SocraticGadfly: 4/14/24 - 4/21/24

April 19, 2024

Presidential politics, April 19 — mouthy Jesse Ventura, Luciferian RFK Jr, Watermelon Oreos

I had already written this up yesterday, but we now have a new top story!

Jesse "the Body" Ventura (because his stanners hate that) now says he can beat Biden and Trump. So? Get No Labels or whomever to nominate you.

As of right now, this is just Jesse running his fucking mouth just like in 2020. He wanted the Green Party nomination back then, but didn't want to campaign for it — like Cornel West this year. He wanted it handed to him on a platter. More bluntly, as I said then? He wanted his ass kissed. But, he avoided directly saying that, showing that he's a better retail politician than West. (That's a low bar to hurdle; my left butt cheek is a better retail politician than West.) When that didn't happen, to be blunt again? He became chickenshit.

Anyway, how that all played out?

Some of Jesse's stanners used Dario Hunter as a stalking horse. (You did.) He was, I first thought, too dumb to notice that, but per link below, he eventually admitted this was deliberate. But, the effort failed anyway. Sorry, William Pounds, Primo Nutbar especially, and other pseudoleftists, conspiracy theorists, etc. It's all true. The fun after that was when, after going all hasbara in the campaign (ye gads, imagine him this year) Hunter played the race card.


RFK Jr. NOT not running as a Libertarian. He said he thought he would get on all 50 states' ballots on his own line, either by his individual name or a carve-out/SPAC third party created for that purpose. A couple of thoughts following.

First, I figured all along it would be too hard a fit to go Libertarian. He'd have to junk his environmental stances, which would sink his standing with one portion of his backers.

Second, he and his advisors are clearly looking for every loophole or angle in various states' ballot access laws, and finding them. Will state legislatures, under duopoly prodding, close more of these in the next year or so?

Third, it seems clearer than ever that the LP was in part just a stalking horse for Bob Jr. LP Chair Angela McArdle, running a party that's going broke and facing internal dissents, said she would not comment for "at least a few days."

I guess, per that link, that Bob Jr. is now McArdle's Luciferian master.


I'm not sure what the Muslim word for "Oreo" might be. Maybe, per the watermelon symbol for Palestinians, we could adopt the US frontier West's phrase of "all hat, no cattle," to "all rind, no red." Anyway, "on the US street" but politically engaged Muslim-Americans are seeing plenty of "watermelon Oreos" among leadership of groups claiming to represent the Muslim-American populace, but really, representing the Genocide Joe Biden re-election campaign. Mondoweiss has details.


Remember when #WallbuilderJoe, just a few weeks ago, said that Congress had to give him the authority to tighten up the border with Mexico? Guess that was another lie. Per Axios, he told Univision that he's going to do a Trump-style executive order. He's already kept Trump's Section 42 in place by other means, with the buggy app to apply for asylum. Now this.


Trump has officially opposed supporting a national ban on abortion. How many of the right-to-life wingers will stay home in their disappointment? That said, this is THE WORST granting of on-background commenting ever, with the weaselshits at Axios talking about a number of Rethuglicans in Congress "breathing a sigh of relief" over this, but letting them comment on background, namelessly.


Cornel West being Cornel West again. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. got national news hype of some sort out of his vice-presidential announcement, including through the use of various leaks before it became official. West just "drops it out there" in an interview with Tavis Smiley, when he announced Melina Abdullah as his choice. (There was a press release, but it came out AFTER the interview, and I suspect was written on the fly afterward.)


Warmonger Joe has decided NOT to restock the Strategic Petroleum Reserve after all. Reading between the lines? That means Team Biden expects oil prices to go up further, which means inflation will go up.

Gee, can you guys think of a country with LOTS of oil? Let me help you out. Its name starts with an "R."


Mormons, and especially Mormon women, showing less hypocrisy than Protestants of the Religious Right, are tilting Biden. Won't matter in Utah and Idaho. Will matter in Nevada and Aridzona. And, downballot, not just in presidential races. Many of these people say they feel abandoned by the GOP in general.

OTOH, Biden's continuing to lose ground among younger non-white voters.

April 18, 2024

Texas Progressives talk Stickland, Goeb, more

Updating my old name for him, Former Fetus Future Fascist Forever Fuckwad Jonathan Stickland, in conjunction with Matt Rinaldi is venturing into new fields of wingnuttery squared.

Lite Guv Danny Goeb says fighting antisemitism is part of his call to the Texas Senate in 2025. This is a lie in three ways. First, most Christian Zionists, like Tex-ass' own John Hagee, are antisemitic in their own way. Second, it of course, as is usually with those people, conflates anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Third, lemme know when, within the Tex-ass Rethuglican Party and auxiliaries, Goeb does more about Stickland and Rinaldi.

If Patrick really wants to investigate school districts for anything, ask why more high schools aren't following Texas law and registering 18-year-olds to vote. Could it be connected to how few people vote in Tex-ass Rethuglican primaries and their continued winning of statewide races? While you're at it, investigate Jane Nelson as Secretary of State for not enforcing compliance.

After Chief Justice John Roberts, under color of the Judicial Conference, introduced policy changes to stop judge-shopping for people like Matthew Kacsmaryk, both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have introduced separate bills to codify that. Morphine Mitch claims Judicial Conference policy is not legislation. Sadly, in the sense that John Marshall Roberts can't enforce it, and Northern District of Texas chief judge David Godbey has already said he won't follow it, he's sort of right. OTOH, Congress created the Judicial Conference, and delegated things like case assignment authority to it. It could also impeach David Godbey, but won't. Oh, this is why I don't "revere" the Constitution. Morphine Mitch's bill is a more narrowly written version of Schumer's, and it's clear why.

SocraticGadfly, in an extended review of Stephen Vladeck's book, talks about the problems with the Supreme Court's shadow docket.

Hellz yes on fighting TPWD's plan to give Elmo Musk part of Boca Chica State Park.

Elmo Musk is now getting punked by phishers. 

Here's the anti-Palestinian, pro-Zionist facts about World Central Kitchen — from a former employee.

The Current highlights allegations of unsafe working conditions at Elon Musk's Boring Company made by its employees. 

H-E-B is selling over-the-counter birth control pills.

John Whitmire sux.

Dallas Express owner Monty Bennett faces a shareholder lawsuit. Sidebar: Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson hired a staffer from there as a communications consultant. Sidebar 2: Rinaldi and Candy Evans of "Candy's Dirt" (which does have some real dirt) are on the Express' board. Sidebar 3: The lawsuit shows just how unprofitable much "pink slime" journalism is.

Off the Kuff has interviews with two of the candidates for the HCAD Board, Pelumi Adeleke and Austin Pooley.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project said that police union support of far-right extremists is a threat to public safety.

Texas Highways tells the story of El Paso's failed theme park Magic Landing.

The TSTA Blog doesn't think much of Mike Morath's comic stylings.  

Evil MoPac evaluates the Austin of 2024 as a place to live. (Contra the piece, traffic is probably worse than being sold, prices are worse than being sold, and a lot of the residents are Californicators.)

 Ken Hoffman knows what to do with clickbait listicles.

April 17, 2024

Basic income showdown in Houston

Harris County Attorney Christian Menafee is ready to take on Kenny Boy Paxton in a legal battle over the county's guaranteed income. (Kenny Boy should just leave well enough alone; if Harris Uplift is like most such, it will die on its own. And, Andrew Yang is at least halfway right in saying this is "not socialism." Sadly, the biggest fanbois of basic income want to use it in a libertarian way to gut things like unemployment insurance, SSDI, etc.)

Update, April 23: The Texas Supreme Court has granted a stay to Kenny Boy on his writ of mandamus. 

Just look at basic income guru (and that's used with ALL connotative as well as denotative meanings of "guru") Scott Santens:

  • Called Trump "the basic income Moses," per a piece where Scott is himself associated with the World Economic Forum, as in Davos, while getting more alarmist about AI then than Lanier is today;
  • Wants to junk entitlements, including even trimming Social Security — more here;
  • Is a crypto-bro;
  • Denies that there are libertarian and non-libertarian versions of BI that don't square with each other;
  • And on all of this, can't do math on how to pay for his ideas.

As for "die on its own"? Most BI pilot projects, at the municipal, county, or, IIRC provincial level in Canada in the past, have been terminated by later local governments, as in, terminated before the drop-down date on them set by the original, approving governments. Harris Uplift is also a pilot. The $500 a month is not bad. The 2,000 households out of what could easily be 100,000 in Harris County, if not 200,000, is a drop in the bucket. (Reflecting me, the Trib's story on the state Supreme Court notes that Austin is looking at resurrecting a pilot program that it discontinued.) Alaska's Permanent Fund will be as oil production there continues to decline, since that's what funds it. (The 2023 payout, full year, was just $1,312, which is really a drop in the bucket on Alaska cost of living. That's $110 a month, or about $70 a month, if that, in Houston dollars.)

Also, in addition to the above, BI is not a magic wand. And, if you don't believe in Modern Monetary Theory (I don't, and "believe" is the right word, as I a few years ago said it's "Maoism or New Ageism") how do you pay for anything beyond a pilot?

Finally, this IS income. If Kenny Boy loses his lawsuit, while Texas doesn't have a state income tax, Uncle Sam does. Let us hope that County Judge Lina Hidalgo informs people of that.

World news roundup: Irian Jaya, Syria, Canada

Irian Jaya, or West Papua, per Counterpunch, continues to descend further in its own, Tolstoyean-specific, misery and hell. For the unfamiliar, the western half of the island of the New Guinea was, during Dutch colonial rule, administered separately from the Dutch East Indies. And, it held on to it after Indonesian independence in 1949, leading to the West New Guinea dispute in the early 1960s. Sukarno turned up the heat on the Dutch, pushed the US, and got Soviet weapons for a possible invasion. The Dutch turned the territory over to the UN. It almost immediately handed it to Indonesia, with Sukarno promising some degree of autonomy. Six years later, under Suharto, a rigged plebiscite fully annexed it to Indonesia.

Also per Counterpunch, with or without Irian Jaya/West Papua, but very much with it, it's a product of the Cold War. JFK leaned on the Dutch precisely because Sukarno cozied up to the USSR. In 1975, Ford ignored Indonesia's overrunning East Timor, abandoned to its fate by Portugal after the Salazar dictatorship was overthrown in Lisbon, because of fears/claims/worries East Timor would go Commie.


Another good piece from Counterpunch here is about the "forgotten Palestinians." These are the ones who are refugees in Syria, and have become entangled in Syrian civil war issues of the past decade-plus. Richard Falk notes the Assad government viewed them suspiciously after the start of the civil war, for a variety of reasons. Falk adds that the anti-anti-Assad angle of the "hard left," as he calls it, and if we're talking people like Aaron Maté, pseudoleftists is more what I call them, increases the problem.


Pretty Boy Trudeau is in serious trouble in the Great White North. As things stand now, he and his Liberals are going to get barbecued in the next Canadian federal election; fortunately, it's 18 months away. The Walrus has a longform, including longform fact-checking, about Trudeau's past promises vs performance and many other things, with segments from a longform interview sliced in between.

Near the end of the piece, Canadian housing prices (which are a LOT worse than most US big cities in Canada's main metro areas) get discussion. If Pretty Boy can't "get" this issue, he's sunk. 

After that, the Walrus piece notes that Trudeau will almost certainly go negative and heavily so to try to win.

Of further note, per Wiki? Almost all the Commons incumbents who are not running again are Liberals.

Two questions on my mind are:

A. Can the LDP get enough of their shit together to pass the Liberals, and, somewhat related

B. Could we see a coalition if the two block the Conservatives from a majority, but finish second and third, in whichever order?  

I assume if that happens, even if the LDP remains in No. 3, that the price of coalition is the Liberals turf Trudeau as party leader.

April 16, 2024

Julian Assange, the US government and "weasel words"

Per The Guardian's report on the assurances the US government has offered Julian Assange, they could be, in actuality, "weasel words," per his wife Stella. That is, they could be promises broken after he is extradited.

But, I'm going to unpack them at face value. Here we go:
On Tuesday, details emerged of the assurances given by the US, which stated that he “will not be prejudiced by reason of his nationality with respect to which defences he may seek to raise at trial and at sentencing”. 
It referred specifically to him having “the ability to raise and seek to rely upon” the first amendment but also said that its applicability “is exclusively within the purview of the US courts”. The assurances also state: “A sentence of death will neither be sought nor imposed on Assange.”
First, no death penalty is good. That said, Assange, who probably hates on Joe Biden about as much as Bill and Hillary Clinton, should find someone besides Russia's SVR, or Internet Research Agency, to do some pro-Biden fake email leaks. Because, despite Assange's gullibility in 2016, Donald Trump views a relationship with him as purely transactional, and Donald Trump is clearly pro-federal death penalty.

Second, I believe the government's stance on the First Amendment is correct. That's because I don't believe Assange is a journalist. I didn't even before the 2016 leaks. I especially didn't after he goosed the Seth Rich conspiracy theory.

As for her claim that the prosecution says Assange has no First Amendment rights because he's not a US citizen? He generally will have (dependent on exact judicial ruling) access to other clauses of the First Amendment. They also do NOT offer blanket protections against behavior that would be criminal without invoking the First Amendent, and let us remember that Assange would be facing criminal not civil trial. Let us also remember that neither the UK nor Assange's native Australia have anything that close to the First Amendment. And, the Russia to which Assange lured Edward Snowden (he did and shut up) has no such protection at all. And, at Counterpunch on this issue, Binoy Kampmark does some overreading.

Were I the philosopher-president of the USofA, any plea deal with Assange would require him to admit responsibility for his role in the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. Period and end of story. Should he make a non-weasel words confession, and should he, especially per what I said about Snowden above, admit to any direct contacts with the SVR, the FSB et al, I would give Assange the equivalent of deferred adjudication — for 10 years, to keep a Sword of Damocles over his head. That would satisfy Aussie calls for non-prosecution, satisfy the spirit of "he's suffered enough," but also satisfy the spirit of what he's actually done. Speaking of the first clause in the previous sentence, Australia is a member of the "Five Eyes," but I suspect US security agencies have shared little information with it.

Reality crushes nostalgia; H-E-B ain't all that

Half a dozen years ago and more, I lived in a small town near Waco. H-E-B and Wally were the two groceries, and that Wally was small enough it had no frozen section and only a small refrigerated section.

In Waco, there were a couple of Albertson's but it was pretty much H-E-B territory.

Several years before that, I lived in a small town near College Station. It had H-E-B and maybe a grocery Wally, though I don't remember. Bryan-College Station had one Kroger that I know of, and am not sure what else besides H-E-B.

Well, having back then gone to Central Markets in the Metromess after they first opened, I had fond memories of H-E-B. And, with the company now in the Metromess with regular H-E-B stores, not just Central Market, I decided to both indulge nostalgia and do some actual shopping in Frisco.

Well, I'm also a more discerning grocery shopper than I was several years ago, including buying even more healthier food today, plus, I have a Winco in Denton as well as multiple Krogers. There's also Aldi, which may have been in Waco several years ago but was NOT in College Station several years before that.

And, per the header?  

H-E-B ain't it, to put it bluntly.

I had a pen in my back pocket and the receipt side paper from a check that I had been written for some freelance work to serve as note paper, and I took notes. (Let us note that I didn't see the Frisco store branded as an H-E-B+, but it was still plenty good, and the Kroger I hit most often in Denton, while decent to good, isn't at its highest level, either.)

Let's dive in.

In their house brand, thin spaghetti is the only whole wheat pasta H-E-B has. Kroger has penne, macaroni and rigatoni, and maybe lasagna. I think Winco has the first four.

H-E-B has no house brand of Triscuits. It also doesn't carry the Wasa Swedish crispbreads.

The wide "deli-style" bread? None of it had more than 3 grams of fiber. I can get 4-gram at Kroger, Winco and Aldi all three. Plus, sodium was 200 milligrams a slice; it's less at all three.

Deli cheese selection? Probably moderately better than my normal Kroger, modestly better than the south loop Kroger in Denton, but not hugely better. And, higher priced. 

Only a limited selection of Central Market Italian sodas, and only in the 750ml bottles, not individual cans. (They did have their premium flavored other specialty drinks, which are halfway between Italian sodas and sparkling water.)

Oh, and prices? 

Their bread is higher than Kroger's or Aldi's or Winco's. Whole wheat pasta was a draw. Brown rice was higher. "Folgers in a can" and house brand equivalents were higher. Cokes were higher.

On bulk foods? Their nutritional yeast is $2 a pound higher than Winco. I don't recall seeing bulk oatmeal, and am sure they don't have bulk steel-cut, let alone English porridge style oatmeal. Their bulk coffee does have a couple more varieties on roasts than Winco, while being at a higher price — but less than Central Market.

Premium sodas? Both higher priced and shorter selection, with the exception of me not recalling seeing Maine Root's blueberry soda elsewhere.

In addition, when I asked if they still used their points card, which isn't exactly like Kroger's shopper card? Call that "wasn't" instead of "isn't," because they don't. And, that too means less savings, speaking of prices. That includes that Kroger's shopper card offers fuel points. If I can, with one big fill-up a month, save 50-60 cents a gallon, that's another $12-$15 of savings.

Flip side is that shoppers cards do track your buying. OTOH, your credit or debit card info also tracks your buying, and so do H-E-B's in-store coupons. Sidebar to that? H-E-B seems to lean on "combo buys" (as in, buy these three items, save $5 or whatever) at least as much as Kroger. Maybe more.

Nostalgia has been cured, and even if H-E-B were to build in Denton itself, I wouldn't make it a regular part of my grocery shopping.

Nostalgia has been rationally examined and kicked to the curb. And, that old points card has been thrown in the trash.

You folks in Helltown, Austin, San Antone, etc., especially if you're H-E-B cultists applauding them moving north of I-20? (And, yes, it's one of Texas' three major retail cults, along with What? A Burger? and Fuck You the Beaver, which I haven't yet blogged about in detail. [Blue Bell, after its second listeria escapade, I think lost some of its cultiness even among the Tex-ass faithful.]) You should instead be begging for Winco to come SOUTH of I-20 to you.

April 15, 2024

NAIA rules on transsexual athletes

I'm not sure that the NAIA's ban on post-hormone supplementation transsexual (transgender?) athletes is totally wrong, to put it mildly. I am sure that sex and gender aren't the same thing, and that the AP doesn't know the difference. And, yes, I also know that many NAIA schools are not only private but religious. I also still know the difference between sex and gender. I ALSO also know that both transsexuals and transgendered have certain general human rights and certain legal rights in particular. I ALSO ALSO know that, stereotyped scenarios aside, those rights aren't necessarily the same.

And, per all of the above, that's why the header says "transsexual." I know that among people biologically born women, and those biologically born men, testosterone levels can show major variation. I ALSO know that in many sports, there's rules against steroids and roiding.

That might be the easier answer for the NAIA and would circumvent Title IX. Just set rules against testosterone supplementation, period. Now, it would surely be harder to test than for steroids, given what I said above. Impossible? No.

Is it really "just politics" for Biden to cut blank checks to Bibi?

So says Phil Weiss, founder of Mondoweiss.

I don't totally agree. 

I do agree that all duopoly party US presidents feel some degree of beholden-ness to the Israel lobby. Weiss has the receipts, like Biden's receipts with Saim Haban.

But, I don't think it's entirely that.

One can have an emotional attachment like this as well as a political need.

Obama staffers called out Genocide Joe early this year for having too much of an attachment. That piece notes that Biden called himself a Zionist after Oct. 7. I don't recall other presidents of either major party doing that at the time of an Israel-Palestine fracas. This piece notes that when Biden was Dear Leader's Veep, they disagreed about whether or not to "hug" Israel. It's true that disagreement on that could be primarily if not purely political, whether domestically, in foreign policy, or both. But, if not purely political, it could still have an emotional sidebar.

What I think is partially at play, speaking of emotions, is a sidebar on Biden's Irish Alzheimer's. He is determined to show Obama himself, and certainly Obama staffers, that he is right.

What I also think is in play?

Whether Biden watched "Exodus" about three too many times (or read Leon Uris' book that many too many times) or what, I don't know. But, no, I think he's really into this. That's not mutually exclusive to the political angle, of course, or the grinding against Team Obama But, that political angle was developed when Biden was hobnobbing with the likes of John Lewis on Black civil rights, and many African-Americans have moved bast that era today, too. If this were purely about politics, one would think Biden has a greater degree of nimbleness than Mondoweiss' take implies.

Take environmentalism. While his first-term actions have been pretty weak tea by my point of view, they're far more than Biden would have entertained 10 years ago, let alone 20. Ditto on things like his administration's stance on antitrust issues.