SocraticGadfly: 9/4/22 - 9/11/22

September 09, 2022

Royals envy: Societal class-based penis envy in America

Going by Twitter, a fair number of British people (probably greater in Northern Ireland and Scotland than England) and lots of "Black Twitter" no matter the country, said "good bye and good riddance" yesterday when Elizabeth II died.

America? Not so much. There's probably some US residents that greeted it with a yawn, but, I venture that, of people who had an "emotional opinion" of some strength on the queen's death, the percentage saddened or whatever was higher here in the States than in the UK, and probably much higher than in other outposts of the British Commonwealth.

Some political scientists have said that most Americans' veneration for, nay, semi-worship of, the US flag is a substitute for not having a monarch. 

If true, it's apparently not enough of a substitute, given yesterday's outpouring.

Didn't we secede from a distant ancestor of hers? Yes.

Aren't we supposedly egalitarian? Supposedly, yes; actually, no.

And, maybe THAT is part of the issue.

Study after study has shown that, at least since the time of Shrub Bush's Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld castigating "old Europe" for not backing the US on the Iraq War, that "old Europe" has higher economic class mobility than the US. Even with the UK having less class mobility than continental Europe, it's likely still ahead of the US.

So, maybe that's it. Royals envy is part and parcel of a class-based society that the US denies it has. I mean, I don't think "working class" White folk, let alone minorities, have this. It's a middle class and upper middle class and beyond issue.

As for Elizabeth? I've already done two semi-takedown obits in a week. No need for another.

I will note that when I dropped this Tweet:

Into a "Monty Python" group on Hucksterman, the only people who liked it were British. (Hatred was from both Americans and British, even though the Beeb mentions the reality of George V's euthanasia in talking about the "London Bridge is Down" transition plan.

So, I noted that I regretted this Tweet, also posted there:

Didn't get the same vitriol and I was sad. (A full roundup of my Twitter snark is here.)

More seriously, and yeah, we're going to go halfway into obit land, with that.

Elizabeth wasn't "as racist" as Philip. (Or as the late Queen Mother.) But, could she have done more re the former Meghan Markle? Yes. It might be one thing to visit Oceania or sub-Saharan African portions of the Commonwealth as its sovereign or its non-sovereign leader, but the "color line" in the royal family? Not so much. And, let's not even get started on Charles' brother, Andrew, and Jeffrey Epstein. Oops, I guess we just did. Yes, she stripped him of titles just a month or so ago, but, this has been festering for a long time.

Otherwise, if you want "class," there's no need to look across the pond. The Windsors are as declassé as the ... well, as the Trumps.

That said, even though she reigned without ruling, Elizabeth did "nudge" here and there. It will be fun seeing King Charles III dealing with the twat of a new Tory PM Liv Truss and her climate-hating government. With their succession to their respective roles separated by only two days, there's bound to be head-on conflict, and given the degree to which Charles has long seemed to have been champing at the bit, I'm sure he's full ready for this.

Speaking of, per Unherd, if British democracy is so fragile, and crappy, today that you're worried about its post-Elizabethan future, isn't that another argument to junk the crown and take a full plunge? Or, to put it more bluntly, in Monty Python terms: If the death of some watery tart with a sword makes you fear for the future of your democracy, then per Samwise Gamgee, you never had much democracy in the first place, did you?

(UnHerd got even worse in its Saturday email blast. Good fricking doorknob, for a bunch of allegedly outside-the-box thinkers, their British contingent is a bunch of royal hand-wringers.)

Sidebar back to the Monty Python folks ... seriously, it's a Monty Python group, not a BBC newsreaders group. You could spoof the death of any living ex-president, or if a serving president stroked out (assassination different) and I'd be OK with it.

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Update: It's not just Americans, though. Punker Johnny Rotten reincarnated as a royalist ass-kisser. Part of a great takedown.

September 08, 2022

World progressives news: Renewing the Iran deal, fighting NATO warmongering

James Dorsey has a great piece on all the moving parts involved with a possible renewal of the Iran nuclear deal. Beyond the US, Western allies, Russia and China, it also includes the Gulf Arab states and their anti-Iran animosity, Syria's ties to Iran Turkey and its past and present triangulation off Iran and more. Re Russia, and Chinese tacit support for it, the Ukraine war looms in the background. Dorsey goes from there to talk about the possibility of an even broader regional security pact, including nuclear issues, looping in India and Pakistan. It's a great read.

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Knock me over with a feather. After a summer of stonewalling over the issue, as I blogged, including about the degree she risked becoming a dupe of Xi Jinping Thought, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has actually released a report on China, and a condemnatory one. As I Tweeted, let's see Margaret Flowers, Max Blumenthal, Aaron Mate, Rainer Shea and others among the running dog lackeys of Chinese imperialism deal with this one. (Waiting to see Counterpunch called a capitalist tool.)

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Citizens on the street in the Czech Republic protested last weekend about the current government's strongly pro-NATO stance vis-a-vis that Russia-Ukraine war.

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Who wants to see two Canadian pieces of shit, Steve Pinker and Jordan Peterson, exchange fecal transplants in the name of life extension in Toronto? Seriously, I can see why the guy who runs the place avoids words like biohacking, as he's even more full of shit than the normal biohacker?

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Sweden, expecting Turkish approval to join NATO so it can mong war against Russia, is obviously expecting a natural gas cutoff or diminishment. Therefore, it's already offering a bailout (don't call it that, it's a "liquidity guarantee") to energy companies. But wait. "Plucky" little Finland is doing the same.



Texas Progressives talk VA, housing, major obits and more

The Trib notes the Texas housing market is cooling down. It should, and should be cooling even faster than it is. When Austin, less than a year ago, was charging California housing prices, it's ridiculous. And, that whole original surge was arguably panic buying as much as actual scarcity, plus induced by Californicators unfamiliar with the realities of a Texas summer, as I've noted elsewhere.

Big news! The VA, along with the DoD on military bases, is providing abortion services even in states that block them. It's a lot bigger than the DoD action, as there's millions more veterans than active duty personnel, including women who did a two-year tour and no more and are still of pregnancy-possibility age. It's also big news because there's far more VA hospitals and facilities than military bases.

Will alleged fiscal conservative wingnuts like Drew Springer in the Texas Lege (you ARE, Drew, you're just not a wingnut squared) demand in January (by legislation if necessary) that Strangeabbott stop the free bus rides for Ill Eagles that have now cost the state nearly $13 million and county.

Socratic Gadfly offers up complex, multi-sided obituary thoughts on a major international death, that being, of course Mikhail Gorbachev, and a major US social activist authorial one, Barbara Ehrenreich

Off the Kuff comments on the Harris County versus the Comptroller situation.

Stace tells us about National Science Foundation Grant to Texas State University which will study border migrant deaths.

Richie Whitt rips a new one for Jethro Jerry Jones and the Dallas Conboys. (sic)

Greg Abbott is getting punked online by a South Park contributor.

A federal judge is introducing Collin County administrators, as individuals, to the First Amendment.

For the Observer, Gus Bova reports from Uvalde on the town's past, present and future.

Dr. Hannah Lebovitz relates a lovely story about a Jewish faith leader in Corsicana.  

Your Local Epidemiologist has the Cliff notes on fall COVID boosters.  

The 19th marks the first anniversary of SB8, the Texas vigilante bounty-hunter anti-abortion law, going into effect. 

The Observer talks to Librotraficante about combatting censorship.  

D Magazine reports on some good First Amendment news.

September 07, 2022

Beto-Bob needs to fire himself as a campaign strategerist

No, seriously, Shrub Bush reference and all.

Why is Beto-Bob doubling down on his 2018 strategery (sic) of chasing diminishing numbers of overall overall voters in hardcore rural red-dom? Especially on the issue of gunz, actual political strategists know that suburban (and exurban, like say Sherman outside the Metromess 60 miles) "soccer moms" are where the political action is at.

It didn't work then, as, legend aside, Beto didn't do significantly better in any 2018 Texas statewide election than any other Dem candidate with the "memorable" exception of Loopy Lupe Valdez.

This:

O’Rourke lost to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz statewide by 3 percentage points, but the margin was 51 points in counties with fewer than 50,000 people — virtually the same deficit Hillary Clinton had against Donald Trump in those counties two years earlier.

Sums up the problem. It's a waste of money, and even more, in a state the size of Texas, now that we're past the Labor Day traditional start of the political home stretch, it's a waste of time.

Beto should be in the Shermans, the Weatherfords, the Conroes, the New Branfelses, the Sulphur Springses or even more, the Greenvilles, and maybe, say, the Fredericksburgs of the world. Per the photo in the story, stopping in an Abilene is fine. Per the text? Places like Quanah and Junction are not. Per a political analyst quoted in the piece? 

“O’Rourke’s commitment to campaigning in rural Texas is a reflection of the fact that Democrats can’t rely simply on urban and suburban voters and expect to win statewide elections in Texas,” said Joshua Blank, research director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “And they definitely can’t expect to do this while they continue to lose rural Texas by margins of 3-to-1.”

I simply disagree, per what I just said. Finding new voters in the cities I mentioned, along with doubling down on GOTV in strongholds, are a better strategery. In suburban and exurban areas, that also includes targeting the Californicators and other recent transplants. And, if they have kids, state school funding as well as gunz is low-hanging fruit.

Also, having met and interviewed Bill Brannon before, I'd not put heavy weight on his thoughts, either.

Plus, as the Chronic chronicled yesterday, at least some of the time, what's happening to Beto-Bob is he's getting his ass handed to him by raucous crowds in these places, even as he tries to very publicly backpedal from or soft-soap some of his more voluble statements from campaigns past, mainly the aborted (I see what I did there) 2020 presidential run. (This place? Muleshoe, where he shouldn't be.)

Meanwhile, at the Observer, Justin Miller interviews R.F. O'Rourke. Beto-Bob talks abortion even though post-Dobbs polling (limited so far) shows it's not a dial-mover. Miller also reminds me that, with Beto-Bob's spread-out campaign, contra Blank et al, you can't repeat a local focus once every three weeks. You can't visit Conroe in mid-August, then early September, then end of September, etc. As preachers and the like know, repetition is key to selling a message.

Oh, hit the polls at right.

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Update, Oct. 22: Per my hammering O'Rourke as a bad strategerist? Abbott has an 11 point lead in the suburbs, per the latest UT poll of likely voters. I mentioned more of him needing to visit exurbs rather than suburbs per se, but the general idea applies.

September 06, 2022

Fighting with High Country News over something besides wokeness

Contributing editor Jonathan Thompson, with whom I battled before in the past, when he was an in-house editor and HCN stopped running the likes of Jeff St. Clair, Jim Stiles and Felice Pace.

So, I quoted to him his:

So, banning alfalfa is not the answer.

And went from there, and am expanding on it.

Thompson gave me several links from his Substack. I grokked the first. And, here's my thoughts back to him, expanded.

Even short of an outright ban, not using all tools to push (legally, if needed) farmers away from alfalfa, needs to be part of the answer.

I think, from your quote, I reasonably extrapolated from your mindset. As for the first link?

I one-starred John Fleck's first book, not just because the book was so crappy it didn't even mention climate change until the last chapter, but because he and his co-blogger on his blog loved dissing Marc Reisner. And, I also one-starred it because Fleck seems to think "Kumbaya" is the normal answer to solving water rights and usage issues, when it is is not, as he ignores the whole history of the Southwest that legal hammers, or at least threats of them, are almost always how they're fixed. And, also, speaking of climate change, per that first link, can we have our cheeseburgers and water, too? Fleck is no Marc Reisner, but he is thin-skinned.

I'm not a vegetarian, but, per Robert Mitchum and the old NCBA commercials and other things?

"Eat less beef!" Or "Beef: It needs to be not so much for any meal."

And, while not a vegetarian, because of climate change, I have steadily curtailed my eating of meat in general and beef in particular for a full decade.

The US, even without going full vegetarian, needs to cut its beef by 25 percent. And, since federal Western grazing rights are well below market value, that means more than 25 percent of that cut falls on Thompson's beef from the San Juans.

Contra his link, we also don't need to replace alfalfa with sorghum, which largely gets used as dairy cow fodder. Between the craptacular US price supports system, where Canada's government-controlled production quotas is much better, and other factors, we already have too much milk floating around the system.

Until Thompson gets serious about this, no, he doesn't think alfalfa is part of the problem. He just thinks current alfalfa growing methods are part of the problem. That's even though he admits that western public beef grazing is WORSE than feedlots.

As for the "what would happen" to fallowed fields? This is strawmanning:

Buying and drying alfalfa farms would free up water to send to cities or to leave in streams, but what would become of the fallow fields? Would nature reclaim them? Or would they be overrun by houses or strip malls or dollar stores?

No, what would happen, as I told Thompson in my first email, is that most the Western Slope would "depopulate" more. With the depopulation, neoliberal hypercapitalists wouldn't have a serf class to wait on them, so no McMansions unlike in Teton County, Wyoming.

As for lined irrigation ditches eliminating small-scale marsh-like environments? Shit, next, Thompson will be defending "Mr. Reclamation" Wayne Aspinall. It's happened elsewhere, and needs to happen in yet more places.

And? The High Plains have depopulated for decades. Enough of that, and we could revisit broken Indian treaties and send some land back. Given how HCN raises Indian land issues regularly, and rightly, before burying it in wrongful wokeness, Thompson should applaud this!

Beyond all that, his claim near the end of that link that water, alfalfa, etc., don't have to be a zero-sum game shows to me that he's smoked too much John Fleck. 

So, no, Thompson, my "damned" reading comprehension isn't broken. Just as my damned analysis of magazine editorial decisions wasn't broken nearly a decade ago

Thompson later sent a second email (to which I didn't respond), noting how much lower Basin alfalfa is grown by Saudis (which I knew from HCN, and elsewhere), how much of alfalfa is used for dairy fodder (which I knew 25 years ago from the lower portion of the Rio Grande and Pecos in New Mexico), and other things (while not telling me that the sorghum or milo he mentions in his Substack has the same use and other things). 

Update: Colorado state Sen. Cleave Simpson, a Rethuglican no less, who farms in the San Luis Valley, admits alfalfa is unsustainable in the long term. Thompson, it's time to get over your alfalfa romance.

Sidebar: Thompson is wrong about something else. SCOTUS did not remove all power to address climate change from presidential hands. It's just that Biden doesn't want to test what else it might remove, plus, he's a Democrat, not a Green or beyond. And it's not just me that disagrees with Thompson; Grist is in my blog post about that.

And, even the BEZOS POST says that Biden has room for plenty of executive orders and related actions. For example, it suggests USDA pursue antitrust actions against the biggest of Big Ag. That DOJ bring more civil and criminal cases against polluters. (The legal hammer on other pollutants, if not specifically against CO2, would lower CO2 as a sidebar. And, given methane as emanating from landfills, it too would get lowered as a sidebar.)

And, straight from the executive orders playbook? It notes Biden could declare a climate emergency.

All of this and more, though, if #TeamBlue pretends they can't be done, won't be done. Like with Dear Leader Obama, if you don't push from the left ...

And, per Pro Publica, not just Status Quo Joe, but the former Mayor Pothole, Gavin Newsom, need to be pushed from the left, or from somewhere. I think Thompson wants to have his status quo and eat it, too. The other phrase for that comes from Louis XV: "Apres moi, le deluge."

It's all part of a "love-frustration relationship" with HCN, which hit higher speed when you first started coddling the Trump Train, then broke the ice on the current wrongfully woke editorial stance when you printed the lies of Melanin Base Camp.

It's been six years and counting since I dumped my subscription for the second time, after first starting one 20 years ago. And, despite, or because of, wrangling with Thompson over that, too, and other things, my frustration has grown and love has diminished more and more over that time. At some point, I would be benefited, other than passing up the opportunity for low-hanging blogging fruit, by unsubscribing from HCN's email alerts.

Before I got Thompson's second email, I realized he's in love with a romantic slice of the old West. Hence my reference to It permeates the magazine in general, no matter its editorial direction otherwise. It's why Paul Larmer or some other older publisher defended staying in Paonia, Colorado, even while acknowledging the West is the most urbanized region of the US. It's why Thompson defends the smell of alfalfa and doesn't connect its growth in the high country to grazing on BLM and Forest Service land for those same cows that he knows is destructive. It's why the woke-angled folks only want to look at a legendarily pristine American Indian past as ultimate formulator of their views while ignoring capitalist oil-drilling Indians of today and other things.

September 05, 2022

Happy Labor Day from we shorthanded

Many of us left-liberals and leftists who are on salary not wage have to work today because our locations, or our job and career fields are among those most hit by the Great Resignation or whatever, the not-quitting of "quiet quitting" (which it ain't, and what it is, I'm not going down a Millennial rabbit hole to find out), and more.

Just a reminder, from this world, that if you bitch about slow service etc at times, ask yourself if you even know why the service might be slow or poor. And, ask yourself if you really sympathize with labor issues beyond your corner of the world.

Also a reminder that, while unions are generally good, labor problems in the US today certainly need a multifaceted approach.

Brief food for thought as I head back to the salt mines.