30 October 2016

Link round-up for 30 October 2016

Check out these re-imagined monster movie posters.

There's now a complete Trump alphabet.

Errr.....coffin races exist, and here's why (found via Mendip).

We've always been weird.

Here's a collection of Classical mythology jokes.

For Halloween, dancing German witches, a cat lover, and ten terrifying female mythical creatures (though to a Republican, the scariest one would be women voters -- and they're real).

Dog whistles aren't good enough for Trump.

Curt Schilling may be a teabagger, but he's bombing in the city of the original Tea Party.

One horcrux down, six to go.

"This is fair now.  This is the law."

Stupid Republicans are stupid.

Kinda figures -- Trumpanzees don't know any Spanish.  (Hey, are they doing the Sign of the Horns in the last pic?)

Vines are being phased out -- here's how to keep your favorites.

People need to know more Christian history.

Crazed crazy people are crazily crazy.

There are striking differences in the treatment meted out to different protesting groups.

Learn the history of how we won the 40-hour workweek (found via Progressive Eruptions).

Trump uses the battle of Mosul to demonstrate his grotesque cluelessness about military affairs.

This is what education looks like under a theocracy.

Girls, especially younger ones, are closing the gender gap in science.

Trump's "rigged election" bullshit could backfire on the whole party.

Paul Wartenberg reports from a Hillary rally in Tampa, with numerous photos and video clips.

If you're planning to vote for Stein, read this.

Here's the flaming-religious-nutball argument for Trump.

More analysts think Hillary has a chance at winning Texas (as I suggested here).

Mock Paper Scissors looks at Comey's October surprise. Hillary's campaign hopes supporters will be angered and energized by such a blatant attempt to influence the electionCherchez l'homme!

The more women vote, the better.

This election will decide a lot of other things besides the Presidency (I already voted for Kate Brown, but #14 is a real shocker and needs to go the other way).

Trumpanzees fantasize about rebellion if their man loses -- but not all of them.  And the government is doing a good job keeping tabs on potentially violent groups anyway.

Republicans will emerge from this election badly divided, perhaps weakened even for 2018.  Let's hope so, given the sinister anti-democratic thinking taking hold among conservatives.

27 October 2016

Back to work

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

26 October 2016

Even Texas?

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

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

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

25 October 2016

At last.....

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

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

A few links to get you fired up:

The Trumpanzees are trying to steal North Carolina.

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

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

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

23 October 2016

Link round-up for 23 October 2016

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

Wingardium levisofa!

Never stop learning.

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

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

The neighbors think we need cheering up.

This Japanese beach glows with beautiful blue radiance.

Yeah, right, like that would ever happen.

Religion leads to dumb letter-writing.

To any foreign readers -- I endorse this sentiment.

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

No Jesus, no peace?

Pussy grabs backTake him down.

A new film celebrates a special category of atheists.

Benjamin Franklin has a wise message for us.

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

An atheist convention is shut down by violent religious thugs.

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

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

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

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

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

Fifty North American tribes unite against tar-sands pipelines.

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

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

Are Apple stores really this bad?

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

After Mosul is liberated, there will be another challenge.

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

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

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

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

Jan Brewer offers a challenge.

Green Eagle has a guide to California propositions.

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

Many a family harbors an unspoken gender gap.

Prospects for the Senate look promising.

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

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

22 October 2016

Video of the day -- no place for him?

20 October 2016

Update from the war (the real one)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 October 2016

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

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

16 October 2016

Link round-up for 16 October 2016

Cat the brush.

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

Trump will be remembered with honor.

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

Smallest car ever?

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

Pussy grabber or rabbit protector?

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

This is NGC 247.

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

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

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

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

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

A small graphic illustrates something of the Trumpanzee mentality.

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

No prayers, please.

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

The FBI has thwarted a planned terrorist attack in Kansas.

A Republican responds to my question about the future.

These Trumpanzees are taking a stand against intimidation.

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

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

Belief has trouble coping with logic.

Warren Buffett schools Trump on taxes.

Just imagine if this guy looked Middle Eastern.

Anti-vaxxers don't understand how science works.

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

Pope Francis is no friend of gays.

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

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

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

What is it with religion and stampedes?

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

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

Spiders can hear you.

President Obama speaks out on technology.

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

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

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

Who is really the snake here?

A panel of Trump experts analyzes his latest antics.

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

Michelle Obama and Trumpanzees -- poles apart in class.

Putin has good reasons to oppose Hillary's Presidency.

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

Considering Gary Johnson?  Check out his positions.

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

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

Former nuclear launch officers issue a statement on Trump.

Here's why we need a landslide.

[Image at top:  mountains on Pluto]

14 October 2016

Little fellahs

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

12 October 2016

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

11 October 2016

Intra-wingnut warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

= = = = = = = = = =

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

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

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

09 October 2016

Link round-up for 9 October 2016

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

The horror, the horror.

Cookie Monster turns philosopher.

Who sent Trump's tax forms to The Times?

These rules could apply to many areas of life.

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

Totally tubular, man.

Pwned -- by a 'dillo.

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

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

This shows how big the Sun is.

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

This beetle has a shitty defense mechanism.

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

Clearly they have something to hide.

I'd buy one.

This mayor exists.

A peaceful future requires a national minimum income.

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

Did Obama's policies fail?

Trump is dividing the NFL along racial lines.

If you use Yahoo mail, read this.

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

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

How bad a businessman is Trump?  This bad.

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

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

To Hell with forgiveness.

This Green candidate is an unabashed saboteur.

These people exist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pennsylvania law allows serious interference in voting.

Just imagine a sitting President doing this stuff.

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

The Trumpanzees' Wikileaks letdown reminds Driftglass of something.

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

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

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

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

08 October 2016

The upside of Trump's latest vulgarity

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

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

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

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

07 October 2016

Thoughts for the day

05 October 2016

Running mates matter

Imagine if a vice presidential candidate said "I am a Muslim first, a liberal second, and a Democrat third". Think about that. Pence says "I'm a Christian first, a conservative second, and Republican third". I have a problem with anyone putting their religion first. I don’t want to live under Christian Biblical law any more than I want to live under Sharia law. These people scare me.

Elizabeth Diamond

It's become a commonplace to observe that a Presidential candidate's VP choice doesn't matter and can safely be disregarded -- many said, for example, that yesterday's VP debate would have no effect on the election outcome and thus it hardly mattered who won.  This is unfortunate.  The VP choice is of some importance, and should be acknowledged as such.

A sitting VP is first in line to succeed the President.  Everybody knows this, but not many seem to realize how important it is.  During a President's term there is always a nontrivial possibility that the VP -- a person who did not actually win election to the Presidency and in many cases could not have -- might step into that office which wields more power than any other on the globe.  It matters who that person is.

The last running mate who drew the full interest and scrutiny the position deserves was Sarah Palin.  She was a colorful, attention-getting figure (a big part of why McCain, lagging in the polls and seeking a game-changing move, chose her) and, as rapidly became apparent, was seriously unqualified for the job.  The concern was all the greater because McCain was 72 -- the older the President, the greater the risk that he or she will die in office or resign due to health issues.  I don't believe Palin cost McCain the election, because 2008 was an election no Republican could have won, following the grossly unpopular Bush and his economic crash and running against the charismatic Obama.  But she probably cost him a nontrivial number of votes.  I personally knew of people who had intended to vote for McCain but did not do so because they didn't want to see Palin a heartbeat away from supreme power.

Hillary Clinton is 68.  Donald Trump is 70.  Neither needed an exciting, attention-getting running mate because both bring those qualities to their tickets themselves (Hillary would be the first woman President, and Trump is Trump).  So Kaine and Pence haven't gotten a lot of scrutiny.  They should.  Whichever one's ticket wins has a small but nontrivial chance of becoming President some time in the next four years.

Pence personifies what has worried me the most about the Republican party for many years.  He's an unabashed theocrat who believes that American civil law should enforce the taboos of his own religion upon the entire populace.  As Governor of Indiana he acted on this conviction, most famously signing the so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" allowing businesses to discriminate against gays on grounds of religious prejudice, but also signing laws designed to harass and humiliate women seeking abortions, and working to defund Planned Parenthood.  The anti-gay law was eventually watered down after economic sanctions were imposed on Indiana because of it, and Pence was not able to go so far as actually banning abortion due to Roe v. Wade, but those setbacks reflect the fact that a state Governor has far less power than a President.

If Trump were elected and then died in office or resigned (or was impeached) for whatever reason, Pence would become President.  Imagine this man with full power to issue executive orders, set policy on discrimination throughout the executive branch, and appoint the Supreme Court judges who would hear future challenges to Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v. Hodges, separation of church and state, and the Devil knows what else.  He could disastrously redirect the whole course of the country.  It's very unlikely that a man like Pence could actually win election to the Presidency in his own right.  Yet in this scenario, there he would be.

And Kaine?  Frankly I know little about him, but I trust Hillary's judgment.  He self-identifies as Catholic, but is outspokenly pro-choice on abortion and accepts gay marriage.  The enemy recognizes him and Pence as polar opposites.  So should we.

Trump himself offers an abundance of reasons to vote against him.  But Pence represents almost as great a potential disaster.  It's worth keeping that in mind.

[Image at top:  Governor Pence signing the anti-gay RFRA, surrounded by religious clerics; found via Mock Paper Scissors]

03 October 2016

The Trump movement and what it means

Donald Trump has long said that his candidacy represents a movement, not just a conventional campaign.  The thing is, he has a point.  What began as an insurgency, dismissed as unserious by mainstream Republicans, has swept aside supposed heavyweights like Jeb Bush and John Kasich to capture the nomination and then make a frighteningly-credible play for the general election.  Yes, he'll almost certainly lose, but current polling and Electoral College projections look like the run-up to an "ordinary" Democratic win similar to 2008 or 2012, not to the blow-out one would expect after one party nominated such an outrageous and fatuous candidate.

So yes, the Trump "movement" has fallen with one hell of a splash into the calm blue waters of conventional political thinking, and we would be wise to consider its implications even after it is finally flushed away in November.  What lessons can we find here?

First, some of the rhetorical sacred cows of Republicanism -- "limited government", free trade, the free-enterprise system -- turn out not to be so sacred after all.  To the exquisite horror of mainstream Republican ideologists, Trump has gleefully cast those things aside in favor of a half-assed strongman / autarkist vision more reminiscent of Putin's Russia than of the ideas of Adam Smith or Ayn Rand.  And most rank-and-file Republicans seem OK with this.  Like us, they resent the rule of a small, wealthy elite, even if their grasp of the details of the problem is frighteningly naïve and distorted.  The real free-market ideologists have largely decamped to Gary Johnson, but there don't seem to be very many of them.

Even after Trump's defeat, it will be almost impossible to restore the free market / trade / limited government shibboleths to their position as part of the core ideology of the Republican party (assuming the party survives at all).  Everyone has seen that hardly anyone really cares about that stuff, and they won't be able to unsee it.

What viscerally attracts many of Trump's followers to him is his blunt appeal to nativist / white-nationalist fears and loathings.  Kick out Mexicans, wall off Mexico, exclude Muslims, dismiss blacks' anger about police abuses as unfounded, roll back the social and civil-rights gains of gays.  Basically, push away all the changes in the world which the most provincial and uneducated part of the population finds so threatening and confusing.  All this is totally incompatible with small government and has very little to do with free enterprise.  The appeal is cultural, not economic.  As I've always maintained, the real divides in this country are over cultural issues rather than economic ones.  Yes, Republican leaders have exploited their mass base's cultural concerns to win votes and thus advance an economic agenda, but that just reaffirms that fact that it was those cultural issues that really moved the millions.

Second, there is a specific problem out there which we need to deal with.  We all know that high-paying industrial jobs have been disappearing for decades, partly because of competition from lower-wage countries (and companies moving production overseas) and partly because of automation reducing the demand for labor.  This collapse of the economic underpinnings of the rust-belt standard of living has been followed by a cultural collapse -- while rates of drug use, crime, and other pathologies have plummeted among black and Latino youth, those rates have shot up among older, low-skilled whites.  That latter population feels ignored both by a Democratic party beholden to minorities and the educated, and by a mainstream Republican party which they can now see works mainly for Wall Street not main street.  Especially given the cultural resentments fueled by the overthrow of their traditional dominance and by the rise of minorities, gays, and a high-tech economy that doesn't need them, they've been primed for the appeal of Trump or someone like him.

This is a serious problem and it won't go away when Trump is defeated.  It needs to be addressed.  Arguments about whether that less-educated white demographic "is" or "is not" racist, or how deserving they are of sympathy relative to other groups, or who is to blame, are all pretty much irrelevant from my pragmatic standpoint.  The point is, what do we do about this?  From a strictly economic perspective it's part of the technological transition from the traditional economy based on human labor to the future model where most production is done by machines -- a transition to be eased by plans such as Basic Income.  But inculcated resentments toward minorities, cultural hostility toward rapid social change, and the persistent feeling that their place in the sun in "their" country has been unjustly usurped and must be restored, militate against accepting or even understanding the kind of help that the left, even with the best of intentions, can offer.

It's only proper that the Democratic party returned to power will prioritize meeting the concerns of its loyal constituencies -- blacks, Latinos, gays, the non-religious, etc.  But it will also need to start trying to coax the Trumpanzees out of their bubble of cultural resentment and address their problems.  They are part of our country too, and they vote, and they aren't going anywhere.

02 October 2016

Link round-up for 2 October 2016

Hillary's victims may include the Loch Ness monster.

How did he get through?

Check out the art of "Cthulhu Wars".

Getting what you want isn't always so simple.

This is me.

Not much risk of vampires going anywhere near these (found via Mendip).

Underneath Kent, UK, is a tunnel decorated with a mosaic of 4,600,000 shells.  Nobody knows why.

How fallen are the mighty.

There's a good reason why you don't remember the Staten Island ferry disaster of 1963 (found via Mendip).

Isn't that a Sex Pistols album?

Learn what makes a bad book cover bad.

Remember Stan Winston, maker of a hundred monsters.


Stars hatch from EGGs.

Science doesn't require belief.

Crap film wins crap award.

Which "other planets", specifically?  This doofus is not making the case for third parties.  Voting for him would be absurd.  But at least cartoonists win.

This may be the stupidest person on the face of the Earth.

Grisly casts preserve the last moments of the people of Pompeii.

An old nuclear bunker in Poland holds a strange, eternally-dying ant society (found via TYWKIWDBI).

It just gets worse -- Wells Fargo has been screwing over the military.

A high divorce rate can be a good thing.

Look at what your god isn't doing.

This person exists, and will vote.  And these people are ready to go full treason if they don't like the outcome.

HB2 is costing North Carolina a lot.  And you just know these people voted for it.

Good cops need to call out bad ones.

Basic Income would not mean the end of work, assuming employers aren't assholes.

Here's another view on the question of voting-machine hacking.

People aren't going to put up with this shit forever.

Wingnuts don't much care for the new black American history museum in Washington.

Fair and Unbalanced looks at birtherism's weird roots.  And Bernie has a point to make.

Texas has scandalous maternal-mortality levels -- and is trying to hide the problem.

Yes, it's possible for millions of people to be bigots.

Republicans were wrong about raising the minimum wage.

Let's make sure they never get a chance to fire that third shot.

This person exists.

The Daily Beast may have endangered some Olympic athletes.

Bernie's older brother is in politics in the UK.

Here's an interesting US-Australia comparison.

The land of Trump's ancestors wants nothing to do with him.

Trump has no clue how large our relationship with Mexico is.  Spending some time there?  Try a glass-bottomed bungalow or a serpent condo.

Must-see interview of the week:  King Abdullah II of Jordan expresses a realist's view of dealing with Islamist extremism (found via Comrade Misfit).  Jordan, population just eight million, has taken in more Syrian refugees than any European country.

AK-47-toting Syrian granny Wahida Mohamed Al-Jumaily has no mercy for Dâ'ish (ISIL).

This is real (it's China).

Learn about the turtle ships of 16th-century Korea.

In 1562, Christian fanatics destroyed almost all the written records of an ancient pagan culture.  We're still trying to reconstruct it (found via Lady, That's My Skull).

PZ Myers has a good example of what junk science looks like.

There's a bizarre alien world underneath Romania.

Crazy Eddie has some great nature videos from award-winning films on orangutans and other animals.

Arctic ice is now at its second-lowest extent on record.  And August 2016 was, yes, the hottest August ever.

Can anyone verify the authenticity of this photo of young Trump and his parents? [UpdateNot real -- thanks to Comrade Misfit in the comments.]

Paul Wartenberg has commentary on the debate.

Hillary needs to keep making Trump run off at the mouth.

Here's one view of the debate (found via Comrade Misfit), and here's how to make the next ones pleasanter to watch.

Vote for Hillary -- lives depend on it (lots of good further links there).

This is what we'll be empowering if Trump wins.  And he's allied to an anti-abortion extremist.

Hillary has a not-so-secret weapon.

The right-wing media are accepting reality too late.  Now Republican leaders feel trapped in a nightmare.

Some fundies have their reasons for backing Trump-- even if their explanations are a bit weird.