Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Trump and Milo Yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulos, avid Trump shill, friend of Steve Bannon, and an editor at Breitbart, has been in the news recently after being dis-invited to speak at Berkeley for being alt-right and then being dis-invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference for advocating pedophilia .... ‘Daddy’ Trump’s Empty Threat to Defund Berkeley Over Milo ..... Why Conservatives Fell for Milo Yiannopoulos ... Milo Yiannopoulos seduced conservatives. And now they're paying the price.

Here is the beginning of an article by musician and UC Davis professor Bob Ostertag ...

Milo Yiannopoulos On Pedophilia And ‘This Arbitrary And Oppressive Idea Of Consent’

Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos says sex between adult men and 13 year-old boys is OK as long as the boy’s sexual organs are “mature.” He would also like to thank a certain Catholic priest for teaching him to “give such good head” when Yiannopoulos was a child.

All documented on a new video from the Drunken Peasants podcast, which has left American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp in a, shall we say, touchy position.

Schlapp has booked Yiannopoulos to speak at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference, better know as CPAC. Yiannopoulos got higher billing, and more speaking time, than Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and media personalities Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs.

Schlapp was getting criticism for the invitation even before the Milo pedophilia video emerged. On Sunday he responded, “We think free speech includes hearing Milo’s important perspective. #CPAC2017” When Milo’s critics did not back down, Schlapp tweeted again, “I think it is amazing that with all leftwing hate on campus you attack him.”

The Milo pedophilia video may have changed that calculus, as conservative pundits raced to denounce him. Jamie Weinstein of The Daily Caller tweeted, “Do the Democrats even need to produce ads in 2018? Just run Milo’s pro-pederasty clips and tie them to all Repubs who attended CPAC.” Christian radio personality Steve Deace tweeted, “If you mention Jesus in your bio but are defending Milo, please tell us where you go to church so the rest of us know not to go there.”

Here is Milo from the video:

[***] We get hung up on this child abuse stuff… This is one of the reasons why I hate the left, the one size fits all policing of culture, this arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent.

I’m grateful for Father Michael [a Catholic priest Milo claims to have had sex with as a teenager]. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.

Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody who is 13 years old and sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty, who do not have functioning sex organs yet, who have not gone through puberty.

In the gay world, some of the most important enriching, and incredibly life-affirming, important, shaping relationships are between younger boys and older men. They can be hugely positive experiences very often for those young boys. [***]

This is one of the reasons Milo hates the left? Because the left doesn’t understand the merits of sexual relations between adult men and 13-year-old boys? And this from the mouth of a gay man who, in all his speeches, refers to Trump as “daddy.” ....

For the Beauty of the Earth

Trump signs measure rolling back last-minute Obama coal mining regulation. Tell your legislators: Don't let Trump pollute our environment.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Old photos

From History In Pictures ....

The free press is not our enemy

Trump tweeted ...

But there's push-back at #NotTheEnemy ...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rogue One: the book

My latest book checked out from the public library is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed. It's a novelization of the movie, which I haven't seen yet, a New York Times bestseller, and so far it's fairly interesting. I am looking forward to the film, if only to see one of my sister's favorite actors, Mads Mikkelsen.

Here's the blurb for the book ...

As the shadows of the Empire loom ever larger across the galaxy, so do deeply troubling rumors. The Rebellion has learned of a sinister Imperial plot to bring entire worlds to their knees. Deep in Empire-dominated space, a machine of unimaginable destructive power is nearing completion. A weapon too terrifying to contemplate . . . and a threat that may be too great to overcome.

If the worlds at the Empire’s mercy stand any chance, it lies with an unlikely band of allies: Jyn Erso, a resourceful young woman seeking vengeance; Cassian Andor, a war-weary rebel commander; Bodhi Rook, a defector from the Empire’s military; Chirrut Îmwe, a blind holy man and his crack-shot companion, Baze Malbus; and K-2SO, a deadly Imperial droid turned against its former masters. In their hands rests the new hope that could turn the tide toward a crucial Rebellion victory—if only they can capture the plans to the Empire’s new weapon.

But even as they race toward their dangerous goal, the specter of their ultimate enemy—a monstrous world unto itself—darkens the skies. Waiting to herald the Empire’s brutal reign with a burst of annihilation worthy of its dreaded name: Death Star.

And here's a trailer for the film on which the book is based ...

Trump's press conference

Today I watched the above video clip of part of a press conference with Trump. It was chilling. I'm not sure how to explain it except to say "watch it yourself" but suffice it to say that it's an example of how to spin a web of lies. The creepy things: many people will believe he's telling the truth; many others will know he's being dishonest but will think the lying is just a sign of his power.

For those who actually care about facts ... Donald Trump’s Alternative-Reality Press Conference

And related: How should the media cover a White House that isn't afraid to lie? ....

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Gates Foundation & Trump's global gag rule

Bill and Melinda Gates speak out about Trump's imposition of the Mexico City policy (the global gag rule) which blocks US money from going to any organization overseas that does abortions or even only discusses abortion with patients. This includes organizations that provide contraception to poor women, that help AIDS patients, malaria patients, patients with TB, etc.

Melinda Gates Credits Contraception With Her Personal and Professional Success ...

[O]utside the U.S. and other wealthy nations with advanced medical systems and reproductive health care, access to birth control can be “a matter of life and death,” Gates writes, crediting family-planning services with keeping 124,000 women alive in 2016. Without reliable contraception, women and children are less likely to be healthy and more likely to perish during or after childbirth. In the areas where the Gates Foundation focuses its work, spacing out children by at least three years doubles the chance of a child’s survival to age 1

In a better world, this kind of unambiguous data would engender widespread support for programs that give women the resources they need to determine for themselves when, whether, and how they give birth. In our actual world, Donald Trump reinstated and expanded the global gag rule, which cuts U.S. funding from any organization that provides abortion care, information, or referrals, even though U.S. aid already can’t go toward abortion care itself. This means some of the world’s most comprehensive, far-reaching programs in the reproductive health sphere are now ineligible for U.S. aid money. Previous research has connected the rule to spikes in unplanned pregnancies and, ironically, abortion rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Gates’ essay predicts that Trump’s reinstatement of the gag rule will bump up the number of women who want to prevent pregnancy but don’t have access to contraception, a statistic that currently sits at 225 million women worldwide ....

More on this ... Melinda Gates Thinks Every Woman Should Have Access to Birth Control and Trump's 'global gag rule' could endanger millions of women and children, ​Bill and Melinda Gates​ warn

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

So, who is Stephen Miller?

You can read about him at Wikipedia ...

Stephen Miller (born August 23, 1985) is a senior advisor to President Donald Trump. Prior to his current appointment, he was the communications director for then-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions .... In November 2016, Miller was named national policy director of Trump's transition team. On December 13, 2016, the transition team announced that Miller will serve as Senior Advisor to the President for Policy during the Trump administration ....

But it's much more revealing to watch him speak for the Trump administration ...

How scary is that? Even more scary, Trump thinks this guy is doing a good job.

Thank God for the comic relief of Stephen Colbert - here he speaks of Trump and then Miller ...

Happy Valentine's Day

From Luke Skywalker and Grumpy Cat :) ...

Friday, February 10, 2017

Looking forward to The Mummy :)

When I was a kid I loved watching old monster movies on tv. They all seems silly now but back then I was terrified by them. Some that I especially remember are Attack of the Crab Monsters, Forbidden Planet, The Monster That Challenged the World, Attack of the Mushroom People, and Night of the Demon (which I posted about here). Strangely, I don't remember any old mummy movies from back then, but this one with Tom Cruise looks like it will be good ...

Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Republicans make pollution legal again

I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said that if you wanted to test a man's character you should give him power. Now the Republicans have all the power they want, and what was one of the first things they did with it? They made polluting waterways legal again ...

With everything that Republicans want to do — repeal Obamacare, overhaul the tax code — it might seem odd that one of Congress’ very first acts would be to kill an obscure Obama-era regulation that restricts coal companies from dumping mining waste into streams and waterways.

But that is indeed what’s going on. On Thursday, the Senate voted 54-45 to repeal the so-called “stream protection rule” — using a regulation-killing tool known as the Congressional Review Act. The House took a similar vote yesterday, and if President Trump agrees, the stream protection rule will be dead. Coal companies will have a freer hand in dumping mining debris in streams.

Killing this regulation won’t really fulfill Trump’s goal of reversing the coal industry’s decline; that decline has more to do with cheap natural gas than anything else. Instead, Republicans are mostly focusing on this rule because they can ....

Every day it's some new awful thing. I know I keep saying this but I guess I still can't really get over it. I'm beginning to come to a depressing conclusion .... the Republicans in Congress and the people who support them are not misinformed or naive or laboring under complex burdens ... they're just bad people.

More from Scientific American ... Trump Cannot Bring Back Coal

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Silencing Elizabeth Warren

This is a video of Senator Elizabeth Warren's Floor Speech against Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions. During her speech, the Republicans silenced her before she had finished reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King, ... Warren cut off during Sessions debate after criticism ...

In a stunning moment on the Senate floor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren clashed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday night after McConnell determined the Massachusetts Democrat had violated a Senate rule against impugning another senator.
In an extremely rare rebuke, she was instructed by the presiding officer to take her seat. Tuesday night's rule means Warren will be barred from speaking on the floor until Sessions' debate ends, McConnell's office confirmed. The debate is expected to conclude Wednesday night. ...

More: The letter Elizabeth Warren was trying to read

Every day in the news I read some new awful thing wrought by Trump and his effing Republican toadies :(

Monday, February 06, 2017

Sex abuse by Catholic priests in Australia

In the news today (but except for Crux, the Catholic press is ignoring this) : Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, established in 2013, today released some info on the scale of the sex abuse of children by Catholic priests/brothers in Australia ...

- 7% of Catholic Priests in Australia Accused of Sexually Abusing Children ...

Seven percent of priests in Australia's Catholic Church were accused of sexually abusing children over the past several decades, a lawyer said Monday as officials investigating institutional abuse across Australia revealed for the first time the extent of the crisis.

The statistics were released during the opening address of a hearing of Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The royal commission — which is Australia's highest form of inquiry — has been investigating since 2013 how the Catholic Church and other institutions responded to the sexual abuse of children over decades ...

- 4,444 victims: extent of abuse in Catholic church in Australia revealed ...

- 37% of all private sessions royal commission held with survivors related to the Catholic church
- The average age of alleged victims was 10.5 for girls and just over 11.5 for boys
- In one order 40% of religious brothers are believed to have abused children

I've been reading about this for years, about Cardinal Pell, who reigned in Australia until Pope Francis whisked him away to Rome to be one of his top guys. Pell was supposed to give testimony at the commission, but he refused to leave Rome (you know, extradition-proof digs). For those who are interested in the history of Pell and the sex abuse crisis in Australia, here are some of my earlier posts ...

- Editorial on Cardinal Pell, March 07, 2016

- 60 Minutes: Cardinal Pell and sex abuse, May 31, 2015

- The continuing badness of Cardinal Pell, May 21, 2015

- Eureka Street and David Marr on George Pell, April 03, 2014

- Pell, sex abuse, church money, March 26, 2014

- Cardinal Pell and the Ellis sex abuse case, March 18, 2014

- Cardinal Pell, February 26, 2014

- Patrick Parkinson and Geoffrey Robinson, October 07, 2013

The Pope should fire Cardinal Pell and send him back to Australia to face the music. And the Pope should do something that will actually make a difference to the sex abuse crisis, like ending mandatory celibacy. But I predict Pope Francis will do nothing at all and will ignore the news and hope no one brings it up.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Trump administration is hurting animals too

- The Trump Effect: USDA Scrubs Animal Welfare Reports from Its Website

- USDA abruptly purges animal welfare information from its website ...

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday abruptly removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities.

In a statement, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited court rulings and privacy laws for the decision, which it said was the result of a “comprehensive review” that took place over the past year. It said the removed documents, which also included records of enforcement actions against violators of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, would now be accessible only via Freedom of Information Act Requests. Those can take years to be approved.

“We remain equally committed to being transparent and responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals with whom we come in contact,” the statement said.

The records that had been available were frequently used by animal welfare advocates to monitor government regulation of animal treatment at circuses, scientific labs and zoos. Journalists have used the documents to expose violations at universities.

Members of the public could also use the department’s online database to search for information about dog breeders, as could pet stores. Seven states currently require pet stores to source puppies from breeders with clean USDA inspection reports, according to the Humane Society of the United States — a requirement that could now be impossible to meet.

Animal welfare organizations quickly condemned the removal of the information, which they called unexpected and said would allow animal abuse to go unchecked.

“The USDA action cloaks even the worst puppy mills in secrecy and allows abusers of Tennessee walking horses, zoo animals and lab animals to hide even the worst track records in animal welfare,” said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, which uses the federal records, as well as state inspection reports, to publish its annual “Horrible Hundred” dog breeding operations that have been cited for welfare violations.

In a statement, Kathy Guillermo, the senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, called it “a shameful attempt to keep the public from knowing when and which laws and regulations have been violated. Many federally registered and licensed facilities have long histories of violations that have caused terrible suffering.”

It is unclear whether the decision to remove the animal-related records was driven by newly hired Trump administration officials. When asked questions about the change, a USDA-APHIS representative referred back to the department’s statement. The Associated Press reported that a department spokeswoman declined to say whether the removal was temporary or permanent .....

If you care about animals, please sign this petition - Demand that APHIS restore animal use data on its website - from the National Anti-Vivisection Society to the USDA.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Judge blocks Muslim ban nationwide

Who knew the day would come when lawyers and judges are heroes. Well, it has :) ...

Judge in Seattle halts Trump’s immigration order nationwide; White House vows fight ...

In a stunning rebuke, a federal judge in Seattle has ordered a national halt to enforcement of President Trump’s controversial travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations. U.S. District Judge James Robart ruled Friday afternoon in favor of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who sued this week to invalidate key provisions of Trump’s executive order.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson ...

"It is not the loudest voice that prevails in a courtroom - it's the Constitution ... I'm certain the president will not like this decision, but it is his job, it is his responsibility, it is his obligation as our president to honor it. And I'll make sure he does."


Friday, February 03, 2017

You're A Better Man Than I

When I was a kid I loved these guys, especially the vocalist, Keith Relf :) Here's one of their songs from the dim past that's still relevant today ...

Can you judge a man
By the way he wears his hair?
Can you read his mind
By the clothes that he wears?
Can you see a bad man
By the pattern on his tie?
Then Misty you're a better man than I
Yeah Misty You're a better man than I
Oh Misty You're a better man than I
Yeah Misty You're a better man than I

Could you tell a wise man
By the way he speaks or spells?
Is this more important
Than the stories that he tells?
And call a man a fool
If for wealth he doesn't strive
Then Misty you're a better man than I
Yeah Misty You're a better man than I
Oh Misty You're a better man than I
Yeah Misty You're a better man than I

Could you condemn a man
If your faith he doesn't hold?
Say the color of his skin
Is the color of his soul?
Or could you say if men
For king and country all must die?
Then Misty you're a better man than I
Yeah You're a better man than I
Oh Misty You're a better man than I
Yeah Misty You're a better man than I

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Trump vs the Terminator

Trump spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Some of what he said was horrifying, like his promise to do away with the church/state separation ... President Trump wants to give groups who discriminate sweeping protections, benefits. I feel that the Religious Right (Evangelicals and Catholics) have sold their souls for power in Trump's administration, and I'm not the only one ... A Faustian Bargain Pays Off for Conservative Christians.

But there were weird bits of Trump's talk as well. One was the way he made fun of Arnold ... Schwarzenegger offers to trade jobs with Trump after President's comments about Celebrity Apprentice ratings ... Arnold Schwarzenegger has challenged US President Donald Trump to trade jobs so "people can sleep comfortably again" after being blamed for poor ratings on the Celebrity Apprentice.

I think it's time to let the Terminator take out the trash :) ...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jamie Dornan and Ellen DeGeneres

Making fun of Fifty Shades of Grey :) ....

Jamie Dornan and Ellen DeGeneres Substitute Office Supplies for Sex Toys in Fifty Shades Darkest Spoof

I've not read or seen any of the Fifty Shades of Grey books or movies because they sound like a conservative's control-freak porn, with power disparity, severe scripting, and a plethora of necessary props (The New Yorker: No Pain, No Gain).

But I am a fan of the actor in the films, Jamie Dornan ....

He's the Huntsman on Once Upon a Time :) ...

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Monday Night Massacre

Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Over Immigration Directive.

In the video above, Harvard law professor Larry Tribe is asked about what Trump has done. In part, Tribe said, "For him [Trump] to turn the Justice Department, though this discharge, into part of his fiefdom and compromise its independence suggests that he has no commitment to the institutional integrity of the department we rely on to represent the rule of law and not simply the will and whim of the president of the United States."

And here, Yates is grilled by Sessions at her 2015 confirmation hearing for deputy attorney general about her willingness to stand up to the president on principal ...

Something like this hasn't happened since the Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus during the investigation into the Watergate scandal.

More from The Atlantic: Trump Fires Acting Attorney General for Defying Order on Muslims

So it took Trump 10 days to go Nixon.