SocraticGadfly: 8/27/23 - 9/3/23

September 01, 2023

The worst GOP nightmare for both 2024 and 2028?

With Trump getting a mugshot, complete with #BlueAnon gloat, in the news recently, and the appearance that Nikki Haley took the inside lane among Never Trumpers at the Republican debate last week, yes, there is a worst nightmare for the party both this year and five years from now. In a sense, it would also be the worst nightmare for the country. #IBlameHillary and I blame the DNC for stoking #Russiagate on top.

The worst possible GOP outcomes for both now and 2028, to riff on this Politico piece about all the main 2024 candidates and this one about how the cascade of indictments will hurt Trump in the general?

Trump gets the 2024 nomination and loses. And, assuming he doesn't stroke out from his "215 lbs" weight, he runs AGAIN in 2028. Even if from a jail cell; the Constitution doesn't ban it, and Eugene Debs, with much more rightness, did it in 1920.

First? Odds of Trump being this year's Republican nominee? Short of death, 10-1. 

Second, despite the low ratings of Inflationmonger Joe, per the second link in the second paragraph? 3-2 against. So, we have a 60 percent chance, rounding that 10-1 up to 100 percent, of this indeed happening in 2028.

With that, we look at some of this year's field and four years ahead.

We start with the Super-Trumper, if you will. Meatball Ron would be even more yesterday's goods, and likely will have a bruising 2026 Florida gubernatorial re-election campaign. (Neither Rick Scott nor Marco Rubio is up for Senate re-election in 2026, and neither would step aside anyway.)

Now, to the various Never Trumpers.

Haley would be out of office and off the radar screen four more years, unless she can get elected to something else in 2026. Huckleberry J. Butchmeup, aka Lindsay Graham, has his Senate seat up in 2026. But, he's said nothing about stepping down. And, if Haley fought him for that and won, she'd look horrible turning around to run for president.

Pence, ditto on out of office, and would have four more years to not have an actual backbone.

Tim Scott? His Senate term is expiring, and unless he drops out of the prez race early to get into a new Senate race, he's out of office. He too could run against Huckleberry, but, see above.

Asa Hutchison? Older, not coming back in 2028.

Chris Christie? I can't see him getting enough traction this year, and like others above, he'll be another four years out of office by 2028.

Doug Burgum? Keep an outsider's eyeball on him. That said, as the Bakken oil continues to dry up, if he's re-elected North Dakota governor, he could have a state fiscal black eye in 2028.

Of candidates not in this year's race? Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin would be the person to keep your eyes on. (Contra the first link, I do NOT expect Youngkin to try to do a late parachute into the 2024 race; he's way too smart for that, from what I see of him.)

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will be past her second term and term limited, but leaving at the start of 2027 frees her up. She could have appeal to a mix of Trumpers plus DeSatan-like Super Trumpers on the COVID issue. Contra NPR saying no national name, she does have it within the GOP, and was a Congresscritter before becoming governor.

Would Lil Marco or Havana Ted consider another shot at the brass ring in 2028? Not if Trump is in it again; I think both would be seen as 2016 damaged goods, still, within the GOP. Both might perceive themselves that way vis-a-vis standing up to Trump. And, Cruz would have Jan. 6-related baggage, too. Nobody else from Tex-ass will enter the race.

Other than the above, among current GOP governors, Never Trumper Chris Sununu is the only one who might be on a 2028 A list. Of course, his "do as I say, not as I do" for this go-round may not stand him in good stead for 2028, though he can always cite a crowded 2024 field, and we'll see what happens with the "first in the [Republican] nation" primary.

Trumpian Mini-Me Ramaswamy would look like even more of an empty suit if he tried the Running In Name Only a second time, per that second link.
The nightmare will likely be compounded in one way. Despite Never Trumper darling Nikki Haley's relative nuance, for today's GOP, on abortion, and despite Trump's own nuance, "federal full ban" thoughts are likely to dominate the party and perhaps become platform language. Both Trump and the Religious Right will do their best to swallow their mutual cognitive dissonance, but, probably with less success than in 2016 and 2020. But, NOT with zero success.

August 31, 2023

Disgusting: Warmonger Joe citing MLK

Almost as much disgust as a wingnut citing Martin Luther King's color of their skin as an excuse to junk affirmative action and pretend it worked, or if you're a Black wingnut like Clarence Thomas, to ignore that it worked to some degree and you benefited.

Anyway, here's Warmonger Joe Biden, per the WaPost, riffing on King's "I Have a Dream" speech itself, given 60 years ago this week.

First, this:

Trickle-down economics holds that taxes should be cut for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, that public investments in priorities such as education, infrastructure and health care should be shrunk, and good jobs shipped overseas. It has exacerbated inequality and systemic barriers that make it harder for Black Americans to start a business, own a home, send their children to school and retire with dignity.

You've done nothing to reverse the Trump tax cuts that exacerbated that, or the Bush tax cuts that became the Obama tax cuts, when your then-boss, Dear Leader, accepted them. And, don't tell me you have a Republican House now; you didn't in the first two years. You've also, while attacking Republicans on Social Security, have offered no concrete plan for shoring it up. And, while in the Senate, you supported partial privatization, like both Dear Leader and Slick Willie did as president.

Second, Martin Luther King didn't die a week after that speech. And as Jonathan Eig knows, and states, in his truly magisterial new bio of King, with an extended version of my Goodreads review here, he went on to protest the Vietnam War, and some degree, militarism in general, as well as the non-racial as well as racial causes behind poverty.

I quote, as he noted in the epilogue:

The epilogue is good in noting Reagan’s resistance to making his birthday a holiday, and how we still have failed to address King’s “call for an end to the triple evils of materialism, militarism, and racism.”

That anti-militarism would surely extend today to poor Ukrainians going into a proxy war meatgrinder, as well as the poor Russians also in that meat-grinder because we never really fully abandoned Cold War politics vis-a-vis Russia, other than when exploiting the nation.

As for the racism? Let's not forget that Warmonger Joe, like Bill and Hillary, was Superpredator Joe back in the 1990s.

Is it any wonder that Biden and #BlueAnon surrogates fear a third-party presidential run by a Black man, Cornel West, who is hitting on all three of these things?

Texas Progressives talk this and that

Why is the Railroad Commission allowing a lignite mine to expand when, beside the climate change issues, local residents don't want that?

Former Fetus Forever Fuckward Jonathan Stickland shilling for Ken Paxton — on Steve Bannon's show.

Sarah Palin, trying desperately to stay semi-relevant in today's GOP and East Wingnutistan.

Trump continues to claim the mounting indictments help him. And, that may be true in the GOP primary cycle. In the general election, polling says they'll hurt, and assuming that trials for one or more of these start in the middle of the GOP primary season and continues at least through the end of that, let alone into the general election season, I have no doubt the hurt will increase.

Climate havens are getting touted in the US more and more. In reality, there really is no such thing, and, going beyond the story, touting them is like carbon offsets — a way to try to avoid facing reality.

Off the Kuff stays on the Paxton impeachment beat, with the reminder that the real thing starts September 5

From his second, religion and philosophy-focused blogsite, SocraticGadfly notes, months after having to excommunicate a neo-Nazi pastor, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod president Matthew Harrison now has one of Fani Willis' dirty 19 on his hands. And, in other bad religious news, the forged fake James Ossuary is coming to the Metroplex — for big grift and gilt.

Dos Centavos posts a Human Rights Watch report about their recent visit to the Texas Border.

ERCOT's continued conservation pleas show that Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick et al did NOT fix the power grid, just gouged our wallet to help rich utility companies. (It also shows that Californicators who moved to I-35 or east parts of Texas, with "not a dry heat," are wusses.)

Sweetwater is now becoming known for a trash pile of wind turbine blades (partially courtesy of the IRS, which also explains why all the older wind farms near Muenster were refitted a couple of years ago) as much as for its rattlesnake roundup.

For now, the state's takeover of Harris County elections stands.

"I'll take, 'Who's Will Hurd?' for $1,000, Alex."

Happy 80th birthday to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News!

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project says elected Democrats who have endorsed John Whitmire for Mayor must take steps to limit the damage to down-ballot muncipal Houston Democrats from Whitmire's need for strong Republican turnout.    

Franklin Strong cannot see how the Texas school library book "ratings" law can work.  

Jef Rouner reassesses a key scene from the 80s classic The Breakfast Club.  

The Bloggess presents her do-it-yourself horoscope.  

CultureMap breaks the news about Season Five of Love is Blind being set in Houston.

August 30, 2023

The CDC vs 'the People's CDC' and tankie fellow travelers, #BernAnon and #antivaxxers

And, yes, it's about the semi-continuing #MasksUp and related bullshit hashtags on Twitter. 

I'm going to keep dropping links to old blog posts there calling you people out, as well as continuing to post a link to Worldometers showing that we continue to remain under 200 deaths a week, which extrapolates to no more than 10,000 a year, far less than "just the flu."

That leads me first to this self-own:

To summarize my response? There are some summer flu cases, but I'll set that aside. The 25K deaths in even a mild winter-half flu season or 50K in a bad one, extrapolate to 50-100K for a full year, showing "just the flu" is even worse worse yet than current COVID. (I also thanked them for making my point for me.)

Second? I go first to the last hashtag. An antivaxxer of some sort challenged my tweet last week on this subject, saying they were always masked, insisting by insinuation that others should be, and then spouting antivaxxer type gibberish. I called them an antivaxxer, then blocked.

Now, to my original "CDC vs People's CDC" story. Some of the People's CDC complaints at the time has some degree of validity, but not full validity. Many of them had no validity. That's in part because, as noted a month later, these people have no nuance. Half the time, I think they don't realize that. The other half, I think they do, and don't care, either because they think the situation has no nuance, or they're trying to "own" the other side.

First, per Idries Shah and what I'm writing as I type, there's more than two sides here. Second and related, that's tribalist. Third and related, it fails, not only with the "other" side of more than two, but with people outside the box like me. Fourth, for the reasons some do this, on political motivation, it's kind of disgusting. More on that in a minute.

But, yeah, even for people who have not heard of the People's CDC movement, its ideas are percolating. And, for the reasons above and more, yes, you're tankies, or some equivalent thereof. Deal with it, even though you won't actually deal with it, for the reasons above.

Now, back to that "hold that thought" and the #BernAnon hashtag. (Said hashtag, AFAIK, invented by me, and discussed in a long Substack re COVID and many other things here.) I called out Pat the Berner by Twitter name six months ago for what I saw as attempted politicization on this issue. I called out Ryan Knight by meatspace name at Substack, more for other issues.

Now, a few school districts are reporting an uptick, even closing a few schools, but the story notes that an uptick in communicable illness happens at the start of every school year.  And, Virusmonger Joe is talking about another COVID vaccine. He's not used the word "mandate," powers of which are limited at the federal level, but wingnuts read him that way. I oppose this but for different reasons than the wingnuts. First, since Novavax boosters still aren't out, and due to what I believe was a Biden Administration overcautious fuck-up over the original Johnson and Johnson vaccine, we'll never get one of its type of boosters. I've covered this in detail here. So, that means Virusmonger Joe will be Pfizermonger, or Modernamonger, take your mRNA pick. Hard pass, on the effectiveness claims, the BigPharma patent money and more. There's also no indication this new one would be free. #BernAnon as well as pre-Bernie Greens (except for the antivaxxer contingent) and I agree.

There's plenty of actual reasons to call out Warmonger Joe, starting with him being Warmonger Joe. Besides Ukraine, add in Palestine, his ties to Hunter's corruption that in part itself includes Ukraine, his oil-drilling frenzy, no national health care, and much more. COVID isn't one of them.

Finally, I wrote about "follow the science" on masks two months ago, also noting that despite tankie claims, in reality, mask-wearing was dropping elsewhere in the world, even in places like Japan. I threatened now to call you COVIDIOTS-lite, like the wingnuts got labeled by many 2-3 years ago.

In reality? More and more of you are about to be called COVIDIOTS period. I'm tired of you, but, as long as you keep posting WILLFULLY ignorant stupidity on Twitter, I'm not letting up on firing back.

National farm care — and crop insurance fraud — vs national health care

As Congress faces a new farm bill, it's almost certain that members of both parties will "manage" to avoid discussing the crop insurance fraud current and past farm bills perpetuate. Yeah, the story is based on farmers and insurers who got busted, but? It took years to bust them and there's surely plenty of more subtle, unbusted fraudsters still out there.


In an AgWeb article detailing how federal agents busted a record-breaking $100 million crop insurance fraud ring in North Carolina, Don Doles, the lead investigator of the case, said that despite his record-breaking case, he and his fellow agents “touched about a tenth of those truly participating at some level,” adding that “the scope of what happened is so much bigger than what could ever be included in a story.” To that end, it’s possible that crop insurance fraud costs taxpayers somewhere in the ballpark of a billion dollars a year. 
For Doles, the most frustrating aspect of the case was just how involved the big tobacco companies were in the fraud scheme. “The person acting as dealer hauls off the unaccounted [for] tobacco, bought at half price and sells it to a big tobacco company that snaps up great tobacco for $1.75, even though they know it’s shady,” Doles explained to AgWeb.

Confirms that. 

Subsidies from the USDA to help with crop insurance (how many "conservative" farmers rant against national health care?) make it worse.

So, why can't the Rethuglican half of Congress, most supportive of the fraud and largess, along with the Democrap half of Congress, generally being tolerant of this in exchange for scraps of TANF, SNAP and school lunch money, give us national health care?

August 29, 2023

The Texas Tribune, its future and its legend

We could call this "the trouble with the Trib," to riff on Star Trek, about its canning 11 editorial staff last week.

We start internally, as Trib tries to spin its editorial staff gutting. It is worth noting that part of the cuts are on podcasts; print and digital-print media that "pivoted" to podcasts a few years ago, in yet another version of the tragedy of the commons, oversaturated the market.

The Austin Chronicle has two posts about the layoffs at the Texas Tribune. The first is a big one, for multiple reasons. It notes that, first of all, there will be no more prisons and criminal justice desk at the Trib. However, there are six new hires — none in editorial. All in either general development positions or directly in sponsorship.

Three years ago, Evan Smith his own self sniffed that the Trib would get through COVID-related live event declines. Well, apparently, it's had others, and apparently, they started on the end of his watch, pre-retirement. I mean, this decline didn't happen in the last six weeks and Ev retired at the end of 2022. Laid off senior editor David Pasztor claims it's a pivot from the model of Smith and Ross Ramsey. I think, rather, that Smith at least had inklings in advance and retired when he did. Among its better-known alumni, Jay Root, now at the NYT, claims he was never contacted about troubles at the Trib. (Sounds like a Star Trek episode, eh?) Also interesting was a staff GoFundMe has been set up. It's gotten a few bucks, but far fewer than the "Save the Observer" did this spring.

Ev could have seen the podcast issues before he retired, as well as the dimming revenue stream. How much he dumped in Shah's lap while giving an "above the fray" statement in the first Chronicle speech is unknown but color me more skeptical than Pasztor. I mean, from memory, problems in the podcast world overall have been discussed within big media players for at least six if not nine months.

Personally, I was skeptical of the legend vs the reality of the Trib already at its five-year mark, following in the footsteps of Jim Moore. I was more skeptical at the 10-year mark, in part by doing judo on the Trib's own financials. And also at the five-year mark, I was already skeptical then about transparency issues with its sponsors and donors. (Note: I have long ago exchanged Tweets with Smith over some of this; his answers didn't impress me.)

And, in timely fashion, Nieman Lab writes about grants to newspapers. It notes that, despite grantmakers' stated preferences for nonprofits, more of their money still goes to for-profits. It also notes that conflict of interest issues are rising. And, Dick Tofel notes that more money is going to, well, folks like "field building organizations," which to put it more bluntly, probably include "incubators" like the one created of Mike Orren, late of the Snooze and of Pegasus News before that.

Updates on Warren Kenneth Paxton's pending trial

We start with the Trib story about Tricky Ricky Perry stanning for Paxton, and my Senatecritter, the oily Drew Springer, being among the targets. 

From there, we go to this Trib story and, while I disagree with Paxton's attorneys and say it's not a criminal trial, I do think it's not a civil trial and that Warren K. DOES have Fifth Amendment protections, which House managers seem to accept, stipulating they can compel him onto the stand and he can "plead the Fifth" from there. We'll have to wait a few more days, it seems, to see if Danny Goeb modifies Senate trial rules on this. 

Next, it's on to this Monthly story asking if Paxton and Nate Paul would be friends if Warren didn't have his political ambitions and Paul didn't have his money and need.

And, the Observer goes back 90 years to wonder if Warren K. and Angela Paxton could be the new Pa and Ma Ferguson. Per what I've said elsewhere about the Observer's near-demise, it's a "nice" story, but what does it bring to the table on a political angle that the Monthly or Trib don't?)

August 28, 2023

Where's the role of pure dumb luck in making a Hall of Fame?

Ten days ago, I listened to the Baskeball Hall of Fame induction speeches of Greg Popovich, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, and Dirk Nowitzki.

They all cited mentors and their help at key moments in their lives.

None mentioned the word "luck."

I'm not sure if I've heard that hammered home in a top-flight sports speech since Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth."

Oh, per Jonathan Eig's great bio, he at least partially knew, if not on July 4, 1939, then well before his death.

And, per Scott Barry Kaufman, luck plays a HUGE role in life success. Kaufman has a wealth of research detail confirming this. He concludes by wondering what we can do to change that.