell company to buy the Whole Women's Health building in McAllen. WWH had already shut down in Texas after the Supremes overturned Roe. But, they didn't want to see their building go to anti-abortion people. Disgusting. (Off-putting a little bit, though not disgusting, is squabbles over name usage for pro-choice people doing a fundraiser to buy the site.

Meet the city of Corpus Christi, dumb enough to believe eXXXon and to believe the PR that desalinization was cheap, easy and scalable. Yet more at the Observer, working with Inside Climate News.

Suzanne Jones has gotten her job back at Collin College after a lawsuit settlement. She got much more money than her salary, though she will have to move on in 2025. She's the second instructor there to win a First Amendment suit. The problem is, especially the settlement not finding Collin at fault, President Neil Matkin, the wingnut behind the firings, stays in place.

Christofascist Tim Dunn IS Mr. Pink Slime. Shock me.

Texas' anti-BDS and anti-fossil fuel investment laws may be costing the state. (Sorry, Justin, but Glenn Hegar doesn't care, and people further to the right will use this to indulge JW-type martyrdom.)

Raise Your Hand Texas says vouchers hurt all students

Billy Binion reports on a bizarre legal case from Laredo, 2017, with big freedom of the press implications.

==

Outside of Tex-ass? BIG international geopolitical news. Chinese Maximum Leader Xi Jinping may visit the Saudis, per leaking by MBS' government. No word on the Chinese side. James Dorsey ponders the implications.

Coronavirus Week 127: New variant? How serious?

The XBB COVID variant is getting buzz. But, does it "deserve" that much buzz?

It's a hybrid of two subvariants of Omicron. Supposedly, it's as antibody-evasive as the more distantly related coronavirus that caused SARS. 

Missing from the story, at least this one?

Severity of effects. Only info is brief and that at worst, it's no worse than other variants.
 
The NYT also says you can at least partially chillax. It also notes, per me and Paul Offit, that the new bivalent booster isn't of much help for those under 50. Unlike me and Offit, it doesn't go into more detail about the need for non-mRNA boosters as part of the package to boost T-cells as well as antibodies.

November 09, 2022

GOP may actually do something good on health care

No, it's not national health care, but the House Republicans' Healthy Future Task Force has some ideas. And, at least some of them are good.

Pushing hospitals to actually adhere to the Trump-era law about public advance price disclosure? Indeed.

While it looks like an attack on Obamacare, if there is some unnecessary paperwork, then yes, get rid of it.

Targeting higher costs at hospital-owned doctors' offices? All for that.

On the Senate side, the two duopoly parties are working together to target other issues on high hospital costs. 

It's issues like this where, should we get national health care, I would insist, INSIST, contra the likes of Physicians for a National Health Program, that we target yet more fee-for-service issues. That includes Green Party candidates MDs Jill Stein and Margaret Flowers backing PNHP. (That said, remember that this is PHYSICIANS for a National Health Program, NOT "Medical Professionals for a ..." They oppose, in parallel with being fee-for-service diehards, a national health insurance program that would look at the best of state ideas on letting physicians assistants or nurse practitioners perform more services.)

With no "GOP wave," it will be interesting to see if this helps the efforts up

Can we call Beto "Beat-O"? Or for the pun, "Beat-0"?

Depending on your font, the typographic pun in the header, in the second set of scare quotes to be precise, may not be clear, but it's a reference to the number of races Robert Francis O'Rourke has won in the last three elections.

I mean, the man lost badly to Strangeabbott last night. In fact, he basically lost as badly as Loopy Lupe Valdez did in 2018. And, hyes, she WAS Loopy, in the Dem primary, repeatedly, despite Brains' wrong assumptions about my nickname, and in the general (where she brought bad baggage that was indirectly self-inflicted and others that was fully self-inflicted).

I start by again blaming Beat-0 as a bad campaign strategerist. He only made it worse, for my money, when he decided that, as long as he was chasing wingnuts in Muleshoe, he'd go full Pander Bear.

Meanwhile, will this serve as a wake-up to Gilberto Hinojosa and the rest of the majordomos within the Texas Democratic Party that the non-voters are not secret Dems? Probably not; it's been not quite a decade since I blogged about their ethnic assumptions on "demographics as destiny" and that was already old news then.

Beat-0 couldn't even win Uvalde County.

==

For the still-clueless among Texas Dems? Nationally, it looks like Dems will lose less than 30 House seats; maybe less than 25, and just possibly only about a flat 20. A good example next door? A Dem challenger had battled Yvette Herrell to a draw in NM CD-2, largely the southern, GOP-leaning part of the state, tho made more Dem-friendly in redistricting.

==

Kuff tries to spin Beat-0's results. (And fails.) Kuff says: "Look, Beat-0 did incredibly better than Wendy Davis!" And somewhat better than Loopy Lupe. "And the best of any Dem since Miss Ann!" In reality, the margin of loss by Beat-0, Loopy Lupe and Bill White, if we put it in terms of polls, would fall outside the margin of error.

November 08, 2022

Texas Progressives last election run-up thoughts

Off the Kuff reviews the problem of Secretary of State John Scott again.

SocraticGadfly describes a long-form piece in last week's NYT Magazine as nothing other than an attempt to revive "Russiagate" for the midterms.

The Trib says here's what to watch on election night in Texas.

The feds are warning people in Beaumont about anti-Black vote harassment.

Early voting is DOWN from 2018; what will happen on Election Night and who benefits?

The Fifth Circuit (natch) sprung True the Vote from jail.

Election denialism cuts both ways, and Dems' comments can turn off Dem-leaning voters. Lev Golinkin, also not a wingnut, also says Dems should look in the mirror.

Texas Progressives — final pre-election thoughts Texas and national

Following up on my blogging last week about a long-form Texas Monthly piece, Bud Kennedy, arguably now the dean of Texas political columnists, notes that women and youth voters won't save Democrats and in fact didn't save them during early voting.

Bud has more good stuff, including wondering why Beto-Bob and Collier, even more, since he WAS running for Lite Gov, attacked only Strangeabbott and not Danny Goeb.

And, yet more after that. In my blogging last week, I noted Texas Dems have long, and wrongly, relied on "demographics as destiny" on future Hispanic growth. Bud says another version of "demographics as destiny" also isn't true, namely that the Californication of Texas holds no hope and in fact, the average California new move is more conservative than the average Texan already here.

==

Of course, Beto-Bob is also fighting upstream against Warmonger Joe's inflation. (Notice that gas prices went back up again late last week, negating Warmonger Joe's latest SPR release?) "Democrats burn it all down" says Arin Gupta at Counterpunch. Even with the paywall, you get the gist in the portion you can read. But, that's not all from my quarter.

Remember that even the Congressional Progressive Caucus has signed off on the burn-down. Remember that Biden doesn't want diplomacy. Remember that the NYT tried to revive Russiagate to boost Dem chances (something even a Thom Hartmann was dumb enough to accept at face value) 

Oh, and the warmongers, Nat-Sec Nutsacks (and clueless Thom Hartmanns) of the world claiming that Putin doesn't want to negotiate? No, it's Zelenskyy, and Bezos Post spills the beans. US officials, though not really wanting to negotiate themselves, worry that Zelenskyy looks so intransigent that more and more Global South countries will tune him out. Of course, when Zelenskyy and the US feed off each other, it's easy to blame only him.

But, both Texas Dems, re the first half, and national Dems re the second half, will remain clueless because, per Mencken, their pay, along with fame and standing, depend on it.

==

Speaking of the last graph above? Readers have one more chance to hit those polls at right.

==

Texas SoS John Scott continues to muddle his message about Texas elections being secure. Going beyond the Trib, it's possible this is deliberate footsie on his part.

That impression is increased by the story about the one-eyed spavined but unconvicted mule, Ken Paxton, following in Scott's footsteps by sending a boatload of people to Harris County. They've responded by asking for federal monitors, though Merrick Garland had yet to respond at the time of the story.

Dan Crenshaw has gone further than Soctt and called out election deniers as knowing they're lying, saying they've said that behind closed doors.

Election deniers don't care what either Crenshaw or Scott say. Beyond anything else, per this longer read, there's money involved if you're doing a denialism tour, plus fame within the wingnut, or wingnut-squared, section of the GOP, and possible future campaign plans. (One person in the story was Crenshaw's primary challenger this year.)  But, foremost? Follow the money. A cool $25 a pop for a ticket to one of these events? You sell 200 tix for two a week? That's $5K a week. Even if half of that goes to overhead? Nay, 60 percent? You're still netting $2K a week. Nice side hustle. On the non-money side? Kenny Boy has spoken to (at least) one of these events. And, per the first link, Weston Martinez claimed he had a meeting with Scott; Scott said, yes, but it was with public and media there, and not any "close contact."

==

Texas churches continue to defy the IRS on electioneering. Bud Kennedy wrote specifically about Mercy Culture, to which I retweeted this:

Which applies to all churches doing it.

November 07, 2022

Axios conflates QAnon with all "secret cabal" beliefs, conflates this with tin-foil hattery

Actually, per Axios, it's Dear Leader's presidential pollster. Let's start here:

Joel Benenson, the renowned pollster for President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns, gave a first look at the results of a question he'd never asked before: "We wanted to test QAnon's language that the world is controlled by a secret cabal."

OK?

Now, the graph will show the answers.


What? So, 37 percent of Dems believe in QAnon? No. 37 percent of Dems believe in a "secret cabal," which is quite possibly undefined by Benenson, and in Axios' two-bit mini-stories, the web version of USA Today, is clearly undefined.

And, not all "secret cabal" theories are created equal. Is the "military-industrial complex" a "secret cabal"? Get Ike out of his grave and on the phone! Does it "control America"? Well, two weeks ago, it controlled the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Nuff sed. Like the NYT trying to revive Russiagate last week, "Interesting" that this comes out just before the election.

WSJ gets Biden's half-wrong election speech half wrong

Joe Biden's recent election speech has been panned by people slightly to his left, such as Josh Barro, as well as the wingnut right.

Now, the semi-wingnut, or sometime like a wingnut, sometimes not, to riff on Mars brand candy bars, Wall Street Journal weigh in from its opinion page, with the literary trope of Biden must have lost pages from his speech.

Russiagate? More right than wrong. I've always said that Vladimir Putin was too smart to entangle himself with a flighty weathervane like Trump. Trump selling Ukraine weapons that Obama wouldn't (even if he tried to extort info that may be on Hunter Biden's laptop) is additional proof. That said, beyond Russian meddling, before the election, Trump staff provided plenty of bad optics. The New York Times, in its trying to revive Russiagate, gets that part right. There's Flynn. There's Trump calling for more leaks from Assange.

Mike Pence? Has no principles. He stood on the fact that he could only stall something out temporarily if he did support non-certification. 100 percent wrong.

The stuff about Georgia? Most states' new election bills "just happen" to be in the South. Calling Georgia's version Jim Crow 2.0 is something I'm fine with. Saying that makes the midterm "illegitimate"? I'm with the WSJ.

The Stacey Abrams stuff about Georgia? Stacey, if Kemp is re-elected, stop this and do the right thing.

===

Besides, the REAL stuff missing from Biden's speech is stuff like here, calling for California to junk its top-two election system. Really, all that is is just a smiley-faced version of Louisiana's old jungle primary. But, in states discovering this idea anew, both duopoly parties realize it squeezes independent and third-party candidates out of the general election.

November 04, 2022

Top blogging of October: A bit of new, a bit of old

In fact, a bit of the old led top October blogging by readership in the top two spots.

In No. 1, an old Shrub Bush era story, about the, er THE Dallas Morning News, aka the Snooze, pivoting right on its suggestions for Shrub's second-term Cabinet. I have no idea why this started trending; there's no comments on it, so no latent Chinese botting or something.

No. 2? Let's quote the title for the link. "Yes, the bible is anti-gay, contra deniers." And, I know exactly why this one is trending. I posted it to the AcademicBiblical sub-Reddit last week related to a discussion there and it took off. And, yes on "bible" as lowercase. House editorial style rules and this secularist lowercases it.

No. 3? Not old, but a September post still catching eyeballs about coronavirus "vaccine losers." Specifically, it dives into the relative ineffectiveness of mRNA boosters while discussing part of the issues on why we don't have non-mRNA boosters.

No. 4? Again, the title: "What's next for Tulsi Gabbard?" I speculated that with the Mises Caucus now in control, it would not be totally surprising to see her do a 2024 Libertarian presidential run. That said, since I wrote that, she's now endorsing nutter Rethuglicans like Arizona election denialist Kari Lake.

No. 5? Fresh from the second half of last month. My take on the Congressional Progressive Caucus' graven cave-in to Warmonger Joe and the Democratic establishment on Ukraine. Way to make Tulsi look halfway right.

No. 6? Fresh from last week and trending again as some people attack Pro Publica's credibility on it, ignoring that it was co-written with Vanity Fair, which has done its own previous work on the subject. "The subject" would be the lab-leak hypothesis on COVID. The story, and my blogging about it, is the minority report from a Senate committee, whose ranking member, Richard Burr, is generally NOT a wingnut. But, some of the pushback to the piece, and claims of its inaccuracy in spots, certainly appear to be tribalist in motivation.

No. 7? Back to something almost as old as the bible as anti-gay piece. This is one I wrote long ago about Michael Shermer and Barbara Ehrenreich being pseudoskeptics in some ways. Maybe her relatively recent death got it popping up in searches. Or maybe he dropped his trousers again and I haven't heard about it yet.

No. 8? A second COVID-related piece, wondering if we are at least starting to transition from pandemic to endemic. (I give a cautious "yes" answer, while throwing a bit of shade at the likes of Walker Bragman.)

No. 9? File this under "calling out environmental neoliberals." Nuclear power is not, and more importantly, cannot be allowed to be, part of the "answer" on climate change.

No. 10? Contra Perry Bacon cashing Team Blue checks at the Bezos Post, it, the election, is partly based on inflation. Yea, gas prices themselves dropped shortly after I blogged about them rising, because Warmonger Joe released more reserve oil. But, there's little he can do about thin diesel supply spiking prices there.

Russia-Ukraine: Iran ups its game, and, Warmonger Joe, do you REALLY want to remove Putin?

First, on the former. Iran is reportedly sending not only more drones but also short range ballistic missiles to Russia. As far as US tut-tutting over how this could affect revival of the Iran nuclear deal? Well, the EU portion of the "quartet" had (temporarily?) walked away from it a few months ago. Add in the current round of turmoil in Iran, and the bipartisan foreign policy establishment's presumable hope that this could overthrow the mullahs — along with questions about the health status of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei — and the jeopardizing of renewing the Iran nuclear detail is an idle threat. (As far as earlier back-off from the West, Iran has its own fair share of blame.) 

As far as DoD tut-tutting over how much this signals Putin's "isolation," he's still got money to buy all of this from Iran, doesn't he?

==

As for deposing Putin, which Warmonger Joe said this spring, causing White House staff to madly scramble to walk that back?

"Replace him with whom?" To riff on Lincoln telling the Radicals in 1862 that he needed "somebody," not "anybody," to replace McClellan?

Per the Economist, the most likely "anybodies" might be even worse than Vladimir V., at least from the US foreign policy establishment's view.

==

Foreign Affairs' Kremlinology is a semi-fail. On the issue of Russian GDP expected to contract 6 percent this year? Without comparing that the NATO countries' GDP, or EU GDP or US GDP, it's pretty much a nothingburger. I mean, we KNOW EU GDP will contract the second half of this year. US GDP likely so. But, it IS from Nat-Sec Nutsacks™ so that's why you don't get the context. (Germany already expects recession next year.) Also, Finland and Sweden aren't yet members of NATO.

November 03, 2022

New York Times tries to revive Russiagate for midterms

At the Times, Jim Rutenberg and assignment editors apparently think that readers, or perhaps rather, the target audience of Team Blue and .Nat-Sec Nutsacks™, haven't heard of the Minsk Accords, or else, like Blue Anon and Democratic national leaders / apparatchiks, think they can pretend Minsk away just like inflation, even as they try to revive Russiagate, and to revive purplish prose at the same time, in writing about a summer 2016 meeting between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik in summer 2016.

On the former? This:

Known loosely as the Mariupol plan, after the strategically vital port city, it called for the creation of an autonomous republic in Ukraine’s east, giving Putin effective control of the country’s industrial heartland, where Kremlin-armed, -funded and -directed “separatists” were waging a two-year-old shadow war that had left nearly 10,000 dead. The new republic’s leader would be none other than Yanukovych. The trade-off: “peace” for a broken and subservient Ukraine.

Gee, that sounds like the Minsk Accords, as I told them on Twitter. Initial version passed in 2014, final version in 2015. Well before 2016. I noted in another tweet that I blogged about Minsk at the start of the war. Seriously, this is like the Harvards at the start of the war (and the West-embedded Gorby, too), claiming that James Baker never told Gorbachev that NATO would expand not one inch further east.

Rutenberg eventually gets to Minsk, but not until halfway through a 10,000 word piece, and then tying it back to the original "theory," that Putin wanted to break off the Donbas fully and give it to Yanukovych. And, Rutenberg won't tell you (which I do) that Ukraine and Russia both broke them. (As for Russia and Ukraine having different interpretations of Minsk, that cuts both ways, with both countries breaking Minsk.)

Now, on to the second item of concern right off the top of the bat, the "pandering purplish prose"? This:

Shortly after the appointed hour, Kilimnik walked onto a perfectly put-up stage set for a caricature drama of furtive figures hatching covert schemes with questionable intent — a dark-lit cigar bar with mahogany-paneled walls and floor-to-ceiling windows columned in thick velvet drapes, its leather club chairs typically filled by large men with open collars sipping Scotch and drawing on parejos and figurados. Men, that is, like Paul Manafort, with his dyed-black pompadour and penchant for pinstripes. There, with the skyline shimmering though the cigar-smoke haze, Kilimnik shared a secret plan whose significance would only become clear six years later, as Vladimir V. Putin’s invading Russian Army pushed into Ukraine.

Talk about godawful. But, it's not just godawful. It's pandering to Democratic stereotypes of all things Trump, and Rutenberg and/or editors know that. It's probably also pandering to Dem stereotypes of all things Russian oligarchy, even though Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected with the help of oligarchs in that country (more below). And, although too late for much of early voting, it's "interesting" that this is coming out right before midterms. And, yes, I do think that's part of what's driving this. But, just like with Hillary Clinton's too-late oppo research on Jill Stein in 2016, the Times would, in this case, have forgotten about early voting.

Now, do I think Manafort deserves blank checks? Of course not.

But, between the lies by omission about Minsk and the pandering purplish prose, both the paper and Rutenberg individually chucked their credibility out the door 10 percent of the way in.

But, let's retranslate, starting with the reality of Minsk.

For the unaware, the US was never a part of the work that led to the Minsk agreements. (The US is part of the OSCE, but it was never actively involved within it on Minsk I, even before the Normandy Group took the lead.) Ergo, the idea behind them was not part of US foreign policy. And, Kilimnik wanted that to change, and believed that it would under a President Donald Trump. There is nothing illegal about this. Or nefarious.

But, let's go to the outright lies under "Russiagate." Start here:

In the weeks that followed, operatives in Moscow and St. Petersburg would intensify their hacking and disinformation campaign to damage Clinton and help turn the election toward Trump, which would form the core of the scandal known as Russiagate

Reality is that the Internet Research Agency meddled. Period. Full stop. It did NOT meddle on behalf of Trump. Things such as pro-Clintonesque as well as pro-Trump-like Facebook groups, and people here in Amerikkka joining both, and in the same city, squaring off against each other, were part of that. I noted that in this blog post which also has GOP Congresscritter Mike McCaul admitting that RNC as well as DNC computers were attacked, and notes that FBI head James Comey discussed this. I've longly and loudly cited the attacks on RNC as well as DNC computers against BOTH #BlueAnon (and their mainstream media fellow travelers) AND #MAGAts (and their wingnut media fellow travelers), as proof both that Russia was targeting the US, including with Guccifer 2.0, but that Putin was NOT colluding with Trump.

Even their Guccifer 2.0 work on the Assange emails has no quid pro quo. (I believe that Assange likely knew early on where the emails were coming from, per my long-form discussion of the issue.) And, it also ignores that Hillary Clinton was getting help from Ukrainian sources, as discussed here. (It totally ignores the reality of Hunter Biden's laptop.)

Then, there's lying about 2016 Ukraine:

Thrumming beneath the whole election saga was another story — about Ukraine’s efforts to establish a modern democracy and, as a result, its position as a hot zone of the new Cold War between Russia and the West, autocracy and democracy.

Zelenskky himself was elected in part with the help of corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs and is personally corrupt. Before the invasion, he shuttered both print and broadcast media.

And a mix of lies and half-truths about the Maidan. I stopped reading at that point.

I mean, Rutenberg is clearly in the world of PR now. And, it gets worse from there. Rutenberg's bio notes that, after graduating college, he went to work for the NY Daily News as a gossip stringer. Sounds like he never left off.

How long before the Congressional Progressive Caucus continues its craven groveling to Team Blue and signs off on this lock, stock and barrel.

==

Meanwhile, Fauxgressives like Thom Hartmann are drinking the Kool-Aid. A friend of Mark Ames on Twitter said even Saint Ralph of Nader was. Well, he's not "peddling" the Kool-Aid, but by his silence, he's not calling it out.

Coronavirus week 126: Contra Rochelle Walensky on hand-washing

Editorial note: This got bumped back a week because of breaking news over the lab-leak theory.

People still concerned about the reality of COVID laughed and scorned a week or two ago when CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued COVID guidance that included vaccination and hand-washing but said nothing about mask-wearing.

If they were like me, they tapped a vein of schadenfreude when it was announced a few days later that Walensky "got it."

Well, not only was she wrong about not wearing masks, but, per the latest news otherwise, she's more and more wrong to tout hand-washing. And not just for COVID-19, but other coronaviruses and similar. You're somewhere between 99 and 99.9 percent likely to catch them from the air. Period and end of story.

As I see it, hand-washing, plus surface disinfection, is a neoliberal COVID indulgences practice. It's a way of absolving oneself from any nagging larger concern, just like the neoliberal environmental indulgence of planting trees, which really just creates phantom forests.

While we're here, to kick my hobbyhorse of the COVID-concerned who still won't mention the phrase "Big Pharma," when Walensky gets back to work, will she talk about us getting non-mRNA booster vaxxes? Because, per her critics on her CDC track record, which include a former CDC director, per Wiki, she often has been, along with the rest of Team Biden, about economy first, public health second. And, rightly talking about #BigPharma on mRNA vaxxes is "economy first," Bragman.

November 02, 2022

Not so fast on those non-voters, Texas Dems

Ben Rowan has a great, long piece on how Texas Democrats' assumptions that non-voters are quiet hard tilters to Democrats simply isn't so true.

First of all, this reminds me of parallel claims by DSA Roseys, Greens or Socialists that many Americans really support our ideas. No, they don't. People either don't vote entirely, or undervote a majority of individual races, while still staying registered to vote (the low-hanging fruit on non-voters) for a variety of reasons. That's just as true of the higher fruit, the unregistered.

Rowan first notes that Dems' new registration efforts in 2020 actually wound up handing net new voters to the GOP. Oops. He then notes Dems still haven't won a statewide race since 1994. So, that led him to do actual research.

First, the data. Nationally, they're young (which in general have low turnout), more likely to be non-White, and more likely to be lower education. Sounds Democrat, right?

Not to me. Sounds more like political "Nones," as Rowan indicates. There's just not a lot that either party offers to incentivize them.

Others are apparent victims of vote suppression, when talking about not wanting to wait in line or otherwise waste time voting. Err, there's this thing called early voting? That gets back to education does it not?

Plus, as Rowan notes, Texas is more conservative than the nation as a whole.

But, Texas Democratic Party staffers, who, per Mencken, are paid to be wrong, will probably continue to assume there's magic ponies in that pile of straw of non-voters. It ties in with their assumptions, nearly two decades old now, that "demographics is destiny." I've shown just how untrue this is. This was confirmed, in other ways, just last year.

One final note, which puts a further mockery to my already mocking Beto-Bob for going to Muleshoe. Bowen notes that in 55 counties, let's spell it out as FIFTY-FIVE COUNTIES, there is NO county Democratic party chair. In other worse, nobody to do a voter registration drive to build on whatever enthusiasm O'Rourke built up. But wait, it gets worse:

Texas Monthly reached out to the chairs of the other 199 counties in Texas, and heard from fewer than forty who are leading door-to-door canvassing efforts this election cycle.

I'm sure my county is NOT in the "fewer than 40."

November 01, 2022

Texas Progressives have a final pre-election roundup

Will Tarrant County break further Democratic

True the Vote leaders found in contempt, could face jail time. And will.

Here in Texas, and elsewhere, the IRS continues to turn a blind eye to churches breaking the First Amendment by electioneering, often blatant.

Texas is the fifth-most difficult state in which to cast a vote. 

One of Abbott's biggest donors, by counting Lady Gaga among his friends, refudiates that #BlueAnon meme about "but we've got Lady Gaga."

Is Greg Abbott his own self to blame for Texas crime?

Off the Kuff notes the remarkable case of the Libertarian candidate for Attorney General endorsing Democratic candidate Rochelle Garza because he sees Ken Paxton as such a threat to freedom.

SocraticGadfly looks at the Congressional Progressive Caucus' craven collapse to Biden and leadership on Ukraine, despite the fact that the majority of Americans say they want the US to lead the push for a negotiated solution.

Read the history of Fiesta spices.

How much is the Christian Right, not just in the US, but in both Christian and non-Christian based Western European politics, explicitly abandoning Jews and even explicitly allying with Islamists? James Dorsey investigates.

Jef Rouner does not have a favorite conspiracy theory.

Your Local Epidemiologist reports on the triple threat of RSV, COVID, and the flu.

Texas 2036 reviews our performance on the National Report Card.

October 31, 2022

So, what IS causing inflation right now?

This is a moving snapshot, and an attempt to be a bit forward-looking, and a look at inflation overall. Different sectors will get a look in a bit of detail.

Overall?

Let's guesstimate:

  • 25 percent sanctions on Russia, the invasion itself and related
  • 20 percent Chinese COVID-Zero policies and related supply chain snarls
  • 5 weather (esp. on foodstuffs)
  • 5 percent US fuel refinery issues
  • 20 percent pent-up consumer demand related to supply chain snarls
  • 25 percent exploitation of this demand and of the 50 percent in the top half by businesses.

Now, a look at how this is playing out right now and could in months ahead.

Originally, beyond the oil price climbs, the war itself combined with drought in much of the US west of the Mississippi to drive up prices on wheat, sunflower products, canola products and a few other items. 

Fall rains coming in now mean that at least the southern half of the winter wheat belt in the US should have a good crop next year. Northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas remain dry right now, though.

But, more recently, a mix of Russia issues and fuel refinery issues have spiked the price of diesel. That's going to affect food and non-food transportation costs. A lot of Russian fuel, due to its grade, when imported here was refined into diesel. Since Warmonger Joe doesn't want to push for negotiations, some form of Russia-Ukraine war fallout on inflation will continue into at least early next year, even as Biden's options with Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases continue to diminish and he has almost no options on the diesel issue. How big of Republican gains we have in Congress, what that means for less Ukrainian arms bazaar spending and other things remains to be seen.

Chinese policies? Will not change with Xi Jinping getting a third term, pledging to remain committed to COVID-Zero and refusing to accept non-Chinese vaxxes into the country. As noted in a recent NYT op-ed, COVID-Zero is also about more than COVID — it's another tool of political and social control in Xi's quiver. One thing that would actually address that? A carbon tax PLUS carbon tariff climate change bill passing Congress, which would lead to "repatriation" of at least some manufacturing, or else some of it leaving China for other pastures. Fat chance of that happening.

Pent-up demand? If there's another resurgence of COVID — not so much here as in the Yangtze Valley or Guangdong — it will meet a temporarily irresistible object again. Solution? Stop buying so much crap you don't need, Americans.

Corporate greed? Neoliberal Joe has jawboned oil companies, and that's about it. Yes, they didn't totally work, but ... he's not tried Nixon's wage and price controls.

October 28, 2022

Coronavirus Week 125: The lab-leak theory gets validation

People like pseudoskeptic and tribalist deluxe Dr. David Gorski have LONG laughed and sneered at people like me who have said, citing people like Bill Clinton National Security Agency advisor Jaime Metzl and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, that the idea of COVID 19 originating from a lab leak in Wuhan, was a realistic possibility. Or well known public health and data analyst Zeynep Tufekci, who called out the Lancet letter saying it couldn't have been a lab leak.

Instead, Gorski et al called it a conspiracy theory, and conflated it, presumably deliberately, with the idea that COVID-19 was actually created in such a lab, and did so as an apparent smear.

The likes of him were abetted, albeit without smears, by the likes of David Dayen. (Unfortunately, the usually grounded leftist Sam Husseini DID conflate "lab leak" and "bioweaponizing.")

Well, they can now officially shut the fuck up, per Pro Publica. In conjunction with Vanity Fair (an interesting editorial partner for a story like this, but I digress), it has a story on a report by the minority membership of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. That report:

concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic was “more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident.”

There's your nut graf.

I'm sure the likes of Orac will, "more likely than not," respond with something like "minority report = Republicans."

My whole set of responses?

Toy Reid is clearly not a GOP operative;

Richard Burr isn't a total wingnut;

Pro Publica is reporting.

Pro Publica begins by establishing Reid's knowledge of, nay, fluency in, Mandarin, coupled with his knowledge of and appreciation for East Asian culture. It then notes his skill in translating "Party speak" by the Communist Party of China.

Reid says he was able to look at a variety of information already online from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and "translate" the "party speak" for new insights.

Party speak in a science lab? Yes:

Like many scientific institutes in China, the WIV is state-run and funded. The research carried out there must advance the goals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). As one way to ensure compliance, the CCP operates 16 party branches inside of the WIV, where members including scientists meet regularly and demonstrate their loyalty.

PP offers more details in the next graf of its story. Well, there's that. This also kneecaps the Rainier Sheas and Margaret Flowers of the more loony precincts of the left.

Reid says that WIV staff were scrambling to prove their scientific bona fides and value to party hacks and apparatchiks. This rings true per a site like Retraction Watch, where a large percentage of people with scientific research studies that don't pan out (or are fraudulent in some cases) are Chinese nationals.

AND, an apparent biosecurity breach Nov. 12, 2019.

Now, back up to refuting Orac and loony leftists:

Given advance access to hundreds of pages of the Senate researchers’ findings and analysis, Vanity Fair, in partnership with ProPublica, spent five months investigating their underlying evidence

So, they're not taking anybody's word on credit.

And, they're going beyond it, in fact:

Taken together, our reporting provides critical context that is not included in the pared-down 35-page interim report. It offers the most detailed picture to date of the months leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, including new details on the intense pressure the lab faced to produce breakthrough research, its struggles to grapple with mounting safety issues and a previously unreported series of references to a mysterious incident shortly before the virus began infecting its first victims.

That's that.

That additional reporting includes getting other China experts to separately look at documents that Reid did. And, they signed off on his interpretation.

That includes that China apparently already started work on a vaccine in November 2019.

Read that again.

That includes that China apparently already started work on a vaccine in November 2019.

In other words, Xi Jinping has blood on his hands. (Some lab-leak denialists will point to Moderna working on a coronavirus vaccine even earlier. Yes, but it wasn't specific to COVID-19. And, it didn't work. And, AFAIK, China wasn't even working on a generic coronavirus vax before this time.)

Further confirming that this reporting is legit? Burr got the help of Dr. Robert Kadlec, an HHS careerist who, per what I've read on COVID, knew his shit on a variety of emergency preparedness issues. Kadlec also played a role in debunking the claim that trailers in Iraq in 2003 were mobile bioweapons labs, this story notes.

OK, back to the narrative.

Next tick in the timeline.

Nov. 19, 2019, seven days after the possible biosecurity breach, Dr. Ji Changzheng, tech safety and security director for the Chinese Academy of Sciences (parallel to the US NAS) came to WIV. He said he was bringing words of Xi Jinping about "a complex and grave situation."

From there, we get more on sloppy research and security practices, not just at WIV but elsewhere in China.

The story also reminds us that WIV had TWO labs. One is biosecurity level 4; the other is only BSL-2, but nonetheless had research being done there way above its biosecurity pay level.

The story then moves to discussing the tribalism over the lab-leak theory I talk about at top. 

And, the interim report's conclusion?

(T)he interim Senate report concludes that “the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy.”

I agree.

And, speaking of tribalism, I don't like Michael Worobey's claim that he had been given insufficient time to respond. As in, I don't think Pro Publica shortchanged him re any followup to his piece this summer.

Anyway, that's just the iceberg. READ THE FULL THING. "Familiar names" like Ralph Baric, Peter Daszak and Shi Zhengli all appear. As for odds? Even before this new Pro Publica piece, Metzl put the lab leak origin odds at 85 percent.

==

An addendum: Contra some wingnuts, this should not be used as a crude tool to kick China (though the re-election of Xi to a third term has left China under his leadership fully open to that) but as a warning about security and safety levels at biological research labs around the world, including here in the US.

It should also lead to new clampdowns on gain-of-function research, including getting Fauci, Collins and others to stop misdefining (or lying by redefining) about just what constitutes that. 

==

Update, Nov. 1: There's a big push-back on Twitter, claiming that Reid got some tenses wrong on some of his translation and other things, and now, some push-back against the push-back, with me contributing my part. Part of the original push-back (not saying all) appears to be #BlueAnon. Part may be  (not saying is) Chinese agents. As far as journalism, a leader in the push-back is Semafor, which has multiple good-for-it reasons to be leading the push-back.

I'll see how Pro Publica updates the piece. Until then, not writing further. (As of Nov. 3, nothing on its website.)

Update to Update 1, Nov. 26: One month on, neither Pro Publica nor Vanity Fair has seen any reason to update, append an editor's note, or anything else.