20 January 2017

The RMRR takes over

Today's Trump inauguration marks the final step in creating the Republican Minority-Rule Regime.  I call it this to emphasize that, aside from Trump "winning" with almost three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, the 52 Republican Senators combined won eleven million fewer votes that the 46 Democratic ones did.  In contrast with the massive Democratic victory of 2008 (achieved, also, without benefit of foreign meddling or vote-suppression laws), Trump and his party cannot claim any kind of mandate.  If it were true that "America voted for" bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity, incompetence, and kleptocracy, then a government based on those things could claim that it at least represented what the country actually wanted.  But America did nothing of the kind.

Always remember, there's more of us than there is of them.  We, not the Trumpanzees, are the real America.

Of course, humility is not in most Republicans' lexicon (and certainly not in Trump's), and the lack of legitimacy has no practical effect except insofar as it helps motivate resistance on our own side.  The RMRR has just as much legal power as a popularly-elected government would have, and will use it.  The practical issue is what we can actually do now.

The debacle over the Office of Congressional Ethics points the way.  When Congressional Republicans tried to gut it, a wave of calls from an infuriated public quickly made them back down.  And this protest happened on very short notice, with no time to really organize anything, over an issue that has no practical impact on most people's lives.  Imagine what we'll be able to do to defend Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, and other programs whose loss would devastate millions.

I'm convinced that most Republican politicians are fundamentally cowards.  That's a big part of why Trump made it to where he is today.  He bullied and insulted his way to the nomination, backed by a wave of outright threats from his troglodytic followers.  Many Republicans clearly hated what they were seeing, and spoke out against it; but their efforts to stop him were timid and feckless, and they fell into line quickly as he kept winning.  On the OCE, they could probably have gone ahead, ignoring the protests, with little consequence -- it's not as if that issue would have loomed large in many voters' minds in November 2018.  But they didn't.  Trump himself isn't that kind of critter, but the enemy in Congress has shown they will yield to pressure.  We must supply that pressure, as is already happening on Obamacare repeal.  Remember, the Democratic minorities in both houses are substantial.  Only three Republican Senators, or a few dozen Republican Congressmen, need be swayed to stop any given action.

And Trump will lose a lot of those besotted followers.  It's already happening.  He won't bring industrial jobs back.  He won't prosecute Hillary.  He won't get Mexico to pay for the wall (and probably won't even build it).  He won't "drain the swamp".  A lot of Trumpanzees benefit from Obamacare and Social Security.

Never listen to those who tell us everything is already lost (and yes, I admit that for a brief time I was among them).  Don't read that link, read this one, my response to a bout of despair on our side in early 2010 when the original passage of Obamacare seemed doomed.  As I pointed out at the time, progressives of generations past -- Dr. King, Frederick Douglass, César Chávez, Harvey Milk, the suffragettes and union organizers of a century ago -- faced daunting circumstances, but they kept fighting and ultimately won.  If we keep fighting, we still might lose.  If we don't, we will definitely lose.

To help you get in the right mood, here's Keith Olbermann (found via Crazy Eddie a few weeks ago):

And a few worthwhile links:

A look at the RMRR's possible budget plans, from Republic of Gilead -- yes, he's back online!

The enemy has no right to demand that we respect Trump.

US intelligence and law-enforcement agencies are investigating contacts and financial dealings between Trump and Russia.

Trump plans to hold Soviet-style military parades in American cities, and even wanted to include one in today's inauguration.

Trump takes office with formidable handicaps, and will immediately be in violation of the Constitution.  I find this look ahead at his term to be pretty plausible.

With turnout for the inauguration looking meager, Trump even resorted to ads trying to draw an audience.

17 January 2017

Carol (2015) -- romance in a dark time

Love stories as such aren't usually my kind of movie, but when I read about this one I knew I had to see it.  It didn't disappoint.

Therese (Rooney Mara), a young woman in New York city in 1952, has a boyfriend and a sales job in a department store, neither of which much thrill her.  One day shortly before Christmas a rich woman customer in her 40s, Carol (Cate Blanchett) forgets her gloves in the store and Therese returns them.  Carol invites her for lunch as a thank-you, and they hit it off well.  Carol spends more and more time with Therese, gives her gifts, encourages her aspirations as a photographer.  Without homosexuality ever being mentioned, the nature of Carol's attraction, and Therese's growing reciprocation of it, gradually become apparent.

Carol is involved in a divorce battle which is turning ugly over the issue of custody of her daughter.  Her husband, Harge, knows about her lesbian inclinations (she had had at least one previous affair with a woman).  When he finally obtains hard evidence of her relationship with Therese, he has no hesitation about using the bigotry of the time against her in the custody fight.  Though the relationship has grown serious, Carol breaks it off, knowing that it could endanger her future access to her daughter.

I can't overstate how well the film tells its story.  Romantic feelings must be among the most difficult for actors to express convincingly, yet the slow development of the relationship always feels natural, organic, normal, despite our knowing how unusual and potentially dangerous such a courtship would have been in the 1950s (besides the lesbianism, there is a substantial age difference -- in the novel the film was based on, Therese is 19).  The beauty of it contrasts perfectly with the ugly, shabby, sordid traditional morality standing against it.
The film avoids clichés, however.  Everything that happens is the kind of thing that could and did happen in the era in which it's set.  Even Harge is not a cartoonish villain; though he resorts to disgusting tactics, he's trying to do what he thinks is best for his daughter according to the warped and limited standards instilled in him by the culture he grew up in.  Once Carol goes for broke and appeals to him not to make things ugly because their daughter would suffer, he sees the light -- enough to give her an acceptable settlement, anyway.

Another cliché the film avoids is the obligatory tragic ending which plagues so many gay relationship movies.  An "ordinary" movie would have ended with the break-up, leaving both women bereft and miserable.  Here, after the divorce is settled, Carol gets up the courage to ask Therese to take her back, and in the last moments it's clear that she does.

Realistically, of course, in the 1950s their relationship would have faced continuous threats from the surrounding society, having to be concealed or risk harsh hostility and perhaps even attack by the laws of the time.  Some activists even today treat social issues as peripheral, deeming only economic change to be important, but they couldn't be more wrong.  When religious taboo "morality" reigned unopposed, it caused immense misery and deprivation.  Carol was popular with gay viewers for breaking with cliché and having a happy ending, but it shows how much times have changed that, by 2015, the filmmakers knew the story deserved a happy ending.

15 January 2017

Link round-up for 15 January 2017

Icy days bring.....things.

Ranch Chimp has some videos of the Earth from orbit.

Images that once embodied dark fears are now just knickknacks (found via Mendip).

Here's a sneaky way to get a free printer.

Whatever you're making, use the correct parts.

Politics Plus has a round-up of reactions to GoldenGate.  BlueBull has more.

Don't like your neighborhood?  Check out where the pearlfish lives.

Julie D'Aubigny was a 17th-century force of nature.

Art is subject to interpretation, but there are limits.

The Nazi march through Whitefish, Montana, has been canceled for the most embarrassing reason possible.

Sometimes, getting fired works out OK.

Hysterical Raisins has the definitive Jeff Sessions portrait.

People have a blind spot about animals.  Then there's this.

Boots in a startling new style win an enthusiastic response (found via Mendip).

Jesus has impressive qualities.

A new book looks at Scientology from the inside.

Over-the-counter birth control makes sense, but will be slow in coming.

It's scary how plausible this is.

Self-driving vehicles will be more disruptive than we think.

Here are some ideas on paying for universal basic income.

R. T. Rybak looks at Obama, the past, and the future.

If Sears and K-Mart are dying, it may be suicide.

Here's an extensive reading list on modern fascism (found via Mendip).

Sorry, anti-death-penalty absolutists, but I have no problem at all with killing this piece of shit.

Crazy Eddie looks at Obama's environmental record.  Remember who needs whom.

Americans must be willing to learn from others.

Stray dogs in the cold get some kindness from shopkeepers.

The Philippines is loosening the grip of Catholicism.

New Horizons has sent back all its data on Pluto, but its mission isn't quite over yet.

A closer look at the "EmDrive" concept shows there's not much to it.

Alexandra Petri takes an amusing look at Trump's news conference (found via Earth-Bound Misfit).

Serves these dumbasses right.

Perhaps the inaugural should just anoint Trump as king.

A veteran responds to Trumpanzee attacks on Meryl Streep (found via Progressive Eruptions). Stop wasting time on hopeless peopleTheir dumbth is limitless.

See worthwhile posts on anti-Trump resistance from Jack Cluth, Ramona's Voices, Hecatedemeter, and Tengrain.  Remember that the enemy is far from united, even Trump and his cabinet.

From technologists to farmers to entertainers, California is pushing back.

Hackwhackers has a round-up of links on the Trump dossier.  Here's a summary of its history and a caution.

13 January 2017

Video of the day -- animals in the snow

On Wednesday, Portland had its heaviest one-day snowfall in decades.  The Oregon Zoo posted this video of its animals enjoying the event.

11 January 2017

Art foreshadows life -- scapegoating the truth-tellers

A couple of weeks ago I was watching some clips from the 1983 TV miniseries "V" on YouTube, and I suddenly realized that part of it was powerfully reminding me of recent events.  If you're not familiar with "V", in a nutshell, one day a fleet of huge alien spaceships appears and deploys over cities all over the Earth.  The apparently human-looking aliens explain that their mission is benign, and a period of friendly contact begins, despite ominous signs like the aliens' fascistic-looking red uniforms and omnipresent display of a vaguely swastika-like symbol.  Behind the scenes, however, they are subverting and taking over the world's governments and media.  Suddenly, it is announced that a global conspiracy of scientists against the aliens has been discovered.  To thwart this menace, the world's now alien-dominated governments declare martial law and "ask" the aliens to help enforce it.  Scientists everywhere are demonized and persecuted.  Most people, uneasy with events but swayed by the pro-alien propaganda filling the media, go along with the new reality.  The aliens have reduced Earth to a de facto colonial possession and now set about stealing its resources.

When I originally saw the show, the fake scientist conspiracy seemed like one of the least credible elements in it.  Surely no one would believe claims of such a conspiracy and turn against the scientific community, and even aliens would realize that?

But look what's happening now.

The right wing in the US (and to a more limited extent in some other English-speaking countries) has been settling into an anti-science stance for some time.  It started with their alliance with fundamentalist Christianity, which rejects evolution.  Their hardening commitment to global-warming denialism created a similar conflict with another scientific consensus.  More generally, their embrace of non-fact-based dogmas in fields from economics to human sexuality requires a general hostility to the entire concept of testing claims against real-world evidence.

Given the rejection of evolution and global warming, the fact that almost all scientists in the relevant fields accept those things practically demands that the denialist assume they're all in some sort of conspiracy to hide the truth, and I've actually seen some wingnuts claim that climate scientists worldwide are in fact conspiring to perpetrate a vast hoax, supposedly motivated by getting research grants (this doesn't make sense, but anyone smart enough to notice that probably wouldn't be a denialist in the first place).  Growing evidence that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon is dismissed as part of the liberal/Satanic conspiracy of scientists and pop entertainment to "normalize sin".  And so it goes.

It makes sense that the aliens in "V" would seek to discredit and ultimately destroy the Earth's scientific community.  They aren't really as human as they look, and Earth's human population is a potential food supply for them -- and scientists would be the most likely people to discover these facts and be able to prove them.  But there's a more general principle here.  If you're pushing a set of ideas which is at odds with objective reality, then people trained in deducing facts from evidence and proving them -- scientists -- are your natural enemies.  They're the people most capable of reasserting that objective reality and backing up what they say about it -- of authoritatively declaring not just "I disagree" but "you are wrong".

This natural tension has recently crossed the line into open attack in ways we haven't seen before.  The most alarming was the Trump team's request to the Energy Department for names of scientists who had worked on Obama's anti-global-warming initiatives.  To their credit, department officials refused, and Trump's people eventually backed off from the request -- but the message was one of intimidation and denunciation.  Climate scientists, it made clear, are out of favor with the new powers that be, and the future may bring further moves against them and their defenders.  To their credit, government scientists recognized from the start that the incoming administration was likely to be hostile, and have been copying climate data to computer systems outside the government's control to make sure it is preserved.

There are other signs that Trump's regime will be hostile to science.  He's chosen a global-warming denialist to head the EPA and a denialist propagandist to manage the transition.  His VP choice, Mike Pence, is a fervent Christianist best known for his anti-gay stance, but also aggressively ignorant about science.  Most recently Trump chose a prominent anti-vaccine nutjob to chair a commission on vaccine safety.  All this will play well with the troglodyte Republican voting base, with its suspicion of education and expertise generally, but it also legitimizes such attitudes in the eyes of a broader public which lacks such prejudices but is honestly uninformed about the issues.

All this will not be good for the country.  Political interference in science never is.  The Nazi regime banned the works of Darwin and rejected much of the innovative physics of the day as "Jewish"; many scientists fled Europe for the United States, and some of them helped us, rather than the Nazis, build the first atomic bomb.  Stalin's support for the charlatan Lysenko, and persecution of real geneticists who opposed him, caused the USSR to fall far behind the West in the field of genetics.  Religious domination of Europe during the Dark Ages, and its rejection of the Classical scientific and philosophical tradition, brought a thousand years of stagnation.  The Middle East followed the same path after the rise of Ash'arite theology around 1100, with similar results.  It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of American scientists, with an eye on the incoming administration, are already looking into opportunities in other countries -- and if things get as bad as Trump's moves so far suggest they will, that trend will escalate.

Incidentally, the original script of "V" -- fake scientist conspiracy and all -- depicted an indigenous fascist take-over of the US, and was only later re-written as science fiction with aliens as the villains.  While this made it more entertaining and probably more plausible to the audiences of the time, the message comes across the same.  I've always emphasized pop entertainment's power to encourage positive social change, but sometimes its role is to serve us a warning.

08 January 2017

Link round-up for 8 January 2017

We'd lose a lot of books at this rate.

And the squirrel looks pretty excited.

Down with out-of-touch elites!

Holy $#!%@, Facebook is stupid (found via Clarissa).

I've always thought so -- bad writing isn't incomprehensible, it's funny.

Killer trains from outer space!

I see no differences (here's the context of the top picture).



Yeesh, is fanfic culture really this bad?

Wow, I'd forgotten there had been this much good SF TV over the years.

Alt-right boycotter pwnage continues as Rogue One hits $838 million in three weeks.

Here's a preview of the Trump White House.

Maybe 2017 will be a better year.

Birds pose for their photo portraits (#3 the common grackle seems to suspect something).

This generation is so touchy and hyper-sensitive.

FFS, they're going totally nuts.

A guilty mind always unmasks itself.

Let's agree on one thing.

If the MSM won't do real journalism, then pop-culture magazines will have to do it.

Salon picks the top ten anti-gay bigots of 2016 (found via Politics Plus).

It's faith-based parenting in action!

The sanctuary restaurants project aims to protect restaurant workers.

Must-read of the week:  The US left must learn to fully weaponize social media.  It worked in Iran, it's working for Trump, and it can work for us.

Bailey's Buddy lists the celebrity deaths of 2016 (Pete Burns too?  Good grief).

Trump shows some signs of Asperger's syndrome.

Credit-reporting agencies engage in unethical practices (found via TYWKIWDBI).

Noahpinion looks at the future of racial politics in the US (historical precedent supports scenario 2).

You lost.  Get over it.

Twitter may be doomed.  What will its most famous user do?

Don't let sympathy for Trumpanzees blind you to reality. The Rude Pundit has no patience with their arrogance, and Badtux agrees.

From North Carolina, another shocking case of police brutality.

Bigotry just got a big legal boost.  But in Canada, the bad guys lost one.  Here's more human decency from Canada.

Glasgow, UK, may soon launch a test of the Basic Income concept.

This is Norway, where trees grow on your house.

The flag is gone, the light remains.

The US and western Europe act to bolster NATO against Russia.

Dâ'ish (ISIL) jihadists in Mosul suffer collapsing morale as defeat looms.

Oh, great, the same nitwits who tailgate and cut you off in traffic will soon be flying over your house (found via Mendip).

Climate change is destroying even the dead.

Trumpanzee bikers bitterly oppose -- each other.  Enjoy more wingnut infighting here.

Obama's doing all he can for the country before leaving office.

Blogger Carl has some thoughts on winning future elections (found via Batocchio's round-up).  Tengrain has suggestions for activists.

Don't mock Trump (found via Progressive Eruptions) or his followers.

This is class warfare.

Here's what proper vetting of Trump's cabinet would look like.

Some former Congressional staffers have put together a guide to resistance.  Tech workers vow not to help create the Muslim registry.

Voting results in these cities show how great the urban-rural divide is.

Hometown USA has a round-up on the Trump-Putin bromance.  Russian elites cheer their man's win (found via Progressive Eruptions).  The treachery and collusion must never be swept under the rug.

Politico looks at the lessons of the attack on the Office of Congressional Ethics.  Here's another.  Republicans console themselves with some further evil, and the prospect of a surprise betrayal.

Rand Paul won't vote for "repeal and delay". Another Republican has reservations.  Let's hope they listen to these people and this guy.

05 January 2017

Responding to the Republican regime

Some Democrats (mostly bloggers and other commentators, not politicians) have proposed that we should respond to the coming Republican-dominated regime by blocking everything it tries to do, no matter what the merits of the case.  This is the wrong approach.

The vast majority of what the new minority-rule regime tries to do will be bad, and must be resisted.  That's beyond dispute.  But it's possible that from time to time some element of that regime may propose something positive.  The most likely "element" to do this is Trump himself, whose positions are notoriously changeable and non-ideological.

As an example, at various times during the campaign Trump suggested he'd support raising the federal minimum wage, though of course at other times he's said the opposite.  If at some point during his term he actually proposed doing this, it would be absurd for Democrats to oppose it simply because he was the one making the suggestion.  The same would apply if he eventually reacted to a prolonged debacle about "replacing Obamacare" by proposing a single-payer system, something he's also talked about in the past -- or if he made an unexpectedly moderate nomination for the Supreme Court.  In the unlikely event that he actually did any of these things, he wouldn't get much Republican support, but there are past examples of Presidents working with the opposition party to pass things their own party objected to.

The average person struggling to survive on the minimum wage or worrying about health insurance doesn't give a rodent's posterior about whether some politician (or blogger) succeeds in remaining unsullied and pure from the taint of cooperation with a Republican.  He just wants a better minimum wage or more secure insurance.  If you're a member of Congress, your job is to serve the interests of that person, not to show off how strong of an absolutist posture you can adopt.  Pragmatism dictates that when an opportunity arises to do some good for the country, that good must indeed be done.  Real leaders get this, with Pelosi, Sanders, and Schumer having already said they would work with Trump if he ever does offer any progressive proposals.

The pragmatism of political gain points in the same direction.  It will be argued that if Trump were to propose (say) a higher minimum wage, Democrats should not help pass it because Trump would get the credit.  However, Democrats would get some of the credit, especially if most Republicans noisily resisted the idea.  And if Democrats responded to such a scenario by blocking the increase, Trump would still get the credit for trying, while Democrats would get the blame, and millions of low-wage workers would not get the increase they need.

It's important that this be grasped not only by Congressional Democrats, but by activists and ordinary people as well.  Mass public opposition can actually force Congress to change direction, as the recent attack and sudden reversal on the Office of Congressional Ethics showed.  This is an encouraging sign for the next four years of dealing with the overwhelming majority of the Republican agenda which is unequivocally destructive and must be resisted.  But we need to be prepared to respond properly to any opportunities which arise as well.

03 January 2017

Video of the day -- gone but not forgotten

Best of the Infidel, 2016

The Middle East's historic dominant power is re-emerging.

Musical re-editing of videos is fun.

We're better off being unnatural.

US culture has turned against homophobia (and this remains true despite the election result).

Much of the most interesting stuff on the internet originates from one rather small country.

Americans still can't cope with lesbianism in global pop culture.

One of the world's most important books is now in one of the world's most important languages.

Here's why I can no longer be an anarchist or libertarian.

The Orlando massacre cast a bright revealing light on bigotry and stupidity.

The land of my ancestors has declared its independence from an imperialist, anti-democratic quasi-superstate.

This one time, teh stoopid was too much for me.

Here's to ten years of bloggery.

Do wingnuts need sanctuaries?

The rise of the Trump movement holds important lessons.

Perhaps it's time to consider dividing the US into two separate countries.

Mistah Chick -- he dead.

Liberals can guarantee a permanent Republican majority by doing this.

Trump is basically a con man.

Trump isn't Hitler, he's Gilderoy Lockhart.

The Electoral College is a form of minority rule.

I salute an unusual and fascinating blogger.

Rogue One is the latest wingnut target in the culture wars.

01 January 2017

Link round-up for 1 January 2017

Vagabond Scholar's Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2016 is posted -- the best post of the year from each of dozens of blogs.

This is me.  Sometimes, so is this.

Moose are awesome.

Be Princess Leia in 2017.

A simple equation explains religion.

Freak out your neighbors with these nativity scenes.

Twitter brings us the year in cats.

Bricklaying or witchcraft?  You be the judge.

A lot of people must feel like this.

Good point. Another good point.

Don't invite this guy to your next Christmas party.  Speaking of parties, let's hope this one is awful.

Check out this burning ammonium dichromate.

Millennials?  I'm 56 and I don't even know what fabric softener is.

Here's a literal picture of happiness.

A lot of good things happened in 2016.

God works in non-mysterious ways.

Kentucky declares a year of the Bible.

Chairman Meow and RedShoulder take different views of Rogue One. The film wasn't meant to be political, but.....

Some of the people we lost in 2016 had made a subtle but special contribution.  George Michael did more than most people know.  Vera Rubin deserves to be remembered.  So does Donald Henderson.

The age of unlimited, clean, almost-free energy is coming.

Simon and Schuster faces a backlash for its deal with Yiannopoulos.

If you have an abusive/controlling partner or parent, watch out for this.

"I've never tried to actively set someone on fire with my brain before but....."

The South lost the Civil War, but won the peace.

No, Republicans are not good for veterans.

Yet another Trumpanzee regrets his support.

Stop worrying about offending the wingnuts.

Ranch Chimp salutes a fighter for democracy.

Female genital mutilation happens in backward, religion-dominated cultures, such as the US Midwest in the 1940s.

This monument in Alabama preserves a jar of soil from the site of each lynching in the state.

Green Eagle has a reminder to Christians from an unexpected source.

Here are some facts worth remembering about Hitler.

Did you know this?

Crazy Eddie has impressive videos of the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

Here is how Asad presents himself in his own country.  Saydnaya, by the way, is a largely Christian town, whose inhabitants have every reason to fear the worst from Dâ'ish (ISIL) or even the other Sunni rebel groups.  Asad is probably genuinely popular there.

India's Skeleton Lake holds evidence of a mysterious mass killing over a thousand years ago.

Obama leaves office as a success, and as the toughest man in America.

Hillary doesn't owe you anythingShow some appreciation.

The Rude Pundit suggests a bold strategy for the Senate (found via Blue in the Bluegrass).

A Republican slams the Trump-Russia connection.

Teh stoopid, it burns.  "The day we can't laugh at these right wing bozos any more we really will be done for."

Be ready -- Republicans intend to attack Obamacare as soon as they can.  Medicaid too will be a target we must defend.  They may even try to fuck up the internet.  Popular resistance has worked before, and Obama is doing his partRepublicans and Trump himself will not have an easy four years.  They've awakened a sleeping giant.

Hard-core Trumpanzees are unreachable and we should give up on them, according to a writer who grew up in that culture (found via Hackwhackers).  Hecatedemeter despairs at their self-destructive meanness.  But some will eventually wise up (found via Batocchio).  Booman takes a nuanced view.

Call it like it is.

30 December 2016

Thought for the day

28 December 2016

2017 -- looking ahead

Once again, I'll venture a few predictions.

1) The enemy's attempt to destroy (or to change in a way constituting de facto destruction) Social Security and Medicare will fail, for the same reason as in 2005 -- some Republicans will vote against doing so, knowing that the huge unpopularity of such a move would destroy their re-election hopes.  Remember, if all Senate Democrats stick together they need only three Republicans to block something, even without the filibuster.

2) Culturally the US will continue becoming more liberal and less religious despite Republican efforts to reverse progress -- recall how things like secularism and acceptance of gays and gay marriage kept advancing even during the Bush years.

3) The Paris climate agreement will be effective even if Trump repudiates it.  China, India, and other countries know global warming is real and are committed to action.  Trump cannot lead the world backward on this issue, he can only surrender American leadership entirely.

4) In fact, in general the US role as the world's leading country will decline drastically in most fields as the rest of the world, out of necessity, collaborates to get things done without the help of the erratic and incompetent US administration.

5) There will be a falling-out between Trump and Putin.

6) Despite initial turbulence, Brexit will be a net benefit for the UK, and pro-democracy, anti-EU forces will make gains in other EU countries (watch Italy and France in particular).

7) Dâ'ish (ISIL) will finally be defeated.

I won't call it a prediction, but I think there's a strong possibility that Trump will be impeached, for reasons explained in the first half of this post.

Finally, we on the left will be able to do more than we now think to block or mitigate the worst of the wingnuts' agenda, if we take an inclusive rather than exclusive approach.  By that, I mean we try to accommodate and include as many different groups and viewpoints as possible, provided they are willing to work together against the enemy where it counts -- as opposed to a witch-hunt approach of defining this or that element on our own side as too radical, too "establishment", insufficiently ideologically pure, responsible for the election loss, or whatever, and trying to "purge" them.  There are a very, very few cases where allies do do more harm than good, but in general, making the tent smaller and trying to get rid of everybody who only agrees with you on 80% of the issues instead of 100% is a recipe for permanent defeat.

[Image at top by TerribleNerd -- if you want to use it yourself, be sure to give credit]

26 December 2016

Videos of the day -- Christmas in the sinister world

The film The Odessa File is set in Germany 18 years after the end of World War II.  One of the things that most stuck in my mind from it was this opening-credit sequence, with the apparently cheerful and innocent song taking on a different feeling in a world where evil still lurks, waiting for its time to come round again:

Here, with no such subtlety, is a Christmas carol for a time when evils from the relatively recent past are once again threatening to rise and reassert themselves (found via Politics Plus):

25 December 2016

Link round-up for 25 December 2016

"Browser", the library cat of White Settlement, Texas, has now outlasted the city council member who tried to get rid of him.

Bailey's Buddy presents everything you need to know about penguins.  Plus, cute baby elephants.

Fed up with Easter?  Try Wester -- it has a squirrel!

If there's Christmas Eve, there must be Christmas Adam.

I guess this is the Republican Santa Claus? Here's the reality.

This looks like a pretty cool book for kids.

Do you want to build a snowman?

If you're bored with ordinary Christmas-tree ornaments, maybe this ancient Roman amulet will inspire.  Or you could just put Christmas lights on your palm tree.

Did you know these famous actresses were also scientists?  Read up on Hedy Lamarr -- you'll be surprised.

People need to keep this stuff straight.

This could be a metaphor for trying to reform the Republican party.

Check out the photography of Laura Zalenga (link from Shaw Kenawe).

Rogue One blows away the alt-right's pitiful boycott attempt, to the tune of $290 million.

Take this short test to find out how evil you are (found via Clarissa) -- I scored rather low, somewhat to my surprise. But with some people the evil is just right out there.

Here's an interesting post on religion, philosophy, and arrogance -- I particularly liked this comment which it cites.

A libertarian wrote this -- and they wonder why people recoil from their ideology (found via Fair and Unbalanced).

Badtux reports eloquently from the wasteland of the American dream.

Through the Republican party, the US is now dominated by its most failed region.

Ignore the tornadoes, nothing to see here.

Remember, and do not forgive.

Screw the voters, a $5 minimum wage is too high, apparently.

Obama has extended religious-freedom protections to atheists (link from Marc McKenzie).

Republicans aren't racist, honestly.

"The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order....."

A couple of recent TV series are exposing Scientology.

With Trump as their leader, wingnuts are wingnuttier than ever.

Jack Cluth has been on a roll this week, calling out the hypocrisy of fundie Trumpanzees, observing Muslims winning hearts and minds in Arizona, checking Republican math, and nailing Bill O'Reilly's all-too-revealing rhetoric.

Here's how the Republicans plan to attack gay marriage.

North Carolina is now a failed democracy.

PM Carpenter makes the case that the Democrats should not go populist on trade policy.

Facing terminal decline, Christianity in Britain demands new official privileges.

"Dark underside"?  WTF?  And what's up with Google?

This new reality show sounds a bit too real.

I visited Karak in 1979.  It was peaceful then.

Where are the most atheistic places in the world?

What Asad and Russia most fear isn't jihadism, it's the genuine struggle for freedom.

Betsy DeVos may not value American teachers, but the Chinese do.

Scientists must resist global-warming denialism. Bill Gates plans to direct $170 billion to green-energy development, and Las Vegas is the latest big city to run entirely on renewable energy.

Facing an inaugural devoid of stars, Trump turns to the Radio City Rockettes, who can be made to perform by their parent company -- but even they are protesting so vociferously that they too may escape him.

Blogger Max's Dad continues his look at Trump's cabinet, finishing up here.  Here's some more info on the same topic.  And here's one example of Obama's picks vs. Trump's.

How the hell can these people be so surprised?  Weren't they paying attention?

Trump's witch-hunt of climate scientists may have been thwarted, but he has another target.  No wonder so many federal employees are getting ready to leave.

Don't be fooled -- the Republicans are still in desperate straits (found via Mock Paper Scissors).  Here's why some of them will help us stop Trump.

No mere airing of grievances, Keith Olberman delivers a barn-burner of a call to resistance.  Young people are ready to resist, but there are things they need to watch out for.

22 December 2016

Random observations for December 2016

If you live your life the way someone else thinks you should want to live it, you won't get another life to live the way you actually did want to live it.

o o o o o

Having to abandon or change a long-held belief is always unpleasant, but it's hard to consider anyone intellectually mature who hasn't done so a few times.

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Time spent on political sites shows me how the world is.  Time spent on art sites reminds me of how the world could have been, and how it may yet become.  To stay sane, I need both.

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If capitalism truly rewarded people according to the value of their contribution, medical researchers would be billionaires and Wall Street executives would be on food stamps.

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Liberals often have something worthwhile to say.  Conservatives sometimes do.  Cynics never do.

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The fact that an idea offends someone is not evidence that it is false.

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If you think beauty is trivial or unimportant, just try to imagine the world without it.

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I feel almost honored when someone attacks me for refusing to respect ideas that simply don't merit respect.

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For American democracy to thrive, it needs a healthy two-party system.  Unfortunately it cannot have that until the present Republican party is swept away.

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The percentage of the population who would respond to "check your privilege" with anything other than "go fuck yourself" is tiny.  We can't win elections with just those people.

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People who want to abandon regulation are like people who want to abandon vaccines. The solution has worked so well that we've forgotten the problems that made us need that solution in the first place.

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Ironically, Marxism and libertarianism share the same fundamental flaw -- a tendency to view all of life through the prism of economics.

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Not all cultures are equal.  I do not accept any man as my equal unless he accepts women as his equals.

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Calvin Coolidge said:  "No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave."  But maybe I'm not all that concerned about being honored.