27 October 2016

Back to work

Today marks five weeks since I came home from the hospital, and it was finally time to go back to work.  Much as I'm glad my recovery has progressed that far (though it's still by no means complete), I'll miss having so much free time at home.  Some people claim they get bored if they're off work for a long period, but it's never been the case with me.  The transition can't come soon enough.

26 October 2016

Even Texas?

It's been startling enough to see on-and-off polling leads for Hillary in Arizona and Georgia.  But the real stunner is that even Texas could be in play this year.  No poll shows Hillary leading there, but Trump's lead has been shrinking, and in the RCP average for the state, a couple of recent polls show it as small as 3%:

Early voting has begun in Texas, and turnout is massive (always a good sign for Democrats), especially in the relatively-liberal urban enclaves.  Yes, Texas does have relatively-liberal urban enclaves.  Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio have gone for Democratic Presidential candidates in some recent elections, as has the region along the Mexican border which includes the large city of El Paso.  Dallas has a substantial and open gay subculture, and Houston has elected an openly-lesbian mayor -- and then of course there's Austin.  And recall that Texas has a large Latino population.  It's far from a homogenously conservative state.

If Hillary does carry Texas as well as Arizona and Georgia, her electoral-vote total is likely to surpass 400 -- just the kind of massive rebuke the Republicans need to receive for inflicting Donald Trump on the nation as a serious candidate, and just the kind of sweep that will make a real mandate hard to deny.  The odds are still against it happening.  But not by much.

25 October 2016

At last.....

.....time to actually vote.  Sent my ballot in yesterday (here in Oregon all voting is by mail), voting not only for Hillary but for Democrats all the way down -- I know who's on my side.  Oregon is a solid blue state, but the size of the popular-vote margin does matter, even if only psychologically.

Now, everyone else get out and vote too!  Nothing must spoil my much-anticipated night of gloating two weeks from today!

A few links to get you fired up:

The Trumpanzees are trying to steal North Carolina.

If you doubt that the US is a very culturally-diverse nation, check out this festival in Kentucky, celebrating a culture of which most liberals know little -- but we know how they'll vote.

If Trump wins, the Supreme Court gets at least one more Scalia.

It took time, but Trump has won the firm support of the white-supremacist crowd.

23 October 2016

Link round-up for 23 October 2016

If you've got a few bucks to spare, a blogger could use some help.

Wingardium levisofa!

Never stop learning.

I'm guessing they've come to steal Earth's supply of genitalia.

It looks like a magic cookie, but.....

The neighbors think we need cheering up.

This Japanese beach glows with beautiful blue radiance.

Yeah, right, like that would ever happen.

Religion leads to dumb letter-writing.

To any foreign readers -- I endorse this sentiment.

Republican forum Race42016 is having a contest to predict the Electoral College.  Here's my entry.

No Jesus, no peace?

Pussy grabs backTake him down.

A new film celebrates a special category of atheists.

Benjamin Franklin has a wise message for us.

Trump can't read this, but.....

An atheist convention is shut down by violent religious thugs.

Most people who eat chicken have no idea what's behind it.

Trump is poetic justice for Republicans.  His name has become so toxic that even his hotels are dumping it.

Here's a Halloween-style explanation of being a Christian.

Some good news -- the public puts a lot of trust in scientists.

HB2 is not doing much for the North Carolina Governor's social life.

Fifty North American tribes unite against tar-sands pipelines.

Trump speaks of bringing back torture -- remember what that means.

Commentary and FiveThirtyEight have lengthy but interesting posts on what went wrong with the Republican party.  Jonah Goldberg simply laments the disaster.

Are Apple stores really this bad?

Never put your trust in a Christian ministry -- they will always betray you in the end.

After Mosul is liberated, there will be another challenge.

"Er, maybe we should give Garland a chance?"

Bush I and John McCain could give Trump lessons in losing gracefully.

After Obama leaves the Presidency, he'll be working on another vital project.

Trump's appeal for poll watchers isn't getting much response, but here's what to do if you run into them.

Jan Brewer offers a challenge.

Green Eagle has a guide to California propositions.

David French is still being viciously harassed for having considered running against Trump.

Many a family harbors an unspoken gender gap.

Prospects for the Senate look promising.

Republicans still have no clue how to stave off post-Trump collapse.

[Image at top:  My idea of a fine day]

22 October 2016

Video of the day -- no place for him?

20 October 2016

Update from the war (the real one)

While Americans have understandably been focused on our own election campaign, a few days ago one of the critical battles in the war against Dâ'ish (ISIL) began.  Over the weekend an all-out push to recapture the city of Mosul was launched by the Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga forces, and some independent militias, backed by US air support.

With a population (in normal times) of almost two million, Mosul is the largest city ever held by Dâ'ish and the only significant one still in its hands other than its "capital" Raqqa in Syria.  Mosul lies in an area rich in antiquities -- the ruins of Nineveh are just across the Tigris from it -- although of course much of that heritage has been destroyed by Dâ'ish during the occupation because of its pagan roots.  The Mosul area produces oil and includes the Mosul dam, one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the Middle East.  President Obama himself recently emphasized the importance of the battle.

There is little doubt that the liberation effort will succeed.  The attacking forces amount to over 100,000 soldiers, while the Dâ'ish fighters holding the city number only about 5,000 and are so demoralized that a week ago some of them tried to rebel against their own leaders.  Indeed, the Iraqi government has already said that the operation is proceeding faster than expected.

But there are potential problems that go beyond simply winning.  Will civilian suffering -- whether from the fighting or from Dâ'ish scorched-earth tactics -- be so great as to poison the well of future national reconciliation?  Will the predominantly-Shiite Iraqi military commit atrocities against Sunni civilians (as happened in some earlier battles)?  Even after the city is recaptured, will intergroup rivalries just lead to further conflict in the future?  Mosul is close to the border between the Kurdish autonomous area and Iraq proper, and its population is a mix of several groups.  Such problems are not limited to the Middle East.  Recall how the end of World War II led to atrocities in eastern Europe almost as horrific as those of the war itself, as brutalized ethnic groups settled scores and the victorious USSR carried out some of the largest forced population transfers in history.

There's also the problem of Turkey, a major regional military power (and NATO member) whose increasingly authoritarian Islamist regime is aggressively hostile to our Kurdish allies.

In the unlikely event that Mosul falls before Nov. 8, the battle might have some impact on our election, in that a major victory against Dâ'ish would vindicate Obama's Middle East policy and thus help Hillary Clinton.  But in any event the mess in Iraq and Syria will remain an ongoing problem for her Presidency, even after Dâ'ish is finally destroyed.  The defeat of Nazi Germany was a great victory over evil, but it did not mean the end of difficult problems in Europe.  The same will be true of the defeat of Dâ'ish.

[Image:  Mosul in peacetime, showing the Tigris river in the foreground]

17 October 2016

Videos of the day -- what manner of man is this?

Third and fourth videos found via Progressive Eruptions; fifth one found via Hackwhackers.

16 October 2016

Link round-up for 16 October 2016

Cat the brush.

Noah should have skipped one animal (found via Squatlo).

Trump will be remembered with honor.

This Russian house is ready for Halloween.  Ranch Chimp looks back at Halloween in the old days.  And here's a Halloween explanation of trickle-down (found via Squatlo).

Smallest car ever?

This is Timgad, a Roman colony in what is now Algeria.

Pussy grabber or rabbit protector?

Here's a tree that grows 40 kinds of fruit.

This is NGC 247.

We can't vote for her, she's crooked!

Nonnie9999 channels Mary Poppins on Trump.  His bullshit is ruining his business.  And most men agree that his remarks in the Billy Bush recording are beyond the pale.  But his son takes after him.

Check out these 19 beautiful bookstores in our own country (found via Mendip).

See prize-winning National Geographic photos (click to enlarge).

Censorship is still censorship no matter who's advocating it.

A small graphic illustrates something of the Trumpanzee mentality.

Wikileaks/Russia is getting sloppy, but Trump's ties with Russia are still a serious concern.

No prayers, please.

Trump losing with womenThere's a solution.  And maybe the Republican symbol needs an update.

The FBI has thwarted a planned terrorist attack in Kansas.

A Republican responds to my question about the future.

These Trumpanzees are taking a stand against intimidation.

The gap in life expectancy between the US and other developed countries is growing.

Yes, some of these nutbars are still seriously opposing birth control.

Belief has trouble coping with logic.

Warren Buffett schools Trump on taxes.

Just imagine if this guy looked Middle Eastern.

Anti-vaxxers don't understand how science works.

The Confederate flag isn't the only thing that represents heritage.

Pope Francis is no friend of gays.

An Irish legislator gives the Catholic Church the respect it deserves.

Dmitry Agarkov gave a bank a taste of its own medicine.

Facing defeat, Dâ'ish (ISIL) have begun fighting among themselves.

What is it with religion and stampedes?

The Bhutan-India border doesn't have much room for a wall.

It's now possible for an artificial hand to have a sense of touch.

Spiders can hear you.

President Obama speaks out on technology.

Here's a look at the mentality of Trump enablers.

Reality-denial is engulfing the whole right wing.  One of those fueling it is Twitter twit Bill Mitchell.

Trump is destroying the Republican party (found via Hackwhackers).  Fareed Zakaria agrees.  Ed Kilgore thinks he's destroying the Christian Right too (found via You Might Notice a Trend).  It may be that Republicans couldn't have stopped him -- not after they spent years feeding the "swamp of crazy".

Who is really the snake here?

A panel of Trump experts analyzes his latest antics.

Green Eagle has some background on the accusations against Bill Clinton.

Michelle Obama and Trumpanzees -- poles apart in class.

Putin has good reasons to oppose Hillary's Presidency.

The viciousness at Trump rallies has historical roots (powerful video!).  And Trumpanzees are now raging at the media.  They may even be becoming a cult.  Here's a sample of the crazy that's out there.

Considering Gary Johnson?  Check out his positions.

The oldest and ugliest bigotry of all is taking root in Trump's camp.  Neo-Nazis like what they hear from him.  Some Evangelical women don't.

PM Carpenter responds to Erick Erickson on the Republicans' future.

Former nuclear launch officers issue a statement on Trump.

Here's why we need a landslide.

[Image at top:  mountains on Pluto]

14 October 2016

Little fellahs

The last time I needed a break from the political, I resorted to elephants.  For this time, well, we all know the primary function of the internet is to transmit amusing pictures of cats.  Even Hillary likes them.  So without further ado, some pussies that The Donald would not grab.....

12 October 2016

Video of the day -- it's been a hell of a ride

11 October 2016

Intra-wingnut warfare

As Trump's implosion and near-certain defeat become too clear for any but the most self-deluding to deny, the rancor on the right is escalating.  A good place to watch this happening is Race42016 -- most right-wing sites are either pro-Trump or anti-Trump, but Race has numerous commenters from both camps, who thus have plenty of opportunity to react to each other.  Here's a sampling of comments from yesterday's open thread -- remember, this is how people are now talking to members of opposing factions on their own side:

54. John22: Watchinitall, you need to resign from the Rep party along with the rest of your establishmentarian cohorts and crooked big business open border masters. When Trump wins in November I hope the first order of business is to throw you NeverTrumpers out of the party.

59. Watchinitall: 54. Are you married? Single? Have you ever had any experience with a woman after rape or sexual assault? Do you have a conscience, or are you a predator too? When Trump loses hugely in November, the suburban Republican white woman will be the reason, not me. How many wives and mothers can wee get rid of and still have a viable chance in future elections? Your insults are as childish and meaningless as Trump's. You've thrown in with Trump to express your deeply felt hatred toward the Republican Party. Note for the future: If you hate the Republican Party, GET OUT! Don't talk about throwing me out. In the future, I guarantee you that any candidate with a whiff of Trump stain is going to be hounded mercilessly out. No to race-baiting. No to class warfare. No to insult-a-thon campaigns without substance. No to celebrity worship. No to conspiracy theorists. No to isolationists. No to slander as a primary campaign tool. No to Bernie Sanders-lite Republicans. No to New York liberals pretending to be Republicans for an election. No! No! No!

102. Phil: The never trumpsters are nothing but a bunch of out touch Thurston Howell,III nose in the air holier than thou, that have never ever done a thing wrong in their life and think the POTUS needs to be the same. When Bill Clinton was given a pass with Monica (which was a deplorable act while in the oval office) and now Trump with in a private conversation 11 years earlier has some potty talk and our Thurston Howell,III's want to throw him under the bus. You people are not living in the real world. My gosh get out the house and outside your little circle of friends see what is really happening. Fools each and everyone of you. Hope you don't drown when it rains outside with your nose held so high!

118. Franklin: Why don’t you shut up you pig and go to HELL!!! Mike Lee is a constitutional conservative and is hated by the establishment. He clearly has not surrendered his values. I wish Mike Lee would run in 2020.

160. Smack1968: Beautiful. More political shots fired in the much needed GOP Civil War. Burn it all down. Trump led GOP must die a grizzly political death. Burn baby burn!

176. Freddy Ardanza: The entire GOP has lost its soul and should pay the price

197. Uncdave: we would be winning in a landslide if Rubio were the nominee. This is why we can never let 35% of the "poorly educated" choose our nominee again. We are about to lose a landslide loss election to the most hated Democratic candidate in history because we nominated an Orange perverted Fascist as our nominee.

199. Phil: Go ahead nevertrumpster have your glow today, because by the end of the week when post debate poles and one week after the tape is all forgotten about, Donald will be right where he needs to be. Another debate thrashing of Hillary like last night, and Trump wins and puts all you Thurston Howell, III's in your place. There is not another Republican Candidate this year that could weather the October surprise that would have been leveled on who ever the Republican Candidate would have been. This is something you elite have never and will never get. Just go and join the Democrats, because that is who you are, since you are into complying to their PC way of doing things! Just leave, we don’t want you in the New Republican party of patriots that Trump has built!

208. DanL: I'm in my 40s and been a dyed in the wool, life long republican. I despise Hillary and think that she will be a terrible president. But I and my wife will vote straight democrat this election because the GOP needs to be beat to a bloody pulp for nominating and supporting Trump. I am done with the republican party and want it to die. I would very much like to see center right republicans get together with center left democrats to make a new party and thereby marginalize both the far right and the far left.

239. Damani Independent: While you are right that Hilary will win in a landslide, you are absolutely wrong that republicans will win in 2020. That is the mistake many would make in their analysis... The problem is not Trump, the problem is the base voters, the alt right and conservative base that propelled Trump to the nomination. The Republican Party is finished, they would lose this year and in 2020 and 2024... Until the party is willing to divorce itself from the radical conservative base.

293. Martha: Heavens, I've never seen such stupidity in my entire life.....Trump doesn't care if he loses. He probably wants to lose. He knows he has a fanatical following of millions that he can milk now for a decade. You think Trump gives a rats ass about holding congress? Your values? Any values? He is the biggest ignoramus to come down the pike. You bought him, and I hope you got some giggles out of it, because you have destroyed everything.

357. Doug NYC-GOP: Good God Martha – You need to get over this "holier than thou, self righteous Town Crier" act you’ve been on all year. You are becoming a caricature of the classic, nagging back seat driver shrew.

371. Independent 4 Life: Its the never trumpers fault if killary is elected. Instead of uniting and getting Trump elected they acted like babies because none of their establishment hacks got the nomination. If Hillary is elected and she abolishes the 2nd amendment and appoints liberal supreme court judges blame yoursels nevertrumpers don't come back begging on your knees begging for forgiveness that the conversative movement forgi. They won't but they'll be a,new home for you's. In the Democratic party where you belong

381. Martha: Consider my posts pay back for the way you all screwed the rest of us who knew better than to nominate a sexual pervert who wants to date his own daughter. It’s not just a difference of opinion we are suffering under. Its a difference of priorities and values. A lot of you, apparently, don’t value common decency or respect for women. You nominated a loser and now all of America will suffer. Pardon me if I’m not polite about it.

= = = = = = = = = =

After Trump loses, this infighting can only get more bitter and more vicious and, let's face it, more entertaining -- especially if Republicans suffer substantial down-ballot losses as well, which is looking increasingly likely.

Trump himself is not going to help.  As Republican leaders back gingerly away from him, he's gone into full temper-tantrum mode, lashing out in all directions and trying to settle scores.  Who knows how he'll react after actually losing the election, but my guess is, he won't do anything to calm down his enraged Trumpanzee legions or reconcile them with the party establishment he believes has betrayed him.

Update:  Here's a woman who knows how to make an exit.

09 October 2016

Link round-up for 9 October 2016

This dog is all ready for Halloween.  But certain Christians are out to ruin the fun.

The horror, the horror.

Cookie Monster turns philosopher.

Who sent Trump's tax forms to The Times?

These rules could apply to many areas of life.

I really identify with this -- and with most of these.

Totally tubular, man.

Pwned -- by a 'dillo.

There's dominoes, and then there's dominoes.

Here's a preview of Trump's porn video.

This shows how big the Sun is.

In the Halloween spirit, here's an offbeat short story of raising the dead.

This beetle has a shitty defense mechanism.

Don't worry, Michelle, your garden will be safe with Hillary.

Clearly they have something to hide.

I'd buy one.

This mayor exists.

A peaceful future requires a national minimum income.

Anything coming out of Wikileaks should be assumed to be a forgery until proven otherwise.

Did Obama's policies fail?

Trump is dividing the NFL along racial lines.

If you use Yahoo mail, read this.

Here's a nice guy, spreading the word of God.

Check out this smoker's curtain (found via Squatlo).

How bad a businessman is Trump?  This bad.

2016 could be a breakthrough election for legal marijuana.  Some may object, but there have always been people like this.

Young Jews encounter the age-old evil of anti-Semitism.

To Hell with forgiveness.

This Green candidate is an unabashed saboteur.

These people exist.

Theresa May isn't taking any bullshit from the EU.

In Poland, religious extremists in power threaten a total abortion ban -- but women protest en masse, and the law is defeated.

The Catholic Church in Mexico is up to its old tricks. But here's a Catholic love story with a happy ending.

Pence lied about the Iran nuclear deal in the VP debate.

The liberation of Mosul should come sooner rather than later, but we need to be prepared.

This is South Africa now.  How long can it last?

For a while, Hurricane Matthew threatened the US space program.

Hillary gets a surprising endorsement (found via Progressive Eruptions).

Dear Republicans just now dumping Trump -- it's way too late.  Well, he still has some supporters.  Tim Alberta at NRO surveys the wreckage.

Pennsylvania law allows serious interference in voting.

Just imagine a sitting President doing this stuff.

Women Republicans are abandoning Trump faster than the men are.  Some staffers are defying orders to stay on board.

The Trumpanzees' Wikileaks letdown reminds Driftglass of something.

A Republican win would mean wholesale disaster.  In many ways it's the same old party.

Former Nader supporters warn:  don't repeat the mistake.

Has Trump contributed anything positive?  David Frum makes the case.

[Image at top:  Mass protest in Warsaw, Poland, against a draconian anti-abortion law proposed by the country's Christianist ruling party]

08 October 2016

The upside of Trump's latest vulgarity

The substance of Trump's just-revealed 2005 paean to groping is so appalling that no commentary I could offer would really contribute anything.  Its concrete effect on the political landscape, however, may have a positive side.

For some time I've been concerned that when Trump lost, large numbers of Trumpanzees would refuse to recognize the result, claiming the election was rigged or stolen in some way.  On many wingnut sites, as in 2012, discussion has centered on claims that the polls showing Trump losing are somehow skewed or bogus.  The fever-swamp certainty that Trump is winning would have made his defeat seem shocking and illegitimate.

But since yesterday's revelations, that's no longer the case.  Yes, a hard core of true believers still insist Trump is winning -- but among most, the conviction has set in that he is now doomed.  In effect, they've given themselves permission to accept that his coming defeat is real.  Even if they still believe (as many Trumpanzees somehow do) that Trump is the victim of media bias and unfair play, nevertheless they're ready to accept a Trump defeat as being the result of more people voting against him than for him, however much they insist people voted foolishly.

And Hillary's mandate, and American democracy, will be the stronger for it.

07 October 2016

Thoughts for the day