SocraticGadfly: 2/12/23 - 2/19/23

February 18, 2023

Why doesn't the Texas PUC just hire child labor? A modest proposal

Representatives of the Tex-ass Public Utility Commission testified to the Texas Senate on Wednesday that they're shorthanded, with a poor work-life balance and bleeding away employees, even as Tex-ass Legiscritters have reduced the work cap on total employee numbers.

So, since Rethuglicans in places like Idahell (Iowa, even Minnesota! — and, in case you're wondering, tho not as "blue" as 20 years ago, Dems control both houses of the Minnesota Lege) are talking about eliminating state child labor laws, why isn't Tex-ass? Some serious slackerdom going here. As the link in parentheses notes, New Joisey loosened child labor laws a year ago, too.

Those little kids could shinny up power poles like squirrels. Probably test for electrical shorts quickly.

And, the state could also make this a "workfare" requirement for kids of adults getting state assistance. (ARE THERE any adults who get state assistance? "Here's your $3 of food stamps on the Lone Star Card. Call us back in a week.)

Oh, a 5 percent pay raise for employees in the libertarian capital of Texas, aka Bay Area East? Won't attract more adults. Better hire more children.

February 17, 2023

Why, Sy? Playing a parlor game with Seymour Hersh on ax-grinding

Per Jeff St. Clair's Roaming Charges a week ago, as linked in my piece about Seymour Hersh's story about how the Nord Stream 1, and half of Nord Stream 2, pipes were blown?

It seems reasonable that just maybe Sy is doing some ax-grinding. Or, one or more of his sources are.

But who's the target?

Based on his last big piece, his alt-history about the killing of Osama bin Laden — which was the first big piece after Abu Ghraib that NObody in conventional media would touch — I have a theory.

The Navy SEALs.

Think about it.

Who gets basically written out of Hersh's bin Laden alt history? Yes, they're still there, but removed, highly removed, from the solo starring role.

Who gets pushed aside as the logical group to blow up the pipelines, if the US indeed did it and Sy has the big picture partially correct even if the details are all wrong, on the dubious claim that using them would invoke Congressional disclosure to the "Gang of Eight" and other things?

The SEALs.

Now, whether this is Hersh, a source, or both, grinding an ax, I don't know.

And, per good journalism, and good well-examined living in general, if my speculation is correct, I don't know WHY.

People with more "connections" than I have are welcome to make suggestions.

Related and also interesting? In his "welcome/here I am" first piece on Substack, Hersh mentions he was attacked over the Abu Ghraib piece; he never mentions the bin Laden, or anything else he did after Abu Ghraib. Oh, he also has comments there, but has them turned off on the Nord Stream main piece. And (natch) only paid subscribers can comment on the "welcome" piece. Per my original piece, Mark Ames at Radio War Nerd and Amy Goodman and the gang at Democracy Now also pass over the bin Laden piece in silence. 


Meanwhile, there's possibly another person who may be involved with ax-grinding.

Many of us who ARE, per Jeff St. Clair, in the more skeptical, not less skeptical, precincts of the left, have thought that part of why Hersh is on Substack is like Glenn Greenwald and others — no editors, just fun!

Confirming Jeff's note that Hersh (like Glenn Greenwald) doesn't want to be edited? Sy's own "welcome" piece:

The story you will read today is the truth as I worked for three months to find, with no pressure from a publisher, editors or peers to make it hew to certain lines of thought—or pare it back to assuage their fears. Substack simply means reporting is back . . . unfiltered and unprogrammed—just the way I like it.
There you are!

Then, on Radio War Nerd, after Jeff's original musings, Sy claimed he had a sort of editor. Per John Helmer, to whom St. Clair had linked, Matt Taibbi said Hersh had "talked to him." In Sy's world, I'm sure that would make him a sort of editor. It would also explain how and why Hersh landed on Substack. And, it would be Taibbi's way of ax-grinding against the MSM, especially in the wake of the Twitter Files, about which he's been getting more and more defensive on Twitter. You have, Matt; shut up. And, given many things, including no MSM outlet publishing the bin Laden, Sy has his own axes to grind there.

• Another bit of ax-grinding by Hersh? Per his the original conversation with Butowsky over Seth Rich, and his fan fiction over bin Laden, he might have some ax to grind against Dear Leader. And, since Warmonger Joe was his No. 2?

I mean, Hersh was largely radio silent during the Trump years, other than his early Seth Rich foray.

February 16, 2023

Wayne Christian: Against flaring except when he's for it

Earlier this year, and in cases like Winter Storm Uri, Wayne-o (not so much a?) Christian, chairman of the Tex-ass Awl Bidness, I mean the Texas Railroad Commission, has repeatedly said his agency is "on top of" oil well flaring, or words to that effect.

But, when the feds ask him to actually be on top of it? Different story, per an RRC presser:

The Railroad Commission of Texas joined the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in filing comments this week on the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed supplemental rule to regulate methane and greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas industry.
In the comments, the state expresses concerns that the proposed rule exceeds EPA’s statutory authority under the Clean Air Act and will significantly limit domestic energy supply. At a time of energy fluctuations due to international conflict, the United States cannot afford to clamp down on its most important oil and gas producing state.

There you go, folks.

The rulemaking covers pipeline leaks and other things on the gas side, too. All of which Wayne-o et al also claim to be on top of.

Except when they're asked to be really on top of it.

Crying a river over the Brazos

Having been to Big Bend many a time, I appreciated very much Texas Observer's piece over the struggles of the Rio Grande.

I can now say the same as it's dropped the second piece over what is apparently going to be an occasional series over the struggles of Texas rivers, this the Brazos.

I've lived on the river (not right on it, but as in a town) in Marlin, and near it in Jacksboro and Navasota. I've also been out to Caprock Canyons and Palo Duro enough to see the upper Brazos plenty of times. 

The John Graves Scenic Riverway below Morris Sheppard Dam that creates PK Lake is nice. And draws many recreational users.

Per the story, its protected designation by the Lege was not forever but time limited, and expires in a few years. And, the pressures on it from population growth — pushes to build more dams, as the obvious factor, will only get worse.

But, that may not be the biggest pressure from population growth. Wastewater plant discharges could be bigger, as could be other pollutants.

As the story notes, the Brazos' major tributaries don't even have caps set for what is the Total Maximum Daily Load of pollutants. This includes rivers like the Leon and Lampasas. On the Brazos itself, Lake Alan Henry already has a mercury warning about fish.

The riverway also doesn't extend far enough. And, Texas has little in the way of state parks on the river, other than state/Corps of Engineers sites at lakes formed by damned dams. And, getting TCEQ to exist restrictions that are already in place?

February 15, 2023

Russia-Ukraine War gets escalated again

 Yes, we the US and NATO, are indeed at war with Russia, per Thomas Fazi. Let's stop lying about it. That includes you, Eric Dreitser, at Counterpunch, whom I've called out before, and who is getting some pushback at Counterpunch itself.

And, per Fazi, is the US-NATO switcheroo on modern battle tanks going to be the last? 

I doubt it. He's probably right that F-16s are next.

That said, even people aligned with the Nat-Sec Nutsacks™ warn against escalation. Fazi cites a piece by RAND as one example.

And, even the Old Gray Lady admits it, via a guest column by Christopher Caldwell. 

The #BlueAnon sheeple, meanwhile, eat it up, thinking that they're continuing to "own the wingnuts," especially after Rethuglicans gained control of the House.

In reality? You're "owning" nobody but yourselves.


Related? Scott Dunn, a good read on this subject in general on Medium, says Ukraine is not "decisively" defeating Russia, then games out what would happen if we did do what Zelenskyy wants.

Back to Fazi to wrap up:

Ultimately, catastrophic scenarios aside, this is the most likely way in which the war will end — with a deal in which neither side loses or wins. Delaying this inevitable outcome simply means imposing more unnecessary death and destruction on Ukraine — and more economic suffering on a continent that is fast reaching breaking point.

There you go. 

And, Eric Draitser, by promoting escalation, is part of the problem. He's arguably Counterpunch's biggest black eye in years if not decades.


And, both of these are worth more discussion than Sy Hersh's latest fabulism.

Texas Progressives talk DPS and more

Kenny Boy Paxton has officially surrendered on the lawsuit against him by filed whistleblowers. Kenny Boy claims he's settling "to save taxpayer money." Right. He, Strangeabbott, and Tricky Ricky as the prior governor, wasted scads of taxpayer money on suits against the federal government, losing more than half the time. Besides, the settlement contains an official apology by him. Paxton faced an FBI investigation related to the background of that suit. He's not been charged, but the DOJ hasn't officially publicly cleared him, either.

As the Trib notes, the Lege has to officially pay for this. And, Plano's Jeff Leach has promised to ask questions. Given that the DOJ hasn't officially cleared him, will Paxton need to plead the Fifth?


DPS head Steve McCraw pulled in his horns on a $1.2 billion ask for a new active shooter facility, and instead will settle for $400 million to upgrade the current Waco site. Although still facing Uvalde heat led to this pullback, That said, no more troopers will face Uvalde discipline.


The Fifth Circuit rewarded gun nuts again, ruling that domestic violence convicts can't have guns removed as part of protective orders. It relied on the Supreme Court's Bruen ruling, which is "problematic," to put it mildly. 

Last June’s Bruen ruling implemented a new test to determine the constitutionality of gun control laws, requiring them to be “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

Gun control advocates like me who know that cowboys were required to check their guns when they got to Dodge City know the Supremes are full of shit on this one.

Related to both this and the first section? Kenny Boy is suing Team Biden for ruling that pistols with certain accessories such as rifle-like stocks are actually rifles.


Off the Kuff showed how absolutely weak the election contests in Harris County are, which is something the Republicans who filed them surely know themselves. 

SocraticGadfly actually looks forward to a Trumpy 2024 run.

President Biden scored a few TDs in his SOTU, but Stace thinks he missed some extra points on some important issues.


The NYT profiles what could be Bernie Sanders' swan song, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.


Wingnuts squared Bob Hall and Bryan Hughes are going to cost local and county governments $120 million a year for election equipment that doesn't currently exist. No wonder they don't want to talk about it.


Alan Dettlaff writes about being removed from his role as dean of the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston for having abolitionist views on the child welfare system. That's as DFPS plans to outsource case management

Texas Monthly investigates that pro-Jesus ad from the Super Bowl.  

Mean Green Cougar Red reminisces about the now-obsolete 747 aircraft.  

In the Pink Texas reviews the State of the Union.

The Fort Worth Report reports on the right-wing "Election Integrity" task force that has been formed in Tarrant County.

Finally, here's the first edition of a new weekly Dallas-area news roundup on Off the Kuff by his friend and blogging inspiration Ginger.

February 14, 2023

Is Sy Hersh right about the NordStream pipelines? No and yes? More than Oliver Alexander? And Mark Ames?

If you've not been following "foreign policy Twitter" you're excused to a degree.

Anyway, Seymour Hersh now has a Substack and dropped a(n alleged) blockbuster for his first post after his "welcome."

And, that was a detailed blow-by-blow about how the US, with Norway's help, allegedly caused the NordStream explosions last fall.

And, it got PLENTY of pushback. Beyond just Tweets, there was this from Oliver Alexander.

That said, this is more than twosiderism.

NOTE: I'll be updating at the bottom with any more egregious comments I see at Alexander's Substack, or now that I see he's weighed in, Mark Ames' Radio War Nerd site, or on Twitter. As of Feb. 17, HALF of this post is about more nutty commenters, plus more observations on Hersh himself, and plenty on Mark Ames. Eventually, this will be broken off into a new blog post

First, as Jeff St. Clair noted, Hersh has been "iffy" over not just recent years but long before. He got used on the Seth Rich conspiracy theory and never admitted it, but had problems before that. However, citing Gary Webb of CIA drug-running fame vs. Hersh as a model of probity doesn't totally hold up, as I told Jeff. Maybe he didn't have outright lies, but he did "push the envelope," and hard. For his blanket defenders? When Webb was at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, it twice got sued over story series of his and both times, settled rather than fight. He may not have been "wrong," but he was far from right, as I discussed four years ago. (Not that Robert Parry was pristine on many things himself.)

Hold on to that thought. And I end the digression.

NOTE 2: Per St. Clair, and items below, here's a few initial thoughts of mine on what ax-grinding Hersh might be doing, and with whom. 

NOTE 3: Hersh can't even pronounce "Maidan" correctly, calling it "maiden" on an interview. Also? He's never done any real reporting on Russia. Don't cite the KAL flight shootdown, etc. All of Sy's reporting was about pre-implosion USSR, not Russia. More here on him as a "useful idiot." And his likely grifting for $$ and maybe for a second 15 minutes of fame.

But, before jumping into Alexander's own iffy pool, go to John Helmer, also linked by St. Clair. And, from that, about halfway down, since Matt Taibbi says Sy was "in touch" while working on the piece, I think we have his editor unmasked. Read the whole thing; I would have earlier, if Jeff had extracted more from it to show just how devastating it is. (In a new piece by Helmer, mid-March, he says Alexander does not have a "provable background" and notes him citing Bellingcat as a source.)

Update, March 8: Via another piece by Helmer, Moon of Alabama appears to be wanting to have his cake and eat it too, from the left. After claiming both that Sy largely got things correct AND that he had reported similarly in September, 80 percent of his post is about "a few corrections" to Hersh's narrative. (MoA also ignores both that Hersh has never reported on Russia AND, like other blank-check fans of Sy's, that he got bin Laden all wrong, or Not.Even.Wrong, and that he was willing to bite into the Seth Rich apple.) At the same time, MoA links to a piece of his own from last September, where he claims to have solved it. More problems? It's possible he's right that Poland was involved in some way. But, that would be an entirely different operation than what Hersh describes, not just correcting around the corners. At a minimum, MoA sounds more right than Sy, but again, this is trying to have one's cake and eat it, too. Finally, on that piece, his peculations were not his alone. And, I don't know if all of his ship-siting stands up to Alexander's OSINT, either.

Update 2, March 8: Nutsack Alexander is doubling down on his take that, at least with Nord Stream 1, Russia blew it up itself, allegedly to pressure Germany. This site, among others, from an American academic within the Nat-Sec Nutsacks™, was making similar claims late last year.

Feb. 20: I've taken more time to read Helmer thoroughly. He notes that Sy:

  • Ignores Russian claims at the time that Britain did it, as here;
  • Ignores Danish knowledge;
  • Hasn't reported a story about Russia since 1990; and the topper
  • That Sy is actually, ultimately, operating in service of US interests.

Helmer now has a new post which further eviscerates Hersh.

Confirming Jeff's note that Hersh (like Glenn Greenwald) doesn't want to be edited? Sy's own "welcome" piece:

The story you will read today is the truth as I worked for three months to find, with no pressure from a publisher, editors or peers to make it hew to certain lines of thought—or pare it back to assuage their fears. Substack simply means reporting is back . . . unfiltered and unprogrammed—just the way I like it.

There you are!

Anyway, Alexander says that Hersh blew it by being too detailed to be true. He also, at the start, claims he has his own suspects, but because it's circumstantial, he's not naming them. "Convenient," especially for someone who arguably has one foot (but not both) in at least the fringes of the Nat-Sec Nutsacks™ world, it appears. (He's written for Foreign Policy, among other things, touts his work in open-source intelligence, and is "in" with the likes of Higgins. He's apparently a Danish native, so, he's in the international wing of the Nat-Sec Nutsacks.

That said, on OSINT, Joe Galvin corroborates part of Alexander. Guess who linked to him? St. Clair. Oh, responses to him are a laundry list of whataboutism.

That said, Alexander may have undermined his own case by being too detailed on his "gotchas," with this:

During his introduction of Norway, Hersh makes a very strange remark about NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg implying that he has worked directly with the US intelligence community since the Vietnam War. Jens Stoltenberg was born March 16th 1959. The US involvement in the Vietnam War ended April 30th 1975, meaning Jens had just turned 16 when Saigon fell to the PAVN troops. I doubt Jens Stoltenberg was a US intelligence asset in his early teens.

The Nat-sec Nutsacks on Twitter joined in on this gotcha.

Reality? Per his Wikipedia page, Stoltenberg DID protest the war. AND, much BIGGer reality?

In 1979, his father became Norway's Defense Minister. He later served two separate terms as Foreign Minister. His mother held the equivalent of US civil service political positions, and did so even BEFORE Jens started his Vietnam War protests. The family, as a family, has its own Wikipedia page about a career of Norwegian political and cultural service going back not generations but centuries. That is, they are a Bushes or Adamses family.

Jens' own Wiki page notes that he had a long-term contract with a Soviet diplomat before state security police warned him this person was actually a KGB agent. That said, this itself could have been "cover," and Jens was actually trying to pump him. 

On the other hand, given his family connections, why would the CIA need to cultivate him as a source? And, even if it did, this likely wouldn't have happened for some number of years after his Vietnam protests.

As for this by Alexander?

Why leave one of the two Nord Stream 2 pipelines intact, when they were the ones that Russia was able to open up at a moments notice.

Could be a variety of reasons.

I see it as, whoever did the bombing, kind of like a "Mafia horse's head in bed" move. As in, "we hit three of the four pipes and No. 4 can go at any time."

It also gives more room for further control of the situation, especially since Nord Stream 2 was not  actually operational.

As for "why Norway"? (If Hersh is right.)

Remember back in early Iraq War days? Norway participated in extraordinary renditions. Yes, Norway, not just Sweden.

But, it's not just Alexander kicking the tires on Sy's latest and not convinced.

Going well beyond a tweet or two of his, Jeff St. Clair is definitely not convinced. He notes that the President's Intelligence Advisory Board hasn't had "Foreign" in it since Bill Clinton's time, among other things. Jeff also notes that many such operations are full of bungling and hard to keep secret. (Side note: JFK conspiracy theorists, this is another reason for you to stop sniffing the glue. Ditto on 9/11 Falsers. The Mossadegh and Arbenz coups, as well as the Bay of Pigs, are proof positive.)

Now, as for Hersh?

What may have been happening is something like the late Robert Fisk was known for doing in his Middle East reporting, so known for it that it got a name: "Fisking." Hersh may have the basic tiger by the tail, but per Alexander, yeah, his details are wrong.

He could have inflated some himself, and been fed false details by his sources on other details material.


Easy way to hang Hersh out to dry and get plausible deniability. This all is another angle that Alexander didn't think of — or may, chose not to consider.

As for the Skripal poisonings and Hersh? They do appear to be Russian, but in the early portion of the investigation, there were enough issues to challenge that as locked down. I cite the likes of Patrick Hilsman at Counterpunch. As for Syrian chemical attacks? Hersh has never said the Assad regime did NONE of them, so that's strawmanning. Those he has challenged have been challenged by others, like Fisk. And Ted Postol, Robert Parry and others. Sy also had other good reporting on Syria; that link also notes that Colin Powell's right hand man, Larry Wilkinson, said several years ago that Ukraine was a proxy war. And, re Syria, already then, the idea of a "Russian meme" was weaponized. And, Alexander shows that he's a weaponizer by citing Bellingcat. He lost a star right there.

Sidebar to all of this? I know part of why Sy likes Substack. Somewhat like Webb, and totally like Glenn Greenwald, it means no editing.

St. Clair agrees on Sy, while disagreeing on Webb. (I'll accept that Webb may not have been as much of a "free ranger," but, that he was straight and narrow? Different story.)

I think Jeff is right on Hersh's big picture on this story. It's ax-grinding, and not just his, but the sole source abetting him. Now, who that source is, and what ax against whom both the source and Hersh are grinding? Who knows. (In hindsight, I have little doubt that Hersh, and one or more of his sources, was ax-grinding on his bin Laden alt history. And, my first commenter kind of confirms that for me.)

After having this mostly done, earlier this morning, I saw via Twitter that Mark Ames had interviewed Hersh on Radio War Nerd and that it was "unlocked" for general listening. I'm not listening to the full thing right now. I may later. But one commenter provides a fair amount of detail. Hersh sort of claims to have (at least) one source besides the one mentioned in the article. He also claims to have an editor. Here's the person's, a Norwegian named Yngve Songstad's, observations:

'm sorry to say it, but this was really underwhelming in terms of meaningful content. I listened in hoping to know more about the Nord Stream story, but most of the interview was just old stories and internal journalism gossip. Which can be fun, but when you've got 30 minutes with the guy who has just written the bombshell story of the year so far? 
The only thing substantial that I got out of this which at least in my opinion strenghtened the story was that 1) Hersh has been working on the article with an editor, 2) that he sort of hinted to there being corroborating sources that do not appear in the article, and 3) that at least one of these work within the pipeline construction industry. However, no material evidence has still been presented, and this interview isn't gonna convince anyone who wasn't already persuaded by the original article.

Color me skeptical as hell on the first. If this were true, why didn't Sy cite both, or all three, or whatever, sources. Another commenter there congratulated Mark with his interview on the "slippery" Hersh. This "sort of hinted ..." illustrates the "slippery" in spades.

Also, as far as Sy's bona fides, Mark links to Abu Ghraib and My Lai, both of which stands up. He then links to his alternative story on bin Laden's death, which is implausible at the least. (Let's not forget that, even in the light of Abu Ghraib, this was his first big story that NObody in conventional media would touch, and he eventually published with the London Review of Books. Related and also interesting? In his "welcome/here I am" first piece on Substack, Hersh mentions he was attacked over the Abu Ghraib piece; he never mentions the bin Laden, or anything else he did after Abu Ghraib. Oh, he also has comments there, but has them turned off on the Nord Stream main piece. And [natch] only paid subscribers can comment on the "welcome" piece.) Doesn't link to Syria (or Skripal) and doesn't even discuss Seth Rich except in a comment back to me.  (Amy Goodman et al at Democracy Now also touts Abu Ghraib while ignoring the bin Laden. On Twitter, Edward Snowden talked up Watergate along with Abu Ghraib but ... ignored the bin Laden!)

Beyond all this? Warmonger Joe and NATO flunkies further escalating the war by selling Abrams and Leopard II tanks, even if Ukraine is unprepared to use them, especially the Abrams, deserves more discussion


• Ames himself? I have for some time said that I don't consider him a Russian agent. He's criticized Russian war operations in Ukraine enough, and Moscow leadership at least somewhat. But, his own contrarianism or whatever on Skripal? Him and Yasha Levine laughing over US names for Russian SVR operations like "Cozy Bear" and "Fancy Bear," even when the operations themselves were real (even if low budget, etc)? "Useful idiots" isn't the right word for people like him, and "fellow travelers" isn't, either. Maybe we need to use a phrase like "sympathetic flacks." Or, "slippery."

But, whatever the phrase, I'm tightening up again on the amount of slack I'll give him. Another way of putting it? He's not Matt Taibbi. But, he is, as I've said before, in the same general vein as an Aaron Maté: reflexive anti-Americanism on foreign policy that itself becomes twosidered.

Turns out, he probably won't interview St. Clair, as I suggested on RWN, in response to another comment of mine:

Seriously, this is what the whole "omg Hersh was a Seth Rich sucker" thing is about? Some guy talking to Hersh, claiming he heard a mountain where hersh said it was a molehill, and that's supposed to affect Hersh's credibility as a journalist? Bad faith twaddle. If it's not clear already, Hersh talking is a lot wilder and pinball-minded than Hersh in print, which is what he should be judged by. Here is what St Clair's article hyperlinks to as proof Hersh was some kind of Seth Rich truther:

OK, Mark. And, re Radio War Nerd invites? You follow Helmer on Twitter; if you don't want St. Clair, have HELMER on.

And, OK to commenters who are going to try to spin this, and are going to cite the likes of Gateway Pundit in doing so. I also told him that he was welcome to interview St. Clair himself and that I had already said that in another comment.

But, while we're here, let's remember that the RNC as well as DNC was hacked and that Congresscritter Mike McCaul, not just the likes of Comey, said so, before the RNC told him to shut up. Let's also note that McCaul, pre-Congress, was counterterrorism prosecutor for the DOJ. I'll confess to not thinking about that enough at the time.

Also as for the commenter? I can't remember if Isikoff "burned" Ratner or if that is just spin. And, it's accepted journalism practice to "burn" a source who first screws you, anyway. The likes of Ken Silverstein have mentioned that.

• Otherwise? I muted multiple Nat-sec Nutsack Tweeters over this, one with a #NAFO hashtag claiming not to be an imperialist. Right. At the same time, if I get a second Seth Rich conspiracy theory defense from anybody at Mark's site, they'll be blocked, too. (Don't think I've ever blocked anybody on Patreon before.)

• And, I'm going to tally up comments there, and will respond after I get home. Let's take this from Magic Mikey:

Craig Murray sacrificed his career to expose his own governments involvement in the use of torture during the war on terror. He's nobodies flunky.

Grammar aside, those are red herrings. First, Murray did indeed do that, before he hooked up with early-era Assange, but he's continued to defend Assange lock, stock and barrel since Julian went far beyond being a journalist (if he ever was) to being Putin's flunky. Second, lots of people destroy their careers for bad reasons. Note: I've engaged with Murray on Twitter before; he has in the past "tailed off" when I brought up Seth Rich. Per that link, no, I don't think Assange is a journo. Murray has also indicated, indirectly, that Assange knew the provenance of the DNC emails by the end of 2016. I do think, per what I said above about Ames, that Murray IS a "useful idiot" even if not getting paid to be one.

• And, another "fun" comment at RWN, this from Stephen Jones:

I can't speak to anyone else's thoughts on Seth Rich, but I'm a total "sucker" for the idea that there's something fishy about an unsolved murder of a DNC staffer in the midst of high-powered deception about who stole what from servers. A situation so frought that the most illustrious media, academic, and government institutions and celebrities created a Russiagate fraud and crisis of confidence that has led Americans to crippling pathological paranoia... and the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation.

I gave him my blog post with the RNC/McCaul info, noting the RNC being hacked was a big counterargument to this. 

• Mohamed Dalmer claims "data discrepancies." I told him I'd been down the Forensicator/Patrick Lawrence road and spoken with Duncan Campbell. As in this long piece also refudiating the Bill Binneys that Craig Murray said I should talk to, but talking to the Thomas Drakes.

• If I thought Alexander was a Nat-Sec Nutsack, one of the commenters on his site, Andrew Benjamin, is so in spades on his own Substack, where he dives into an empty pool to smear Hersh. As I told him:

You've got your whole body coated in Nat-Sec Nutsacks oil. Talk about a hit job piece. Calling Hersh a "Marxist" is the piece of cake. You're in-credible, whatever you may say in follow-up. Your claim that "Views Askew is the IDEOLOGY-FREE ZONE" is laughable bullshit. No, it's not even laughable. It's just bullshit.

What else is there to say?

That Benjamin is an even bigger mouth-breather. He called me this:

Cute for a Tuckerite cultist to call serious people with serious creds, or even myself who is on the scene, "laughable BS." Hey Socrates, have you ever been in the area? Have you photographed the Russian navy preparing to invade Ukraine as I have? I don't think anyone who refers to conspiracist, anantisemitic and pro-Jihadist websites such as Mondoweiss has any business lecturing people who live in the real world. I assume you also don't like Jews much, do you? On your front page. Mondoweiss My diagnosis is PTSD: Fida Jiryis and our ongoing Nakba

My brief response included asking him if Phil Weiss is a self-hating Jew, the obligatory "anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism," and accusing him back of Bullshit self-Derangement Syndrome. BDS!  

And, with his reply, linking to a piece that talks in depth about the self-hating Jew and with the phrase "Jew Flu," just wow.

Beyond that? I find this person scary in some ways, and definitely "rabid."

• I got four comments at RWN from one dude, nameless with a cat icon. He said I was full of shit, asked why anybody would want St. Clair's opinion while also saying Counterpunch has gone downhill and most its content is "syndicated" elsewhere, and called Craig Murray an alcoholic.

My thoughts? In answering him, I said on full of shit, maybe he was infamous Catturd. On St. Clair, I noted that he, re Assange and the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, had three-plus years ago talked about "the more credulous precincts of the left." Beyond that? On Craig Murray, per Murray's own website, he's probably right — Murray sounds like an alcoholic in huge denial. Given his history of depression, suicidal thoughts and physical health ailments, most if not all of which probably tie to the sauce, he needs to get his ass out of denial. Per his Wikipedia page, which I had never checked before, he was reportedly drunk on the job while British ambassador to Uzbekistan, which, unlike the diplomatic issues, he apparently has never contested. He also is officially a Seth Rich conspiracy theorist. And, Counterpunch has long co-published stuff from other sites; it's the way smaller opinion journals of the left — and also often the right — work.

UPDATE: He's since apologized for being intemperate, and I've apologized for calling him Catturd in response, because the real Catturd would never apologize. I also said that I don't totally agree with 

• Another commenter at RWN, a Joshua Davies suggested that Ty Clevenger had some new bombshell re Seth Rich, posting a Twitter link. I sent back my, not one (his "origin story"), not two, but three most relevant blog posts about Ty, noting his broader dishonesty, not just on this. Seriously? Believing Clevenger and suggesting him to me is a grade-A way to lose.

• On Twitter, not muted as not a #NAFO, but muted conversation about these issues with a guy named Naphta. British non-skeptical leftists seen as thick as American ones. He's interesting otherwise, looking at his feed, so not muted period, just the conversation.

• That said, people like him are why I'm a skeptical leftist, as noted in the header. And, if you're skeptical of "them" but not "us," you're not really skeptical, and you're a contributor to twosiderism and tribalism. Per the words of St. Clair a few years ago, in re the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, things like this make me glad I am NOT part of "the more credulous precincts of the left."

• Speaking of, and re Sy himself, is he actually engaged in deliberate disinformation, ie, pro-Russia angles? Beyond Nat-sec Nutsacks making that claim, via Dick Tofel, so does Natalia Antelava of "Disinfo Matters," a vertical of Coda Story. That said, she's arguably guilty of disinfo herself, as I told her on Twitter. Saying the story was "spread by ... American leftists" and linking to Max Blumenthal without a "some" in front of "American leftists"? And, given that Coda Story gets money from the National Endowment for Democracy? AND, that she founded it? Homie don't play that game.

Also re Sy himself, he's now doubled down on this with a new piece called "The Crap on the Wall." How much crap, whose crap, and how widely apportioned it should be, probably are in the eye of the beholder, or believer, and their degree of tribalism, or non-tribalism.

Sy is also doubling down on the dinero, as that's a subscriber-only piece, and everything past his journalistic scene-setting intro, per John Helmer, is behind the paywall screen. No doubt sort-of editor Matt Taibbi is walking him through the details of Substack. Speaking of, as of April 1, Helmer, at the end of this piece, estimates Sy has already NETTED $200-$500K.

• Speaking of Hersh's subscribers, if there's any "Crap on the Wall," per his latest piece as of Feb. 19, that would really be many of his subscribers.


Update, July 14, 2024: Russia appears to have cut multiple Norwegian undersea communications cables in the past couple of years. Just saying.

February 13, 2023

COVID "surge" is ending

Who will alert THE People's CDC and fellow travelers like Gregg Gonsalves, as well as general panic-mongers like Jessica Wildfire, that just maybe they can relax now? (Yes, especially since that NPR link is itself incorrect and alarmist; per Worldometers, we're down to at most 250 people dying per day in the last week, and a rolling average of 200 or less. And, that IS the same as a [baddish] flu season.)

Of course, that's assuming that they WANT to relax. I've already said before that Wildfire appears to monetize her Medium and Substack through various fearmongerings. Hey, Jessica, remember monkeypox? Or your prepper phase? (Which will surely be back soon, just with some new disaster to prep for.) Or your playing half-footsie with antivaxxerism?

The People's CDC? To the degree I've done a medium-level dive into its official website, I think it's a mix of non #BlueAnon Dems — likely including Berners — looking to score points off Biden, people who are seriously worried for themselves or friends and loved ones who can relax a little bit, and people who are beyond seriously worried and want others to suffer with them.

Professionals like Gonsalves? Academia is blood sport. So is national media and social media in spades. Mix them together, and while she's not perfect, I'm sure, it's no wonder he fires away at an Leana Wen. (Her new book is very good, though sadly published six months too soon, so we don't get more on this issue within COVID.)

Update, Feb. 28: Two weeks since the original, Worldometers shows that daily case numbers and daily deaths both have continued to decline.