SocraticGadfly: 5/19/24 - 5/26/24

May 24, 2024

Early hurricanes coming? Definitely strong ones and many

Per this Yale Climate Connections piece, which is where the graphic is coming from, don't be surprised! That's like a five-alarm fire!

Within that, there's this takeout:

The Caribbean is home to some of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded. Half of the 39 Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes since 1851 formed in the Caribbean, including Hurricane Wilma in October 2005, the most intense Atlantic hurricane ever observed.

So, if not by the end of this month, by mid-June, I think we've got a good shot at seeing at least one named tropical storm, even if it doesn't get all the way to hurricane status.


And, for that, yesterday's NOAA initial forecast. And, it's as bad or worse than Colorado State's initial forecast released last month, allowing for NOAA fudging by doing ranges.

Here's the basics:

NOAA expects this hurricane season to have an 85 percent chance of being above normal. I assume "normal" is on the 30-year cycle, per CSU's predictions.

NOAA doesn't get more finely granular on that. But, CSU does, geographically. So, note this:

Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle (west and north of Cedar Key, Florida)
westward to Brownsville – 42% (average from 1880–2020 is 27%.

May 23, 2024

"Real Catholics" — Texas Monthly gets it wrong

An interesting story in Texas Monthly about state attorney general Ken Paxton vs El Paso's Annunciation House as a migrants' refuge. But, the "quarter of the state" following Catholic teachings? More likely "a quarter of the quarter," if that. For example? Gov. Greg Abbott, like many a wingnut Catholic, is a Conservative Cafeteria Catholic because he doesn't follow the Vatican's official stance against the death penalty. And, of course, there are plenty of Liberal Cafeteria Catholics on reproductive issues. I know that, among national Catholic politicians, there's only two I'm aware of — Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey and Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee (I knew his dad) — who walk the walk on both. So, it's more likely "a quarter of a quarter of a quarter." Yes, that means 1/16 of Texas Catholics follow Rome on all major doctrinal issues.

I'll have more in a few weeks elsewhere. As usual, when anybody from the Monthly is called out, zero response on Twitter. May post what I write elsewhere to their Facebook. Or this.

May 22, 2024

Texas Progressives talk guns, lies, killings

Greg Abbott "hearts" murderers. #fify on the header, Trib. The Monthly has more. I had nuanced thoughts at the time Perry was arrested, including on the issue of guns in general and Garrett Foster's carrying of his, whether or not it was ever pointed at Perry.

Trump, Abbott lie at NRA convention. Again, #fify on the header, Trib. 

Republicans aren't trying to flip Henry Cuellar's seat because, as the Trib showed in the body text, without using the exact words, "he's a useful tool." 

Semi-Bushie Mat Mackowiak is joining a crowded field to replace Matt Rinaldi as state GOP chair. Best of luck.

The Lege continues to browbeat universities on DEI.

A reminder that Gaza and Atlanta's Cop City are closely tied.

Off the Kuff had some math-related thoughts about the judge's decision to throw out a 2022 Harris County judicial election. 

Speaking of, Kuff still can't talk about the thuggish repression here in Tex-ass of pro-Palestinian protestors at Texas public universities, but CAN talk about Ernie Johnson helping a bar mitzvah.

SocraticGadfly dropped Part 1 andPart 2 about presidential debate fraudulency of last week.

RIP Dabney Coleman, per this Monthly profile

RIP Putin flak Russell Bentley, also in the Monthly.

Neil at the Houston Democracy Project noted the death of the kind & effective Galveston activist Roxy Williamson.  

Jason Stanford dives into Mike Hixenbaugh's new book about "objective" journalism. 

Deece Eckstein eulogizes the Rev. Bill Lawson. 

The TSTA Blog keeps reminding us that Greg Abbott is the root cause of all the school district budget cuts.  

Kimberly Mata-Rubio will never stop fighting for her daughter Lexi or any of the other children who were murdered at Robb Elementary.

May 21, 2024

Wilks and Dunn lies about schools exposed from the inside

Great two-part piece by Pro Publica, working with the Trib, dropped last week, about wingnut attempts to reshape public schools — from someone who was on the ground for this.

Courtney Gore is a Granbury ISD school board member who got elected because she regurgitated all the nonsense about how public schools were teaching critical race theory, offering inappropriate messages and library books about sexuality, etc. She hosts a local Christian talk radio show where she talked about this.

Then, after she got elected, she actually investigated.

And, she saw the light.

She’d examined curriculum related to social-emotional learning, which has come under attack by Christian conservatives who say it encourages children to question gender roles and prioritizes feelings over biblical teachings. Instead, Gore found the materials taught children “how to be a good friend, a good human.” 
Gore rushed to share the news with the hard-liners who had encouraged her to run for the seat. She expected them to be as relieved and excited as she had been. But she said they were indifferent, even dismissive, because “it didn’t fit the narrative that they were trying to push.” 
So, in the spring of 2022, Gore went public with a series of Facebook posts. She told residents that her backers were using divisive rhetoric to manipulate the community’s emotions. They were interested not in improving public education but rather in sowing distrust, Gore said. 
“I’m over the political agenda, hypocrisy bs,” Gore wrote. “I took part in it myself. I refuse to participate in it any longer. It’s not serving our party. We have to do better.”

She didn't shut up, though:

Gore said she feels that she was unwittingly part of a statewide effort to weaken local support of public schools and lay the groundwork for a voucher system. 
And she said that unless she and others sound the alarm, residents won’t realize what is happening until it is too late. 
I feel like if I don’t speak out, then I’m complicit,” Gore said. “I refuse to be complicit in something that’s going to hurt children.”

And, of course, it got worse after that. Granbury ISD has to supply security at school board meetings, in part, to escort her to and from her car.

Because of that outspokenness, Gore is facing backlash from the same people who supported her race. She has been threatened at raucous school board meetings and shunned by people she once considered friends. 
School marshals escort her and her fellow board members to their cars to ensure no one accosts them.

What do you expect, when the leader of the movement, the grüppenführer, Tim Dunn, is normally known by his title of "Christofascist"?

And, that leads us to Part 2, where Gore talks more in depth, and more directly, about Dunn and his partners in crime, Farris and Dan Wilks.

May 20, 2024

Victory at last (we hope) for the dunes sagebrush lizard

After more than a decade of staling out by Texas officials, starting with Susan Combs, and a shitload of corruption by US Fish and Wildlife Service, last week FWS finally extended Endangered Species Act listing to the dunes sagebrush lizard.

More from regional media and from Center for Biological Diversity.

Let's start with them, before my old blogging, because it backgrounds the story well, starting with the early history:

The Service identified the dunes sagebrush lizard as needing protection in 1982 but didn’t act. In 2002 the Center submitted a scientific petition to place the lizard on the endangered species list. Prompted by the Center’s follow-up litigation, the Service proposed to protect the lizard in 2010. However, the agency instead struck a deal with the Texas Comptroller’s Office to deny the lizard protection in exchange for non-binding agreements to safeguard some of the animal’s habitat.

That's where Susan Combs, then the state comptroller, comes in.

That said, she had company, including the likes of Tricky Ricky Perry and Wayne Christian.

And, lizard liars outside of government.

And, continuing lizard backstabbing by the feds under Kenny Boy Salazar, Dear Leader's oily Secretary of the Interior.

That said? The biggest problem was often FWS itself. From CBD's link again:

In 2018 the Center again petitioned for protection and the Service issued an initial finding that a listing was warranted. But it took another lawsuit in 2022 to prompt today’s decision. 
The Service has long failed to provide timely protections to species in need. The entire process of listing species and designating critical habitat is supposed to take two to three years. On average it has taken the Service 12 years, and in many cases decades, to protect qualifying species. At least 47 species have gone extinct while awaiting protection.

How true.

And, we've not even talked about FWS management corruption. Oops, guess we have now! That's a long read, but if you have thought before now that middle and upper management at the Fish and Wildlife Service care that much about fish and widlife, other than for hunters and anglers, you need to read the full thing. There's more of that at this piece, from just two months ago, where I wasn't sure if protection would happen, and where I also called out Texas Monthly for pulling some punches. (As of yesterday, neither it nor the Trib had a story about the ruling.)

That said, per that image just above, per Twitter friend Chris Nagano, this isn't set in stone yet.

I quote:

Some USFWS higher ups & managers still have many tricks up their sleeves to continue serving their masters by ensuring the listed Lizard doesn’t stop or slow down any oil & gas projects

I have little doubts that things such as the conservation easements, which sound similar to what Combs pitched more than a decade ago, can be sabotaged, undermined, OKed without follow-up monitoring or other things.

I quote from the FWS release:

Conservation efforts for imperiled species can be greatly expanded through collaborative approaches that foster cooperation and the exchange of ideas among stakeholders. In New Mexico and Texas, around 100 ranchers and 100 oil and gas partners have enrolled in voluntary agreements to implement conservation practices that address specific threats with assurances that if the species is listed, they can continue to manage their land outlined in their agreements with no additional requirements or restrictions.

And, there's other ways this could be undercut, quoting again:

The designation of critical habitat was found to be prudent but not determinable at this time. The Service has up to one year from the time of listing to propose critical habitat.

Emphasis added by me, because this is where the rubber hits the road.

Stay tuned. And push FWS to designate that critical habitat. 

The proposed and final rules, as well as the comments received on the proposed rule, are available at by searching docket number FWS-R2-ES-2022-0162. The final rule is effective 30 days after posting in the Federal Register.

There you are. Unfortunately, you cannot comment on the final rule. I've emailed the CBD author about any other places to comment, but haven't heard back yet. You can visit FWS's Facebook page, specifically this post that talks about the dunes sagebrush lizard and give that a shot. Or the webmail contact form at the FWS website.

New Mexico Political Report also has a piece up, and talks to Michael Robinson of CBD about the types of threats the lizard faces. Per Chris Nagano and Lyle Lewis, also formerly of the FWS, and per what I am suspecting, FWS administrators may remain cozy with the oil and gas folks who still want to gut this. From NMPR: 

Industry groups have maintained that candidate conservation agreements—voluntary agreements to protect species that are being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act—are making sufficient strides and that the listing is unnecessary and will have a detrimental effect on the economy of southeastern New Mexico. 
“The existing CCA and [candidate conservation agreements with assurances] in New Mexico and Texas have provided, and continue to provide, many conservation benefits for the dunes sagebrush lizard. However, based on the information we reviewed in our assessment, we conclude that the risk of extinction for the dunes sagebrush lizard is high despite these efforts,” the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote in the document announcing the listing. 
The Fish and Wildlife Service states that the habitat loss has continued even with the CCAs in place.

So, FWS, why aren't you already defining and determining critical habitat? You've had 42 years.

Robinson said the lizard relies on the shinnery oak to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, when it buries itself in the sand near the oak’s extensive roots. 
But the listing decision issued this week was not fully good news, according to Robinson. Critical habitat has not yet been designated. 
“Fish and Wildlife Service is saying that they might take up to a year to propose areas for critical habitat and we think this is an entirely unnecessary and unwarranted delay,” he said.

So, FWS, why aren't you already defining and determining critical habitat? You've had 42 years.

Jeff Melcher, still a nutter, confirmed, fellating Jim Schutze

I recently called out Schutze on his Substack for the latest, hand-waving this time, installment of his fellating Houston ISD super Mike Miles. (As I wrote here last fall, Schutze long had a boner for Miles when at the Dallas Observer. As he did for Amber Guyger, which I mentioned on his Substack, too.)

And, who jumps in my mentions but nutter Jeff Melcher from Lancaster ISD 15-20 years ago?

First, and minorly, Melcher's been wrong about charter schools before. He reminds me of some leftists, like the People's CDC, trying to "own Biden" on issues that are at best chump change and at worst, on COVID, where they're wrong themselves.

Second, in Melcher's own trying to "own Larry Lewis," the former Lancaster ISD superintendent, the two of them were Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby or vice versa. (Speaking of, does Lewis still read me as he did then?)

As part of this? Melcher was a conspiracy theorist, a Lancaster version of Joey Dauben (minus any convictions of which I am aware), a moral equivalent of a libelist or slanderer (think it would be libel, think his comments were written), and a mix of that and conspiracy theorist.


Back to Schutze briefly. He's pretty good at carrying water, even when his bucket's leaking, just like he was good at carrying grudges when they didn't pan out, like he did with Craig Watkins. Don't forget about him hating on newspaper unions, too, part of his big stinking shitpile of stupidity at the time the Observer let him go. Any of today's Observer staff that was there when he was still there may have fond good riddance thoughts.


Now, back to Melcher.

As far as fellating Schutze, Melcher did that in 2020, just after the Observer let him go, when Jim talked about the re-issuance of "The Accommodation." Melcher jumped into MAGAts type territory with talk about "vote harvesting" and other nuttery, and of course quoted every MAGAts most beloved ex-Democrap, Tulsi Gabbard, the Hindutva-fascist. Selections from two Disqus comments.

In 2000 or then-abouts, you wrote a series about a seeming bargain or alignment or "accomodation" between wealthy North Dallas interests and the poorest voters in South (Black) Dallas, voting narrow victories on a range of deals such as a new basketball arena, or a road down the middle of the Trinity River, or an unnecessary, if beautiful, "signature" bridge. It's possible some people dimly remembering your (excellent, ground-breaking) journalism on how that accommodation was accomplished want to see the weekly articles all compiled into a single work. It's possible the current worry about Presidential claims ("without any evidence" as they say) about how elections are subject to corrupt influences worries some into looking for evidence. It's possible recent legislation introduced by Tulsi Gabbard about "vote harvesting" is making your work interesting, all over again....
Aside from vote harvesting, Jim, did your work (background or published) on "shenanigans" in local elections get into the practice of "rolling polling"? During early voting a bunch of ballot boxes were set up, one day each, in a series if particular neighborhood schools who "just happened" to be celebrating parents' day or whatever...


Now, Melcher may not be MAGA in the narrow sense of "ever Trumper" and nobody else. But, I know he's not a never Trumper or close, also going by who he follows on Substack.

Patterico, not so formerly of Patterico's Pontifications or whatever? A wingnut who thinks Radley Balko is a lefty, on Substack. And a Zionist, natch, on the blogsite.

Speaking of, yes, Melcher follows original cancel culture queen Bari Weiss' allegedly "Free Press." Nope no link to that. Not even with a "do not follow." He also follows "The Liberal Patriot," by Democratic Leadership Council alum Ruy Teixeira and other neocentrist, neoliberal squishes. That said, Ruy himself is far enough right to be at the American Enterprise Institute now. If not for that, Melcher wouldn't follow him.

Not heard before of William M. Briggs of "Science is Not the Answer." But, he's a fellow at the Acton Institute, which makes him a highbrow intellectual Religious Right wingnut. Calls Wikipedia "Wokepedia" on his Twitter, while also thinking National Review is "pissing on the right. Again." Not linking.

Karl Gallagher? Sci-fi author, not so bad, right? Wrong. Been profiled on the Libertarian Futurist Society. His Twitter, via Goodreads? Zionist, hates Palestinian protestors and more. Not linking.

So, far more proof than I needed to show just how Neanderthal er Homo erectus Melcher is. Most these people are to some degree, like Weiss, part of the original cancel culture, whether in general, or specifically on Zionists trying to silence contradiction.

Bye, Jeff!


And, that’s how this fits the no-twosiderism theme here, as I said on Substack, where that's been, at least on paper, a reason I created it.

I can find an old superintendent incompetent without libeling others, or doing the moral equivalent thereof, if they’re not as vociferous on the attack. For example, I can criticize U.S. imperialism and warmongering without claiming that a Jeff Melcher type working at AAFES is getting a cut. See how that works, Jeff? 

I can talk about someone “fellating” someone, Schutze with Mike Miles, without thinking Schutze’s past support was 100 percent wrong, but at the same time, noting this is a pattern of his.