SocraticGadfly: 7/3/22 - 7/10/22

July 09, 2022

Texas gov: Abbott whipping — or trimming — Beto among independents

Latest poll from CBS: Abbott's kicking Beto's ass by 55-30 among independents. Now Kuff says "pre-Dobbs," but ignores that, in the run-up to that, after the Supreme Court leak, Dems and Dem-leaners said inflation was by far their No. 1 worry.  I suspect that's likely still the case.
(See new polling, including the first post-Dobbs one, further down.)

Now, some parts of inflation, notably gas prices, have ameliorated recently, but there's no guarantee that's more than short-term. And, the shock of higher school lunch prices in the fall may bring that issue back before voters who are parents.

These poll results are EVEN THOUGH Abbott's approval rating is underwater right now.

If they hold up, he remains too far out for me to vote for him, despite me agreeing with him on guns. So, since I ain't voting for Green candidate Delilah Barrios, rather than hold my nose and vote Beto, this is likely an undervote as of right now.

That CBS poll up top put the overall gap at 49-41. A couple of days later, but still pre-Dobbs, a UT poll put the overall gap at 45-39. A lot of people still don't want to weigh in, there. It also puts the indy gap at 32-22 in detailed breakouts. Kuff uses that to scoff at the 55-30 above, which would be 55-40 in this case if percentages scale up. I'd just say it shows how soft the race is among indys. Related to the CBS poll? Although UT didn't have a breakout on the gov's race, by their stances on guns and abortion, "independents" in Texas tilt closer to Republicans than Democrats. Kuff can say that this is closer than Shrub's margin of victory over Miss Ann in 1994. BUT? Per Wiki, Bush had a solid if slim lead on Richards well before the election. Remember that in 1990, she got lucky enough to dray Clayton Williams of "lay back and enjoy it" comments. Even with that, she won with only a plurality not a majority. So the tea leaves that Kuff is trying to smoke after reading them don't support his librul thoughts and prayers interpretations.

To be fair, after I had written this in advance, I noticed an hour or two after it posted that Kuff linked to a new Trib piece (with his usual violation of fair-use quoting) there are other factors. At the same time, Bob on a Knob points to GOP-leaning pollster Quinnipiac, that shows him having a 15-point gap in December and now closing it to 5. My only guess at that? GOP support on Abbott's right is still soft post-primary. He'll probably be increasing border stunts and things like that. How much hay Beto can make? Don't know. At the same time, BK ignores that national polling this spring, right after the leak, said that Dobbs did NOT top Dems' and Dem-leaners' concerns. Besides hoping inflation goes back down, at the Texas level, if the continuing long, hot summer leads to power surges and flickers or even brownouts, he's got the ERCOT angle in play.
(Update: We now have our first post-Dobbs poll. And? The gap is 49-44, or one percentage point closer than UT. Also of note? Beto-Bob leads by only 9 points among Hispanics. Libertarian Mark Tibbetts gets 2 percent support, while Green Delilah Barrios isn't on the polling radar screen. Re the "Big Two," Abbott's support among Republicans is slightly softer than O'Rourke's among Dems. And, interestingly, Abbott's favorability rating is above water. Beto's is negative.
Update 2: From March-June, Beto-Bob has outraised Strangeabbott. He appears to have more small-dollar donors. That said, reading through RF's silence on one issue, Abbott appears to have more Texas donors.)

And, visit the poll at right!

July 08, 2022

Coronavirus week 114: Are we undercounting?

So says a story from late last month in the Guardian. Based on the degree of case undercounting in New York City, it estimated that current nationwide undercounting may be 30-fold. Thirty-FOLD as in 3,000 percent, not 30 percent.

Why? Here's a suite of possible answers, from the story:

The huge disparity between estimated and official case counts is likely due to a rise in home testing, which is usually not included in official numbers, and pandemic fatigue or lack of information leading some people not to test at all, even if they have symptoms or exposure to the virus. 
There is also a “huge disincentive” for many people to get tested for Covid, said Lara Jirmanus, a family physician and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. Americans have been told the virus is mild and won’t affect their lives, she said, but if they test positive, they need to stay home from work and school.
“It’s almost as though we’ve created a national ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ Covid policy – and that is a perfect way to promise that Covid will spread rapidly,” she said – especially concerning given as much as 60% of Covid transmission happens from people who never have any symptoms.

So, not a one-cause reason, but a mix of reasons that are nonetheless largely interlocking.

Meanwhile, per Worldometers, even with undercounting, active cases are on the rise again. 

And, per William Hazeltine, we've been undercounting Long COVID as well, which apparently, at least with partial symptoms, hits 20 percent of COVID cases, not 10 percent.

And, I'm not a MAGAt or other wingnut, but do you notice Fauci's been pretty quiet recently?

July 07, 2022

Russia-Ukraine Week 16: Nazis? Like Putin's neo-Nazi starter?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that part of why he launched his "special mission" into Ukraine was to de-Nazify it. Nat-sec 

But, there's a bigger elephant in the room for Putin: Rainer Sonntag, one of the leaders of Germany's modern neo-Nazi movement ... and in reality, Stasi agent with ties to Vladimir Putin, KGB agent, in the last days of East Germany. Read his story, which is also the story of neo-Nazism in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, despite the Communist Party's denials. And, with that in mind, it's likely that neo-Fascist movements existed in other countries that had displayed these ideas during WWII and its run-up, ie, Romania and Hungary, among others.

It's also a story of the KGB-Stasi collaboration in general, and how Putin's skill at this fueled his KGB career rise.

It's also interesting that in modern German, "Aufklärung" refers to "reconnaissance" or "espionage," as that's the traditional German word for "Enlightenment," as in the "Age of Enlightenment."


Meanwhile, in war news, Russia has effectively gained control of Luhansk.


Lee Zion of newspaper publishing fame may be a benighted fighter in Ukraine, but as in other wars, this is already attracting the "best" of Amerkkka's soldier of fortune types.

Climate crisis: The G7 fiddles while Earth burns

That's the takeaway from this TNR piece.

Agreeing to fund more fossil fuel exploration abroad, and reneging on previous promises not to, is bad?

But why? Germany, especially, got addicted to Russian oil and gas and now, being a good NATO slave, is hoping to get places in the Global South to drill, baby, drill.

That's not totally true. Reality is that the Russia-Ukraine war is a fig leaf as much as actual issue. Maybe more.

Remember that when Obama and Xi were making the Paris Accords toothless, the rest of the G7 was silently cheering them on. After that, G7 apparatchiks like Foreign Policy were saluting Xi Jinping Thought, I mean lies, on climate change control, only because they were trying to "own Trump."

July 06, 2022

Texas Progressives talk economy and more

If the Atlanta Fed is right, we're already in a recession.

On the other hand, commodities prices have peaked, at least for now. However, that's not necessarily a sign of real-world inflation or its decline; it could just be the futures market mindset.

Julian Assange has filed a new appeal in British court and won't be coming to America any time soon.

Off the Kuff discussed a tempoarary reprieve for some abortion providers in Texas, and the valiant but fruitless promise that some state District Attorneys have made to not prosecute abortion-related "crimes."

SocraticGadfly has a full background on that "I wanted to go play ice hockey" Putin-Macron phone call.

Stace tells us that recent migrant deaths were caused by a broken political system. It's not a new thing.

Slipping this in during the middle of a holiday weekend, Uvalde ISD top cop Pete Arredondo has resigned from his newly elected Uvalde City Council seat. He soon likely would have missed a third meeting, which without other excuse, would have required his resignation. It IS interesting that, per the Trib, the rest of the Uvalde council learned about it ONLY with that first-linked announcement by Arredondo in the Uvalde paper. That story also notes that he earns more than the city of Uvalde police chief and the county sheriff.

Related to both of the above? (And also why, at least in the official hierarchy, Rome isn't a conservative Protestant church?) Archbishop of San Antonio Gustavo Garcia-Siller talks about "a culture of death." (This is also part of why Rome opposes the death penalty. Note to Conservative Cafeteria Catholics.) 

UNM's Center for Reproductive Health is being swamped with Texans seeking abortions. 

President Joe Biden intends to nominate an anti-abortion Republican lawyer to a federal judgeship, two Kentucky Democrats informed of the decision say.  Well, there you go, from the Louisville paper via CNN

Grits looks at recriminalized abortion through a criminal justice reform lens, with dashes of history.

Climate Change Joe, like Dear Leader before him, may open up new offshore oil drilling leases.

Fuck You the Beaver is among the latest brands hatejacked by Proud Boys. (I'm not as worked up about it as the Monthly apparently is and thinks other Texans should be, since I'm not in the cult.)

Lisa Gray offers some advice for people who need an abortion, or might need one some day.

G. Elliott Morris corrects some bad math in that AP story about people changing their voter registration.

Steve Vladeck proposes Congress take more of a role in shaping SCOTUS' docket 

 Lynn Pruneda lists the key highlights of the 2021-22 Texas STAAR results.

Therese Odell reviews what she missed while she was on vacation.

July 05, 2022

Will the Sunset Commission actually even slightly fix TCEQ?

Related? Will the Sunset Commission actually do anything to fix the state's polluter in chief, I mean pollution agency in chief, the Texas Association for Environmental Quality, and its reputation for turning blind eyes on the pollution on big polluters? Or for its reputation on turning blind eyes to unsafe operations, like Arkema, contra lying by omission pseudoskeptics like Naomi Baker, and enabling pseudoskeptics like Jeff Wagg?

Given both TCEQ staff and Rethugs in the Lege's comments at the public hearing, unlikely, barring changes in the Lege.

Was the Supreme Court's West Virginia vs EPA a disaster?

Many environmental organizations engaged in wailing and gnashing of teeth last week Thursday, followed by fundraising appeals, of course.

Since Grist isn't the likes of Sierra Club, it didn't do the fundraising appeals, and it didn't do nearly as much, at least, on wailing and gnashing, lamenting the decision but saying it's not the end of the world.

First, Shannon Osaka notes that it doesn't take away EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases. Related, she notes it was narrowly framed. And others agree:

“In some ways I’m actually relieved,” said Cara Horowitz, a professor of environmental law at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a statement circulated after the ruling. “With this court we were bracing for almost anything, so this could have been worse.”

That's that.

She goes on to note that what was at dispute was one small section of the Clean Air Act, based on President Barack Obama's Clean Power Program to force electric utilities to move from one generation source to another. The EPA said that Section 111d of the Clean Air Act allowed the agency to mandate "the best system of emissions reduction." The 6-3 majority at the Supreme Court (and shouldn't we just memorize that "6-3"?) disagreed.

Grist, linking to Vox, notes that the six, under guidance of one-eyed umpire John Roberts, invoked a "major questions" dogma issue, with the six saying Congress didn't specifically address this, therefore the EPA couldn't act. It didn't gut Section 111 for now. (Hold on to that.)

There's several backstories.

One is that, per Vox, "market forces" (why neoliberal climate change ideas are weak tea) has already met Obama's Clean Power Plan goals. Therefore, when an appeals court overrode a Trump Administration weakening of CPP with the Affordable Clean Energy idea, the Biden EPA, probably afraid of a ruling like this, claimed there was no need for SCOTUS to hear West Virginia. And, per Vox, now that West Viriginia as a state, did not face a demonstrable actual "injury," there was the question of whether it even had standing.

Second is that, while this may not be a whale now, the Roberts Supreme Court has a history of making "camel's nose" rulings that just open the tent flap door a little bit, to mix metaphors, then shove the rest of the body in a few years later. So, down the road? Could be a problem.

Third? Gets back to the narrowness of the actual ruling. To quote Osaka's story:

(T)he court did not overturn Section 111, meaning that the EPA will still be able to require existing power plants to use the best available technologies to cut emissions — perhaps even through carbon capture and storage. The EPA can also still regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks, as well as methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure.


But, Biden's not going to toughen EPA fuel standards more than Dear Leader did. Nor is he going to remove the Ford Edge-sized loophole for "flex fuel" vehicles. So, #BlueAnon / #TeamBlue wailing over this is handwaving.

That said? As Grist notes elsewhere, "the market" is also speaking on energy jobs.


July 04, 2022

'O Say Can You Hear?' A cultural and musical history of the National Anthem

O Say Can You Hear?: A Cultural Biography of

O Say Can You Hear?: A Cultural Biography of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Mark Clague
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An interesting, lighter-side at times and rollicking, but deeper at times and with several "new to me" items look at the history of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner and its development. This is expanded from my original review, especially in the last couple of paragraphs.

Several brief points and a couple of longer ones.

First, Key had three days to write it; it wasn’t an overnight flash of inspiration. (That's now long he, an official U.S. government prisoner exchange negotiator, and the man who was their target for exchange, were detained during the battle for Baltimore.)

Second, he’d written another song to Anacreon’s words in 1805, celebrating Stephen Decatur’s naval attack on Tripoli. (Also the source of words in another famous American patriotic song!) That said, Clague rightly notes this wasn’t a poem, it was a song, or rather, song lyrics from the start. (Key also wrote several hymns, some of which are in Protestant hymnals yet today.)

Third, Anacreon wasn’t a “drinking song.” Rather, both words and tune were, for the Anacreontic Society, part of its program of giving professional musicians a glee-club type performance piece. Plenty of details about the club are in the book.

Fourth, additional verses have been written from time to time. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr’s Civil War verse is surely the best and the one that has most survived to today. Go here.

Fifth, it was already an unofficial national anthem of sorts by the Mexican War. See the last paragraphs for more.

Sixth, the National Anthem was being played at opening day games in baseball long before the enforced patriotism of WWI. Related, Clague notes modern “paid patriotism” as uncovered by John McCain and more. And tackles not only Kaepernick, but the likes of Tommy Smith and John Carlos long before him. He also notes that they weren’t the first, but that a Black woman, Eroseanna Robinson, remained seated during the anthem at the 1959 Pan Am Games.

Related to THAT, he notes that “parodies,” based on the Anacreon tune still, began in the 1840s and included ones tied to the temperance movement, abolition, and the early pitch for women’s rights. Next came antiwar versions.

Seventh, Clague has a good breakdown of modern Super Bowl performances.

Eighth, Clague tackles the problematic “hireling and slave” line in the third verse, and takes it to most likely, in context of its time, to refer respectively to conscript troops and British subjects of a king. In short, a follow-up on Declaration of Independence propaganda. He adds that maybe Key intended it to refer to British Gen. Robert Ross, noting its singular while previous third-verse references are plural. I find this not convincing.

Key personally? Yes, a slaveholder. Also, one of the founders of the American Colonization Society. He freed several slaves in his lifetime and the rest in his will (pending his wife’s death). A representer of Blacks in court, including on freedom petitions, that Clague notes saw nearly 60 former slaves freed. At the same time, he as federal district attorney for DC under Jackson, he prosecuted an abolitionist after an 1835 slave riot. But, he also distanced his stances, or tried to, from other ACS members. He never pushed any of his own slaves that he freed into colonization. Clague goes into much more depth to present a nuanced, in-his-times, picture of Key.

In the next chapter, Clague looks at “modern” takes in general. These include Jose Feliciano, of course, Jimi Hedrix, Aretha Franklin and others. He does so in a way that general refutes urban legends, or rather rural legends, since they’re normally by conservative White folk.

From there, it’s on to Rosanne Barr, which a sympathetic yet critical take on it, and for you classical aficionados like me, Stravinsky’s orchestration. Note: I generally like this, but do not like the removed dotted rhythm partway into the 2nd/4th lines. Done by itself, it makes it stand out too much, at least in instrumental-only performances. I’d rather he kept all syncopation but cut the dotted quarters by a sixteenth and augmented the eighth notes by a sixteenth. It does sound less glaring in choral versions, but nonetheless, that part doesn't float my boat. 

Clague also slips in a few observations about medleys of "The Star Spangled Banner" with other music, as done by modern artists.

Back to the brief note above that it had apparently started becoming our National Anthem already at the time of the Mexican War, Clague ends with plaints against it, and suggested alternatives. 

Up until that time, the Civil War "Hail Columbia" was the primary challenger, he says. (The music, he informs us, was written as the original Presidential "march" for Washington before being replaced by "Hail to the Chief.") Today, he notes, it would take much less a change in the 1931 federal law and instead a cultural shift. That said, per what I said about the third verse? Clague addresses that again, too. "America the Beautiful," he mentions first, and part of me would take that, precisely because of its lack of martiality. On the other hand, it's explicitly religious in every verse. (Until you get to the fourth verse, and it's professed mottoe of "In God is Our Trust," the Star Spangled Banner has no such reference.) It's also still too White-centric, especially in later verses. "God Bless America" is way too religious for me. Second, Clague notes it’s still under copyright.  His solution, in the sports world, namely the NFL? Start the season with the National Anthem, then have teams play a  new alternative every week.
"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" might be a fun eff you to Southern wingnuts, but it's also too religious. "America" is also religious, plus would need a new tune.

So, outside of something like "We Shall Overcome" slipping in,


That said, there is one error of note. A professional musicologist should know better than to call Herb Alpert Hispanic.

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