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Monday, September 24, 2018

Avenatti on Rachel Maddow show

Michael Avenatti was on Rachel Maddow's show tonight, talking about his most recent client, a woman who is said to be both a victim of and a witness to what was essentially the gang-raping of inebriated women by Kavanaugh and his friends while he was in school ...



I probably don't need to add that I believe the women who have come forward against Kavanaugh. He has shown himself to be a liar in his testimony on other subjects and he has shown his contempt for women in his conservative Catholic views on contraception and abortion. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt if he would ask for an FBI investigation to clear his name, but he won't. Why not? It seems obvious he is afraid of what the FBI will unearth. Hopefully Avenatti's client will shed some light.



Sunday, September 23, 2018

Kavanaugh: a second accuser



A second woman comes forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh

A second woman has come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, claiming he drunkenly exposed himself to a classmate in college and thrust his genitals in her face without her consent, the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer first reported Sunday ...

And then there's this: Michael Avenatti Implicates Kavanaugh in Pattern of Teenage Sexual Assault

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, says he is “aware of significant evidence” that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh participated in multiple gang rapes while in high school. In an email posted to Twitter Sunday night, Avenatti writes that Kavanaugh, his childhood friend Mark Judge, and others “would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them.” ...

Why vote Democrat?

Because ...



Because ...


Friday, September 21, 2018

#WhyIDidntReport



Women have been tweeting from their own personal experience about why victims of sexual assault either do not report at all or report only years later. You can read the tweets at #WhyIDidntReport. This is a situation similar to what happens with child sex abuse - victims often don't report what happened or don't report for many years. I told my mom when I had been abused as a kid. She didn't believe me. The guy went unpunished. The next time it happened with someone else, I didn't bother telling my mother until I was an adult. She didn't believe me again.

More on all this from Lawrence O'Donnell ...


Kavanaugh hearing, continued

I've been keeping up on the Kavanaugh issue, and this seems to be latest update: Where negotiations stand between Kavanaugh's accuser and Republicans

One of the disturbing things seems to be that the Republicans want to hire an outside lawyer, specifically a woman, to ask Ford questions. Wow, manipulative much? It's apparently dawned on them that the optics of eleven old white guys vs a single woman will look bad. So they're going to adopt the tactic of all those serial rapists in bad movies who hire women attorneys to defend them in court, to, you know, let the jury know that despite the obvious they're actually woman-friendly.

And Trump and the Republicans still won't allow the FBI to investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh, even though that has been standard procedure in similar situations. Why not?

And though Ford has asked that the other person who is said to have witnessed the incident be forced to testify at the hearing (Mark Judge), the Republicans won't allow it. Why not?

It seems obvious this Kavanaugh hearing is not about finding out the truth. The Republicans don't care if Kavanaugh tried to rape someone. Letting Ford speak isn't about trying to figure out what happened, it's about throwing a bone to the #MeToo movement to get women voters off their backs. THey have the power to force the confirmation through and they will, because nothing maters to them but winning.

But .... women won't forget this when they vote in the midterms. And if the Democrats flip the House and maybe the Senate, things may change. Committees led by Democrats can investigate Kavanaugh, and attempted rape is a felony in Maryland, where there is no SOL on that crime. Supreme Court Justices can be impeached and they can go to prison.

Meanwhile, some insight into Kavanaugh's lovely past ... A flag of underwear: Photo from Kavanaugh’s time shows DKE hijinks

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Ramble On

This has been in my head for a while. It made Rolling Stone's list of the greatest 500 songs of all time and is the only song I've heard that references Mordor and Gollum ;) ...

[...] Mine's a tale that can't be told
My freedom I hold dear
How years ago in days of old
When magic filled the air
'T was in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, and the evil one
Crept up and slipped away with her




Wednesday, September 19, 2018

More on the Kavanaugh allegations



With the FBI not being allowed to pursue an investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh .... neither Trump nor Grassley will make the required request ... the only hope of finding out what happened lies in the free press. I've been really disturbed by this whole thing, so I'm going to lay out what little I've come across and the conclusions I've drawn ...

- Trump insists alternatively that the FBI doesn't do this kind of investigation and that they've already investigated Kavanaugh. This is disingenuous to say the least. Either he or Grassley can ask the FBI to do an investigation of these latest allegations, but they will not (Trump won’t seek FBI probe into Kavanaugh sex assault claim).

- Objections are made that the allegations are too old to be prosecuted (actually, Maryland has no SOT on attempted rape). But we are not talking about a criminal investigation - it would be a background investigation to retrieve evidence of Kavanaugh's fitness for a lifetime appointment to the highest court of the land (Brett Kavanaugh Could Still Face Charges For Attempted Rape In Maryland).

- Objections are made that the investigation will take too much time. Hah! First, there's no time limit on making Kavanaugh a SC judge, and given that the Republicans kept Obama's choice of judge from even having a hearing for almost a year, this is a joke. But let's pretend they are sincere ... the FBI investigation of Anita Hill's allegations against Clarence Thomas took only three days, and they ended up with twenty-two witnesses from that investigation.

- Objections are made that since the incident happened so long ago, there can be no evidence to be found. We should let the FBI make that determination. Already I can think of a number of other witnesses who could be interviewed, including Christina King. Here's a bit from the PBS NewsHour ...

[A] Facebook post by a woman named Christina King. This came out in the last day.

She was in the 1983 class at Holton-Arms, which was Ford's school.

And she wrote this — quote — "Christine Blasey Ford was a year or so behind me. I remember her. This incident did happen."

She went on to also say that many students at the school talked about it for days. She tweeted this. She also put it on Facebook. Then she deleted both posts. She said she's being inundated with media requests. She has declined all requests for now. And she's being asked not to be contacted by anyone ...


- And then there's Mark Judge, Kavanaugh's friend who is placed at the scene in the allegations. He has refused to testify under oath, though asked to by Grassley. Why? Because it's a crime to lie under oath? And then there are his writings ...

In two memoirs, Judge depicted his high school as a nest of debauchery where students attended “masturbation class,” “lusted after girls” from nearby Catholic schools and drank themselves into stupors at parties. He has since renounced that lifestyle and refashioned himself as a conservative moralist — albeit one who has written about “the wonderful beauty of uncontrollable male passion….”

There's more but I think the point has been made that there is a lot to be discovered about the allegations against Kavanaugh. We will be sure about none of it unless there's a proper investigation by the FBI. Some people are fine with not knowing what the truth may be, including Trump and Republican lawmakers. I guarantee you that women voters do care about the truth.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

FBI should investigate Kavanaugh



Kavanaugh's accuser has indicated through her lawyers that she wants the FBI to investigate her allegations before she sits down with the Judiciary committee to answer their questions. Trump has said that the FBI doesn't want to investigate, that this isn't what they do. He lies (shocker). The FBI would investigate these claims and it *is* their thing .... they are just waiting for Trump or the committee to tell them to do so. Trump doesn't want an investigation and neither does the Republican-controlled committee. If the Republicans of the committee do go ahead and confirm Kavanaugh without investigating the allegations of attempted rape made against him, they deserve to be destroyed in the midterms.

Meanwhile, Trump is using the furor of the Kavanaugh issue to obscure another creepy thing he's up to ... forcing the release of classified documents from the ongoing Mueller investigation, in order to help his own legal team defend against that investigation and in order to muddy the investigative waters for the public ... see more in the above video.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Kavanaugh's accuser goes public



Kavanaugh accuser breaks silence about sexual misconduct allegations

The woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct has identified herself and is speaking publicly about her allegations against Kavanaugh for the first time, according to a Washington Post investigation published Sunday.

Christine Blasey Ford, now a 51-year-old professor at Palo Alto University in California, described an incident between the two in high school, alleging that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed one summer in the 1980s and forced himself on her ....


Before the accuser went public, the WH stood by Kananaugh ... Trump was probably proud of his fellow pussy-grabber. The Republicans, with the help of Kavanaugh's clerks, crafted a letter signed by 65 women who had known Kavanaugh when he attended an all-boys Catholic prep school, saying that he respected women. Really? I find that impossible to believe.

What will happen now that Kavanaugh's accuser is no longer a nameless and faceless cipher but a real and credible human being? I believe Trump and the Republicans will still confirm Kavanaugh, and they will do it not because they believe the allegations are false, but because they do not care if the allegations are true. These people are loathsome!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A poem

Thinking of this today ...

Absent Friends
by Walter Wingate

My heart absorbs me more and more;
My world of friendship narrows in.
The new I hardly care to win;
The old are fewer than of yore.

But in the space from eve till morn,
Affection, cramped upon the nest,
In wider ranging finds a rest;
And I am not so friend-forlorn.

For never one have I forgot;
Their voices in my heart I hear;
I am myself their souvenir;
We shaped each other, thought with thought.

At times a merry meet we hold:
At times upon my mind is left
That aftermath of the bereft,
Regret for kindness overcold.

New flowers on April's breast they see,
New stars about the winter moon:
And new delights may change the tune
That keeps the old refrain for me.

If friendship there has changed its stream
To feed the homestead where they live,
If they forget, I must forgive:
Yet rather will I trust my dream;

My dream, that nightly soars above
The barriers of time and space,
To watch their gaze upon my face
Till recognition leaps to love.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Kavanaugh: sexual misconduct

In the news, from The New Yorker: A Sexual-Misconduct Allegation Against the Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Stirs Tension Among Democrats in Congress

On Thursday, Senate Democrats disclosed that they had referred a complaint regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the F.B.I. for investigation. The complaint came from a woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both in high school, more than thirty years ago.

The woman, who has asked not to be identified, first approached Democratic lawmakers in July, shortly after Trump nominated Kavanaugh. The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result ...


Two questions, I guess .... is it true ... does it matter after all this time. From my point of view, the answers are "probably" and "yes". I am old enough to remember the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings and the allegations made against him by Anita Hill ...



Clarence Thomas was still confirmed, despite Anita Hill's believability, and he has gone on to pretty much always vote against the interests of women. I don't doubt that Kavanaugh will do the same. I already have plenty of reasons to not want Kavanaugh confirmed - this latest info only adds to that.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Paul McCartney answers Qs

I get most of my news from the Google news page, and it has a sections where it tells me stuff it thinks I want to know. Often it's wrong, but today it was right - it sent me to this WIRED video of Paul McCartney answering googled questions. I knew some of his answers, like that he's a vegetarian as I am, but I didn't realize he had such a sense of humor :) ...

Don't Do Me Like That

I came upon this today. I saw him perform once here at the state fair - hard to believe he has passed away.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Skandalon‎

Pope Francis has summoned the leaders of bishops conference around the world to a summit next February at the Vatican on sex abuse. I doubt anything will come of this, though so much could. One thing the pope could do is to mandate that the bishops/priests all around the world be mandatory reporters of clergy sex abuse to local civil authorities. Pope Francis won't so that. Just last month the bishops of Australia refused to adhere to such a civil law - Catholic bishops in Australia reject compulsory abuse reporting, defying new laws

The pope also mentioned the issue in his most recent homily in which he said ...

“In these times, it seems like the 'Great Accuser' has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people ...."

I'm not sure if he means that those accusing the bishops (and him) of covering up sex abuse are being possessed by the devil in order to "scandalize" people, but it does sound like that.

I think the idea of "scandal" has a big part in the Catholic church sex abuse cover-up. The word in Greek is σκάνδαλον and means a stumbling block - an object like a rock that someone would trip over to fall into a trap. The word shows up a lot in the NT - Luke 17:1–17:1 ... Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come!

In the Catholic church, this has come to mean that no one should cause a scandal, cause others to stumble in their faith (Thomas Aquinas thought scandal was "something less rightly said or done that occasions spiritual downfall").

When the sex abuse problem became public, the church hierarchy told themselves that they had to cover up the awful truth so that it didn't scandalize the Faithful. I think the real reason they hid the truth was that they wanted to keep their jobs. And as it has turned out, it has been the lies of the hierarchy that have scandalized us and made many lose their faith.

And now the pope seems to be saying that these recent revelations of sex abuse cover-up are the work of the devil. Somehow, I just don't have a lot of confidence in him creating transparency or enforcing accountability for the bishops.

Fear: Trump in the White House



My latest book from the public library is Fear: Trump in the White House. Here's a bit about it from its Wikipedia page ...

Fear: Trump in the White House is a non-fiction book by American journalist Bob Woodward about the presidency of Donald Trump. The book was released on September 11, 2018. Woodward based the book on hundreds of hours of interviews with members of the Trump administration.

Best known for "his role exposing the Watergate scandal that led to Richard Nixon's resignation" from the presidency, Bob Woodward was described by Rolling Stone's Ryan Bort as "one of the most revered and well-respected journalists in American history". Woodward's and Carl Bernstein's reporting of that scandal earned The Washington Post a Pulitzer Prize and turned them into "the most heralded U.S. investigative journalists ever", according to Nick Allen of The Daily Telegraph ...


Here's something from The Washington Post about the book ....



I'm just at the beginning of the book so far but it's very interesting. I'll write more about it in future posts.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Yoda the pinball wizard



Yoda takes a nap after playing with me. The latest game we play is batting small ribber balls back and forth. They go all over the place and mostly get lost under the couch but she seems to like it. When we're playing this game, it makes me think of this ancient song :) ...


The Pope and McCarrick

UPDATE: Vatican promises 'necessary clarifications' to Pope Francis cover-up claims ... * In a statement, Francis' nine cardinal advisers expressed their "full solidarity" with the pope over the scandal, which has thrown his papacy into crisis. * ... Yeah, that's a comfort - one of those nine cardinals, George Pell, is himself presently about to stand trial in Australia for sex abuse.

*

I saw a 2014 Religious News Service article today by David Gibson - Globe-trotting Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is almost 84, and working harder than ever.

It makes clear that Pope Francis knew Cardinal McCarrick, recently demoted for sex abuse, quite well even before he became pope. Here's a bit of the article, which begins with McCarrick recovering from a heart attack in 2013 ...

McCarrick would eventually get a pacemaker — and the cardinal was soon back at his guest room in the U.S. seminary in Rome when the phone rang. It was Francis. The two men had known each other for years, back when the Argentine pope was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires. McCarrick assured Francis that he was doing fine.“I guess the Lord isn’t done with me yet,” he told the pope.

“Or the devil doesn’t have your accommodations ready!” Francis shot back with a laugh.

[...]

McCarrick is one of a number of senior churchmen who were more or less put out to pasture during the eight-year pontificate of Benedict XVI. But now Francis is pope, and prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper (another old friend of McCarrick’s) and McCarrick himself are back in the mix, and busier than ever .....

He retired in 2006 and was sort of spinning his wheels under Benedict. Then Francis was elected, and everything changed.

“Pope Benedict is a wonderful man, and was a good friend of mine before he became pope,” McCarrick said. “But he was anxious to bring the church back to where he thought it should be, and I guess I wasn’t one of those who he thought would help him on that. I would have obviously done what he asked.” ....


It's creepy to read this article from the past which praises a man we have come to know as a serial sex abuse.

I bring the RNS article up because of the letter by ex-Vatican nuncio Vigano accusing Pope Francis of covering up McCarrick's sexual abuse. One of the assertions in the letter was that Francis had not just ignored the sexual abuse but had rehabilitated McCarrick's career after B16 had censored him. This article would seem to corroborate that claim.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

So the Pope *did* know?

It seems that the allegations made against Pope Francis that he knew of abuse and covered it up may well be true ...



Here's more from The LA Times ...

Letter confirms Vatican had received misconduct complaint about then-Cardinal McCarrick in 2000

A 2006 letter from a top Vatican official confirms that the Holy See received information in 2000 about the sexual misconduct of now-resigned U.S. cardinal, lending credibility to bombshell accusations of a cover-up at the highest echelons of the Roman Catholic Church ....

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, at the center of a storm rocking Pope Francis' papacy, cited Ramsey's 2000 letter in his own expose of a cover-up about the McCarrick affair.

He named Sandri among a long list of Vatican officials who knew about McCarrick's penchant for seminarians. Vigano also accused Francis of knowing in 2013 of McCarrick's misconduct but of rehabilitating him from sanctions purportedly imposed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Sandri's letter is significant because it corroborates Ramsey's story as well as Vigano's claims ....


The excuse now is that even though the two previous popes knew about NcCarrick, and even though the "highest echelons" of the Vatican knew about NcCarrick, and even though the big wigs in the US church knew about McCarrick, and even though Francis has been pope for years and supposedly working to end clergy sex abuse, he was totally oblivious to NcCarrick's history of abuse. I don't think that's plausible.

More: Can the Pope Go to Jail?

[...] "It's just kind of a fantastic scenario," Gladden Pappin, an assistant professor of politics at the University of Dallas and senior adviser of the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, told me over the phone when I asked him if he could imagine any situation in which a pontiff might actually be prosecuted. "The pope is the supreme legislator, the supreme judge, the supreme governor of the Church. It's a monarchy. So he cannot be arrested. The ecclesiastical power is his to wield. Even from a secular standpoint, but arguably even in the international sphere, except under very limited conditions, he enjoys sovereign immunity, being the head of the state."

"No one can hold him accountable," agreed Kurt Martens, the ordinary professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, when I presented him with the same hypothetical. "Because of the system that's in place, the pope, once elected, has supreme power in the Church and over the Church. And people may call for his resignation, but the only one who can make the decision about his resignation is the pope himself." ....


This is why B16 retired to Vatican City instead of Germany, and why Pope Francis seems so serene about the allegations made against him - a pope in his own country is unaccountable to the law.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Every Little Thing

Heard this song today on the muzak at the grocery store - it always makes me happy to hear it :) ...



Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
- The Police

Though I've tried before to tell her
Of the feelings I have for her in my heart
Every time that I come near her
I just lose my nerve
As I've done from the start

Every little thing she does is magic
Everything she do just turns me on
Even though my life before was tragic
Now I know my love for her goes on

Do I have to tell the story
Of a thousand rainy days since we first met
It's a big enough umbrella
But it's always me that ends up getting wet

Every little thing she does is magic
Everything she do just turns me on
Even though my life before was tragic
Now I know my love for her goes on

I resolve to call her up a thousand times a day
And ask her if she'll marry me in some old fashioned way
But my silent fears have gripped me
Long before I reach the phone
Long before my tongue has tripped me
Must I always be alone?

Every little thing she does is magic
Everything she do just turns me on
Even though my life before was tragic
Now I know my love for her goes on

Friday, September 07, 2018

PBS NewsHour: abortion



Tonight on the PBS NewsHour, a segment on abortion options in South Dakota. If Kavanaugh gets confirmed, many fear he will overturn Roe v Wade, but as the segment shows, there are already so many impediments to women accessing reproductive care. In South Dakota, there is only one single clinic, a Planned Parenthood, where women can get abortions, and doctors must actually be flown in from other states.

I hope people watch the video because it's an apt example of the abortion situation ... the women who want to get abortions are just like all of us, the doctors who help them are decent and caring, and the pro-lifers who want to make abortion illegal are religiously reactionary men (like Kavanaugh).

Obama is back! :)

It's so good to hear him speak again - Obama slams Republicans: Trump is 'capitalizing on resentment'. Here's part of a speech he gave at the University of Illinois, in which he commented on the Republican party ...



Wish he would run for president again.