29 November 2008

Link roundup for 29 November 2008

Just be good for goodness sake.

Fear the Darkness Turkey.

As chronic medical problems go, this sounds like one of the less-unpleasant ones.

Is it possible to remember seeing a photo that never existed? (Found via Cannonfire.)

Be careful with your cell phone.

Balloons carry messages into the dark land.

Who started the "war on Christmas"? (Found via Republic of T.)

Here's a detailed analysis of the Mumbai attack; to me it seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that at least some elements of the Pakistani regime were involved.

The tactics the Mumbai terrorists used have been used before.

Read postings by Indian bloggers here.

Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders speaks out against Islamic barbarism in Europe (note how the last two paragraphs show that he understands the reality of the situation, while the American WSJ editor does not). But Muslim extremists have found natural allies in the West (scroll down a bit).

Here's a look at what life is like for women in Pakistan, and how some are trying to resist.

Yossi Klein Halevi gives us straight talk on Iran.

Is Obama a leader or a mediator? As I've noted before, he does seem to value wisdom and stability, despite his cult followers' disgruntlement. Meanwhile, Democratic party leaders gloat.

This downturn is not 1929 -- not even close: "Amid all the political and media hysteria, national output has declined by less than one-half of one percent. In fact, it may not have declined even that much -- or at all -- when the statistics are revised later, as they very often are. We are not talking about the Great Depression, when output dropped by one-third and unemployment soared to 25 percent."

But China is being hit hard. More here. And you know things are getting bad in Russia when people start cutting back on vodka.

Is this a natural precedent for gay adoption?

The battle for gay marriage is not a culture war.

Deep brain stimulation produces intriguing results.

A new ultra-sensitive microscope brings nanotechnology closer.

Researchers have found what may be a genetic root cause of aging -- a crucial step toward a cure for that deadly disease. More here.

28 November 2008


As I write this, the estimated death toll from the terrorist attacks in Mumbai has risen to 125 and will probably go higher. Indian security forces are gradually regaining control of the situation, but the name of India's great cosmopolitan metropolis is already written in spattered civilized blood alongside those of New York, Washington, Beslan, London, Madrid, and Bali. Of course it is misleading to treat this as something new, since India has suffered many Islamic terrorist attacks over the years; like Israel, India seems to enrage the jihadists merely by existing. But this latest atrocity has reached a level that even a people as oblivious to the outside world as Americans are cannot ignore.

It should remind us that there are issues more important than the internal political differences which have obsessed us recently. It should remind those who bleat on about "the politics of fear" that there really are things out there to fear, and that if we pretend real threats do not exist, we are likely to suffer for our self-delusion. And it should remind us that whatever differences we may have with countries like India, Russia, Israel, or the EU states, all of the civilized peoples need to stand together and cooperate without reservation against the barbarian common enemy.

Update (2:20 PM): "More than 150 people were killed when the teams of gunmen stormed the Taj and another hotel, a popular restaurant, hospitals, a Jewish center, a crowded train station and at least five other sites. A group of suspected Muslim militants claimed responsibility." (source)


27 November 2008

Quote for the day

"When I saw all of the presidential candidates in August 2007, with the exception of Biden, the one I was least impressed with was Obama. He sat on the stage during the forum and looked positively bored. He didn’t say anything novel or interesting or inspiring. He wasn’t controversial or witty. He was like matter: he had mass and took up space and that was just about it. How so many people took that flavorless tofu of a man and constructed a light filled being empowered by magical beans to turn the country into a land of liberal warm fuzzies is testament to the creativity that brought America to the edge of financial collapse. If it is possible to turn Barack Obama into a wunder pres, just think how quickly we will be able to solve the energy crisis! Global warming? Imagine it away."

25 November 2008

Sites to check out

Some sites I'm reading these days:

The PUMA Forums -- Energetic discussions, including one non-political "casual" forum. It's PUMA turf but pretty much any anti-Obama viewpoints are welcome (there are a few nuts -- they're trying to be inclusive).

The Daily PUMA -- Frequently-updated links to the latest postings on dozens of PUMA blogs (and a few right-wing ones).

The Republic of T -- Terrance introduces himself as "Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal." Consistently intelligent and interesting. Leans pro-Obama, but the subject rarely comes up.

Hillary Clinton Army -- 20% politics to 80% retro pop culture. Leans Obama-reconciliationist, but again, the subject rarely comes up.

Cannonfire -- It's still the best blog on Obama and the election. Occasional forays into non-political topics, always highly literate.

24 November 2008

Stop panicking, you flaming idiots

As I've been saying for over a month, this is not 1929. Not even close.

23 November 2008

Link roundup for 23 November 2008

Think you aren't getting some of your mail? Maybe you aren't. But it does seem that this German jail has reliable mail service. These Indiana jail inmates, though, had other priorities than escaping.

Remember when the future was supposed to look like this?

Check out New York City's new prayer booth.

The Vatican forgives John Lennon! Next week: John Wayne Gacy forgives Albert Schweitzer.

Why can't our third parties be like Australia's? (Well, maybe the US Minerals Management Service is getting the idea.)

Want a bracing dose of totalitarian oppression to add zest to your life? Try this theme park (found via Mendip).

This year's US National Intelligence Council report predicts that the US will decline -- and Russia will rise. Russian dissident Garry Kasparov has advice for Americans.

Obama continues to make middle-of-the-road appointments, to the annoyance of nutjobs who supported him. More detonations here. Meanwhile, Ayman al-Zawahiri makes an idiot of himself (sent by Ranch Chimp).

Obama's worst move: nominating Eric Holder for anything.

This year's election was pretty much like earlier ones.

McCain won more Christian Right votes this year than Bush did in 2004 -- proving that turning out the "base" is not the key to future Republican victories.

Gay marriage will inevitably win (found via Republic of T).

Mexican migration to the US has declined sharply, due to the economic slowdown and tougher US laws.

There's much more to India's space program than just the lunar probe.

This heroic story deserved a lot more coverage.

Doctors in Britain have performed the world's first implantation of a complete organ grown from the patient's own stem cells.

Silicon.com interviews Ray Kurzweil about the promise of near-future technology.

George Dvorsky meets Kurzweil's co-author, Terry Grossman. More grounds for optimism here.

22 November 2008

Civics knowledge test

This is a pretty good test of knowledge of our system of govern-ment (found via Cannonfire). I got 30 out of 33 questions right.

21 November 2008

Cultists' nightmare?

Hmmm. Among rank-and-file Obamatards, some rumblings of discontent are being heard. Rather than packing his cabinet with mold-busting radical leftists, The One is assembling a team of establishment figures, many of them associated with the (shudder) Clintons. Maybe he realizes that, having won the toughest job on the planet, he needs as many experienced old hands on deck as he can get.

Could it be that there is some cosmic justice after all, and that this foreshadows the special circle of Hell now yawning open before Obama's vile cultists? That the Teleprompter Messiah is not going to give everyone their own magic unicorn or even appoint Dennis Kucinich as Secretary of State? That he's just an ordinary politician who used the cultists as he needed them, and will cast them aside to govern from the moderate left?

Obama can never be Hillary. But he may turn out to be what they thought Hillary was. If that is to be their punishment, it will be a tasty one to behold.

20 November 2008

How badly did McCain really do?

It's traditional, and healthy, for the losing party in a Presidential election to go through a period of trying to figure out what went wrong and how they can do better next time. This year, it's the Republicans' turn. I think, though, they are at risk of drawing the wrong conclusions because they are asking the wrong questions.

A considerable amount of the analysis of the election that I have seen focuses on McCain's supposed weaknesses as a candidate, his alienation of the Republican base, etc. -- the implication being that a radically-different Republican candidate could have expected to beat Obama.

This is ignoring the fundamental reality of the situation. At the beginning of this year, hardly anyone entertained the idea that the Republicans had a realistic chance of holding the Presidency. In the wake of Bush's disastrous Presidency and an endless string of Republican scandals, the popularity of the Republican "brand" was at its lowest ebb in decades, if not generations. Democrats were winning in Congressional districts which normally go Republican by double-digit margins. Media bias in Obama's favor was blatant. Any Republican candidate at all would have been at a massive disadvantage under these conditions. What's actually surprising, given the challenges he faced, was how well McCain did -- he lost by a popular-vote margin of only 6.5%. Had the financial crisis not struck just before the election as it did, he might even have won. Given the odds against him it was a respectable performance.

Realistically, only a Republican of McCain's stripe had any chance at all in a year like this. With his bipartisan record and relatively centrist positions, he did manage to appeal to many voters in the broad political center, where elections are decided. His stand on abortion had drifted from tolerance to hostility, but there is every reason to think that this was to placate the Christian Right base of the party, and very little grounds for thinking that as President he would have pushed the issue. His acknowledgement of evolution and anthropogenic global warming, and his support for stem-cell research, heralded an end to the embarrassing Republican "war on science". His biography and his image as a man of honor made him appealing even to many who did not agree with him on the issues. Many people who, a year ago, could not have imagined voting for a Republican, did end up doing so.

As it happened, in such an unfavorable year for Republicans, even all this was not quite enough. But a hard-core "base" candidate like Huckabee or Jindal would probably have lost far more massively, handing Obama a real landslide win -- a 1972 or 1984 in reverse.

This is the trap into which the Republicans now risk falling -- to delude themselves that McCain lost because he was too moderate and that they need to re-embrace the Christian Right. In fact, the results of this year's referenda on abortion (the most prominent of the social issues) show that American voters are turning away from restrictions even in conservative states. The success of anti-gay-marriage propositions may suggest that gay-bashing is still a winning issue, but in fact the margins of victory for such initiatives are decreasing with each electoral cycle, and the tipping point will likely be reached before 2012. Even now, it's hard to imagine that many voters, even anti-gay ones, find this issue important enough to outweigh concerns about the economy and national security.

Another problem is the propensity of generals to want to fight the previous war rather than the next one. Much of the "buzz" about possible Republican Presidential candidates for 2012 now focuses on Palin and Jindal, likely based largely on the fact that both are young and charismatic and neither are white males, making it possible to imagine them as Republican counterparts to Obama. But 2012 is likely to be a very different electoral year from 2008 (consider how different 2008 was from 2004). Obama is likely to spend the next four years demonstrating -- perhaps at great cost to the country -- that experience and wisdom and, yes, the age which tends to bestow those things, are indeed very important in a President. By the same token, those years will likely have soured Americans on the idea of voting for rhetoric and charisma over substance. 2012 might actually be the ideal year for a McCain-like candidate. In fact, assuming his health is good, I don't think the possibility of McCain trying again can be entirely ruled out -- since he never made a one-term pledge this year, those who voted for him were presumably comfortable with the idea of him serving in 2012-2016.

In closing, here are a couple of points of free political advice for the Republicans (not that they'd take them from me):

(1) Surveys have consistently shown that the American public is strongly, and increasingly, hostile to illegal immigration. We want strict enforcement of immigration laws, no amnesty for the illegals who are here now, and tough employer sanctions and other such measures (not mass deportations) to drive the interlopers back to their home countries. Right now, neither party will touch this issue. But it's out there, ready and waiting to give a major boost to whichever party first takes it up. Logically that party should be the Democrats, traditionally the party of the American working class. But if the Republicans want to win over all those swing-state blue-collar workers once and for all, here's their chance.

(2) Americans are very concerned about any threat to their right to own firearms. The upsurge in gun purchases since the election illustrates this point clearly, and it's a concern which Obama, just as clearly, does not "get". If his administration makes any effort to impose restrictions, or even makes any noises about doing so, or nominates Supreme Court justices who are weak on the Second Amendment -- then he will have handed his Republican challenger in 2012, whoever it is, a gift-wrapped game-changer of an issue.

Pirate ship goes down

The Indian navy strikes back against the new Barbary.

18 November 2008

The bullies' last stand

One of the things that has surprised me about the election results is the sheer disgust I've found myself feeling about the passage of Proposition 8, the gay-marriage ban in California.

I'm not homosexual and generally don't even have much interest in the subject (note how rarely it is mentioned here). But the sheer viciousness and mean-spiritedness of the anti-gay-marriage cru-saders is breathtaking. There was no goal or cause here except to take something away from an easily-victimized group, something which was not doing anyone else the slightest harm. There's a word for beating up on somebody weaker than yourself just to show you can, and that word is "bullying".

The claim that the religious conservatives (and let's be clear, Proposition 8 was an initiative of religious conservatives) were somehow "defending" marriage is absurd on its face since no one has ever been able to explain coherently how allowing gays to participate in that institution represents any sort of "threat" to it. The only such "threat" lay in the fact that it undermined the ability of the religious to stigmatize and exclude a group of people (I have written before about the bizarre distortion of the religious mind by which any attempt to resist or even ignore religious bullying is re-defined as persecution of the bullies by their victims). Nor is there any empirical evidence of such harm. Gay marriage is now legal in two states (Massachusetts and Connecticut) and five foreign countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and South Africa -- yes, we are now lagging behind South Africa on a civil-rights issue), and the institution of marriage is not obviously in any worse shape in those countries than in similar countries which still exclude homosexuals from it.

Yes, many of the protests against Proposition 8 have been overly aggressive and even abusive of the free-speech rights of their opponents, and yes, such protests are probably actually hurting their own cause by turning more voters against gay marriage, and yes, this is tragic. Before being too judgmental, however, consider how you would feel if the right of people of your group (your race, your ethnicity, your religion, or whatever) to get married were suddenly taken away by popular vote -- that is, not only had you lost an established right (which gay marriage was, in California), but you found out that 52% of the people in the society around you supported taking it away from you.

Some of these protesters have behaved repulsively, but few of the people calling on them for restraint have ever faced such a tragic and infuriating provocation themselves.

It is simply against the spirit of a constitutional republic for the rights of minorities to be determined by referendum. Back in the 1960s, when the courts struck down the laws against interracial marriage, polls showed that a clear majority of the public still supported those laws. An anti-interracial-marriage Proposition 8 would likely have passed back then, too. And how likely is it that segregation and Jim Crow would have vanished when they did, if their fate had been decided by referenda on a state-by-state basis?

I think the gay-marriage issue is going to become the new abortion -- the new battleground on which the religious will try to assert some last vestige of what they apparently consider their essential right to force everyone else to abide by their taboos. Abortion has been the battleground for decades, but careful review of this year's election results has surely made it clear to all but the most self-deluding of the religious that they have now lost that battle. The anti-gay-marriage crusade, by contrast, won in every state where it was on the ballot. It's the last crusade that still looks like it can succeed -- the bullies' last stand.

Fortunately, it's an illusion. Proposition 8 passed by only 52%-to-48%, a much narrower margin than any anti-gay-marriage refe-rendum before it. The tide is clearly turning. The bullies are going to lose this fight, too. And I've discovered that I won't feel even the faintest flicker of sympathy for them when they do.

(Good postings on this topic here and here.)

15 November 2008

Chandrayaan-1 stakes a claim

India becomes the fourth country to land a probe on the Moon.

14 November 2008

Link roundup for 14 November 2008

PJ O'Rourke explains (amusingly) how conservatives blew it.

The Onion celebrates a pioneering racehorse.

Iowahawk explains why America should take pride in the election.

Monks brawl in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem -- "A ladder placed on a ledge over the entrance sometime in the 19th century has remained there ever since because of a dispute over who has the authority to take it down." WWJD?

I found this picture of Obama and McCain oddly intriguing.

Here's a handy field guide to trolls.

Christopher Hitchens, who voted for Obama, warns us against euphoria.

George Will reminds us of the founders' intentions concerning the selection of Presidential candidates.

Subtle traps await the newly-dominant Democrats.

Here's an interesting way of looking at American culture: Yankees and cowboys.

The bald eagle is a strikingly appropriate symbol for our country: "The bald eagle is by nature a loner. He hunts for food and shelter alone. He depends on only himself to live. He is not afraid to fight to protect his claimed space on earth.....He's best enjoyed from a place of best defense and definitely from a safe distance. Kind of the same way I'd like the rest of the world to see America."

Exit polls suggest Clinton would have won by a larger margin than Obama did (found via Texas Hill Country). She's one of a kind.

The predicted surge in voter turnout didn't happen.

This Catholic priest denies Obama voters communion because of his pro-abortion stance. Most actual Catholic voters have fairly liberal views on sexuality and "said government was too quick to interfere with people's personal lives and private decisions".

These religious parents have decidedly less-modern attitudes.

Joseph Cannon points out that Obama represents a step forward for equality in another way: "I cherish even more my freedom to say that I think Barack Obama is just another corrupt, lying poli-tician -- neither the first nor the last corrupt liar to be elected to our highest office. In my eyes, he's not a symbol, not an arche-type, not a representative of any group. I'm not talking about anyone or anything else. Just that one guy. If that's not equality, how do you define the term?"

While we've been preoccupied with politics, technology marches on. Here's a video showing what remarkable progress has been made in direct brain-computer interfacing.

Work is also underway to defeat arthritis.

RNA interference technology promises breakthroughs in many areas of medicine.

And could this story from Germany (found via Blue Lyon) mean a cure for AIDS?

12 November 2008

Mr. President-elect, about that "test".....

While we Americans are naturally focused on our own country's economic crisis, the other nuclear superpower is also having problems. Aside from an unstable currency and the threat of bank runs, Russia is being harmed rather than helped by falling oil prices, since fossil-fuel exports are a major source of its income.

If you think this is good for us, think again. The aggressive Putin regime is not the enfeebled Soviet state of 1991. It might react to the crisis by reining in military spending and pulling in its horns, but it might also do what authoritarian states in trouble have often done in the past -- try to rally the masses around the leader by fomenting conflict with some foreign power. The accession of a US President whom Moscow doubtless views as weak and naive will make the latter option all the more tempting. Biden's comment that Obama would be "tested" may prove all too prophetic.

Obama's appointment of a tough realist like Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff is one of the few positive signs since the election. Now let's hope that he, unlike the present occupant of the White House, actually listens to the people he's hired instead of to his "gut".

11 November 2008

Should PUMAs form a third party?

Last week the proprietor of the now-defunct PUMA blog "Pagan Power" sent an e-mail to all his former commenters proposing that the PUMA movement try to launch a third political party. The following, slightly edited and expanded, is my response:

Where the PUMA movement goes from here is an important question, and I see many different ideas being aired on various sites.

My own feeling is that trying to start a third political party would not be a productive use of our energies. The dominant position of the two established big parties amounts to a stranglehold; it has withstood every effort to undermine it for generations. Greens, Libertarians, the "Constitution" party, Ross Perot -- despite great opportunities that each of those has felt they had at various times, each has utterly failed to make a dent in the actual workings of the political system. It's true that Ralph Nader probably swung the 2000 election to Bush by flipping a few swing states, but did he succeed in actually advancing any of the issues he was supposedly running on? No, all he accomplished was to get himself vilified by the rest of the left for helping Bush win office.

This is the basic problem with third parties under our system -- if you actually manage to get a nontrivial number of votes, all you can achieve is to shift the actual outcome in favor of whichever major party is less sympathetic to your position.

The Democrats and Republicans each have a massive, entrenched apparatus which reaches into every city and county in the nation. It would take decades, and an improbable level of manpower, to build up anything similar for a third party. Far more effective for us to work to get access to those existing machineries of power.

Those movements which have actually succeeded in influencing national politics have been those which, rather than trying to form third parties, aligned themselves with one of the big parties either as a full coalition member or at least as an ally based on common interests. Unions have acquired power as part of the Democratic coalition. The Christian Right similarly owes its political influence to its role as an established player on the Republican side.

As for alliances of common interest, the swing-voter groups like blue-collar workers, "soccer moms", and Hispanics are especially courted because they are open to the advances of either party. Not one of those groups has ever considered trying to start a third political party, something they are much too diffuse and diverse to do anyway (the same could be said of us PUMAs, of course), and I see no reason to think they would have become more influential if they had -- quite the opposite, in fact, since they would have simply been taking themselves "off the table" from the viewpoint of the major parties.

We PUMAs, too, would be most influential as a recognized "swing" constituency. As I've argued elsewhere, the Democratic party is now "lost", at least for a while -- victory has entrenched the Obama cult immovably. The Republicans, by contrast, are now in a more malleable state after their defeat, looking to refine their message and find new groups to which they can appeal. Also, the common struggle against the Obama machine allowed conservatives and PUMAs to get to know each other (even if only in blog comment sections) and discover a degree of mutual respect despite their differences. All this gives us something to work with.

The Republican party is open to a new direction. We can have an influence on what direction they take. That course could have a concrete impact on what actually happens in 2010 and 2012, and what the results in those years will mean. Yet another tiny third party (or rather dozens of them, since many people will have the same idea) will not, based on the precedents of recent history.

That's my take on it, anyway.

08 November 2008

Aborting the abortion "issue"

Republicans wondering how to refine their message in order to try for a comeback in 2010 and 2012 would be well advised to heed the voters' verdict on three state measures to restrict abortion.

In conservative South Dakota, Measure 11, an initiative to ban abortion, lost by 56%-44% despite including certain exceptions (rape, incest, and health of the mother) which had been omitted from a similar proposal rejected by voters in 2006.

Colorado's Amendment 48, which would have redefined "persons" to include fertilized egg cells, was defeated by a margin of almost three to one.

And in California, even Proposition 4, which would merely have mandated parental consent for girls under 18 to have abortions, lost by 52%-48%.

Look, if you can't pass this stuff in South Dakota, you can't pass it anywhere. It's time to acknowledge that forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term is moving into the same category as defending segregated water fountains or anti-miscegenation laws. This is a settled issue. Our society has made up its mind. The debate is over. If you try to keep arguing about it in 2012, you're just going to look unserious.

Link roundup for 8 November 2008

MWB takes a moment to thank the man who made Obama's victory possible. Riverdaughter seethes in the same spirit.

Jabberwock dissects another Chick tract.

Evidently charities have too much money, since they can afford to turn it down for absurd reasons (sent by Mendip). Similarly, Texas must now be totally free of actual crime, since its police can afford to waste resources going after stuff like this.

It's the Night of the Living Obama Supporters!

Dan Savage notes an unpleasant fact about the narrow victory of California's gay-marriage ban. More here. And this is even more disturbing.

Chizumatic calls the election a "coming of age" moment.

Elections come and go, but Catholic priests keep on doing what they do best.

The menace of terrorism remains very real.

Is China going to crash?

Islamic justice strikes again!

This breakthrough could improve the prospects for solar power.

Another innovation could help the elderly walk more easily.

North Carolina researchers discover a super-painkiller.

Technology harnesses bacterial propulsion to benefit humans.

05 November 2008

Back to work

Aside from being election day, Tuesday marked my first day back at my job since the surgery. So far it's only part-time, but it's one more step back toward full self-sufficiency.

04 November 2008

The mistake is made

Well, I never thought our people would do it; clearly, I was wrong.

Normally, in such situations, I try to find some silver lining to cite. In this case, there is none. This election result is an unmitigated disaster. Obama is grotesquely underqualified and inexperienced for the office to which he has just been elected. His foreign-policy naivete offers foreign tyrants the same kinds of temptations and opportunities as Jimmy Carter's, and in a world grown far more complex and dangerous than it was in 1976. The best one can hope for is that our country will not pay too high a price, in terms of life and national sovereignty, during his coming education in the realities of the world.

(And no, I will not join in the general round of national strutting about the fact that we have elected a black man as President. We are long, long past the point where there remained the slightest excuse for judging people by race. The fact that we managed to refrain from doing so in this case, in 2008, is neither surprising nor particularly grounds for self-congratulation.)

If I ever decide to involve myself in politics again at all, it will be unequivocally as a Republican. Obama's victory means that the cult of thuggery, classism, misogyny, and slime, which seized control of the Democratic party when it robbed Hillary Clinton of the nomination earlier this year, will now remain entrenched there for the foreseeable future. There is simply nothing left in the Democratic party for me any more. Even beyond the party, this election result will encourage and strengthen all the disgusting, loathsome elements which for months have rallied to smear and destroy Clinton and Palin in particular and opposition to Obama in general.

Make no mistake: our country survived Jimmy Carter, it survived George W. Bush, and it will survive Barack Obama. Who can know what 2012 will bring? But it daunts me to think of what we could have had -- in Clinton or McCain -- and then to contemplate the road we have chosen instead.

03 November 2008

Reminders, one day before the vote

Hard-core Obama cultists will, of course, studiously avoid reading or viewing anything that might undeceive them. For anyone else who is reading this, though, some reminders on key points:

(1) Barack Obama is not legitimately the Democratic nominee. His followers stole the nomination from Hillary Clinton by blatant fraud and intimidation during the caucuses.

(2) His cult has engaged in a campaign of systematic vilification, dehumanization, and sliming of all opposition, most notably the disgusting misogynistic attacks on Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin -- a campaign without parallel in modern American politics.

(3) The Wright/TUCC issue remains. Does Obama find rabid anti-white racism, America-bashing, and paranoia to be acceptable? If not, why did he take as his spiritual mentor, for most of his adult life, a man who preached those things? Why did he attend that man's church for equally long, and bring his daughters there? If I were religious, I would not stay for even a moment in a church whose preacher talked about blacks the way Wright talked about whites.

(4) Several other important issues, including national security, are addressed in my own posting here, which also responds to some of the concerns and reservations which those of us on the left might naturally have about a McCain administration.

(5) On the war-and-peace issue, this veteran says it better in two minutes than a lengthy essay I might write could hope to do. Note also that US troops overwhelmingly favor McCain.

The polls say the American electorate is on the brink of making a terrible mistake. But for myself, I think our people are wiser than the pundits give them credit for. Tomorrow will tell.

02 November 2008

Election thoughts (non-partisan)

Most people I know seem to have long ago reached the point of exhaustion with the subject of the election, and can hardly wait to put the whole thing behind them. That's understandable. But I do have to say that there's one aspect of our national elections that I've always liked.

Election day is the day power comes home.

Election day is the day we turn the tables and make our voices heard. It's the day when the men who wield power in Brussels and Moscow and Beijing and Tokyo and, yes, in Washington itself, must just sit tight and wait to see which candidate we -- ordinary people in cities and towns all across the United States -- will place in the most powerful office on Earth. They get no say. This decision is purely ours.

And if you think you may not like the outcome on Tuesday, look at it this way: either McCain or Obama will be a huge improvement over the guy we've got in the Presidency right now. In that sense, either way, we win.

18 days later

Considering the invasiveness of the operation I had, it is amazing how fast recovery has been. At the surgery site itself there is no more than occasional discomfort. The painful swelling in one foot (which the hospital has confirmed is normal) is annoying, but is now clearly on the mend. I can do most normal things including driving and shopping. The constant need for attention to not getting my leg into any of those "forbidden" positions is wearing, but the doctor said that I would only need to worry about that for about a month, so I'm more than halfway through that.

The most important aftereffect is constant tiredness and lack of energy. That's partly due to the "forbidden positions" issue -- I don't sleep well because I can't sleep in the position I'm used to, so I feel sleepy during the day -- but I think mostly it's just because my system is diverting such a lot of energy to the healing process. Perhaps as a result of that, surgical recovery is a real sex-drive killer too; I find that I hardly ever even think about that, and when I do, it just doesn't hold my interest. It's a very odd feeling, and one which anyone having major surgery for the first time should be prepared for.

But all this will pass in time. I expect to be back to work at my job on Tuesday, and within a month or so I should be not only back to normal, but in better shape than at any time during the last couple of years, when that degenerating hip joint was gradually taking over my life.

A few decades ago that condition would have been untreatable and I would probably have ended up in a wheelchair, in too much chronic pain to work. I am very fortunate to live at a time when technology can routinely make such repairs.

01 November 2008

Dear Mr. Obama

This simple message from a veteran of the Iraq war is said to be the most-watched election-related video on YouTube (currently over twelve million views).