SocraticGadfly: 3/19/23 - 3/26/23

March 24, 2023

Has Netanyahu finally pushed the US too far?

The Knesset earlier this week had ultra-Orthodox parties in his coalition put forward a bill that would, if adopted, ban proselytizing. It targets any religion besides Judaism, but mentions Christianity by name. Will the Religious Right in the US get Bibi to kill the bill? Will they get him to talk about why it even made it to the floor?

And, will Biden and Blinken say anything publicly?

But, what if it passes? What will the Religious Right do then? What will Biden, Blinken and Nod say?

And, no, that's not in the realm of fantasy. When private Israeli citizens attack a Christian church, and during worship, no less, and even attack the Orthodox archbishop, the possibility this bill could pass must be considered, especially since Mondoweiss notes this is NOT a one-off.

It references a statement by the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem:

“This dismal situation,” the statement continues, “hasn’t drawn any appropriate reaction, locally or internationally, despite appeals, requests, and protests made by the Churches of the Holy Land. It is painfully clear now that the authentic Christian presence in the Holy Land is in great danger.”

Indeed, indeed.


As for the Religious Right? Its first option here will be radio silence until the mainstream media pushes it. Option 2 in some cases, per the patriarch's comment about "authentic Christian presence," will likely be to claim that Orthodoxy, like Catholicism, isn't "authentic." Option 3 may be to claim that these are Palestinians pretending to be authentic Christians. (This ignores that Arafat's wife was one.)

March 23, 2023

Moon of Alabama tries to have its cake and eat it on Sy Hersh

Via John 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 Oliver Alexander's OSINT debunking of Hersh, either.

Also, I can't remember exactly what it was over, and whether on his blog site or on Twitter, but, long ago, I had some sort of run-in with Bernhard. I want to say, despite the number of leftist or quasi-leftist links in its links list, it was MoA being some sort of Mark Ames-type tribalist on US foreign affairs. I've not blogged about it here. And, given that he seems to be a tribalist twosider on the possibility of a WIV lab leak, to the degree that he's willing to accuse Snowden of being a US government propagandist, that probably WAS it, especially given he embeds Ames' tweet on the issue.

March 22, 2023

Texas Progressives talk clean air, Rod Dreher, semi-legal pot

Prodded by Sharon Wilson, the EPA promises to take a closer look at emissions in the Barnett Shale, not just from individual wells, but compression plants and more. ABSOLUTELY needed. But? Drew Springer wants to cut people like her off at the state-level pass. He's authored a Texas Senate bill that would have a "loser pays" fee assessment against people who file three or more complaints against the TCEQ in one calendar year that have no action taken by it. The problem No. 1, as critics note, is that TCEQ may believe that issues cited by a complainant aren't a violation of either TCEQ regs or the federal Clean Air Act. And, if Drew thinks there's real abuses, up the cutoff to 10 a year, or 3 a month, or something like that. 

Socratic Gadfly, on hearing the latest, like Antony with Caesar, but, really, comes to bury Rod Dreher, not to praise him.

A wall all the way along the Rio Grande would cut ranchers off from water. Read about the horse rancher fighting the issue in Webb County, where the wall in general is not popular.

The Observer is the latest to talk about the pink-slime "news" site Dallas Express; reporter Steven Monacelli links it to "zombie astroturf" wingnut groups, which he covers in detail in a second piece. He quotes one person noting that their apparent failure, then resurrection as new groups, "is a feature, not a bug." Since they are 501(c)4, groups, and a Trump rule in 2020 not reversed by Biden allows such groups to hide their donors, the zombie angle is bad. The "recycling" also lets these groups act as incubators of new wingnuttery.

Shock me that, at the Monthly, Russell Gold is stanning for the genius of Elon Musk. Worse yet? It's their cover story.

Could the Lege decriminalize marijuana? I'll believe it when Danny Goeb and the Senate act.

As we've seen the garbage ChatGPT spews, and also how it games search engines, the Nation explains how big a battle is in court in a lawsuit between publishers and The Internet Archive. From the lawsuit itself, the piece goes into other issues with digital-only libraries and more. More from Inside Higher Ed. (Update, March 24: The four publishers were granted summary judgment. TIA says it will appeal. And, the Internet already has lies about the issue.)

Biden is deporting refugees back to Russia. Wonder what the warmongers of BlueAnon think of that? 

New York's Libertarian and Greeen parties are hoping the Supremes ovrturn onerous new ballot acess restrictions and beyond that, bring new review to this in general for all states. Reason has more.

Sylvia Poggioli is retiring from NPR.

What Would Jane Austen Do has a few words for Florida.  

Reform Austin reports on the State Senate giving the finger to green energy. 

The Austin Chronicle writes about a musicians' rally for increased pay at South By Southwest.  

El Paso Matters documents the link between climate change and your allergies. 

 Texas 2036 supports legislation to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers to one year.

March 21, 2023

China, the Saudi-Iran deal and nuclear energy

Hank the Knife and Mondoweiss, along with many others, discuss the China-brokered Saudi Arabia-Iran diplomatic deal. Kissinger is mainly Captai Obvious, but hearing a doyen of the Nat-Sec Nutsacks note this is a big deal on China's part is still good to see. Mondoweiss, like some other truly progressive sites, notes what this means for the "Abraham Accords" and above all for Palestine. 

Mr. Plitnick notes the Abraham Accords not only need to be not-expanded (which this makes likely), but essentially rolled back. It probably also matters, though not mentioned at Mondoweiss, that China has an negligible Jewish population, so can act differently than either the US or EU states.

It also sidebars into the Saudis wanting to develop civilian nuclear power. 

And, I don't see ANYbody, not even it, mentioning the possibility of China helping it out there if the US continues to drag its feet. Especially if KSA agrees to the "additional protocols" that Iran did several years ago, and the US still refuses to help, I think there's a serious chance China jumps in.

On the bigger picture, James Dorsey, usually a very good read on Middle East issues, is again here, when he talks about China trying to "manage" issues vs the US trying to "resolve" them.

March 20, 2023

Shocking? ruling about Uri and the PUC?

Austin's Third Court of Appeals said last week the Public Utilities Commission royally screwed the pooch with its $9,000 per megawatt-hour electric rates during Winter Storm Uri. Now, the big issue (if the state Supremes affirm) is noted within the Trib's story. What does this mean for electric customers? What'sit mean for utilities? And, not mentioned by the Trib, what's it mean for the PUC's and ERCOT's range of actions in a similar situation in the future? And, yes, such a similar situation will almost certainly happen.

In addition, this has been remanded (to district court, I presume) for further action. Given that courts make sausages just like legislators, who knows what will result.

One thing's pretty certain.

Per a quote in the Trib piece, you and I likely won't get a dime of rebate. Riffing on that, ERCOT will continue to refuse to hook up to the rest of the US grid. And, the Lege, which between House and Senate, couldn't settle this issue two years ago, will likely fail again.

And, how much or how little will this help rural electric coops or Brazos Electric, the supplier to most of them?

Related, at the Snooze. Gas utilities, which are more regulated, are possibly getting a bailout. I don't blame rural electric co-ops, in particular, from being kind of pissed.

Tex-ass interference with personal lives continues

Multiple issues to that end popped up last week. Here's a few highlights, primarily abortion-related.

The Guardian wonders if the Texas ex's suit against an ex-wife's friends for helping her get an abortion wlll turn into state-sponsored spousal harassment.

Judge Matthew Trump Kacsmaryk promises to give a ruling (favorable of course for his wingnut court-shopping allies, aided by the chief judge of the Northern District) as soon as possible on a preliminary injunction to knock mifepristone off the market.

And, extracted from the rest of regular Texas Progressives' roundup news, Off the Kuff wrote about that unhinged abortion pill lawsuit.

Related? The First Amendment-hating Lege is targeting sites like Plan C, which has a documentary at SXSW. The Observer interviews director Tracy Droz Tragos.

Because of the attacks on abortion, things like a D&E operation for a miscarried but not delivered fetus, already hard to find in Tex-ass a few years ago, are almost gone now. The Observer has more, including how this affects medical training in general and could leave to a doctor exodus — not at all likely in the midst of a national doctor shortage exacerbated by (natch) algorithms and placements for residencies.

Kenny Boy Paxton wants an appeals court to lift an injunction so he can again snoop on families that have transsexual or transgender kids.

March 19, 2023

The Iraq War at 20

After that start-off by Two-Party Opera, let's add a few more thoughts. March 20 is the official start, but, I'm jumping the gun a day with Brian's prodding, and it may still have been March 19 in DC when "go was the word" anyway.

First, like World War I and II are really part of a thread, so are the original Gulf War and the Iraq War. Connection? House of Bush.

Actually, there's three parts to that thread, arguably. The first being the Carter-era Iran hostage crisis. 

According to former Texas House speaker Barnes, Poppy Bush was not part of that, it seems. Rather, in a big twist? John Connally was.

The Gulf War? Before my blogging time. Before there really was a civilian internet. But, I remember the controversy over depleted uranium tank shells. I remember Poppy Bush later being attacked from his right for stopping the war early. 

And, of course, connecting it to the Iraq War? I remember the sanctions and their punishment on Iraq. I remember Madeleine Albright, as Clinton's Secretary of State, writing off the many thousands of deaths they caused.

The Iraq War itself? We know the only "Mission Accomplished" by Shrub Bush was Turd Blossom Rove's politicizing the war run-up in the 2002 midterms, then again in the 2004 general, as the cowardly Dems warhawked with John Kerry. This was when and why I became a Green.

We know how Obama flip-flopped on the "surge."

And, we know that Lying Glenn Greenwald supported the war, in the preface to the book that made him famous. And lied about it to the point of attacking others who pointed out his lies. Then doubled down on his lying.

Part of why I became a Green? A decade after the invasion, and 8 years after Glennwald supported the invasion in his first big book, a BlueAnon wanker at Daily Kos was STILL regurgitating his lies.

And, 20 years later? Iraq is still a hellhole; Sadrites not under Iran's thumb battle other Shi'ites who are. Sunnis are semi-marginalized. Kurds want still more autonomy and may still push for an independent nation. ISIS lurks at their edges, still.

And, BlueAnon never learned. Dear Leader, with Shillary as his Secretary of State, pushed to bomb Libya, figuring that it too would succumb to shock and awe, then easily be rebuilt. Actual result? North Africa's strongest economy wrecked, and replaced by open slave markets. And, people smart enough in other fields to know better, like Massimo Pigliucci, or Juan Cole, or Bernie Sanders, signed off. (Bernie also voted for the first, and all subsequent, "support the troops" resolutions in Iraq.)

And, BlueAnon still hasn't learned. Even Pope Francis talked about NATO "barking" at Russia, but Warmonger Joe won't listen to him or the Goldilocks Three Bears and start peace talks. And, even within BlueAnon, showing Dem tribalism on war, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including the Fraud, er the Squad, supports the warmongering.

Don't forget that all these wars were started by, or abetted by, lies.

Gulf War? We're still not sure what Ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam Hussein; I believe it was indeed the claim that the Bush Administration had no big problems with him taking Kuwait. I also wrote an op-ed column about that. We know, during the run-up to war, about the incubator babies who weren't real, and the Emir of Kuwait hiring Western PR flak.

Iraq War? The lies about the aluminum artillery tubes by Powell et al. Tenet going Hearst reporter to Shrub Bush's William Randolph Hearst in 1898 Cuba. Condi Rice's "smoking gun - mushroom cloud."

Libya? The lies about how easy this would be. The lies about our real intent. The lies, post-Iraq, about how regime change could be done without boots on the ground.

Russia-Ukraine? The lies that we never promised "not one inch further eastward" on NATO expansion, when we did; even Gorby lied about that later in life, just because he hated Putin that much. The lies behind the Minsk Agreements. And more. That's even as Warmonger Joe still opposes real peace talks.


Sidebar, and not noted immediately? Our media's responsibility. Via Jeff St. Clair, the New York Slimes' 20th anniversary piece "somehow" never mentions the name of Judith Miller.

And, directly related to that, at Counterpunch, Jeff has a good piece about the selling of the war.

Sidebar: Here's my story about meeting a guy in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico, with a VERY interesting conspiracy theory on how the Gulf War started.