Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Texas mountain laurel buds

with 18 comments

On March 18 at McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Bastrop County the buds of a Texas mountain laurel bush were opening. The familiar scientific name Sophora secundiflora has given way to Dermatophyllum secundiflorum.


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People claim lots of things, some seemingly more far-fetched than others. When Copernicus in the 1500s and then other scientists in the 1600s claimed that the earth goes around the sun, rather than the other way around, many people didn’t believe it. It seemed counter to the daily experience of watching the sun move in an arc through the sky above a seemingly immobile earth. Evidence, particularly after telescopes got perfected, eventually showed that the strange claim was true.

In October of 2020, shortly before that year’s presidential election in the United States, the New York Post broke a story saying that Hunter Biden, the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, had brought a laptop computer to a repair shop in Delaware but had never returned to pick it up. As happens in such cases, the unclaimed laptop then became the property of the repair shop’s owner. The laptop per se wasn’t especially valuable, but the data on it was. The laptop’s hard drive contained many photographs showing Hunter Biden doing drugs and cavorting with prostitutes. More importantly, the hard drive also contained e-mails implying that Hunter Biden was getting lots of money from foreign sources in the expectation of access to or influence with Joe Biden.

Given that the main American elections take place early in November, the story could plausibly have been what people have come to call an “October surprise”: condemnatory “information” that a partisan reveals to the public shortly before the election in an attempt to influence people not to vote for the candidate that the partisan opposes. For example, one month before Election Day in 2016 came the release of the Access Hollywood videotape in which candidate Donald Trump was seen speaking lewdly about women. The tape was real, not a fake, and it probably did influence some people not to vote for Trump.

Now let’s return to the 2020 Hunter Biden laptop story. The first question a responsible person would ask is whether the story was true. Might anti-Biden partisans have made it up in an attempt to discredit candidate Biden? Such fakery does sometimes happen, after all, so initially we can’t rule out that possibility—politics is hardly known for its nobility, is it?

Unfortunately, people at many traditional news outlets immediately claimed that the Hunter Biden laptop story was “Russian disinformation,” yet they never brought forth any evidence to prove that it was Russian disinformation. Worse, the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter suppressed even any discussion of the claim, with Twitter going so far as to completely lock the account of the New York Post, the oldest American newspaper still in print.

As becomes an ethical news organization, the New York Post had offered plenty of evidence that the Hunter Biden story was true. The mainstream media not only refused to consider it, but claimed with no evidence that the story was false. That was unethical.

And then there were the 51 former “intelligence” officials who signed a letter saying the Hunter Biden laptop story “has the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” They admitted they had no evidence that that’s what it was but kept pushing the disinformation conjecture anyhow. With all their connections, couldn’t they at least have asked around among their current counterparts to find out what they knew about the story and what they were doing to check its authenticity? Actually the letter writers didn’t even have to do that: soon after the letter appeared, the DNI (Director of National Intelligence) and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) announced that the Hunter Biden laptop story was not Russian disinformation. That made no difference to the many people pushing the “Russian disinformation” narrative.

This past week the New York Times unexpectedly ran a story about Hunter Biden. As the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board put put it on March 18: “The Times waddled in this week with a story on the ‘tax affairs’ of the President’s son, including this gem in the 24th paragraph: ‘Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.” Notice that the admission occurred only in the 24th paragraph of that story. Talk about burying the lead. Apparently the Times figured that that confirmation just barely qualified as part of “all the news that’s fit to print.”

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 21, 2022 at 4:30 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Hunter Biden is a schlemiel why waste time on him?

    Robert Hirsch

    March 21, 2022 at 7:51 AM

    • A schlemiel indeed, but the whole affair shows corruption in government and media, both of which still affect us.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 21, 2022 at 7:54 AM

  2. Oh, my! I’d better get serious about heading north and west; mountain laurel is one of my favorites, and it’s been difficult to get my timing right to see them in bloom. It’s interesting that this plant is budding just as our deer pea vetch has gone crazy; both are members of the pea family, as are the bluebonnets. And the sole green plant I saw on the Nash prairie a couple of weeks ago was one of the Baptisia species. Apparently the pea family enjoys cool weather.


    March 21, 2022 at 8:13 AM

    • So our members of Lamiaceae aren’t lame this week, at least in terms of the number of species flowering. Vetch was also out in Bastrop on Friday. As the Texas mountain laurels seem to be just getting started, you have time to go hunting for some in the lands to your north and west.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 21, 2022 at 8:36 AM

  3. That’s lovely! I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before!


    March 21, 2022 at 9:33 AM

    • It is. There’s no reason why you’d have seen it unless you’d traveled at this time of year to Texas or New Mexico, the only two American states where it grows.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 21, 2022 at 9:50 AM

  4. The wildflower portraits that you can already view so early in the year tell me that Texas is a great state to visit in the spring.

    Peter Klopp

    March 21, 2022 at 9:33 AM

  5. Here, we are not yet so far. Hopefully soon.


    March 21, 2022 at 10:43 AM

  6. We were also amazed at the time as to how the media ignored that story when it first broke. But they have their own agenda… Sadly, the media could have exposed the ties the US administration has to Ukraine and the role it played in the overthrowing of the legitimately elected president in 2014. But they didn’t. And nothing has changed since then and real news about what has been going on in Ukraine recently is still not being followed up and probably never will be.


    March 22, 2022 at 3:43 AM

    • Most of the media either ignored the Hunter Biden laptop story or went out of their way to discredit and even suppress it. As far as I know, none of the people who pushed the “Russian disinformation” narrative in 2020 have come out now and admitted they were wrong.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 22, 2022 at 5:53 AM

  7. Love that intense purple. 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    March 26, 2022 at 5:28 AM

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