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Saturday, October 24, 2020

May It Be



These are tough times. We could probably all use a benediction. This one is from The Lord of the Rings, by Enya ... May It Be

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Last debate



I watched the presidential debate tonight. I wrote an earlier post about it but ended up deleting it because I was just ranting by the time I was done.

The bottom line - Trump was not as trainwreck crazy as in the first debate, although he did start to unravel later in the debate. Biden did pretty well. Trump lied his ass off on every issue, from the virus to racism to the environment to immigration, etc. That constant lying was what drove me crazy ... Fact check: Toned-down Trump continues his onslaught of falsehoods

Sam Elliott

The Lincoln Project has a new ad for Joe Biden aimed at men ...



It's narrated by actor Sam Elliott, who has such a great voice. I've watched his acting career for a long time, from a 1982 tv western, The Shadow Riders, in which he played one of two brothers (Tom Selleck was the other) who fought on opposite sides in the Civil War ... to Cher's motorcycle-riding boyfriend in Mask ... to Wyatt Earp's brother in Tombstone ... to General Ross in Marvel's Hulk.

I can't say I know what having a good father around is like, or that I've had much personal experience of good men. Maybe my grandfather comes closest. But I do know that Trump is the antithesis of what I believe a good man to be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Pope and civil unions

In the news: the pope has called for secular governments to allow LGBTQ people to be in civil unions ....

Pope Francis, in Shift for Church, Voices Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions

Pope Francis, who since the beginning of his pontificate has taken a more tolerant tone toward homosexuality, appeared to break with the position of the Roman Catholic Church by supporting civil unions for same-sex couples, according to remarks Francis made in a new documentary that debuted in Rome on Wednesday.

Speaking about pastoral outreach and care for people who identified as L.G.B.T., Francis directly addresses the issue of civil unions in the film.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” Francis said amid remarks in which he otherwise reiterated his support for gay people as children of God. “I stood up for that.” ...


Before we start feeling all warm and fuzzy about the pope, we have to remember a few things ...

Francis has *not* suggested changing the Catholic church's stance on gay people, their actions, and their relationships. The Catechism still states ....

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved .... Homosexual persons are called to chastity ....

And Francis has himself rejected the idea of marriage equality for gay people in his exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, writing ...

There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family ...

Francis likes to tell the secular world how to treat people, while he supports a church that treats them worse. What Francis has done is a kind of blame shifting, and he did it with women too. The Catholic church treats women like non-sentient breeding machines, while not allowing them to be priests, deacons, or to even have equality of opportunity in other Vatican jobs. Yet in Amoris Laetitia, he wrote ...

I would like to stress the fact that, even though significant advances have been made in the recognition of women’s rights and their participation in public life in some countries much remains to be done to promote these rights. ... I think of ... their lack of equal access to dignified work and roles of decision-making.

The irony is painful.

I guess we're supposed to be grateful that a guy who thought of gay marrige as the work of the devil is now ok with secular civil unions, but civil unions for gay people are already an anachronism in a world that has moved on to a truer equality - marraige for LGBTQ people. The pope's endorsement for civil unions, while sort of interesting, is so 'too little too late'.

It's time the Catholic chirch let go of their archaic teaching on LGBTQ people and joined not only the other Christian churches that support gay people and marriage equality, but also the actual Catholic people, a majority of which support that as well.

You might argue, "but the church's stance is based on the bible". It's not, actually, but that's a post for another day.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Voting

Yay - the vote tracker thingy in my state ... where's my ballot? ... has let me know my absentee ballot was recieved and will be counted. Given the corruption of the postal service by Trump and the Republican's fake drop boxes here in California, it was hard to decide how to safely send the ballot off. Good to know it made it to where it was supposed to go and that it's considered valid and will be counted.

If you haven't voted yet, vote!

Dr. Fauci



Dr. Fauci, who was deemed "a disaster" by Trump on a recent campaign call, speaks out on 60 Minutes. It's a really interesting interview - we get to meet his wife and they delve more deeply into his work. I have to say that I admire Dr. Fauci for all the Trump-poop he has been willing to put up with, including death threats, in order to help the American people.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Caribbean Blue



Old song by Enya.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Possum

A baby possum looks for a stray bit of cat food. It's hard to tell in the photo, but he's only about the size of a small hamster :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Trump and women



At his rally last night, Trump asked suburban women to like him, says he saved their damn neighborhoods, and that he didn't have time to be nice (to us). Why is he begging? Trump is way behind Biden in the polls with women.

Anyway, the short answer to Trump's pathetic ask is NO! And here are some of the reasons why ...

- His assertion that he has saved our neighborhoods (fom minorities and the poor) implies that we are racists like him, that we are classists like him. We are not.

- His assertion that he could be nice but he doesn't have the time is so familiar to most women when having to deal with jerks like Trump. It's not helping his cause.

- Does he think we've not noticed he's working to take away our constitutional right to control our own bodies?

- Does he think we've forgotten he's a serial sexual abuser and a rapist?

- The porn star and the bunny.

- Does he think we've forgotten about the Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about grabbing us by the bleep?

- Does he think we didn't notice the way he talks about and to women? (28 years of Trump insulting women)

- Does he believe we didn't notice he's friends with sex traffickers Jeffret Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell?

- Maybe he thinks we've forgotten the way he has torn children, even breast-feeding babies, from their mothers at the border.

- He has undermined women's access to contraception through the ACA.

The list goes on but I'll stop here. At the end of the day, most women regognize Trump for what he is: a liar, a cheater, a bully, a predator, a damage-causing loser.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Barrett hearings 2



I watched much of the Amy Coney Barrett senate hearings today. I must admit I skipped the Republican senators, but I did see in the news that they waxed eloquesnt on Barrett's religious views and her childbearing capacity.

The Democrats, instead, dwelt on Barrett's views of the Affordable Care Act, Roe v Wade, and marriage equality ... the three things Republicans have been vowing to doom. She wouldn't take a stand on anything, not even to say she would recuse herself if Trump brought a suit to the Court to overturn the results of the election.

Depressing ... another conservative Catholic on the Supreme Court, pushing their minority beliefs on a whole country made of of multiple religions and none. As I mentioned before, they *are* minority beliefs, even among Catholics. Republicans go on about Barrett's "devoutness". What does that even mean? Is Nancy Pelosi not a devout Catholic? Is Joe Biden not a devout Catholic? What about Gavin Newsom? What about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez?

Does "devout" really mean giving your allegiance to the hierarchy of the Catholic church rahter than to Jesus' teachings? The church has turned issues not ever even mentioned in the bible ... abortion and mattiage equality ... into shibboleths, all, I believe, to support its own discrimination against women and LGBTQ people.

The Republicans and their new Supreme Court will try to drag our country 50 years into the past. Even if Trump wins, this won't work. The country will lose respect for the Court. Voters will dump Republicans from every level of government. Legislatures will make into law what the Court won't. This isn't The Handmaid's Tale.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Barrett hearings

I'm watching the Supreme Court confirmations hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett as I wash the dishes. Listening to what's happening is making me so angry I'm shaking.

- Republicans are going back on their words, some of them caught on video, promising to honor the "McConnell rule" that they used to steal a Supreme Court seat from Merrick Garland.

- Although President Obama chose a moderate in Garland, Trump has chosen an extreme partisan in Barrett. Trump promised to only choose someone who would overturn Roe v Wade and he hit the jackpit with Barrett, he also wanted to chose someone to destroy the Affordable Care Act and strip medical coverage from millions - Barrett is a known critic of the ACA. She is also hostile to the rights of LGBTQ people.

- The Republicans of the Judiciary Committe are pretending the pandemic does not exist in order to push this confirmation therough before the election. The chairman, Lindsey Graham, who practically lives in the infected Trump's armpit, refuses to be tested for the virus. Senator Mike Lee, diagnosed with the virus 10 daays ago, is participating in the hearings without a mask.

- And then there's Barrett's dishonesty in hiding her extreme anti-abortion stance in previous hearings: Barrett was member of anti-abortion group that promoted clinic criticized for misleading women. Here is Senator Amy Klobuchar’s opening statement, giving a good example of the Democratic concerns ...



Republicans keep asking if Biden will "stack the Court" if he wins the election. Democrats stack the Court? Really? If Biden wins, I hope he *does* appoint more judges! Republicans have virually begged for this outcome with their own vile actions.

Friday, October 09, 2020

A Closer Look

Sometimes you have to laugh or you will howl like a banshee, so it's time for A Closer Look ...

Thursday, October 08, 2020

The fly :)



Whether you watched the vice-presidential debate last night or not, you doubtless know about the fly that landed on Mike Pence's head and stayed there undetected for minutes.

Was it all just chance or was it a kind of omen about a second Pence/Trump presidency? I think historian Michael Beschloss nailed it: "Be Afraid. Be very Afraid".

Trump's investments



In a strange video message in which it looks like Trump's discovered a new shade of makeup, he says that everyone should use the same drugs he is on ... Regeneron and Remdesivir ... to "cure" the virus. Maybe we could if only he wasn't going to destroy Obamacare. Oh, and he complements his doctors - is the reason they've been so weasley because they signed non-disclosure agreements too?

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Trump owns stock in Gilead Sciences, the company that makes Regeneron, and that he's pals with the guy who owns Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. And, oh look, Regeneron and Gilead Stock Jump as President Trump’s Health Remains in Focus. I'm sure that's just an unforseen consequence of Trump's drug promotion video.

[...] Trump's team revealed Friday that the president received the drug, called REGN-COV2, which is being used to alleviate symptoms and reduce viral load. Shares of Regeneron surged 7% Monday, bringing the stock's year-to-date gain to more than 60%. The stock reached its highs of the day after Trump tweeted that he will be leaving the hospital Monday evening.

Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer and President Trump are acquainted: The CEO has been a member at Trump's golf club in Westchester, New York, and his company also received $450 million in government funding in July as part of the president's Operation Warp Speed plan to quickly develop a vaccine and other treatments for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Trump also recently owned shares of Regeneron (REGN) -- as well as Gilead Sciences (GILD), maker of the antiviral drug remdesivir that the president is also taking. Both stocks were listed as assets on Trump's 2017 filing with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, though neither were holdings on the president's most recent filing for 2020 ...


While I was looking for this stuff, I was distracted by the stories from the beginning of Trump's presidency about his investments - he had to file Federal Election Commission (FEC) financial disclosure forms in 2016. Part of that showed stocks that he owns, and some of them, like Gilead Sciences, seem to be a conflict of interest.

From Forbes: Trump's Stock Portfolio: Big Oil, Big Banks And More Foreign Connections ...

[...] The Donald owns anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million worth of shares each in Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase , Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs -- in other words, five of the famous “big six” banks ....

Despite campaigning on the pledge of “taking on big businesses,” Trump own shares in big pharma companies including Pfizer, Merck, Celgene and GlaxoSmithKline; retailer Walmart, and consumer goods firms Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. He also hold stakes in a variety of multinational oil companies like Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobil.

The connections to the energy industry doesn't stop there. The climate-change skeptic owns shares in Phillips 66 - a joint venture partner in the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, where demonstrations are ongoing, and in Kinder Morgan, another pipeline giant facing resistance for its plans to connect the Canadian oil sands to Vancouver, British Columbia. Trump also has a small investment in Canadian energy company TransCanada, the developer of Keystone XL pipeline, which was rejected by President Barack Obama last year but supported by Trump.

The populist billionaire has other Canadian holdings, including $500,000 to $1 million investments in the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Toronto Dominion Bank, and $1 million to $5 million worth of shares in the Royal Bank of Canada. Such investments add to the array of connections Trump already has with foreign entities - including nine figure debts owed to German lender Deutsche Bank and China’s state-controlled Bank of China ....


A reaal man of the people.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Kimberly Guilfoyle

One news story that got buried with all of Trump's insanity this week was about Kimberly Guilfoyle. You may remember her from her prominent role at the Republican convention ....



Ouch! A little bit of that really goes a long way :(

The 51 year old Guilfoyle didn't just appear at on the arm of Donald Trump Jr. like Athena stepping from the forehead of Zeus. She has an interesting history. She was once married to the governor of California, Gavin Newsom. Really ;)

They divorced after she moved to the East Coast to work at Fox News. She married again and had a child. They divorced, and she then had a relationship with (married) Anthony Scaramucci, who had been White House communications director for 11 days. She eventually lost her job at Fox and ended up working on Trump's campaign, where she met her curent boyfriend, Don Jr.

Here's a bit from The New Yorker ...

The Secret History of Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Departure from Fox

[...] In November, 2018, a young woman who had been one of Guilfoyle’s assistants at Fox News sent company executives a confidential, forty-two-page draft complaint that accused Guilfoyle of repeated sexual harassment, and demanded monetary relief. The document, which resulted in a multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlement, raises serious questions about Guilfoyle’s fitness as a character witness for Trump, let alone as a top campaign official.

[...]

Guilfoyle has maintained that her decision to move from television news to a political campaign was entirely voluntary. In fact, Fox News forced her out in July, 2018—several years before her contract’s expiration date. At the time, she was a co-host of the political chat show “The Five.” Media reports suggested that she had been accused of workplace impropriety, including displaying lewd pictures of male genitalia to colleagues, but few additional details of misbehavior emerged. Guilfoyle publicly denied any wrongdoing, and last year a lawyer representing her told The New Yorker that “any suggestion” she had “engaged in misconduct at Fox is patently false.” But, as I reported at the time, shortly after Guilfoyle left her job, Fox secretly paid an undisclosed sum to the assistant, who no longer works at the company. Recently, two well-informed sources told me that Fox, in order to avoid going to trial, had agreed to pay the woman upward of four million dollars ...


I bring this up because it's another example of the dishonesty and moral bankruptcy that thrives in the Trump orbit. A man is known by the company he keeps - Euripides.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Eight Miles High

Real life only gets weirder - an infected and contageous Trump is taking joy rides outside the hospital so his cult members can view their dear leader. I guess this means the Secret Servvice guys in his car now have to quarantine for 2 weeks. I need to listen to some music.

I like this song, the singing parts and the lyrics more than the guitar parts, though I always like Roger McGuinn's 12 string (the guy on the far R). Anyway, the theme of the song seems to go with our current events. Eight Miles High by the Byrds, 1967 ...



How to ...

... spread a virus.



If you want to see how far a contageous and sometimes deadly virus can be distributed, learn from this helpful Republican event. Here's a video showing the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court nominee in the White House Rose Garden on Sept. 26.

Be sure to seat everyone as closely together as sardines, have everone go without masks, have a period after when everyone can hug and kiss and schmooze. And then move the whole thing inside the White House for a reception in the Oval Office and Diplomatic Room, to increase the chances of contageous spread.

Within days you should start to see the first instances of new infections, in this case: Trump, his wife, Kellyanne Conway, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Thom Tillis, John Jenkins of Notre Dame, Chris Christie, Hope Hicks, Ronna McDaniel (RNC), Kaylee McInerney, etc. Then each of those who've been tainted should go about business as usual, infecting as many others as possible before their vector status is made public (or if you're Trump, even after that).

Don't worry if it hasn't gotten to you yet, there's still time.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Fixing things



John Oliver explains why the process that has given us Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court Justice is so undemocratic, and what we can do to fix things.

Don't forget

Trump is in the hospital, his condition and treatment remaining somewhat murky.

Joe Biden has wished Trump well and has stopped using all negative ads against him while he is ill (the Trump campaign continues to run negative ads about Biden).

This reminded me of how Trump responded during the 2016 presidential campaign when his opponent, Hillary Clinton, was ill with pneumonia. He mocked her ....



Trump is sick, and everyone hopes he gets well, but let's not forget who and what he is.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Trump's sick

It was probably inevitable that Trump would eventually catch the virus, given his flouting of mask wearing and reliance on a test that gives a high false negative result.

The latest news that I've heard (about 4:30 PST) is that Trump is at Walter Reed, and has been given an experimental antibody cocktail. And at the hospital he is being treated with Remdesivir.

Meanwhile, at least 11 people who attended the first debate at the Cleveland Clinic have now been found to be infected. The Trump family and aides were in the audience, maskless. Biden has tested negative, but that could change in the next few days. Chris Wallace has said Trump was not tested for the virus before the debate because he arrived late.

And, backtracking, yesterday Trump, knowing he had been exposed to an infected Hope Hicks, went on to an indoor campaign event, exposing something like 100 people to the disease.

I hope Trump and his handlers will keep us in the loop, but I don't think we can count on it. And because of that lack of transperancy and because Trump is a professional liar, some part of me is not completely convinced he really is sick. It's not just me ...