Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm out of town for a couple of weeks...

I'm not too fond of business trips, and especially not fond of two of them back to back. So, there won't be much in the way of new posting activity here until... after election day! At which point, I may have quite a bit to say. I'm going to be in Texas on election night, so it is going to be a somewhat interesting experience, to say the least.

Sarah Palin has apparently gone completely off the deep end!

Yeah, I know that, in politics, hyperbole on the campaign trail is to be expected, and you really need to paint your opponent in the most unflattering light possible. But, you know, it seems that if such as strategy is to be effective, it needs to be at least somewhat plausible. This... This is just ridiculous.

From HuffPo:

"See, under a big government, more tax agenda, what you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else, to everybody else. If you thought your income, your property, your inventory, your investments were, were yours, they would really collectively belong to everybody. Obama, Barack Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes, and I say this based on his record... Higher taxes, more government, misusing the power to tax leads to government moving into the role of some believing that government then has to take care of us. And government kind of moving into the role as the other half of our family, making decisions for us. Now, they do this in other countries where the people are not free. Let us fight for what is right. John McCain and I, we will put our trust in you."

She has made that “next step” in the progression of accusations; from wanting to “redistribute YOUR wealth” to “socialist”, directly now to “communist”. “Barack Obama is going to gather up YOUR income, YOUR property, YOUR television set, YOUR pickup truck with the gun rack in the rear window, and give it all to someone else! You will be left with nothing!” That seems to be what Sarah Palin is saying in the above quote.

Communist? Communist!?!? The strategy that the Republicans seem to have settled on these days involve using plays from the 1930 playbook about race and the 1950 playbook about the Great Red Scare. They may be really stoking the fires that burn within the hardcore 35% that will always go with whatever wingnuttery they hear, so long as it accuses a Democrat of something they don’t like. But winning over any undecideds that remain? I am pretty dubious. To me, this makes Palin look like one of the screaming Blue Meanies.

I really did enjoy this story from the Daily Telegraph in the U.K. It appears that some Republican strategists are much more willing to talk to an English daily than an American one, in some pretty upfront terms. I’m not resting easily until this is over, but boy, if all the Republican insiders can do is worry about the Democrats not having the 60-40 super-majority in the Senate, this is all looking really good.

It can’t happen to a more deserving bunch of people.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thoughts on McCain/Palin “supporters”, racism and the worst run presidential campaign ever.

The last few months have been excruciating. Even though I am a terrible cynic, I still seem to be enough of an idealist that I end up being crushed when Republicans and conservatives throw away all pretense of playing fair and ethical. As a person who really believes in rational behavior and fact based logic, I am just astounded when I see "adults" act like spoiled twelve year olds who will throw tantrums when they don’t get want they want or think they can get away with outlandish lies and they won't get caught.

I was going to say something about the strange, sad case of Ashley Todd, the McCain campaign worker who came up with a pretty outlandish story of being assaulted by a “six foot four black man” who robbed her at knife point, carved a “B” (a backwards one, interestingly enough, like something one would do when looking in a mirror and not really think about what it is going to look like to someone else) into her cheek and told her that she would be an Obama supporter, all because this guy supposedly saw a McCain bumper sticker on her car. As everyone now knows, this story was a complete fabrication on her part.

Now, what bothers me about this is not that one psychologically troubled person can make up an absurd story for whatever reason. She probably honestly thought she would be helping the McCain campaign, plus she would be getting some media attention out of it as well. What she really needs, at this point, is some professonal help. And I don’t believe for a minute that McCain campaign, at the beginning, had anything to do with staging this. However, what I am extremely bothered by is how the right wing nut jobs (I’m talking about YOU, Drudge), including some local officials in the McCain campaign, latched on to this and pushed it in order to…. And that’s the rub. What exactly were they trying to accomplish? Scare the electorate about black men in general? The idea is that a big scary black guy is just waiting around every corner to jump out and accost young white women?

If that’s the idea behind all this, then these morons have just shown themselves for the racists they truly are. They have apparently dropped trying to relive the 1960’s. They have traveled further back in time to the 1930’s and 40’s, where all one had to do was accuse a black man of anything, and everyone, including law enforcement, automatically assumed the guy was guilty. No real evidence was needed. More often than not, the accused was grabbed out of his home, hogtied and then lynched. That seems to be the images these racist a**holes were trying to conjure up by pushing this story.

Fox News seemed very interested in pushing this. From a story at HuffPo:

Earlier today, John Moody, executive vice president at Fox News, commented on his blog there that "this incident could become a watershed event in the 11 days before the election. If Ms. Todd's allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.

"If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."

This is just extremely bizarre logic, if one could even refer to it as logic. Even if this were true, why would a single attack on a McCain worker, regardless of how horrendous it was, make Obama supporters suddenly “feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee?” What has that got to do with anything? I certainly never saw Fox News say anything of the sort about the reported violence against reporters and Obama supporters at Sarah Palin rallies. To Fox News, those alleged incidents (even though a number are on video) are something beneath notice. But one attack on a McCain (white female) worker by a (scary black) Obama supporter is somehow supposed to alter the thinking patterns of a nation? And this guy is an executive vice-president of the network!?! And now that this ridiculous story has been shown to be a complete fabrication, with Todd facing some punishment over giving false statements to law enforcement officials, where is Drudge? Where is Fox News? Where are the McCain campaign officials who pushed this story to the media? Are we going to hear any apologies, heartfelt or otherwise? No, probably not. That’s not the wingnuts’ style. Just go on to the next big “story” and pretend that the last one never existed… That’s how Republicans and conservatives operate these days.

Truly, I do not understand how these people can live with themselves. Yes, I desperately want the Democrats, MY team, to win this election. I cannot stand what the power mad crooks and thugs have done to this country in the last eight years. But I would never think about stooping to the depths that these people do, on an every day basis, to try to achieve those goals.

“Repugnant” doesn’t even come close.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cassini comes within fifteen miles of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

The picture and following text are from the Oct. 20th issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology. Sorry, no link, as it is a subscriber-only web site.

NASA/ESA Cassini spacecraft imaged Saturn’s moon Enceladus from only 26,000 mi. as Cassini climbed away after passing within only 15 mi. of Enceladus’s surface Oct. 9. The daring dive was made to sample the geysers of water and other contents that explode from fissures in the surface such as the giant canyon that cuts across half of the 330-mi.-dia. Enceladus. The resolution of this raw unprocessed image is 1,650 ft. per pixel. A second dive is planned Oct. 31. Enceladus is one of several areas around Jupiter, Saturn and Mars where the search for water is intensifying in relation to the search for alien life (see p. 56). NASA/JPL/SSI image.

The Enceladus flyby down to 15 mi. is enabling the Cassini fields and particles teams to start indentifying specific constituents, like more complex carbons, that had not been seen in the plumes before an August approach down to 31 mi., says Cassini project scientist Bob Pappalardo. During the earlier flyby, the dust analyzer instrument could tell that the plumes form a fist-shaped structure at higher altitude above Enceladus. But this time, flying much lower, the instruments could detect “individual finger-shaped plumes” making up the jets as Cassini zoomed through at 40,000 mph., Pappalardo told Aviation Week & Space Technology.


Cassini scientists are elated, Pappalardo says, because this new information could help build evidence that Enceladus may harbor a subsurface ocean, warm enough to host a stew of living organisms a billion miles from Earth.

These are just absolutely astounding photos. I just can’t find any appropriate words about how amazing I find our ability to explore our solar system. Just think, for a moment, about how many brilliant minds have contemplated might what actually be out there and what it might look like. And now, we are finding out!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It’s amazing how many people and places in America, according to Republicans, do not represent “true America”.

Here is just a smattering of what some Republicans have said this week.

We have the brother of the Republican Presidential candidate calling northern Virginia “communist country.”

One of McCain’s staffers apparently agrees, saying of the same area of Virginia, “it is not real Virginia.”

The Republican Vice-Presidential candidate said that she really enjoys coming to those places that represent “real America.”

Here’s a good one from North Carolina.

Warming up a crowd in North Carolina on Saturday, Republican Rep. Robin Hayes offered the diagnosis that "liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."

His remarks came shortly after he had said he would "make sure we don't say something stupid, make sure we don't say something we don't mean."

And then, this guy had the actual gall to deny he had ever said something like this. Nope, never said that. Lie-bural press! And then, a recording of the whole thing turned up! Ha, not only is he an idiot, he's a liar as well! Boy, I bet he felt like a complete tool.

But the winner of this week’s award for over-the-top “us vs. them” award goes to Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who had the following gem:

In a television appearance that outraged Democrats are already describing as Joseph McCarthy politics, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann claimed on Friday that Barack Obama and his wife Michelle held anti-American views and couldn't be trusted in the White House. She even called for the major newspapers of the country to investigate other members of Congress to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America."

Hoo Ha!! I am SO tired of Republicans telling us that anyone that does not agree with the are not “real Americans” or “communists” or whatever other thing that pops into their pointy little heads they think they can use to insult Democrats. But I have noticed something about this exclusive (dual meaning there, if you think about it) universe the Republicans have constructed for themselves. It’s like that episode of Star Trek TNG, where people keep disappearing off the ship, galaxies and then star systems disappear. The entire universe keeps shrinking until it only encompasses the Enterprise and Dr. Crusher. Then, parts of the ship starts disappearing, like the engines. Smaller and smaller it gets, until only a single person lives in the entire universe.

That’s sort of what is happening to the Republican party right now. The more and more people decide that the current Republican party is, essentially, full of bull crap and endorse Obama or criticize Sarah Palin, the more that small, hard, hot core of tribalism redraws the line around their universe, the “true America.”

Isn’t that funny? The more exclusive you want your universe, the more exclusive it becomes! You are certainly going to be hanging out with a lot of people (although less and less every day) who share exactly the same opinion as you do, but you probably aren't going to win a lot of elections that way. Waiter, table for a party of one, please.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Todd Palin really shows his class.

The sign says, in full (since it is cropped a bit on the bottom), “Charles Manson was a community organizer.”

I see… So, the attempt now is to link Barack Obama to Charles Manson, since they were both “community organizers”, by the husband of the Republican nominee to be vice-president. Because, you see, “community organizers” are anti-American fascists if not downright terrorists and mass-murderes. Nothing good can EVER come of trying to organize communities of normally disenfranchised people to make them part of the system and actually try to better their situation.

It’s amazing what conservatives attempt to do to the English language. Long ago, they succeeded in turning the word “liberal” into a dirty name. When the name “San Francisco” is uttered, you know that can only mean one thing: gay! The same goes for “Hollywood.” Liberal elitist snobs that might as well live in a separate universe from “real Amuricans.” And they have gotten away with it for decades.

Now, however, it appears that they are overreaching JUST a bit. “Community organizer” is now something that needs to be loathed and ridiculed? These people are so unhinged that they do not realize how completely idiotic they look and sound. I suppose a couple of reasons are 1) there are many, many other unhinged people out there that will agree with anything anybody says, so long as it denigrates their “enemies”, i.e., liberals and Democrats, and 2) the media continually lets them get away with it. They rarely, if ever, get called on their completely insane behavior. After some time, this kind of behavior becomes “normalized”, such that complete and utter buffoonery is expected. Not only is it not worthy of criticism, it (no matter how ridiculous) is required behavior. Rush Limbaugh and the rest of “the gang” have taught us that.

I just want to finish with one question. What would have happened if Michelle Obama had been photographed holding up such a sign, trying to link John McCain with one of the most infamous, insane mass-murderers this country has ever known?

IOKIYAAR. (It’s O.K. if you are a Republican.)

Photo and story from Balloon Juice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Newsflash! Barack Obama “pals around” with Bat Boy!

What does it say about Barack Obama when he consorts with known sub-humans with a penchant for drinking the blood of helpless animals, like newborn calves, lambs and kittens? Of course, my friends, I don’t care anything about Bat Boy, who is a washed up vampire wanna-be and who is just about the creepiest looking thing you have ever seen that should have been put out of his misery at birth, which would have saved the rest of the world from ever having to look at him so that we don’t have to all turn away in disgust and loathing. No, I don’t care about Bat Boy at all. But, my friends, I think Senator Obama should come clean, immediately, about his “relationship” with this freak of nature, of which I do not care about in the least. My friends, why won’t Barack Obama tell the American public the truth? He says that he doesn’t know Bat Boy personally, only that he saw him on the cover of the National Enquirer while waiting in the checkout line of his supermarket. But how do we know that is the entire truth? Senator Obama has had his picture in newspapers before. Bat Boy is in the newspapers. There is an obvious connection between the two that has yet to be explained! My friends…

No, no. Please put down that wooden stake and mallet. Senator Obama is a kind and decent man. Except he just might be in league with Satan, if you know what I mean. But I don't care about that.

McCain: "One of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country..."

The other night at the (mercifully) last presidential debate, John McCain came up with a doozy of a line. It’s in the title, but I will repeat it here for full effect.

“ACORN is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

Well now. That’s frightening. Wow. “Maybe destroying the fabric of democracy” certainly sounds pretty damn scary. I’d rather they didn’t, if it’s all the same to them. I kinda like the fabric of our democracy as it is. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, et. al., picked it out, you know. I think we should keep it. What the hell is ACORN, anyway? I imagine that whole delivery would have helped McCain out a little more if more listeners had a clue about what McCain was on about. A sloppily run voter registration organization represents one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country? He can’t really have said that, right? I mean, there was Florida in 2000 and possibly Ohio in 2004. There are proven cases, like the 2002 New Hampshire phone jamming “incident.” Maybe these are not truly examples of “voter fraud”, but if I were McCain, I don’t think I would really say much about irregularities that occur on Election Day.

Really, John, were you just practicing your hyperbole? ‘Cause you really suck at it, you know? Maybe you need to put a little more topspin on it.