29 November 2018

SW Harvey Milk Street

Recently, while driving to work through downtown Portland, I noticed that one of the streets I crossed every day was "SW Harvey Milk Street".  I used to come downtown pretty often and I didn't remember ever seeing a street named for Harvey Milk before, so it aroused my curiosity.

It turns out that the city council voted for the change less than six months ago, renaming what had been SW Stark Street, a 13-block stretch extending west from the Willamette river to Burnside Street.  The new street signs went up even more recently.  Harvey Milk had no actual connection with the area, nor with Portland in general, but SW Stark Street was a center of gay culture in earlier days, and for some time a local citizens' group had been pushing for the change.  There was no real opposition; the only criticism came from those who would have preferred to honor a more local gay activist.

As it happens, the 40th anniversary of Milk's assassination was just two days ago.  Milk was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first openly-gay elected official in California, at a time when the position of gay people even in San Francisco was precarious at best -- this was the time of Anita Bryant, the Briggs initiative, and the rise of the Moral Majority.  Though a latecomer to political activism and sometimes at odds with the city's more established gay political figures, Milk made use of his office to pass a gay civil rights ordinance and to rally and organize people for the long struggle against bigotry that lay ahead.

He was assassinated by Dan White, a former fellow Supervisor who was (by San Francisco standards) relatively religious and conservative, and had clashed with Milk several times.  After a failed business venture, White entered City Hall with a gun and begged Mayor George Moscone to reinstate him as a Supervisor.  When Moscone refused, White shot him, then went to his old adversary's office and murdered him as well.

I was living in the Bay Area at the time and I still remember the announcement of these shocking events by a visibly-shaken Supervisor Dianne Feinstein (who succeeded Moscone as Mayor and went on to become the national figure she is today).  The assassination brought the deep cultural divides of the time to the surface, with police officers openly wearing "Free Dan White" shirts and gays later rioting over White's relatively light sentence.

I wonder if Milk, living at the time he did, could have anticipated the success of the movement he helped foster, with gay marriage now a reality in most of North and South America and western Europe, and boycotts forcing entire states to back down from efforts to restore discrimination.  Perhaps he did.  To devote so much effort to the struggle, he must have been an optimist on some level.

The street's previous name honors Benjamin Stark, a local landowner who briefly served Oregon as a Senator during the Civil War era; like many people at the time, he was pro-slavery.  Milk is a far more worthy figure.  SE Stark Street, the much longer section of the street east of the river, still keeps the old name.  For it, too, perhaps the city council should eventually choose a better one.

26 November 2018

Congratulations NASA!

The InSight lander has successfully touched down on Mars after its nearly seven-month trip from Earth.  The main mission page is here.

The exploration of the solar system over the last few decades is one of the great success stories of modern science.  When Trump and his bullshit are forgotten, this will remain.

25 November 2018

Link round-up for 25 November 2018

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o


Sheldon Comics presents animal anatomy.

Canadians greet a seasonal visitor.

Things were different back then (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Headline of the week.

Somebody up there has a problem with Texas, or maybe it's just Earth.

How many of these did your rage uncle cover? (found via Scottie).

Here's a new take on ethical vampire survival.

They don't specify which word became flesh.

Nice shot!

This astrological chart is the real deal (found via ErosBlog).

When bullshit becomes shrapnel.....

Don't spell with letters you don't know.  But when writing Spanish, watch the diacritics.

Some may find this gif a morale-booster.

Exotic hair colors are a form of aposematism.

Bluzdude at Darwinfish 2 found a few things to be thankful for.  Donna at Tell Me a Story has a few places not to buy from.

This is Victoria Falls, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Ancient Mesopotamian civilizations regularly decreed mandatory debt forgiveness (found via Mike the Mad Biologist), and they may have been on to something important.

There's a difference between humans and God (found via Scottie).

What will you tell them?

Trumpanzees retreat further into social isolation.

Lock her up!

And so companies' managers tend to remain ignorant of problems.

Being bilingual affects how you see language.

Don't repeat their mistakes (found via Scottie).

The enemy freaks out over a lesbian kiss at the Macy's parade.  Look, homosexuality is part of the mainstream now.  If you insist on throwing a fit every time it manifests itself in some way, you're going to be exhausted 24-7.

Some Trumpanzees are having second thoughts, but don't let them pretend Trump never happened.

Liberals fight over the wrong things (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Steve Ruis looks at the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Trump celebrates Thanksgiving by trying to take land away from the tribe that saved the Pilgrims.

Only in %!$#@ America (found via Frances Langum).

If you're a blogger, keep back-ups of all your posts, especially if you write anything controversial.

Life is better without illusions.

Here's how the fires in California look from space.  (Here's how they look from the Dark Ages.)

The Salvation Army recognizes that its homophobia is a liability in today's America.

RedState celebrates Trump's reverence and his revival of religion in government -- with a straight face, as best I can tell.

Don't worry about the indictment of Assange (and remember, he's a monster).

Trump's $12 billion bailout to farmers hurt by his trade wars isn't helping them much.  Farmers face mounting storage costs on unsellable crops.

Here are the arguments in the racial-discrimination suit against Harvard.

The Women's March is trying to take out the garbage.

No, religion did not originate from "trying to make sense of the world".  And no, it does not work like science at all.

A blogger discovers a true heroine from history.

Neo-Nazis hate witches and can't do math.  As Christianity declines in the US, paganism is on the rise, though the strongest growth is in the non-religious category.

Trump's latest effort to dismiss global warming is a failure.

Sorry, ideology has no place in science.

Researchers in Texas are testing a promising Alzheimer's vaccine.

The European Union continues to arrogantly dictate policy to member states.  If the US were part of an organization that interfered in our internal affairs like this, we would have voted ourselves out of it years ago.

Mexico denies making a deal with Trump to keep migrants out of the US.

Several gay couples in the migrant caravan got married once they were in Mexico.

Religious crackpots disrupt a plane flight.

There is a racist apartheid state in the Middle East.

John Allen Chau is dead, but the trouble caused by his actions may be just beginning.

Taiwanese voters have rejected gay marriage, though it's unclear what will actually happen since there's a court ruling in place that says it must be legalized eventually.

The Chinese regime takes another step toward Orwellian dystopia (found via Crooks and Liars).

Ten years in prison for writing gay novels.

Arrested for being lesbian.

Duterte is a coward.

It's "a tradition that goes back thousands of years", now on Facebook (found via Politics Plus).

If Trump is still in office in 2020, the Republicans are stuck with him.  Donna at Tell Me a Story suggests an option for Democrats.

Stacey Abrams will be back.  And she's not the only one rejecting Kemp's fraudulent "victory".

The blue wave was largely powered by black and Latino voters.  The party must prioritize upholding minorities' right to vote.  Young voters' turnout also rose, though it remains low.

Cindy Hyde-Smith is in real trouble, with even some Republican voters leaning toward Mike Espy, and a new revelation about her Confederate sympathies.

Rapid growth and urbanization are transforming Texas.

We're winning -- keep the pressure up.

Hecate Demeter supports Pelosi.  So do a large majority of Democratic voters.  The fact that Republicans demonize her is a point in her favor.  Remember her track record.  If you oppose her from the left, don't be fooled.  Here's some more on the challengers.

No, we are not just a coastal party.  But there's still work to do to secure real voting rights.

The both-sides-are-alike crowd really has to struggle in the time of Trump.

Republicans have begun to pay a price for their union-bashing (found via Mike the Mad Biologist).

We have a winning issue with older voters.  Let's put it front and center for 2020.

Shower Cap reviews the week.

Here's an example of distorting the news by framing.

Trump may have made a serious mistake by picking a fight with John Roberts.

[Image at top:  Babylon in its heyday]

23 November 2018

Black Friday.....

.....a reminder.

22 November 2018

A few images

19 November 2018

The politics of honesty in an age of lies

It's a cliché that there are no honest politicians.  It's also false.  Three days ago a politician gave us a display of honesty where it counted -- the kind we're going to need more of in the age of Trump.

That day, Stacey Abrams acknowledged that her Republican opponent was going to be certified the winner of the election for Governor of Georgia.  But as she made explicit, she was not delivering a concession speech:

.....to watch an elected official -- who claims to represent the people of this state, baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people's democratic right to vote -- has been truly appalling.  So, to be clear, this is not a speech of concession.  Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper.  As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede.  But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.

The disenfranchisement and vote suppression which marked this race were gross, blatant, and flagrant even by the standards of what has come to be normal Republican practice.  Abrams's speech (click here to watch the whole speech on video or read the complete text) goes into considerable detail about the multiple schemes and scams the Republicans used to rob Democrats, and especially blacks, of their right to vote.  It's a maddening litany, especially to those of us who know something of how hard black Americans had to fight barely two generations ago to win that right, persevering in the face of ruthless and even murderous opposition.  Republicans' efforts to destroy what took such courage and determination to achieve are a disgrace to the entire country.

And after all that, Abrams ended up "losing" by less than one and a half percentage points.  The close margin makes it undeniable -- without vote suppression, she would have won.  The election was stolen, in the purest and bluntest sense.

All Abrams did was to insist on stating that simple truth.  A lesser politician would have "made nice", would have conceded "gracefully", would have kept silent about the ugly facts and legitimized the betrayal of the voters, would have contributed to the normalization of the outrageously abnormal, would have lied.  Would have acted, to put it bluntly, as a collaborator.  Certainly plenty of Democrats want our politicians to behave like that, to smile and strive for "bipartisanship" while the Republicans shit all over them and all over the electorate.  Abrams was too honest to do so.

Republicans are predictably furious that Abrams didn't follow the script and put her stamp of legitimacy on the fruit of their slimy tactics.  At least one has compared her unfavorably to Arizona Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally who, to her credit, did concede defeat without any of the usual Republican bullshit about hordes of illegal aliens or whatever voting -- but that's because she didn't face the massive campaign of cheating that Abrams and her supporters did.  McSally was rightly conceding that she lost a fair fight.  She gets credit because she refrained from lying.  Abrams, too, refrained from lying.

Abrams has made it clear that she's not going away.  Thank goodness.  We need more like her.

18 November 2018

Link round-up for 18 November 2018

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o

If it's what you enjoy, it is not wasting time.

This just means it's a fast car, but.....

Bad ad placement.

Shit, shit, thump!

The prophecy is fulfilled.

This man is not happy with his car license plate.

You owe them nothing.

Check out this Vietnamese rock music -- seriously, the sound of that thing is surprising.

It would have been simpler to just buy a bus ticket.

Don't drink that.


The war is back.

Think of yourself as a hermit crab.

"What's the difference between Donald Trump and a worm?"

Here's the problem in a nutshell.

View "Angry Man Stuck in Snow", a study in exquisite frustration.

They won't lose any money.

What did people do?

Target audience, actual audience.

When mercury meets aluminum.....

The Bible teaches science and morality.

It's natural food.

If she came out in the rain..... (found via Frances Langum).

"Not for much longer," said Rihanna.

This is both-siderism (found via Scottie).

If you're looking for a religion, consider this one.

Beware the snowflakes (found via Plowing through Life).

What kind of asshole would shoot a dolphin?

Stan Lee is remembered by Crazy Eddie, Calvin, the Arm Chair Pontificator, and, er, Rainbow Loli of Justice.  Patrick Was Here assembles his cameos.

Professor Taboo has some observations on music.

Not all are welcome in the House of God.

Trumpanzee umbrella "truthers" are now a thing.

Speaking of "truthers", here's a good analysis of 9/11 conspiratardia.

Let my people sit.

This kid knows what a real hero is.

Hey, right-wingers like video games tooAnd toys.

How the hell is it possible to run up a $174,000 hotel bill in twelve hours?

The Christian concept of the world is profoundly morally ghastly.

Ven der Führer says, ve ist der master race..... (found via Scottie).

Maybe the US can be like this someday.

Big Brother is watching you.

Resistance is not useless.

The Tallahassee killings remind us of the threat of murderous misogyny.

The US is no longer, in a meaningful sense, the world's richest or most advanced country. For example, health care.

The two parties represent the modernizing and backward regions of the country.

There's a more straightforward solution.

Even in the time of Trump, no one wants a blatant racist working for them.

The assholes are still harassing Christine Ford.

Christianity's forgiveness fetish is depraved.

It's not about being fair to the parties, it's about being fair to the voters.

Ghoulish scammers like this are still out there.

On one front -- pornography -- many of the enemy have pretty much given up the fight.

Yelling and banging on things has nothing to do with democracy.

There's a serious problem in the leadership (not rank-and-file) of the Women's March.

Being Republican is correlated with higher levels of certain psychopathic traits.

Roman Fedortsov collects disgusting monsters and they're all real.

New Age blather can be deadly dangerous.

A potential AIDS cure, developed in Israel, is being tested in Uganda with impressive results.

Even in secular Britain, religion menaces gay people.

Monty Python has aged well -- the BBC (and this columnist), not so much.

The CIA's conclusion that the Khashoggi murder was ordered by Mohammed Bone Sawman creates a headache for Trump.

This is Shibam, Yemen.

Misogynistic religious bigotry helps empower India's Hindu-nationalist ruling party.

Trump spent his Europe trip in a rage, then came home for some sulking and pouting.  He seems to be more unhinged than usual. In fact, he's a complete fruitloop.  Maybe it's drugs.

".....what’s going on in America right now isn’t politics as usual.  It’s much more existential than that" (found via Hackwhackers).

Stop the Pelosi-bashing.  She is a real leader supported by those who represent the party base, especially womenJosh Marshall agrees.  And what's the alternative?

Bluzdude reviews the election results.  Shaw Kenawe looks at the sweep of the blue wave, starting with the Texas court system.  Professor Chaos debunks the NYT's negativity.  Shower Cap is back to covering the Republicans' latest antics.

Republicans have successfully stolen the Georgia Governorship, but it's not time to forget it and move on.

Texas is coming within our reach thanks to growing Hispanic turnout, which is also happening nationwide.  But turnout generally still has a lot of room to improve.

McConnell plumbs new depths of hypocrisy (found via Hackwhackers).

We cannot find common ground with this.  Polls confirm that the election was a mandate to resist Trump.  Democrats have a wealth of targets for investigation.

I like the "instructive quote".

Gerrymandering can backfire.

Juanita Jean contemplates the silence of the wingnuts.

There's something going on between Trump and Pence.

The mountain west is turning blue (found via Hackwhackers).

Here's a rarity these days -- a Republican behaving honorably.

[668 days down, 794 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

15 November 2018

Improving words (8)

Some more revised word definitions, based on what the words visibly should mean.....

Approach:  A disease-bearing insect you can download to your phone

Assist:  A person whose ideology is based on posteriors

Barking:  The monarch of a tavern

Convention:  An atom found in a nunnery with some of its electrons missing

Dilate:  Princess Diana is dead

Dominion:  The obedient lackey of a female deer

Explain:  A former flatland

Gallant:  To irritate a small insect

Herbivore:  The eating porn she starred in with partners of both genders

Infuriate:  I always dressed warmly for meals

Interrogate:  A scandal involving the burial of a Star Trek character

Mallard:  Fat which accumulates due to spending time in shopping centers

Palace:  The card every gambler considers a friend

Pardon:  A scholar of golf scores

Peerage:  Anger at the consequence of a hooker mistaking you for Donald Trump

Pollute:  A stringed instrument played during surveys

Profile:  In favor of documentation

Radial:  A knob for tuning in the Egyptian Sun god

Remember:  The thing to do for someone who has been dismembered

Robust:  An arrest for possession of robots

Shamrock:  Fake stone

Subdue:  You owe me one undersea vessel

Tearing:  A secret group conspiring to drink tea

Warden:  A cozy home for fighting

[The previous "improving words" post is here.]

14 November 2018

Video of the day -- same old same old

This certainly reflects my own experience, which is why I generally no longer bother participating in arguments about whether religion is true or not (its harmful cultural effects are another issue).

To GMS's presentation I have only one thing to add.  The fact that most religionists are so utterly mistaken about how atheists think is facilitated by the fact that they don't read what atheists have to say in the atheists' own words, as opposed to versions of it paraphrased or summarized by fellow theists.  You cannot understand an opponent's views unless you read what they themselves say -- not just a version of it interpreted by someone on your own side.  This is why I disregard the common taboo against linking to right-wing websites.  To deal with the opposition, we need to understand them accurately, and reading them in their own words, unfiltered, is the only way to do that.

Update:  Since this has turned out to be one of the more popular videos I've posted, here's his channel.

11 November 2018

Link round-up for 11 November 2018

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o

Darkness descends.

The gods must be crazy.

Don't beam me up yet.....

What's the name of your metal band?

Ann Coulter -- pwned!

Class resentment rears its head.

How many will read your book? (found via Calvin).

Are there bad people in "the caravan"? (found via Shaw Kenawe).

Look, when you dial a wrong number, just admit it.

I dunno, Melania might wear this.

Here's a guide to being politically correct for Halloween.

Organic vegetables, better in every way.

The real loser concedes the election (found via Fair and Unbalanced). 

Check out the sky photography of Matt Bluejay Searles.

Here's a good collection of all those cases where Brits and Americans use different words.

Sometimes you don't know right away.

There's some truth in both.

Some people have goofy ideas about cardinals.

You just know he wants to.

Anti-vaxxers are this dumb.

Tumblr shuts down people's blogs for garbage reasons.

See fascinating views from above (found via Lady, That's My Skull).

These cartoons are right on target, and this one (found via Hackwhackers) is exactly what's going on.

"Wait, there's some assholes out there just letting their baby 'cry it out'?"

It's merely a social construct.

Don't use honesty as an excuse.

The "woke people" are annoying as hell (just as Bill Maher said).

The often-cited Bible passage John 3:16 needs to be understood in context.

To non-American readers -- yes, a lot of the US really looks like this.

A judge stands up to Trump's ruthless fossil-fuel fetish.

Gods are basically comic-book superheroes.

There's a price to pay for being a collaborator.

"Other countries don't do this.....not even Russia."

A powerful enemy of legal marijuana has fallen.

Google has made some concessions to its rebellious employees.  But more must be done about the new corporate colossi.

Fascism has come to America, and yes, it is wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

Some damned ugly religious shit is going on at the Air Force Academy.

Genesis may have evolved from an ancient parable of worker revolt.

American military fetishism is empty and meaningless.

Trump's lashing out reminds blogger El Jefe of a notorious movie scene.

While the ignorant still fret about "overpopulation", the world has gone through a dramatic drop in birth rates.

Soon, the House Committee on Science will be led by someone who actually accepts science.

Don't bash technology for what are actually social shortcomings.

Really fixing global warming will require doable, but radical, changes to the energy industry.

In Switzerland, new technology allows paralyzed men to walk again (found via Mike the Mad Biologist).

Britain's £50 note may soon honor a persecuted hero.

Happy are those who can get help for their problems.

Trump wouldn't enjoy German press conferences.

Empowering women is the key to prosperity.

Efforts to contain Ebola in the Congo are being thwarted by armed conflict and, apparently, the local equivalent of anti-vaxxers.

RedState warns that Republicans' grip on the South and Texas isn't as strong as they think.

Democrats can be competitive in red-state Senate races.

Driftglass has an evocative post on the labor and rewards of street-level campaign work.

Susan Collins's vote for Kavanaugh will haunt her in 2020.

Even if Democrats want to be bi-partisan, Trump won't allow it.  He is not the President of all of us.

Voting felt different this time.

Yes, this is evil.

Elections have consequences, even in Kansas.

PM Carpenter has chosen his 2020 Presidential candidate.

Trump's weakened position may make him more dangerous, and the same is true of the Trumpanzees (found via The Mahablog).  And the Republicans' dangerous fascistic leanings are just going to get worse (found via Mike the Mad Biologist).

The new Democratic House majority has a lot of work to do.  Mike the Mad Biologist has some more suggestions.  And they have won the power to protect the Mueller investigation.  But they must avoid promising what they can't deliver.

Say it loud -- we won.  The nation has rejected Trumpism.  And there's more to come.

[Image at top found via Calvin]

10 November 2018

A good read

Since Tuesday, the Debbie-downer moan-groan-doom-gloom defeatist element that always irritatingly hovers around the liberal blogosphere has been especially active, trying to squelch any feelings of celebration because -- well, actually I don't get the "because" part.  Some people seemingly can't be happy unless they've got something to feel miserable about, which is fine, but they want everyone else to be miserable too.  Anyway, Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog dissects one of these gloomfests here, using facts and logic as scalpels.  It's a good read, and will give you some pointers on debunking this stuff if it shows up in your own comment threads.

09 November 2018

Inexorable evolution

During the time of Trump, some have wondered why the conservative white mostly-religious males who make up the Republican base seemed so angry and resentful so much of the time.  Their party, after all, controlled the whole federal government -- shouldn't they have been happy at having so much power backing up their views?  They often behaved as if they felt powerless and persecuted.  Why?

I believe it's because their main grievances have always been cultural, not political.  They don't like gay visibility and the growing respect for gay rights and gay marriage.  They don't like women's independence and the acceptance of abortion.  They don't like the self-assertiveness of black Americans and the growing presence of Hispanic culture and the Spanish language.  They don't like visible sexuality, especially unconventional sexuality.  They don't like secular culture and outright mockery of religion.  They don't like the way the health-care crisis is fostering support for a major government role in protecting people (even as it dawns on them that the old system is intolerably cruel even to themselves).  They particularly don't like it when they themselves, and their beliefs and prejudices, are the target of scorn.  They feel that they should be the dominant group, or at least those who set the tone and character of society, and they resent being more and more a marginal fringe.  American culture is inexorably evolving away from what they think it should be, and it alarms them.

The Republican party, and especially Trump, have played expertly on these feelings, but even with political power, there's little they can do about such trends.  Politics, it is said, is "downstream" from culture -- culture eventually shapes politics, but there is very little politics can do to affect culture.  Republicans can change laws to torment and hurt groups they don't like, but this doesn't make the cultural mainstream share their dislike of those groups -- if anything, it breeds sympathy for them, and ultimately a backlash.

Even with all federal power in the hands of a right-wing party led by a character as ruthless as Trump, cultural evolution is simply continuing, almost as if politics didn't exist.  The growth of the non-religious percentage of the population continues.  Mass culture -- movies, music, and so on -- still reflects the views and values of the educated, pluralistic, outward-looking coastal cities.  Religion and traditional values are still widely treated as faintly ridiculous.  Trump called neo-Nazis in Charlottesville "very fine people", but being identified among the marchers there still got people fired and ostracized, and being filmed venting a racist rant has the same effect.

Hence the frustration of the knuckle-draggers -- politically they'd won everything, but in terms of the stuff that was really bothering them, it didn't seem to matter.

Expect even more anger and resentment after this week's election as the reality of it sinks in.  Politics is still downstream from culture.  Trump's 2016 win was a freak event -- trendlines are never perfectly smooth, and anomalies and setbacks do happen.  But what happened on Tuesday was normality beginning to reassert itself.  The country is still inexorably changing, still evolving away from the old pattern the Trumpanzees long to restore.

This manifested itself politically this week, not only in our victories, but even in many of the defeats.  Republicans won a lot of stuff by narrow margins that they "should" have won overwhelmingly.

When a Democrat in Texas gets within three percentage points of beating an incumbent Republican Senator -- the country is changing.

When Republicans defeat a black woman for Governor of Georgia by only a tiny margin (so tiny, in fact, that it's not yet certain that they defeated her at all), and manage to do it only by using the most flagrant, brazen vote-suppression schemes since the Jim Crow era -- the country is changing.

When states as red as Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska pass ballot propositions to expand Medicaid, and Republicans who spent years trying to repeal the ACA have to flat-out lie and masquerade as the defenders of its provisions -- the country is changing.

When an out lesbian gets elected to Congress from Kansas -- the country is changing.

At worst, a wingnutized Supreme Court might reverse Obergefell, but that wouldn't affect the growing public acceptance of gay marriage, and most states other than the most benighted fundie hellholes would reinstate it on their own.  Or the Court might reverse Roe, but if substantial numbers of women who wanted abortions were actually blocked from having them, the backlash would sweep away the forced-birth fetishists in most state legislatures along with the laws they passed.  Either ruling would, within a decade, be seen as another Dred Scott -- a horribly embarrassing mistake in dire need of correction -- and deep down even the wingnuts know it.  Indeed, I strongly suspect that John Roberts, conscious as he is of the Court's reputation, would not allow such errors.

And don't even get me started on what would happen if the Republicans managed to make Christianity the country's official religion.  You just know that whatever concrete form this took would be as trite, cringe-worthy, and phony as any money-grubbing TV evangelist, and would immediately become the butt of joke after joke.  Bill Maher and Saturday Night Live would have a field day.

The wingnuts bark, but the caravan moves on.

o o o o o

See also observations on the election by other bloggers -- Tengrain, Shaw Kenawe, Hackwhackers, PM Carpenter, Libby Anne, Professor Chaos, Donna M, John Pavlovitz, David Futrelle, Robert Vella, El Jefe at Juanita Jean's (on Texas), Simon Alkenmayer (for the discouraged), Crazy Eddie (on Michigan referenda), Booman (on the suburban realignment), and the inimitable Shower Cap.

07 November 2018

Wave or no wave, it was a win

A few disjointed observations on the morning after a late night.....

1) Whether anyone believes the term "wave" is applicable or not, this was a win.  We beat the Republicans in every arena except the Senate, where they had a map strongly tilted in their favor.  If their biggest triumphs were wins in states as red as Indiana and North Dakota, they're in trouble.

2) The new House majority looks ready and eager to do what we elected them to do -- fight back against Trump.  This is the key to more wins in the future.  Voters turned out in such numbers because they're mad as hell about what Trump and his gang have been doing to our country.  Those we elected need to show us that they will fight for us, not make nice with the enemy.

3) The restoration of ex-felons' voting rights in Florida is potentially a game-changer, adding over a million new eligible voters in a state where about nine million people voted in 2016, and where so many elections are so close.  Similarly, voters in several states passed initiatives to end gerrymandering or make voting easier.  These will help us in future elections.

4) Likewise, the fact that O'Rourke came so close in Texas has huge implications.  Texas is not as red as people think; with its giant urban areas and large Hispanic population, it should be a swing state.  But the problem of low minority turnout has long been especially acute there, keeping the state redder politically than it is demographically.  A strong enough GOTV effort could shift it, and O'Rourke has shown the way -- where Wendy Davis lost by 21 points in 2014, he seems to have come within two or three points of Cruz.

5) While the defeat of O'Rourke, Gillum, and (probably) Abrams is a bitter disappointment, all three have made an impression on the national stage, and we'll be seeing them in action again.

6) We took at least seven Governorships away from the Republicans.  State-level power is hugely important.  Redistricting is coming.

7) If Abrams loses, she was only barely beaten, and by some of the most flagrant and outrageous vote-suppression scams since Jim Crow.  If Republicans need such tactics to win in Georgia, you can't tell me the country isn't changing.

8) While turnout was high by the standards of US midterms, it was still low by the standards of most democracies.  There is still a lot of room for future improvement via GOTV work.

9) The other side is still a determined and formidable force.  If our turnout rose, so did theirs.  Our base is bigger, but even 2020 is going to be a hard slog, not a cakewalk.

10) One major wild card remains -- the Mueller investigation.  Impeachment of Trump now would be pointless because there's no chance of conviction in the Senate.  Depending on Mueller's eventual report, that could change.

11) Here in Oregon, there were no surprises.  Kate Brown was easily re-elected as Governor (readers will be unsurprised to know that she got my vote).  Our Congressional delegation remains at four Democrats and one Republican, the latter representing the one mostly rural district that covers the majority of the state.  Ballot initiatives to ban state funding of abortion, and to revoke Oregon's status as a sanctuary state for illegal aliens, were both defeated two-to-one.

12) Finally, a word for one politician who didn't win.  Heidi Heitkamp faced the most difficult race of any Senate Democrat.  But she still voted no on Kavanaugh, refusing to be intimidated.  Yes, she lost yesterday.  But she lost having done the right thing.

Yesterday was not the end of Trumpism.  But it was the beginning of our country's climb back to its rightful place among the world's great democracies.

[Image at top:  Voters waiting in line in Texas]

05 November 2018

For election day

A few reminders:

There has probably never been a time in US history when the differences between the parties were so vast and stark.  All or almost all Democrats in Congress voted against ACA repeal, billionaire tax cuts, the Kavanaugh confirmation, and the rest of the enemy's barbarities; all or almost all Republicans in Congress voted for those things.  Republicans will be essentially united in attacking gay equality, abortion rights, science, the ACA, Social Security, Medicare, voting rights, separation of church and state, environmental protection, and everything else we value; with rare exceptions, every Democrat we elect can be depended on to defend them.

Every Republican must go -- vote against them all. Even if an individual Republican seems decent and doesn't personally support the party's bigotry, theocracy, and kleptocracy, by the very act of running as Republican they are signalling that they regard those things as acceptable in the cause of whatever Republican policies they do run on. They are still a threat, still part of the problem.

If it were true that "voting doesn't change anything", the Republicans wouldn't be working so hard in so many places to stop "the wrong people" from doing it.

If you think your Democratic candidate isn't liberal enough, remember you're still better off with a conservative Democrat who sometimes votes the wrong way than with a Republican who almost always votes the wrong way.  If you think your Democratic candidate is too leftist, remember that the party's overall moderation acts to constrain radicals, while among the Republicans, the greatest source of extremism is Trump himself.

A sobering message from Bill Maher:

Please also read Leonard Pitts Jr.

UpdateThis guy is worth listening to as well.

Put yourself in the place of those whose security and freedom and perhaps their very lives depend on the outcome.

Do it for the kids stolen from their parents and locked in cages.  Do it for the people in Georgia and North Dakota and elsewhere who were robbed of the right their grandparents had to fight so hard for.  Do it to show Trump who's boss.

If you need to relieve the tension a bit, our most entertaining political blogger, Shower Cap, has one last post before the election.

Here are some voter tips and resources (found via Hackwhackers).

For election night, here are poll-closing times for every part of the country.

[Image at top by Jennifer Reitman]

04 November 2018

Link round-up for 4 November 2018

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o

Featured link:  Shower Cap's huge Action Guide to the Midterms.

They can't do cages right (don't miss the cute baby rhino).

Whoever designed this knew exactly what he was doing.

Uh oh, no Americans allowed?

Of course Rule 34 applies to Disney.

Ahhhh!!! Zombies!!! (found via Miss Cellania).

Don't over-complicate exercise.

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

This alien villain didn't understand humans very well.

None of the job candidates were satisfactory except one.

What do you do with a million cubic yards of cheese?

Resist the War on HalloweenCelebrate the holiday with NASA -- or Hawaiian style.

Burkman and Wohl reduce political defamation to camp.

If you haven't seen Weird Al's Star Wars version of "American Pie", it's pretty cool.

Scary bird.

Kids are so full of energy.

Check out these photos of libraries.

Welcome to Japan.

Time to make a change.

Cutting off contact with somebody doesn't mean you're afraid of them (found via Queerloween).

Actually, this is exactly how religious hypocrisy works.

Stop worrying about people's taste in fiction.

NFL star Rob Gronkowski did a good deed.

A couple on a cruise found something extra in their room.

Use Halloween to teach about ideology.

It's a pretty good hourly income.

Only in %$#@!# America.

If you're using Bedpage, stop.

Fundamentalist hypocrisy and bigotry just keep getting worse.  More here.

It takes some guts to do this, when you're the only one.

Evangelicals always have ulterior motives.

Green Eagle keeps up with the latest wingnuttery and dissects a whole swampful of Republican delusions.

It's so mysterious where all the hate is coming from (found via Scottie).

Here's a little education on sexual harassment.

Some racists are secretive, subtle, and dangerous.

Republicans can't win the healthcare argumentWatch what they do, not what they say.

Milo Yiannopoulos is a nasty character.

The Florida yoga-studio murderer had a long history of misogyny and blaming others for his own shortcomings.

Must-read post of the week:  Trumpism is Evangelical Christianity's instrument for achieving dominion over society.

Different people emphasize different aspects of their identity, and this affects their political views.

Some millionaires don't want a future of fortified islands of wealth in a sea of poverty.

Fox News apparently doesn't realize smallpox was eradicated 40 years ago.  The info about vaccination rates in Central America vs. the US is eye-opening.

56 major corporations tell Trump to back off trans people.

Trump's tariffs are hurting even the industries they were supposed to benefit.

Worthwhile reading here on racism and anti-Semitism.

"No one forced you to be a garbage person.  You did that."

We've lost two hardy explorers of the universe -- Kepler and Dawn.

Here's why Google employees held walkouts all over the world.

If we don't eat for three days, people will stop having abortions!

Denmark pushes back at Trump's distortions.

This month, Taiwan may become the first non-Western country to adopt gay marriage.

Trump's sanctions on Iran don't pack very much punch, because other countries aren't cooperating.

Pakistan's highest court has overturned a death sentence (!) for blasphemy (!), causing local Islamotards to go completely apeshit.  The victim is still not allowed to leave the country.

If Russia is caught trying to hack US election systems, we are ready to retaliate.

Win or lose, Republicans will get more extreme.

Steve Bannon rallies a massive crowd.

Steve King -- too racist even for the NRCC!

Trump is getting desperate.

State legislatures matter.

"Elections should be about the triumph of ideas; not about who can set up the best obstacle course for his opponent."

The polls are only as good as their turnout models -- let's surprise them.

Batocchio has California voting resources.

Shower Cap reviews the week in wingnuttery.

What if Hillary runs again in 2020?

Evangelicals still love Trump because he's delivering on their agenda.

Republican messaging is misfiring everywhere, but Democrats too must be wiser if they win.

[Image at top found via Hackwhackers]