30 July 2017

Link round-up for 30 July 2017

Well, I'll never be too old for it.

I bet these dogs loved this.  I'm sure this dog did.  This dog, maybe not so much.

Check out these state tourism posters.

Let's add Trump to Mount Rushmore.

The forties and fifties were the age of experimentation with horrible food.


This idiot exists.

Here's a concise explanation of football.

Douglas Adams was quite the wordsmith.

Evidently this machine doesn't work.

Art is worth defending against philistines.

Test your educational level (I got 67 out of 70 questions right and actually my highest degree is an MA).

Can women do action movies?

It's too bad Anthony Weiner didn't meet this person early in his career.

Sprinklers are useful.

Here's one way to deal with a nosy guy on a bus.

Want to improve your pronunciation of a foreign language?  Try singing.

"Just metastasizing mind worms, meant to divide us so it’s easier to rule us....."

Read the tale of Michael Malloy, the most hard-to-murder man in New York City in 1932 (found via Mendip).

Fundie writer shows some tolerance, fellow fundies go apeshit (found via Tell Me Why the World Is Weird).

How could anyone imagine an alternate world where the Confederacy won?

Young women are turning to atheism.

Ranch Chimp looks at food stamps.

A North Carolina church revives an old Biblical practice.

We all have portable magic within our reach.

Catholic?  No gluten-free Jesus for you!

These people exist.

Green Eagle reconsiders whether blogging serves a purpose any more (note: see Green Eagle's comment on this post).

Tim Gill is an unsung hero of progress (note: wingnut site).

Where did the jobs go?

"Outing" is this bad (scroll down).

A new Arkansas law requires women seeking abortion to get the permission of the man who impregnated them, even in rape cases (found via Tell Me Why the World Is Weird).  Here's an earlier Arkansas law of some interest.

This anti-Semitism needs to be purged from the left.

Ken Ham wants to end the US space program because all aliens go to Hell, or something like that (found via Mendip).  He's also being a PITA about rainbows.

A new report assesses the Republican war on science.

See what the underside of an iceberg looks like (found via Progressive Eruptions).

Vaccination will make you get old.

The internet is at risk, but the biggest danger is giving governments too much control.

Old animals were too big.

When you see the ruins, imagine what was.

A craven excuse for wife abuse gets repudiated in Canada.

The storied marriage of Charles and Diana was a pitiful shamMore revelations coming.

The UK will ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040.

This is the Alhambra.

Police in Japan work differently.

Al-Azhar Park transformed an expanse of rubble into an urban green space.

Freed from Dâ'ish (ISIL) rule, Syrian women burn the burkas they were forced to wear.  Further south, repression remains in force.  Remember what the hijâb really stands for.

Traditional values shape local justice in Pakistan.

For dealing with North Korea, we have four options, all of them bad.  Here's a more optimistic view.

It's been an action-packed week in Trumpland.

The Republican mess is going to get a lot worse, but fixing it is not the Democrats' responsibility.

Trump whines, Twitter responds.  He will face serious trouble if he tries to pardon himself (found via Fair and Unbalanced) or fire Sessions.

A Senator recounts the drama of the "skinny repeal" vote.

Yeah, this is from RedState, but heed it as a valid warning, especially on the turnout issue.  We need to bluntly tell people what the Republicans are about.

Hillary is so fiendishly clever.

Trump's transgender military ban may backfire politically and is likely unconstitutional.  Here are some reactions -- note Oliver Willis in particular.

Hometown USA looks at Jill Stein.

A vast crowd turns out to support Trump against the media.

The "Better Deal" campaign strikes me as insipid, but Booman thinks it will work.

The enemy isn't all that happy with Scaramucci.  But he'll work well with Trump because they're basically the same.

Added item:  Yesterday I speculated about Murkowski switching parties -- evidently others are wondering about McCain (who almost switched in 2001) and Collins too.  Luring three defectors over might even be easier than just one, since the Democrats would thereby gain the majority and could offer to let the defectors keep whatever committee posts, etc. they have which depend on being members of the majority.

29 July 2017

Could we see a defection?

Ten days ago, as the long Republican war on the ACA was winding down toward this week's ignominious fizzle-out, RedState denounced Republican Senators Murkowski and Capito as scoundrels, hypocrites, turncoats, etc., etc., etc., and the fury at those among their own ranks who were keeping repeal short of the magic 51 votes seemed deep and heartfelt in the wackier wilds of wingnuttia.  After the collapse of "skinny repeal", I've seen a similar groundswell of hatred against dissidents McCain, Collins, and Murkowski again.

Murkowski, in fact, came under Twitter fire from Trump himself, while his Interior Secretary rather crudely hinted at retaliation against her actual state.  This turned out to be yet another rookie blunder by the administration -- not only did the threat undermine its own fossil-fuel policy in Alaska, but Murkowski has already fired a retaliatory warning shot at the Interior Department, over which her position in the Senate gives her considerable power.  You can't bully someone into being a team player, especially when that someone is strong enough to hit back.

Could Murkowski be coaxed into switching parties?  She was said to be furious about the ham-handed pressure.  She firmly supports funding Planned Parenthood, anathema to orthodox Republicans.  And she's defied the party before; in 2010, after being successfully primaried by a teabagging wingnut who thus became the official Republican Senate candidate, she ran an independent write-in campaign and beat him, keeping her seat.

It could be objected that switching parties would be foolish since Alaska is such a red state.  But incumbents tend to win, and Murkowski has been in office since 2002.  She's not up for re-election until 2022, anyway.  It's just a question of how annoyed she is at the Trump gang's bullying, and what she really thinks of her party's increasingly reactionary stances on issues like reproductive freedom.  If the Democrats are on the ball, they'll be quietly offering encouragement.

The Republicans shouldn't complain if we trim down their majority a bit.  They don't seem to be using it.

27 July 2017

Videos of the day -- religion

Some inspirational viewing for the like-minded.....

The Christian prays for her deity to visit destruction upon those who believe differently than she does.  The pagan superpower, having developed advanced technology to protect its people, offers that technology to less-advanced nations of whatever culture:

Even if Jesus existed, he wasn't really, you know, Jesus:

The decline of religion in the West is probably irreversible:

26 July 2017

Horror-movie legislation

ACA repeal has been declared dead and then revived so many times, it's starting to resemble the stereotypical slasher-movie fiend who keeps coming back every time you think the good guys have finally killed him off.  In fact, it's worse than that.  Congressional Republicans look like Herbert West, endlessly dragging some pathetic mangled corpse back from oblivion to a stumbling, agonized, pointless parody of life, long after everyone else can see that he's gone crazy and should just leave the poor thing to rot in peace.

The latest revenant version went down 43-to-57 -- not even close -- while it increasingly looks like future efforts may be filibuster-prone.  Trump, desperate for a win on something even if he doesn't really know what it is, is taking time out from his busy schedule of trashing his loyal Attorney General to insult one of his party's own Senators for showing independence.  It's like watching Jason Voorhees floundering in a tar pit, unable to escape but unable to die.

In fact, just as slasher films tend to do, this whole spectacle has become rather monotonous, even while the monster remains scary -- which is part of the reason I haven't posted much about it. "Return of the Revenge of Son of ACA Repeal Part 2: Trump Strikes Back" is obviously going to keep appearing in some form for as long as the Republicans control Congress (if "control" is even the right word for whatever the hell they're doing).  Plenty of blogs and news sites are covering the fight on a blow-by-blow basis, and I'll be damned if I can think of anything original or different to add.

But don't count on the Trumpanzees to stop buying tickets.  Many of them are too dim to realize the monster has turned on them.  This person actually seems to think that the ACA increased the number of uninsured and that repeal will reverse that.  How do you reason with someone like this?  And he's not unique.  These are the people who would survive a zombie apocalypse -- they wouldn't even qualify as snacks.

I do want to call attention to some other, more encouraging news.  New sanctions on Russia, including a provision that prevents Trump from unilaterally lifting them, have now passed the House 419-to-3 and the Senate 98-to-2.  This shows that even most Republicans can stand up to Trump where Russia is concerned -- which implies he'll face real consequences if he makes a serious effort to destroy Mueller's investigation, our best hope of ultimately bringing him down.

But ACA repeal will probably stagger on and on, more battered and shrunken every time it shows itself, until Democrats finally take back Congress, release the asphyx, and let it rest in peace at last.

25 July 2017

Creative destruction?

A few weeks ago, in a link round-up, I linked to this item:
.....and challenged people to spot the logical flaw.  It may seem painfully obvious, but I've found that a surprising number of people (on Tumblr, at least) actually don't understand why this isn't a valid argument.

Assume that replacing a smashed window costs $500.  The business has to spend that money, since the broken window can't be left broken.  So, yes, some window-repair company gets an extra $500 in business, and its employees derive some benefit from that.  However, the business now has $500 less to spend on something else which it would have preferred to have -- new rugs, better lighting, more frequent cleaning, employee bonuses, whatever.  So the people who would have benefited from that spending now do not.  No benefit has been created -- it has only been redistributed.  Moreover, the business is worse off than it would have been, since it has spent that $500 on merely getting back to the situation it was in before (that is, having an intact window) rather than on improving its situation.

To see the principle better, imagine if every car in the United States were somehow simultaneously destroyed.  By the "logic" suggested in the graphic, this should create a huge benefit since all those cars would have to be replaced and vast numbers of new jobs would be created in the car industry.  And that would probably happen.  For most Americans, living without a car is impractical, so they would indeed need to replace them.  But imagine what would happen if your car suddenly vanished and you needed to get a new one.  If you happened to have in the bank the several thousand dollars needed to buy a decent car, you could do it, but the money would be gone and no longer available for whatever else you were saving it for -- a trip, remodeling part of your house, security in case you lost your job, etc.  If you didn't have that much in savings, you'd need to get a loan and go into debt, so that some portion of each future paycheck would already be committed to loan payments and couldn't be spent on whatever you would have preferred to spend it on.  Multiply this by all the millions of other people in the same situation, and you'll see that the gain of jobs in the car industry would be offset by a contraction (of at least equal size) in many other industries.  Once all the cars had been replaced, the country as a whole would be much worse off than it would otherwise have been, because this huge contraction in non-car industries and incomes would have occurred merely to get back to the situation we were in before the cars were destroyed -- that is, the situation of most people having cars.  That is, there would have been a great contraction of most of the economy for no offsetting benefit.

Some individuals may benefit from destruction (this is certainly true of wars), but the net effect of destroying value is less value.  Stop making excuses for assholes who just like to smash things.

23 July 2017

Link round-up for 23 July 2017

Be careful about letter spacing.

Here's how the Romans saw the world (actually pretty accurate).

Have some more baby parrots.

A woman encounters a fearsome sea monster (found via TYWKIWDBI).

Wow, Game of Thrones is really popular.

Animals lurk.  But -- look, a squirrel!

"Lemon man" is a bit too easily-triggered to be on the internet.

Looks like Dr. Who could be the target of the next ineffective wingnut boycott.  More whining here.

Murr Brewster's annual giant salamander maintenance inspires some thoughts on amphibians.

I swear this magazine is doing it on purpose.

An incel suggests an intriguing plan for getting himself and his ilk some sex.

All lives matter, sort of.

This should become the official portrait.

Tell Me a Story blog looks at friendship.

Christians must not endorse sin (found via Mendip).

It translates as "God with us".

If you use Tumblr, read this.

US infrastructure is in terrible shape; don't count on Republicans to fix it.

"Who could have seen this coming except every single person ever."

A talk by Richard Dawkins gets canceled because of his history of telling the truth.

No, speech is not violence.

It's the rural monoculture that needs to learn to understand the rest of the country.

Don't forget the truth about the Salvation Army.

Republicans propose another nasty law.

No, Planned Parenthood did not come out against single-payer.

Judge John K. Bush wants you to know that he is not "some kind of faggot" (found via Mendip).

Instagram's banned grandmas postings highlight effects of Trump's travel ban.

Remember Kim Davis?  Kentucky taxpayers soon will.

Trump will have a church named after him.

Homophobia creates doomed families.

Pyrosomes might have helped bring the US into the Vietnam war (found via Mendip).

Trees are more adaptable than you think.

Can it be a World Heritage Site if it isn't located on this world?

British Christians feel marginalized, but have only Christianity itself to blame.

To the enemy's chagrin, religion is collapsing in Australia.

Yet another Catholic institution reveals a horrific record of child abuse.

You'll always feel cool in this hotel.

A Swedish music festival goes women-only.

This is Barcelona.

Cuba has a promising future, if American wingnuts don't interfere.

Here's a detailed comparison of the US healthcare system with those of ten other advanced countries (found via Politics Plus).

Down with cultural imperialism!

Victims of Dâ'ish (ISIL) are taking revenge on their defeated former tormentors in Iraq (and no, nobody gives a shit for those guys).  This former slave has her own way of fighting back.

In another step toward theocracy, the Erdoğan regime ends the teaching of evolution in Turkey.

A Republican Senator shows some class and decency.  No wonder Trump doesn't like himThis guy seems like a more quintessential Republican.

Urbanization is turning some western red states bluer, while the healthcare debate is shifting Americans leftward.

Follow the five stages of Trumpism.

RedState rages at "betrayal".  Others have more serious concerns.

Obama's response to McCain's cancer is classy; some wingnuts, not so much. This could affect the 2018 Senate battle.  But Republicans have a chance at an extra Senate seat too.

Racists think Trump's election changed everything.  It didn't.

Hackwhackers has no time for Joe Scarborough's both-siderism.  Well, what kind of person still thinks both parties are the same?

Republicans just keep getting it wrong (found via Tell Me a Story).

[185 days down, 1,277 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

20 July 2017

Free expression, even for the worst

Back in May I observed:  "If you claim to support free expression even for people you disagree with, but in every actual specific case that comes up you find some excuse for doing otherwise (calling it 'incitement' or 'hate speech' or whatever), then you are not a supporter of free expression."  It's an important principle.

One of the most disgusting and hypocritical obsessions to be found in our politics is hatred toward Israel.  Nearly every other government in the Middle East is guilty of worse human-rights violations than Israel, and many treat minorities worse than Israel treats the Palestinians.  During military counterstrikes against the terrorists who target its civilians, Israel has gone to almost absurd lengths to minimize civilian casualties on the other side, such as warning them of military operations in advance by telephone.  Yet it's Israel that is the target of protests, boycotts, disinvestment, etc.  The obsessives point to this or that Israeli leader or policy, yet the crusade against Israel remains the same even when leaders or policies change.  Why, it's almost as if the campaign against the Jewish state were actually just the latest incarnation of some sort of deep prejudice stretching back through almost 2,000 years of Western history.

All that being said, this is outrageous:

But now, a group of 43 senators -- 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats -- wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

There's much more at the link.  See also this letter from the ACLU on the bill, which is causing at least one Congressman to reconsider his support.

Yes, the viewpoint to be criminalized here is morally bankrupt, hypocritical, and probably rooted in the oldest and ugliest bigotry of them all.  But freedom of expression must apply to every viewpoint, even the most repulsive, or it means nothing.  In a free society, the proper response to bad ideas is to refute them, not silence them.  Moreover, a free society must define free expression as broadly as it can -- even to include forms of expression such as boycotts, something the courts have already affirmed.

This law is such a flagrant attack on the First Amendment that it's unlikely to survive a court challenge even if it passes; recently the Supreme Court unanimously upheld freedom for even repugnant expression.  But Congress should know better than to pass it at all.

18 July 2017

Videos of the day -- a voice of reason

I discovered AronRa's YouTube channel over the weekend and have been spending a fair bit of my internet time there since then.  I find him refreshingly knowledgeable and blunt in taking on the fundie nonsense which has held us back for so long and which has been threatening to tighten its grip on the US since the current minority-rule regime came to power half a year ago.

AronRa was baptized Mormon, though he never considered himself a true believer.  He now lives in Texas, where he is the State Director of American Atheists.

Here he debunks a fundie "university" video on the Ten Commandments and the supposed divine origin of morality:

He has a whole series of videos on Noah's flood, discussing how various fields of science and history show that it could not have happened.  This one is about mythology across cultures, a field sometimes cited by fundies in support of their myth:

One of the striking things about this is the statistics he cites at the beginning, that strong majorities of US elected officials are creationists and believe the flood myth, but among the general population, only one-third to one-half do.  Is the government really more ignorant than the masses?  I hope a lot of those elected officials are just feigning belief for the sake of re-election.  But it's shocking that a third to a half of the people in an advanced nation still think mythology is literally true.

Check out the rest of the series too (playlist and dicussion here) -- especially on evolutionary biology and related fields, AronRa really knows his stuff.

Finally, he takes down Mike Pence (this was made before the 2016 election):

Remember that Pence will more than likely be President within a year or so.

AronRa also has a blog and a general website.

16 July 2017

Link round-up for 16 July 2017

After a long day of fixing computers, kittens go for a run.

Word gets around.

I'd have changed this license plate too.

Well, it's an eye-catching sign.

Fanciest bed ever.

Robot fish are all very well, but another type of robot has the enemy freaking out.

Would you?

Computers used to be.....this.

Here's why uptight people just can't stand other people's taste in fiction.

Fanart is an old concept.

Catholic extremists fume at the rank-and-file's tolerance for divorce (don't miss the nutty comments about giants).

What if Fox News had reported the story of Jesus?

Religion used to be.....different.  Maybe it was just part of the culture.

Sappho had a touch of modern sensibility.

The "Ravenna relief" illustrates the quality of ancient Roman sculpture.

Here's how freezers worked in 400 BC.

50 years after Loving v Virginia swept away the last legal barriers, interracial marriage has become commonplace.

A new comic, Calexit, envisages California's secession from a fascist US.

After Texas Republicans defunded Planned Parenthood, the state's teenage abortion rate predictably surged.  Texas has more bad legislation coming.  Nationally, the Republican minority-rule regime is trying to make data harder to collect.

See rare photos of famous people (it's a wingnut website, so if you browse further, be warned).

No, Wonder Woman does not indulge in sexploitation.

53% of Americans now support single-payer.

Not all heroes wear capes. And sometimes heroism is not rewarded.

The "tiny house" trend is aimed at helping the homeless, but might someday mean affordable housing for the broader public.

A vicious attack on New Atheism is exposed and debunked.

Republicans reject education, affirming themselves as the party of stupid.

Planned Parenthood has some basic facts on abortion.  And here's the opposition.

That Chicago "dyke march" lunge into anti-Semitism just gets worse.

It's not in the Constitution (found via Yellowdog Granny).

The good guys:  This post has a list of companies and groups that supported this week's protest for net neutrality.

Sometimes a photo is not what it seems.

Harvard is getting absurdly bossy.

The American prolongation of childhood reaches even more absurd extremes.

This guy wants to kill pretty much everybody.

If there's an intelligent designer, he's stupid.

Crazy Eddie looks at the birth of a trillion-ton iceberg.

100 companies account for 71% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

General anesthesia can have an alarming side effect.

Here's an example of the harm done by not vaccinating.

The Juno probe delivers new imagery of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

If you like cheese, you're probably white.

Trump hints he might reconsider leaving the Paris agreement.

Here's a map of policies on mandatory paid maternity leave.  An international look at healthcare is also informative.  But how much would universal coverage cost?

Malta, formerly dominated by Catholicism, legalizes gay marriage.

Some Europeans display Confederate flags, but the reasons vary.

That Afghan girl robotics team got into the US after all, thanks to protests.

A new study confirms Saudi Arabia as the main driver of Islamist extremism in Europe.

Here's the latest in stupid censorship.

Goddamn religion won't even let you post a video of your dog.

Wow, this guy killed Satan, but the government is unimpressed.

Remember Biafra?  It's ready to erupt again.

Hackwhackers has reactions to Trump's idea of a cybersecurity partnership with Russia.

This particular Republican move stinks worst of all.

The Trumplings seem unaware of just how much trouble they're in, what with Donald Jr's e-mails and creating opportunities for blackmail.  How did they get into this mess?

Wingnuts are being so wingnutty, Green Eagle needs two separate wingnut wrapups to keep up.

Republican Michael Steele is fed up with Trump's bullshit.  So is neocon Max Boot.

Trumpanzees weren't the only ones conned by Russia.

Trump may lash out at the Justice Department.  Or maybe he'll just trust in God.  He'd better not count on his social skills.

13 July 2017

Video of the day -- the "solar wall" and the con man

Claims that Trump's Mexican wall can be a source of solar energy are absurd -- but what else could we expect, given his record?  Note:  This was made by the same person who created my personal favorite among all the videos I've posted here.

12 July 2017

One day for the internet

Right now most of the US political blogosphere is understandably caught up in the latest revelations on the Trump-Russia issue.  But the enemy is active on many fronts, and so must we be.

Today, July 12, has been chosen as a day of action to support net neutrality, which the Trumpified FCC wants to destroy.  If the worst-case scenarios pan out, losing net neutrality would strangle the internet as we know it, crippling our ability to spread information rapidly and carry out mass actions (such as the campaigns to stop ACA repeal) on short notice.  That is, if we can't save net neutrality, we could lose much of our ability to save everything else.

Control over the flow of information would be effectively re-centralized, and de facto censorship would become even more pervasive.

Here's a comprehensive post about the day of action and why it matters.  Here's a petition to the FCC.  Here's the post where I found out about this, which has links to more resources.

Of course, the internet won't be truly safe until the technology has reached the point of being genuinely immune from such interference -- when governments and private entities not only refrain from restricting content, but can't.  However, evidently we are not yet at that point.

09 July 2017

Link round-up for 9 July 2017

Try to imagine the people who needed these signs.

Politics Plus has a fun collection of Christie on the beach images.  Here's one more (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Did somebody fart?

Moscow reels from the attack of the runaway toilets.  Perhaps they can be placated with a big enough offering.

This does not make anyone think of lipstick.

A health center in Canada is interestingly designed.

If you had only minutes to live, how would you spend it?

An iconic film star comes to a sad end.

Tremble at the tale of the megadildo menace.

Gosh, somebody is not happy with Tumblr.

Monsters, monsters!

Every picture has a story behind it.

Here are some impressive fountains (I've wandered around the Keller a few times).

The armor shown in Wonder Woman is based on ancient Roman armor.  It matters.  But what if a real-life heroine from Roman times got a movie?  (Actually, she did.)

A wingnut tries to debate clean energy.

Now the racists are in a snit about Star Trek.

An attempt to mock gay pride backfires on Twitter.

This quote has been making the rounds, but it's fake.

It's scary to think some people need this.

Here's the skinny on Roman underwear.

Catholic extremists whine that the rank-and-file are becoming supportive of gay marriage -- the comments vividly illustrate the mentality we're up against.  More entertaining is this freak-out over ecumenism, whose comments are full of childish sectarian bickering.

A victim of religious "education" assesses the damage (found via Tell Me Why the World Is Weird).

".....our roads and bridges look more like those in Thailand or Venezuela than the Netherlands or Japan."

Liberty Counsel is classified as a hate group.  Here's why.

A week after Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, its dispensaries can't keep up with demand.

This "ex-gay" writer seems oddly obsessed with "sodomy".  This lunatic is even more weirdly obsessed with porn.

No, this was never a "Christian nation".

Twitter promotes dumbth.

Do disability benefits really work like this?

Purity culture makes a mess of relationships.

These far-leftists support religious bigotry against gays.

Stuck on a sinking ark, Ken Ham rages at taxes and secularists. But even worse than faking antiquities is stealing them.

The wingnuts have a new hero.

The flat Earth movement (found via Mendip) is more sinister than you think.

Trump expounds on outer space (found via Fair and Unbalanced).  He wants to waste a lot of money on it.

Beware of falling rocks.

Arp 299 is a galactic goulash.

X-ray reverberation mapping shows us a star being torn apart.

Martian soil is saturated with chemicals lethal to bacteria. This seems to end any hope of terraforming Mars, since Earthly plant life depends on Earthly soil bacteria to survive, so any terraforming would have to start with establishing such bacteria before we could plant trees, crops, etc. If Earthly soil bacteria can't live in Martian soil, Earthly plant life can never grow there either.

This is Canada.

The Church of England forgets whose martyrs are whose.

Stop blaming the victim.

Volvo -- and the whole country of France -- are serious about phasing out fossil fuels.

Italian wingnuts fight gay liberation by mumbling to themselves in public.

A teenage rape victim gets a thirty-year prison sentence for a stillbirth.

A brazen racist wins an important post in Bulgaria.

Trump's travel ban keeps these Afghanis out.

Religious fanatics are boycotting Starbucks.

US, Japanese, and South Korean air power stage a show of force against North Korea.  Green Eagle argues that North Korea is mostly bark and not much bite.

Trump is eroding the US image globally, which creates an opening for China.  He's also likely to drive entrepreneurship away from the US.  Don't miss this Australian journalist's assessment.  But remember, he doesn't represent what our country really is.

Republicans need more women candidates, but the reason why is depressing.  Also, they need fewer crooks.

Trumpanzees' "Confederate worldview" venerates an ugly past.  Conservatism works like an addiction.  Red-state governments are rolling back progress.

Are these voters worth getting back?  Could you persuade this guy?  Would you bother listening to these guys?

Trump resembles another historical figure.

A Republican call to share "Obamacare horror stories" backfires spectacularlyBob Casey reviews the Senate repeal bill.

[171 days down, 1,291 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

04 July 2017

Independence Day

It may seem that there's little to celebrate today.  I don't deny the gravity of the threats we're facing.  I do want to offer a few reminders.

1) This country is now 241 years old.  It has been through a lot.  It has faced evils and threats much worse than anything we face now.  Evils such as slavery, the expropriations and massacres of the Indians, the disenfranchisement of women until 1920, Jim Crow, the criminalization and persecution of gays up to (in some states) 2003.  Threats such as the Confederate secession, German and Japanese fascist imperialism, McCarthyism, the rise of the Christian Right.  Through it all, the country has remained and the Constitution has remained, and inch by inch freedom and social equality have been expanded.  We will get through this too.

2) The current regime is a minority-rule regime -- Americans did not vote for it.  Not only did three million more of us vote for Hillary than for Trump, but eleven million more voted for Democratic Senators than for Republican ones.  The empowerment of the Republicans is an artifact of vote suppression, an archaic and unrepresentative electoral system, and Russian interference.  It does not represent who we as a people are.

(I hope that Americans will finally unlearn the habit of treating every foreign country as a homogenous monolith defined by its government.  When the news says "Iran did X" or "Germany did Y", that means the government in question did something, which may not reflect the real will of the people there, any more than Trump's actions reflect yours.)

3) The real people of our country have responded with mass popular resistance in the form of huge demonstrations, raucous town halls, and wave after wave of messages to Congress.  These actions, combined with the enemy's division and ineptitude, have stymied most of their agenda.  They are so scared of us that the Senate version of ACA repeal was written in secret and sneaked out in the hopes that it could be voted on before the public knew what was happening and started putting pressure on its Senators -- and even that gambit has failed so far.  They have all the power on paper, yet they have to skulk and hide and smuggle their agenda under the radar in hopes of getting something done.  They are cowards and they are not as powerful as they seem.

4) As always, the threat within the gates is cynicism and defeatism.  No problem has ever been solved by declaring that it is insoluble and that the situation is hopeless.  No enemy has ever been defeated by deciding that it has already beaten us and that all is lost.  The suffragettes and the early civil-rights fighters and the first gay-liberation pioneers all faced dauntingly strong and terrifyingly ruthless opposition, yet they fought on.  What would they think of those today who are ready to declare defeat and give up after just a few months, especially after the successes we've had?

5) If you fear that the impeachment of Trump will rob the resistance of its energy and leave the enemy free to push through their agenda under President Pence, remember that the biggest issue firing up popular pressure on Congress hasn't been anything to do with Trump at all -- it's been ACA repeal.  When people understand what the Republicans' plans would really mean for them, they are energized to fight back.  That will remain true as long as those plans remain what they are, even with a different President.

6) When this is over, all the Republicans who defended and excused and normalized Trump's endlessly disgusting and moronic behavior will be saddled with that for the rest of their careers.  They'll be on record as insisting that Twitter tantrums, misogynistic vulgarity, stygian ignorance, and unimaginative insults -- to say nothing of flagrant efforts to shut down investigations of possible misdeeds in his inner circle -- are normal and acceptable in a successor to Lincoln and FDR and Eisenhower.  Eventually Trump will be gone, but the stench of what they had to wallow in for his sake will never fade.

7) Demographic changes continue to work in our favor.  Among the most important of these is the inexorable decline of religion (now that Republicans are the anti-secular and anti-science party, and will become even more so under Pence), which cannot be stopped by immigration controls or racist vote-restriction laws.

8) The US is not the whole world.  While we are dealing with this temporary reign of malignant clowns, the rest of the world continues moving forward on issues like global warming.

This is a setback.  We have had setbacks before.  We will still win.

02 July 2017

Link round-up for 2 July 2017

Finally -- a TV show with balls!

Radiohead fans applaud a new composition (story may not be true -- see comments).

"Is this real?"

Here's a Tumblr observation on pigeon sex.  And this chicken provokes varied interpretations.

I found this short tale of sorcery devilishly entertaining.

He who can't be laid, must be paid!

Bloggers, watch your trolls -- they'll do this (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Capybaras radiate friendship.

That's a big bird (found via TYWKIWDBI).

Pyrosomes beswarm our coast.

These tiny fish resemble living suction cups.

Let him swim.

Crops rot in the fields as illegal-alien labor grows scarce.

"Friendly" Christianity is not the answer.

Single women often have a pretty good life except for pestering by family members.

God hates fags, his people hate America (found via Mendip).  Hardly surprising when they take innocuous symbols as evidence of Satanic dominion.  One pastor gets it.

Anti-Semitism is gathering strength around the world -- even manifesting itself at a Chicago gay pride event.

An abomination against the Constitution is cast down.

These people exist.

Take a balanced look at Seattle's minimum-wage hike.

Ivanka Trump is accused of stealing something hardly worth having.

Colorado Springs tried libertarianism, with disappointing results.

This is Bible morality.

Nevada joins the recreational marijuana revolution.

Missouri legislators vote to let your employer fire you for using birth control (found via Mendip).

Wingnuts sabotage solar power in Montana.  In fact, in the USA, global warming will hit red states hardest.  Already Arizona's summer heat is literally melting everyday objects.

Disasters provoke cooperation and stronger social feelings, not dog-eat-dog chaos.

Scientists offer competing views on how far life extension can go (I don't take either side as definitive since the arguments are based on past lifespan trends, not on analysis of potential technology).

Justin Trudeau is the coolest world leader.

The British people overwhelmingly reject austerity, and are moving left more generally -- as this massive demonstration illustrates -- and the Scots are turning against another independence referendum.

No matter how conservatives protest, the Grenfell Tower fire is political.

Misogynistic Twitter trolls plague the UK too.

Germany joins most of the West in legalizing gay marriage, provoking a debate in Australia, one of the few remaining holdouts.

The number-three man in the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell, has been charged with sexual assault.

Don't forget what's going on in Russia.

The Saudi regime's effort to shut down Al-Jazeera shows fear of free expression.  The network speaks out for itself.

Having apparently learned nothing from 1953, neocons push regime change in Iran.

Hysterical Raisins offers another Time cover for Trump.

Planned Parenthood flexes its muscles in Washington.

When Republicans demand civility, here's what they mean.

A conversation with two doubting Trumpanzees offers hope for 2020.  Here's another view.

What would Hillary have done?  And should we dump Nancy Pelosi?

Trump's scam vote-fraud commission is DOA with the states.

The New Republic makes the case for radical liberal federalism.

This is what Trump's great-again America would look like (found via Yellowdog Granny).  A simple graph shows what ACA repeal would mean; and the Huffington Post gives more detail.  Luckily, repeal is proving difficult and even RedState says the Republicans have blown it.  In fact, they're failing at pretty much everything (found via Hackwhackers).

The super-rich pressure Republicans to get their dirty work done.

Sydney Schwab debunks political both-siderism.

Green Eagle gives his views on where all this is heading.

[Image at top:  Berlin's Brandenburg Gate illuminated in rainbow colors after the German gay-marriage vote]