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Monday, March 18, 2019

More bad Beto

Yesterday I mentioned a couple of reasons why Beto should not be the Democratic candidate ... his wealth (net worth about 9 million) and his past of voting against the environment ... but a story in The Wall Street Journal gives more reasons for concern.

Beto O’Rourke’s Past GOP Ties Could Complicate Primary Run

Before becoming a rising star in the Democratic Party, Mr. O’Rourke relied on a core group of business-minded Republicans in his Texas hometown to launch and sustain his political career. To win their backing, Beto O'Rourke opposed Obamacare, voted against Nancy Pelosi, as the House Democratic leaderand called for a raise in the Social Security eligibility age [and for means testing of entitlements] ...

But it's not just that he's really a conservative in progressive clothing, it's how much he is actually *like* Trump ... a privileged white guy with real estate money who leaves the little woman to raise the kids while he runs a campaign as a cult of personality. We don't need another wealthy, vapid, self-professed avatar for voters who want to be slain by the spirit.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

No on Beto

I know he's charismatic and attractive, but after reading up on Beto, I've decided I won't be voting for him in the primaries. Not often mentioned in the puff pieces about him or in his own rambling monologues are the facts that he's a millionaire (Despite everyman image, Beto O'Rourke twice as wealthy as Ted Cruz) and a conservative (Beto O'Rourke, friend of the fossil fuel industry, is no climate hero). I don't think we need another one of those as president.

From The New York Times ...

Beto O’Rourke Once Supported an El Paso Real Estate Deal. Barrio Residents Remember.

At a special City Council meeting in 2006, a billionaire real estate investor unveiled his vision for redeveloping downtown El Paso. To replace tenements and boarded-up buildings, he proposed restaurants, shops and an arts walk rivaling San Antonio’s River Walk.

Representative Beto O’Rourke, one of hundreds attending, wasn’t exactly a disinterested party.

Not only had he married the investor’s daughter, but as a member of City Council, he represented the targeted area, including a historic Mexican-American neighborhood.


Mr. O’Rourke was perceived by many as siding with the moneyed elite against angry barrio residents, small business owners and even the Jesuit priests who ministered to the immigrant community at Sacred Heart Church.

“Mr. O’Rourke was basically the pretty face of this very ugly plan against our most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said David Dorado Romo, a local historian who added that the episode had resurrected longstanding race and class divisions in the city.

Barrio residents feared that they would lose their homes through eminent domain, and a city-funded branding study suggested that the residents of El Paso were perceived as “dirty” and “lazy.’’ Among some constituents, the hurt feelings have lingered ...

More from Vox ... Beto O’Rourke’s voting record is more conservative than the average Democrat’s

Yard pics

It's sunny and nice out today. Some pics ...

The mystery yellow flowers are blooming ....

Here's Gretel. I tried to get her to look at me but she was too enthralled by a weed :) ...

The periwinkles are blooming too ...

Here's Lucy ...

The plum trees are in flower too ...

Friday, March 15, 2019

Good liberal Catholics ...

I know I complain a lot about conservative Catholics, as in my earlier post, but it's not Catholicism per se that I'm against, it's the conservatism. Though it may be hard to believe, there are a lot of good liberal Catholics in politics too ... Nancy Pelosi is one of them. Another is the governor of my state of California, Gavin Newsom. He was also on Rachel Massow's show tonight. Here's the first part of her interview with him ...

The creepy conservative Catholics ...

... in the Trump administration. So many of them. Here's a bit about another one, Scott Lloyd (read more about him here), from Rachel Maddow's show tonight ...

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

More on Pete Buttigieg

As I wash dishes I'm listening to this CNN town hall meeting with one of the Democratic candidates for the 2020 election - Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg. I like him very much ...

Monday, March 11, 2019

Mr. Vicky

Last week Vicky (a neutered male despite his name) got into a pretty bad cat fight and had to go to the vet. Very stressful - I couldn't see him very well and just saw blood and thought maybe he had been hit by a car. My sister came over on her lunch break from work and we spent half an hour just trying to catch him. Th vet shaved and cleaned part of his arm and part of his back where the worst bites and scratched were and he got an antibiotic shot too. He seems to be doing well now. He reminds me of a little yellow sheep with his sheered areas.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Democrats *should* go left

There's been a lot in the news lately about the Democratic party - everyone seems to fear Democrats are driving off the efge of a far lefty cliff and thus won't be able to win the coming election against Trump ... Representative Omar's comment about AIPAC, all the investigations being launched against Trump by House committees, talk of Medicare for all, a wealth tax, easing abortion restrictions, etc.

I think those who are worried should stop worrying. Democrats are not going to win the election by being the Republican-lite party. We have to go all the way with what we believe and be a true alternative to the corrupt, misogynist, racist, environment-destroying, wealth-hoarding, religiously-reactionary Republican vision and reality (more: Why Democrats Should Ignore the Chatter About Moving ‘Too Far Left’ and Go Big).

Watch thus video in which New York mayor Bill de Blasio explains to The Circus' John Heilemann that Democrats cannot and should not go "moderate" in the next election. I think he gets it exactly right.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Lying her ass off

The remorseless liar who's currently responsible for putting children at the border in cages was giving testimony to Congress today ...

Monday, March 04, 2019

The Threat

My latest book from the public library is The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by former assistant director and acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe.

I'm not far into it yet, but the book is very interesting. McCabe writes about how he joined the FBI and what it's like at Quantico - the FBI Academy. I didn't realize that they have a whole little pretend town there peopled with actors - Hogan's Alley ...

Hogan's Alley consists of a street with a bank, a post office, a hotel ("The Dogwood Inn"), a laundromat, a barber shop, a pool hall, homes, shops, and more, many of which are named after events in the FBI's past. The town is populated by actors who role play parts appropriate to the training that is in progress; most play innocent bystanders, but some play terrorists, bank robbers, drug dealers, or other criminal roles. One of the buildings really houses a classroom for training agents on site and another building houses a working FBI office used in some simulated scenarios.

Hogan's Alley is used to teach agents investigative techniques, firearms skills, and defensive tactics. Scenarios involve investigations of terrorist activities, planning and making arrests, processing evidence at crime scenes, conducting interviews and searches, using ballistic shields as protection, and clearing areas and buildings so they're safe to enter. Realistic paintball bullets, known as Simunition, which are fired from realistic paintball guns, are used in simulated gun fights with the criminal role players.

I'm at the point in the book where McCabe writes of his first job as an agent, working at the New York field office on Russian organized crime. I'm looking forward to the rest of the book. I've been interested in the FBI ever since The X-Files introduced Special Agent Fox Mulder but I think others will find it worth reading as well.

Here's a book review from NPR: McCabe's 'The Threat' May Be Darkest Vision Of Trump Presidency Yet

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Yay :)

Finally I've managed to catch Fluffy, the last female unfixed cat here, to take to the SPCA spay and neuter clinic. I've been trying to catch her for almost 2 years but she's really smart and wary, so she has had a number of kittens, including Yoda. Tomorrow my sister will come over on her way to work to take her to the clinic. Hope she does ok.

Update: Cardinal Pell

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell’s Lawyer Claims Abuse Was ‘Plain Vanilla Sexual Penetration’

Cardinal Pell was taken into custody today after his lawyer argued that what he did was just a "plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating" and that Pell was "seized by some irresistible impulse". Meanwhile, conservative Catholics assert that Pell is innocent despite the unanimous jury verdict finding him guilty, and the Vatican has launched its own inquiry into his case, saying he should fight the verdict to the end, spending our pew dollars on an appeal. And the church wonders why no one trusts it to police itself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Getting Trump's tax returns

Watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make the case for getting Trump's tax returns as she questions Michael Cohen during the House oversight committee's hearing today ...

Republican hypocrites

Watching the testimony of Michael Cohen before the House Oversight committee. It's hard to watch because the Republicans on the committee are being such jerks. They feign outrage, clutch their pearls, and shriek at Cohen 'you LIED!', while at the same time kissing the ass of Trump, the most egregious liar in the history of the presidency. One Republican lawmaker even tweeted what seems like witness tampering ...

I hope the Republican party gets crushed under the weight of its own badness.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Cardinal Pell: guilty

So, Australian Cardinal Pell, who was chosen by Pope Francis, against the advice of his own sex abuse commission, for the Vatican gang of 9 and ruler of the treasury, has been found guilty of sex abuse of children by a unanimous verdict in civil court ... Cardinal Pell guilty: Vatican treasurer convicted on child sex abuse charges

Yes, he's old, and one might feel a bit sorry for him, but I'm trying not to because he has a pretty awful history with the issue of sex abuse in Australia.

If you want to learn more about Pell, his life in the church and the sex abuse problem, journalist David Marr wrote a book about him - The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell - and here below is a video of an interview with Marr about the book that is really good ...

Diane Feinstein vs Green New Deal kids

- Dianne Feinstein announcing the Moscone–Milk assassinations after hearing the shots and finding Milk's body

In the news has been the confrontation between CA Senator Dianne Feinstein and a group of children/teens who wanted to talk her into supporting the Green New Deal. The kids accused her of being afraid to do what's necessary for climate change. I don't think these kids had any idea of who Diane Feinstein is.

First of all, she knows climate change. She's ...

the senior senator of the state that almost single-handedly allowed the U.S. to meet its target numbers for the Paris Agreement in 2018, even though Trump had already pulled out of it. California met its 2020 goal for lowering greenhouse gasses four years early; the United States Climate Alliance has named California as having the best practices in the country.

And second, she's not scared of anything ...

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Fr. James Alison: In the Closet of the Vatican

The beginning of an article from Fr. James Alison on the book ...

Welcome to my world: Notes on the reception of Frédéric Martel's bombshell

So, the other shoe has finally dropped. The veil has been removed from what the French rather gloriously call a secret de Polichinelle ― an open secret: one that "everybody knows" but for which the evidence is both elusive and never really sought. The merely anecdotal is, at last, acquiring the contours of sociological visibility.

Frédéric Martel's book In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality and Hypocrisy is the first attempt of which I am aware at a properly researched answer to the question: "How and why is it that the principal institutional obstacle to LGBT rights at the worldwide level appears itself to be massively staffed by gay men?"

This is not, by any standards, a stupid question. The search for evidence involved Martel in several years of investigative journalism. He made multiple trips worldwide, spent months of residence both in Rome and within the Vatican, all under his own name. And he conducted hundreds of interviews with those involved in one way or another. From sex-workers to Cardinals, by way of journalists, doctors, police, priests, diplomats and lawyers. The harvest of evidence yields a picture: that of the systemic way dishonestly-lived homosexuality creates a self-reinforcing culture of mutual cover-up. In other words: the structure of the clerical closet .....

Friday, February 22, 2019

Andrew Sullivan: In the Closet of the Vatican

From Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine ...

The Corruption of the Vatican’s Gay Elite Has Been Exposed

I spent much of this week reading and trying to absorb the new and devastating book by one Frédéric Martel on the gayness of the hierarchy at the top of the Catholic Church, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. It’s a bewildering and vast piece of reporting — Martel interviewed no fewer than “41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignori, 45 apostolic nuncios, secretaries of nunciatures or foreign ambassadors, 11 Swiss Guards and over 200 Catholic priests and seminarians.” He conducted more than 1,500 interviews over four years, is quite clear about his sources, and helps the reader weigh their credibility. He keeps the identity of many of the most egregiously hypocritical cardinals confidential, but is unsparing about the dead.

The picture Martel draws is jaw-dropping. Many of the Vatican gays — especially the most homophobic — treat their vows of celibacy with an insouciant contempt. Martel argues that many of these cardinals and officials have lively sex lives, operate within a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture, constantly hit on young men, hire prostitutes, throw chem-sex parties, and even pay for sex with church money. How do we know this? Because, astonishingly, they tell us .....

The corruption in the church is not caused by the fact that there are a lot of gay priests. The corruption is caused by all the lies, dishonesty, hypocrisy, that exist because of: 1) the church's messed up teachings on LGBT people, and 2) the great number of sexually active gay men (and straight men) in the priesthood and the effort to keep this fact from the 'sheep' and the outside world. The remedy is honesty and a reality check. Here's how Andrew puts it ...

The crisis is so profound, the corruption so deep, the duplicity so brazen that only a radical change will help. Ending mandatory celibacy is no longer an option. It’s a necessity. Women need to be brought in to the full sacramental life of the church. Gay men need to be embraced not as some manifestation of “intrinsic moral evil” but as human beings made in the image of God and capable of mutual love, care, and support ....

Andrew thinks Pope Francis is working to make this happen, but I'm not as optimistic as he is. Pope Francis will not make celibacy optional and allow married priests. And the pope is a sexist who will never allow women to be priests or even deacons. And he has been a big disappointment in fixing the sex abuse problem. I think the church will not really change for the better under Pope Francis, and that's with him being admittedly better than the little tin gods who preceded him.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Vatican abuse summit

The pope is having a meeting at the Vatican about sex abuse. I don't have high hopes for it. He's come up with 21 points he thinks will help focus the guys ...

From Whispers in the Loggia, the full list ...

1. To prepare a practical handbook indicating the steps to be taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges.

2. To equip oneself with listening structures that include trained and expert people who can initially discern the cases of the alleged victims.

3. Establish the criteria for the direct involvement of the Bishop or of the Religious Superior.

4. Implement shared procedures for the examination of the charges, the protection of the victims and the right of defence of the accused.

5. Inform the civil authorities and the higher ecclesiastical authorities in compliance with civil and canonical norms.

6. Make a periodic review of protocols and norms to safeguard a protected environment for minors in all pastoral structures: protocols and norms based on the integrated principles of justice and charity so that the action of the Church in this matter is in conformity with her mission.

7. Establish specific protocols for handling accusations against Bishops.

8. Accompany, protect and treat victims, offering them all the necessary support for a complete recovery.

9. Increase awareness of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse through ongoing formation initiatives of Bishops, Religious Superiors, clerics and pastoral workers.

10. Prepare pathways of pastoral care for communities injured by abuses and penitential and recovery routes for the perpetrators.

11. To consolidate the collaboration with all people of good will and with the operators of mass media in order to recognize and discern real cases from false ones and accusations of slander, avoiding rancour and insinuations, rumours and defamation (cf. Pope Francis’ address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2018).

12. To raise the minimum age for marriage to sixteen years.

13. Establish provisions that regulate and facilitate the participation of lay experts in investigations and in the different degrees of judgment of canonical processes concerning sexual and / or power abuse.

14. The right to defence: the principle of natural and canon law of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation.

15. Observe the traditional principle of proportionality of punishment with respect to the crime committed. To decide that priests and bishops guilty of sexual abuse of minors leave the public ministry.

16. Introduce rules concerning seminarians and candidates for the priesthood or religious life. Be sure that there are programs of initial and ongoing formation to help them develop their human, spiritual and psychosexual maturity, as well as their interpersonal relationships and their behaviour.

17. Be sure to have psychological evaluations by qualified and accredited experts for candidates for the priesthood and consecrated life.

18. Establish norms governing the transfer of a seminarian or religious aspirant from one seminary to another; as well as a priest or religious from one diocese or congregation to another.

19. Formulate mandatory codes of conduct for all clerics, religious, service personnel and volunteers to outline appropriate boundaries in personal relationships. Be specific about the necessary requirements for staff and volunteers and check their criminal record.

20. Explain all information and data on the dangers of abuse and its effects, how to recognize signs of abuse and how to report suspected sexual abuse. All this must take place in collaboration with parents, teachers, professionals and civil authorities.

21. Where it has not yet been in place, establish a group easily accessible for victims who want to report any crimes. Such an organization should have a certain autonomy with respect to the local ecclesiastical authority and include expert persons (clerics and laity) who know how to express the Church's attention to those who have been offended by improper attitudes on the part of clerics.

Well, that should help obfuscate the issue.

Activists criticise pope's proposals to tackle sexual abuse

[...] Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican’s top sexual abuse investigator, said during a press briefing on Thursday that the 21 points were a “roadmap for our discussion” on clerical sexual abuse and future development of law. “It’s an understatement to say that they have to be taken seriously,” he said ...

So, just topics for discussion. Not rules or laws.

I have a suggestion that would really speed things up - 3 points instead of 21 and make them laws, not just discussion topics ...

1) Report all instances of sex abuse to civil authorities so they can be investigated.

2) Make this reporting mandatory throughout the whole global church.

3) Fire all who have been found to be abusers, and fire all who cover that abuse up. Fire them. Kick them loose from the church. Don't forgive them, don't send them off to a monastery to pray, don't just aicize them. Fire them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

More from Andy McCabe

Former acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, is interviewed by Nicole Wallace about his new book and about the events of those few days between when FBI director James Comey was fired and when Robert Mueller was named as an independent counsel ...