SocraticGadfly: 10/1/23 - 10/8/23

October 07, 2023

Science news roundup

Gay and lesbian sex DOES have evolutionary benefits in the animal world, contra the old "Darwinian paradox."

AC can be made more climate friendly, or less climate unfriendly. A big part of the trick? Separating out cooling and dehumifying functions from each other.

Gene-thieving unisexual salamanders.

NASA's Bennu asteroid mission returns home safely. NASA plans an unveiling Oct. 11.

My thoughts on the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology are here.

October 06, 2023

Warmonger Joe says thanks to Cornel West, RFK Jr.

Between West leaving the Green Party for an independent run and RFK leaving the Dems for the same, presumably without making a move to the Libertarian Party, President Joe Biden has dodged two major campaign bullets in the past week.

(He still has to hope a recession bullet doesn't shoot down the overly vaunted Bidenomics, or that his Warmonger Joe persona doesn't drag him further down, but those are other issues.)

First, West. Yes, Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka said they're going to try to get former candidates to run again. That's an acknowledgement of what I knew months ago, that the West-less rest of the GP's currently announced prez candidates is less than awe-inspiring. Will Howie Hawkins be much more? I assume Stein's not throwing her hat in the ring for Round 3. Please, no Dario Hunter. Please, no "libertarian Greens" pushing Jesse the Body Ventura. 

Anyway, the GP, whoever it nominates, will have a weaker candidate. And, West isn't going to break the 25-state mark in ballot access, I predict.

Bob Jr? If not all 50 states, he'll get close. And, per my piece on his announcement, and more to follow on Monday with the official big word? Many Republicans know he hurts Trump worse than Biden. (Sit down, Nikki Haley; you can stand up after New Hampshire's primary, if warranted.)

Focusing on him, just how much could he hurt Trump/helpBiden? Let's look at the 2020 race and go from there on some keystone states.

Arizona? Stays Biden more readily.

Georgia? Possibly the same.

Michigan? More comfortable for Biden.

Wisconsin? More comfortable for Biden.

North Carolina could become flippable.

Texas? Biden can't win, but with him becoming Wallbuilder Joe in addition to Bob Jr, it will force Trump to play harder there, especially given the state GOP factionalizing more over Paxton.

This is all preliminary and tentative. Michigan and Wisconsin will also depend on how much union workers think Biden helped them. In addition, we'll have to see how much Nader's sheepdogging may help in those two states and a few others.

Nonetheless, Warmonger Joe, and more explicitly, background allies, are of course trying to keep all non-duopoly candidates off the ballot. (Shades of Hillary clearing the GOP field for Trump in 2016, eh?) More than Bob Jr. and West, the focus for now is No Labels. Shock me that Marc Elias is there on law work, or Reid Hoffman on money.

Looking closely at Sy Hersh's nuttery on Osama bin Laden.

And, nuttery it is, not only as a conspiracy theory, but Hersh's apparent first ax-grinding against the Navy Seals, as I noted when first discussing his Nord Stream nuttery, or even more, the second piece about his ax-grinding. This is a prequel to another piece about Sy coming up. The original wound up being too long, and so is split.

In reality, the Seals that Sy seems to hate are likely saboteurs without all the cloak-and-dagger overhead that Hersh painted. I mean, look at how smoothly, overall, the bin Laden raid went. So smoothly that Sy had to paint a line of BS on that one, too. And that, in turn, ties back to his ax-grinding.

Let's look at that more.

To be blunt, it's conspiracy-theory mongering. Hersh claims:
The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open.
That this mission, as portrayed, didn't actually happen. At the same time, he claims it did happen as portrayed, only that bin Laden was an Inter-Services Intelligence prisoner.

Hersh never explains how bin Laden was arrested, in this case. Nor why the ISI arrested him, yet put him in Abbotabad. He does offer a "why" on his arrest, but is it plausible? The Taliban existed before bin Laden and al Qaeda relocated to Afghanistan. If push came to shove, they might "walk" on him. From there, like the typical conspiracy, Hersh cuts himself while trying to shave with something other than Ockham's Razor.

The biggest ridiculousness is that this much manpower would have been wasted on a mission if it were just kill-and-destroy. I mean, this IS Dear Leader, the man who had already drone-killed an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki.

Once should also note that this piece, just like Sy's Nord Stream piece, relies not on anonymous sourceS but source, singular. Per the link at top, yeah, Sy's track record isn't good in a lot of things. And, in things like the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, he's been willing enough, even gullible enough, to stick himself on a limb that can easily be sawn off.

And, specific to this story, with lone-source reliance, we also seem to have something else similar to Nord Stream. "Dirty" intelligence, with enough chaff in it to leave Hersh open for undermining once he publishes.

October 05, 2023

Is Cornel West daft? Peter Daou? Both?

Cornel West's announement today  he was ditching the Greens to run independent has me scratching my head, to say the least.

I said, a couple of months ago, when West decided to run as a Green, and not with Nick Brana's sleazy Movement for a People's Party, that he seemed to be head and shoulders above other filed, announced but not yet official, and other would-be Green candidates. 

Now, more on last week's announcement. 

First, he doesn't have RFK Jr's money to pay for signature gatherers. (All states allow it; I extrapolated from a Ballotpedia piece about paid signature gatherers for initiatives, and that's incorrect.) Second, while he has some name recognition, he doesn't have the same as RFK for where he can't afford signatures. Nor, AFAIK, does he have Bob's degree of experience, from Kennedy as head of Waterkeepers, attorney with NRDC, etc.on initiative-type ballot access petitions. 

(I volunteered to help with a GP petition in the Metromess approximately 20 years ago. Purely on my own, with another person already on a clipboard at a mall. Never asked at the time if Republicans were paying anybody.)

And, even with people eligible to be paid in all 50 states, the principle holds. Cornel West does't have RFK Jr's money. And, per Republicans helping Greens in the past, West is enough of a wild card as an independent, I don't know that that many GOP/conservative checks get written for this.

He DOES, though appear to have cluelessness about the ballot access process. Independent Political Report, at the top link, quotes from an email he sent backers:

West also stated that the Constitution “provides for Independent candidates to gain ballot access in all states” and confirmed that he was pursuing ballot access as an independent candidate unaffiliated with any other organization.

Really? Yea, I along with other commenters at IPR, are laughing about that. The Constitution "provides" nothing here, and other than establishing the Electoral College and how and when its votes are counted, says nothing else about presidential elections beyond age of eligibility and elimination of religious tests.

I expect that West will get on less than half of the 50 states' ballots.

He doubled down on that general idea the time of the announcement, in this tweet:

Again, really?

As for his campaign? At the time, IPR asked if Jill Stein is following him. She said that day that she wasn't:

Full link to long Tweet here. This is going to implode, and if this was Peter Daou's idea, not just West's, I question his judgment, too.

Per ongoing discussion at the link at top, I think Ryan's on the right trail. I think West wanted to be the GP candidate without being a Green, like St. Ralph of Nader in 2024, and took off when that wasn't going to happen. Since this happened just a week after Daou joined the campaign, and as campaign chair with Stein being kicked upstairs to a senior advisor role, I think this is in part Daou's doing. In any case, he's not talking publicly on Twitter or either of his Substacks. 

UPDATE, Oct. 27, 2023: Less than a full month after Peter Daou became West's campaign manager, and only three weeks after signing off on West leaving the Green Party, Daou is OUT, allegedly for health reasons, according to a Tweet from West, as reported by Independent Political Report.

I am reminded of the VERY interesting book, "The Commissar Vanishes."

"We regret that Comrade Kamenev has resigned from the Politburo for health reasons," I picture.

And, as I type this at 10:45 p.m., 10 hours after West's tweet, Daou has no tweet of his own, though he did quote tweet a tweet from earlier in the day, talking about PTSD about growing up in the bombing of Lebanon being triggered by the situation in Gaza.

Possible? Yes. I'm still somewhat skeptical that this is all the story there is, though.

As for him being head and shoulders above other Greens? Stein and Ajamu Baraka recognize that and are beating the bush for new candidates, per that Tweet.

I'll have more on Cornel in a week. 

That said, West's platform is in many ways more radical than the Green Party. One thing in particular I note is that he seems to want a British-style NHS. I totally agree. Whether that's any factor in the split with the GP and two-time presidential candidate DOCTOR Jill Stein and Howie Hawkins 2020 advisor DOCTOR Margaret Flowers or not, I don't know. I DO KNOW that both support Physicians for a National Health Plan's version of Medicare for All, which leaves current fee-for-service medicine in place, albeit while trying to ameliorate it.


I was also curious about what a few people I know on Twitter (and the first two, personally), said. David Bruce Collins laments it. Brains said nothing, and neither did Ryan Knight.


Update, Oct. 12: Per the rhetorical questions in the header, this Politico piece, pretty good on GP coverage, even if of a Cleanup on Aisle 6, says "both" on the daftness. West wanted out, and asked Daou to lay out pros and cons, and Daou obviously sealed his mind.

Cons: ballot access headaches; continued questions about his seriousness as a political figure; the destruction of a potentially mutually beneficial coalition. Pros: getting to set your own agenda; removing yourself from some of the intractable and unserious elements of the party; crucially, for West, no more need to kiss any ass.

The next couple of paragraphs after that do note that GP debate appearance requirements might be a PITA, but, at the same time, the party simply wasn't going to crown West. And, the party went down that same road with Saint Ralph of Nader in 2004. (Politico reminds us that he eventually ran on the Reform Party line that year, without saying that it was because he didn't have to fight for it.)

At the same time, Politico implies that he had halfway been led on, in the GP's desire for a "credible" candidate, besides the dog's breath it had before West joined:

West was never the official Green Party nominee; as he mentioned, he bristled at the need to spend the time and effort necessary to secure the nomination at their convention next year. (It should be noted that running on a major party ticket requires jumping through many more hoops than in the Green Party.) But he had essentially already been ordained as such — with Stein as his guru, the party was dedicated to helping him get on ballots and supporting his candidacy across the country. Some state chapters of the Green Party had already set up dedicated teams aimed at specifically helping West’s campaign. With a few phone calls, all that effort was for naught.

So, put that part of the issue halfway, at least, on Stein, even if the burdens along with the wink, wink, nudge, nudge, weren't onerous. It's still, overall, more West's fault.

As for West thinking the GP can't take him where he wants to go? That's rich, given he first went to the MPP, and for him joining it, announced his campaign on Russell Brand's channel.

Speaking of, the Politico piece goes on to call West a political neophyte (he is, on electoral politics), then lays out his confusing arc.

That said, the supposedly seasoned Daou is just as much a neophyte, with this:

Daou has responded publicly, saying on X (formerly known as Twitter), “Cornel West aims to be on the ballot in 50 states. The Green Party has a ballot line in 18 states. The difference between being Independent and Green is 18 states, not 50.”

Really? I'd already offered 25 states as my over/under, at IPR and elsewhere, while saying I'd take the under. In more colorful language, I told Daou that on Twitter.

Oh, as for the number of signatures? Here in Tex-ass, it's 113,000 and change. I think it was a lot lower for Mimi Soltyski in 2016; the high presidential turnout in 2020 plus increased population has jacked the number. It was 90K in 2020.


Sidebar to all of the above: I wonder just how much "lane-clearing" Stein promised West. I wonder who else she had roped in. I'd love to find all this out, but, like with some of the machinations in the 2020 Green Party nomination battle, which haven't come out despite my (and others, I presume) asking, or like Stein's head-fakes with her 2016 recount fund, I'm not holding my breath.

Don't forget that before Howie Hawkins gained steam to the 2020 finish line, Stein also reportedly entertained pushing Jesse the Body Ventura (his suck-ups hate him being called that) as he was looking at tagging RFK Jr. as his veep. (That's why I refused to cosign bullshit any more and openly called her an antivaxxer.)

Another reason to call the Just.Another.Political.Party™.

Top blogging of September

Started this a couple of days late, but here we go. Again, these are not all from September, but the top 10 by viewership for the month. Old posts will be indicated as such.

No. 10? I called out British Army leadership warmonging on Ukraine, especially as doubled down on by warmonger Timothy Garton Ash.

No. 9? I called out BlueAnon for trying to prematurely apply the 14th Amendment to Trump.

No. 8 was a Texas Progressives roundup with Ken Paxton and Bryan Slaton news.

No. 7 was about the Texas Senate, "the best little whorehouse in Texas" in the Paxton trial.

No. 6? An oldie from 2021 but still true, as "Breath" is still classist and elitist New Age bullshit.

No. 5? Ralph Nader jumping the lesser evilism shark.

No. 4 was my review about Michael Kazin's bio of William Jennings Bryan, and Kazin portraying him overly glowingly and a Dem sheepdogger 100 years or so prior to St. Bernard of Sanders. See my sidebar / spinoff on Substack more explicitly about the history of Democratic sheepdogging.

No. 3 is about the new JFK assassination conspiracy theory book. (I'm willing to be harsher than Gerald Posner, who looked only at Paul Landis and not his coauthor, James Robenalt.)

No. 2, speaking of conspiracy theorists, is about RFK Jr.s deliberately leaked plans to run not as a Democrat but as an independent.

No. 1 is John Anthony Castro being a JAC-off.

Biden hypocrisy watch roundup, Oct. 5

I think I'm going to do more "bare links" plus minimal commentary bulletin board stuff like this, on this and other political issues, from now through the election next year.

Anyway, first?

Warmonger Joe is now the new Wallbuilder Joe. Shock me, after Illinois Gov Pritzker gave a BlueAnon complaint about Ill Eagles without a concern about why they're leaving their homelands. This is made worse by Wallbuilder Joe still saying that walls don't work.

Speaking of Warmonger Joe, I guess there won't be ad infinitum blank checks for Ukraine without a Speaker. And, is Donald Cluck so ego-blinded, stupid or a mix of, to really want it?

And, will Strikebreaker-cum-Picketwalker Joe stroll an hour with Kaiser Permanente nurses before going to a big fundraiser with Gavin Newsom?

Speaking of hypocrisy alerts, does St. Ralph of Nader approve of all of this? St. Bernard of Sanders?

October 04, 2023

Tampa Bay doesn't deserve a baseball team

Not with the lowest attendance at a playoff game in more than 100 years. (I also have to "love" that the Trop has a listed playoff capacity of just 26K because the Rays cover up seats because nobody shows anyway.)

Yes, 3 p.m. start, and not finalized until Sunday. Still. Other teams don't do that.

Oh, Tampa-St. Pete is NOT "small market" either. The metro area is bigger than St. Louis of my Cardinals, as well as bigger than Baltimore, bigger than Denver and the same size as San Diego.

I discussed metropolitan sizes and more nearly a decade ago. Nothing's changed since then, other than the special pleading of Rays fans who talk about how hard it is to get to the Trop.

No harder than the Bay Area, I'm sure. Not that much harder than St. Louis (two rivers, one separating Illinois fans, the other St. Charles fans), Cincy (a river separating Kentucky fans), etc.

So, what we have on this r/mlb post at Reddit is a bunch of Rays fans special pleading. A few semi-special pleaders at least admitted what I also said nearly a decade ago in a second post: neither that area, nor Miami, is MLB territory.

St. Petersburg City Council and Pinellas County Commission are set to discuss their $287M and $312M "contributions," respectively, later this month. I'm sure the 19K attendance will further undercut this idea among much of the general public. It also leaves open the question of how the team will fund its half. Nor does any of this money talk about the Rays' proposed mixed-use development around the stadium, detailed here.

Texas Progressives talk presidents, third parties, special sessions

SocraticGadfly offers up a trio of national and international presidential-related items. He starts with Ralph Nader jumping into the lesser evilism tank, goes to an overview of Trump suing Steele (in Great Britain), and finishes with RFK Jr. planning an independent run. (And, more is coming later this week and the start of next week!)

Off the Kuff writes about the go ahead for the whistleblower lawsuit against Ken Paxton to proceed from the Supreme Court.

Another protest at the former Oñate statue site in Española, another shooting. (And, another note for #BlueAnon that people of any race or ethnicity can break for Trump.)

Climate refugees are right here in Texas. The Trib takes a deep dive in Liberty County. The one thing missing is that the Trib doesn't ask any of the already refugeed, those wanting to leave, or those hunkering down if they accept the reality of climate change or not.

(Seemingly) drunken Senatecritter Charles Schwertner's arrest video and background. So why DID the Travis DA not charge him?

I predict Strangeabbott's vouchers special session will fail. I predict that like Tricky Ricky Perry in 2006, he'll then call another one that will also fail.

A barbecue brisket bubble is bursting.

The future of Texas' pecan industry is not good.

Here's the latest on DPS head Steve McCraw stalling out Uvalde accountability.

In other prez news, Yachtsman Joe Manchin upped his flirting with No Labels and Minnesota Dem Congresscritter Deam Phillips resigned a leadership spot, seemingly getting closer to primarying  Warmonger Joe.

The Dallas Observer reviews its city's process for recalling a mayor, in light of Eric Johnson going Republican. 

CultureMap showcases the latest Astrodome redevelopment plan. 

The Texas Living Waters Project looks at the effect of this year's drought on our water systems. 

 Reform Austin asks if your legislator will stand firm against vouchers. (Sadly, it talks only about rural Republicans, and ignores the one Democrat publicly [others privately?] already talking about "compromise.")

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project said John Whitmire is not someone who will keep us safe as anti-democratic threats grow.

October 03, 2023

Nobel Prize for mRNA work

No, not the COVID vaccine, but the scientists who first developed the idea of using messenger RNA as a transmission vector in a vaccine. #Schadenfreude for the antivaxxers in general and Dr. Robert Malone in particular, eh?

That said, I won't do quite as many huzzahs and handsprings at the Nobel Committee, let alone the old Skeptical Raptor. Let us remember on COVID, while an mRNA vax is better than nothing, contra what the presser at the first link indicates, it appears to be less effective than other types of COVID vaccines. Will this be true of other new plagues that visit us? Let us also remember the -100C or whatever temperatures these vaxxes need to be stored at, versus other COVID vaxxes that can be kept at something closer to conventional freezer temperatures, and also have longer lifespans.

I worry that this, especially in capitalist America, will indeed crowd out other vaccines.

Finally, a reminder from Retraction Watch that whether here or in other natural sciences, or in the Piss Prize (looking at you, Dear Leader, who according to James Bamford was trying to land a second in 2016), that Nobel Prizes aren't guarantors of all-around wisdom.

October 02, 2023

#BlueAnon BS on the Fetterman flap

I'm talking about the Senate dress code, or now lack thereof, and now returned again, flap.

Clothes may make the man, or woman; they do, also make the class distinctions.

And? If you don't want that, you can go to "The Gods Must Be Crazy" and its allegedly possessions-free, seemingly class-free ¡Kung San! or else to Thomas Hobbes' government-free "Warre of all against all."

If not, and contra David Graeber's and David Wengrow's BS spinning, you're in a world of at least some level of class distinctions. And, as part of that, I support the U.S. Senate having a dress code.

Re Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman of "hoodies and shorts" infamy in particular?

Slate, like other Blue Anon, engages in goalpost-shifting and other things re Fetterman and Senate dress.

First, Fetterman dressed like that before he ever had a stroke. This has nothing to do with his current potentially still diminished ability. And, with the official Senate dress code, he donned a suit just fine yesterday, per the photo at left.

Second, it's a form of ableism in reverse to say he can't dress better. Plenty of other stroke victims, many with more longer-term damage than him, do so. And, since misused ableism or reverse ableism is a form of being wrongfully #woke, that's the one tag for this post.

Third, if he really can't dress better due to diminished ability? Shouldn't he join #DropOutJoe, or "Bye Bye Betty Crocker" (Feinstein) if it's also affected his mental ability? (Please, no citing Roman Hruska on Supreme Court nominees.)

Besides, he's just another Democratic Senate warmonger on Russia-Ukraine, and a squish at best, garden Democrat at worst on Israel, so no kid-gloves treatment from me in general.
Beyond that, doesn't Chuck Schumer have better things to do as Senate Majority Leader?