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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Impeachment hearing today

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries questions one of the legal experts, Harvard Law professor Pamela Karlan, testifying in the impeachment hearing today (the name plate in front of him belongs to someone else) ...

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Lisa Page



Trump gets off by mocking Lisa Page at a rally, perhaps channeling his screwing of a porn star and a playboy bunny while he was married to wife # 3. The pot-kettle-black irony seems to eluded both him and his brain-dead followers. Why are Republicans are on their knees before this creep?

Monday, December 02, 2019

The Report



This week's movie rental (actually free streaming from Amazon) was The Report ...

a 2019 American drama film written and directed by Scott Z. Burns and starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall, Tim Blake Nelson, Corey Stoll, Maura Tierney and Jon Hamm. The plot follows staffer Daniel J. Jones and the Senate Intelligence Committee as they investigate the CIA's use of torture following the September 11 attacks. It covers more than a decade's worth of real-life political intrigue, exploring and compacting Jones's 6,700-page report ...

I had wanted to rent the movie sometime, but when I saw it was free at Amazon, I watched it last night. I'd wanted to see it because I like Adam Driver (Kylo Ren!) but also the subject matter was interesting - in a way it sort of follows the miniseries The Looming Tower, picking up the story of the intelligence agencies' anti-terrorism strategies after 9/11.

The story, not fiction but based on actual events, is pretty horrifying. Over 100 suspects were held (never any trials) in black sites in other countries where they were tortured ("enhanced interrogation techniques" like waterboarding), though the CIA knew for many years before this that torture was an ineffective tool that did not produce worthy information. Contrary to the common assumption, intelligence gained from these prisoners did *not* lead to finding Osama bin Laden.

Here's a segment from the PBS NewsHour on the movie ...



It's a really good film. We need to know about this stuff, this contemporary history of our failures, so that we don't repeat them. That's why it's so awful that now we have a president who pardons war crimes and wants to bring back torture. And just to be clear, I think torture is evil.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Thor: the music



I re-watched Thor: The Dark World tonight. One of the things I like about it is the soundtrack by Brian Tyler. Here is Into Eternity, which plays during the death and funeral of Thor's mother ...



And here is the main theme, Thor: The Dark World, with Bryan Tyler conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra and Choir of London ...


Friday, November 29, 2019

A history of violence



Here's the first part of a special report by Rachel Maddow on the history of anti-abortion violence since Roe v. Wade. People seem oblivious to those death threats, bombings of clinics, murders of doctors and clinic staff that were especially prevalent in the 80's. That is the time frame for when I became a volunteer for the summer at a Planned Parenthood clinic during college, so I was very aware of it.

Nothing so puts the lie to "pro-life" as the violence that permeates that movement, and that is why I do sometimes post on this unpopular subject ... the pro-life movement portrays itself as baby-loving Jesus-following martyrs, but the organizers of this movement are liars, criminals, hate-filled conservative religious extremists who at their core want to control the reproductive lives of women at any cost. If you doubt this, read the history of Operation Rescue and this 2018 article from the Southern Poverty Law Center about the most recent "work" of members of Operation Rescue: Group Attacking Planned Parenthood Linked to Extremists.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Deer!!!

When I went out to feed the cats this morning, they were all missing. I went around the yard looking for them and found out why they were scarce ... deer! There are two deer in the yard, a male and female. I called everyone from the county animal control to the fish and wildlife department but everyone said I'm supposed to just leave them alone and they will eventually be gone by themselves. But what's odd is that I don't live in a rural area but a suburb with lots of traffic. How did they get here without being hit by a car or eaten by some neighbor? Here are a couple of photos I got of the male deer by the bird bath ....




Rock Me on the Water

Jackson Browne, 1978 at the BBC, Rock Me on the Water ...



Oh people, look around you
The signs are everywhere
You've left it for somebody other than you
To be the one to care
You're lost inside your houses
There's no time to find you now
Your walls are burning and your towers are turning
I'm going to leave you here and try to get down to the sea somehow

Rock me on the water
Sister will you soothe my fevered brow
Rock me on the water
I'll get down to the sea somehow

The road is filled with homeless souls
Every woman, child and man
Who have no idea where they will go
But they'll help you if they can
Now everyone must have some thought
That's going to pull them through somehow
Well the fires are raging hotter and hotter
But the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now

Rock me on the water
Sister will you soothe my fevered brow
Rock me on the water
I'll get down to the sea somehow

Oh people, look among you
It's there your hope must lie
There's a sea bird above you
Gliding in one place like Jesus in the sky
We all must do the best we can
And then hang on to that Gospel plow
When my life is over, I'm going to stand before the Father
But the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now

Rock me on the water
Sister will you soothe my fevered brow
Rock me on the water, maybe I'll remember
Maybe I'll remember how
Rock me on the water
The wind is with me now
So rock me on the water
I'll get down to the sea somehow

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Sondland testifies

I'm now watching the impeachment hearing testimony of EU ambassador Gordon Sondland. If Trump was hoping he could throw Sondland under the bus to save his own hide, he is going to be really disappointed, because Sondland, perhaps informed by Roger Stone's recent conviction for lying to Congress, is letting it all hang out ... there *was* a quid pro quo ... the state department (Pompeo), OMB (Mulvaney), the NSC, and also Mike Pence were all involved in this ... and he and the others were all working on direct orders from Trump.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

The pecans

It's now the time when the pecan tree's pecans are ready for eating.



I know this because the squirrels are up in the trees eating nuts and dropping a lot of them on the driveway too ...



I tried to get a photo of a squirrel but it was hard because they were up so high (maybe 30 feet) and in silhouette against the sun ...



This year there is also a trio of big black crows who have been eating the pecans. Hard to get a photo of them too, but here are two of them ...



The cats are fascinated by the squirrels and crows and hang around on the driveway watching them. Here's Fluffy ...



And here's Snowy at the bottom of the pecan tree. She's not sure what I'm up to ...



But she doesn't want to leave her post just in case one of the squirrels comes down with a nut ...



So much sweeping ahead of me ;)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

And so it begins

I'm only just starting to watch the impeachment hearings. I though Adam Schiff's opening statement was really good for setting the stage ...



And here's the opening statement of the first witness, diplomat George Kent ...


Three impeachments



Starting tomorrow morning - the public Trump impeachment testimony. I'm so ancient that this will be the third impeachment thingy that I have experienced.

I was in college when the televised Senate Watergate hearings took place (May 1973) and I mostly remember them because I had a part-time job at a tv repair shop ... all day, with hardly ever a customer, I watched the hearings to pass the time. I was (and still am) a Democrat and despised Nixon, so this was all good.

I was living here with my mom and my four cats when Clinton was impeached. I don't remember much about it - maybe I didn't want to delve into it since he was a Democratic president and also the Monica thing was icky. Looking back, I'm really disappointed in Clinton and I would have been happy to have him impeached, with Al Gore taking over, but of course that's not what happened. Now, whenever I think of him I can't help going to the knee-pad place ... ugh! :(

Now, with much more access to information, I am finally understanding what impeachment means and how the process works. I do believe Trump will be impeached by the House, but I doubt the spineless Republicans in the Senate will convict and remove Trump from office. More's the pity, for I think he deserves that even more than Nixon.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Jeff Lynne: no. 1

Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra has a new album that is now no.1 in the UK ... Jeff Lynne's ELO Come 'From Out Of Nowhere' to Top U.K. Album Chart

Here he is performing the title song, From Out Of Nowhere, from the BBC ...



Friday, November 08, 2019

Ukraine's war

One of the reasons it's so bad that Trump held up military aid to Ukraine is that they are currently at war. The PBS NewsHour visited the front lines ...

"Deal with it."

Standing outside, looking down the street, and I remembered doing the same thing when I was a college student, still living here with my mom. My sister had moved away and I was between boyfriends and I had been diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease - I was depressed. I had the premonition that when I was old I would still be living here and be poor, sick, and alone. I didn't really think that would happen - it was a worst case scenario - but uh oh it did. When I was more religious I told myself it didn't matter how bad things got or what others thought of me, because God knew who I really was. But now I find it hard to believe anymore.

This makes me think of a part of the book Ready Player One in which Wade tries to deal with his unrealistic hopes and his actual unhappy state ...

“I wish someone had just told me the truth right up front, as soon as I was old enough to understand it. I wish someone had just said: “Here’s the deal, Wade. You’re something called a ‘human being.’ That’s a really smart kind of animal. Like every other animal on this planet, we’re descended from a single-celled organism that lived millions of years ago. This happened by a process called evolution, and you’ll learn more about it But trust me, that’s really how we all got here. There’s proof of it everywhere, buried in the rocks. That story you heard? About how we were all created by a super-powerful dude named God who lives up in the sky? Total bullshit. The whole God thing is actually an ancient fairy tale that people have been telling one another for thousands of years. We made it all up. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. “Oh, and by the way … there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. Also bullshit. Sorry, kid. Deal with it.”
― Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

Where's the chocolate! ;)

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Vincent

This song about Vincent van Gogh by Don Mclean has been in my head today ...



Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)
Don McLean

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night
You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in the ragged clothes
The silver thorn, a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Questions for Pete

Mayor Pete answers questions from the curious :) ...



Like most Democrats, I still haven't completely decided who to vote for in the 2020 presidential primary. I go back and forth between Bernie, Warren, and Mayor Pete. Pete is a little conservative for me, but maybe that would mean he has a better chance to win? Not sure. I guess only time will tell.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Crossfire Hurricane



My latest read from the public library is Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI by Josh Campbell, a former FBI agent, a professor at USC, and a commentator at CNN.

I'm just at the beginning so far but it's very interesting. Here's an interview with Campbell about the book ...


The moron-in-chief

In the news: Trump slams California for forest fires even though last week’s fires were not in forests



He's doing this because he hates California for seeing him for what he truly is. The whole "forest floor" thing is a combination of lies and idiocy (Finland to President Trump: We don’t rake the forest floor, but we do other things you should do). Meanwhile, California is burning.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

#eBooksForAll

#eBooksForAll

I visit the public library every week. I've been visiting it and checking out books there since I was a little kid. I love the library - there is no way I could afford to buy all of the books I want to read, and I'm so glad there is a place where anyone can visit and read magazines, newspapers, journals, books, use computers, make copies, watch (and check out) movies, and check out music too.

And one can also check out ebooks. That's mostly what I do because my vision is so bad it's hard for me to read normal print. With the kindle my sister gave me which allows me to make the words very large, I can books again. And checking out ebooks is so easy - you can do it all via the computer from home, downloading available books immediately.

But there's now a hitch ... How a publisher is punishing library users with eBooks limit

Right now, there are 450 holds at San Francisco Public Library on an eBook that currently tops the bestseller list. That’s despite the fact that the library carries 100 copies of this particular popular title in a digital format.

Now, imagine what might happen if the publisher did not allow the public library to buy multiple copies of this book to satisfy library patrons’ requests? That’s the situation being faced by libraries across the country as of Nov. 1, when Macmillan Publishers starts “embargoing” libraries’ ability to purchase new ebooks. This policy amounts to a new form of censorship for library users. Limiting access to new titles for libraries is limiting access for readers like you ....


I received an email from my branch library today about this ... "We’re allowed to purchase one copy for more than 777,000 library card holders, and then we have to wait eight weeks to purchase additional copies for you to access." ... and they have asked me to sign a petition about it. If you care about this issue, please consider signing the American Library Association petition - it's here.

Not the first time



Tonight on Rachel Maddow's show she had a segment which delved into the *first* time Trump had a quid pro quo with Ukraine, in 2017, when he sent Giuliani to offer then president Poroshenko military aid in return for dropping investigations of his campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Here's an article from last year about Ukraine freezing the investigation of Manafort ... Ukraine Seeking US Missles Halted Cooperation With Mueller Investigation

In the United States, Paul J. Manafort is facing prosecution on charges of money laundering and financial fraud stemming from his decade of work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

But in Ukraine, where officials are wary of offending President Trump, four meandering cases that involve Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, have been effectively frozen by Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.

The cases are just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid, and keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s distaste for the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, some lawmakers say ...


Now we know why.