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Location: California, United States

Friday, January 19, 2018

Remembering Data

Remembering my cat Data who died today in January 2005. He was 15 years old and I had him (and his siblings) from when we found them in the garage as babies. He was very sick at the end with bladder cancer. My sister and I were giving him subcutaneous fluids every day plus a bunch of different medications, and he was so ill he didn't want to eat so I had to give him moist food with a syringe. He suffered a lot :(

One of the things that helped me get along then was that I had checked a two CD set of the Bee Gees' greatest hits from the public library and listened to it almost all the time as a distraction. Here is one of the songs I especially liked ...

The #Me Too backlash

It seems that everyone from Catherine Deneuve (The myth of 'the seducer': how French attitudes gloss over sexual harassment) to Andrew Sullivan (#MeToo and the Taboo Topic of Nature) want to blow the whistle on the #Me Too movement: "girls, we allowed you to have your little hissyfit, but let us now return to our regularly scheduled programming (boys will be boys)".

If I had more time I'd answer both Andrew Sullivan and Catherine Deneuve, explaining in detail why they are wrong, but I'll just have yo make it short ..... Andrew, just because you're Catholic doesn't mean you have to believe in complementarianism or natural law - both science and reason are against you. And Catherine, come one, how can I take anyone seriously on sexual harassment who has this kind of Pepé Le Pew cultural baggage? ...

Here's more: Samantha Bee on the #Me Too backlash ...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Pope Francis & Bishop Juan Barros

Back in 2015, Pope Francis installed Juan de la Cruz Barros as bishop of Osorno, Chile, over the vehement protests of local Catholics ... Barros had been credibly accused of covering up sexual abuse by his mentor, pedophile priest Fernando Karadima.

The protests in 2015 when the bishop was installed ...

The Pope has just visited Chili, and he managed to make the situation even worse ...

Pope Francis Has Defended a Chilean Bishop Accused of Covering Up Sex Crimes

Pope Francis accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile of slander Thursday, an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic Church its credibility in the country. Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros are “all calumny.”

The pope’s remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes in 2011. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.


Anne Barrett Doyle, of the online database, said it was “sad and wrong” for the pope to discredit the victims since “the burden of proof here rests with the church, not the victims — and especially not with victims whose veracity has already been affirmed.” “He has just turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis,” she said in a statement. “Who knows how many victims now will decide to stay hidden, for fear they will not be believed?” ....

I'm not surprised. Pope Francis, despite being seen by many as a reformer, has a pretty bad reputation on the handling of the sex abuse issue ... Vatican Sex Abuse Scandal Reveals Blind Spot for Francis

Some examples : choosing Cardinal Pell for one of the highest jobs at the Vatican, giving Cardinal Law a state funeral at St. Peter's, pooping on his own sex abuse commission, protecting from civil prosecution former Dominican Republic nuncio Wesolowski and that Vatican diplomat in Washing DC with child porn on his computer, and now shaming sex abuse victims in Chile.

Sucking up to the generals

As the government gets closer to a shutdown, Trump, surrounded by his generals, blames the Democrats and says that the most important reason for not allowing a shutdown is that we must support the military. He apparently doesn't know this, but sucking up to the military doesn't make him sound manly and it doesn't compensate for him having been a draft dodger, it just makes him sound like a wannabe banana republic dictator.

Oh, and In fact, a government shutdown would likely have little impact on the military.

More on the whole government shutdown issue ...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The trap

Remember this little person from last spring? ....

Now Goldy looks like this ....

And his thoughts are turning to love. I suspect so are the thoughts of the other four former kittens, his siblings, and his mom, Marie, as well. Somehow I have to catch them all and take them to the SPCA or the County to get spayed/neutered before any more kittens arrive! The new cats aren't very tame and I can't pick them up so to help with catching them I bought a trap, one that seems like the safest version I've seen ... Tru Catch Trap ... and I found a video that explains how to use it, so here's hoping it all works out.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

More on shitholegate

A window into what went down at the infamous immigration meeting, from The Washington Post: Inside the tense, profane White House meeting on immigration. It should come as no surprise to those who read the article that General Kelly was instrumental in the argument *against* allowing people from "shithole" countries to immigrate.

Monday, January 15, 2018

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day ...

- President Obama at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial

In this nightmare era of Trump, it's hard to remember that there was once a time when leaders tried to bring people together instead of pitting them against each other ...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Merit-based immigration?

Trump's merit-based immigration policy is *not* what America is supposed to be about. Our actions haven't always matched out ideals, but we do have ideals ...

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

From the poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, which was used to raise money for the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty rests. The whole poem is engraved on a bronze plaque inside the pedestal.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Some music for Saturday

From JD Souther, 'You're Only Lonely' ...

Friday, January 12, 2018

Trump is a Tulpa

Are any of you guys fans of The X-Files? If so, maybe you'll remember a past episode in which Mulder and Scully encounter a Tulpa, a thought-form, a monster created from the beliefs of others. I want us to keep this creature in mind as we discuss Trump's latest horrible utterance about 'shithole' countries ...

Trump's animus towards the people from 'shithole' countries can come as no surprise. It's awful, yes, but anyone who has watched his campaign rallies before the election or who has been paying attention since then to his many racist remarks - who can forget his defense of the neo-nazis of Charlottesville - already knows Trump is a racist.

As disturbing as this is ... and I find it obscene the way Republicans have danced around this fact ... there is something else that is just as disturbing. That thing is that Trump is only president because he was voted for by people who like his racism, people who share it.

Trump is a kind of creation, an assemblage of the beliefs of Republican voters, an avatar to go forth into the world for them and make their beliefs manifest. And let's not pretend that those beliefs sprout from the righteous financial worries of the 'forgotten man'. Those beliefs are grown in contempt for the other people and the very world around us - they result in the desire to punish the poor, to keep women in their place, to use the environment as just a consumable product, to exclude racial/ethnic minorities, etc.

We can and should try to hold Trump accountable for what he says and does, try to get rid of him. But we have to own up to the fact that he is not some lone malefactor that we can eventually banish to make everything better. We have to face the fact that perhaps a third of our voters - Trump's base - have brought the Trump monster to life with their own deep beliefs, and they will not be as easy to make disappear.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trump on immigration

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met yesterday. - Esquire

The Republicans' "stable genius" is an open racist ... they must be so proud.

More from Rachel Maddow ...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mark Felt and Watergate

This week's DVD rental is Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House ...

a 2017 American biographical spy thriller film directed and written by Peter Landesman, based on the 2006 autobiography of FBI agent Mark Felt .... The film depicts how Felt became an anonymous source ("Deep Throat") for reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and helped them in the investigation which led them to the Watergate scandal. The film stars Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, Tony Goldwyn, and Maika Monroe.

Here's a trailer ...

The movie is pretty interesting because it gives the other side of the story of the investigation into Watergate than the film All the President's Men. What's eerie is the way it seems to foreshadow what's happening right now ... a president eyeball deep in a corruption conspiracy and warping the DOJ and the FBI in order to cover that up. Here's the beginning of a review from The New Yorker ...

“Mark Felt,” the Movie, and Donald Trump, the President

“Follow the money.” These are the words most closely associated with Deep Throat, Bob Woodward’s famous Watergate source, as memorably portrayed by Hal Holbrook in the movie version of “All the President’s Men.” As it happens, the phrase never appears in the book of that title, in which Woodward and Carl Bernstein chronicled their Washington Post investigations, and it is not spoken in a new movie, “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House,” about the real-life person who was Deep Throat, which opens this Friday. But Felt’s sentiment, if not his exact words—about the central role that money often plays in political scandals—strikes a resonant chord at a time when the nation is confronting another crisis of political legitimacy.

Felt, who was the deputy associate director of the F.B.I., died, at the age of ninety-five, in 2008, three years after confirming his identity as Deep Throat, a secret that Woodward and Bernstein had kept for more than three decades. In the new movie, Liam Neeson plays Felt with a kind of lugubrious sincerity. He’s an unhappy man, beset by professional and personal woes, and he makes his secret alliance with Woodward for reasons that are both admirable and vengeful. (Felt is appalled by Watergate, but he’s also bitter that he was passed over for the directorship of the F.B.I., following the death of his boss, J. Edgar Hoover, in 1972.) The follow-the-money sentiment refers to Felt’s instruction to Woodward to examine how the Watergate burglary was financed. Who paid the five men who broke into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972? Who paid for their lawyers after they were caught? Woodward learned that the money came from Nixon campaign contributors and people associated with the Committee for the Reëlection of the President (the notorious CREEP) ....

The movie didn't do well on the Tomatometer but if you're interested in Watergate stuff or simply like Liam Neeson :) you may find it worth a watch, as I did.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Dianne Feinstein releases the transcript

Today my Senator from California and a member of the Senate Judicially Committee, Dianne Feinstein, released the transcript of the committee's interview with Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the company that hired British agent Christopher Steele to look into Trump and Russia. She did this because Republicans on the committee had refused to make the interview public and had instead recommended that the DOJ charge Steele with some crime, all in order to protect Trump.

More from The New York Times - Democratic Senator Releases Transcript of Interview with Dossier Firm

And more on all this from Rachel Maddow ...

Read the transcript here.

My Senator is scrappy :) So eat that, Grassley and Graham!

If Trump talks to Mueller ...

We've all seen in the news that Trump's lawyers are negotiating terms under which Trump may speak in an interview to Mueller ... Initial talks underway about Trump interview in Mueller Russia probe. Today I came upon an interesting Twitter thread retweeted by Mark Hamill that explains step by step what this all means. Read the whole thing here.

'Surely heaven waits for you'

I've found that Wikipedia has pages for every year of music, with all the albums/songs released in that year. I've been going back and forth, finding stuff here and there - it helps distract me from all my worries, at least for a while :) Here's what I found today: Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas ...

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming, I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know
On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life's no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Monday, January 08, 2018

More about Fire and Fury

Here's a really interesting interview with Michael Wolff about his Trump book, Fire and Fury, on Morning Joe ...

Sunday, January 07, 2018

One year on

Steve Bannon apologises for what he said in the book about Trump, because his wealthy donor, the conservative Mercer family, is cutting him off in revenge. PS, the White House is portraying Bannon's words in the book as vindictive, but the information in the book was gathered long before Bannon was ever fired, while he was in good standing at the WH.

Meanwhile, the FBI's second in command, Andy McCabe prepares to retire at age 49 after being under constant attack from Trump, as the newly Trump-appointed head of the FBI leads two investigations against Trump's former political rival, Hillary Clinton.

Oh, and the Senate and the House committees investigating Russian involvement in our elections, run by Republicans, want to criminally investigate the British agent who alerted the FBI to possible problems in the first place - yep, Grassley and Graham have been quite busy kissing their master's ass.

This is what it's like to live in a dictatorship, where a wealthy leader, surrounded by his generals, tries to delegitimize the free press, muzzle dissent, and have his political opponents jailed, while stacking the courts and subverting the justice system. It only took a year.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Some music for Saturday

From Supertramp, The Logical Song ...

Thursday, January 04, 2018

No offshore drilling

- helping a turtle covered in oil after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

California offshore drilling could be expanded for the first time since 1984 under federal leasing proposal

Don't let Trump and Zinke screw up our coasts .... Tell Congress: Stop President Trump's Dangerous New Offshore Drilling Agenda

Fire and Fury

Much in the news today about the upcoming book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by journalist Michael Wolff. The Wikipedia page linked to give the basic info on it, and here's a first excerpt from the book in New York magazine: Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President. Especially interesting about the book - Steve Bannon believes Trump colluded. Here's something from Rachel Maddow on the book ...