27 February 2020

So -- what if it's Bernie?

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a front-runner.  Bernie Sanders more or less tied in Iowa, won in New Hampshire, and then massively won in Nevada.  In delegates, he leads with 45 (Buttigieg has 26, Biden 15).  He's jumped into the lead in polling for the nomination, with 29% support to Biden's 18%.  Establishment pundits are freaking out.

Please.  Sanders won Nevada by appealing to a wide range of voters beyond his established base, notably Latinos; he couldn't have won otherwise.  His track record shows that he knows how to win.  He's not as polarizing among Democrats as conventional wisdom has it.  In fact, a plurality of Democrats now views him as having the best shot at defeating Trump.

Are they right?  Most of the polls in the RCP average show Sanders beating Trump by various (usually small) margins, which is the same as what they show for most of the other Democratic contenders.  Some have argued that this lead would not survive an actual contest in which Trump would mercilessly pillory Sanders as a "socialist".  Arguably that line of attack wouldn't work; Sanders, after all, knows how to fight back (and the Republicans would denounce any Democratic nominee as a socialist, Marxist, etc.).  One thing I do know is that while Americans have been trained to hate the word "socialist", the specific policies -- Social Security, Medicare, universal health coverage, higher taxes on the rich to strengthen social protections -- are popular.  So long as Sanders can keep the focus on specific policies, and keep hammering away at Republicans' threats to Social Security in particular, he may well defeat an attack based on mere labeling.

This Vox post argues that Sanders's electability depends on a surge of youth turnout which would be unlikely to materialize in practice.  The analysis is worth reading, but I assume that most of those polls in the RCP average use turnout models based on the conventional wisdom that youth turnout is generally low.  Yet they still show Sanders winning.  Dean Obeidallah at CNN argues that Sanders could win it all for reasons similar to why Trump did in 2016.

He still has a lot of work to do.  Biden has a big lead in South Carolina, which votes this Saturday and could re-shape the race going into Super Tuesday.  There are good reasons why black voters in particular are very cautious about an unconventional candidate like Sanders.  The world's two biggest and nastiest fossil-fuel-based gangster-regimes, those of Russia and Saudi Arabia, have ample reason to fear a Sanders presidency and thus ample motive to go all-out in interfering in the election.

But Obeidallah has a point.  If there's one guy who could bring to our side the kind of game-changing energy that Trump brought to the bad guys, it's Sanders.  He's a fighter.  He'll call out the enemy's bullshit.  He won't be genteel and play by the rules against an enemy who refuses to do so.  And he's a disruptor.  There are many voters who went for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then for Trump in 2016 -- because they didn't care about ideology, they just wanted someone who would shake up the status quo.  Sanders has, a least, a chance with those voters.

We will, of course, hear a lot about 1972.  However, it's been argued that the real reason McGovern lost so badly was that the party leaders failed to give him their full support -- which brings us back to those freaking-out establishment pundits.  We can't afford such games-playing this time.  Trump is far more dangerous and malignant than Nixon.  If Sanders gets the nomination, then all Democrats must go all-out to support him.  There can be no excuses, no forgiveness, and no future role in the party for any who fail to do so -- no matter how highly-placed they are now.

25 February 2020

Video of the day -- this person is a nut

Reminder:  being a celebrity does not confer any expertise or authority whatsoever in medicine or science.  And there are many scams like this out there.  Learn to spot the signs.

[Note:  non-sexualized verbal references to female genitalia]

23 February 2020

Link round-up for 23 February 2020

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

o o o o o

Here's a brief video of milking a cow.

The master relaxes while the servant labors.

Sometimes a dog is in just the right place.

It can be dangerous for a boat to take on extra passengers.

The Daleks had a bit of an attitude.

Is a praying parrot a moral parrot?

Always remember to wash your hands.

Dollhouses can be adorned with chairs, glassware, and of course books.

Debra She Who Seeks finds a new idol from England of 200 years ago.

RO looks at Gwyneth Paltrow, unread books, margarine, and corn insulation.

They don't need religion to be good.

At last, a truly classy-looking cell phone (found via Mike).

This Star Trek engineering deck was actually something rather different.

Can we please just be a normal country?

This anti-eavesdropping device sounds worth checking out.

The Christian god is a jealous god.

It's the modern work environment.

Hysterical Raisins reaches its blog mitzvah.

This guy sounds very insecure about something to me.

Check our the horror-inspired fantasy art of Les Edwards.

Donald Trump, film critic.

It's not "free stuff".

Music doesn't help productivity.  Silence does.

Show some respect for the world's greatest scam.

Pelosi rocks, Trump stinks, and Charlie Sykes gets the last word.

Wingnuts lie about what science said in the past.

Stop tolerating religious harassment.

Giant disease-bearing pests won't go away (how much would it cost to set up a few zillion BB guns hooked up to motion detectors?).

Here's a way to support bookstores in the age of Amazon.

1,100 military veterans condemn Trump's attacks on Vindman.

Burr Deming remembers a heroine of civil rights.

The American workplace enforces mass stupidization.

Does Hell eventually get even worse?

Speaking out about sexual harassment at Uber led to a nightmare of stalking and spying.

The US quality of life now compares poorly even to some developing countries.

States and cities are starting to reconsider the practice of offering hugely expensive tax incentives to wring a meager few jobs out of some giant corporation.

Trumpanzee hatred of the educated echoes an older precedent.

Bruce Gerencser recalls his years of slavish devotion to the God who never helped.

Chameleons go through one last color change after they die.

The coronavirus epidemic is probably only just getting started.

Read the gripping story of John Glenn's ride in Friendship 7 in 1962, the first orbit of the Earth by an American (found via Mendip).

Here's an image of the Sun taken through the Earth (found via Jerry Coyne).

Compare these metro systems.

The UK is about to have its first-ever Muslim gay pride festival.

Sorry, guys, the rules of your little private boy's club have no standing against civil law.

Activists in Argentina renew the push for legal abortion.

China's fascist regime doesn't want independent reporting on its handling of the coronavirus.

South Africa no longer looks like a natural leader for its region.

Trevor Noah and The Hill take closer looks at Bernie Sanders.

Don't repeat the mistakes of the 2012 loser.

For some, it's still not time to pay close attention to politics.

Steve M explains why Trump won't skip the debates.

Nevada showed that Sanders now has diverse support and is building momentum.  If he is our primary voters' choice for the nomination, then all the party must come together and support him in the general.  The establishment must stop playing games here.

The last thing we should be worrying about is whether Buttigieg is "not gay enough".

Bob Felton is disappointed in the candidates.

[1,130 days down, 332 to go until the inauguration of a real President.]

21 February 2020

The two nations and the new migratory politics

There is no "American nation" any more.

The United States is now a single political entity containing two distinct and mutually antagonistic nations struggling for power against each other, rather like Belgium.  There is no meaningful "we" embracing the whole country, and there is really no longer any such thing as a unified "American people".

Lately we and those who habitually vote Republican seem to be divided by a chasm of mutual incomprehension much larger than that which separates the peoples of, for example, Britain and France.  Different attitudes on religion, sexuality, race, the role of women, and many other issues certainly look like two distinct cultures.  The level of mass mutual hostility between the two groups probably exceeds that existing between Flemings and Walloons or between Anglo-Canadians and Québécois.  At least for now, the differences seem irreconcilable.  The fact that Red America voted for a man like Donald Trump was certainly a milestone.  Blue America is the successor and continuation of the progressive development of the US during most of its history, an open-to-the-world society with a great variety of cultural strands; Red America is becoming something dark and cruel and atavistic, hating the different and the new.

Moreover, the distribution of political power between the two groups is inequitable.  We live mostly in a few states with large populations, they live mostly in many states with small populations.  We outnumber them by a substantial margin, but the Electoral College and the set-up of the Senate give them disproportionate power.  2016 was the second election in 16 years in which the Electoral College gave a Republican the Presidency despite losing the popular vote.

But I was wrong to argue, as I did three years ago, that we should consider splitting the US into two separate nation-states.  The country is far too economically integrated; any imaginable border would leave too many people on the "wrong" side (such as blacks in the South); and the general pattern of blue metro areas surrounded by red hinterland doesn't lend itself to drawing workable borders.  There's a better solution, and it's already under way -- colonization.

As density and cost of living increase in the west coast cities, residents -- especially those with families or looking to start them -- seek out places where their dollars will stretch further.  This means migration to urban areas within nearby states with a decent climate.  Most of those states are, or were, red or at least purple, but the flow of migration has already changed some of them:

In Nevada, to which 500,000 Californians moved between 2008 and 2018, Democrats won the governor’s mansion and a second U.S. Senate seat in 2018.  There used to be more Republicans, by registration. But Democrats now have a 70,000-voter advantage, and they prevailed there in the last three presidential races.

Colorado, another favorite landing spot for those who can no longer afford California, is now reliably blue.  Democrats won majorities there by more than 100,000 votes in the last two presidential elections. The state is likely to flip a Senate seat, bouncing the inept Republican Cory Gardner for a popular former governor, John Hickenlooper.

Arizona could be the next to fall to Democrats.  The state known for retirees and tax-averse whites is becoming more diverse and younger and is full of ex-Californians. Between 2001 and 2014, Arizona added about a quarter-million people from its neighboring state to the west.

A total of 7.3 million people have migrated from California to other states since 2007.  A few hundred thousand people in any one typical destination state can be enough to change the balance of its politics, even though such numbers seem tiny in California.  Because in most cases, liberals who move to a red state remain liberals.  They don't change to fit the local politics, they change the local politics to fit themselves.  Similar effects are seen elsewhere in the country, as in Virginia and Florida, which have shifted away from the Red American monoculture to become diverse swing states through migration.

Ironically, as Trump continues to deliberately screw up California's fire defenses, water, etc. to punish the state for disliking him, he'll only encourage the very migration which is pulling other states away from his party.

The most popular destination state for Californian migrants is Texas, and of course Texas is different.  It already has a large population (29 million), and cannot be so easily swamped by migrants -- but that also makes it a bigger political prize, with 38 Electoral College votes, a number which will increase over time since the state's population is growing at a faster rate than the US as a whole.  Texas also already has several very large metro areas with a cosmopolitan culture where people from Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Portland could feel comfortable.  But unlike the west coast cities wedged in between mountains and ocean with no room to expand, the great cities of eastern Texas sit in the midst of a vast, featureless plain with no natural barriers to spreading out indefinitely.  This allows densities and cost of living to remain low by west coast standards -- a powerful draw for migrants.

It was long thought by some that Texas would become purple and then blue due to Hispanic immigration.  That isn't happening, because for a variety of reasons, the Hispanic voter participation rate is generally low.  What is changing Texas is the influx of liberals from elsewhere in the US.  Already several statewide political races in the last few years have yielded surprisingly close result even though the Republicans won.  We shouldn't count on Texas being in play for this year's presidential race, unless the blue wave is of unexpected magnitude.  But by 2024 it's likely it will be.

As migration transforms the underpopulated states of the inland west, Red America's unfair advantage in the Senate erodes.  And when the Republicans can no longer count on Texas's electoral votes, their odds of ever winning the presidency again will become negligible.

Yes, there are two nations, but forget about splitting the country.  It will be back securely in our hands again soon enough.

19 February 2020

My one brief foray into acting

When I was a university student, I lived in a small apartment in a rather ramshackle building a few blocks from the campus.  Most of the other tenants there were also students, but my next-door neighbor was an older guy I'll call "NN" who lived there because he was poor and simply couldn't afford anything better.  He was around 45 and what some people would call "a bit of a character" -- rather frenetic and excitable and prone to talking without thinking things through first.  He had some of the same intellectual interests as I did and we quickly became friends.  NN was also homosexual, the first openly-gay person I had ever met.  (No, there was never a hint of anything sexual in his relationship with me.  He was just a friend.)

One day NN came by and said he'd come to ask for my help with something.  He had a sister living on the east coast, whom he thoroughly detested, and she was traveling to California for a few days.  She had asked him to let her stay in his apartment while she was there so she wouldn't have to pay for a hotel.  He had told her he couldn't accommodate her because he had a live-in boyfriend, and she had accepted that and gotten a hotel room.  However, now she was actually in town and wanted to come visit him for a couple of hours tomorrow afternoon, and he didn't want her to realize he'd been lying about having a live-in boyfriend.  Would I, he asked, be willing to hang out at his place just while she was visiting and pretend I lived there with him?

It was the oddest thing I had ever been asked to do up to that point, but I was still at the stage of relishing the independence of being away from home and trying new things, and it sounded like it could be fun, so I agreed. The next day I went over to NN's apartment a little while before his sister was due to get there.  When she arrived, she wasn't surprised to see me since he had told her he had someone living with him.  I don't remember much of what they talked about during her visit -- family stuff, mostly.

Deception takes more concentration than one might think.  I had to constantly watch what I said to avoid letting some tell-tale phrase slip out that would have betrayed the fact that I didn't actually live there.  But I managed it, and she never suspected anything.  People interpret what they see according to their expectations.  As it happened, a few weeks later I was visiting NN and the phone rang when he was busy in the kitchen, and he asked me to answer it and see who it was.  It was his sister, so the fact that I answered his phone added to the verisimilitude of the original ploy.

In all the decades since then, I've never had occasion to attempt such a deception again.  I was right at the time, though.  It was fun.

[Image at top:  Photo of the campus clock tower, taken by me around that time.  It's a scan of a physical photo, since this was long before digital cameras.]

17 February 2020

Notitiam mortem

Being 59 with my share of health problems, from time to time I have considered the possibility that I might die suddenly.  Don't get me wrong -- this is extremely unlikely -- but it's possible.  If it were to happen, one thing I would want is for it to be known here, so that the readers would know why I was no longer posting, and not think I had just abandoned blogging with no explanation.

I've thought of several options, but none of them would really be satisfactory.  I could write a sort of death announcement post scheduled for a date in the near future, and keep postponing it every time I logged on, so that it would eventually appear if I were no longer around to re-schedule it -- but I'm prone to distraction and and would sooner or later forget, resulting in a false alarm.  Giving my password to someone else to do it when the time comes isn't an option.  It's not a question of lack of trust.  A blog is such a personal thing that I could never stand the though of anyone else having access to it, no matter who it was, no matter what the circumstances.

But there's still a way for it to be known.  If I ever stop posting for a while, I always post some sort of notification of it beforehand.  I can't imagine anything non-lethal that would keep me offline for as long as a month -- even the last time I had major surgery, the hospital stay was no more than a week.  So if ever there are no posts here for a full month, with no announcement of such a hiatus beforehand, you should assume that's the explanation.

Don't assume the same, though, if the blog suddenly disappears without explanation.  If that were to happen, it would probably mean my perennial OCD trolls had hacked it or persuaded Blogger to remove it; and I'd soon be back, either here or on another platform (all the posts are backed up on my computer and flash drives).  But if the blog is still here and there are no updates for a month, it most likely means Satan has called me home😈.

But I'm not expecting that to happen.  I intend to continue for a long time indeed.  I'm gonna be like this guy:

16 February 2020

Link round-up for 16 February 2020

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

o o o o o

Hopefully you didn't get any of these for Valentine's Day.

A prankster in Russia posted a giant picture of Putin in an elevator, with a hidden camera to record reactions (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

Yet another cat is brought low by catnip.

Be careful what you wish for.

Elmo makes the supreme sacrifice.

Would you go to this dentist?

Behold the awesome power of the toilet brush gun.

Gillian Anderson likes rock formations.

"Help!  We're being oppressed!"

Stephen Hawking sings Monty Python.

If you order boxes from Amazon, be prepared.

Speaking of Amazon, WTF?

Chess was a recurring meme in Star Trek.  So was awesome chaos.

Smooth carrot for your soul.

I need one of these signs.

Professor Taboo romances a romantic dissertation on romance, perhaps somewhat over-romanticized.

Such is life in rural northwest Ohio.

The Trump impeachment revenge tour is under way.

If you missed it, check out the exchange between "James" and me in the comments here.

Here's why even knowledgeable people's writing is often hard to understand.

Remember Olympe de Gouges.

The FBI warns against a form of terrorism that doesn't exist.

Daniel Dwyer seems to be the victim of a serious injustice.

Aside from his taxes, Trump doesn't want to give a DNA sample.

Samantha Bee looks at Dennis Prager's fake university.

Those hot-air hand dryers in bathrooms are essentially power-farting on your hands.

This company's anti-worker tactics just backfired to the tune of almost $10 million.  More of this, please.

How can we reduce anti-atheist bigotry?

Some Republicans are starting to acknowledge global warming, but their policy proposals are still bullshit.

"The real problem is that we are a minority-ruled country now."

Southern Baptist pastors threaten to boycott their own conference because a woman pastor will be there.

Brain-workers don't like Trumpism, even from their boss.

A Christian challenges his fellows on their support for Trump (read the comments from fundies at the end, though).

The slightest examination of the Republican "vote fraud" scam shows that there's no there there.

Here's what happened to the guards at Dachau.

Prepare for coronavirus to get a lot worse in the US.

Antarctic sea ice forms a complex system.

This ancient giant galaxy thrived near the beginning of the universe.

What if we could see nature in infrared?

Trump can't even get along with Boris Johnson.

Don't tell me we can't do it when Germany has already done it.

President Macron of France speaks out for free expression, and for a gutsy 16-year-old lesbian.

The coronavirus outbreak is overwhelming Wuhan's medical resources, perhaps posing a threat to the Beijing fascist regime's aspirations.  An American living in Shanghai posts her experiences 12 days ago and more recently.

Stop listening to extremists.

Which Democrat wins matters less than you think.

Republicans no longer even pretend to play by the rules.

15 February 2020

Video of the day -- The Hope

Israeli singer Daniel Saadon performs the Israeli national anthem HaTikvah ("The Hope") to an Arabic dabkah-style beat.  While I love this video for the music and the very Middle-Easterny street scenes, the tone of the comments on its YouTube page was also interesting.  YouTube comments have a reputation for moronic hostility and squabbling, but these were different:

David Johnson: I like the Dabke beat, it incorporates our Arab cousins who are a great part of the homeland. Peace

Ahmed Antares: J'adore from Algeria

Youssef Zohbi: Im lebanese but damn hebrew sounds nice

Medo Ali: Love from Egyptian Atheist to Israel ❤️

Rami Zureikat: So similar to Arabic. Love from Jordan 🇯🇴❤️

BearJew05 (in reply to the above): We come from same blood. Salaam aleikum achi.

.....and there are plenty more like those.  Yes, it's only a small sample of YouTube viewers and not necessarily representative, but it suggests that at least some people within the region are moving beyond the weary dead-end hatred and revanchism which have benighted it for generations.  Ordinary people, unlike politicians and ideologists, have nothing to gain from sustaining a permanent state of rage and venom.  One is, at least, entitled to hope.

13 February 2020

The rest of the century

We are now almost one-fifth of the way through the twenty-first century.  On a surface level it's been something of a disappointment, opening with the biggest terrorist attack in history and saddling us with Trump.  But look deeper and the picture is one of remarkable progress.  The internet has become a true forum of mass global communication, with the promise of real independence from governments and from censors, control freaks, and pearl-clutchers of every stripe.  Gay equality and marriage rights have triumphed across most of the Western world.  The decline of religion has accelerated, with fewer than two-thirds of Americans now identifying as Christian, and religious influence utterly collapsing in some countries like Ireland where it once dominated.  The world is investing massively in the transition to non-fossil-fuel energy, even if the US is temporarily absent from that fight.

If there's been one constant across the last four centuries, it's ever-accelerating technological progress and cultural change.  There have been setbacks for a few years in this or that country, but taking the long view, they're trivial compared to the overall trend.  It's a safe bet that that trend will continue.

Here are some things I expect will happen before the end of the twenty-first century:

1) Victory over global warming, by a combination of geoengineering and a massive world-wide shift to non-fossil-fuel energy.

2) General abandonment and rejection of the practice of meat-eating as barbaric and disgusting.

3) Decline of religion to near-irrelevance in the US, Latin America, and even the Middle East, similar to what has already happened in most of Europe.

4) Two or three more profound changes in cultural attitudes at least as fundamental as the sexual revolution or the shift toward acceptance of gay rights.

5) Unmanned space probes to some nearby stars, traveling at close to the speed of light, possibly microscopic.

6) A rigorous scientific explanation for the existence of consciousness and free will.

7) The majority of the "Third World" fully catching up to the West in prosperity and technological development.

8) Eradication of most disease.

9) Transition to a post-work, post-scarcity economy in which most production is done by machines, most humans do not need to work, and income is distributed mostly via systems like universal basic income unconnected with work.

10) A cure for the aging process, widely available in advanced countries, allowing individuals to remain young and postpone death as long as they choose, and eliminating the burden of a growing elderly population.  (So a lot of you may still be around at the end of 2100 to see how well I did with these predictions.)

11) Widespread integration of computer technology into the human brain, to increase human intelligence and expand the range of human sensory experience.

Here are some things I don't expect to happen during this century, if ever:

1) Displacement of English by another language as the dominant language of global communication.

2) A one-world government.

3) Large-scale use of nuclear weapons in a war.

4) China becoming the world's dominant power (unless it becomes a democracy, and probably not even then).

5) A civilizational collapse or abandonment of technological progress (unless caused by an unpredictable natural disaster such as a giant meteor impact).  A few countries may reject science for religion or "spirituality" of some kind, but such countries will rapidly fall behind and become irrelevant.  Most of the world will not follow that path.

6) Colonization of other planets, except in the sense of small manned scientific stations.

7) Contact with another intelligent species.

8) Teleportation (similar to the "transporter" on Star Trek).

9) Faster-than-light travel.

10) Time travel.

11 February 2020

The depths of dumbth

I see dumb people.....they're everywhere.....

This guy doesn't grasp the concept of "center of gravity".

Who gets filmed on the toilet, anyway?

09 February 2020

Link round-up for 9 February 2020

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.  Sorry for the shorter-than-usual list -- I've been sick since Thursday.

o o o o o

Even Godzilla is vulnerable.

What if Yondu really was Mary Poppins?

Jesus does it all for you.

NASA has a quick reminder.

SNL does Frozen 2.

Remember Hilma af Klint.

Crows and ravens are cool.

"How else can they become?"

Here are some books for your dollhouse.

Check out the art of Bruce Munro.

Can you speak Texan?

"Religion is over, lads, it's fucking over."

The Republicans are the party of zombies.

I applaud the clever German and his fake traffic jam.

"You've been here awhile....."

Must-read of the week:  the American way of work is killing us.

Trump is even more powerful than Mario, because.....

Barr blathers on about "militant secularists".

Conservative ideology is tearing down our defenses against coronavirus.

The best thing about superbowl halftime shows is the way they get prigs like Dave Daubenmire all agitated like a pit bull with its nuts caught in a mousetrap.

Political cartoons here.

Everything that makes us uncomfortable must be Satanic.

Drinking a gallon of salt water mixed with rotting vegetables every day is probably not a good idea.

That wasn't a trial, just Republicans trying on a series of fig leaves.

Real masculinity doesn't bully and brag.

Banning plastic shopping bags is environmentally counterproductive.

Fundies have a cultish, us-vs-them mentality.

Conservative gays please note -- the Republicans don't want you.

Just stop believing in it.

Elections have consequences, and the fact that Kentucky's new governor is a Democrat is already bringing change for the better.

This man is no president, merely a cult leader.

The problem is not "partisanship", the problem is Republicans.

Pelosi's gesture at the SOTU has become a theme for cartoonists.

Wishful thinking keeps farmers on Trump's side.

The memory of the Holocaust must never be allowed to fade.

Why do ice ages happen?  It's complicated.

Fundies are appalled at British distaste for Franklin Graham's bigotry.

Corbyn and the British Labour party have engaged in Trump-like cozying-up to Putin.

It takes a courageous ex-patient to get doctors to stop performing bizarre experimental treatments on kids.

The governor of India's most populous state is, well, this guy.

A Chinese doctor who defied the regime and told the truth about coronavirus has become a martyr.

Lindsey Graham makes a clumsy attempt to stir up infighting among Democrats.  There will be more and more of this, and sometimes its Republican/Russian provenance won't be so obvious.  Be aware.

The enemy are solidly behind their candidate -- we must be as well.

Electoral-Vote, FiveThirtyEight, and Vox assess the Iowa app-ocalypse.

Republicans are planning to rodent-molest the South Carolina Democratic primary.

Vox makes the case for Buttigieg.

Joe Walsh will vote for the Democratic nominee no matter who it is -- and he's a Republican.  Can we do less?

This interview with James Carville isn't what a lot of people want to hear, but it's what they need to hear.

We must make Republican senators pay a price for their craven behavior.

[1,116 days down, 346 to go until the inauguration of a real President.]

05 February 2020

Trumpeachment ends, and the real fight begins

And so the most thoroughly predictable piece of political theater in American history comes to its inevitable end -- with yet another shabby, squalid display of cowardice by Republicans, in this case in the Senate.  There is nothing Trump could do that would induce them to risk antagonizing the legions of his easily-enraged and heavily-armed followers who dominate the states they represent.

A few Republicans "distinguished" themselves.  Murkowski, who at least does actually buck her party occasionally, settled for both-sidesing the issue, a stance as fundamentally dishonest as it always is.  Since inauguration Trump has been the living embodiment of why the founders put impeachment in the Constitution.  If Democrats were slow to launch the process, it was solely because the cravenness of the Senate majority made it obviously futile.

Joni Ernst, best known for her introductory video describing how she "grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm" to make her seem folksy and relatable (because who among us doesn't like to relax and unwind now and then by hacking the nuts off of a few farm animals?) threatened to impeach a future president Biden; her later feeble "walk-back" was nothing of the kind, still accusing Democrats of "lowering the bar" by going after Trump who has, in fact, committed several times more impeachable offenses than all previous presidents combined.  Of course, such threats are inspired purely by revenge.  They'd try to impeach any Democratic president -- except that it's hard to imagine a scenario in which a Democrat wins the presidency but Republicans take control of the House.

Romney?  His lone vote to convict took little courage or principle, since Trump has never been as popular among Mormons (who dominate his state's electorate) as among other Republicans.  And he may have been serving the party in a different way.  The real man of principle today was Doug Jones.

Unlike some, I can't say I'm disappointed or angry about the outcome.  Disappointment implies that some outcome other than a phony trial and acquittal was possible.  There was never any possibility that impeachment would remove Trump.  There was never any way anyone even remotely in touch with reality could have believed there was any possibility that impeachment would remove Trump.  It would have required 20 Republican senators to vote for removal.  There was never any chance that that was going to happen.  As for anger, I maxed out my anger with the caging of migrant children and the betrayal of the Kurds.  This impeachment fiasco is nothing compared with what Trump and his enablers have already inflicted.

The fact is, for most of Trump's term our side has been hypnotized by futile hopes for a deus ex machina that would let us reverse the stolen election of 2016 without the hard work (and frustrating four-year wait) of winning in 2020.  First we -- and I was briefly guilty of this too -- fantasized that the Electoral College would do its job and refuse to install Trump.  That didn't happen.  Then, for what seemed like an eternity, we pinned all our hopes on the Mueller report.  At last the report came out, had exactly zero impact, and was quickly forgotten; today nobody mentions it any more.  Then impeachment became the magic word -- even though plain math made it obvious that the Senate wouldn't remove Trump, too many activists insisted that there was hope of removal because something something [stamps foot] I just damn well want it to be that way!!!  I'll never forget how Pelosi, a far smarter and more capable leader than her gaggle of are-we-there-yet backseat-brat critics ever deserved, was excoriated for resisting a course of action that could well have ended up strengthening Trump by allowing him to claim exoneration after acquittal.  (In fact, it won't -- the "trial" was too much of an obvious sham to convince anyone but the most blindly-committed Trumpanzees.)  Well, now that's over too.  I just hope we don't come up with yet another shibboleth.  With only nine months left to the election, we don't have any more time to waste on such things.

The election is the only option we have, or ever did have, for lifting this curse off of our country.  After all, the House win of 2018 was the only thing that has managed to mitigate it somewhat, by putting some real power behind investigations of Trump's shenanigans and stopping Republicans from passing destructive legislation.  And this year's election is the only thing that gives us the chance to complete the rollback of wingnut minority rule by doing the same with the White House and hopefully the Senate.

Because it's not just Trump.  There's no comparison between the two parties any more.  Only one party is trying to destroy separation of church and state and give special recognition to Christianity.  Only one party is systematically attacking abortion rights around the planet on the basis of a religious taboo.  Only one is trying to give religious employers the right to discriminate against gay employees and deny birth-control insurance coverage.  Only one is trying to wreck Social Security and Medicare to save money for tax cuts for the already obscenely rich.  Only one just took a giant shit all over the Constitution for the sole purpose of shielding a narcissistic wannabe fascist dictator from paying any price for his blatant corruption.  Only one is passing restrictive laws in state after state to deny as many black Americans as possible the right to vote which their ancestors fought so hard to win just a couple of generations ago.  Only one is actively leaving the door open for a hostile foreign dictatorship to meddle in our elections.

I wish we still had two parties a sane person could consider voting for.  We don't.  In November I'd crawl over broken glass to vote for every Democrat against every Republican.  The Republicans have left me no choice.

04 February 2020

Video of the day -- the Age of Impeachment

Good for a few laughs.

02 February 2020

Link round-up for 2 February 2020

The land of my ancestors has regained its independence from the corrupt and anti-democratic European Union!

o o o o o

Start off with some one-liners.


Susan Swiderski has some words to stop using, and a few new ones to adopt.

American badger, European badger.....

Check out these luxuriantly detailed dollhouses (link from Nonnie9999).

Sometimes human ingenuity is a bit too ingenious for its own good.

This guy should have done his own gift-wrapping.

A horse discovers cosplay.

Two words:  Ostrich Hell.

Which language does it most simply?

Maybe you need a smaller box (or a bigger cat).

Happy birthday to a most memorable character.

See all your favorite movie monsters in miniature, with trains.

This North African dagger is such a beautiful object, it would be a shame to mess it up by actually stabbing somebody with it.

After 142 non-stop years, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are cutting back their adoration schedule to 16 hours a day.  No word of any such slowdown among the Fathers of Perpetual Molestation.

I must be the most creative person ever.

How rich are the richest?

We could have been a lot further along by now.

More Americans go to the library than to movies (found via Crooks and Liars).

There are ways to tame your smartphone, though it seems to me it would still be excessively intrusive.

Reading this book can seduce you into atheism.

Trump's wall falls down when it gets windy.

Acknowledge your feelings, including the bad ones.

If poor people could easily get rich, there would be no poor people.  Accept reality.

A Southern Baptist blogger laments the decline of proselytizing.  Found via Bob Felton, who points out the obvious explanation.

This is natural selection in action.

What's the fascination with treasure hunting?

This rant on "smartphones" is so on-target, I wish I'd written it myself.

7% of Americans now don't eat meat; among younger people, it's 15%.

White supremacists lament inadequate levels of incest among white people.

Here's what could have happened to Kobe Bryant's helicopter.

Christianity is incoherent because the Bible is incoherent.

In Missouri, libraries are under attack by barbarians.  Others are standing up to them.

Paula White doubles down on the Satanic pregnancies thing.

Brand the Senate Republicans with the shame of their phony impeachment trial.

Support Amazon workers who are doing the right thing even at personal risk.

Vixen Strangely makes a hopeless appeal to the Republicans.

The shunning of the insufficiently loyal has begun.

The Catholic taboo system makes no concessions to practical reality.

Parnas wasn't allowed to testify, but he won't be silent.

Our country's maternal mortality rate is a disgrace for a developed nation.

More ugliness from Dave Daubenmire.

Millions of people think like this (note the absurdity of invoking Aristotle, who was pagan and bisexual, in support of anti-gay Christianity).

There are things Trump told the truth about.

This is what the Sun looks like, close-up.

The coronavirus outbreak is now PHEIC news.

You are far better off getting your protein from non-animal sources.  Most ancestors and close relatives of humans ate little or no meat.

In the Middle East, the year 1979 unleashed an explosion of religion which has tormented the region ever since.

Where religio-nationalism rules, adherents of minority religions have no rights.

The coronavirus outbreak highlights the incompetence inherent in fascist regimes.

Caucuses are terrible and the Democratic party should get rid of them.

Our candidates have flaws, but..... (found via Tell Me a Story).

Paul Krugman gets it right.

The Republicans are about as bad as a political party can get -- and we need to exploit that.

Time to fight dirty.

Acquittal in the Senate won't end Trump's problems.

More links here.

[Image at top:  Brexit Day (Friday, January 31) celebration in Parliament Square, London]