SocraticGadfly: 2023

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.

November 30, 2023

Kicking Henry Kissinger with a side-kick at Christopher Hitchens

Greg Grandin, who wrote THE book on Kissinger, has the best straight-up, news but realism, obituary.

With people like Hank the Knife, though, my angle is always for the "takedown" obituary, though, and Grandin is a distant second to Spencer Ackerman's work of brilliance. And, I'm not going to try to improve on it.

Beyond Grandin's book, it's good that both obits mention Bangladesh as well as Cambodia. "The Vortex" will tell you all about how Kissinger and Nixon abetted (West) Pakistan's genocide in emerging Bangladesh as well as how we nearly got into a shooting war with the USSR in the Bay of Bengal. It's one of the top two books on modern world history and geopolitics I've read in the past five years. Kissinger / Nixon were likely responsible for the death of even more Bangladeshis than Cambodians, if that's possible.

No, really. High-side estimates for the Bangladeshi genocide run in the 2-3 million range.

And, per this Jeet Heer Tweet, Hank's rank immorality extended to his own Jewish people, willing to abandon them, in the case of Soviet Jews if he thought his own Realpolitik required them to be abandoned. Or, if his will to power required them to be abandoned. Here's the Forward piece to which Heer tweets.

Yes, power as aphrodisiac.

One other note, per the many on Twitter talking about Christopher Hitchens' book-length callout of Kissinger? First, as noted in my brief review, Grandin's book is better.

Second, there's Snitchens' Iraq War rank hypocrisy that sullies his reputation, as shown in his late-life book "Selected Essays."

And, we're going to give him, Hitchens, a kicking while we're here.

I gave him his own takedown obit in 2010. Beyond that?

He was wrong about the nobility of the Kurds he backed.

And, beyond THAT? The big picture?

Snitchens was quite arguably a hypocrite who was not a leftist. And, doing so in some alleged romantic and idealistic nation-building makes it worse, in one sense, than Kissinger.

Once again, Michael Hudson needs to leave biblical exegesis to others

I've called out Hudson before for his apparent belief that the biblical year of jubilee, or the seven-cycle culmination of sabbath years with an extra year to make 50, was actually real. The truth is that, as Edward Chancellor details in "The Price of Time," kings in the ancient Near East (anachronism, but still often used) would occasionally, upon their accession, have a debt jubilee, but only then, and only for certain types of debt. And, the reason they did them was not because of divine mandate but (derp!) to quell social unrest. It was a one-off of Rome's bread and circuses. No ancient kingdom or empire had anything like the biblical ideal, and the 7x7 numerological artifice should alone indicate this isn't real.

But, Hudson still thinks he's an academic biblical exegete, and his latest proffering is based on the current Israel-Gaza war. Many people, not just academically trained (if not in actual academia, like me) exegetes, but people in the general populace, know about I Samuel 15, where Yahweh orders Saul to commit a holocaust (I used that word specifically, not just "genocide," precisely because of the current situation) against Amalek, the Amalekite people. In fact, via the prophet or judge Samuel, Yahweh tells King Saul to kill not just all the people but even all their livestock.

Hudson, perhaps in part acting Jesuitically or Pharasaically (take your linguistic poison) on parsing the verbiage, claims it ain't so:

Netanyahu has evoked what he claims to be a Biblical excuse for Israeli genocide. But what he pretends to be a covenant in the tradition of Moses is a vicious demand by the judge and grey eminence Samuel telling Saul, the general whom he hopes to make king: “Now go and smite Amalek [an enemy of Israel], and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (1 Samuel 15:3). 
These were not the Lord’s own words, and Samuel was no Moses.


Let's quote the start of 1 Samuel 15, specifically, verses 1-3, not just verse 3:

And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction[a] all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

’Tis so indeed, Hudson.

But wait! Hudson gets better:

It was not the Lord offering that command to destroy Amalek, but a prophet anxious to place a king on the throne.

Really? So, in essence, Hudson is calling Samuel a false prophet. And, lying about the run-up to Saul being anointed on top of it.

That also ’taint so, as selected verses from 1 Samuel 9 and 10 tell us. We start with 9:15-16:

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince[c] over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen[d] my people, because their cry has come to me.”

Then to chapter 10: 1-2:

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince[a] over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince[b] over his heritage.

Now, later in chapter 10, in what is surely another "hand," we have this, in 10:17-19:

17 Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands.”

This is preceded by another "bookmark," the full chapter of 1 Samuel 8, also having Yahweh telling Samuel it's the people's fault, not his. But, opening verses there show this was partially Samuel's fault that the people wanted a king. We read in 8: 1-5:

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

So, it seems clear there are two narratives. Chapter 9 and the first half of 10 have an enthusiastic embrace of a king, it seems, sandwiched between warnings. Proof of this? A bad transition from from the end of 8 to start of 9. 8:22 has:

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”

Followed by 9:1-2:

There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man.

But it gets better. 9:15-16 says:

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince[c] over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen[d] my people, because their cry has come to me.”

Note the footnote there, that Saul here is not called "king." That's another example we're dealing with two hands. Somewhat Joshua, but definitely, Judges and the two books of Samuel of the Former Prophets, as shown in various Greek versions and also at Qumran, have a torturous history.

The positive thread starts Chapter 10, then, as noted above.

Clearly, the previous narrative not only has Samuel being told by Yahweh to anoint Saul, but it being presented as a good thing in Yahweh's eyes, overall.

But, Hudson nowhere at all wrestles with how this evolved.

The rest of Hudson's piece is more crapola.

He is clueless about just how torturous the text-developmental history of 1 and 2 Samuel in general were, first of all. Second, whether Saul was a real person or not, or even David, for that matter, later kings who perceived themselves as David's heirs needed to in some way justify what seemed to be a usurpation.

Next, Hudson gets on his debt hobbyhorse:

The Jewish Bible is remarkable in criticizing the kings who ruled Judah and Israel. It is in fact a long narrative of social revolution, in which religious leaders sought – often successfully – to check the power of a selfish and aggressive oligarchy that was denounced again and again for its greed in impoverishing the poor, taking their land and reducing them to debt bondage.

’Taint so, Michael.

First, there is no "theology of the Tanakh" any more than there is a "theology of the New Testament." And, given the torturous history of 1 Samuel in particular and all four of the Former Prophets/Deuteronomic history in general, there's no unifying theology of the four books, or even the one book.

Hudson is also wrong about MMT and other economic issues. And, it was in part knowing that he identifies as a Marxist (probably still a Democrat sheepdogger, though, like an Adolph Reed) that I said "MMT is Maoism."

As for his attempting to rescue Judaism from the Jews? He reminds me of Walter Kaufmann. Kaufmann had the exact same problem of pontificating about biblical Yahwism without talking to actual scholars.

Sidebar: UMKC faculty meetings could be a hoot. Besides Hudson, you've got "How Not to Kill Yourself" sobriety confidentiality violating Clancy Martin among tenure profs.

November 29, 2023

Does Green Party two-time retread Jill Stein still have a hypocrisy problem?

Two weeks ago, I blogged about Stein, the Green Party's 2012 and 2016 candidate, jumping back in the race this year after Cornel West did his Lucy van Pelt and pulled away his football. I did, per a commenter elsewhere, note the angle that not only would this help the Green Party — more than half of whose other filed presidential candidates did not meet GP filing requirements — but it would also help her pay off 2016 campaign debt the Federal Elections Committee said she owed and that courts have agreed. (Option B is that she's using her campaign fundraising to also get money for a Supreme Court appeal on this issue, which looks as stupid as her 2016 recount. And as hypocritical.)

I forgot the biggie, although I did tweet about it after my initial post.

That is, that in 2016, Jill Stein had a hypocrisy problem like Ralph Nader in 2000, and that is, via mutual funds, having investments in oil, tobacco and defense contractor stocks. The last is the biggest this time, given her rightful but presumably hypocritical attacks on Genocide Joe over Israel and Gaza, and her stance on Russia-Ukraine before that.

Eight years ago, Stein did, partially, address Yashar Ali. But, she kind of petard-hoists. (And, it's linked in his piece.)

  • The biggie is, why didn't she divest earlier, before Ali, already divest?
  • Second and related? You're a medical doctor, not a public-school teacher whose investments are made by a state pension fund, not themselves.
  • Third? If there are "green" mutual funds that invest in fracking, they're not so "green," right, but why is that an excuse to stop looking further?
  • Fourth, and relevant to today? You don't mention the defense stocks.

Oh, for Naderites? All of this applies to St. Ralph, too.

It next notes that, contra the "gotcha," even if Clinton's campaign gave this a push, that duopoly candidates have also been questioned for their financial holdings, and links to one about GOP candidates.

There are a few Stein-specific things. She mentions she inherited half a million. Good. The story already mentions that itself.

Re the no "gotcha," it turns out that the bankster-investments include ones with Goddam Sachs, for which she criticized Clinton, and also for which, in the link immediately above, GOP candidates were criticized.

Yes, I know Hillary's oppo research dumped that in Ali's lap, or at least nudged him that way. Ditto with the Gore campaign and Nader in 2000. Doesn't make it any less true, especially with this:

Admittedly I have not spent a lot of time researching elusive ethical investments. I prefer using my time fighting for social, economic and ecological transformation, and recycling capitalist money into the fight to do so.

Gee, you'd run for president in 2012, and I guess were lucky enough not to fall under Dear Leader's re-election spotlight. You therefore were able to waste four more years not researching "elusive" ethical investments, which were advertised in The Nation at the time of Nader's run already.

Anyway, Ali addresses that, too.

While it’s true that Stein would not have control over the investments of the funds she invested in, she did have a choice of whether to invest in these funds to begin with. In the past, political candidates, in an effort to avoid a conflict of interest or have their judgment called into question, have invested their entire portfolios in U.S. Treasuries, cash/cash equivalents, in socially responsible index funds, or clean-energy funds.

Again, hard to argue.

Disclosure: All my money is in either one "National" bank which is, I'll admit, one of lesser ethics, especially post-Great Recession, or a "state" bank which doesn't have problems that I'm aware of.

Until I see an official statement from Stein, pre-empting FEC information, with an independently audited review of her personal investments, I'll assume she has not divested. And, I use the word "divested" deliberately, as I know Stein also supports Boycott, Divest, Sanctions.

And, until I see that, it's a guarantor she's not getting my vote. And, it's an indication that the question in my header is rhetorical and the answer is obvious.

And contra this:

Yes, I think it's an issue. And for details on why? See above. The bits of 401k I have from previous jobs, I have no idea either. BUT? Again, I don't have any control over that, either, other than cashing it out. An individual with an individual mutual fund has the choice of how to invest in the first place.

Also, again? If you don't see the issue, are you a lefist (Ken said a while back he was a Nader Raider of long ago) who doesn't support BDS? Because, those defense contractors are also arming Israel, let us not forget.

Finally, if these all are protest votes, I can also protest against the protest votes being offered me. No problem doing that.

And, as you see, I've listed as least three different hypocrisy problems, not just one. Well, two of them are tied together. But, if you want a fourth? Per that second link? Why does a medical doctor own tobacco stocks?

Oh, again, and as I told Brains back then, so-called "ethical" mutual funds exist. They did back when St. Ralph of Nader ran in 2000. Yes, they may have a slightly to modestly lower rate of return, but when you're running a third-party presidential campaign, this is not at all an unreasonable purity test. Actually, they may NOT have a lower rate of return; per Nerd Wallet, they may do just fine. And, calling more bullshit on Stein's claim, that piece also notes that things like "robo-advisors" offer at least some degree of simplification on the task, if you're not seeing a financial advisor who touts and advertises responsible investing advice. As for the history? The modern history, per this piece, goes back somewhat to Vietnam, and even more to the first push for divestment, vis-a-vis South Africa.

Besides, both Stein and Nader are multimillionaires. It's not like they can't or couldn't afford to meet this purity test, if it even is an affordability issue.

And, specific to Stein is her owning Big Pharma stocks even while not only criticizing the pharmaceutical industry in general, but being an antivaxxer.

November 28, 2023

Laborhutt: The Uber of Uhauls

A press release run through the Texas Press Association from Laborhutt said that was the best analogy to explain who they are.

Basically, people sign up through Laborhutt to help people in their neighborhood move.

Big old questions pop to my mind, related to Uber.

Are these people insured in case they damage items in moving?

Are they covered by workman's comp?

As for as size of moving help, the press release says "pickup truck," so if you're wanting an entire apartment moved, rather than just a couch or single appliance, you're SOL.

November 27, 2023

'The Unforgiveable Hypocrisy of the American Liberal' and other Israel-Gaza stuff, from sheepdoggers at The Nation

The title piece in the headline comes from Mondoweiss. It's a great piece. That said, while it's written specifically about the current situation with Israel, it applies to about all of American liberalism from this leftist's point of view.

For instance, this:

It helps in this regard that the American liberal understands very little about politics outside an American-centric frame. He has barely even learnt to question the framing narratives of mainstream U.S. news media.

Could easily be applied to Russia-Ukraine. (This sets aside supposed leftists like Eric Draitser who are comfortable repeating MSM tropes on that conflict. Interestingly, I've not seen him run a single Counterpunch Radio episode on Israel-Gaza. Does silence give assent, Eric?)

That said, much of what it is about is Palestinian specific, if not Gaza specific. This is pretty much the bottom line, along with further development and spinoff later in the piece:

the American liberal is only recently and haltingly educated about the entrenched history of structural racism and white supremacy in the U.S., so he inevitably finds it difficult to apply the lessons of that history to the world around him. He fashions himself a hero who would have stood against Jim Crow, Japanese internment, the Vietnam War, and South African apartheid in their time, but somehow the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” appears too “complicated” to take a moral stand. In his mind, American democracy is an inexorably self-perfecting experiment, even though the institution was founded on genocide, slavery, and apartheid and is incessantly subject to anti-democratic capture today.

And, the #BlueAnon types either sit smug in their #VoteBlueNoMatterWho ivory towers, or sheepdogging horseback saddles, knowing this is true, or else go into "who, me?" denialism.

Next, two recent pieces from The Nation.

First, Jeet Heer writes about the Biden Administration, and ultimately #GenocideJoe himself, and the Western mainstream media, being so willing and so gullible on peddling Israeli hasbara.

Second, seen via Steven Donziger on Twitter, James Bamford writes about an Israeli spy unit in the US, operating on college campuses to undercut Palestinian students. As with most of Bamford, per his recent SpyFail, it's great on the knowledge level of Israeli skullduggery.

Problem? Sure. 

As I said in a quote tweet, to get up above to the Mondoweiss piece, it's not just Blue Anons, or #BlueMAGA, whichever your handle is, that are sheepdoggers.

I don't know about Heer or Bamford, but otherwise?

The Nation is loaded with them, if you look at its masthead. Current editor D.D. Guttenplan is a big one, at least on anything Zionism. President Bashar Sunkara is one, AFAIK.

Among top-level writers? Listed right next to Heer? John Nichols is a huge one, has been for years. 

Contributing writers? I've called out Liza Featherstone before. Adolph Reed? The Communist who votes Democrat? Gregg Gonsalves has been a sheepdogger against the lab-leak theory on COVID.

The Nation, long ago and led by Nichols, had a boner for the Democratic Socialists of America. That said, it hasn't written a word about the recent DSA crack-up (I searched the site), with Hasbara Harold Meyerson and other old-timers recently deserting the part. Since then, Nichols has slurped Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (something else that pissed off allegedly pro-union Hasbara Harold was younger DSAers calling AOC a hypocrite on the railroad no-strike bill), drank the Beto for Senate Kool-Aid, and found Biden's "green" taint tasty.

Head honcho Katrina van den Heuvel is, by her silence if nothing else, a sheepdogger. She's the jefe; she could write a "Vote Green" house editorial if she chose. And hasn't. But, The Nation under her leadership DID write a Hillary Clinton endorsement.

So, unless this changes next year on official editorial stance, The Nation can print all the stuff like this it wants. It doesn't mean anything.

Fuck the IRS and fuck Biden for the politicization

I don't know why exactly Joe Biden's new, agent-enhanced IRS decided to scare the hell out of middle-class Americans like me by sending us a letter, months removed from the end of normal tax-filing season, out of the blue ... 

Urging us to sign up for Obamacare.

As this was NOT a month after I had filed my annual tax return, I knew this couldn't be getting notified that I had failed to sign my return, or something like that — which I have done before.

So, my first thought, before opening the letter?

"I'm being audited."

Way to scare the shit out of me.

Put a stamp-like notice on the front of the letter next time.

Second, I consider this a politicization of the IRS.

Maybe it's not Tricky Dick's weaponization of the IRS in the 1970s, but it is a politicization.

And, given that wingnut Republicans fought Biden tooth and nail on the issue of hiring more agents, politically, it's also an incredibly stupid one.

And, ultimately, it's Genocide Joe doubling down on not doing anything to fix our health care system, as in, no national health care.

No, that's semi-ultimately.

Ultimately is that this is yet another reason not to vote for Warmonger Joe.

November 24, 2023

Science news roundup: Brains and neuroscience; cancer, microbes and contagion

Per a piece by Carl Zimmer, we know that there are, at a minimum, more than 3,000 different types of cells in the human brain. This is reinforcement for what I said years ago: That neuroscience, and related science and science-philosophy fields like cognitive science are still in the Stone Age. We maybe Neolithic rather than Paleolithic now, but still the Stone Age. Here's the biggie further reinforcing that:

The researchers found many new types of neurons, cells that use electric signals and chemicals to process information. But neurons make up only about half the cells in the brain. The other half are far more mysterious.
Astrocytes, for example, appear to nurture neurons so that they can keep working properly. Microglia serve as immune cells, attacking foreign invaders and pruning some of the branches on neurons to improve their signaling. And the researchers found many new types of these cells as well.

We just don't know what these cells do. And, we don't know how they interact with each other. 

So, there's all this to ponder and study:

Megan Carey, a neuroscientist at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Portugal who was not part of the brain atlas project, said that the research provided a staggering amount of new data for researchers to use in future studies. “I think this is a tremendous success story,” she said.
Yet she also cautioned that understanding how the human brain works would not be a matter of simply cataloging each and every part down to its finest details. Neuroscientists will also have to step back and look at the brain as a self-regulating system.
“There will be answers in this data set that will help us get closer to that,” Dr. Carey said. “We just don’t know which ones they are yet.”
Adam Hantman, a neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina who was not involved in the study, said that the atlas would be a big help for some kinds of research, like tracing the development of the brain. But he questioned whether a catalog of cell types would elucidate complex behavior.
“We want to know what the orchestra is doing,” he said. “We don’t really care what this one violinist is doing at this one moment.”

There you go.

November 22, 2023

JFK Assassination at 60: Various thoughts

Just dropping tidbits here, including parts of my editorial column from last week for starters.

First, it's "lovely" that NY Mag's Intelligencer is platforming a conspiracy theorist in Scott Sayare. And, the tiny bits of loose thread of Jeff Morley that he pulls on further than Morley does are hilarious. That said, it's funny that Rick Atkinson, when an editor at the WaPost while Morley was a staff writer there, found his research to that point "boring." That said, NY Mag already platforms a Russiagate conspiracy theorist in Jon Chait, so, while this is "lovely," it's not surprising.

Related? I covered Morley's most recent bouts of idiocy, including about George Ioannides, not quite a year ago.

Second, I've already covered James Robenalt's co-authored book with Secret Service agent Paul Landis as well as noting that I don't get why Gerald Posner hasn't followed up on Robenalt. That said, given that Posner's a full-on Zionist to the point of hasbara, at the current time, I have no desire to visit his Substack to see if he has anything new on this issue. Sadly, Fred Litwin, considered the doyen of assassination researchers by many, has nothing on his site about the book, and his Twitter shows he's as much an in-the-tank Zionist as Posner, so no desire to engage him, either.

Third? I found a better conspiracy theory than any I've seen before: Mossad whacked Jack over Dimona

Fourth? Snippets from my editorial column last week. (My newspaper group still doesn't have a website.)

For a summary, there’s this, first on the conspiracy theories, and second on other assassinations. 

Castro? When he heard what had actually happened, he thought, per Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s desire to do similar to Nicaragua in 1981, that the U.S. would bomb Cuba into a parking lot.

Khrushchev? The USSR thought Lee Harvey Oswald was nuts from the day he got on their soil.

LBJ? The man was, if not as depressed as in the summer of 1961, still too depressed to have either the willpower or the organizational level to pull it off.

As for Oswald being a nut? Most actual or attempted presidential assassins were, even if not clinically insane.

The insanity defense didn’t exist in the 1830s, but a man who tried to assassinate President Andrew Jackson, Richard Lawrence, was sent to an asylum after being found guilty.

John Wilkes Booth was a megalomaniac, at minimum.

Charles Guiteau, President James Garfield’s assassin, thought that a minor political service on behalf of the Republican party merited a diplomatic appointment or something similar.

Leon Czolgosz, William McKinley’s assassin, was so mentally unstable that Emma Goldman, herself an anarchist like him, distrusted him.

Squeaky Fromme, one of the two women who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford, was one of “Charlie’s girls.” President Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin,

John Hinckley, was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and got decades in an institution.

So, Oswald was far from an outlier. He was part of the pack.

JFK Assassination at 60: Mossad did it over Dimona??

We need a new conspiracy theory! And I have one!

Israel whacked Jack because he knew too much about Dimona!

No, seriously, within the warped thinking of conspiracy theorists, this one is totally sane. Per the National Security Archive website, Jack warned Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in 1963 that failure to be able to inspect Dimona would jeopardize US-Israel relations. Seriously:

Beginning in April 1963, Kennedy insisted that the Israeli leadership accept regular bi-annual U.S. inspections, or in diplomatic language, “visits,” of Israel’s nuclear complex at Dimona in the Negev Desert. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his successor, Levi Eshkol, tried to evade and avoid inspections, but Kennedy applied unprecedented pressure, informing them bluntly, in a near ultimatum tone, that Washington’s “commitment to and support of Israel “could be “seriously jeopardized” if it was thought that the U.S. government could not obtain “reliable information” on the Dimona reactor and Israel’s nuclear intentions.

And, per that piece, Ben-Gurion and his successor, Levi Eshkol, did all they could to stall Jack out.

And, the timing fits:

In early 1963 American concerns resurfaced. In January, Kennedy received a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that highlighted the weapons potential of Dimona. It pointed out that the Dimona complex was likely to be operational later that year. According to the NIE, once Dimona was operating at full power, Israel might be on its way to produce enough plutonium for one or two weapons a year.

Boy, oh boy.

Gets better:

Ben-Gurion was expected to respond to Kennedy’s request on Dimona during his next meeting with Barbour, but he was not ready for a direct showdown with a determined U.S. president. Nor was he ready to accept Kennedy’s goal of semi-annual visits; that would have ended Dimona as the embodiment of Ben-Gurion’s existential insurance policy. Instead, he tried to avoid a confrontation by diverting Kennedy’s attention.

"Diverting" Kennedy, eh? What's the ultimate diversion?

But, it would have been Eshkol to have done that, as Ben-Gurion soon resigned. But Kennedy wouldn't let him off the hook.

Surprised by Kennedy’s tough demands on Dimona just days after taking office, Eshkol’s first response was to ask for more time for consultations. Only on 19 August, more than six weeks after he received the letter, did Eshkol come up with a response, which at times was vague. Under Kennedy’s pressure, Eshkol reluctantly assented, in principle, to allow regular visits by U.S. scientists to Dimona. Nevertheless, he did not agree to an early visit and avoided making a commitment to the bi-annual U.S. inspections that Kennedy sought.

Aug. 19, eh? Tight frame, but three months for an organization as skilled as Mossad, which had pulled off the Adolf Eichmann kidnapping just three years earlier? Not a problem.

Since Mossad had nabbed Khrushchev's famous de-Stalinization speech, it likely had eyes on Lee Harvey Oswald when he went to the USSR, and again when he came back to the US. Oswald's attempt to infiltrate the DRE would have been seized on as the opportunity to use him. 

Mossad agents would have been able to play up Oswald's leftist sympathies and brainwash him. He would be disposable as an assassin and untied to them. In case he were arrested, Jack Ruby, being Jewish, would be a perfect "cut-out" to take out Oswald. After all, he admitted to Earl Warren himself during Warren Commission investigation that he was being controlled:

Ruby could well have been paying off an IOU the day he was used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. Remember: "I have been used for a purpose," the way Ruby expressed it to Chief Justice Warren in their June 7, 1964 session.

There you go. Not the mob, but Mossad, was the Shin Bet, not Cosa Nostra, to whom he owed a debt.

Finally, this explains everything LBJ.

He knew early on the Mossad background, because he got hints sent to him. The Warren Commission was created as a cover-up. And, with those "hints," this is why he never pushed Israel on Dimona the same way Jack did. And I haven't even mentioned the USS Liberty.

November 21, 2023

Texas Progressives talk political strawmanning and fellating

It's "nice" that the Trib, and a reporter in Denton who should know better, think that Sherman is "rural" when reporting on the kerfuffle about the transgender student yanked from performing in Sherman ISD's school musical, then reinstated by the school board. The fact that the board reinstated him alone shows that the city and ISD aren't stereotypically rural. The rest of the story runs with the "rural Sherman" trope right into strawman territory first, only then getting to the meat — the board has removed oversight of the fine arts program from Superintendent Tyson Bennett and hired an investigator to review his decision. WHY Sherman ISD hired him 18 months ago when he's been a Religious Right Pander Bear since his hiring itself goes undiscussed. And, methinks in other ways that Ayden Runnels is the new Simone Carter and around these parts, that's far from a compliment.

State Board of Ed rejected 7 of 12 eighth-grade science textbooks because climate change

Off the Kuff has updates on the State Bar disciplinary lawsuit against Ken Paxton and the whistleblowers' lawsuit, also against Ken Paxton. 

SocraticGadfly looks at what's behind Pat Fallon's campaign flip-flop.

Did Southwest fix all the problems of 11 months ago that led it to be The Grinch that Stole Christmas? Well, maybe, maybe not. The story notes that rapid expansion in Denver, without rapid expansion of deicing gear, triggered delays elsewhere. Problems related to that reportedly have also been fixed, as has its crew-scheduling software, notoriously bad for a decade or more. A biggie unrelated to last year, though, is that Southwest pilots could be striking at the end of December.

David Rothkopf is showing himself to be more and more of a Biden fellator at The Daily Beast. This time, it's praising his summit with Xi Jinping, even though his own Secretary of State, Blinken, is shown grimacing when Biden said he thought Xi was still a dictator.

Wall Street is officially shifting from DeSantis to Haley as "the" anti-Trump Rethuglican.

What if money had an expiration date? An interesting piece.

Anti-abortion laws are reducing domestic violence screenings. Related to that? Those largely White-state folks, with fewer ob-gyns there now, will also face more Great Replacement problems!

Elon Musk: Destroying human bodies in his lie-based chase to land on Mars, as it will do nothing to save humanity. And OSHA, under both Donald the Don and Neoliberal Joe, appears to be doing nothing about Musk not reporting most this information to it. (Reuters uncovered this all on its own dime and mostly off private records and lawsuits.)

DosCentavos offers some week-ending thoughts on Greg Abbott's latest bigoted law; a giving link; and a COVID report as the holiday season arrives. 

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project posted the Project's 2023 Houston municipal runoff recommendations

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs. Texas Monthly revisits the 1991 mass shooting at the Luby's in Killeen and how it led to the profound loosening of our state's gun laws.  

Your Local Epidemiologist points to a worrying trend in the overall vaccination rate. 

The Current bemoans the inaccuracies of the reporting on the wingnut immigration bill still working its way through the Lege. 

 The Bloggess responds to a critic of her San Antonio bookstore.

David Spiller, Texas Lege vouchers sellout

So, my House Legiscritter, David Spiller, was one of four rural Republican members of the House, anti-vouchers steadfast through the regular sesssion of the Texas Lege, and the first three special sessions, who jumped ship this time to be a mouse in the Abbott-Patrick pocket.

This has to be all the more embarrassing, the overall vote, as Abbott agreed to tie this to improved public school funding this time around. That improved funding included an increase in the state basic allotment to schools AND a promise it would be COLA-ed from 2026 on. (That said, as that's a regular Legislature enactment, not a special, stipulated bureau of the state government like the Social Security Administration at the federal level, I don't think a COLA being tied in would have any legally binding power on future Legislatures.)

Anyway, even without further speculation, maybe that was enough to satisfy Spiller. Or maybe, since his HD68 overlaps the SD30 where Drew Springer said earlier this month that he won't run for re-election, just maybe Abbott and Patrick recruited him. If so, as I noted last week, you heard it here first.

As for the issue at hand? Rural House Republican Gary VanDeaver (a former superintendent) gets it — a small-town school district is the heart of a town. Yes, my region includes a place that also has a private school. But, vouchers would open the door on homeschooling that has no bricks-and-mortar presence, no focus for students, parents or larger community, and more.

November 20, 2023

Internalized Hispanic racism in New Mexico

Today, I'm plenty familiar with Juan de Oñate's barbarity, but, growing up in Gallup, New Mexico, probably about the same time that Deborah Jackson Taffa was growing up in Farmington, we were never taught in history classes (I moved away after my sophomore year in high school, but started first grade there, on up) about Oñate's barbarisms.

I had heard about the most recent violence in Española about plans to once again re-install the Oñate statue there, the reinstallation being pushed by a Rio Arriba county commissioner.

I'm Anglo, not Hispanic, but I can identify with Taffa's piece for Searchlight New Mexico about how many Hispanics identifying as "Spanish" is a form of internalized racism at times. In Gallup, the Muñoz family lived in our neighborhood. As in the parents of today's New Mexico state Senator George Muñoz. His one brother was in my grade. The family insisted on identifying  as Spanish.

On the other hand, by blood? Mark Muñoz looked like a Spanish Hapsburg or something, he was so "sangre azul." Skin so pale white it was translucent and he looked like he had dark circles under his eyes in elementary school.

On the third hand? Our police chief at the time, NOT "sangre azul," simply said, "I'm Mexican," or "I'm Mexican-American." He refused "Chicano," though.

November 17, 2023

Man the male as "noble hunter" gets a good further kicking

Evolutionary psychology, or its parent/uncle, sociobiology, among its more sexist tropes, latched on to the idea first seriously propounded 60 years or so ago that males evolved to hunt, women to gather (and breed babies, of course).

Well, we know that's not so much the case with Neanderthal women.

And now? The men evolved to hunt, women to gather, sexist Ev Psych theory about Homo sapiens males and females gets further refutation. Early human hunting, we know, relied in large part on humans' ability to outrun other mammals, not on speed, but on endurance running. And, women are better than men at that. And, ancient fossils, as well as modern cultures such as the Ainu of Japan, show women hunting.

The story gets an extra kudo for this:

Before getting into the evidence, we need to first talk about sex and gender. “Sex” typically refers to biological sex, which can be defined by myriad characteristics such as chromosomes, hormone levels, gonads, external genitalia and secondary sex characteristics. The terms “female” and “male” are often used in relation to biological sex. “Gender” refers to how an individual identifies—woman, man, nonbinary, and so forth. Much of the scientific literature confuses and conflates female/male and woman/man terminology without providing definitions to clarify what it is referring to and why those terms were chosen.

And, I'll break that out into separate blogging.

Per the graphic pictured at left, much of the article addresses the detailed benefits of estrogen for endurance activities in general, including endurance based hunting.

Earlier parts look in more detail at the sexist mindset beyond many claims about man the noble hunter and their times, including ignoring disconfirming studies.

As for today's endurance sport world? "But marathons" is nothing. In ultra-length endurance running, women crush men. Ditto in long-distance swimming.

And, re Neanderthals, per the first link, the evidence shows equality of hunting among them, too. Presumably including cave lions.

November 16, 2023

PRO Gainesville remains guilty on appeal as expected

Having been dumb enough not to accept a presumable plea deal from County Attorney Ed Zielinski on the misdemeanor charge of obstructing a major passageway, the PRO Gainesville leadership trio of Torrey Henderson, Amara Ridge and Justin Thompson got a $2,000 fine and seven days in the county slammer as their penalty upon jury conviction.

Rather than cut their losses, the trio got the ACLU of Texas to help them on appeal. And emphatically lost that appeal today. Will they go to the Court of Criminal Appeals next? Try to bump that to federal court on their First Amendment claim that this is First Amendment protected speech? I was halfway snarking, but with an update, a response to the Register, received uncritically by it, it sounds like I shouldn't have been.

Well, the ACLU of Texas? The ACLU national, which I cited in my first post-arrest discussion of the trio's plight, would also like a word with both you and original county court at law case defense attorney Allison Grinter's understanding of protests and permits.

I quote from the ACLU pamphlet:

You don’t need a permit to march in the streets or on sidewalks, as long as marchers don’t obstruct car or pedestrian traffic. If you don’t have a permit, police officers can ask you to move to the side of a street or sidewalk to let others pass or for safety reasons.

Pretty clear. Note that that applies to ANY street. It applies in spades to a state highway, whatever the state.

That said, why wasn't this dude (I heard it on that video too) charged?

At one point in the video, the cameraman could be heard saying, “[The police] are telling us to get out of the road and we’re not listening. I like it.”

Can't the police finger him? (The state statute for obstruction of a major roadway says "willingly" or "knowingly," and Gainesville's police chief said at the time they didn't think most the rank and file knew the leadership had not gotten a parade permit. BUT? What if the cameraman DID know?)

Meanwhile, why did PRO Gainesville go all the way down to Dallas to land Alison Grinter as their legal beagle, especially if she either doesn't understand the First Amendment or thought she could buffalo the Gainesville yokels with stuff like this:

Dallas attorney Alison Grinter’s defense relied on First Amendment protections and the right to protest. She said she believed the legal system was trying to make a point by having the charge be an obstruction of traffic on a major passageway, when if the charge had been on any other street in the area the charge would have been a ticket for jaywalking at most.

Ms. Grinter, come now. Courts have ruled for hundreds of years that the actions of public protest under freedom of assembly can be regulated by government permit requirements. If PRO Gainesville had asked you to sue the city of Gainesville on its claims of unfair treatment of issuance or denial of permits, that would be another thing.

The only thing I agree with re this actual case is that jail time beyond the fines is overkill. But, 7 days is FAR less than the maximum of 180 days.


Maybe Zielinski offered that in plea talks and you rejected it? Maybe he didn't, either. Grinter Allen (her actual last name, Grinter her maiden, see below) didn't talk to the Groansville folks, but told the Denton Wrecked Chronic, which also reported on the case, that Zielinski was determined to go to trial. Well, he no-commented, since she's appealing. 

(I asked her point-blank on Twitter if Ed offered a plea deal or not. We'll see if I get a response. I also told her in my Tweet thread that I'm a non-duopoly actual leftist.

We'll see if she responds. A year later, she hasn't.)

In their story, Thompson claims the commissioners court was in on the effort to deliberately punish them. Uhh, wrong. They don't micromanage Zielinski.

Thompson also claims that a group of Trumpist MAGAts types were so upset over local coverage they started an alternative newspaper. News to me. Never seen a copy at, say Quick Trip. Seriously, knowing how far right Gainesville tilts? And this isn't publicly circulated?

Thompson also has a different story for the Wrecked Chronic about not hearing the police than he did for the Register, where he said he did, thought the warning was originally for a bicyclist, then realized it wasn't, then told people to get back on the sidewalk.

Texas Progressives talk Israel-Gaza, schools, more

Jill Stein, seeking a third Green Party presidential nominee, calls for an investigation of Bibi Netanyahu's war crimes, and for Joe Biden's abetting them.

One step related to that? The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing Genocide Joe. (Did I give a donation? What do YOU think?)

SocraticGadfly first, for Veterans Day, had an "in memoriam" of Medal of Honor winner Hiroshi Miyamura. He also offered his latest thoughts on Israel-Gaza andZelensky-Ukraine.

Deep East Texas school district is now all-electric on its school bus fleet, except for long-distance trips. Biden does get a kudo for this, and the program needs to be ramped up.

In not-so--good school news, the wingnut University of Austin is seeking student applications.

Any good Tex-ass university like that will need a football coach. I heard Jimbo Fisher is available.

To pander to the Religions Right, Univ. of Austin will also need religious leaders. I heard that Joseph Strickland, former Bishop of Tyler, is available after Pope Francis shit-canned him.

The official state cult of death executed Brent Brewer.

Ukraine did it (but without Zelensky knowing) is the latest theory on the Nord Stream pipeline destruction.

The Great Cajun Turtle Heist shows how endemic the trade in non-exotic, but still illegal, wildlife is in Texas, just like that in exotic wildlife.

Off the Kuff considers the lower than expected turnout in the Houston elections. 

DosCentavos gives his bit of analysis regarding the Houston election results.

Per 1976 Jimmy Carter, Speaker Mike Johnson only needs to have his son monitor his potential porn watching if he's already lusting in his heart.

Yes, but, Jeff St. Clair. 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'll go one better than Matthew Hoh. Since US entry into WWI was based on Woodrow Wilson lies and conniving, let's not rename Veterans Day back to Armistice Day, let's get rid of it.

If there's a US problem of the last 30 years, it probably started with Slick Willie.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project posted about what we must expect of the Democrats we elect with democracy under assault.  

The Eyewall explains what "Superfog" is and why it's happening now in Louisiana.  

Your Local Epidemiologist warns about states withholding vaccine information. 

The Houston Press talks to a former HISD teacher apprentice who called it quits after seeing how HISD is operating now.  

Franklin Strong rounded up the good, the bad, and the so-so of the 2023 school board elections in Texas.  

Law Dork analyzes the Justice Department's response to Alabama's threat to prosecute people in Alabama who help other Alabamans seek an abortion elsewhere.  

Robert Rivard minces no words about Greg Abbott's voucher scam.

I'll take James Hansen over Michael Mann any time as 4C looms

And even more over Katharine Hayhoe.

The last person is not mentioned in a piece by Bob Henson, formerly of Weather Underground, now of Yale Climate Connections, over a battle between Hanson and Mann and others like Hayhoe who I have called "Climate change Obamiacs" in the past and whom, to Henson on Twitter, I called the similar "climate change neoliberals."

The issue, which Henson presents in New York Times style "he said, she said" journalism, is whether Hansen's right that we've permanently popped 1.5C on climate change already. Henson links to a longer piece at Inside Climate News where Hanson spells out his reasoning in detail, which in turn links to an academic study where he is a co-author.. He notes the decrease in aerosols pollution — think phasing out of coal for power plants and also cleaner emissions standards, especially here in the US, for diesel fuel — as a primary reason for his pessimism, and it makes sense.

It's not just the U.S. climate change Obamiacs who get blasted. It's also the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Anybody who knows anything knows that Hanson is right about this as well. The IPCC is deliberately conservative in its assessments as a form of kowtowing to its nation-state masters. It's also bureaucratic enough to be lumbering in gathering and analyzing data, with that kowtowing then getting baked in. And, operating on a four-year assessment cycle, whatever it spits out is behind the curve for that reason alone.

Henson (and his co-author and WU collaborator Jeff Masters) should know this; if not, they're part of the climate change Obamiacs problem.

Hansen was sounding the alarm before this co-authored research paper. Back in May, before the eye-popping summer of 2023, he already said we would hit 2C by 2050. He's right. That draft paper, a preview to the final joint study piece, notes that he had warned about the effect of the decline of sulfur-based aerosols back in 2021. He predicts a climb of 0.3C per decade. Do the math.

That's 4C by 2100. I think he's right.

And, no, Mann, he's NOT "hyperventilating."

“I’m frustrated by the hyperventilating going on over this. It’s frustrating that so many continue to miscommunicate about that and mislead the public as to where we are. The truth is bad enough.”

The truth is a lot worse than you and other climate change Obamiacs want to admit, for whatever reasons you don't want to admit it.

This is nothing new for Mann, who, as shown in 2020, simply doesn't want to accept studies that confront his Goldilocks idea that we have "some" climate change, too much for total comfort, but not enough for real alarm.

We may not need James Kunstler levels of alarm, but we need something halfway close to that level of radicalism.

Besides, even the IPCC which Hansen rightly challenges said last year that, barring strong action, we're facing at least 3C. Not quite Hansen's 4C, but yet.

Remember: The Paris Accords are toothless Jell-O, because Dear Leader Obama and Xi Jinping wanted it that way.

And, per WHY I said Hayhoe was wrong four years ago, as well as how? Mann, as well as her, need to read some David Hume.

Oh, and unless he's had some big new revelation, #BernAnon sheepdogger David Sirota is still a hypocrite on this.

November 15, 2023

The Californication of Tex-ass

The LA Times writes about the Californication of Tex-ass, and how, per the old "wherever you go, there you are" pop psychology adage, they're essentially bringing many of California urbanization's problems with them. Unmentioned? Next will come the "pulling up the ladder after you" stage. (In the Southwest and Mountain West, Californicators can be among leading bitchers about their new digs being Californicated.)

Among the bitching here will probably be that Texans aren't Texan enough.

No, really. Not sure about his 2022 gov run against Strangeabbott, but in his 2018 Senate run against Havana Ted Cruz, R.F. O'Rourke took a majority of native Texan voters. It was non-natives, who are above all Californians, who swung hard to Cruz. (I can't remember if I voted Libertarian or undervoted.)

Next, they'll bitch about all the California problems they brought. Scratch that; many are already bitching about Austin housing prices.

After that? They'll bitch about the weather they were too fucking dumb to research, ignoring that Tex-ass has plenty of humidity in the eastern 1/3 and a fair chunk in the central 1/3. They'll then bitch when their excessive A/C use strains an antiquated power grid that's supposed to represent everything of what's best with Texas

November 14, 2023

I smell a rat: Pat Fallon leaving Congress; or a bigger rat named Dan Patrick

The carpetbagging (you are) CD-4 Texas Congresscritter is not running for re-election.

OK, that of itself no big deal.

But wanting to get back his old Texas Senate District 30 seat?

THAT is a big deal. 

Especially since you've only been in Congress three years and change.

Look, nobody gets tired of Congress that fast. Half the true-blue term limits touters break their pledges, and most who affirm them become DC lobbyists.

Here's why I smell a rat. His explanation:

"At the end of the day, the decision came down to, If we lose Texas, we lose the nation," Fallon said in a brief interview. "It’s just terribly important to ensure that Texas has written a great success story and I want to keep moving that forward."

Yeah, sure. If Tex-ass is about to flip Democrat, you running for Drew Springer's seat ain't changing that.

This is clearly a lie. Now, what's the truth? J6 indictment pending? Trumpies have something on him? Doesn't want to serve with a possible second-term Trump prez?

It's not like he's rescuing SD-30 from RINOs, either. Carrie de Moor had filed to run against Drew, and she's as wingnut as he is, just a more urban one.

EXCEPT FOR one thing. I see NOTHING about vouchers on her issues page. Mystery solved, I think. And, if I'm right, Danny Goeb's going to be out beating the bushes again.

BUT? That scrambling will be increased in difficulty by Dr. Michael Burgess' announcement he wouldn't seek re-election to Congress. His Congressional district has a fair amount of overlap with SD30, and like Pat Fallon's son, lotsa candidates would prefer DC to part-time Austin, part-time Denton, Sherman, north Metroplex or whatever.

I'm sure that GOP inside baseball did not have anybody besides de Moor filing for this race before Springer dropped out, and they weren't sure if they could get somebody knew, and known to the county-level inside baseball people, in the race quickly. So, Patrick begs Fallon. Who has now spit the bit.

That said, on Fallon?

Seriously, from the first time I met the guy, I knew that I wouldn't trust him farther than I could throw him.

OK, we can now call Fallon a flip-flopper. He's running for CD-4 again after all, after his son talked him into staying in Washington.

Update: This gets better each time Fallon opens his yap. He now claims that Speaker of the US House, not the little Pink Dome, Mike Johnson, recruited him to stay by saying he'd personally get more done on his agenda in DC. Really? If true, was Fallon either too much a Dum Fuq to tell Goeb that, or, to riff on Teddy Roosevelt, as spineless as a chocolate eclair to not want to tell Goeb that? And, would Johnson really care that much about a semi-sophomore back bencher, unless he was that worried that Fallon would be replaced by somebody even more wingnut than him?

Update: On the Rethuglican side, here's a list of people who have filed. (It's statewide.) For SD30 it includes a Brent Hagenbuch. He is, or was, Denton County GOP chair. And, part of alleged shenanigans within the party last year. Sadly, Democraps still don't have a Google Docs page like that, at least not one publicly linked, nor do they link to the Secretary of State's webpage for approved candidates above the county level. I lamented this two years ago. Makes it harder to gin up public and media interest. Might be a small factor in why Skipper Gilberto Hinojosa still hasn't brought the SS Texas Democrat into a safe harbor of state control after all these years.

Update 2, Nov. 18: Rural Republican Housecritter David Spiller was one of four rural Rethuglicans to desert his peers on the latest House vote on vouchers, jumping in the Patrick-Abbott back pocket like a good mouse. Remember, if he decides to jump from HD68 to the partially overlapping SD30, you heard it here first.

Democratic Socialists of America imploding

A bunch of DSA oldtimers like Harold Meyerson and Peter Dreier say they're leaving the organization, primarily because it's too strong in support of Hamas, but also because it has other purity tests.

First, the "other purity tests." It's laughable, or a sign of slippage, for an old-time labor reporter and columnist like Harold Meyerson to call criticism of AOC, Cori Bush, et al for signing off on Strikebreaker Joe's anti-union railroad bill a "purity test." If it is, the DSA needs more.

As for everything associated with Israel-Gaza? Click through the links to Tweets, and you'll find that things are more innocuous than the signers claim.

Of course, ALL of DSA is ultimately sheepdoggers. That said, it's become slightly less sheepdogging in recent years.

November 13, 2023

Two-time Green Party retread Jill Stein running again

After Cornel West did his Lucy van Pelt and pulled the football away from the Green Party to run for president as an independent instead, 2012 and 2016 GP presidential nominee and her 2016 Veep, Ajamu Baraka, pledged to beat the bushes for new Green Party prez candidates.

And, the "bush-beating" has yielded?

Two-time retread Stein filing to run again.

A commenter at Independent Political Report, where the commenting system, for me, remains broken, speculated that she's running to pay off the $175K she still owes the Federal Elections Committee. As confirmation, her personal website, which did NOT have the campaign announcement as of yesterday, is soliciting funds for an appeal to the Supreme Court to be heard in November, against that appellate court ruling against her on the debt.

Given that Stein and the party both, as well as West, have not said how much lane-clearing West was promised and why that wasn't enough for him, and given that Stein has had bad optics before, last week, I called the GP Just.Another.Political.Party™. This only adds to that.

RFK Jr. is #GenocideBob and more

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has of course been an antivaxxer of long standing. But, he's far worse than that.

Bob Jr. is also a Cold War 2.0 Cold Warrior, per this Tweet, getting a boner for the project just like his uncles. And, why is an alleged environmentalist so worries about global oil control rather than talking about wind and solar power to boost electric car usage, or transitioning toward walkable cities, etc.?

And, people who follow him on Twitter will also note that this is just the latest version of #GenocideBob wanting to cut blank checks to the ZioNazis running Israel right now. (The likes of Haaretz do yeoman's work exposing them internally, but Israeli voters' preferences, and the manipulations of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox parties there, make clear that this is an uphill slog.)

That said, Bob Jr. has turned his antivaxxerism into part of a piece on larger racialized tropes. He recently touted Auntie Angie's House, which, reading between the lines of this:

Our mission is to eradicate the Black Maternal Health Crisis through research, advocacy, support, education, and awareness.

Presumably believes in the "abortion is Black genocide" trope.

Given that he's grifted on the actual wrongs of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment to target American Samoa, Somali immigrants in Minneapolis and other people of color with his antivaxxerism, Bob Jr. may actually be a self-gaslighter on the "abortion is Black genocide" issue. As a book I just read notes, in 2021, Bob Jr.'s Children's  Health Defense released the film "Medical Racism: The New Apartheid." Add in that Bob Jr. has buddied up with Tony Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, and there you are. (How he squares this with blank checks for Israel, I don't know.)

As I've noted elsewhere, he's already got pretty high "unfavorables" in early elections polling that includes him, and those unfavorables aren't insignificant among self-alleged independents as well as Rethugs and Democraps. The oil issue only has to further disenchant environmentalists, while the Cold Warriorism undercuts him as an original thinker on foreign policy.

November 11, 2023

Veterans Day: In memoriam Hiroshi Miyamura

I grew up in Gallup, New Mexico, where the late Medal of Honor winner was born and lived all his life outside his military service time. As the feature part of a newspaper Veterans Day special, I did an "in memoriam" along with reminiscing about life there, aided in part by this great story by the LA Times.

The brick is from a Medal of Honor park where I currently live — which has a Medal of Honor weekend every year — but still has a Confederate statue on the county courthouse square and refuses to promote the Great Hanging site along with Medal of Honor events.

As you can perhaps see in column two, I note the "Nisei" angle. Further on, on the next page of the paper, I mention someone else slightly older, probably about the same age as Mr. Matsutani the postman. This person, while not from Gallup, was from the US Southwest. That would be Ira Hayes. I mentioned him because of racial takes on his alcohol abuse, after Miyamura mentioned racism in the Army, though not Gallup. (Given what I know of Miyamura as a person, I think there was some glossing there.)

I then talk about veterans and PTSD before wrapping things up with more reminiscing of my own childhood in Gallup a bit, picking up from the thread at the end of the first page. It's more than living in the same town. Miyamura lived in our neighborhood, and depending on my exact route of walking to elementary school, I would have gone by his house.

Obviously, this is not a takedown obit, as I often do with famous politicians. It's the real deal.
As for Gallup? I tell people that, it's about as close as you can get in the US to a stereotypical developing world, non-urban megalopolis. A lot of non-Southwestern Anglos who move out there (primarily for medical student debt forgiveness by working at the largest Indian Health Service hospital in the nation outside of Alaska) leave as soon as they can. Time issues are one thing. It's not that Navajos, especially, are late. Rather, it's that the conception of time is less precise. That said, in the non-Southwestern world, Country People (sic on spelling out the initials that way) was long that way. 
More seriously than that, though. Many Navajos may belong to the Native American Church, but that has just a thin veneer of Christianity over an amalgam of American Indian beliefs. Traditionalist Navajos still abound. Puebloan peoples, on the other hand, such as at Acoma and Zuni, practice in many cases Catholicism, but behind a deeper veneer of that is the religion of their pueblo. (No, different Indian tribes don't have the same religious beliefs; even within the Puebloan world, not all are the same.) Since the 1690s Spanish reconquista never came out to the Hopi mesas, there's not even a veneer of Western monotheism for them, in many cases.
Anyway, on that aspect? Miyamura's family went to a Japanese Methodist church in Gallup.

November 10, 2023

Science news roundup on human origins: White Sands footprints, Neanderthal hunting, Heidelberg man houses

Multiple new items on homo sapiens in the news, some directly or indirectly via Carl Zimmer.

First, we have more confirmation for those human footprints at White Sands National Park and their age. They do appear to date to 21-23,000 years before present. This is a final nail in the coffin of the already dead Clovis theory of humans in the "new world." Of sidebar interest? It may just be a hole in the rock next to a footprint, or maybe, one footprint demonstrates polydactyly.

I just don't get the push-back scientists. This all seems pretty solid now, and there's plenty of other evidence in both North and South America that goes back at least 5,000 years before Clovis. Clovis is dead. Be open-minded about the growing accumulation of pre-Clovis evidence.

At least to my mind, I can't figure out anything besides, if not a full Clovis, a "Clovis-lite" or whatever, that is driving the continuing, but lingering, animus toward the White Sands footprints.

Frankly, an older "entrada" also allows for multiple entradas. We have the post-Clovis-theory traditional American Indian one, pushed back, then the later Na-Dene one, then the later yet Inuit-Aleut one. If the original entrada is set 25K years before present, that allows room for multiple "American Indian" entradas. We have evidence for that with Homo sapiens' attempts to enter Europe, after all.


The newest evidence that Neanderthals were more like Homo sapiens than once thought? Their hunting skill, refuting earlier ideas:

An academic paper published on Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports proposes that our long-extinct ancestors not only were the first humans to kill and butcher large predators, but that they also used the hides for cultural purposes and perhaps even dressed in them.


Neanderthals are now thought to have been more sophisticated and multitalented than imagined. Evidence is mounting that they used a complex language and even, considering the ritual interment of their dead, some form of spirituality. They made sticky pitch to secure their spear points by heating birch bark; stalked bison, wild cattle and straight-tusked elephants, and ambushed hibernating cave bears as the animals woke from their annual slumber.

And, per the new story, add cave lions to the hunting targets.


Heidelberg Man or similar ancestor was creating wood structures nearly 500,000 years ago.

November 09, 2023

Texas Progressives talk wallbuilder hypocrisy and more

Reminder: Texas Progressives stand with Gaza despite Genocide Joe and despite an Israeli cabinet member's talk of nukes

BlueAnon may have thought I was talking about Wallbuilders' David Barton's hypocrisy, or that of followers. Nope.

Dade, Strangeabbott and Danny Goeb can't agree on exactly what to do on more border controls. That said, anybody with a legal brain CAN agree that House Bill 4, written by my Legiscritter, actual lawyer and House impeachment manager David Spiller, is unconstitutional and anything stiffer certainly will be.

Meanwhile, folks in the area of Sunland Park, New Mexico, are laughing at Strangeabbott's "state-line wall." 

And, speaking of walls, Wallbuilder Joe's new effort has the Department of Homeland Services stooping to even using the same company as Wallbuilder Greg and Wallbuilder Don. It also has Wallbuilder Joe's DHS doing the same environmental waivers as Wallbuilder Don's. One thing different? Wallbuilder Joe trying to bury the news that an actual contract had been issued. Biden and DHS jefe Alejandro Mayorkas have blamed a 2019 Congress (Dem controlled, BlueAnon!) for passing the funding and it not later being revoked. Environmentalists note that it still doesn't require the DHS environmental waivers. Neither responded to Observer questions, thus indicating their true colors.

In national politics, SocraticGadfly looks at how RFK Jr. is bringing new campaign bucks, big donors who previously were neither R nor D, to his 2024 presidential campaign, as well as the GOP lean of previously affiliated donors.

Collin County owes two prosecutors of weaselshit Warren Kenneth Paxton a bunch of money, and it sets a precedent as his case finally nears trial. Speaking of, it's funny as hell to hear hypocritical Kenny Boy object to this as some sort of planned stall tactic. Collin County indicates it will still refuse to pay; the Trib's story doesn't say what leverage the judge has in that case. 

Was Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell Jr. right before he retracted his original statement that election denialist Laura Pressley caused a poll worker's heart attack?

GenocideGreg joins GenocideTed in support of GenocideJoe by traveling to Israel.

ERCOT gets a budget bailout, but probably still isn't fixed. Joining the two national grids would help, but ...

Tex-ass hates Inflationmonger Joe's Inflation Reduction Act, until Wayne (Not A) Christian can leech off it, and all the better if it's leeching off antienvironmental carbon capture bullshit.

Off the Kuff presents the October campaign finance reports for Texas Democratic Congressional candidates.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project said Republican plans to attack civil liberties if returned to White House in 2024 are very much an issue in Houston and Harris County electoral politics.

CultureMap reports on a new Rice University NSF-funded study on flooding. 

The Texas Living Waters Project lauds Houston's new building codes as a win for the environment. In the Pink Texas meets the new Speaker.  

El Paso Matters decries the harsh new anti-immigrant laws introduced during the special session.  

Texas Election Source announces its re-launch.

Another reason to "soak the rich" on taxes? Their effect on climate change

Dear Leader's call to modernize nuclear weapons pits is a disaster and boondoggle at Los Alamos.