Friday, August 26, 2016

(I live in Iowa, so I"m saying this very softly!)

A new study confirms what we've known for quite a while, but farmers are reluctant to admit:  biofuels like ethanol are worse for the environment than gasoline.

We've known for quite a while that they're a boondoggle. Ethanol freezes in pipes, so it must be transported by truck. It's been estimated that it requires a gallon and a half of gasoline to transport a gallon of ethanol!

But now it seems that corn ethanol is itself more polluting than gasoline is- which raises the obvious question of why we should be producing ethanol in the first place. Well, states which depend on agriculture to a substantial degree have a large economic investment in it, and criticizing it in places like Iowa is not a politically healthy thing to do.

John McCain gets the last laugh on Don the Con

Meanwhile, John McCain- whom the ignorant Donald Trump claims isn't a hero "because he was captured" (aside from the inherent stupidity of that statement, Trump had apparently never heard of the Forrestal incident, in which McCain established his heroism quite apart from his captivity), will emerge as the victor in their personal conflict.

As Trump goes down to catastrophic defeat, McCain- thought at the beginning of the year to be in deep trouble in his re-election bid- has opened up a 26-point lead over his primary challenger and a 13-point lead over his Democratic challenger.

I strongly suspect that Trump's asinine comments have helped Sen. McCain enormously. Bottom line: McCain is not only a hero  but a winner. Trump, to use one of his own favorite words, is a loser.

As Donald Trump implodes...

A good article on how Donald the Unstable is throwing everything he ever stood for and everybody who ever supported him under the bus in a desperate attempt to save what he knows deep down is a doomed presidential candidacy.

As the author observes, by the time the next election rolls around people will remember him as the guy who made Hillary inevitable. Within a year of the inauguration of Hillary's Republican successor in 2021, he will basically be forgotten except as the brunt of an occasional joke among political geeks.

In the last analysis, Donald Trump is for Donald Trump. He is the only thing he really stands for. And as the article says, his coming descent into punchline status and from thence to obscurity will be the worst possible fate for a narcissist like The Donald.

It would have been far, far better for all of us if he had never run. And that includes The Donald himself.

Does Daenerys' vision foreshadow the winner of the 'Game of Thrones?'

I just came across this video on YouTube, and I find it quite interesting.

Everybody who watches "Game of Thrones" knows how big George R.R. Martin is on foreshadowing- comments or symbolic events which foretell future happenings on the show.

This vision might be the biggest foreshadowing of all. Does it tell us who will be on the Iron Throne when the series ends?

A habitable planet in the star system next door?

All this time we've been searching our part of the galaxy for a habitable, Earthlike planet- and it turns out that it could be orbiting one of the stars next door.

Astronomers  from the European Southern Observatory have confirmed that Proxima Centauri has a planet about the size of Earth, orbiting the red dwarf at a distance that would seem to be within the "Goldilocks Zone" ("not too hot, not too cold, but just right") and theoretically capable of harboring liquid water and supporting life.

That's "Proxima" as in "proximity." Proxima Centauri- a double star "only" 4.5 light years away- is the closest star other than the Sun to Earth!

There is plenty we don't know about Proxima b, as the newly-discovered planet is known. It is still too far away to reach through current means of space travel. But the discovery of EM drive,  advances in warp drive, and ion propulsion (which has actually been tested in one of the most important but least-publicized NASA missions in history, Deep Space I) are promising solutions to the problem.

At least two telescopes will be put into Earth orbit in the next two years which should tell us more about the newly-discovered planet.  But in any case, Proxima b- which is closer to the size of Earth than previously-discovered "Goldilocks" exoplanets- has got to be regarded as one of the most exciting discoveries in astronomical history.

Artist's conception of the surface of Proxima b By ESO/M. Kornmesser ( [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Rubio, Hillary headed for big wins in Florida

A new poll shows that though Marco Rubio seems headed for an easy re-election, Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton in "swing state" Florida by 14 points.

Trump trails in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida- all of which he needs to have any chance of winning. But of course, he was the only Republican who lost to Hillary throughout the primaries and even before- but the Alt-Reality Tinfoil Hat Society was able to hijack the party because there were so many candidates, and thus snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Trump is managing to botch the campaign in almost every conceivable way, and Republican party regulars all over the country are being driven to despair. We seem headed for an Electoral College landslide, and Clinton's lead in the popular vote seems to be holding steady.

Is it 2020 yet?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Here's the question, reluctant Trump voters

I know a great many people- you probably do, too- who aren't racists or misogynists or Islamophobes or, well.... jerks but who nevertheless plan to vote for Donald Trump in November.

The people I'm talking about either opposed or at least frowned upon him when he was running in the primaries. They do not like the man. But they plan to vote for him anyway because at this point Trump beating her is the only way of keeping (shudder!) Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

Now, I shudder too. I also fear Hillary's appointments to the Supreme Court, which may determine the Court's complexion for a generation and may sound the death knell of the Constitution in any form in which the Founders would recognize it. It's just that I'm not willing to pay the price of leaving the world to the predations of every bully nation around, sending the economy back into recession, and generally putting the existence of the human race at risk by electing an unstable narcissist and probable sociopath like Donald Trump. Nor am I willing to accept the death of the conservative movement or the permanent transformation of the Republican Party from the party of Lincoln and Reagan to a reincarnation of the Know Nothings, or even to give the tinfoil hat paranoids of the Alt-Right the validation that the election of their hero would bring them.

But there's no question that the future of the Court gives me pause. It ought to give pause to any reasonable person. If the Founders had wanted the whims of nine unelected judges to function as the actual constitution of the United States, they would not have written one on parchment.

But I wonder whether all those reluctant Trump voters have considered the question of whether Trump- who, after a lifetime as an outspoken supporter of Roe v. Wade, converted to the pro-life cause very late in the game, and less than a year ago was for same-sex marriage and a single-payer national health program- would retain his newfound philosophy of judicial restraint long enough to appoint justices with any more respect for the written Constitution than Hillary would. Hasn't he displayed his instability well enough and often enough to call into question just about anything he promises?

If you have your doubts, consider this: the man who was going to build the Great Wall of Trump and who so mercilessly mocked any of his competitors for the Republican nomination who showed the slightest compassion for the saddest cases among illegal immigrants has changed his position.

He now wants the government to "work with" illegal immigrants- especially, it seems, long-term illegal residents of the United States- to work out something which sounds very much like what the most extreme of conservatives inaccurately but persistently call "amnesty."

If Trump so easily flip-flops on the centerpiece issue of his entire candidacy, how can you trust him to do what he says he'll do about the Court, or about anything else?

Wouldn't it be nice to have a president we can be proud of?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hillary's secret weapon

Donald Trump.

Running against a creep really makes things easy. And it's only beginning.

In the meantime... seen any Trump ads yet?

Sanders supporters backing McMullin?


Good news for The Donald in Utah, though

It still remains to be seen what impact favorite son Evan McMullin will have as time goes on, but as of now Trump has pulled fifteen points ahead of Hillary in Utah.

This is especially good news because Trump was thought to be in trouble in that reliably Republican state.

...And it keeps getting worse for The Donald

Despite alt-reality hallucinations about him winning, Trump is now tied with Hillary in red, red South Carolina

A new poll shows Hillary tied with Trump in South Carolina.

But the hard-core Trumpers continue to hallucinate that Crazy Donald is going to win, and will claim that the upcoming landslide was rigged.

If almost any of the other Republicans had been nominated we would be looking at a GOP sweep on November 8. But a large minority of the party just had to throw a tantrum by getting a candidate nominated that no reasonable person could possibly take seriously- and they will now blame the people who couldn't take him seriously.

Unacceptable behavior- by the Red Cross

The Red Cross- the Red CROSS- has asked a Louisiana officer to stop praying with flood victims.

Now, this is NOT a constitutional issue. The Red Cross is a private organization. It has every right to be intolerant. But that doesn't make this any the less intolerance.

Nobody would question the impropriety of persisting if somebody objecting to being prayed with. But that's not the issue. The issue is the Red Cross not allowing people to pray with victims at all. What if the officer had been a clergyman? What if he'd been a police or National Guard chaplain?

This is disgraceful behavior from an organization which probably ought to get itself a new symbol

Trump Psychosis: the mindset of the alt.reality crowd

Talk show host and filmmaker John Ziegler herein explains the otherwise incomprehensible mindset of the alt.right (though I think I prefer his term, "alt.reality") core of Donald Trump's zombie-like supporters.

The key is to always remember that they are indeed living in an alternative reality- one in which Donald Trump is always right, facts are lies, fantasies are facts- and Trump is going to win.

It's a lesson I keep learning over over and over: it's not possible to reason with people who don't live in the same reality as the rest of the world. Once you accept the premise that these people live in a universe in which tariffs and trade wars are good for the economy and create jobs,  in which our national interests are best preserved by letting Russia and China and Iran and every predator nation on Earth run wild while we retreat within our borders, where the ridiculous thing the Donald said today that directly contradicts the ridiculous thing he said on the same subject yesterday are both true,  in which the polls lie and the Ultimate Political Reality is the will of The Leader... well, you get the picture.

Different reality entirely.

"Ray Bradbury Theater" is on YouTube!

This show was one of the most underappreciated gems in TV history- a whole series based on the wonderful stories of a master of American literature.

If you missed the series during the 'Eighties- or missed any of the series- you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this chance to set that right. And the series may just motivate you to start reading Bradbury yourself.

I'm looking forward to reliving some of those shows, and enjoying the ones I missed.

Here's a classic- an episode adapted from an incident from Bradbury's great novel The Martian Chronicles.

Monday, August 22, 2016

I take no pleasure in saying 'I told you so,' but I told you so

It's not even Labor Day yet, and panic is setting in among Republicans.

As Hillary maintains her lead especially in the critical states, the fear that the Alt.Right takeover of the party has doomed it on the presidential level is rapidly becoming a certainty. "Purple" states like Virginia and Colorado are already out of reach. Bright red states like North Carolina and Utah are in play. Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida- the three states Trump must win-  are slipping away, if they aren't already lost. Worse, Trump's hubris and poor management- he believes that organization is unimportant because the awesomeness of his personality will win the election,  and has apparently squandered tens of millions of dollars while failing to open more than a handful of offices and hire more than a tiny number of staffers  even in the critical states- have driven party professionals to despair. All over the country, GOP workers are searching for ways to cut Trump off and dedicate available resources to local and statewide candidates.

Rank-and-file Trump supporters, meanwhile, continue to hallucinate about winning and seem unable to even consider the possibility of defeat except through the election somehow being "rigged-" though how one "rigs"  a result as massive as the upcoming Clinton landslide is a mystery to everyone but them. They continue to show every evidence of their intent to blame the upcoming debacle on those of us who have put country ahead of party and refused to support an unqualified, unstable, ignorant,  dangerous and naive know-it-all who in fact knows nothing either about how one becomes president or what can or should be done once the goal is achieved.

They seem incapable of considering that their own role in nominating a sure loser in a year in which losing should have been nearly impossible might have something to do with the increasingly obvious and ugly ending to the farce the 2016 presidential campaign has been. No matter; after November nobody will take them seriously anyway.

With pro-abortion, anti-religious freedom and almost Trumplike isolationist Gary Johnson not a viable option for most disaffected Republicans and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorist Darrell Castle of the Constitution party scarcely better,  Evan McMullin remains a candidate sensible NeverTrumpers (that is, real Republicans) can rally behind. In the meantime, all party resources- including those Trump has depended on, to the limited extent that he cares, to take the place of the organization he himself has failed to build- are going to be shifted, as they should be, to the Senate.

Barring a miraculous victory for McMullin (this year, with disasters like Trump and Hillary nominated by the major parties, the possibility of a catastrophic mutual meltdown of historic proportions can't be entirely excluded), the best available outcome- a victory for Hillary coupled with the GOP retaining both houses of Congress and a Senate majority resolutely determined no matter what the political cost not to confirm any of Hillary's appointments to the Supreme Court. And that means every available Republican party dime- every red cent, as it were- being spent on retaining Congress, and especially the Senate.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Trumpster is headed for the dumpster

His campaign is a shambles. He has no ground game even in the most critical counties of the most critical states. He's stuck in blaming-everybody-but himself mode (actually. he's a narcissist, and people with that particular personality disorder don't have any other mode). He actually faults the media for reporting the crazy things he says.

Donald, you are the one who sayx them You are the candidate. And you are as crazy as a loon. And that's not the media's fault. 

And you are going to lose. Big.

Poor Marco!

You know,  I understand Marco Rubio's endorsement of Donald Trump. I really do. I also understand Joni Ernst endorsing him (though I still haven't gotten over her leading the convention in the same "USA! USA!" chant that was used to drown out dissent, or her praising of one of the ugliest and most un-American political movements in our history).

If you expect the party to back you in the future, you back the party right now. And in Marco's case, the matter was even more pressing than it would have been otherwise. He wants to be in a position to pick up the pieces after the Trump debacle this November and be the 2020 nominee. He doesn't want to make enemies.

But he has. This election is one of the crisis points in our nation's history,  It's one of those tests of character and of principle that one either passes or fails. Marco, like Joni, failed. They both chose political expediency over principle and party over country. Especially after all the very accurate things Rubio said about the unstable. irresponsible and utterly unqualified Trump during the primaries, for Rubio to turn around and endorse him once he received the nomination makes Marco look like a hypocrite or a wolf-crier.

Of course, if he'd run for re-election while refusing to endorse Don the Con, his path back to the Senate- to say nothing of his path to the White House in 2020- would have been a rocky one indeed. But it would have been a path he could have walked with integrity, and maybe succeeded in traveling.

As things stand, a great many of us who supported him in 2016 have lost respect for him.  I don't rule him out as my candidate in 2020, though I must say that the chances of my supporting him again have gone downhill.

The same is true of Joni. I continue to like and respect her. On the whole, I think she's doing a wonderful job for us Iowans in the Senate. But she's declined a bit in my esteem this year, and I'm going to find it a little harder to work up much enthusiasm for her in 2020 when she runs for re-election.

It's guys like Ben Sasse who have earned my respect this year- people who have done the right thing when so much was at stake, and put country before not only party but self.  And people like Evan McMullin, who, though he had no political career before announcing  his independent political candidacy, picked up the fallen banner of real Republicanism when so many better-known people with a far better chance of actually winning (coughMittRomneycough) left it lying on the ground.

Yes, 2016 has been a test of character and principle. Some have passed it; most have failed. And while I do not argue that people like Rubio and Ernst should be read out of the party like the hard-core Trumpsters once Dishonest Donald has been annihilated at the polls this November and the real Republican party begins to re-emerge, it will be hard to entirely forget which category prominent Republicans fell into.

And then, of course, there comes the question of whether the GOP will at long last summon up the courage and the principle to purge the Trumpsters from positions of influence and leadership, or whether what Evan McMullin has started may have to turn into a new political party to reclaim the GOP's bartered soul.

The Trumplings encounter Evan McMullin

It's instructive if one has a strong enough stomach, to study the tweets of Trumplings on Twitter. The anti-Semitism, disconnect from reality, and rabid hate are rather off-putting, but it's an education as to just who (and what) constitutes the core constituency of the movement.

One thing that has become apparent in recent days is that Evan McMullin (or "Evan McMuffin," as they call him, with their typical lack of wit) has them really shaken up. They've decided that he's a "fake CIA candidate" (though how a man who has spent his career as a CIA officer is a "fake" is unclear). They screech that he was "only a desk jockey" (as if he claimed to be Jack Bauer or James Bond or something). But most of all they lie and sputter and carry on incoherently.

In other words, they're scared. And they should be. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Skilled businessman? Trump's companies are $650 million in debt!

We know that Trump habitually welshes on contracts. We know that he doesn't pay his creditors. We know that his companies have gone bankrupt six times. We know that despite his inherited wealth and some success in real estate, he's never run a successful company. And we know that he's running as a hot-shot businessman.

But now we discover that his companies are at least $650 million in debt.

And we know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Donald Trump is a con man and a fraud.

And as for the Democrats...

There is ANOTHER choice: you can vote for the grownup!

McMullin: Trump couldn't get a security clearance if he wasn't the GOP nominee!

It's good not to be disenfranchised anymore!

Came home fairly exhausted last night after gathering signatures on a petition to get Evan McMullin on the ballot in Iowa. Kate Jones led the drive.  It was an intense three days. 1,500 signatures were needed. This afternoon Kate filed 2,800!

It was a fascinating experience. When people heard that we were trying to get a third option on the ballot besides Trump and Hillary at times they were so eager to sign that they almost snatched the pens out of our hands. When people overhead me talking to others they actually came up to me and asked it if was OK if they signed, too! Several people who were in too big a hurry to stop said over their shoulders, "This is an important thing you're doing. Thank you!"

When people heard Evan's resume- that whereas previously we had been faced with the choice of a woman who left national secrets on a private server for our country's enemies to snatch and an unstable, bizarre, and generally ignorant man whose uninformed isolationist foreign policy puts our national security at risk we now had a candidate who has spent his career fighting ISIS and al Quaeda in the field- they were delighted.

The Minnesota filing deadline is next week, There, Evan is the candidate of the Independence Party. All the talk about ballot deadlines to the contrary we are still in the hunt to get on the ballot one way or another in every state- often on the unused or underused lines of minor parties already on the ballot.

I'm impressed with and very proud of my fellow volunteers, and thankful to Deputy Campaign ManagerJohn Claybrook. who came up from Texas to help, and to Kate and her husband Dylan, whose hard work and insight have put me in awe. Also, of course, to Evan McMullin, who in the hour of his country's peril once again stood up on her behalf when so many others would not.

Next step: 15% in the polls and the debates. If Even gets that far, he will utterly cream both Trump and Hillary in them. Being the only one on the stage who knows what he's talking about and is willing to level with the American people about it is a huge advantage.

So barring some really fishy shenanigans, we're on the ballot in Iowa. Now, America, it's up to you. You no longer have an excuse for choosing between the two disasters the major parties have given you.

There is now another, far better option.