28 February 2012

The battle of Michigan

Today's primary votes in Michigan and Arizona seem likely to drive the internal acrimony and recrimination among Republicans to new heights. It's now basically a two-man race between Romney and Santorum (though Gingrich is still glowering darkly from just over the southern horizon, plotting a Super Tuesday come-back). "Rombots" denounce Santorum as a fanatic, a Washington insider, and a liberal, and his voters as anti-Mormon bigots; "ABR" ("anyone but Romney") voters denounce Romney as a phony, an establishment tool, and a liberal. Yes, Romney and Santorum are "liberals". This name-calling is getting pretty ugly.

Arizona looks like a likely Romney win, but polls have Michigan too close to call. If Romney loses Michigan, where he was born and where his father was Governor, it will be a severe blow to his credibility -- and to his hopes of winning the demographically-similar and even more crucial state of Ohio.

Santorum seems to worry about the Devil a lot, but lately "Rombots" feel that he himself is the one doing a deal with the Devil, as his PAC robocalls Michigan Democrats urging them to vote for him in the Republican primary (it's an open primary, so non-Republicans can vote in it) to punish Romney for opposing the auto-industry bail-out (the call doesn't mention that Santorum also opposed it). If Democratic cross-over votes do give Santorum a win in Michigan, Romneyites will likely blame not "Operation Hilarity" but Santorum himself, further deepening the split between Republicans.

As an example of the level of acrimony that has developed, see the comment thread here, especially the later three-quarters or so. Comments 78, 105, 106, 108, and 220 especially interested me; last year I speculated that Romney's candidacy would trigger a wave of anti-Mormon feeling among the fundamentalist base, which could in turn alienate Mormons from the Republican party. Maybe it's really happening.

How much harm will all this internal squabbling really do to the Republicans? Some point out that the Democrats had a bitter contest in 2008 and their nominee still won big. But that election was held in the wake of the disastrous Bush Presidency and an economic collapse; it brought in the biggest Democratic Congressional majorities in generations. The Democratic Presidential candidate should have had a landslide. Who's to say that Obama (or Hillary) wouldn't have won even bigger without the divisive primary fight? And our 2008 primary battle never turned into a fight over religion, as theirs now is clearly doing (in the modern Republican party, religion permeates everything) -- and religious conflicts are notoriously bitter and intractable.

The people fighting these battles on the net are, of course, political junkies; the average Republican is probably not so engaged. But acrimony among a small core of politically-active Republicans still matters. A few percent of voters disaffected could still flip a few close states in November.

Then there's the harm the candidates are doing each other in the eyes of the general electorate. Romney's favorable/unfavorable ratings are being driven into Gingrich-like territory.

Even if Romney wins Michigan today, it will be hard to restore his aura of inevitability and re-unify the party. ABRs may take another look at Gingrich, who faces more favorable (Southern) turf in next week's primaries. And if Santorum wins, the infighting will just get worse. Either way, it promises to be quite a show.

Update (Wednesday the 29th): So Romney wins Michigan, and Santorum is damaged goods for his "deal with the Devil" -- and the ABRs still need somewhere to go. I'll be watching for a Gingrich resurgence on March 6.

26 February 2012

Link round-up for 26 February 2012

Santorum's run generates interesting headlines.

We know better now.

Here's the present US social order in one cartoon.

The Palin-for-President movement is small, dedicated, and hilarious.

Vote for Santorum if you want this.

Here are some more animals that are too big.

Look who doesn't want to go to Heaven.

Murr Brewster looks at Romney.

Satan is a looming presence on the right these days.

Bill Maher offers a big donation and some words of warning.

Here's a new project to combat anti-atheist bigotry.

Stupid regulations by ignorant politicians are about to drive a major industry out of Los Angeles.

For Republicans, lying about Obama is the new normal. Oh, and Santorum also lies about World War II -- and about the Netherlands.

Fundamentalism's hostility to modernity is linked to its anti- democratic mind-set.

Rick Perry hasn't finished being an embarrassment to Texas.

Republican dogma makes it impossible for them to deal honestly with the problem of inequality.

Tennessee school authorities' attempt to censor a student backfires.

Santorum has his reasons for attacking higher education -- not surprising for a guy who sees Satan at work everywhere.

If you don't vote, you don't matter.

Michigan Democrats plot revenge for Limbaugh's 2008 "Operation Chaos".

Here's why we need federal gay marriage.

There are huge differences between the parties.

Why try de-regulation again when we already know it leads to disaster?

Republicans' decades-long descent into paranoia culminates in mutual destruction (link from Shaw Kenawe).

Mormon defilement of the dead extends to Anne Frank.

Wisconsin's voter-ID law excludes many legitimate voters from the primary, including a military veteran.

Arch-bigot Bryan Fischer joins in the attack on Jessica Ahlquist.

Tennessee teabaggers demand a shocking revision of history.

Long-term, US unions need to fight for workplace democracy. More immediately, they're engaged in fighting to save what we have.

Virginia Republicans are retreating from their disgusting forced- ultrasound law, but it's done lasting damage to Governor McDonnell.

David Frum looks at yet another example of right-wing fake news.

Apparently violence is OK in Pennsylvania if it's committed by a religious fanatic.

There's more to Foster Friess than aspirin.

British Christians have reason to oppose the Conservative attack on secularism (found via Republic of Gilead).

If you're super-wealthy, Britain has an unbeatable tax break for you.

Ireland is much more secular and liberal than we think.

European (and US Republican) austerity policies mean pain without gain.

EU bureaucrats impose austerity even though they themselves know it won't work.

The coming conservative defeat in France will show other Europeans that austerity can be beaten back.

Strauss-Kahn is in trouble again -- has this guy ever been photo- graphed together with Gingrich?

Traditional values and beliefs are alive and well in Nepal.

Chinese workers suffer conditions that people in developed countries would never tolerate.

There used to be many species of humans, so why are we the only one left today?

Working from home is good for your heart.

Take a look at the universe.

A film is being made about one of our era's great fighters for truth (found via The Immoral Minority).

The galaxy may be swarming with nomad planets un-moored from stars.

Creationists notwithstanding, we've observed several examples of new species evolving (found via Lady Atheist).

Big money is waging an all-out war against science in the US.

If governments keep trying to pull crap like SOPA, the technology exists to create a new internet completely bypassing the restrictions.

23 February 2012

The right wing's ancient evil

I suppose this proposed Virginia law, which I first heard about via Progressive Eruptions, was the final straw -- but I've known for a long time that there's far more at stake this year than in an ordinary election. We're facing a bizarre, atavistic evil here. It does not control the whole Republican party -- yet -- but wherever they attain power, so does it.

It's not enough that our country has become a land where a few people who have learned to game the system accumulate obscene wealth by destroying jobs and producing nothing of value, while the incomes of the workers who produce everything of value stagnate. It's not enough that taxes on the wealthiest have been cut relentlessly for half a century until, we are told, the government can no longer afford to provide even the threadbare safety net we've come to know. It's not enough that the opposition elite's hand-picked candidate for the Presidency is a man whose career exemplifies these nation-wrecking trends. No, there's something even more dark and horrible looming behind all that.

This is a war against modernity and modernity's central premise, the value system based on the individual's right to self-determination so long as his or her actions do not interfere with the self-determination of others, in favor of the older value system based on arbitrary taboos and edicts recorded in ancient religious texts, where our lives should be shaped not by our own desires but by the plans supposedly drawn for us by an imaginary deity. I could fill paragraphs with examples of the sophistry and obfuscation I've seen Republicans use to re-frame opposition to abortion and birth control so as to avoid mentioning the issue of women's self-determination -- to make the question about anything other than individual choice. That's the basic clash of world-views here: is your life your own, to be run based on your own wishes, or are you created as a utensil for some divine plan?

Theirs is clearly a religious world-view, even if the divine plan was replaced by the will of the state in earlier, semi-secularized variants of it (Fascism and Communism). Hence, too, the sin-and-punishment model exemplified by the Virginia law. Any supposed medical purpose is window dressing; the point is to humiliate a person who (must have) violated a sexual taboo and is now trying to evade the divinely-ordained punishment. If the Old Testament's dietary laws were still taken seriously by fundamentalists, they might be proposing laws to require similar degrading treatment for people who seek medical help for food poisoning after eating shellfish.

The sin/punishment model suffuses all their thinking. Republican rhetoric about the poor and unemployed is laced with a penalizing stance. Drug-test them, take away their benefits, impose this or that rule -- punish, degrade, humiliate. In the religious model, suffering is redemptive, so the more of it the better. It's sadism and deliberate cruelty, puffed up with a stance of moral superiority.

One sees the same in the conservative austerity policies being forced on southern Europe by the EU bureaucracy, privileging deficit reduction over jobs at a time of brutal unemployment. Never mind that the economic contraction caused by austerity is destroying the basis of future growth which would actually reduce the deficits. Solving the problem is not the point. The bureaucrats ignore the terrible suffering austerity creates -- if anything, they seem to relish it. Sin must be punished. The moral superiority of the north over the south must be asserted. And of course Republican deficit hawks in the US are eager to impose the same sick model here.

It's no wonder that gays are such a target of choice. Their very existence is not allowed by the taboo system. In the fundamentalist world-view, there are no gay people, just a special case of sinful temptation and the necessity of resisting it. Even if gay sex can't be criminalized any more (and don't doubt for a moment that these people would still do that if they could), gays must be excluded from marriage, excluded from the military, excluded from teaching, excluded, excluded, excluded. The casting-out of the taboo-breaker, the branding with the scarlet letter, the public verdict "there is something wrong with you, you are not fit to be among us" -- that is the point.

Everywhere where they took power in 2010, they've been showing their true colors. Attack gays, attack women's self-determination, attack the poor.

It's always mostly about sex, of course. Repressed people are always fixated on it. There was never any real-world possibility that shellfish would be an issue. 95% of the Christian Right's obsessions are about other people's sexual self-determination and how to stop them from transgressing taboos. And like other psycho-sexual criminals, they escalate over time. So they have now reached the point of decreeing that women in Virginia who seek abortions be subjected by law to a procedure that meets the legal definition of rape. And make no mistake, if they get away with that, the next thing they come up with will be worse. It won't stop until somebody stops it.

The opposition today no longer embodies the spirit of Eisenhower and Goldwater, but that of the robber baron and the Grand Inquisitor of centuries past. Its face is no longer Reagan's sunny optimism, but the rapist's triumphant snigger.

There is one other matter which is seldom raised, but which is desperately important for the future of our country.

The world is entering an era in which proficiency in science and technology will outweigh everything else. The pace of technological change has accelerated beyond what seemed possible even a decade or two ago. In the world of the near future, it is the nations with the best brains that will lead. A nation that bets on cheap labor will not lead. A nation whose science classes teach that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that solid scientific fact must be rejected if it contradicts primitive dogma, will not lead. A nation where every proposal for major government investment in public education is met with whining about the burden on the taxpayers, will not lead. The right wing is setting up our children to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the Germans and Japanese.

We've got to win this thing. Re-electing Obama is necessary (think Supreme Court picks) but not sufficient. We must take back the House from Boehner and the teabagging lunatics who are so extreme even he can barely cope with them. We must restore a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, plus a margin of error to allow for a few Blue Dogs. We must make sure Elizabeth Warren gets in this year, so she'll be in position to run for President in 2016 and finish the work Obama started. We must get Walker and the other union-busting Kochroaches out. But beyond that, we must smash the troglodytes and bullies on the other side so hard and bury them so deep that they can never, ever dig themselves out to torment and destroy the decent people of this country again.

20 February 2012

Video of the week -- from within the cross-hairs

Lauren Zuniga responds to the deranged Republican forced-birth fetishists. Found via Freak-Out Nation.

19 February 2012

Link round-up for 19 February 2012

Enjoy the scenery.

At any party, there's one person who loses something and ends up looking all over the place for it.

Please stop mispronouncing these.

Murr Brewster looks at the dung beetle and the role of genetics in her Scandinavian ancestry.

With some people, there's no point in discussion.

Mario Piperni posts the latest late-night political one-liners.

What is a parasite?

Methinks the game is rigged!

An Oklahoma Democrat fights Republican idiocy in the spirit of Monty Python.

The Onion looks at efforts to save an endangered species.

An ancient and simple tool liberates the imagination.

Pills banned? Give the Sarah Palin birth-control method a try.

A "sovereign citizen" crank declares war on grammar.

"Dogs against Romney"? Unleash the hounds! Protest photos here.

This week has been a Republican festival of sexist cluelessness. Progressive Eruptions looks at the latest outrages against women. Santorum's woman problem goes beyond birth control.

Charles Johnson has another round-up of comments posted at Fox, this time targeting Michelle Obama -- be warned, they're just as bad as the Whitney Houston comments I linked to on Monday.

Here's how Santorum really thinks -- remember, this guy wants to be President.

The Catholic hierarchy has jumped the shark these days (found via Progressive Eruptions).

Republicans' cave on the payroll tax shows that Democrats have learned how to fight them.

Dead people on the voter rolls aren't such a big deal.

Could Santorum really win the nomination? Rasmussen says yes. Possible campaign posters here and here; more here.

Here's more on that study linking prejudice to low intelligence.

Dave Dubya looks at the CPAC hate-fest (found via Progressive Eruptions).

Jack Jodell has ten questions for conservatives.

Republicans' weird use of language is rooted in their dishonesty with their own supporters.

No, this is not class warfare (found via Politics Plus).

That Suffolk poll showing Brown ahead of Warren is probably just an outlier.

One bishop says the birth-control coverage mandate is of the Devil.

Why did Santorum lose his 2006 Senate race so badly?

Don't get complacent, but we are winning the culture wars (found via Republic of Gilead).

Hey, let's not make a big deal out of a paltry few dozen murders.

In this case, a white man was a victim of police racism.

If corporate profits were the key to job creation, well.....

A leak exposes the inner workings of the libertarian war against science funded by, among others, the Koch brothers. More here.

Limbaugh vacations at Puerto Plata, a town with a reputation.

What does it mean to be "raped too much"? Is there a right amount?

The pain of death exposes the stupidity of religion.

As Republican hopefuls battle in Michigan, the real winner is Obama.

Interracial marriage continues to rise in the US, ushering us toward a truly post-racial future.

The financial parasite class no longer has its fangs quite so deep in our throats.

Would President Romney be Boehner's puppet?

Britain's Conservative leader supports Sarkozy, but only up to a point.

Andrew Sullivan, visiting Britain, starts to see the dangers of austerity.

The Muslim co-chair of the British Conservative party calls for Islam and Christianity to unite against secularism. Even in Britain, religion has a bullying attitude.

German socialist leader Sigmar Gabriel, who will become the most powerful man in western Europe after Merkel loses the 2013 election, denounces austerity as madness. Rather than brutalizing Greece, Germany should look to its own history. Escape could come via a return to the drachma.

Muslim terrorists are identified in Thailand -- by prostitutes they partied with.

British scientists re-create music silenced for 165 million years.

It's startling to realize how much we're surrounded by skeuomorphs.

At a conference in the northwest, creationist nutters fall flat again.

Was Stonehenge an instrument of musical magic? (found via Mendip).

Doctors in Los Angeles have successfully used stem cells to repair heart-attack damage in a human patient.

17 February 2012

Video of the week -- Hitchens and Khayyâm

How Omar Khayyâm addressed the Muslim clergy of his time. Silly beliefs aren't so harmless when they become a basis for claiming power over others.

16 February 2012

Word of the day

In the tradition of Santorum's neologism, Romney's roof-bound hound is immortalized with a new verb.

15 February 2012

This year's other Presidential election

The US isn't the only country which will elect a President this year. France votes on April 22, and the results could have Europe-wide or even global impact.

The current President is Nicolas Sarkozy of the conservative UMP coalition, a close ally of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (also a conservative) -- indeed, Merkel and Sarkozy together more or less run the European Union, Germany and France being its two biggest economies. Sarkozy's main opponent in the election is François Hollande of the Socialist party. Hollande has a commanding lead over Sarkozy -- 32% to 25% in the latest poll -- and conventional wisdom is that his victory in April is near-certain. There are several other candidates, but in the French system, if no one candidate gets a majority, there is a run-off between the top two vote-getters -- and polls show Hollande would easily beat Sarkozy or any other rival in a run-off.

(The only other candidate with much support is Marine Le Pen of the Front National, a formerly extreme-right party which has moderated under her leadership and rejects the euro currency and EU integration. The fact that her support polls in the 15%-20% range is interesting, but she has no real chance of winning this year's election.)

Why does this matter? Sarkozy, like Merkel, strongly supports the centralized EU and its imposition of austerity policies which are crushing the life out of weaker member nations and are increasingly unpopular throughout the EU. Hollande is somewhat more luke-warm on the EU, but more importantly, he aims to dump the EU-prescribed madness of austerity for the kind of tried-and-true Keynesian stimulus policies that have begun to revive the US -- raise taxes on corporations and the rich, and use spending to encourage job creation. He has described "the world of finance" as his "real adversary". This is one of our kind of guys, not one of theirs. He's also unlikely to get along with Merkel the way Sarkozy does, since Merkel is not only his ideological opposite but has even campaigned for Sarkozy in France.

So when Hollande becomes President, the present German-French co-dominion over the EU is likely to fracture, with France taking a giant step toward economic sanity (French resentment of Germany's growing dominance, and awareness of the damage the euro currency is doing to the French economy, will encourage this). Not only will the split make it harder for the EU to impose its will on smaller countries, but as Hollande's policies begin to revive France, they'll inspire demands for similar policies in other countries.

Conservative, austerity-friendly governments now rule all of the EU's big countries, but in Spain, the Socialists lost the last election because they were too subservient to the EU to govern as socialists, and the right won by default (and is already blowing it). Italy is run by a quisling administration imposed by the EU. Conservatives won Britain's last election because the previous Labour government had been in power over a decade and was pursuing hugely unpopular policies, notably on immigration. Merkel herself is very unpopular in Germany, despite a vigorous economy, and faces an election next year.

The example of a socialist-led revival in the EU's second-biggest economy could well inspire change elsewhere. Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and even Spain are too small and powerless to dare defy the EU too blatantly. France is not.

13 February 2012

The mentality of the opposition

Charles Johnson has a collection of comments posted on the Fox News report of the death of Whitney Houston. Take a look.

Update: Here's another example of the mentality that still exists under some rocks in our country.

12 February 2012

Link round-up for 12 February 2012

Today is Darwin Day.

Damn right.

Bad Headlines is a blog that posts news headlines as they appear, amusingly truncated, on a small phone screen (found via Plead Ignorance).

These flags are good enough to eat -- or drink.

In a time of flashy, dull mega-movies, don't overlook this little jewel (found via Mendip).

This is a big fuss over a dead fish.

Please let it be like this.

Huffington Post distorts the views of Darwin, Einstein, and Sagan on religion.

Murr Brewster's roving reporter "interviews" Gingrich.

What the hell are they growing in the Netherlands?

Sorry, Mitt, the Republican base just doesn't like you.

Worst valentine card ever.

Congratulations to Georgia's Brittney Baxter, 7, on her escape.

We're seeing the fastest 6-month drop in unemployment since 1984 -- and the stimulus did it.

Here's a state-by-state overview of gay marriage in the US.

Andrew Sullivan has a round-up of reactions to Santorum's sweep.

The Komen Foundation may never recover from its foolish attack on Planned Parenthood.

One of these men was a true American.

A leader of teabaggerdom says the movement is dead.

Republicans oppose this tax cut, since it's for ordinary workers and not the wealthy.

Annabel's first doubts about religion came from learning about another religion (an example of this).

Remember the voter "enthusiasm gap"? It's turned in our favor now.

Traditional values mean crappy relationship advice.

Santorum is a nutcase with a pre-modern mentality.

Who supports the ACA's birth-control coverage rule? Catholics do. There "religious liberty" argument against it is feeble (more here). And make no mistake -- Obama's "compromise" is a win.

What can Republicans do if their economic sabotage fails?

OK, so here's one thing Gingrich is right about.

Mendip isn't buying the Marines' explanation of the Nazi-flag incident.

Too bad more executives aren't like this guy.

Trump is being an asshole to Scotland.

Spain's new conservative government launches an unpopular attack on secularism (found via Preliator pro Causa).

Street violence returns as Greece comes under crushing pressure from the EU. More on Greece here and here.

Yes, a death penalty for blasphemy in the 21st century (found via Preliator pro Causa).

In marked contrast to most Republicans, Obama strongly supports science.

Plants communicate with chemical signals.

The human bias toward pessimism may have evolutionary roots.

The first animal wasn't much to look at.

British scientists find a new way to grow brain cells, a step toward new treatments for Alzheimer's and stroke.

Ohio researchers reverse the effects of Alzheimer's in mice using bexarotene (more here) -- this is especially significant since bexarotene is already approved for use on humans for other purposes, eliminating one step in approval if it is found to help Alzheimer's in humans.

09 February 2012

A more extremist Republican party?

The Republican nomination fight matters, we're told, because the future of the Republican party depends on what kind of nominee loses to Obama this November. If it's a nutjob from the Santorum / Bachmann / Paul mold, defeat will discredit the crazies and move the party back to the center; if a moderate gets nominated and then loses in November, the crazies will claim vindication and the party will become even more extremist (more here).

The problem is that the latter scenario is more likely. Despite this week's upset, Romney will almost certainly be the nominee; and while he embodies the evil and cruelty of the financial parasite class, by Republican standards he's sane and moderate enough to have already incurred the profound suspicion of the troglodyte / fundie base. And while nothing is certain in politics, he's almost sure to lose to Obama, possibly in a landslide.

So by this time next year, we may indeed be seeing the Republican party renouncing what moderation it now retains and becoming even more extremist.

But seeing the Republican party as it already is, the mind boggles to contemplate what that would actually consist of. I mean, what exactly could they do to become even more extremist than they already are? Will they want public schools to teach that the Earth is just 60 years old, not 6,000, and that anyone who claims to remember events earlier than that is deceived by Satan? Will the next "personhood" bill declare that life begins at the moment the rapist gets his pants unzipped? Will the next wave of "anti-voter- fraud" laws cut out all the obfuscating detail and just require you to provide proof that you aren't black? Will they push to execute scientists for stem-cell research? Completely exempt millionaires from all taxes? Revoke the citizenship of atheists and anyone with a college degree? Nominate Fred Phelps for President?

My point is, they're already halfway over the shark, in terms of what a political party can be and still remain viable in a modern nation. If they go much further, whatever the details turn out to look like, then the remaining sane members, the McCains and Frums and Christies and Snowes, will either be purged or give up and quit -- they'll either become a new economic-conservative wing of the Democrats, or form a third party and vanish into irrelevance. The remnant Republican party will be a broken instrument in the hands of the financial parasite class, who will find that fixing or replacing it is beyond even their powers.

If we can just get through this next election, it may be the last one that needs to be fought under the present circumstances -- the contradictions and rancor within conservatism may finally blow it apart into its constituent sub-movements, some of which we can do business with when they're no longer locked in coalition with the lunatics. If the Republican party implodes, then given the logistical difficulty of creating a viable new national party in such a huge country, the US could even become a de facto one-party state for a while. If so, the financial parasite class will redouble its efforts to dominate the Democratic party. The real battle of 2016 may be to nominate Warren or someone like her, and to elect a Congress with the same spirit, to take the bastards down once and for all.

07 February 2012

Video of the week -- Winterland

Das wahre Leben bleibt geheim. Thanks again to Ahab for turning me on to Unheilig.

06 February 2012

Boing! Boing!

"Did you miss me?" Newt Gingrich asked of reporters during his bizarre press conference after the Nevada caucuses. The event served as a reminder of why I, for one, would miss him if he were to drop out of the race, something he sounds very unlikely to do anytime soon. Let's face it, he's the life of the party.

Romney is evil, sure, but it's Gordon Gekko evil, investment capital financial interest-rate ZZZZZ..... Ron Paul is pretty much your standard libertarian nutjob who thinks raising a millionaire's taxes back to Reagan-era levels is an outrageous infringement of liberty, while forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is not -- but he's been doing this forever and we're all pretty tired of his act, and the Fed / gold-standard crankery is migraine- caliber boring. Even his newly-revealed racism just reminds us that he's a relic of a bygone era. Santorum is the most out-there sexophobic religious nut since Christine O'Donnell, but it's been hard for such a bland squeaky-clean Mr. Rogers image to get much attention in a field so full of colorful characters as this Republican race has been.

Gingrich is the most colorful character of all, the grand guignol figure in the contest. He's the bloody car wreck you can't look away from. A vicious, bloated megalomaniac whose relations with women and attitude toward them call Henry VIII to mind, he's the pit bullfrog of Republicans. I see him skulking in a high-tech lair built inside an extinct volcano, wearing a monocle and stroking a white cat, cackling maniacally over his latest evil scheme while lightning crashes in the background. He's as fun to hate as Lord Voldemort or Darth Vader. He thinks he's Hari Seldon. What other Presidential candidate could inspire an SF parody?

And he just won't quit. During that weird piece of post-caucus theater (entertaining commentary from rank-and-file Republicans here, starting around comment 140), playing Ahab to Romney's Moby Dick, Gingrich declared "I care very deeply about helping the poorest Americans.....I think one of the great challenges of conservatism is to turn the safety net into a trampoline." Yeah, we all know what he meant, but the mental image conjured by that metaphor is a funny one. If our comedians and bloggers are on the ball, they'll milk that one for almost as much as the Moon-colony thing. God knows what else he'll come up with if he really stays in the race all the way to the end. By Tampa the Republican party is going to look like something Ed Wood came up with on an off day. Enjoy the show.

Update: The bitter fight between Republican rivals is leaving the rank and file divided into hostile camps -- see the comment thread here for examples of acrimony between Mitttards, Newtrons, and Frothies. Meanwhile, two new polls (one from Rasmussen!) show Obama with a growing edge over Romney -- savor the panic.

05 February 2012

Link round-up for 5 February 2012

SNL imagines Gingrich's Moon colony.

Murr Brewster explores how to be an influential blogger.

How long does a queen last?

Don't poke the big guy.

In Seamus's name -- it's Dogs Against Romney.

Mankind needs faith in the toilet unicorn.

Fashion -- would anyone actually wear this?

Today is the birthday of one of the world's greatest and most unique artists.

Wise words from a wise woman.

This is not the face of a President.

Giant snakes escaping from dumbass exotic-pet enthusiasts are wiping out native mammals in Florida (too bad they didn't get any of the Republican Presidential candidates, but then, none of them look very edible).

Millions of Americans live in a nightmarish illusion.

Here's Fox News summed up in one sign.

Romney can't even get a simple thing like this right.

The Komen Foundation battle isn't over, though the Christian Right is freaking out -- more here.

Republicans keep running into problems with their campaign songs.

Yet another Catholic archdiocese is inundated with legal claims for child molestation.

More insiders corroborate: Ron Paul knew of and approved those racist newsletters. Green Eagle looks at the Paul cult's fascist ties.

Beware of political spin by the lazy media.

Romney knows nothing of how ordinary people live. His tax plan is just another give-away to the wealthiest, but he's not inspiring much far-right enthusiasm. Here's a look at his Bain record. He belongs to a male-dominated cult (found via Republic of Gilead) -- but don't they all?

The Nutty faction of Republicans is shifting support from Gingrich to Santorum.

The Atheist Camel looks at recent examples of Christian cruelty and hypocrisy.

For Republicans to move back to moderation, they need a Clinton- like figure; as it is, they may become even crazier.

Bigoted religious cranks go after JC Penney.

Here's an interesting discussion (both post and comments thread) of Romney's VP options.

The Sarah Burke case highlights the gulf between the American and Canadian health-care systems.

Andrew Sullivan has a round-up of reactions to the Florida primary.

Here's more on how dogmatic fundamentalism is driving away its own younger generation (found via Republic of Gilead).

Britain is beefing up security in the Falklands, just in case.

Doctors fight quackery in Australia.

Dead-Logic looks at atheism and superstition in South Africa.

Egyptians blame their interim military government for the deadly Port Said soccer riot. The Muslim Brotherhood, too, is an outdated relic of the past.

Libya's doing better than you think.

As the Syrian regime escalates its brutality, it loses legitimacy.

This is one hell of a crack.

Muslim fake science is just as pathetic as Christian creationism.

A Moon colony is actually a backward-looking idea since manned space travel is obsolete.

Russian scientists close in on a lake which has been isolated for 15 million years (found via Histories of Things to Come); photos here.

Fixing these proteins should help stop aging in brain cells.

American leadership in technology depends upon educated brainpower, not cheap labor (the same is even more true of the even more important revolution in medical technology, though the essay doesn't mention this).

02 February 2012

Must-read #2: blundering bullies

Stonekettle Station has one of the best expositions I've seen on why the War on Drugs is a total failure and inevitably must be so -- and then goes on to explain, in terms even a Congressman could understand, why SOPA would be even more ineffectual and an even bigger disaster. Of course the same applies, in varying ways, to the abortion-banners and porn-censors and all the other fainting-couch pearl-clutchers desperately trying to eradicate everything that makes them feel affronted.

01 February 2012

Take action for Planned Parenthood

Under the influence of Republican troglodytes, the Susan Komen Foundation has just withdrawn almost $1,000,000 in funding for breast-cancer screenings by Planned Parenthood. Full story and petition here -- please sign. Thanks to Parsley's Pics for the alert.

Video of the week -- Santorum's twisted world

Sometimes you gotta just stop and contemplate the real meaning of the crap these bastards are spouting. Found via Republic of Gilead. Original quote here.