SocraticGadfly: 11/6/22 - 11/13/22

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!

Update, March 19, 2023: The New Yorker interviews him in Athens, including a trip to the cave that may have inspired Plato's famous analogy in The Republic.

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."


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.