SocraticGadfly: 2023

December 30, 2023

Texas Progressives vouch for Abbott with this year-end Roundup

The Trib takes a semi-deep dive on how Abbott lost the battle for vouchers in the House side of the Lege. TL/DR is that refusal to make the program limited and means-tested was the big failure. Part of this was Abbott eyeing the national stage. As if he had a chance for the presidency in 2024. What a chud. Of course, Christofascist Tim Dunn wouldn't want something like that, either, and neither would Dannie Goeb in the Senate. That said, contra Abbott's politically framed polling, the House GOP holdouts were hearing from constituents. Big question, not asked by the Trib: Per the stereotypical 5 percent of voters turning out for GOP primaries, what will the swing be in these districts? Two months ago, it might have mattered for me, but with David Spiller being a weaselly voucher-flipper in the last special, now it doesn't. Sidebar: Here's a list of House candidates Abbott, and Kenny Boy Paxton over his impeachment, are targeting.

I have followed Ballot Access News for years. Richard Winger has many smart observations. But, late last year? Setting aside issues of "ripeness" and whether courts should intervene in primaries as well as general elections, his post on the Colorado Supreme Court knocking Trump off the ballot essentially wants to make the 14th Amendment's portion on ballot disbarment nugatory. I told him it was the stupidest thing he's ever written.

How many lawyers are there in Fredericksburg? How many are lining up in San Antonio? Gillespie County's plan to hand-count votes in the March primary (and likely with ZERO extra money from the Secretary of State on the cost side) will be a clusterfuck that's gonna lead to lawsuits in close races.

SocraticGadfly looks at national and world politics and takes a deeper dive on the Supreme Court Dobbs ruling, Putin, and Israel-Gaza.

Channelview's Jacintoport area's been bombarded by Cancer Alley benzene for nearly 20 years that the state knew about and said nothing.

Off the Kuff reminds us again that there are no easy fixes to the disaster caused by Republican abortion bans, and that Republicans themselves cannot and will not do anything to try to make it less bad. 

Pandering Kenny Boy is on a trans health care fishing expedition against a Seattle hospital. Whichever of the more than two sides one is on, on this issue, this is just bogus.

In re Katie Cox, the Texas Supreme Court wants to hear from the Texas Medical Board. Whether they listen is another matter. The TMB has said it's punting while any cases are in the court system. That timidity is what Texas Rethuglicas want.

Trump getting booted from the Maine ballot is bigger than Colorado. It's a more swing-y state, among other things. And, it was done administratively, by the Maine Secretary of State; might make it harder to legally challenge.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project said the extensive police powers of SB 4 well-serve an authoritarian vision. 

 The Dallas Observer salutes one "Concerned Parent in North Texas" for their service. 

The Texas Observer takes a deep dive into the career of Kelly Siegler, former Harris County prosecutor turned true crime TV star that's still doing the same old thing.  

Texas 2036 reviews some top stories in K-12 education. 

The Texas Living Waters Project does its year in review.  

In the Pink Texas discovers the true spirit of Christmas.

December 29, 2023

Frank Church NOT 'The Last Honest Man'

The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys―and One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy

The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys―and One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy by James Risen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book when I saw it on the library shelf, being old enough to remember Frank Church, definitely old enough to remember the multifaceted 1976 Democratic presidential primary battle, and also having read a lot of Risen's reporting in various outlets.

From the Prologue, I figured this would probably be a good four-star, but not a five-star.

First, I’ve long held, from what I’ve read, that the Pike Committee did more than the Church Committee. So said Mark Ames. Risen disagrees. I've read other material elsehwere to that effect.

That said, he doesn’t even mention the House Government Information Subcommittee of Bella Abzug. In fact, Risen doesn’t mention Abzug, period. James Bamford does mention her extensively in Puzzle Palace, calling it, vis-à-vis BOTH Church and Pike Comms, “like an ammunition-laden cargo plane out of control,” from the spooks point of view. Bamford of course talks about both full commissions.

Second, he, and he’s not alone, talk about the Church Committee “reining in” the intelligence state. Well, that was a low bar to hurdle and was also relatively temporary. And, the battle was halfway lost at the time and Church signed off on the final version of the Church Committee report, establishing the Intelligence Committee refused to require the CIA to give the Intell folks advance notice of covert operations. It also had other loopholes, and per that link, many staffers excoriated the committee. Oh, the vote was unanimous, so that includes Church. (The Senate Government Operations Committee, or more precisely, the Senate Committee on Government Operations, was the Church Committee. That said, as it had 11 members, I'm not sure where a 12-0 vote comes from, nor am I sure what the name of Charles Percy, who was never on the committee, is doing there.)  In other words, per his own committee staffers, at least metaphorically, he wasn't all that honest of a man.

The claims of Church and others that this would tread on the sacrosanct Constitutional separation of powers and involve one branch of the Trinity interfering with another was and is laughable. Congresses regularly set restrictions on presidential power, as do courts. In fact, just a couple of years prior, the Supreme Court ruled that Nixon's "impoundment" of Congressional appropriations was unconstitutional.

The real issue, as I see it, is that senators didn't really want to reign in the CIA that much, and didn't want to be called bad guys for allegedly putting handcuffs on the CIA. This, in fact, is a charge that Steve Symms raised against Church in his successful 1980 run to unseat him. Even beyond that, I think these, and most senators, wanted "plausible deniability" vis a vis the CIA.

So, with that, we've fallen out of the four-star range on just how much Church really did, as well as, metaphorically, just how honest he was or was not. And, with that, like one other three-star reviewer, I thought the title stood out like a sore thumb and was off-putting, whether Risen chose that, or his editor.

Beyond that, per "The Last Great Senate," there were other senators in 1980 who, overall, were in the same general range of honesty as Church. So, again, why the title?

Related to that? Yeah, Church may have in private been an early opponent of Vietnam, but for some time after voting for the Tonkin Gulf resolution, those concerns stayed private. As for the two who voted against LBJ? Ernest Gruening got lied out of the Senate in 1968 by Mike Gravel and his campaign (and lie Gravel did, about that and many other things) and Wayne Morse was the type of independent minded person beyond Church's idol, William Borah, let alone Church himself.  I mean, the vote split has even 10 "not voting" senators, nine of them Democrats. Church couldn't even do that. And, where was Church after Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1967 Riverside sermon?

And, why the subject? Yes, I know Risen is big in intelligence community reporting. But, per Ames' link, why not a bio of Pike?

With Church (and this would be far more true with Pike), I think Risen got his ass in a crack. There's not that much on which to hang one's hat for a Church bio other than the Church Committee. Well, then, in that case, don't make it a bio. Focus on the Church and Pike committees.

As for the 1976 campaign? I disagree with Risen's implication that Church likely would have won California had Brown not have made his late entry into the race. Mo Udall was the most union-favored remaining candidate at this point, and from the neighboring state of Arizona. Plus, Carter would have campaigned harder in California without Brown there, and without Brown having won Maryland, probably would have been in a position to win the nomination right there, without George Wallace and Scoop Jackson ceding their delegates.

One other error?

Page 243, the Sacheen Littlefeather who stood in for Marlon Brando at the 1972 Oscars is a pretendian, not an American Indian, and has been suspected long before Risen wrote. The NY Times even had a news story .

That said, ignore wingnut 3-star and lower reviews like this MAGAts one. Surprised she gave it 3 stars rather than lower.

View all my reviews

December 28, 2023

SPUSA prez nominee Bill Stodden, part 2: Dear Leader, the Salvation Army, sneering

So, two months ago, I did a long piece on Socialist Party USA presidential nominee Bill Stodden and specific reasons why I wouldn't vote for him.

I partially, but not totally, lost one of the two big political ones, when I found out that an error by the Rapid City, South Dakota newspaper about him allegedly being against the Iraq War but supporting Vietnam, during a protest against the Iraq War, was incorrect. I have corrected that post.

But, I didn't totally lose it, as Stodden, who was already an SPUSA activist for years in 2008, voted for Dear Leader Obama for prez, apparently being suckered by his "no more dumb wars" statement, while not asking further about that, and ignoring that he was otherwise just another neoliberal. And, in extensive comments on that first post, Stodden has not only doubled down on his lack of repentance for that vote, but increased the defensiveness, and further undercut himself.

He said:

You did your “duopoly exit” in 2000. Good for you. I presume you never voted for one of the two major parties again after that. That sort of ideological purity is nice. You have certainty. You cup is already full then. Nothing more can be added. It is clear that you missed the point of the declaration that the wise man knows that he knows nothing. If you know everything already, there is nothing to learn. Fine. 
Obama in 2008 was the only vote for a major party candidate I ever cast, in my life. We can go through my voting record some other time, but I never did a “duopoly exit” because I never did a duopoly entrance. I voted for Obama because 1) I believed that he was sincere about being anti War. I was wrong. Sorry about that. I’m not the first person to be lied to by a politician. And 2) I believe that the election of a black dude would give the racists in this country heart palpitations. And about this, I was correct. His election was like lifting the rock on the facade of civility. I don’t give a damn what anyone says about this: dragging the racists and bigots out into the light is always a good thing. If that’s the ONLY positive thing his election did, I say it was worth it. Because while neither you nor I may like it much that one one or the other of the duopoly gets to win, that is still a fact. I’d rather it be the one that was elected. I voted that year for the one of those two that I thought would do the most good. I didn’t vote for him again in 2012. It was a principled vote and I even resigned from the SP to do it, because I also believe that you don’t get to call yourself a socialist if you are voting for Democrats.

Emphasis added.

To which, I responded:

2. Yes, I have never looked back, at the presidential level, from 2000 on, Bill. (That includes conscious undervoting of the presidential race, as I did in 2020.) I didn't trust Dear Leader on things besides the war. And, by your logic on voting for him, you should have voted for Biden in 2020, as all the BlueAnons screamed. Or, to twist deeper, you shouldn't be running yourself on the SPUSA line this year because "democracy is at stake." So, your sneer in the first paragraph of your second comment is indeed taken as a sneer, and a defensive one.

And, his further response, which I won't bother quoting, shows that he doesn't grasp his own illogic. If he accepts that one side or the other of the duopoly is going to win and he wants to be on the winning side, yeah, that's exactly what Blue Anons say today. EXACTLY. 

And, Stodden has a PhD in political science to boot. And still doesn't grasp, or accept, his own illogic. And, per lesser evilism, Trump 2024 is indeed a worse fear than McCain 2008.

The second issue hasn't gone away, but has in fact intensified due to more sneering on his part, that I'm not going to quote.

Yeah, Bill, the charitable division of Salvation Army may be administered differently from its congregational division, but? It's still part of the Salvation Army. Catholic Charities is still part of the Roman Catholic Church. I'm sure there's at least a Goodwill, on clothing and small appliances, or maybe even a non-affiliated thrift store. There's probably a regional food bank. That doesn't go to shelter, but there may be a homeless shelter that's not run by the Salvation Army, too.

I use all of those. 

Also, while I'm here, there's secular alternatives to 12-step sobriety. There's no in-person SMART Recovery in Ames, but there are four meetings in Des Moines, and both SMART and Lifering have online meetings, email groups, etc.

I'm not poor, but I'm not rich and I'm not even that high up the middle class food chain. And, as both an adult and a child, I have experience government-defined poverty before. My career path includes rejecting options that would have left me better-paid than today, too, Bill, just like, even if you weren't a Quaker in the 1990s, you could have opted not to volunteer for the Marines, unless you needed collegiate money that badly.

So, your sneers about using a little discretion in shopping? I am not going to engage further.

As for his family heritage? I was just adding "color" to the original piece. Sorry that that was incorrect, but as noted, I'm not a NYT investigative reporter who does only this for a living, and it meant nothing one way or the other to the core of the piece, and I said words to the effect of "could be," anyway. On the protest and the Rapid City paper? Not my fault, as noted at the time.

To sum up, even if we didn't have the possible (if he's on the ballot here) option of Cornel West instead of likely two-com-three time GP retread Jill Stein, I still wouldn't vote for you if you're on the Tex-ass ballot. Everything associated with your Obama vote and your defensiveness is laughable. Although I'm not a Marxist, if West isn't on the ballot, but PSL is, I'll vote their candidate over either you or Stein.

December 27, 2023

Why I still don't give money to Counterpunch

Yes, but, Jeff St. Clair, on your reposting two months ago of a 2019 piece explaining the rigors of your annual major fundraising drive. 

One-quarter of what Counterpunch runs is dreck, like the guy who was (is?) your poet laureate. I've sent stuff that you haven't run, both poetry and prose.

I posted the above as part of a Texas Progressives roundup in early November.

And, then, that same day, St. Clair posts a dreck piece by wingnut James Bovard about Waco and the Branch Davidian standoff. Bovard is flat wrong that ATF outgunned the Davidians. (The FBI is a different story.) From all evidence we have, he is wrong that the National Guard helicopters during the ATF initial raid fired shots at the compound.

Bovard is a wingnut otherwise. Retweeting folks like the Brownstone Institute shows he's a COVID wingnut; the fact that he's an official fellow shows that in spades. His own website shows that 95 percent of what he writes is for the NY Post.

On Waco, I suspect he's trying to grift on the recent release of the Stephan Talty book, which followed the spring Jeff Guinn book. Both links are to my Goodreads reviews, which is part of how I know that, as far as forces on the ground, Davidians outgunned ATF agents.

Otherwise, his piece, and his Twitter replies to me, are filled with a mix of "maybes" and "possiblies," and quotes of people like wingnut former Congresscritter Steve Schiff, a UFO conspiracy theorist, plus strawmanning. On the media, the reality is that the Clinton Administration faced a fair amount of fairly early pushback.

The idea that the FBI "targeted childen" is itself laughable. Anybody who knows the reality knows that Koresh had any and every opportunity to let remaining children go. As for the final FBI assault, since it had nobody inside, and the bugs it had sent in on food were audio-only, it couldn't have known where children were to be targeted. It's also "interesting," in regard to this, where Bovard ends direct quotes in the middle of a sentence. It's another version of quoting someone out of context.

Finally, per both books and repeated investigation? Koresh started the fire. 

And, speaking of books? Per one of his, co-authored with fellow nutters from the Libertarian Institute, he claims that gun-ownership is a "God-given right." Since there is no god, no such rights exist, and certainly not to guns.

So, St. Clair, even if he's not behind the paywall, if you're running this, once again, you don't need my money.

Or, if you're running the dreck of Michael Hudson, totally uninformed about biblical criticism, and close to being a duck-quacking water carrier for Zionism, whether behind a paywall or not? You don't need my money.

Or, other nuttery behind the paywall? This interview of Mitch Horowitz, a hater of modern skepticism because he's a paranormal true believer? Again, Jeff, you want to run him, and behind the paywall? You don't need my money.

Otherwise, the St. Clair-Cockburn slugline of "we welcome all political faiths" may be marginally more true than the Libertarian Party's "neither left nor right," but that's a low bar to clear indeed. To take it it an extreme, you could publish both Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and Stalin's personally edited version of the 1936 show trials and be wrong twice. (I don't know what the Stalinist equivalent of Godwin's Law is, but I just went there with pleasure.)

December 26, 2023

Could the 2024 presidential race go to the House?

First, I will occasionally update this first-round guesstimate as we get firmer polling numbers not just on Joe Biden and Donald Trump, but Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West, Jill Stein, and whomever Libertarians nominate.

With that, let's dig in, with Wikipedia's entry on the 2020 election the starting point.

Bob Jr. strikes me, and certainly, pollsters, as the biggest wild card among independent and third-party candidates. Where is he most likely to have an effect? I'm basing this somewhat on state-by-state hunches and a general thought that he takes 60 percent Republican, 40 percent Democrat, among his voters who voted for somebody else in 2020, and doubles that with "green" voters. (Not "green" in that sense; green as in didn't vote for either one in 2020.)

My guesstimates:

1. He keeps Arizona in Biden's column.

2. He keeps Georgia in Biden's column.

3. He takes Maine, both of the individual Congressional district electoral votes and overall.

4. He takes New Hampshire.

5. And, for shits and giggles, let's say he takes Wisconsin as well.

That's 18 EVs for him. Not enough to send it to the House. It's 288 Biden, 232 Trump, 18 Kennedy. But?

Let's say I'm wrong on Arizona and Georgia. That's 17 votes. I'm moving them to Trump, not Kennedy.

Then it's 271-249-18, right? Wrong. We forgot to factor in redistricting, which gives Trump's 2020 states 3 more EVs this time, and Biden's 3 less.

We are now at 268-252-18.

That said, as she still dithers, there's the Liz Cheney factor the other way. But, further kneecapping Biden, there's the #AbandonBiden push. And, there's the new indictment of Hunter Biden, which raises up again the issue of Biden family sleaziness.

We'll talk more later.

Update: Bob Jr. is officially on the ballot in Utah, his first state. Per a piece at Independent Political Report, he expects ballot access battles could cost up to $15 million — and sounds prepared to spend. Unless slipstreaming in his wake, it's hard to see Cornel West coming close to that.

December 23, 2023

The COVID doomers are out again, wrong again

Whetherr it's (ex)-Berners trying to score points on Biden on this issue, as has been the case for a full year now, or simple hysterics, the COVID doomers have been out and about on Twitter for a couple of weeks already.


Wrong once again! Per Worldometers, nope, no surge in cases or death rates.

STFU, hysterics. Or, in the case of Berners, tribalists. Actually, with the likes of attacks on Leana Wen, you're both tribalists. And both hysteriacs.

That said, COVID doomerism, especially when combined with general doomerism, is good money for the likes of Jessica Wildfire finding suckers, even while being full of shit.

December 22, 2023

Jim Schutze self-resurrects to carry more water for Mike Miles

After largely wrongly, it seems, stanning for Miles when he ran Dallas ISD, and largely being sidelined at D Mag after a ceremonial rollout in early 2020 after the Dallas Observer dumped him (rightly, IMO), Schutze decided to drop a column at the Chronic this summer in defense of Miles being named TEA's enforced new superintendent at Houston ISD.

 But, that ain't enough. According to D Mag's head honcho, Mike Rogers, Schutze is now Substacking for Miles. Well, no, wait. That was a month BEFORE Schutze's column in the Chronic, which means?

Schutze was schwaffling. I won't say flat-out lying, but, he did get that column into his contract.

As to his Substack? Full of strawmanning, as well as his renewed boner for Miles. Surprised Amber Guyger's not in there. Maybe he learned his lesson.

That said, is Miles the devil incarnate? No. But, per that first link, he's not all Schutze claims. Not even close.

Did he have a boner for Miles? That author notes 286 Schutze columns at the Observer. Surely many more after that.

Does he still have a boner for Miles at his Substack? Click the link.

December 21, 2023

A failure of focus at Vernon College? The Trib? Both?

How will community college funding changes by the Lege change said colleges' student recruitment angles? The Trib looks at Vernon College. That said, questions remain, including about whether CC's don't need to downsize more, especially the ones like Vernon in more rural areas, and whether or not they need to downsize yet more with the Lege's focus on outcomes-based education. The piece does finish by hinting at the vo-tech angle such colleges need to address, but could have hit it harder.

Also, the piece looks at Black potential students as well as White ones. Missing? Hispanics, more than 30 percent of the population in Vernon and more than 20 percent in the surrounding area. Indeed, the word "Hispanic" is nowhere in the story. Right there, I can tell you the story is a fail, and if it reflects where Vernon College is at, its plan for changing enrollment declines will also be a failure.

The community college of my community college district recently got a federal grant to help bolster Hispanic educational outcomes. Did Vernon College get such a grant? Apply for one but not get it? Not apply for one? Not know of one? None of that's in the story.

Anybody who looks at Texas High Plains demographics know that rural counties there not only face the "Great Hollowing Out" of continuing population decline, but have that problem partially lessened by a "Great Hispanic Replacement."

The reporter is herself a minority, but neither Black nor Hispanic. She graduated Northwestern. Chicago has at least a few Hispanics; this should have been on her radar.

December 20, 2023

Texas Progressives talk Bum Steer Awards AND bum steers in awards

This year's Texas Monthly Bum Steer for 2024? Who else but Dannie Goeb himself, aka Dan Patrick. Kenny Boy Paxton was a runner-up (natch) as were Elmo Musk and Texas A&M. And, per the piece, since Texas Democraps still suck, he'll be leading the state (he does) for another six years. That said, the last graf of the piece is funny:

But though Patrick has prospered here and has lived here for nearly a half century, he still does not fully understand Texas. He knows what the small group of Republican primary voters who elected him want: endless culture war. He knows how to role-play a version of a Texan, posing in his campaign ads with a brush jacket and an old pickup truck. But Texas contains multitudes. This place is too wild and weird to fit in Patrick’s narrow and exclusionary ideological vision. His failure to see Texas is a pitiable thing.

Yeah, right. Genteel moderately librul Tea-Sippers writing Texas Monthly pieces don't understand today's Tex-ass. Presumably someone with the brains (I think) of a Mimi Swartz had nothing to do with that write-up. As OC wingnuts Californicate Tex-ass, Patrick fully understands what today's Tex-ass is becoming on the Republican side.

School chaplains IS the camel's nose of the Religious Right in the tent, but just as I said long ago about what would happen if school prayer were revived, many of the initial backers of the idea are more hesitant now about THEIR denominational ox being gored.

Despite being a Paxton impeachment manager, my state House legiscritter, Spiller, is a wingnut indeed, per Trib rankings.

Tyler has had a strictly secular holiday season display area for years, but a rabbi still decided to go wingnut when told his menorah wouldn't be allowed.

Off the Kuff points out that three of the Supreme Court justices that refused to let Kate Cox get an abortion are on the 2024 ballot, including the most notoriously anti-abortion zealot on the Court. 

SocraticGadfly says RIP Craig Watkins.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project said State Senator Carol Alvarado would better serve democracy by working hard for Democratic voter turnout rather than criticizing active rank and file Democratic volunteers. 

Texas 2036 provides a sneak peek at its joint report on trends in extreme weather in Texas with Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. 

Shock me that the (currently) second-largest United Methodist church in the US is in Southlake, tilts semi-wingnut within the UMC, and has its growth being driven by Californication.

 Your Local Epidemiologist looks at the life-threatening aspects of anti-abortion legislation.  

Law Dork reviews SCOTUS' decision to take up the mifepristone appeal. 

The Dallas Observer explores the excesses of a Plano megachurch's Christmas extravaganza.  

The Bloggess announced the 14th Annual James Garfield Miracle.

A deeper dive on Dobbs, Putin, Zionist Nazis of the IDF and Gaza

Behind the scenes of the Supreme Court's ruling on Dobbs and the Roe reversal. One big issue is that the leaked draft, per the story, probably hardened all of the apparently locked-in conservatives, notably Kavanaugh, from joining Roberts on a controlling centrist opinion that would have granted Mississippi's original basic request of rolling Roe back to 15 weeks. I figured this at the time, but this is why I assume it was some conservative who leaked it, and precisely for that reason. As for the investigation of clerks by court marshals? Assuming it was a conservative clerk or two involved, winners write the rules, including whitewashing. The story doesn't discuss how detailed a report of the investigation Roberts gave to fellow justices.

As for whose clerk?

Arguably, a Roberts clerk could have said "what the fuck, I'll leak it" in order to box his boss in. Highly unlikely. Pissing the Umpire off could have backfired on future career prospects. A Kavanaugh clerk trying to force his boss's unsteady hand is much more likely. Whether that's more likely than a Thomas, Alito or Gorsuch clerk being the leaker, but for the reasons above, I don't know.


The Times Magazine reports on the shattering of trust between many more leftist Israelis and Palestinians after Oct. 7. Unfortunately, sadly, disgustingly, whatever, the story hits a chughole early on when it appears to accept all hasbara-type claims about the Tribe of Nova music festival at face value. And, while discussing rape, it only discusses allegations of rape by Hamas, not rape by members of the IDF, nor does it discuss if the Palestinian portion even raised this issue, lest it shatter what fragile alliance remained.

That said, as shown here in the States (where tensions are admittedly lesser) such fractures don't have to happen, per this Medium.

Reminder, via here and here, that Zionist Nazis in the IDF will kill Palestinian Christians just like Palestinian Muslims, and will attack churches just like mosques. But, the #ReligiousRight in the GOP and the candidates it herds, as well as "good Catholics" Joe Biden and RFK Jr., and good New Ager Marianne Williamson, whose "love faucet" doesn't flow to Gaza, won't tell you this. And, Israel's already out with the most blatant hasbara yet, on this. Jerusalem's deputy mayor says there are no Christians and no churches in Gaza. Worse yet, with an Arabic name, Fleur Nassan-Nahoum is presumably a Palestinian Christian willing to play Stephin Fetchit to Zionists just to attack Muslims.

Also, as seen in a Beeb interview and elsewhere, too many media professionals globally still work on the presumption that "Palestinian" without modifer = "Palestinian Muslim."


Great story, with the New York Times actually detailing a fair amount of the truth on how Russian President Vladimir Putin punked the Western sanctions world in general and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld in particular. Punked them he has, and contra Sonnenfeld's sneers (which ooze through the Internet's electrons), many of the new Russian owners, for the short term at least, are apparently running their new companies OK or even better than OK.

That said, the Times kneecaps itself by repeating the likely canard, which I first saw on Financial Times a week or two earlier, that the Russian economy would overheat some time next year. These are the same folks who claimed a year ago, just before Putin started doing these Russian-style Special Acquisition Vehicles of Muscovite capitalism (I see what I did there), that the Russian economy would be brought to its knees by American-led sanctions. James K. Galbraith ripped that claim to shreds with actual empirical evidence eight months ago; he or somebody similar may do the same with this.


Democrats hate on Tommy Tuberville for hurting the military. (In reality, continued and presumably rising problems with obesity in particular and fitness in general among the section of today's high school graduates that don't perceive better job opportunities elsewhere hurts the military far more.) If only someone would tell him, as I did on Twitter with that link, that abortion is legal in Israel.

Speaking of the health spectrum of today? Americans are shrinking as well as getting heavier. Blame Millennials and/or the corporate food they eat and/or are offered, or that they're not offered via cuts in food stamps and other aid directly to the poor, as both problems started about 1980.  On height? By countries of the world, Merikkkan men are barely top 50, and women aren't even that. 

As for Tuberville? This isn't a direct quote, but per an old MASH episode, you know what happens if he hurts the military enough? "Peace."


Cornel West thinks President Biden may pull an LBJ 1968. I doubt it. If nothing else, his "Irish Alzheimer's" will keep him from doing that. (And, contra others, I think Biden has more of it than many other people think.)

Chinese President Xi Jinping is reportedly offing more opponents. Mark Ames doesn't want to believe it, but Mark, somethings these things are real and you, like Counterpunch at times, need to drop a reflexiveness in your anti-American foreign policy establishement stance.


December 19, 2023

Buddy, can you spare $700 million? For Ohtani, or the Dodgers?

Everybody else is writing about Shohei Ohtani's record-breaking contract with the Dodgers, so why shouldn't I?

First, per the header? I think it's a big fat overpay. Got in an argument months ago with a chud on r/mlb about the success rate of pitchers coming back from two TJs. Yeah, the second is not a "full TJ," but still. IMO, he'll be a batter-only player by the time he and Dodger Blue are halfway through that 10-year contract.

I add in a blog post from this summer about "the cautionary tale of Jacob deGrom." Even if he's still raking like currently, that alone should knock the contract down to $50M/year.

That said, as everybody knows by now, this contract is massively eferred

Second, this is Los Angeles. They don't need Ohtani on the team to goose fan numbers, so scratch that.

Third? Does Mookie Betts now think he's underpaid? Regret not having an opt-out clause in his contract? Speaking of? Mookie Betts' best two years by WAR are better than Ohtani's top 2.

Fourth, re small-market teams? Rich teams should not be allowed to defer payments on a contract just to dodge the lux tax line. That's doubly true as we learn the deferment is $68 million per year of the $70M. It's more ridiculous than NFL contracts with guaranteed vs non-guaranteed money. (Question: How much do small-market teams bitch during discussions for the next CBA? How much do mid-tier free agents, if they think about it?)

Yeah, Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer, in his 17 Questions about Ohtani's Contract piece, says that this won't really benefit big-market teams. But, he adds that the current MLB language requires a team to have money to make good on a deferred payment structure within two years of the deferred money starting to kick in. Good luck with that, small market teams.

That said?

Fifth, re small-market teams? MLB needs a salary floor as well as a lux tax line, soft cap, whatever. For the A's/Las Vegas Whazzups, Rays, Marlins, Royals, etc.? If you don't maintain an MLB payroll of $80M or whatever? You get dinged revenue sharing money in future years. Or docked draft choices. Or other punitive actions. After all, the whole point of revenue sharing is that small market teams have extra money to spend to be competitive. (Question: How much do big-market teams bitch during discussions for the next CBA? How much do mid-tier free agents, if they think about it?)

Sixth? After he IS back pitching in 2025, I'd laugh if he joins Clayton Kershaw on the playoff pitching flops roster.

Seventh? If Arte Moreno has an ounce of brains, he looks to trade Mike Trout and accept that it's time to rebuild.

December 18, 2023

The ACLU stanning for the NRA

I heard about this more than a week ago, but wanted to offer something up anyway.

First, some apologists may say this is like defending the Nazis in Skokie 50 years ago.

No it's not.

The NRA may not be as flush as it tries to make out being, but it's much more flush than the National Socialist Party of America was or is. Or, as Students for Justice in Palestine is today. In short, it doesn't need the ACLU's help.

And help it is.

This is NOT an amicus brief. ACLU is serving as counsel for the NRA.

And, per the link, I don't see this as an attempt to silence the NRA, whether it needs civil-liberties organization help or not. Therefore, this is NOT "a controversial First Amendment issue." It's a semi-controversial NON-First Amendment issue, per the Second Circuit's ruling.

And, it's not like it needs to goose its membership. Trump's election, and its aftermath, did that, unless it had humongous churn. So why?

The "both sides" angle like too much of mainstream media still does too often? Churn, after all? An expectation of a Trump re-election?

And, let's not forget then-and-now Executive Director Anthony Romero, hand-in-glove with then board prez Nadine Strossen, working to gag other board members like Wendy Kaminer 15-plus years ago, when they protested about ACLU staff teaching people how to COMPLY with the Patriot Act.

Let's also not forget that, just a few years later, Romero wanted to pardon torturers.

Finally, per Wiki's page on it? Don't forget that while the ACLU "courageously" defended Nazis in the 1970s, it "cowardly" refused to defend alleged Communists in the 1950s. AND, it supported anti-First Amendment legislation, too.

The ACLU may have apologized for being lax in defending Communists. I don't know that it's ever apologized for the Patriot Act shit.

And, yes, it does a lot of good. But, it does its share of not so good, and needs to be kicked every few years.

December 15, 2023

Sequels and reboots: Cancel culture vs suckitude culture of capitalism

Yeah, Kelsey Grammer may be a MAGAts member, and said so to the Beeb before Paramount+ folks cut his interview short. But, contra Kuff, that is no less a reason to watch a Frasier reboot than is any show starring politicized Democrat actors of Zionist persuasion who support Genocide Joe's Genocide. (Hold on to that thought.)

If you're worried a reboot will suck or Grammer's too old? Fine. If, like me, you think this is capitalist greed? Fine. (And now, we're going to get to picking back up on that thought.)

That, then is good reason not to watch a Spinal Tap remake, again contra Kuff and in this case, his enthusiasm. Elton John and Paul McCartney? Doing what? Singing "Candle in the COPD Windedness"? Or saying "This one goes to 11 but I still can't hear it without my hearing aids"? But, back to the cancel culture reason, then. Rob Reiner IS a Meathead of duopoly #BlueAnon-ism, retweeting fucktards like Marc Elias with the usual "A vote for Stein/West/RFK Jr is 'really' a vote for Trump," along with blindly supporting the proxy war in Ukraine and of course, the IDF / Biden genocide. No wonder Kuff likes him, as he never ventures outside of Texas state politics and never colors outside the duopoly lines.

Finally, Reiner's also a Meathead JFK conspiracy theorist.

So, fuck off Rob Reiner. And, on this version of cancel culture, Kuff can fuck off too. Shit like this is why Brains laughed at you at times. That said, that was a two-edged sword there. Anyway, he should have stayed on TPA and just snarked at Kuff more on things like this, like I do, and rearranged the weekly Texas Progressives Roundup to his own desire, like I do.

December 14, 2023

Texas Progressives say: Her name is Kate Cox

On behalf of Kate Cox, fuck the Texas Supreme Court.

With more, Off the Kuff writes about the emergency lawsuit that would have allowed a Dallas woman to get an abortion before Ken Paxton stuck his nose in.


Austin City Council votes to allow denser housing in single-family residential zoning. But, "votes to allow" doesn't mean it will actually happen. There's a whole raft of issues behind this one, nationally. That said, the two opponents and the constituents they represent aren't necessarily "right."

The Texas Historical Commission seems to be following the Texas State Historical Association in having problems with wingnuts.

Kenny Boy and DPS head Steve McCraw continue to hate on Uvalde families.
DosCentavos offers up another Thoughts on Viernes. This one is about the latest on COVID and DPS absolving itself.

Fort Worth Diocese Bishop Michael Olson fighting an order of nuns? And Amon G. Carter's granddaughter? Bring it on! I was broadly familiar already with the front story, and also with Bishop Olson's reputation. And, per the story, will Francis the Talking Pope move him on at some point? As of now, hurdling Catholic bureaucracy seems to be an issue.

SocraticGadfly notes how the vaunted Texas economic miracle still really isn't.
Genocide Joe's really desperate if the Clintons are going to become a bigger part of his campaign
And, with a Biden impeachment inquiry started, will BlueAnon like Adam Schiff stop lying about Trump's first impeachment not being political when it clearly was?

Democrat State Sen. Nathan Johnson gets primaried. Good; we need more ConservaDems to face the music.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project said that the Houston Police Officer's Union each day has the opportunity to side with candidates and elected officials who fully support democracy. 

 Evil MoPac mourns a tragic day in Austin.

The Dallas Observer talks to abortion supporters about the battles ahead. 

The TSTA Blog closes the door on a wasted year at the Capitol.

And, sorry, Kuff, but this outpost of Texas Progressives doesn't worship at the cult of Fuck You the Beaver. Nor do we run religiously based reflections on Hanukkah that are as much mythical as would be the typical religious leader's reflection on Christmas, especially given the Israel-Hamas war.

December 13, 2023

RIP Craig Watkins

Saw the story on the front page of the Snooze earlier this week. Wow. Not even 60.

He was indeed a trailblazer, especially on the matter of exonerations of those wrongly convicted, one of the first urban area DAs in the nation to create a prosecutor's integrity division, or similar, to look at such cases.

Was he perfect? No. The end of the story notes him being sanctioned by the state bar just last month for failing to do the work to get a criminal expunction for a client of his. (That said, was health an issue? The family didn't say why he passed away.)

Was he as bad as Jim Schutze thought on his contempt case? No way, and also, the first time Schutze took a real black eye in my book, though not the last.

Did Schutze's knife help give Dallas County Susan Hawk, much more problematic? Probably.

And, given Schutze's clusterfuck bromance for Amber Guyger, I wonder if part of why he hated on Watkins was because he wasn't deferential enough to cops.

The big thing I've wondered on since his trials (the literal, not figurative) and him eventually getting the boot by Hawk is what would have happened had his political future not been aborted. Beyond the Dallas County Democratic Party, I know that I'm not alone.

The Nation returns to its "goysplaining" vomit with hasbara

As noted by Phil Weiss himself at Mondoweiss, The Nation has published new odiousness by Alexis Grenell, who invoked "goysplaning" not quite two years in relation to similar dreck, as blogged here.

Actually, I called the previous a "screed," vs. "dreck."

No, let's call this one what it is, per the header.

Hasbara. 190 proof.

Anything Hamas did before, during or after Oct. 7, or alleged to have done, comes under Grenell's microscope.

NOTHING either the government of Israel or the IDF did that provoked Oct. 7, nor anything it did afterward, gets a word of mention. But it does strawman on the word and idea of a ceasefire and more.

Meanwhile, Grenell's attacks on the DSA Roseys two years ago as part of that earlier piece I blogged about? I am minded of Harold Meyerson and others dropping out of the DSA a month ago. Though a non-duopolist myself, I still say good riddance to them.

As I tell it regularly on Twitter and in email, for supporting the duopoly, the same applies to The Nation here.

Fuck off collectively, as well as fuck off Grenell.

Top blogging of November (belated)

Again, not all of these posts are from November; they're just the most popular of the last month.

No. 10? Based on a piece from Smithsonian, my takedown on the Ev Psych sexism of "man (the male) the (noble, is usually implied) hunter," vs the female gatherer in the background.

No. 9? Getting tired of Michael Hudson's incorrect biblical exegesis, even if in the service of a noble cause of tackling the world of capitalist debt. This time, though, it's not in such noble service; instead, he tries to explain away the clear words in I Samuel of Yahweh ordering Saul to commit a holocaust, a genocide, of the Amalekites. Coming in the middle of the ongoing Israel-Gaza war, even if he's not stanning for Netanyahu, it's bad optics.

No. 8? Speaking of? Watching oldtimers leave the Democratic Socialists of America and shaking my head, in part because the younger generation won't write blank checks to Bibi.

What would be No. 7 actually has a Dec. 1 date, so it's getting skipped.

No. 6? Fuck Biden and his IRS for politicizing Obamacare. A 180 on normal versions of calling out politicization there, but I don't care. 

No. 5? My mock JFK conspiracy theory, that Mossad assassinated him over Dimona. It actually makes much more scary sense than any real conspiracy theory.

No. 4? Not recent. I said in June of this year that I probably owed Sam Husseini an apology over possible bioengineering of COVID, or at least, experimentation to that end. (I still remain somewhat skeptical, and probably more skeptical than I was when I wrote that. I also add that "bioengineering" is not "bioweaponization," which is where Husseini had been headed.)

No. 3 comes from Texas politics. I first smelled a rat in Pat Fallon himself, when he said he'd leave Congress to run for his old Senate District 30 seat; turns out the rat was Danny Goeb himself, aka Dan Patrick.

No. 2 is also from December, but I'll link it anyway, because #AbandonBiden is totally correct. And, related?

No. 1 is from 2020, when I called out Jesse Singal for hypocritically stanning for the real cancel culture letter in Harper's Magazine. I posted it, IIRC, last month to one of Ken White's Substacks, and later tweeted it directly to cancel culture queen and letter signer Bari Weiss.

December 12, 2023

On behalf of Kate Cox, fuck the Texas Supreme Court

Kate Cox appeared to have a "win" with a Travis County district court approving her to have a seemingly medically indicated abortion and cutting through the surely deliberate "fog" at the edge of Texas' anti-abortion laws, only for Kenny Boy Paxton to appeal and the Texas Supremes to temporarily agree, even as the clock ticked for Cox.

On the morning of Monday, Dec. 11, Cox left the state, according to her legal backers at the Center for Reproductive Rights, saying she couldn't wait any longer. As I said in a retweet, Kenny Boy will argue her case is moot, but per the link, her lawyers, rightfully and righteously, want it argued out.

Meanwhile, in a clear conflict of interest? Justice John Devine (NOT "divine"!) brags on camera about his many arrests for harassing women at clinics.

And, was part of the Supreme Court that gave the back of the hand to Cox late Monday, and, as the piece notes, indicated it will take a narrow reading of the state law in the future. 

Meanwhile, I saw Ann Coulter talking about trisomy 18 on Twitter, and a number of #BlueAnon saying, "If you've lost Ann Coulter," while a few persons responded or quote-tweeted with words to the effect of "Ann Coulter knew this could happen; fuck that bitch." And, that's my thought and my sentiment.

Texas Democrats, Texas Greens, opportunity and challenge (updated)

Every two years here in Tex-ass we hear talk about "turn Texas blue."

And, every two years, Skipper Gilberto Hinojosa and the crew of Gilligans on SS Texas Democrats fail once again.

That said, part of "turn Texas blue" is having blue chessmen on the board.

For the upcoming March 5 primary?

No candidate for Texas Supreme Court, Place 6. There IS a primary for Place 2. I'm not sure who filed first, but, apparently whoever filed second didn't check, is stubborn, and/or didn't want to spend new fees on moving to another race.

Even worse? 

No Democrap is challenging piece of crap Sharon Keller as presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Place 8 incumbent Michelle Slaughter also has no challenger.

And, that leads us to Texas Greens' opening.

In the past, the GP has hit its 2 percent ceiling to keep ballot access by running in either a CCA or state Supremes race where no Democrat was in. Yes, there's the new rules on ballot access fees and such, but still. Surely some Green can scrape up either the money or the signatures for an opportunity like this, especially with 2024 and 2026 being the last years of currently guaranteed ballot access.

Back to Skipper Hinojosa and his little buddies.

Below the statewide level? No candidate in my SBOE, District 11. Nobody in Tarrant County, the heart of the district, could be encouraged to run? OK.


Sadly, Supreme Court Place 6 and all CCA places do have Democratic challengers after all. The Texas Secretary of State's office is known for having late updates, and this is clearly one of those cases.

December 11, 2023

Mimi Swartz deep-dives the Paxton impeachment trial

Swartz shows in detail why she's still the queen bee of Texas political media. (I had originally headered the piece "Swartz goes behind the scenes," but there's really not a bunch of previously off the record dish now going on background. It's still good, but it's not the queen bee's knees, either. And, the Monthly's "inside story" header led me to expect more in the way of on-background dish.)

First takeaway? As of closing arguments, Tony Buzbee and others of Kenny Boy's team of legal beagles thought there was a good chance he'd be nailed on at least one charge. (Oh, contra the either lying or idiotic Drew Springer, impeachment at the Tex-ass as well as federal level is clearly a civil not criminal charge, so you either knew or should have known what standard of truth applied.)

Next, this, about Kenny Boy himself, his "user" mentality toward others, and his greater confidence than his legal team.
On neither day did the attorney general take much notice of his Senate loyalists swiveling in their hardwood chairs, nor did he appear to give even a wink or a nod, much less a chaste kiss, to the wife he had betrayed. Paxton’s expression—always a bit lopsided because of a damaged eye—was bland. He looked like a man waiting for a bus.
Can't write that up better.

Third is the total non-transparency of "total transparency" promiser Danny Goeb, of course. That starts with him hand-picking the committee to advise him on trial rules.

And his hypocrisy to go with.
Patrick also made clear that he wanted to get the trial over with pronto. He set it to commence roughly three months after the release of the rules, a compressed window that called to mind Patrick’s complaint that the House had rushed to impeach Paxton.
But I digress. I will add his unilateral decision to keep both Kenny Boy and mistress Laura Olson off the witness stand, rather than putting them there, if only to plead the Fifth, was horseshit.

From there, it's two trial strategies. Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin running this like a typical civil case trial, vs Buzbee blatantly appealing to the Mucus and Brad Parscale world of social media to pressure Senate Rethuglicans.

Meanwhile, Patrick disallowing certain information to be entered into evidence was more horseshit. At that point, I wonder why was Buzbee worried?

On the "no real dish"? Swarz says Patrick reportedly took two phone calls during Senate jury deliberations, from senators, but has no info on what they were about.

She does have some other leakage:
Bettencourt was also spotted the night before closing arguments at 24 Diner with senators Bob Hall and Donna Campbell, as well as three other Paxton loyalists, sharing a friendly dinner with supposedly undecided senator Charles Perry. “When they took Perry out to dinner, I started to be very concerned,” said one senator, who did not wish to be identified for fear of retaliation.
Again, not bad, but nothing earthshaking. (Perhaps, after Goeb is dead and buried, or ditto for Christofascist Tim Dunn) we'll get more. Or when Texas Democrats flip the Senate, but maybe not then, which will almost certainly not happen until Goeb is dead and buried anyway.

More shit and more antisemitism from John Helmer

The more shit? The claims that Boris Yeltsin's replacement by Vladimir Putin was "another US operation through the oligarchs." 

Really, dude? Anybody who knows anything knows that Yeltsin, after kicking Anatoly Chubais to the curb on his own, made the deal to not only name Putin as the next prime minister but to get ready to retire in exchange for Putin not prosecuting his family for their part in the Yeltsin-era grifting. Mary Elise Sarotte discusses this in her great book, "Not One Inch," but I suspect that the Yob from Down Under dismisses her thought purely because she's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. More on that book and its background in my Mikhail Gorbachev obituary.

Although Putin hadn't been that high on the KGB ascendancy in the old USSR, he nonetheless would have been high enough that, Russian oligarchs or not, American leaders would not have wanted him to be the next president.

In this sense, Helmer is also like Consortium News was starting to become before Bob Parry died, like Mark Ames occasionally has been in the past, or like Counterpunch on occasion: adopting a reflexive anti-Americanism on anything of US foreign policy.

Next on the stupidity? His claim that depleted uranium is a weapon of mass destruction. He undercuts himself in his own post, when he actually notes that DU has been, at least in the past, part of the armor of American tanks, and between this and munitions dust, injures American troops. It is not to excuse the use of DU as a weapon on my part, but simply to call Helmer out on this.


The antisemitism? It's subtle, but from this person who knows that anti-Zionism is not antiesemitism, but who has also called out Helmer before for conspiracy theorizing tangential to this, it's there.

In the new material? First, referencing Oleg Deripaska first among the oligarchs in that top link. Then, on a piece on the death of Henry Kissinger, and Kissinger's long-standing sucking-up to Putin, just throwing in Mikhail Khodorkovsky. (Of course, by modern Jewish reckoning of descent, Khodorkovsky isn't actually Jewish, but Helmer surely wouldn't let something trivial like that stand in the way of a good story.) Then, we have a piece about the US, EU and G7 trying to boot Russia from the Kimberly Process consortium of diamond mining countries. Naturally, in Helmer's world view, this was driven by a Jewish diamond cabal, another antisemitic stereotype. The effort to boot Russia from Kimberly? Real. The claim that it's driven by a Jewish diamond cabal, not just another step in US sanctions against Russia? Loathsome.


On both these issues, per old friend Idries Shah:

The flip side of that is a tangent on Ockham's Razor. Unnecessarily multiplying sides beyond two, or, beyond three, more so, to a conspiracy theory and racism tangential fourth or fifth side, adds again to the difficulty of properly addressing the issue.


Finally, on the antisemitism? Lest on Twitter (again, as he's tried before) Helmer tries to strawman or gaslight me with handwaving over the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, or lest one of his fanbois (not sure how many he has) tries that?

I've got Mondoweiss on my blogroll here. I follow it and Norman Finkelstein on Twitter. I follow Norman on Substack.

Don't even try that.

December 08, 2023

James M. Dorsey — slipping on Israel-Gaza

James Dorsey has to me been generally very good and very insightful on Middle Eastern affairs — before Oct. 7. This piece, though, shows that while he's not Genocide Joe, he's not all that in the last two months, with this, emphasis mine:

Hamas’ current notion of realpolitik falls far short of anything that would qualify it as an acceptable and credible party to the negotiation of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I might accept "short," by itself, without the modifier "far." But, that is itself ... too far. He goes on to talk about the PLO/PA endorsing the two-state solution when liberal and leftist ex-Zionists like Peter Beinart know that Israel itself killed that long ago.

His interviewing a Brown University prof who rejects the idea that Israel is committing genocide, and two weeks-plus later, not interviewing anybody with an alternative point, is further "slippage." 

And, his "fog of war" piece of last Monday is the latest slippage. He says that after the fog lifts, among things need to be done is "determine whether Hamas has or should have a future."

He does redeem himself with:

Yet, the Israeli campaign demonstrates that brutality and disrespect for the life of the innocent other are not a Hamas preserve. 
In addition, Israel’s assertion that Hamas uses the Gazan population as human shields by utizing hospitals, schools, and mosques amounts to the pot calling the kettle black.
He does redeem himself further with notes that Israel refuses to allow Palestinian elections in East Jerusalem.

I've had Dorsey on my blogroll for, what, three years, now? Maybe more. But, he doesn't have to stay there.

December 07, 2023

#AbandonBiden and other new Israel-Gaza thoughts

#AbandonBiden is the hashtag a group of Muslim-Americans are trying to get trend, and not just trend on social media, but trend in the real world 11 months from now.

For the dickheads like Marc Elias or your average neighborhood #BlueAnon, an undervote in the presidential election is no more a "vote for Trump" than a vote for presumed Green Party nominee Jill Stein, independent leftist Cornel West or wingnut Robert F. Kennedy is a "vote for Trump."

That said, could these people undervoting (I hope they vote elsewhere rather than undervote) increase the likelihood of Trump winning? Yes.

And, the organizers fully know that, and fully accept that.

So, fuck off Marc Elias et al.

And take note that Amed Khan is the first larger-level Muslim-American donor to abandon Biden financially.


Remember: If you hear an Israeli claim they're concerned about their government, they're probably lying. 94 percent say that either the IDF is using enough firepower against Gaza or not enough.

Other findings? Only 10 percent support pauses in fighting to negotiate for hostage releases. And, 27 percent said no negotiations period. (The rest want negotiations during fighting.)

And, it extends to Israel's relations with the Palestinian Authority. Only 25 percent want their government to talk to them.

Again, on Twitter and elsewhere, you hear about liberal Zionists. Exactly. They're still Zionist, and usually deep-fried, at end. Leftist Israelis, who by using that phrase themselves, indicate they're not Zionist? Much rarer birds.


Yes, per Ryan Grim, it may be a trap, but I will never, never, vote for any Democrat who supports House Resolution 894, which officially claims that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Vote "present" if you feel you have to. But if you vote "yes," I can never support you. Contra the resolution's language, teh IHRA definition of antisemitism is NOT widely supported. Search Mondoweiss if you don't believe me. OR let me do it for you, where you'll find out that, shockingly, Tex-ass was the first US state to adopt the IHRA definition, and that #GenocideJoe thinks it's the gold standard. (It's not widely supported because it enables Zionism in multiple ways, and while not directly calling anti-Zionism antisemitism, certainly pushes people that way.) In addition, the resolution, while listing anti-Israel hate crimes, says nothing about anti-Muslim or anti-Palestinian hate crimes. And, it repeats the usual Zionist bullshit about "from the river to the sea." Mondoweiss has more.

It has passed with 311 yeas. One Republican, Thomas Massie, which actually does not shock me, voted no. About half of Democrats did vote "present," while 13, including, to his credit, Jamaal Bowman, who will reportedly be primaried for not kowtowing to Israel enough, voted no.


Leaders of both duopoly parties are talking about pressuring other Middle Eastern states to sign off on Israel's ethnic cleansing by talking about tying their foreign aid to how many Gazan refugees they accept. Naturally, the idea of accepting Gazan refugees in the US simply isn't on the table.


Monday morning, via NPR, I heard on the BBC World Service about Israel's attempt to prevent Gazans from getting bomb blasted. It includes a smartphone alert system, even with a QR code! How high tech! Partial information on that from the AP. And, via Mondoweiss, here's an update on the 2,000-grid system.)

I was reminded of a couple of things.

One is Wallbuilder Joe's Title 42 lite smartphone-based application for asylum. First, how many Guatemalan migrants have smartphones? Second, how good of reception do they get in deserts near the Mexico-US border? The BBC presenter raised similar questions during an interview of a doctor at the Europe Hospital in the Gaza Strip.

Two, sadly, is the old joke about what to do in case of a nuclear attack, with the list of instructions finishing with "and kiss your ass goodbye."


Remember that even during the cease fire, Israel shelled southern Lebanon, southern Syria, and had troops active in Palestine/West Bank. 

And, Israel has a LONG HISTORY of targeted assassinations.

December 06, 2023

Texas Progressives talk about the border and more

State District Judge Daniella DeSita Lyttle tells DPS and jefe Steve McCraw to release Uvalde records. The state has 20 days to appeal, which it surely will. And, as the story notes, that could affect families trying to file federal civil rights cases, which have a two-year clock. Dunno if executive order can overrule that at the federal level?

Tex-ass lost twice in court on its attempt to usurp the feds on border control. First, federal district judge Alia Moses said that Team Biden could cut the razor wire Strangeabbott and the DPS put up, although chiding Biden's DHS for its backdoor Title 42 and not letting Ill Eagles seeking asylum hit the international bridges. Then, the Fifth Circuit upheld district judge David A. Ezra and said the floating buoys on the Rio Grande must be removed.

Related? DosCentavos tell us about a Human Rights Watch report on deadly migrant chases in South Texas. The report includes recommendations for Greg Abbott, the Texas Lege, President Biden, and others. 

Related? ProPublica / Texas Trib / Frontline have a huge document dump about the Uvalde mass shooting at Robb Elementary. Will that finally prod the DPS to release more without the need of lawsuit?

Fresh off those losses, Kenny Boy Paxton has filed a suit that describes him to a T. He's suing Pfizer for not ending the coronavirus pandemic quickly enough, but citing general antivaxxer and coronavirus conspiracy theorist pseudoscience in the suit. What this surely is, is an audition to be Trump's AG should he be re-elected. (If Trump IS? Blame Genocide Joe, not people like me.)

The Texas GOP executive committee is still OK with Nick Fuentes, but many of them don't want the general public to know that. Goeb says he thinks the vote will be reconsidered in February. Translation: Just as he plans on primarying some senators, he plans to do similar on this. A Goeb-Rinaldi showdown could be fun.

SocraticGadfly talks about the latest apparent politicization of the IRS.

Off the Kuff examines the latest lawsuit lunacy from the Texas election deniers.

Space City Weather gives an outlook on what to expect this winter, temperature-wise.  

 Gabriela Sanders argues against vouchers.  

The Bloggess discusses the importance of community in dealing with mental illness.  

The Eyewall looks back on the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

Climate Defense is getting in the collective grille of national Democrats.

December 05, 2023

Once again, that Texas Miracle ... isn't

Via Local Profile, an online mag for Collin County, we learn that Texas is the third-worst state for people in financial distress.

The only two worse? Louisiana and Mississippi. So, in the non-toilet-bowl world, when you're behind even West Virginia and New Mexico, you're the worst.

Here's two specifics. The first is credit scores:

According to WalletHub, one reason for such a high ranking for the 8th largest economy in the world is the low credit card scores of its residents. As previously reported by Local Profile, the average American is just below the bottom of the ‘good’ credit range, which is 700 and the beginning of the ‘excellent’ credit range is 750. But in Texas, that number drops to 674, which isn’t bad, but it’s bad enough for grating the state the 6th worst credit score in the U.S.

The second is personal bankruptcies:

However, another finding of the report might be more worrisome. In the past year, Texas saw a whopping 21% increase in non-business bankruptcy filings, ranking number 1 in that category.

That's not even ahead of Louisiana and Mississippi.

The state's also 10th-worst in mortgage delinquincies.

Wonder how much of this is Californicators finding out the truth about Texas property taxes while burning through the AC in this year's Texas summer?

And, from the Trib and related? Homeowners insurance rates jumped 22 percent this year. Climate change issues the primary cause. Got it, Californicators who might be trying to flee that issue in California? The story adds that Texas premiums are among the highest in the nation but may actually be underpriced. Next step? Will some insurers stop writing policies in Texas, as is the case in California?

Schadenfreude is a biatch!

December 04, 2023

Best Fans in Baseball again not, on Reddit

A day or two ago, I posted about the possibility of the Cardinals trading Nolan Arenado. And most commenters went batshit crazy.

First, as to "he'll never be traded except for another future Hall of Famer"? 

Ted Simmons was traded for non-Hall of Famers, and given he only had 5 WAR after leaving the Cardinals, although I didn't like it at the time, it WAS a good trade in hindsight. In fact, that was AFTER Whitey had acquired Rollie Fingers, so he shipped TWO HOFers at the same time. The trade looked great in 1981, iffy in 1982, but better after.

In real hindsight, the trade was MUCH better a year later, and after hindsight on this second trade, when, after then 1981 season, Sixto Lezcano, also acquired from the Brew Crew, was sent to the Padres with Garry Templeton for ..

A guy ...

Named ....

Osborne Earl Smith.

As I said at r/Cardinals, if Mo thinks that Arenado's 2023 defensive dropoff is more than a one-time deal, now is the time to strike while others are enamored.

Beyond that, no, I wasn't suggesting that Arenado be traded for a box of rocks or sack of hammers.

As for people claiming this is a non-story? Well, yes, I started the header with the word "could"? That should imply an invitation for discussion, not for doubling down on closed-mindedness.

I did, in fact, halfway through, say this:

Anyway, I have no idea if Mo is shopping him under the radar. He does have a full no-trade, but as I've noted here and r/mlb before, such things can always be waived for the right considerations. And, he WAS rumored to possibly be headed to the Dodgers last year midseason.

Seems pretty obvious that I'm not saying they will, or that I support (or disagree with) the idea. And yes, that may have been just rumor. BUT? That fielding decline was already well manifest, but, he might have been a hotter commodity in midseason with the Cards already out of the hunt and the Dodgers looking for another World Series.

Back to the situation at hand.

Arenado, or someone else, could be used to acquire a real closer, along with position players for depth. Bernie Miklasz notes last year's bullpen was a dumpster fire and it hasn't been fixed.

Meanwhile, back at r/Cardinals, you have this chud, who committed either ChatGPT or plagiarism, getting laughed at on the AI sound but still getting nearly 100 upvotes.

And THEN, a day later, when I posted about a Bernie Miklasz piece about the Cards needing more bullpen help, the moderator chuds pulled it down a couple of hours later.

December 02, 2023

Stanning for Lancaster, Texas

I guess Lancaster City Manager Opal Mauldin-Robertson is doing what she thinks a good city manager would do, but this PR statement after a shooting in Lancaster is a transparent howler:

While shootings do happen, City of Lancaster City Manager Opal Mauldin-Jones said she does not feel like Lancaster’s shooting is unusual since the city is “pleased to have commercial businesses in our community. Sometimes, with business comes challenges, and the movie theatre attracts customers from across the region. Regrettably, the incident involved visitors to our community. The City has worked with the movie theatre ownership to ensure they have proactive measures in place to prevent large youth loitering opportunities.”

Opal could have said something like: "Well, we're not Wilmer or Hutchins. We DO have a movie theater."

Good old Rita Cook writing that story, too. If not for her, Focus Daily News would probably be the rest of the way in the toilet. That said, the lede sounds just as non-exciting as did stuff she wrote nearly 20 years ago.

December 01, 2023

Texas Progressives talk vouchers and more

Quo vadis vouchers, Switek asks at the Trib, even as Strangeabbott released an endorsement list of House Rethuglicans. No voucher foes got one, but the four flip-floppers on the last bill, including my own David Spiller, who is being primaried, did. Abbott calls the 21 foes "pro-union," as of course that's a smear (unless Rethugs tread around cop unions). Further related? Andrew Murr, one of the House managers (along with Spiller and others) of the impeachment of Ken Paxton, isn't running again.

The TSTA Blog keeps on chronicling Greg Abbott's lies about vouchers.

Frank Strong recaps a dismal night for books in Conroe.  

In the Pink Texas reviews a bad day for textbooks at the SBOE. 

For the 60th anniversary of JFK's assassination, SocraticGadfly stumbled into a brand-new conspiracy theory.

Just when I thought James DiEugenio couldn't get any more fucking stupid in his JFK conspiracy theory grifting, he does. Compared to him, Jefferson Morley looks like pure sanity.

Whoa, now. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals actually ruled in favor of environmentalists and ordered TCEQ to fix its mistake.

Off the Kuff takes a closer look at recent voter registration and turnout numbers.

UT-Dallas decided to stifle student discourse on Israel-Gaza. 

House Intell head says it's likely there's no more money this year for either Zelensky or Bibi. Hot damn, and I support it from the left on principle and on it pissing off #BlueAnon.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project noted the Trump, Abbott, Texas law enforcement rally at the border. 

 Law Dork surveys the legal landscape and sees a lot to be worried about.  

The Current reads Ted Cruz's new book so you don't have to, not that you would have anyway. 

Science news roundup: mammal gayness

This one dips a bit hard into the ev psych world, so take it with a grain or two of salt, but reportedly, homosexuality in mammals may have evolved to reduce group conflict. Given that same-sex sexual behavior has been seen in non-mammalian animals as evolutionarily ancient as crickets, that's part of why I'm skeptical. 


Dieter Lukas, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who was not involved in the new study, was skeptical of this conclusion. “Taken together, the findings in this study have not convinced me that there is a single explanation for the occurrence of same-sex behavior,” he said.
His skepticism came in part from the data on which the scientists based their study. The challenges of observing animals in the wild may mean that same-sex behavior in some species goes overlooked. “It will be much easier to observe whether the behavior occurs if individuals are on open ground and active during daytime,” Dr. Lukas said.

Is a good starting point. 

And, per others, those crickets may suggest another answer:

Marlene Zuk, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota who was not involved in the study, commended the researchers for focusing their study on mammals alone, rather than the entire animal kingdom. “We’re trying to steer way from one explanation to rule them all,” she said.
In April, Dr. Zuk and Jon Richardson, a postdoctoral researcher in her lab, put forward a different explanation for same-sex behavior based on an experiment on crickets. They showed that male crickets will sometimes produce courtship songs and try to mate with other males and with juveniles.
Since the crickets don’t live in social groups, that can’t explain the behavior Dr. Zuk and Dr. Richardson documented. Instead, crickets and perhaps many other species may engage in same-sex sexual behavior as part of a strategy to take advantage of as many opportunities to mate as possible.
Dr. Zuk likened the strategy to a smoke detector. “You want a smoke detector that is sensitive enough to detect all fires,” she said. “And if it does that, occasionally it’s going to go off when you burn your toast.”

Or at least, per Lukas, that there is no single answer.

Another reason to be skeptical? It's a meta-study. They can be good, but overall, no better than the weakest of the individual studies. 

Yet one more reason for skepticism? Dean Hamer. Yes, I went there.

In addition, males of many of the species involved generally do NOT form social groups much of the year. Only in winter, for example, do wild ungulates become part of herds, and they're going to be more socialized at that point because they're testosterone-exhausted after the end of their rut.

At a minimum, I think we should say that already existing homosexuality perhaps underwent cultural evolution in some eusocial mammals.