SocraticGadfly: 7/9/23 - 7/16/23

July 14, 2023

About that word 'nephew,' r/NBA

I don't like it. 

Not in the way you use it.

I know its origin story, how Snoop Dogg pushed it as a more positive option to "nigga/s/z" and meant it to be used in a complimentary sense.

I can accept a putdown from another r/NBA Redditor, whether warranted or not. 

But, use another word.

I'm venturing that, as with most social media programs, the typical Redditor is Whiter, or more specific and more relevant to this issue, more likely to be non-Black than the general population. I'm likewise venturing that the average semi-regular r/NBA user is more likely to be non-Black than the average semi-serious, more than casual, NBA fan, and probably not too old. (This snarky take, on Reddit itself, is good.) And, whoever Alphr is, it says I might be overestimating the non-Blackness a bit, but not a lot, and that I'm getting the age demographic right, or maybe estimating still too high. Indeed, Statista says that, across the board, 75 percent of Redditors are under 40. And, this site says almost two-thirds of Redditors have a bachelor's degree. Given that college degrees skew White, or rather, non-Black to put it in more detail, that further supports my presupposition. And, this site says only 7 percent of users are Black.

In other words, the average r/NBA Redditor wrongly using "nephew" as an insult is a White younger Gen-Xer or Millennial trying to put off some urban vibes or something, and they're doing so while probably embodying a few quasi-stereotypes of White metrosexual hipster bros.

Well, my vibes are to block you. Capiche? Because you're chuds. And, going back to a post of mine last week, I'm going to start blocking now.

July 13, 2023

Zelensky: The new and improved next Yeltsin?

Reminder: Western capitalists want to do to Zelensky's Ukraine what they did to Yeltsin's Russia, and because of this, one should assume Zelensky, family and friends will have the same sticky fingers that Yeltsin's family did at the top of a similar pyramid 30 years ago. As for the capitalist rapine, the Ukrainian Rada, pushed by Zelensky, has already signed off on an acceleration of post-Maidan plundering, including changing Ukrainian laws on land ownership and other things.
Per Chuck Spinney, guest posting at Patrick Cockburn's Substack, since Ukraine is the second-most corrupt country in Europe, beyond only Kosovo, and ahead of/worse than Russia, the American capitalist imperium already knows this and is helping accelerate that plundering as I type. For them, per the old saying the corruption is a feature, not a bug. They just worry about those who have been bought staying bought and also about not having wild price swings.

Reminder: These Western capitalists (and the Nat-Sec Nutsacks™ with whom they work hand in hand) will ignore that Yeltsin's Russia led, semi-inexorably (contra Dostoevsky warning against anything close to determinism) to Putin's Russia.


Meanwhile, because of his support for said capitalist takeover, Counterpunch Radio's Eric Draitser now officially has his ass in a crack over the US agreeing to send cluster bombs to Zelensky. Hey, Eric, the way that Warmonger Joe has been doing incremental escalation for months, you knew that was a possibility. Just like, per an Economist story linked by Unherd at the top link, the vulture capitalists had been landing in Kyiv before the invasion and you knew that. Per another story linked there, you also know that the vulture capitalists did their best to do to Zelensky's first predecessors what they were doing to Yeltsin 30 years ago.
Or Draitser could just read Ivan Katchanovski with an open mind:
That open-mind reading probably won't happen.
And, unless you believed Zelensky's PR lies about "the vaunted Ukrainian counteroffensive," you knew it was not only a possibility but a likelihood a full month ago. I stopped listening at approximately the 1:40 mark. Eric, to modify an old saying, feel free to stick your ear next to the sonic mirror.


Meanwhile, Zelensky is repeating the standard lie of US clients that cluster bombs won't be used against civilians. It's surely a lie from him. If Putin ever made that claim, it was a lie by him. And, it was a lie by the US when it used cluster bombs before. That said, contra Ron Jacobs, and per Walter Kaufmann, I reject, for the most part, the whole idea of "just war." I'm not as out there as Norman Finkelstein, who does talk about justification, and says Russia was justified, but I can understand where he's coming from.

Most popular blogging of June

Again, this is the stuff most read in the last 30 days (I'm a couple days late) but not necessarily written in that time. I'll note those that are older.

No. 1? My take on the Reddit strike, and even more, on many Reddit mods

No. 2? My thoughts on the Ken Paxton impeachment trial, with a set of addenda to the original post.

Third? My hot take (but freezing cold) on the MSM and Nat-sec Nutsacks' busted triumphalism on Prigozhin's busted mutiny. That was adapted from No. 10, my original post about the mutiny.

No. 4? The cautionary tale of Jacob deGrom, with thoughts for how spin rate and other Analytics 2.0 may be contributing to broken pitchers.

Fifth? Or fifth with an asterisk? Actually posted just before July 4, but my snark had already bumped this into the top 5 of posts for the past 30 days just a couple days later. It's my "Ukrainian freedom update," boosted when I tagged on a call-out of false flag bullshit from Zelensky personally, and its amplification by #BlueAnon and #NAFONazis, but also a call-out of lower-grade false flag bullshut from Putin flunkies (tho NOT Vlad himself), and amplified by #MAGAts. Also had me inventing the phrase "Uki-tankies."

Fifth I think on June 30? "Mueller She Wrote or Fraud She Wrote?", my largely sympatico take on, and analysis of, a Tweeter's in-depth crushing of Allison Gill

No. 6? My originally grumpy thoughts on Cornel West running for the People's Party nomination, which became relatively much better when he announced he was seeking the Green nomination.

Seventh? A plea to writers for Counterpunch and others to stop reading too much into the life of Ted Kaczynski.

Eighth? Goaded by a New Age wingnut (sic on the trio) on Twitter who claimed Marianne Williamson doesn't believe in "manifestation," I updated my takedown of her 2020 presidential campaign to show that hell yes she does.

Ninth? From knowledge of the state of Aridzona, the Colorado River Compact and the Big Rez, my thoughts on the ultimately SCOTUS-stonewalled battle the Navajos have been waging for water rights.

July 12, 2023

Texas progressives talk Paxton, special session, races

Many Texas Senate Rethuglicans are reportedly worried about being primaried over the Paxton impeachment.

Mike Miles is going to can 500 people at Houston ISD. (I wouldn't be surprised if that eventually rises.) Piece is originally from Houston Landing; interesting or "interesting" that the Trib is doing republishing now.

The Lege actually did a bit of good: HOAs can no longer discriminate against Section 8 tenants.

Speaking of, as state House and Senate tussle over property tax issues, and Danny Goeb and will renters get any help? The story notes that some more enlightened states, unlike Tex-ass, give direct pass-through relief to tenants; it also notes that no Rethuglican bill proposes that.

Speaking of that, Chris Hooks once again excoriates Strangeabbott. This is an overview of his eight-plus years as Gov and his relationship with the Lege, starting with how he burned that in his first year, and going on from there to the mule-headed stubbornness that he refuses to relinquish, most notably on vouchers. From there, it's his petulance in calling the first special session for the day after the regular ended.
State Sen. Roland Guitierrez has officially thrown his hat in the ring, challenging Colin Allred for the right to run against Havana Ted Cruz. Allred had a big money haul recently, and may have somewhat more name recognition, but I don't see this as that big of an uphill battle.

Strangeabbott is going through interim AGs like he goes through Secretaries of State.

Off the Kuff
 looked at Houston's lawsuit against the Death Star bill, the first of what will surely be many lawsuits filed against far-right legislation.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project says Mayoral candidate Gilbert Garcia's platform is silent on issues of protecting and expanding democracy in Houston.

SocraticGadfly dips into international affairs, with a multi-part look at Russia-Ukraine issues, tied in part to the Prigozhin mutiny. First is his take on the announcement of backdoor US-Russia peace talks, with a sidebar on what such talks might involve, and some Yevgeny Prigozhin issues. Second, he discusses the US mainstream media's problematic analysis of the Prigozhin mutiny. Third, he notes that, per a phrase from Counterpunch's Jeff St. Clair, that "more credulous precincts of the left" still cut Putin blank checks over how he handled that.

A good overview here of the current status of global oil issues and the background geopolitical maneuvers. (The story has one fail: Not mentioning that Iran is now an official member of the Shanghai Cooperative.)

Richard D. Wolff can complain with a straight face about US' China-bashing without once mentioning Uyghurs. "Shock me," unsurprisingly.

Vladeck is unequivocal about the SCOTUS hard right turn. 
Speaking of, Sonia Sotomayor just told Clarence Thomas to "Hold my beer (and read about it my my next book)."

Chris Geidner manages to find some reasons to be optimistic despite it all. 

Juanita never has any fun.
LA City Council (and city administration staff): hypocrites on homelessness.

July 11, 2023

John Roberts does it again on voting issues

Rick Hasen notes a ticking time bomb at the tail end of Moore v Harper. Here it is, edited to shorten:

In the last part of his majority opinion for the court, the chief justice got the liberal justices to sign on to a version of judicial review that is going to give the federal courts, and especially the Supreme Court itself, the last word in election disputes. The court held that “state courts may not transgress the ordinary bounds of judicial review such that they arrogate to themselves the power vested in state legislatures to regulate federal elections.”
To understand these dense words, we need to go back to the last time the Supreme Court decided a major election case, the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision (a case cited in Moore, for the first time ever, in a majority opinion in the 23 years since that decision).  ....
After the Florida court ordered the recount, Bush appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A majority held that the recount ordered by the Florida court violated the equal protection clause because there was no guarantee that uniform standards were used or could be used to conduct it. But three justices—Chief Justice William Rehnquist, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Thomas—adopted this milder version of the independent state legislature theory at the time. In essence they argued that the Florida court’s interpretation of the Florida election statutes to allow this recount was so far from ordinary statutory interpretation that the Florida court was essentially making up the law for itself, and taking away the legislature’s power to decide the rules for conducting federal elections in the first instance. 
It is this milder version of the independent state legislature theory that the court embraced in Moore. It did not spell out its contours, and whether to adopt the Rehnquist Bush approach or some other approach. But Kavanaugh, in a concurrence, endorsed the Rehnquist approach and said that in engaging in this second-guessing, federal courts need to compare election law in the state in earlier decisions. The greater the deviation, the more likely they’d be to find a violation of the independent state legislature theory. 
Make no mistake: This apparent new test would give great power to federal courts, especially to the U.S. Supreme Court, to second-guess state court rulings in the most sensitive of cases. It is going to potentially allow for a second bite at the apple in cases involving the outcome of presidential elections. In the 2020 presidential election, for example, Trump allies raised this theory in arguing that Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court could not extend the days for the receipt of absentee ballots by three days in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were not enough of these late-arriving ballots to make a difference in 2020, but if there had been, according to the approach laid out in Kavanaugh’s concurrence, the Supreme Court would have had to look at Pennsylvania court precedents to decide if the state court went too far in deciding matters under its own state laws. ...
It fell to Thomas, who ironically joined Rehnquist’s Bush concurrence, to point out how much discretion Roberts’ test. ...


First, besides the time bomb, is the making Bush v Gore precedent now, explicitly rejecting Rehnquist, speaking for the five kingmakers, saying that it shouldn't be, and even that it wasn't.

Second, Roberts has dropped such time bombs ever since being the fifth vote on upholding Obamacare — at the price of truncating the Commerce Clause by calling the penalty a tax, and other things. And, he's used that in years since.

Although the court upheld Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act earlier this year, that would be one way this could come into play in the future — keeping it technically still alive, but further narrowing its parameters.

Or, in the case of absentee ballots, things such as what counts as a defaced ballot, equal access and drop-off locations and more will all be in play for federal review.

July 10, 2023

Hey, Joe, don't talk to Elon or Mark; Biden, social media, BlueAnon

This is my quick take on District Judge Terry Doughty telling President Joe Biden and top staff last week to not talk to social media companies, and includes Chris Lehmann's column at The Nation.

(Update: Sept. 14: Alito, for SCOTUS, has put a temporary stay on the ruling.)

To me, this is definitely a non-twosider issue. Sadly, The Nation, which is ultimately twosider itself as a duopoly-based opinion mag on elections issues, tries to frame it that way, even though there's plenty of information to the contrary.

No, Biden, NIAID's Anthony Fauci, NIH's Francis Collins et al, did not tell Twitter, Facebook etc., on COVID, "don't publish this or we'll come after you," but browbeat? Yes. And, while I didn't blog about it, I did Tweet about what many leftists, and some liberals as well called Orwellian, no Trumpist prompts needed, Biden's "Disinformation Governance Board" within the Department of Homeland Security. Now, that was focused on foreign policy, namely the Russia-Ukraine war, not COVID, but Counterpunch, long before Judge Doughty, called it "Orwellian." Lehmann should have heard about that. If he didn't, that's another indictment of The Nation, as well as him personally. If he did, and disagreed, ditto.

And, given that Fauci was very publicly bashing against claims there was a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, then later lying by definitional reframing in claiming that Peter Daszak et al weren't doing gain of function research there when they actually apparently were, this browbeating is at minimum, one step short of the moral equivalent of censorship, as in actual, First Amendment, government censorship.

Chronologically, and not limited to these links, I talked about the gain-of-function bullshit here, here, here, here (with Fauci making conspiracy theory dogwhistles), here (with NIH finally admitting that WIV had been doing just that), and here. He doesn't tell you, unlike Zeynep Tufekci saying so early on, that most the signatories of that infamous Lancet letter repudiated it by the middle of 2021. I talked about the lab-leak possibility in depth here (my blogging on Pro Publica's big piece last year), a follow-up here about the refuted bashing of Pro Publica's reporting. And, I noted that Your Local Epidemiologist actually moved her personal needle on the idea. (I also, apropos Lehmann, talked about the BlueMAGA gaslighting "valiant" work of Dr. Peter Hotez here, including his own lies about both gain-of-function and the lab leak.) And, speaking of Tufekci, she called out such tribalism long ago, as discussed here.

Lehmann ignores all of this. He also ignores that Warmonger Joe had initially planned a "ministry of disinformation," albeit one that might be focusing on neocon foreign policy concerns rather than COVID.

That said, Doughty is wrong, with MAGAts-sized hyperbole, that this is the most massive attack on the First Amendment in government history. That would either be the John Adams administration or the Woodrow Wilson administration.

And so, Lehmann might indeed be right that, whether or not this was Doughty's intent, this serves to "platform" the Twitter Files.

But, it's irresponsible to try to pretend this ruling happened in a #BlueAnon vacuum, because it didn't. This may have been a bad ruling but it was

And, this is about reason No. 934 why, even at a buck a week or whatever digitally, I won't subscribe to The Nation.

For more on this issue, see the frequently updated and insightful thoughts of Clinton National Security Council staffer Jaime Metzl.