SocraticGadfly: 12/4/22 - 12/11/22

December 09, 2022

All of life is an escapism from life

How's that for the ultimate in existentialism? Throwing in, if not a Nietschean eternal recurrence, then at least a hard feedback loop.

It's a theme that I will likely explore more in bits and pieces both here and at my philosophy and critical thinking blog.

Now, are all forms of escapism equally bad? No. Are all of them, when put in the scales, found wanting, to riff on Daniel, and ergo, at a minimum, more bad than good? Absolutely not.

What are we escaping from, anyway?

Boredom, in most cases.

Before the rise of print media, and especially before the rise of electronic media, boredom — or at least, the possibilities for boredom — were huge. Before the rise of radio, the farm belt, especially on the High Plains, had the highest suicide rate in the US. Boredom. Stuck on the land, in semi-arid, widely scattered farms and ranches, was a challenge.

But, boredom is not inevitable. And wasn't then. Mindfulness of the land could have helped on the High Plains, to call out the legend of the farmer loving nature.

December 08, 2022

Coronavirus Week 130: Peter Hotez, #BlueMAGA tribalist, grifter, gaslighter

I didn't realize it was this bad, but it is. I'm extracting and updating this from some previous COVID-related posts involving Dr. Peter Hotez.

I think it's a new version of Fauci's Platonic Noble Lie for people like Hotez, who know better, to be telling all Americans, whether over 50 or under 50, contra Updates 2 and 3, to "go get your bivalent boosters," as both were on Twitter over Thanksgiving weekend.

I quote-tweeted Hotez with this post, and he quote-tweeted me back.

I in turn did another quote-tweet, which noted that's "global" not American and there's no non-mRNA vax here in the USofA, and added that I was aware of his global work. (Either Pro Publica or the Trib, or the two together, wrote about it several months ago.) We'll see if he does another quote-tweet back talking about WHY we don't have this in the US. And, that's the issue, Dr. Hotez, is that we don't have it here. And, that's true of initial-line shots as well as boosters. We're pretty much being peddled mRNA and nothing but. AND, you're connected enough to DC insiders on this issue, that you could, in my opinion, "push" more on this issue yourself. Saying, "oh, look, we've got non mRNA boosters globally is not the US.)

As far as the last part? Maybe CDC finally indicated it, but that was NOT its original plan, Dr. Hotez, and I have no doubt that you, like Offit, know that CDC originally planned to "indicate" the bivalent booster for only those 50-plus.

I should add that Hotez has gone Twitter radio silent since my last quote tweet.

AND ... proof that he's a tribalist and twosider? He's also a tribalist and twosider on the lab leak. Bigly, starting with attacking non-wingnut Richard Burr over the Senate minority committee report by Pro Publica over the lab leak theory, which it has now reviewed and strongly defended, despite the pushback by #BlueMAGA like Hotez, who comes off as a kinder, gentler Orac:

And this isn't new from Hotez, as his Twitter feed and stories will show.

Not at all. As I said in quote-Tweeting that first tweet, he's lost some serious credibility in my book. I noted that Alina Chan, Scott Gottlieb and Jaime Metzl, among others, are not members of Congress (and by extension, not chuckleheads or uneducated). May blog just about that.

The grifting? Grants he's gotten for both gain-of-function research and lab-leak escape research, for starters. Being a flunky for Peter Daszak. Per that first piece and others, saying he wants an "impartial" investigation into the lab leak idea, but then, when it's offered, going on the attack. 

So, let's call him a gaslighter as well.

More JFK moronity from Jefferson Morley


The CIA holds documents that show presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in an intelligence operation before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a prominent Kennedy assassination reporter alleged Tuesday.

Is laughable. And, as the story goes on, an argument from silence hybridized with circular reasoning, all mashed up in the echo chamber of Morley's own mind.

Surprising, though? Not at all, if one knows Morley's past history. The biggie is that two and a half years ago, Morley claimed he was no longer a JFK conspiracy theorist. He didn't fool me. And, now, it must be like crack cocaine for him.

As for George Ioannides? It is true (that's Wiki's page) that he was connected to funding Cuban exiles tied to Oswald. The "plausible deniability" smokescreen conspiracy theory's been around since the start.

The argument from silence, etc? He's been suing over Ioannides' papers for years, and all along claiming he knows they have specific information. ....

Uhh, how do you know if you haven't seen them? And, if you actually DO know? How do you even know for sure it's 44 documents, as you claim? Show your homework already? Speaking of homework, the Daily Least (opening link) apparently can't be bothered to do a modicum of it. 

If they did, like me at my link, they'd know Morley is full of Camelot crap, too. Jim Lippard, who has "liked" other stuff by him, and strikes me as more and more of a pseudo-skeptic, should know that too.

Also, contra that "suing" piece, from USA Today, it's really not "perplexing that Oswald first tried to join the DSE before launching his one-man "Fair Play for Cuba." It's easy to see him thinking he would worm inside the group and become a mole.

Sidebar: I love all the conspiracy theory sites that talk about JFK dying "in a hail of gunfire." Since when did three shots become a "hail"?

December 07, 2022

Crypto sucking at the ERCOT teat

Texas (shock me) is becoming a bitcoin haven, even encouraged by ERCOT. Despite all the dubiousness involved after Sam Bankman-Fried, I'm sure this won't slow down. Another issue: what if another Uri strokes and overloads the "independent Texas grid"? As the Observer notes, ERCOT has yet to respond to a query by Congresscritters about how prepared it is for this. And, you and I know that means it ain't. 

As SBF showed, Dem politicos of the neoliberal stripe, like Tex-ass' own Beat-0, mentioned in the piece, are crypto "evangelists" as much as libertarian GOPers and straight Libertarians.

Part of the reason Tex-ass is a haven? The wind farms in West Texas often have "stranded power" because the dipshits at ERCOT don't have enough transmission lines connecting them to the west of the state. (Smoke that, Wayne-o not so Christian.)

The story does note, as far as issues when the grid gets tight, that crypto turned off its mining — and got all sorts of grifting financial credits. Rep. Al Green, one of the query authors, said this was a new form of arbitrage.

December 06, 2022

Biden and the border; Hypocrisy alert

Team Biden (maybe in part the Deep State within DOJ, but the buck has to stop somewhere) refused to make publicly available documents on the legal negotiations re the Fisher private border wall until threatened with legal action. The new story on that makes pretty clear why, IMO; Biden doesn't want to actually remove the wall.

Sounds like the tonks at the Border Patrol are abetting Strangeabbott and the DPS on locking up Ill Eagles. Be nice if Biden fired more people. Be nice if he also pushed to restore mandatory service location rotations. Neither is likely to happen. For a mix of political reasons and, I believve, personal belief, Biden's actually pretty hardcore on border issues, at least for a Democrat.

Speaking of tonks and hypocrisy, or something, Kyrsten Sinema would indeed think it's a grand compromise to help out the Dreamers, in exchange for BOTH extending Title 42 another year (at least, could be more!) AND giving the tonks even more money than Trump was asking for in his 2018 proposal. Also, any idea that allegedly "immigration moderate" Rethugs like Cornyn will buy in, as long as he's claiming Biden's not enforcing the border, is baloney.

Texas Progressives talk books, colleges, more

I told Sandy Hook lawsuit filers they needed to get some sort of Alex Jones asset freeze into their cases. Now, his bankruptcy filing may not be actually granted, but ...  Related: The Texas Monthly jumps into a semi-deep dive on Ye's appearance on Infowars.

Abbott SAYS he wants to decriminanlize fentanyl test strips and make Narcan more readily available. The lattter would be doable without the Lege, IMO, by executive order to the DPS. Let's see how much he actually pushes for either one next year. 

SocraticGadfly talks about a citizen suit in New Mexico and other environmental briefs.

The Trib talks about the Texas part of the United Methodist Church break-up. As it notes, the big issue is the "incompatibility clause." The fact that it's survived 50 years without editing or nuancing by more progressive UMC members probably is a good indicator of how deep the fault lines are. In terms of church and politics issues, it's surely right that it means diminished influence for the nation's second largest (I think only the SBC is larger) Protestant denomination. 

Independent bookstores are growing in Texas (and presumably nationally) despite mouthbreathers' comments on what they sell. In fact, as with Jenny Lawson, the mouthbreathers are getting punked. Many struggled during early pandemic days, as did Half Price Books, which has apparently rebounded. (And, per Wiki, outside of Texas, faces a unionization drive.)

Community college enrollment sagged during COVID. The Observer looks at how that, and funding, might be addressed by the Lege and other things. The in-depth story covers how dual enrollment actually hurts community colleges financially and several other issues.

Off the Kuff reminds you to never believe a word Ken Paxton says about "voter fraud".

The TSTA Blog warns about Dan Patrick's con job regarding school vouchers.

In the Pink Texas is not impressed by Ted Cruz and John Cornyn's No votes against the Respect For Marriage Act.

The Dallas Observer notes the Metroplex's connection to the rise of soccer in the US.

The Current ridicules the legal arguments against President Biden's student debt relief order.

Amber Briggle reminds us how much the families of transgender children have suffered at the hands of the state in Texas.

December 05, 2022

Angela Merkel was "playing" Putin all along

As referenced in a piece by Scott Ritter earlier this week, here's her long and broad interview (English-language website version) with der Spiegel recently, which includes, but is not limited to, the run-up to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Several pull quotes related to her (with French president François Hollande in the era of their inking) using the Minsk Accords, which I have blogged about in depth, as a stall game. Per this, and Ritter's piece, Nat-Sec Nutsacks™ will surely applaud this, when in reality it's far below the level of applause.

Start with this, which is not a direct quote, and is not the first reference to Minsk, but is the key backgrounder:

Merkel suddenly recalls that in addition to watching "The Crown" and "Babylon Berlin" with all her free time, she also took in "Munich: The Edge of War," the Netflix film about Neville Chamberlain’s role in the run-up to World War II. Jeremy Irons played Chamberlain. She liked it because it shows Churchill’s predecessor in a different light – not just as a frightened pawn for Hitler, but as a strategist who gave his country the buffer it needed to prepare for the German attack. In her telling, the Munich of 1938 sounds a bit like Bucharest of 2008. She believes that back then, and then later during the Minsk talks, she was able to buy the time Ukraine needed to better fend off the Russian attack. She says it is now a strong, well-fortified country. Back then, she is certain, it would have been overrun by Putin’s troops.

Can't be much clearer than that.

Much later, she ropes in Dear Leader:

"He, of course, has been out of office for longer than me. I have the impression that we agree when it comes to Putin," she says. "After Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, we did all we could to prevent further Russian attacks on Ukraine and we coordinated our sanctions down to the last detail."

I don't doubt that. Near the end of the piece, she notes that her Minsk-related shuttle diplomacy included trips to DC.

Spiegel interviews others, including former SPD head and Merkel vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. Gabriel himself says that the NordStream 2 deal, negotiated between Merkel and Putin, included its shutter at times like this.

It's interesting, per both herself and Ritter's take, that Putin didn't catch on sooner. And, Ritter's right on one big thing: Putin's pissed off. That said, if he DID "catch on" before launching the war, it's mind-boggling that he didn't prepare to fight it better, making allowance for Ukrainian defensive improvement.

(Update: Per an NPR piece about how NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg worries about the war expanding, Putin has said he wishes he invaded earlier, though he doesn't talk about why he didn't catch on earlier, if he did not. That said, and, as reflected in the Brittney Griner exchange, and ignored by the likes of John Bolton, it has lead to fallout. Putin is specific:

“Eventually we will have to negotiate an agreement,” he said. “But after such statements there is an issue of trust. Trust is close to zero. I repeatedly have said that we are ready for an agreement, but it makes us think, think about whom we are dealing with.”

There you go.)

Not just this duplicitousness, though. is discussed in the wide-ranging interview. She also seems to think there is a kinder, gentler, inner George W. Bush tormented over the Iraq War. No, really:

Did she see how George W. Bush recently confused the war in Ukraine with the Iraq War during a recent public appearance, and then tried to pass it off by joking about his age?
She shakes her head.
"I think it’s a form of self-critique," she says. "On the Iraq War, though, I have to be rather critical of myself as well. I was one of those who chastised Gerhard Schröder at the time for risking the division of the West" for his vocal refusal to join the war effort. She starts looking for something on her iPad. Perhaps the pathetic "proof" offered by then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell of Iraq’s alleged WMD program? Or the article that she wrote for the Washington Post at the time defending the war?
Instead, she shows a picture that George W. Bush painted of her. The former president took up painting several years ago. "He painted Berlusconi, Putin, everyone," says Merkel smiling. Perhaps it’s a form of therapy Bush uses to quiet his demons. At his ranch in Texas, Bush told her that his father thought his other son, Jeb, would have made the better president.

I doubt it.

The Spiegel piece is NOT "sympathetic" overall. It says 86 percent of Germans want an apology for her Russian positions. And, that's not all. There's her "legacy":

Her legacy has been wrapped in protective Styrofoam, as a kind of respect for what she achieved in her time at the top, her longevity. But such conversations also make it clear that her legacy is looking worse and worse: in Russia policy, in energy policy, in health policy, in climate policy, in digitalization.


Near the end of the story, she claims she intended to address much of this in her last term. Really? It was almost half over by the time COVID started.

Meanwhile, this confirms how much dreck Kati Marton's Merkel bio is.

#txlege wingnut news

First, sorry for wingnuts in the Texas House, but since incumbent Dade Phelan won the GOP Caucus vote, which is, yes, nonbinding, he'll be back as Speaker. Tony Tinder-holt got all of six votes.

Wingers say that they want GOP-only committee chairs in the House and indicate they'll make anotehr run at it next year. It will likely be as successful as in the past.

Mike May, House race election denialist.

Harris County, abettor of May's BS, could be ground zero for the Lege further monkeying with state election laws. And, arguably, ConservaDem DA Kim Ogg is abetting that. Shock me.  

Extracted from the regular Texas Progressives Roundup: Off the Kuff reminds you to never believe a word Ken Paxton says about "voter fraud".

All of these indicate, when combined with the fact that the "red wave," going by individual Texas House districts, did little better here than nationally, that Phelan could have a bumpier ride than 2 years ago from his own caucus.