SocraticGadfly: 5/21/23 - 5/28/23

May 26, 2023

"Good god-fearing people" rural red-state bullshit

I don't know if any graduation speakers at local graduations tonight will spout this shite, but, let's do a quick breakdown, since I heard this phrase from a new local principal early this month upon his hiring.

By their own lights, Shi'ite ayatollahs in Iran, Zionists in a settlement in Occupied Palestine, Upper Castes of Hindus in India who heavily back the BJP, and 969 Movement fundamentalist Buddhist monks in Burma are all "good god-fearing people."

So, too, here in the US, were the followers of David Koresh. And, before David Koresh became a follower of himself, he probably was a good god-fearing person, too.

It's like Religious Right wingnuts wanting to bring back public, coercive school prayer. WHOSE? What if a Catholic says a Hail Mary while fingering their beads? Or, for that matter, a Shi'ite cries "Allahu akbar" while fingering THEIR beads, and they're leading a public, coercive prayer?

Spare me your bullshit, which also presumes the godless aren't good.

May 25, 2023

Colorado River deal is not all that

The New York Times actually has a decent story.

Here's the biggies on what the Lower Basin states of the Colorado River Compact — California, Arizona and Nevada — have agreed to, and the four Upper Basin states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming have tentatively signed off on.

First, this is a three-year deal. It merely postpones a long-term rewrite of the Compact by three years. Neoliberal John Fleck is probably doing huzzahs and hosannas somewhere. Don't follow his hype.

Second, the 3 million acre-feet of cuts? That's total over the three years. It's not bad, but, it's the minimum that needs to be done permanently in the Lower Basin. See Science Magazine from last year for what really needs to be done at a "minimum." But, they're not going to make a permanent deal until they get at least a bit of Upper Basin help.

More here on how this deal essentially is a boondoggle. With the "bribery" angle in place (for 3 years, $1.2 billion of Inflationmonger Joe's Inflation Reduction Act), alfalfa farmers will dig in their heels in four years. And, it ignores dams in the pipeline on the river's Upper Basin.

Third, it doesn't really address the elephant in the room. Aridzona can bitch about Saudi people buying up land there and irrigating alfalfa for Arabian horses — or Chinese beef. But, that doesn't excuse Aridzonans, or Californians on the west side of the river, from doing it themselves.

Fourth? While NOAA notes El Niño effects can be relatively weak in summer, that expected El Niño is already projected to be parking a dry high over the Southwest this summer. Hope you enjoy all the snowmelt because it's possible there won't be much of a monsoon season this year. 

Fifth? Follow the money. Federal "bribery" achieved what Basin states couldn't last year.

Fifth, part 2? BuRec's threat to void current appropriation percentages in the lower Basin? Surprised California apparently thought that was real, given BuRec's fake banhammer last summer.

Sixth? Per that fake banhammer link, the odds of California preserving the Salton Sea just dropped further.

Robert Glennon has more details, noting that the feds are paying for 2.3 MAF of the 3MAF  of cuts. He says more needs to be done, but given how hard it was to put together the original Compact, says that it should be within its framework and not starting anew. That said? The original deal expires in just 3 years, or, at the same time these temporary additional cuts go away. And, whatever the Supreme Court rules on Arizona v Navajo Nation, Indian water rights will loom much larger in 2026 than before. And, speaking of Thompson, he also weighs in; per him, it's most likely that the federal bribery is to take enough of that water-guzzling alfalfa out of circulation for three years by a short-term, specific, version of something like the Conservation Easement Program. So, not only is this short-term, it's short-term in a way that will backfire in three years. In addition, what if any of those people paid not to grow are the Arabs in Aridzona?

That said, that problem is not just on the Colorado. Look at what New Mexico does on southern New Mexico stretches of the Pecos and Rio Grande. Irrigation-driven dairy farming is wrecking Western water.

That's not to excuse irrigation-driven beef ranching, or the nostalgia of the likes of Jonathan Thompson. Nor is it to ignore ongoing PR by the National Cattleman's Beef Association pretending that sustainable beef is OK in our climate change world. (I ran into a guy on Medium making that claim, and now I wonder if he was a paid psyops.)

Finally, all of this ignores American Indian water rights issues, namely Navajo water rights claims on which the Supreme Court could rule later this month, per above comment. And, it's just possible that, even if the feds, behind Arizona, win, the victory would be Pyrrhic. See here.

Update to the last point? This HCN/Pro Publica piece about Aridzona screwing over Indians in general on water rights begins by noting just how this water could be used, but can't currently be used. A new hospital on the Big Rez stands unused because it doesn't have a guaranteed adequate water supply.

Racism and datedness at the classic comedy theater

It's amazing, and cringe-worthy, the amount of it in a British arts' sites top 25 comedy movies of all time. Duck Soup is to cringe. And, though not on the top 25, so is Blazing Saddles, despite Mel Brooks' talk about what he ran by Richard Pryor as a co-writer. The Jerk is maybe only semi-cringe-worthy.

The datedness goes with hamminess. Much of the more modern slapstick (you, Leslie Nielsen) is also cringe-worthy.
AT the same time, my beloved M*A*S*H wasn't free of this. "Spearchucker" Jones in the opening seasons? Really?

May 24, 2023

Texas Progressives look at more Lege bullshit

On one issue, the Texas Lege may offer some hope of inaction. If the House and Senate stay miles apart on a bill to replace the old Chapter 313 program, maybe there will be no replacement.  Per the Trib piece, wingnuts are already lying, when they claim Chapter 313 favored renewables. And, in the two chambers, and within them, if this continues to be a Republican vs Republican issue, the clock might just be stalled out.

On another, and related? Tex-ass is trying to punish electric vehicles. A $100 surcharge to make up for lost gas taxes (and a bit more) I could see. But $200 per year on your registration? Bullshit. And $400 on extra title costs? Double bullshit.

Off the Kuff wades through the ridiculous Fifth Circuit hearing on the mifepristone lawsuit appeal. 

SocraticGadfly notes that, given his pre-Lege career, Bryan Slaton is an exemplar of an ongoing Southern Baptist sex abuse scandal the denomination still refuses to fully address.

G. Elliott Morris looks at polling and forecasting in 2024 and beyond.  

The Texas Living Waters Project is glad to see the Lege finally pay some attention to fixing leaks and replacing aging water infrastructure.  

Texas 2036 reports on the effort to expand broadband access in Texas.  

Reform Austin reports on the Bonnen brothers' bum deal to start funneling Medicaid dollars into more private, profit-driven companies' pockets.

Hillary Clinton says it's OK to question Warmonger Joe's age. Next, do Sen. Betty Crocker.

May 23, 2023

Texas Lege claims to care about children, but really doesn't; but that may cut both ways

It's called HB 63, which would bar anonymous child abuse reports. Yes, per the story, there are real vindictive false abuse reports. But also, per the story, which I knew before clicking, there are real reports which people have good reasons to make anonymously. Like, for example, a paraprofessional reporting a teacher.

And, with that, here's some of the new ways it, and the state government in general, really hate children.

A bill to put religious chaplains in public schools, allegedly not there to evangelize kids, but per the bill's top backer, speaking elsewhere, they actually are. (That's not to mention it's unconstitutional.)

The attacks on "gender"-affirming care for minors (scare quotes needed because "sex" and "gender" aren't the same thing, and so says NIH), about which I am a non-twosider, but know that Lyin Ken Paxton's heavy-handedness aren't called for. At the same time, the Observer's piece on SB 14 is part of why I'm not a two-sider. It's debatable whether the effects of the likes of Lupron are "easily" reversible or not. The Observer doesn't mention its real — and often lasting, as in the cases of bone density loss — side effects, that eventually resulted in an FDA black box warning. It does mention the psychological background of "gender-affirming care," but doesn't discuss in detail the Mayo Clinic guidelines for what all that should involve if puberty blockers are properly used. And, by noting that sexual-reassignment surgery (it's sex, not gender!) is not the "first line" with minors, it admits that it IS nonetheless, something done to minors. This whole issue makes me feel more and more like Justin Raimondo, as someone likely to be a man without a party, assuming the Greens go further down the twosider path and the SPUSA follows on this issue.

The laughably vague anti-drag bill.

May 22, 2023

Bakhmut, G-7, F-16s and the latest Russia-Ukraine

First, the planes. Russia has warned of taking into account the latest US-NATO escalation, this of offering training to Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s that will be supplied, in dribbles for now most likely, by NATO  member states. The real biggie? Given Xi Jinping's rumblings the past couple of weeks, how much will CHINA take this into account?

Second, the summit. Brazilian officials feel the G-7 members suckered the country's leaders in general and newly returned president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva over Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's appearance at the summit in Japan. (Since Western media can't seem to figure out if his last name should be "-sky," "-skiy" or "-skyy" we're going to go back to just "-sky" even if that "sounds Russian.") Lula has backed Xi Jinping's peace talks proposal, and has also renewed his calls for an alternative to the dollar as a second global reserve currency.

Third, despite world-renowed economist James K. Galbraith showing just how little sanctions against Russia are actually working, the G-7 voted for more. Thanks, Warmonger Joe.

Fourth, Vloddy begged the G-7 (and G-20, at least Lula's Brazil and India) for more handouts. At that link, it appears he and Lula did NOT meet, and Chinese officials told Western countries to knock off East Asian warmongering.

Finally, the Wagner Group claims it has captured Bakhmut. As proof that Mark Ames is not a Russian secret agent, I present this tweet:

And, there you go.

Ten days ago, Jeffrey Sachs called on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to chart a more independent path from the US on the war. That obviously still isn't happening. Dear Canadians: PLEASE vote NDP at the next election!