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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Third Dem debate

I haven't watched the whole thing yet but did see many bits of it. Pundits have been saying that the debates don't actually make a difference in voters' decisions of who to choose, but this one did help me decide who I would and wouldn't vote for.

Up to this point, I've been trying to decide between Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg - now I'm sure I do *not* want to vote for Mayor Pete. During the debate he attacked Beto on gun policy and Warren on everything from her health plan to her donors. I didn't like that.

I will almost certainly vote for Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie would be my second choice.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Trump abandons the Kurds

People ask why not just wait until the next election to remove Trump instead of trying to impeach him. The answer is that every day he is in office gives him another opportunity to cause harm. A recent case in point: his abandonment of our allies, the Kurds ....

Wikipedia has a page on the current Turkish offensive, and here is part of what they have for today, October 13 ...

Turkish-backed members of Islamist militia Ahrar al-Sharqiya killed Hevrin Khalaf, Secretary General of the Kurdish Future Syria Party. She and at least nine other civilians were executed south of Tal Abyad on the side of the road after their vehicles were stopped by the Ahrar al-Sharqiya fighters on the M4 highway. According to the Washington Post the killing "almost certainly constitute(d) a war crime, under international law".

Meanwhile, Trump is sending *more* troops to Saudi Arabia. Wonder how much MBS is paying him personally for that?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

California blackout

Yes, here in northern California, many people are experiencing a power blackout. My town is fortunately exempt because though we have PG&E for gas, our electricity comes from SMUD, a publicly owned company that gave me a free new refrigerator :)

It's understandable that PG&E is being cautious after having been responsible for the fire that destroyed a whole town (and for which they are being sued), and there are some fires happening right now around the state because of the winds. But it's not all about severe weather and drought - part of the problem is particular to PG&E and their old equipment ... PG&E ignored repairs on its aging power lines for years, report says

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Trump Towers Istanbul

Were you wondering what possessed Trump, after a phone call with Erdogan, to suddenly recall US troops from Syria, leaving our allies, the Kurds, to be attacked by Turkey? One possibility is the Trump Towers Istanbul ...

In December 2015, Trump stated in a radio interview that he had a "conflict of interest" in dealing with Turkey because of his property, saying "I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul ... It’s called Trump Towers. Two towers, instead of one. Not the usual one, it’s two. And I’ve gotten to know Turkey very well."

But hey, I could be wrong in believing that Trump left our allies to twist slowly in the wind because of his own personal financial interests. After all, it could instead be that Trump screwed the Kurds in order to get Erdogan to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

More: Trump criticizes the Bidens, but his own family’s business raises questions

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

The phone call

Trump's impeachment-causing phone call explained ...

Monday, October 07, 2019

Avengers: Endgame

This week's movie rental was Avengers: Endgame ...

Avengers: Endgame is a 2019 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics .... It is the sequel to 2012's The Avengers, 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, and 2018's Avengers: Infinity War .... and features an ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Josh Brolin. In the film, the surviving members of the Avengers and their allies attempt to reverse the damage caused by Thanos in Infinity War.

I'm a big fan of the Marvel movies, having read all the comics on which they are based when I was a kid. This latest film is the culmination of all the films ... those about Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers, as well as those more peripheral like Black Panther, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, and Guardians of the Galaxy.. If it all seems confusing, you could always start at the beginning and go through the list of films in order.

But if you are up to speed and have seen Avengers: Infinity War, then you know that when last we left our heroes, they had been defeated by the evil one, Thanos, who had used the infinity stones to kill half of all living things in the universe.

This film picks up just after that happens, shows how the characters deal with that defeat, and how, five years later, they are given new hope when they realize they can use time travel to undo what Thanos has done. Maybe. I don't want to reveal all that happens along the way, or the ending, but here are a few bits that were notable ...

Thor, whose brother and best friend had both been killed by Thanos, didn't deal well with the Avengers defeat - he spent those following five years eating, drinking, and watching cable tv ...

Tony/Iron Man got married and had a daughter...

And we learned that Captain America is worthy to wield Thor's hammer. Here we see Thanos beating up on Steve and on Thor. When it looks very bad for Thor, Steve Rogers does something surprising ...

Anyway, i's an epic movie and I certainly recommend it! Here's a trailer ...

Friday, October 04, 2019

"Denial, grief, anger ..."

"Can we just get to acceptance? Who killed you?"

My favorite tv series is Once Upon A Time, which I watch regularly. Right now I'm in season 5, and Captain Hook is dead and in the Underworld.

In the storyline, people who die are sent to the Underwirld where they dwell until they have cleared up any unfinished business they might have. Once they've done that, they either go on to a "better place" or to a place much much worse.

In this scene, King Arthur has just been killed by Hades (the ruler of the Underworld) who is roaming in the world above, threatening the inhabitants of Storybrooke.

It takes Arthur a bit of time to realize what's just happened to him and where he now is. Captain Hook tries to enlist him in a quest to find Hades' weakness so that Hook's still-alive true love, Emma in Storybrooke, can defeat him ...

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Snakes and alligators

In the news - Trump wants his border wall to be electrified with "flesh-piercing spikes" on top, and surrounded by an alligator and snake filled moat. Oh, and any migrants who survive that should be shot. Trump is a sociopath, but the people who support him and his policies are just as bad if not worse.

Monday, September 30, 2019


"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink" Here's Lucy and Misty ...

Here is Olive, who I sometimes call Oleg in honor of the Mueller report ...

And here's Mouse ...

It's been raining and the old tarps on the roof are decayed away, so there's lots of leaking, but I haven't been able to contact the guy who has put them on my roof for many years. Today I found out why - he died a few months ago. So sad. He was very kind and had many pets, including a squirrel he raised when it fell out of its nest as a baby. Hard to believe he's gone ...

There are still some flowers, the living among the dead ...

Sunday, September 29, 2019

On Tyranny

Yale history professor Timothy Snyder was on Rachel Maddow's show last night. He is especially known for his book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. Here's an article about it from a couple of years ago in The Guardian: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder – review.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The road to impeachment

I read the whistleblower complaint, watched the testimony of the DNI before the House Intelligence Committee, and have been keeping up on the continuing fallout, from Trump wanting the "almost spies" who talked to the whistleblower to be executed, to wondering what other terrible Trump secrets are living on the WH's super secure server.

I see now that there's a majority in the House wanting to impeach, and that the latest poll shows more people are also for impeachment now. Good.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The whistleblower report

And now, after the release of the phone call transcript, the actual whitleblower report has been made available (viewed in a SCIF) to some in Congress today.

California Congresswoman Jackie Speier is one of those who was able to read the whistleblower report ...

I hope this latest impeachable behavior finally cooks Trump.

Trump's phone call

So, Trump has released a transcript of one of his phone calls with the Ukrainian president. You can read the whole of it at NPR, but below are the parts I thought most relevant.

Keep in mind that (1) we have only Trump's word this is accurate, and (2) given the ellipses within the transcript it's almost certainly not complete, and (3) this is just one of a number of similar calls Trump made to the Ukrainian president.

* * *


President Zelenskyy: [...] I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you're surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it, if that's possible.

President Zelenskyy: Yes [...] one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine [....]

The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.


* * *

Trump has tried to extort help from the Ukrainian president on two issues ... getting dirt on his political opponent, Biden ... trying to clear Paul Manafort/Roger Stone and debunking Russian hacking of Clinton's emails (Trump's reference to Crowdstrike). The leverage he used = nearly 400 million dollars in military aid already appropriated for Ukraine but put on hold by Trump while he squeezes Zelensky. If this isn't impeachable conduct, what the hell is?

More: Trump’s weird reference to “CrowdStrike” during the Ukraine call, briefly explained

Sunday, September 22, 2019


This photo of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in Rome has inspired a lot of jokes

An example ...

Saturday, September 21, 2019

More Snowden

Trevor Noah interviews Edward Snowden about his new book, Permanent Record ...

Friday, September 20, 2019

When I was young

In the news - North America Has Lost 3 Billion Birds, Scientists Say

So depressing. With all the news lately of Greta Thunberg and climate change, you would think that interest in preserving the natural world is just a recent thing, but that's not true, of course.

It was when I was young that the Endangered Species Act (1969) came into being, that the first Earth Day (1970) was celebrated, that the EPA was created (1970).

And there was music, like John Denver's 1972 Rocky Mountain High ...

What is unbelievable is that we are now going backwards, thanks to Trump and the Republican party.

Rocky Mountain High

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door

When he first came to the mountains his life was far away
On the road and hanging by a song
But the string's already broken and he doesn't really care
It keeps changing fast and it don't last for long

But the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabye
Rocky mountain high (Colorado)

He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below
He saw everything as far as you can see
And they say that he got crazy once and he tried to touch the sun
And he lost a friend but kept his memory

Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it raining fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
Rocky mountain high

Now his life is full of wonder but his heart still knows some fear
Of a simple thing he cannot comprehend
Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more
More people, more scars upon the land

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky mountain high

It's Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
Friends around the campfire and everybody's high
Rocky mountain high