26 September 2008

Down time

Sometimes life throws so much at you that you simply have to withdraw from it as much as possible to avoid being burned by it.

For over a year I've suffered from a hip-muscle condition which causes almost constant pain and limits my ability to walk. Lately it has gotten so severe that I cannot even maintain a normal work schedule, and have had to resort to prescription painkillers which, while somewhat effective, interfere with my normal sleep pattern. Just recently, too, an X-ray revealed that the underlying problem is a severely degenerated hip joint, which will need major surgery to repair. This is a daunting prospect, especially since I've never faced major surgery before.

On top of that, yesterday marked the end of a relationship with a person who has been an important part of my life for a long time. Suffice to say there was an argument, near the end of which some vicious, cruel things were said to me. My feelings and my efforts to express them were viciously trashed. I could hardly believe it, and I still can't forgive it. That's all I will have to say about this here. The personal should remain private.

There's a limit to how much pain I can cope with, especially since I also have a full-time job which I can't just quit going to until I feel better (I'm writing this posting while I'm at home on lunch break). However, there are other things I can quit doing until I feel better, and this blog is one of them. I'll be back at some point, but for now, I have no stomach to keep writing about politics and technology and all the rest of it. I need my time and energy for myself.

Over and out, for now.

24 September 2008

The financial meltdown/bailout thing

The reasons I haven't posted anything about this are:

(1) The subject bores me;

(2) I don't know enough about it to give an opinion informed enough to be worth anyone's reading time;

(3) I'm convinced the seriousness of such events is vastly inflated by media hype. I've lost track of how many times the world has come to an end due to some financial crisis or other in the last ten years alone.

Link roundup for 24 September 2008

Here's something you don't see every day -- an upside-down rainbow.

Sneaking photos in public? Two can play at that game.

Yet another Christian preacher has his own interpretation of "spare the rod, spoil the child".

In Britain, civilization retreats in the face of barbarism (sent by Mendip).

Like most forms of prejudice, anti-Americanism in western Europe is fueled by ignorance.

Problems with Chinese imports continue.

Guess who's releasing a soundtrack album!

Everyone knows the polls under-survey young people because they don't call cell phones. Trouble is, it's not true.

Joseph Cannon is running a contest for Obama supporters.

Here are the facts behind the Wasilla "paying for rape kits" story.

Pollster Kellyanne Conway, whose previous election predictions "have been eerily accurate", says McCain will win. The Obama cult seems to have settled on racism as their excuse if their man loses; see the recent wave of efforts to depict working-class swing voters as deeply racist, such as the already-notorious AP-Yahoo poll (read this too), or this essay in which frustrated pro-Obama union leaders repeatedly cry racism even though all the actual evidence cited indicates legitimate, non-racial reasons for their members' reservations about him. This is a dangerous game. The reality is principle over party. Meanwhile, downticket Democrats look to their own survival as the McCain-Palin ticket adds new appeal to the Republican brand.

Subtle media bias is revealed in how candidates' spoken words are quoted in writing.

Stonehenge may have been a kind of prehistoric Lourdes.

Here's a look at the Neanderthals and their fate.

One type of microscopic animal can survive unprotected in space, suggesting how life might spread from planet to planet.

Newly-designed, heavily-armored warships are built to evade detection and deliver their high-tech payloads directly to enemy targets. What's so special about these warships? Their size is one-thousandth the thickness of a human hair, the sea they sail is the bloodstream, and the "enemy targets" are cancer cells.

Note: I'm going to lay off electoral politics for a while -- at least until results from the debate this Friday start becoming apparent. I have other things on my mind these days, and some of the stuff I run into when exploring the subject is frankly nauseating and depressing (see the posting immediately below this one). For those who just can't get enough, don't forget: the one must-read blog on electoral politics is Cannonfire, which has consistently had the best postings I've seen on the topic -- see for example this debunking of the widely-believed "c-word" story.

23 September 2008

The cult of hatred and rage and slime

Watching Sandra Bernhard choking on her own rage in an out-of-control explosion of profanity-laced bile (see posting below), inexplicably described by some Obama-leaning bloggers and other writers as "humor", reinforced what has been becoming clearer and clearer to me for months: the core of the Obama cult has simply lost its senses and all grasp of basic human decency.

I'm not talking about the kind of emotionally-charged tactics that always happens in politics, the denunciations and accusations and "swift-boating" and even outright lying. Such stuff isn't pretty, but it's normal. It's been around for as long as politics has existed.

I'm talking about the unprecedented torrent of hatred and rage and slime pouring from a large contingent of Obama supporters -- not from his campaign, but from supporters -- directed against first Hillary Clinton and then Sarah Palin, and against people who support them.

I'm talking about the protracted campaign of insults and smears documented in posting after posting on Cannonfire, to which I've repeatedly linked, and familiar to anyone who regularly reads PUMA sites and sees the pro-Obama comments there. I'm talking about weird, pornographic (in the worst sense) public obsessing and fantasizing over details of these female politicians' reproduc-tive processes, like Andrew Sullivan spending days picking over every possible aspect of Palin's having had amniocentesis, as if this had anything on Earth to do with her qualifications to be Vice President. I'm talking about comparing Palin to a character in a novel "who holds you down while they fuck you". About eruptions of bizarre, incoherent, inexplicable rage. About depicting a family as incestuous in the guise of satire. Public airing of McCain/Palin pornographic fantasies. Sweaty, drooling speculations that Palin's new baby might actually be her daughter's.

That's what a major faction of the party I supported has become. Sniggering frat boys gawking up a 17-year-old girl's dress.

Examples could be multiplied endlessly; everyone who has been paying serious attention knows how pervasive this stuff has been. (This site offers pages upon pages of anti-Palin cases.)

I'm 47 and I've been taking an interest in political campaigns since I've been old enough to vote, but I have never seen anything like this. Even in the current campaign, I haven't seen anything like it coming from the pro-Clinton camp or from the Republicans. It's been coming only from the pro-Obama camp.

Even McCain himself -- the actual Republican standard-bearer, remember -- hasn't been targeted in this way. He's been fiercely criticized for his positions on issues, and insulted because of his age, but as I said above, this is really "normal" politics. The weird sexualized filth, the choking fury and disdain, have been directed almost exclusively at Clinton and Palin (though after the primaries I did start to see a bit of this being aimed at Cindy McCain, before Palin came along and presented another target).

The people who write this stuff seem utterly unable to grasp the point that it cannot in any way be considered helpful to Obama, and indeed may even be harming him, by associating him in the minds of the voters with those of his supporters who produce it. Reading their sites, it's obvious why. They can't see this, or engage in any other kind of normal introspection about what they are doing, because they are blinded by their own hatred. They are so filled with hatred and rage toward their targets that those targets are no longer real human beings to them, but personifications of evil, for whom no amount of vilification or degradation could ever be enough.

Regardless of what you think of Clinton or Palin as politicians, this is a dangerous and disturbing frame of mind for large numbers of people to be in.

The targeting of Clinton and Palin obviously suggests that gender has something to do with it. But there are just as many women as men caught up in the furious hate-and-slime slinging, so there is something more going on than just males becoming agitated about females rising to power -- though I suspect that that feeling does play something of a role. (I think that certain aspects of female chimpanzee psychology offer hints about what might be going on under the surface, but that point is too complex to explore here. Maybe in another posting.)

And there are others -- people who aren't haters themselves, but are enablers, making excuses for the filth and trying to normalize it or trivialize it.

Has this always been down there somewhere, like the writhing stuff one sees when one turns over a big rock, and we just never knew about it until the internet became pervasive enough for it to explode out from under that rock and contaminate our national political discourse? Or is it just a form of mass insanity which has recently engulfed a certain hard core of Obama cultists?

I hope it's the latter, because it implies that in the long run most of these people will return to their senses. And I see real grounds for believing that this is the case. Some of the people who have been doing this stuff are people I "knew" on a mutual-blog-reading basis before they became caught up in the hatred. Back then, they were normal, decent people. If something transformed them into their own evil twins, what was transformed can be transformed back.

One thing I do know -- if the Democrats win this election, the slime-mongers will consider their tactics vindicated and justified. They will have no reason to change, and this sick mentality will become almost impossible to uproot from the Democratic party. The Republicans will become the only major party that people with a normal sense of decency can support. That's not a corner I'm willing to see us paint ourselves into. The Democratic party must lose this election, so that it can be saved from the demons possessing it.

21 September 2008

The Sandra Bernhard "gang-rape Palin" thing

Every time I think the Palin-trashing can't sink any lower -- it does.

I'm not going to describe what was said. You can read about it here. Apparently the public airing of violent sexual fantasies that the average drunken frat boy would be careful to keep private, is now "highly provocative" humor. At least this journalist noted the possibility that a reference to "big black brothers" as presumptive rapists might just conceivably be looked upon as a bit racist in certain circles.

I've been only vaguely aware of Bernhard and her form of "humor"; the link above does have a short video of her act, though it doesn't include the gang-rape "joke" (if that's the right term). To me, this performance is a step beyond being merely not funny -- I would literally never have guessed that it was intended to be funny, had it not been described as such in the text article accompanying the video. She sounds like she is simply spluttering incoherently with rage -- which I suspect is not far from the truth.

Is this what the left has come to? Is this how we want to present ourselves to the world?

20 September 2008

Election predictions

It's now 45 days to the election. Here's what I think will most likely happen.

(1) McCain will win.

(2) The margin of victory will be large, at least five percentage points in the popular vote. A complete Electoral College blowout almost on the scale of 1972 or 1984 isn't inconceivable.

(3) In the days before the election, an ever-growing list of vapid celebrities and annoying bloggers will promise to leave the US permanently if McCain wins. After he wins, they won't leave.

(4) For a day or two after the election, there will be some sporadic violence, not from blacks but from the kind of would-be junior-Brownshirt types who tried to disrupt the Republican convention.

(5) In the wake of defeat, Obama cultists will denounce the voters as idiots, dupes, ignoramuses, racists, etc., while the loopier ones among them will indulge in dark conspiracy fantasies about rigged voting machines. The fanatics will drench the blogosphere with one last diarrheic torrent of the insults, "snark", and threats which have become the cult's trademark, aimed at PUMAs, women, older voters, rural voters, blue-collar voters, Republicans, whites who didn't vote for Obama, blacks who didn't vote for Obama, and the Clintons. This will go on for several weeks. Virtually none of the cultists will consider even the possibility that their own behavior before the election played a role in bringing about the loss.

(6) McCain will serve out his full four-year term, not dying or becoming incapacitated in office.

(7) It may take a year or so, but the cult's grip on the Democratic party will fade, many of those who were swept up in the mania will come to their senses, the present failed leadership will be swept away, and the forces of sanity will regain control. (If this doesn't happen, the PUMAs and like-minded people may permanently join an enlarged and diversified Republican coalition, consigning the Democrats to long-term minority status.)

As for 2012, I'm not foolish enough to make any predictions that far ahead -- but the very distinct possibility of a Palin-vs-(Hillary) Clinton Presidential race is intriguing to say the least.

The HFA plague engulfs the internet

A couple of years back I wrote about the infestation of HFAs (horrid flickering ads, that is, ads displaying moving rather than still images) making many sites on the internet almost unreadable. Since then, the problem has, if anything, gotten even worse. More and more sites -- and I'm talking about mainstream newspaper and news agency sites, not just blogs -- now have HFAs, often several of them onscreen at once. Even the screen which comes up when I access my e-mail has them. The "new message" screen has a banner HFA across the top, and the layout is contrived so that there is no scroll bar to the right, so I can't even scroll the stupid thing up out of sight while I'm typing a message. I actually keep a strip of thick dark paper with a piece of tape at each end near the computer, so that I can slap it across the top edge of the screen in the case of especially distracting HFAs there.

And some of these things aren't even actually ads any more. Some blogs display on their sidebars something called (I think) a "meez", a crudely-made homunculus which twitches and jerks in repetitive fashion. Since these aren't advertising anything, I can only assume they are meant as decorations.

Between the HFAs and "meezes" and other miscellaneous moving-picture annoyances, some sites look as if they were deliberately designed to induce migraines, as you struggle to read the actual text surrounded by a barrage of jerking, flickering, jittering, twitching crap.

Oh, I know, it's a very minor issue compared with AIG and South Ossetia and Rezko and global warming and so forth. But why in the world do people insist on sabotaging their own websites with this kind of utterly pointless irritant?

Quote for the day

"After spending a year under fire as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, I returned to the US and went to law school. Afterwards, by dint of hard work and many long nights, I got to the point where Joe Biden wants to take money from me to redistribute to others. That may be a fair political debate, but it is galling beyond measure to hear him present it as my patriotic duty. I am the same age as Joe Biden. Unlike him, however, I have not been a politician virtually all my adult life. But I have been to war for this country -- I was fighting the North Vietnamese army when Joe Biden was preparing to run for the US senate. My son has served three tours in intense combat in Iraq. My nephews have done the same. I'll be damned if I will be lectured on patriotic duty by the likes of Joe Biden."

Instapundit reader John Lucas

18 September 2008

Link roundup for 18 September 2008

McCain sings Streisand!

Run! It's the cannibal zombie bloggers!

The Vatican gets something right (sent by Blurber).

Muslim cleric Sheikh Muhammad Munajid condemns Mickey Mouse (sent by Mendip). He's not real keen on women's Olympic uniforms, either.

This British zoo has a gorilla webcam.

See spectacular pictures of Hurricane Ike (found via Cannonfire).

What we're about: here's one of the best elucidations I've seen of the goals of the PUMA movement.

Today's Electoral College map shows McCain ahead 274-243.

The "brain drain" goes into reverse as Europe's investment in physics research makes it a magnet for scientists -- including Americans.

16 September 2008

A nasty little vignette

The (photoshopping) tale of John McCain and Jill Greenberg.

14 September 2008

Palin: "keep good relation with.....Russia"

ABC News edited its interview with Palin to remove moderate and diplomatic comments about Russia, making her sound belligerent and frightening in a way that the sum total of her actual statements did not justify:

We have that very narrow maritime border between the United States, and the 49th state, Alaska, and Russia. They are our next door neighbors.We need to have a good relationship with them. They’re very, very important to us and they are our next door neighbor.....I’m giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it’s in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.

Hardly the words of a fanatic who is impatient to take power so she can launch an apocalyptic war against the eastern Colossus. Read it all.

What is nationalism?

Among committed atheists, I have noticed two common stances toward nationalism. One is the view that nationalism, like religion, is a primitive and irrational (and divisive) construct, something which is destined to wither away as humanity becomes more enlightened. The other is that nationalism is something that the non-religious can use as a sort of substitute for religion, something to satisfy the psychological needs that religion supposedly meets, something to fill the "God-shaped hole" we supposedly have in our lives. Both positions depend on the premise that nationalism is a phenomenon analogous to religion, something that belongs in the same psychological "slot" as religion.

I disagree with both viewpoints. Nationalism is not similar in origin or nature to religion. It is not vulnerable to the cultural forces which are eroding religion, nor does it logically serve as a substitute for religion. Religion is a belief, nationalism is a feeling. They're fundamentally different.

The belief that God exists is an assertion of fact about objective reality, like the belief that unicorns exist or that a continent you have never personally seen exists. Such assertions may have widely varying probabilities of being true, but in principle they are all subject to the same kind of testing against evidence which can allow us to infer how likely they are to be true -- even if in practice people often have emotional rather than evidence-based reasons for holding such beliefs.

Nationalism, like love of family, is an emotional attitude toward a group of humans of which one feels oneself to be part. It is not an assertion about reality, though it may occasionally generate such assertions. Moreover, while it's still debatable just how religion arose and where in our evolutionary background it is rooted (if at all), there is little doubt about the roots of the human experience of national identity and solidarity. To understand this, consider our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, an animal probably quite similar to our common ancestor which lived six million years ago.

Territorial group solidarity is the basis of chimpanzee social organization. Wild chimpanzees live in social groups of up to 120 members. Each group has a defined territory and knows exactly where the borders of that territory lie. Males regularly patrol the borders of the territory in packs, on constant alert for possible encroachments from neighboring chimpanzee groups. When they find an intruder, the result is almost always murderous violence. Within each group there are smaller factions, cliques, and endless rivalries and quarrels, but all these are subordinated to solidarity within the group, against outsiders. "Wars" between neighboring social groups, sometimes escalating to extermination of the losing side, have been observed.

Each social group has certain distinct habits which qualify as "culture", in the sense that they are behavior patterns passed from one generation to the next by observation and imitation, not genetically. The distinctive hoots and calls by which chimpanzees communicate, for example, differ subtly in sound from one social group to the next, giving each group a distinct "accent" which chimpanzees can probably identify as easily as we can recognize the sound of semi-familiar foreign languages. Individuals in one group may hold their hands in a distinctive position when greeting each other, while members of an adjacent group do not. A certain food-gathering technique may be used by all members of one group, but unknown among its neighbors.

We can see territorial group solidarity operating among humans at various levels, from the street gang to the nation-state. Especially the nation-state.

One difference between humans and chimpanzees is that we have the ability to accept individuals whom we do not personally know as members of our social group. This has removed the upper limit on social-group size which exists among chimpanzees. I and most readers of this blog belong to a human territorial social group of three hundred million individuals, whose territory covers half the North American continent, yet the underlying feelings and the inborn instincts in which they are grounded remain fundamentally similar.

If anything, the fact that human culture is vastly more complex than its rudimentary chimpanzee counterpart means that the cultural component of our sense of group identity is far richer. Humans in different regions speak different languages, practice different conventions of social interaction, and hold to different norms of sexual behavior and family life. (Humans who discover how different the practices of other groups are, often find those practices disquieting, even horrifying.) They revere different ancestors and are inspired by different historical events. The larger social groups each have massive traditions of literature, music, political development, and military heroism which serve as sources of pride in group membership for each individual. All these things strengthen and enhance a form of group identity and solidarity whose ultimate roots are at least six million years old.

And all this is, as I say, an emotion, not a belief. For a human to feel love for his nation and pride in it, to feel that it is the only place in the world he would choose to live, to be willing to fight and kill and even die to defend it -- all that does not require that he believe his nation to be better than other nations (though he may also believe that). It requires only that it be his nation.

(By analogy, your love for your family does not depend on your holding a belief that this collection of people is objectively better than any other family. It's simply a result of the fact that it's your family.)

We humans differ from chimpanzees in another important way which is relevant here. The level of violence between human nations is very low compared with the level of violence between chimpanzee social groups (measured by per capita death rates from intergroup conflicts), and has been declining for centuries, even taking the gigantic wars of the early twentieth century into account. Because we are three times as intelligent as chimpanzees, we can embrace our feelings without becoming enslaved by them.

Russian superpatriot Alexander Solzhenitsyn dismissed the sepa- ratist nationalism of Ukraine (which had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries) as an absurdity -- until he met Ukrainian nationalists in the Gulag and learned firsthand the depth of their feeling. Later he wrote that, while he still thought that Ukrainian independence from Russia would be a tragic mistake, "If that is what they truly want, then we must let them go -- for I would rather that Russia be renowned for the greatness of its deeds than for the greatness of its territory."

There speaks the true patriot -- whose own love for his people gives him light to understand that of another.

(This posting is adapted from a comment here.)

11 September 2008

On this day in 2001

10 September 2008

Lizards of Satan

09 September 2008

Welcome to the club

While Americans are preoccupied with the election, Congress is considering legislation which would essentially endorse India as a legitimate member of the "nuclear club", thus making a one-time exception to the general US policy of nuclear non-proliferation. The deal is endorsed by several major countries including Russia. Interesting discussion of the issues here.

07 September 2008

God in a snack

One of the more bizarre religious delusions around is that God, in his inscrutable wisdom, frequently causes barely-recognizable images of the Divine to appear in all sorts of unexpected places such as trees, rocks, and even a cheeto. From the tendency of believers to flock to these manifestations in order to behold them and bask in their presence, they apparently believe that they hold great significance, that God is giving them as signs to us.

Yes -- when the supposed creator of the entire universe -- billions of galaxies, with stars beyond counting -- when this unimaginably powerful and subtle superbeing wants to get our attention, he does it by making some vague image appear in a rock or on some tree bark. I would have expected thousand-mile-high flaming Hebrew lettering along the orbit of the Moon, at the very least.

(I'm leaving aside the related issue of the doctrine, ostensibly believed by about one billion people, that a small wafer of bread can actually become Jesus when a qualified holy man recites certain words over it, even though it doesn't look like Jesus.)

Inspired by (and links found via) this posting, which notes an apparent similar manifestation of Darwin.

Darwin, of course, has given us a sign even more impressive than flaming Hebrew lettering -- a theory of life’s development which is supported and confirmed by every last particle of evidence we’ve been able to gather throughout the world for more than a century. That’s a sign that should make believers out of all but the most closed-minded.

Achmed the dead terrorist

This is worth a look if you haven't already watched it.

McCain rises

Gallup's tracking poll now shows the McCain/Palin ticket three points ahead.

06 September 2008

Random political observation

During the primaries, many observers noted the class divide between the "wine track" Obama Democrats and the "beer track" Clinton Democrats.

It appears that, for the general election, we may have a similar divide between the "arugula track" and the "mooseburger track".

Could be interesting.

Link roundup for 6 September 2008

A former heroin addict has kicked the habit.

I understand why this immigrant decided to change his name in the United States.

Fight Aging posts some thoughts on radical egalitarianism and life extension. And here's a good sally against the deathists.

Machines watch and learn (found via Mendip)

In Prague, "the party" is over (love the bit about the guest book).

Vietnamese remember McCain (sent by Ranch Chimp).

Foreign pundits' pronouncements on US politics are usually way off base, but Gerard Baker, the US editor of the London Times, has consistently been an exception. He assesses Palin here.

More than forty million people watched Palin's speech, which succeeded despite technical glitches. And people liked what they saw. McCain's speech also beat Obama's in the ratings.

Cannonfire separates fact from fakery among the anti-Palin memes (but sorry, finger-licking is disgusting). On the other hand, this and this (found via Blurber) don't sound good.

I love this video. And this won't happen, but -- I wish!

Delegates speak out on the Democratic convention vote. And this is how Obama won the caucuses.

Seen one Walter Reed, seen 'em all.

Hmmm, a pretty politics-heavy roundup this time! Well, it's what's on everyone's mind right now. But there are only 59 days until the election -- and then it will be over.

04 September 2008

A letter worth writing

It's now more than two and a half months since I moved out of my old apartment in eastern Portland to my current, somewhat more expensive but far pleasanter one. During that time there has been one item of unfinished business -- the deposit of $585.00 I'd put down on the old apartment when I moved into it, which had still not been refunded. On August 3 I sent the old landlord a letter, enclosing documentation of the fact that there had been a deposit, and politely asking for my money back. There was no response.

Over the Labor Day weekend I wrote another letter, which ended with the following ("ORS" stands for "Oregon Revised Statute" -- this is the format in which Oregon state laws are cited):

According to ORS 90.300[10-11], you are supposed to refund the deposit (or give an accounting of why it was not refunded) within 31 days of move-out, provided the tenant has turned in the keys and given a forwarding address. I turned in the keys and gave a forwarding address on June 15. It is now long past 31 days after June 15, and you’ve had plenty of time since my August 3 letter to send a refund. According to ORS 90.300[14], I am thus entitled to pursue legal action to recover twice the amount wrongfully withheld. I'd rather not go through that hassle, but I am not going to let this issue drop. Please refund my deposit immediately upon receipt of this letter, and that will be the end of it.

Thank you for your attention.

I mailed this letter on Tuesday.

The refund check for $585.00 was in my PO box today.

Palin's speech

I didn't actually watch it. I don't watch TV, and party conventions are so scripted and controlled that they're basically infomercials.

The reviews I'm seeing around the net suggest that she did pretty well. Of course the most important reaction is that of the voting public, which we won't know until a few days from now, when polls start registering the effects of the speech and of the convention in general.

But she certainly wasn't a disaster, which is what the Democratic ticket needed to have happen at this point.

And the election is now just 61 days away.

03 September 2008

McCain's puppets, and Palin's real base

There is a certain horrific fascination in watching so many Obama supporters dancing to John McCain's piping as he deftly pulls their strings -- not that much active manipulation is needed.

It's almost jarring to recall that it was only last Friday that Sarah Palin was named as the Republican VP candidate, and that before that, hardly anyone had heard of her. I don't think I've ever seen a political candidate pelted with so much invective and filth in such a short span of time.

Bimbo. Airhead. Dumb hick. Bad parent. Barbie doll. If a tenth of the insults were to stick, she'd be toast.

Then there's the filth: the smutty, sniggering "snark" like this and this and the dank miasma of sweaty public fantasizing about Palin's daughter and who was pregnant when. Not even Barack Obama's own call for decency on that last subject has gotten the people who claim to support him to shut up about it.

There are plenty of legitimate objections to Palin -- her opposition to the right to abortion, her scientifically-illiterate denialism on evolution and global warming, the accusations of abuse of power for personal reasons, even her rather limited political experience (though I think that last is a much weaker issue than it seems at first glance). Those of us who would otherwise be focusing on such issues feel either drowned out by all the name-calling or cowed into silence by sheer embarrassment at the behavior of those we'd be associating ourselves with.

The thing is, this thoroughly-predictable (to anyone who watched the behavior of Obama's followers during the primaries, anyway) flood of disdain is setting Palin up to succeed. If she performs well at the Republican convention and in the VP debates with Biden (and she's said to be a pretty sharp debater), then the impression that she makes will be all the greater because of what are, to put it politely, drastically-lowered expectations.

I think McCain knew that all this would happen. He threw the red moose-meat out there to the Obama cultists as bait, and they flung themselves right into his trap.

Then there's the issue of broadening McCain's appeal to a wavering constituency of former Clinton supporters, which was surely a major reason for choosing her.

One of the most frequently-made observations over the last few days is that McCain must really be losing his mind if he thinks that Clinton's disgruntled female supporters will rally to him if he just picks a woman, any woman, as a running mate. Put that way, it does seem like a silly gambit; although, as I've already pointed out here, the vomitous outpouring of misogynistic insults aimed at her by Obama zealots is forcefully reminding female Clinton voters of what turned them off of the Obama cult so much. That, too, was completely predictable, and doubtless predicted by McCain.

The more significant point, though, is the one I alluded to here. Yes, the choice of Palin was partly meant to lure a disgruntled Clinton-supporting Democratic constituency out from under Obama's bus and into McCain's camp -- but that constituency isn't women, or at least it isn't primarily women. It's the rural and working-class voters, the ones who gave Clinton huge primary victories in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other such swing states which will also decide the general election. The people whom the "progressive" insult machine back then was denouncing as hicks, rubes, racists, "low-information whites", bitter gun-clingers, and so forth. Them.

Palin is from that culture and it's still her culture. It's a culture that urban "progressives" know little about, but enjoy sneering at when it occasionally crosses their attention. And sneer they will. And thus they will remind millions of voters in the swing states -- the states which, I repeat, will decide this election -- of exactly why they never liked people like Obama or his most visible supporters.

The worst part is that when Obama loses in November, his cult will almost certainly react with a paroxysm of denouncing the voters as idiots, brainwashed, easily-led, and so forth, just as too many Democrats did after the 2004 debacle (I'm already seeing signs of people revving themselves up to do this). Even at the bottom of the hole, they will still find a way to keep digging. In seeking the reason for the defeat, it will never occur to them to look in the one place they most need to look -- the mirror.

02 September 2008

Flaming-batshit insanity of the week

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins -- the authors of that definitive modern eschatological text, the novel series Left Buttock or whatever it's called -- have concluded that Barack Obama isn't the Antichrist after all:

"I can see by the language he uses why people think he could be the antichrist," adds LaHaye, "but from my reading of scripture, he doesn't meet the criteria. There is no indication in the Bible that the antichrist will be an American."

Glad that's been cleared up.

Found via Handmaiden.

01 September 2008

Honorable words from Obama

Barack Obama deserves unstinting praise for this firm statement concerning the media/blogosphere feeding frenzy around the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter:

I have heard some of the news on this and so let me be as clear as possible. I have said before and I will repeat again, I think peo-ple’s families are off limits, and people’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics, it has no relevance to governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18. And how family deals with issues and teenage children that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that is off limits.

Let's hope his supporters listen and come to their senses, so that at least this one manifestation of the ugliness of this campaign season will be quelled.

Has Palin wiped out.....

.....Obama's convention bounce already?

Needless to say, that is pretty horrendous news for Obama.....It also largely explains the all-out anti-Palin blitz of the last 48 hours. If I’d just lost my entire convention bump to the other team’s 5-minute VP announcement, I’d be trying to turn her into a werewolf, too.

Well, I don't think she's the one who's looking like a werewolf at the moment.....

While McCain's decision to choose Palin shows a tactical brilliance that would have made him a formidable opponent for anyone, I'm still mainly just aghast at the total mess the Democratic party has managed to make of the Presidential race in the most Democrat-friendly year in decades. If Hillary Clinton were the nominee, can you imagine her floundering like this? If whole armies of bloggers claiming to support her were spreading obscene insults all over the internet and antagonizing millions of voters she needed, can you imagine her not taking action to rein them in?

It's going to serve us right when we lose this one.