30 March 2017

Some observations by other bloggers

The Republican party has not, for decades, been a legitimate political party. It is a corrupt criminal conspiracy designed to plunder our nation's wealth and turn it over to the rich sociopaths who finance the whole thing. -- Green Eagle (see comment #8)

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Just this whole idea of preaching "atheist values" (as if preaching "Christian values" is not just a euphemism for preaching Christianity) annoys the fuck out of me. I hate the very concept of any kind of indoctrination, and especially the atheist-related kind. The whole thing about religion is that it TELLS people what to believe. That's why I left mine! I didn't want anyone telling me shit about how to live my life. -- Diana

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I myself reject any bigotry or discrimination against Muslims, but I have to say that of all religions, I'm most scared of Islam, which has the potential to do incredible damage to the planet — and in fact is doing so now. If that makes me an "Islamophobe," so be it. But during the Inquisition (and even a bit now), I'd have been a "Catholicphobe" because of the bad effects Catholicism has on the world. I've always thought the word "Islamophobia" should be understood by everyone to mean "fear of Islam," while bigotry against Muslims should be called simply "bigotry against Muslims." -- Jerry Coyne

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Republicans are no longer capable of functioning in a bi-partisan manner. Over the past 40 years, they have adopted a similar negotiating strategy as someone like Valdimir Putin. It is a strategy that is top-down, directive, and entirely authoritarian with no allowance for debate or critical analysis. In short, Republicans have morphed into the new (but certainly not improved) Soviet Union-like "communists" of the 21st-century. -- Bjork55

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Rightists often claim that American Muslims won't be loyal to the United States, but to a global Muslim community. To me, this clearly seems like a case of psychological projection. White supremacists see themselves as part of an international borderless racial community first and foremost, rather than citizens of a nation-state, so they naturally imagine that everyone else sees themselves the same way. -- Noah Smith

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Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do know history are doomed to watch other people repeat it. -- anonymous F3 commenter

28 March 2017

Video of the day -- girl magic

Some fantastic other world, or a dream.  Made by video artist Ghidghid.  Use fullscreen.

26 March 2017

Link round-up for 26 March 2017

Be careful with menu translationMore here.

Here's how a Trumpanzee takes a selfie.

Smile, dammit, we haven't got all day.

We look outward from our little world, wondering what lies beyond.

Artist Celeste Maia creates books -- very unusual ones.

Thump back.

"When a grid's misaligned, with another behind....."

One starting point, many doodles.

When you make up names in a language you don't know, this is what happens.

Sometimes technology isn't user-friendly.

There's now a Trump sandwich.

Do people really do this kind of shit?

Foreigners find US geography a tad confusing (actually I'd put Texas in the "west").

The future depends on libraries and imagination.

How long would it take?

Gods don't kill people.

Congress has its own little-known tunnel system (found via Mendip).

A Christian remembers growing up in a culture of hypocrisy.  Katy Perry freed herself from the nonsense (found via Republic of Gilead).  But time spent in church can be useful.

The fight against the Dakota Access pipeline isn't over.

And it's not even a real explanation.

Cartoonists look at the Flint water crisis.

Christian music festivals aren't what they used to be, but they left us Pence as a memento (found via Republic of Gilead).

Have we made America great again yet?  Neil deGrasse Tyson has a better idea (found via Fair and Unbalanced).  But I think it's too late for this guy.  And this guy.  And this guy.

It doesn't make senseNor does this.  But hey, it's God's will (found via Republic of Gilead).

Beauty and the Beast prompts some reflections on love as a means to an end.  Oh, and how's that boycott going?

Nonnie9999 joins the ranks of Trumputin shippers.

Hackwhackers is unimpressed with Republican hypocrisy on leaks.

Joanne Dixon looks at a terrorist Trump will ignore.

I am not fallen.

Take a rational look at anti-vaxxer scare propaganda.

They can't even have crayons (found via Politics Plus).

Anti-abortion is anti-life.

The enemy is a bit worried about Gorsuch.

The Portland city council cracks down on assholes who disrupt its meetings.  Now, please show the same respect for ordinary people by cracking down on assholes who block traffic while "protesting".

Compare and contrast -- Trump vs. Kaepernick, Trump vs. Merkel.  But Palin sneers at Kaepernick, because of course she does.

"Modesty" is an obscenity.  And Ingersoll was right.

London Muslims raise money for victims of Wednesday's terrorist attack.

All Spanish royalty must, when their time comes, pass through the Rotting Room (found via TYWKIWDBI).

Crazy Eddie observes Persian New Year.

Want to save your job?  Become the boss (found via Mendip).

The "ugly American" is alive and well.

If Trump starts a war, Koreans and Japanese may pay the price.

Can the Pope be "impeached"?  We may soon find out.

Working in India can be a bit dangerous if you don't bribe the right people.

Pakistan wants to silence "blasphemers" world-wide.

It's not easy spreading the atheist message in the Philippines.

The shift away from coal is huge and unstoppable (found via TYWKIWDBI).

The ACA repeal failure is impressive in its own way.  Hackwhackers has a Twitter round-up, DU a cartoon round-up; Progressive Eruptions waxes poetic.  Then there's this gif.  Hillary celebrates, while Ryan emerges badly damaged.  The enemy begins to devour their own.  They even bungled post-repeal adsHow could it have gone so wrong?

Maybe Trump can pay for the wall by cutting back on other stuff.

The regime is becoming consumed with paranoia.

Cherokees are troubled by Trump's admiration for Andrew Jackson (found via Republic of Gilead).

[65 days down, 1,396 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

List of posts on the European Union

Looking back on all these, I see more clearly than ever a pattern of rebellion against the anti-democratic EU gradually becoming more organized and politically successful throughout the various member countries, with last year's independence vote in Britain being a natural organic next step in the process -- and doubtless to be followed by other countries breaking away.

The EU elections (June 2009):  Some anti-EU parties really are "far-right"; others are not.

The EU elections (2) (June 2009):  Election results show the magnitude of mass discontent with the EU.

Europe's crisis: the people will be heard (January 2011):  The EU, as its own founder acknowledged, was always designed to unify Europe by deceiving the masses.

Political upheaval in Finland (April 2011):  An early example of revolt against sclerotic consensus politics.

European resistance (June 2011):  Revolt spreads, south and north.

Land of discontent (October 2011):  The worst examples of, and damage from, Republican-style austerity policies are in southern Europe, not the US -- and people are getting angry.

Europe: the empire vs. the nations (November 2011):  The EU's war on democracy and national sovereignty comes out into the open.

The EU delusion (December 2011):  Claims of an emerging trans-national "European identity" reveal staggering levels of arrogance and self-delusion.

Britain's new defiance (December 2011):  Early signs of resistance.

The liberation of Europe (April 2012):  Further signs of resistance.

The liberation of Europe -- France leads the way (April 2012):  Socialism wins, nationalism emerges.

The liberation of Europe -- socialism rising (May 2012):  Socialism is a revolt against the EU's disastrous austerity policies.

The euro crisis -- the basics (May 2012):  The EU's chronically problem-plagued common currency, and why the EU can't be like the US.

Bullies blind and oblivious (April 2013):  Historical memory and the sinister psychology behind the EU's cruel austerity policies.

France's nationalist wave (March 2014):  The stances of Marine Le Pen's National Front party, and the reasons for its success.

Nationalism resurgent, from Donetsk to Donegal (May 2014):  A "political earthquake" brings wins for anti-EU forces everywhere.

Cultural nationalism (June 2014):  Nationalism can take forms other than political -- this post uses examples from Britain.

Europe's refugee problem in perspective (September 2015):  The intense political reaction to Middle Eastern refugees in Europe belies the relatively small number of those who have gone there.

Declaration of independence? (June 2016):  The issues in the British referendum.

Independence!! (June 2016):  The land of my ancestors finally votes to leave this anti-democratic project.

Brexit under way (April 2017):  The real issues at stake in Brexit.

25 March 2017

Winners sometimes quit, quitters sometimes win

As adumbrated here, yesterday was my last day at my current (well, until-recently-current) job.  A few days previously a co-worker mentioned that she too was planning to leave, due to anger at behavior and attitude of the management.  And she's a long-timer there.  If she's that unhappy with the situation, my guess is others are unhappy too.  They may be in for a rocky time.

Oddly enough, in the two weeks since I gave notice, the immediate managers showed no curiosity at all about why I was leaving.  Surely such information would be useful?  On the other hand, the person from HR who conducted my exit interview yesterday (who looked exactly like Taylor Swift, I swear to Satan) asked plenty about it and took a lot of notes, so maybe the company will learn something after all.

I did report my concerns about all the coughing around the workplace to one of the managers and she said they'll look into it.  What the outcome of that will be, I guess I'll never know.

24 March 2017

Ding, dong, the bill is dead

Epic fail.  Epic pwnage.  Obama gets the last laugh.

For the second time in as many days, the House vote on the bill to take away 24 million people's health insurance was canceled because defeat was certain.  The solid opposition of House Democrats was a necessary precondition for that defeat, but the Republican majority still couldn't pass it, because they were not similarly united.  And it's important to remember why.

The grotesquely-misnamed "freedom caucus" (wingnuts even among wingnuts) opposed their own party's bill not because it proposed to sodomize the poor with jackhammers, but because they insisted that it ought to sodomize them with razor-blade-studded jackhammers.  The thing was simply not brutal enough for them.  Trump himself sought to negotiate a compromise, offering to coat the jackhammers with sandpaper in the form of removing guarantees of "essential health benefits", but his much-vaunted (by himself) deal-making skills failed here, as the ultras stood firm in their demands.  It was razor blades or nothing.

Well, as tends to happen with people who take such a stance, they got nothing.  "Obamacare is the law of the land..... We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future."  That's a direct quote from Paul Ryan, and one we should savor with the full measure of appropriate glee.  Repeal has been the lodestar of Republican fervor for seven years, and even with the House, the Senate, and the Presidency in their grip, they could not get it done.  They've given up, most likely permanently.

We can unite, despite our differences, for the sake of a higher good.  They cannot, even for the sake of a higher evil.

Trump is doing what he tends to do when thwarted -- casting blame on others, most immediately the Democrats who bewilderingly refused to help him destroy their own party's biggest recent domestic achievement, and even denying that he had promised repeal in the first place.

The next project, he blusters, is "tax reform".  Let's see how they bugger that up.

23 March 2017

Random observations for March 2017

I don't feel much concern about someday becoming a "burden on society".  Society has been a hell of a burden on me.

o o o o o

The progressive side, the pro-freedom side, the rational side -- it wins in the long run.  Otherwise the Dark Ages would never have ended.

o o o o o

People in groups are almost always stupider than those same persons as individuals.  Our instincts easily express themselves quickly and in mob action -- they evolved that way -- but introspection and contemplation are always and inherently individual, inward states.  They can never be shared, much less collective.

o o o o o

Freedom really is one of the most important things in life.  Never let the enemy take away that word.  They've twisted it to mean the "freedom" of the economically powerful to dominate everyone else without government "interference".  That isn't freedom.

o o o o o

Almost always -- where there is no victim, there is no crime.

o o o o o

The range of human cultures that exists (or has existed) is only a very narrow part of the full spectrum of human cultures that could exist.

o o o o o

When I wrote this post, I wanted a picture to use at the top as I often do, so I did an image search on the word "angel".  One thing that struck me about the results was the amount of artwork depicting pregnant angels.  I guess there's always some new kink out there.  (Out of curiosity I just now did the same search and didn't find nearly as much such imagery.  Maybe it was a 2013 thing.)

o o o o o

Given that the universe contains billions of galaxies, with each galaxy consisting of billions of stars, and each star likely having several planets -- there's a good chance that, somewhere out there, there are beings far more malignant than the Nazis.

o o o o o

The Good Samaritan is a well-known Bible story, but many people today miss its real point.  The Samaritans were a people despised by the Hebrews of the time, and the point was that an individual can be a good person even if he comes from a group you hate.  If the parable were being composed today, for an audience of American conservatives, the "good person" would have been a Muslim or gay; for an audience of American liberals, an Israeli or a white South African.

[For previous random observations, see here.]

21 March 2017

Quote for the day -- shocking betrayal

"We will never know whether the Russian intervention was determinative in such a close election. Indeed, it is unknowable in a campaign in which so many small changes could have dictated a different result. More importantly, and for the purposes of our investigation, it simply does not matter. What does matter is this: the Russians successfully meddled in our democracy, and our intelligence agencies have concluded that they will do so again. Ours is not the first democracy to be attacked by the Russians in this way. Russian intelligence has been similarly interfering in the internal and political affairs of our European and other allies for decades. What is striking here is the degree to which the Russians were willing to undertake such an audacious and risky action against the most powerful nation on earth. That ought to be a warning to us, that if we thought that the Russians would not dare to so blatantly interfere in our affairs, we were wrong. And if we do not do our very best to understand how the Russians accomplished this unprecedented attack on our democracy and what we need to do to protect ourselves in the future, we will have only ourselves to blame.

"We know a lot about the Russian operation, about the way they amplified the damage their hacking and dumping of stolen documents was causing through the use of slick propaganda like RT, the Kremlin’s media arm. But there is also a lot we do not know.

"Most important, we do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of U.S. citizens, including people associated with the Trump campaign. Many of Trump’s campaign personnel, including the President himself, have ties to Russia and Russian interests. This is, of course, no crime. On the other hand, if the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history."

Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaking yesterday

19 March 2017

Video of the day -- Japanese cooking

Now this is cooking!  Don't worry, it doesn't matter if you don't understand the language.

Link round-up for 19 March 2017

Yep, this is my city.

I guess "God hates fags" doesn't look so good on a résumé.

This resembles nothing in reality, right?

Learn how to read business e-mails.

"A future lawyer" indeed.

Have a seat.

Crazy Eddie celebrates Pi Day.

Do they even realize they're like this?

Cats aren't spiritual beings -- anyplace will do for a lie down.

When space aliens arrive, we have a request.  Then again, who knows how they'll think?

It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's dongs of steel!

Punctuation matters.

The bad guys are going after Big Bird again.  Maybe it's because of this.

The internet is having some fun with Republicans.

If you're fascinated with the idea of giving powerful electric shocks to whales, this post is for you!

A Texas legislator cleverly pushes back against the wingnut obsession with restricting female sexuality.

Check out these T-shirt designs (the first one may take a moment to figure out).

Yes, but it's still better than being evil.

Beauty and the Beast opens as a monster hit, leaving yet another wingnut boycott unnoticed in the dust.

Ligeia Mare is a sea 50% bigger than Lake Superior, with mysterious vanishing islands.

Listen to the science -- we're supposed to be reality-based.

This is encouraging -- a Christian (and former Evangelical) gives Dawkins's The Selfish Gene an honest read, understands it properly, and grapples with the implications.

White supremacism is not nationalism.  Well worth the read, raising some important ideas and concepts which aren't discussed often.

When you look at this, you're seeing light which left its source before the dawn of agriculture.

Here's what government really means.  But Pornhub does a pretty good job too.

North Dakota's gonna need a few gazillion of these.

A Japanese space probe will soon set sail for Jupiter's Trojan asteroids.

These conversational-evangelism ploys look an awful lot like slimy PUA moves (found via Republic of Gilead).

Parasitic fungi induce real-life zombie-like states in insects and even frogs (found via Mendip).  One wonders if elsewhere in the universe there might be parasites that could do this to humans.

These people exist.

A Georgia town displays a wide range of reactions to a pro-KKK banner.   States aren't really red or blue.

Thou shalt not speak of it (and Bruce has several similar stories posted).

The US Air Force is about to start bombing whales and dolphins (yes, really).  Maybe we should just kill everything and get it over with.

Thawing permafrost makes the fight against global warming much more urgent.

The Republican war on science is very real (found via Mendip).

Even after achieving atheism, the tentacles of religion can be hard to shake off.

To build a better future, we must be able to imagine it.

The break-up of the USSR began with a "living chain" protest by two million people.

Trump sends religio-wingnuts as US delegates to the UN commission on women.

Merkel is no "progressive savior" -- never forget she's behind the EU's Republican-style economic policies which have ruined southern Europe.

What exactly does "Islamophobia" mean, anyway?

"Iran's Obama" is so popular, conservatives can't find anyone to run against him.

In India, pro-government religio-thugs threaten students who speak out -- some would be eager to see this in the US.

What's a mirldjawurrdjawurr?  Find out here.

Trump's "secret plan" to fight Dâ'ish (ISIL) is.....what we've been doing all along.

Hysterical Raisins has the definitive poster for Republican "healthcare".  Here's another view.  But it does offer choice and promotes self-reliance.

They want to take away poor people's internet too.

Trump can use the budget to punish those who don't share his delusions.  But his regime is becoming paralyzed with paranoia.

ACA repeal will be difficult -- time to work on making it even harder.

A Trumpanzee discovers karma.  But the dumbth is too strong with this one.

Gosh, who would be like this?

P M Carpenter identifies a possible Presidential candidate for 2020.

Trump's border policies and view of terrorism play into the hands of jihadist propagandists.  And yes, this guy is a terrorist.

[58 days down, 1,403 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

17 March 2017

Video of the day -- purified language

Apparently this is a real movement, though not a large one (and occasionally such movements have had some success in certain other languages).  Since Trump is so obsessed with excluding anything foreign, maybe we should try to get him interested in this.  His executive orders will do that much less harm if nobody can understand them.

14 March 2017

Category-think vs. individuality

In this post a little over two years ago, I ended with what was actually my main point, though it may have looked like an afterthought at the time:

"But we mustn't confuse strategies and necessary defensive measures with the goal. It would be a terrible failure if, after the final overthrow of Christianity and conformist traditional values, we were left with a sort of Ottoman-style millet society which defined itself as a jigsaw puzzle of discrete communities (gay, black, Anglo, neo-pagan, etc.) with each individual categorized as merely a member of one or another such grouping. The only real success will be a society where individuals are free to be themselves, with whatever combination of traits, desires, and quirks make each person who he or she is, but not defined or categorized by them."

It's a point which I think needs more emphasis and elaboration.  Humans seem to have a habit of classifying and pigeonholing other humans, assigning them to categories and then defining them primarily as members of those categories rather than as individuals.  For people who are discriminated against or persecuted by mainstream society on the basis of some easily-definable trait, it's understandable that they even embrace group identity as a basis for solidarity, in order to fight back more effectively (this is part of the "strategies and necessary defensive measures" I referenced above).  This made obvious sense for groups such as blacks and Jews during their struggles for equality, and was adopted by gays on the basis of a somewhat strained analogy with groups like blacks and Jews, though the results achieved have more than justified the strategy.

With respect to sexual orientation and related traits, however, the pigeonholing process is now running on out of control, as a desire to acknowledge the natures of people who don't quite fit any of the existing categories leads to a proliferation of ever more categories, with the LGBTQ-etc. acronym taking on ever more letters in various formulations. The imagined final goal seems to be to arrive at some list of categories comprehensive enough that it can accommodate every individual (that is, that every individual can be fitted neatly into one of the categories), and then achieve equal social acceptance for each category, after which the "jigsaw puzzle of discrete communities" utopia will have been achieved.

It can't be done.  Sexuality is so varied and so individual that the only possible end result of the proliferation of pigeonholes is to have a separate category for each person, at which point (a) the system is no longer even superficially useful, and (b) we might as well admit that individuals and not categories are the important thing, and stop obsessing over exactly how to define and defend the latter.  Category-think can be a useful strategy for resistance in a culture where people are discriminated against based on being defined as members of the category.  It should not be part of the vision of an optimal future, any more than the bomb shelters and rationing adopted by a country at war should be embraced as a permanent feature of society to be maintained during post-war future of peace.

The same increasingly applies to our other pigeonholing systems such as religion (more on this in a future post) and race.  Doesn't a broad category like "Christian" (when referring to persons rather than beliefs) obliterate distinctions more significant than those it describes?  Isn't the difference between a Fred-Phelps-like hate-spewing fanatic and the typical American with an inherited belief in some vaguely benevolent concept of Jesus actually much greater than the difference between the Christian fanatic and some similarly bigoted mullah or jihadist?

As for race, we constantly see rhetoric which treats races as hard immutable categories, like distinct species, while even the recent history of our own country shows that this is untenable, in that the category "white" has constantly been redefined as perceptions change.  The same kind of racist rhetoric now used to whip up fear of Hispanic immigration was used a few generations ago against immigration of groups like Irish and Italians.  This is why it's silly to make claims like "whites will be a minority by 2050 due to growth in the Hispanic population".  By the time 2050 gets here, millions of people who would now considered "Hispanic" will probably be considered "white" and will see themselves as such, just as previously happened with people of Irish and Italian ancestry.

(There is of course a further question "defined by whom?" -- racists obsess over such definitions.  One of the amusing features of racist internet forums is the periodic furious arguments over exactly which groups qualify as "white", during which more bizarre genetic pseudoscience gets thrown around in a day than Hitler probably ever thought about in his whole life.)

The future as I hope to see it is one of free individuals, not rigid pigeonholes, where any one individual may consider it important to self-identify as gay or Catholic or "racially" Chinese or whatever, but no one will be defined by membership in such categories, nor will an individual's status or rights be linked to such categories.

12 March 2017

Link round-up for 12 March 2017

Dolphins do some pufferfish (nobody tell Jeff Sessions).

Adorable puppies discover a paddling pool.

Prepare to be mesmerized.  Or barf.

It's the only way to fly!

Mendip has some amusing pics, and some more.

Attn: Fish.

See a skilled goalkeeper in action.

There is no red in this picture.

Unholy shape-shifting beings live among us.

Jesus is back, and he's not paying attention.

Trump is making impressive progress (found via TYWKIWDBI).

Languages are fun (really, they are).

Best riff yet on the immortal They Live line.

"The Fearless Girl" is New York's newest piece of guerrilla art, and she's already got some spiffy new headgear.

Evil women are on the march!  Time to start mumbling to yourself and stop eating!

The new Beauty and the Beast movie joins Frozen, Rogue One, Fifty Shades of Grey, Lego Batman, a few zillion commercials, etc. as a target of wingnut wrath.  My prediction on the impact: zero again.  But their equally-impotent hate-on for Emma Watson will endure.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a pathbreaker in its time (found via Mendip).

What are we doing to ourselves?

Neanderthals had a good knowledge of medicinal plants.

This is probably a volcano -- one which erupts salt water, not lava.

It's often said that Newton spent his life celibate, but is it really true?

On GMOs, remember the real issues.

I'm glad to see any revival of interest in our true heritage, even if somewhat confused.

Yeesh, it's as if the guy never existed at all.

Least surprising news of the week:  thuggery against abortion clinics is on the rise.  And three new reports document the rise in hate and extremism under Trump.

Folks are fired up about the wingnut menace, at least in Kevin Robbins's town.

When arguing with Trumpanzees, consider "the backfire effect" (found via Mendip).

Atheists do it better.

Bigots push their agenda on Boston's St. Patrick's Day paradeUpdatePwned!

Yikes, the death panel is real!

It's the law, maybe.

Remember conservative compassion.

Americans reject the theocratic agenda.  Even among "conservative royalty", many of the young and women reject it.

There's a toxic subculture on the left too.

CPAC 2017 showcased right-wing ideology and reality-denial.  This earlier post on its workshop list gives something of the flavor.

Go ahead, tell me I shouldn't call these people "the enemy" (found via Mendip).

When churches grow, it's not by converting unbelievers.  They do it by cannibalism.

Resistance works!  Companies are cutting ties with Breitbart and even with the Trumps.

The modern world coddles a Christianist culture of abuse and slavery (found via Tell Me Why the World Is Weird).  Some still anticipate a bountiful harvest; others realize they're being defeated.

International Women's Day is truly international.  Crazy Eddie has links and videos for the occasion.

But this post is odd, mixing in a terrorist with real achievers.  Then there's this.  Spot the common thread.

British legislators discuss a possible state visit from Trump.

This Dutch-built machine cleans smog out of the air -- and turns it into jewelry.

Would you go home to face radioactive wild boars?

Egypt is making one of the world's driest deserts bloom.

Affordable housing at last?  This house was printed in 24 hours at a cost of $10,000.

Domestic violence, already pervasive in Russia, is now legal there.  And this, too, is pretty much a norm.

Even Putin is now souring on Trump.

Republicans may already be in a factional war over 2020.

The Trump Titanic is sinking so fast, his enablers barely have time to jump ship.

Politics Plus has some background on Neil Gorsuch.

Trump is even more cut off from reality than we thought.   And he talks like a comic-book villain.  But he has something to celebrate, sort of.

Paul Ryan doesn't even understand insurance.  Here's a quick summary of the ACA repeal plan.  Hospitals, the AMA, and the AARP already oppose it, and Democrats are ready to fightMore here.  It looks like a no-win situation for the enemy.

Ben Carson's remarks on slavery were beyond stupid.

The enemy frets that Pence isn't a strong fighter for their cause.

Congressional Democrats will soon have some leverage.

Will this movie ever get made?

The wingnuts are in a frenzy trying to distract us from the Trump-Russia scandal (found via Mendip).

Here's our program, or a good part of it.  In the meantime, support these.

[Image at top found via Mock Paper Scissors]

11 March 2017

Time to brush up the ol' résumé

After almost three years at my current employer, I've concluded it's time to move on.  The people I work directly with are good people, but the frustration of dealing with the incompetence rampant in some other areas of the company finally reached the breaking point.  If the problems haven't improved in three years, they never will.  If readers noticed a decline in the quality of posts here during February, it wasn't your imagination -- I had to do overtime almost every day that month, due to our unit dealing with a massive backlog of work after being understaffed for months, and I spent a lot of the time pretty much brain-fried.  I don't see that problem improving any time soon, either.  And there are other issues.

Also, starting a few weeks ago I noticed I was getting coughing fits at work two or three times per day, even though I'm not sick and don't suffer from coughing when I'm anywhere else.  I also noticed that I hear a lot of coughing there, from other people around me.  This had probably been going on for some time, since it's the kind of thing that takes a while to register consciously.  What it means, I have no idea -- has anyone else had a similar experience?

Anyway, I've finally given them the standard two weeks' notice.  I didn't want to delay any longer.  At the moment jobs are abundant in Portland -- you can't miss the "Now Hiring" signs all over the place -- but who knows how long the favorable market will last?  Republican administrations are usually bad for job creation, and only a fool would gamble on the situation a few months in the future, with Trump in charge and the Morlocks in Congress eager to indulge their Ayn Rand fantasies.  For now, though, the situation is favorable.  I've already put out some feelers, and by all indications this should be no big deal.

08 March 2017

Trump as prelude, and the challenge ahead

Charles Blow recently put into words what millions who have been following the news must be thinking.  Since we've known for months that the Russian regime interfered in our election, including by spreading fake news designed to undermine Hillary, Trump should not be regarded as legitimately President, at least until a thorough investigation is completed.  Blow calls for a "pause" in Trump's administration -- a cessation, at least until the investigations are finished, of his authority to carry out any substantive actions.

The problem, of course, is that no one has the authority to impose and enforce such a "pause", nor does Blow suggest how it could be done, other than that "the American people must demand" it.  (That, in turn, is pretty much what's been happening anyway, as the public marches in protest and deluges Congress with furious opposition to various items of the Republican agenda as they come up.)  If, as already seems clear, Trump owes his election to Russian interference, then he could be impeached, especially if he collaborated with the Russian efforts.  But that would leave us with Pence occupying the Presidency, which would presumably be just as illegitimate, since he won the Vice Presidency in the same "hacked" election.

If we determine that the election result was actually illegitimate due to foreign interference, the only way to truly rectify that would be to hold a new election.  But I'm not aware of any Constitutional basis for doing that, and if it were done by some ad hoc process, then further questions of legitimacy would arise.

In reality, I'm convinced Trump will be impeached within a few months at the most, because the Republicans in Congress would actually prefer Pence in the Presidency, and no rational person can be happy at having Trump's bizarre and dangerous personality in such a position of power.  (Oliver Bullough at The Guardian argues that Putin himself didn't intend this outcome and is alarmed as well.)  If so, the illegitimacy angle needs to be emphasized as much as possible, for practical reasons.  History will remember Trump as a loud and colorful but ultimately trivial footnote, a mere brief prelude to the Pence administration.  Our challenge will be to keep up the intensity of protest and resistance that Trump has inspired, after Trump is no longer there.  The fact that Pence owes his position to the same illegitimate election will help to do that.

05 March 2017

Link round-up for 5 March 2017

Years ago I read a blog which did hilarious dissections of Chick tracts.  An archive of the dissections still exists; here's one of my favorites -- the opening is set in Hell itself!  If you're not familiar with Jack Chick and his horrid little tracts, see my obituary of him.

What does this button do?


The bathroom cop may be in your future.

That's not a bridesmaid.

I'd like to eat one, and I can even pronounce it.

This is gonna be a long wait.

The news is "fake", but the facts are true.

Either way, don't wear this to a Trump rally.

The wingnuts seem to be in a permanent snit about DisneyNext up, Lego Batman.

Art has a role to play in combating fundamentalism.

I've actually seen people on the net acting like this guy.

Dronetard pwned!

Trump won't be at the WHCA dinner, but a substitute may be available.

Toaster vs. freezer -- who wins?

80% of Americans want special labeling on foods containing DNA.

Check out the new robot from Boston Dynamics.

I'm with Pelosi on this one.

A Kentucky county learns that bullshit isn't a good investment (found via Mendip).

Someone is doing something wrong.

The latest Wingnut Wrapup has me wondering if Trump will invade Antarctica.

NOM is imploding (found via Republic of Gilead).

The freak-out over male disengagement has a curious precedent.

A sermon on the role of women in Christianity quickly descends into incoherent gabble.

Under new management -- the US is getting more like Russia already.

A story from 1999 illustrates something of Trump's character.

Pope Francis, exasperatingly beloved of some liberals, quietly coddles molesting priests (found via Republic of Gilead).  An abuse survivor on his fig-leaf "commission" on the issue has quit in disgust. Here's some more enabling of abusers, by Kentucky Republicans.

God hates Grace Slick, apparently (found via Mendip).

Here's one Trumpanzee out of action.

This is the future we want.  This is the future they want.

Fear the empire of stoopid.

Chiropractic manipulation can kill you.

Data from Michigan highlight the ongoing threat of global warming.

Here's a photo essay on the evil in our midst (found via Mendip).

A British sheep farmer looks at rural America.

A mass grave in Ireland confirms an ugly history.

Blogger Donna is visiting Berlin, finding Germany far healthier and saner than its own past -- or our present.

John B. Judis looks at recent European elections, including one of the best discussions I've seen of Italy's Five Star movement.

Israel contemplates taking in more refugees.

But we have to respect their beliefs! (found via Republic of Gilead)

Despite Trump's sneers, our allies are beating Dâ'ish in Mosul.

Religio-nationalist thugs linked to the ruling party terrorize students in India.

My state will be in the crosshairs if the Republican regime attacks legal marijuana.  In fact, marijuana is good for business.

Here's a round-up of reactions on the Sessions/Russia scandal.  And here are veterans' comments on Trump playing Navy guy.

Can our politicians muster the courage of Larry Colburn?

Trump could learn from Kennedy about handling failure.  From these Presidents, too.

Green Eagle finds a relevant historical analogy.

The regime goes into panic mode over leaks; "sphincters are tightening in the bunker".  But there are some leaks Trump likes.

Bannon's goal is a terrifying anarcho-nihilism.

Blogs Brane Space, Hometown USA, Hackwhackers, and Mahablog have reactions to Trump's speech to Congress.  Following the initial swoon, the media are getting back to doing their job.

This is not a drillNot everyone survives.  Here are some resources for protesters.

Hard-core Trump voters are hopeless, but there are others we can win back (found via Blue in the Bluegrass).

Trump's statement on anti-Semitism was pathetically inadequate (found via Fair and Unbalanced), and this horseshit is unforgivable.

[44 days down, 1,417 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

04 March 2017

Tremble in terror, liberals -- take two

So -- the turnout for February 27's nationwide pro-Trump rallies was not quite what they hoped for.  Meager, in fact.  OK -- pitiful.  Pictures tell the story:

But as wingnut pundits were quick to point out, February 27 was a Monday, and Trumpanzees have jobs (or were still hung over from Sunday, maybe).  The second appointed rally date is today, March 4 -- a Saturday, just like the day of the Women's Marches.  Let's see what strength they can show on the same day of the week.

For we must not take them lightly.  These are the legions that carried their leader to victory by the landslide margin of negative-almost-three-million votes.  These are the warriors who, in an epic battle destined to live in human memory alongside Stalingrad and Okinawa, liberated the Malheur bird-sanctuary visitor kiosk from the grip of the mighty United States and defended it for forty days despite crippling shortages of snacks, socks, and actual opponents to fight.  These are the iron-willed partisans with the valor and resourcefulness to spray-paint backwards swastikas on things in the middle of the night and phone in anonymous bomb threats to synagogues across America.  The Mongols, the Huns, the armies of Saladin and Alexander -- all pale to insignificance beside the forces arrayed against us today.

So hark!  Soon you will hear in the distance the rumble of millions of knuckles dragging, the crunch of Cheetos and paint chips being ground asunder between dentures, the roar of vast battalions of Medicaid scooters, the ominous swish of teabags cutting the air as they swing from the hats of our enemies.  Soon you will see the sunlight glinting on an endless sea of made-in-China red caps, shining upon misspelled signs beyond counting, revealing an army of aroused, determined, purposeful humanity (well, imbecility) such as the world has never before witnessed.  Doom is nigh.

Just wait.

Update (4:11 PM Pacific time):  Just checked Breitbart and it's as brimming-over with lunacy as ever, but not a word about the rallies.  Looks like another pathetic fizzle.

02 March 2017

The VOICE of scapegoating

By all accounts, Trump's speech to Congress proved only that he's capable of faking sanity for an hour when given a script, but it seems to have successfully conned the MSM into telling a nation desperate for reassurance that he was being "Presidential", at least by contrast.  However, he did offer a truly arresting plan -- a new DHS office called VOICE, "Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement", to "act as a liaison" with "victims of crimes committed by removable aliens".

The claimed purpose is to "serve American victims", but if that were the case, there would be no need to define its mission in terms of the legal status of the criminals involved -- if you get mugged and robbed, the damage and your need for help are the same regardless of whether the mugger was an illegal alien, a US citizen, or a Martian.  Obviously the real purpose is to highlight cases in which the criminals are illegal aliens and thus to associate illegals (or immigrants generally, based on Trump's rhetoric) with violent crime in the mass public mind.

If the intent and implications still aren't clear to you, imagine if the government formed a special office to work with "victims of black crime" or "victims of Jewish financial manipulation" or "victims of homosexual perversion".  This isn't about victims, it's about demonizing specific categories of people.

In fact, it may seem so blatant and crude that it couldn't possibly work, but we mustn't count on that.  In Europe, the association of violent crime with refugees and immigrants has been fairly successful, even though crime has actually gone down during the refugee influx.  The trick is to highlight and emphasize specific cases of violent crimes committed by immigrants -- and inevitably there will be some, since any population of hundreds of thousands will include some violent individuals -- while ignoring overall statistics.  That's just what Trump is proposing to do in the US.

The way to fight back is twofold.  First, publicize explanations and dissections of the strategy as widely as possible so that the public knows Trump and his enablers are trying to manipulate them.  Second, fight specific stories with specific stories.  Cases such as aggressive raids targeting families, or Sara Beltran Hernandez who was dragged from a hospital where she was awaiting treatment for a brain tumor, can bring home the reality of what the right wing wants America to become, even to people whose eyes glaze over at statistics.  All we have to do is tell the truth.