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Monday, July 31, 2017

We needs must have music :)

The Cars ....

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Trump's toadies really need a union

I had a post last night that was about the firing of Priebus and the many other firings and resignations from the White House, illustrated with that brutal scene from The Untouchables ...

Then later I thought that maybe that was just too much and I took it down. But this morning I saw an article that made me want to put it back, because, come on, there is nothing normal about this situation ...

Where Is the White House H.R. Department In This Whole Mess?

[...] In any other workplace, under any other boss, Scaramucci would probably be in the middle of a damning, possibly career-disrupting human resources investigation by now.

According to Slate’s HR head, Heidi Grothaus, claiming that Steve Bannon tries to “suck” his own “cock,” as Scaramucci did in a statement to a New Yorker reporter on Wednesday, is a clear-cut case of spreading lies or rumors about someone’s personal sex life. Because Scaramucci is in a position of authority—he reports directly to the president—this is a textbook example of sexual harassment.

From a legal standpoint, it’s easier to prove sexual harassment if the victim is a member of a protected class. Since Bannon is not suffering discrimination based on, say, sex, race, religion, or disability, he would have a far more difficult case. But Scaramucci’s actions toward Bannon may be severe enough to override that consideration. The communications director of the president of the United States told a national news media outlet that a co-worker attempts to perform fellatio on himself, a vivid, demeaning, widely publicized remark that could very well interfere with Bannon’s ability to do his job effectively. If he spoke up and raised a fuss about it, the president would probably fire him or reduce his already-diminished influence even further, though that would technically be illegal. Enduring Scaramucci’s rumors about his sexual behavior sure seems to be a condition of Bannon’s employment at the White House.

Because let’s be real: A man who deploys the word cock at least three times in a single one-sided rant to a reporter is not going to cool it with the penis talk anytime soon. Penis imagery is Scaramucci’s poetic crutch, a way to sprinkle some colorful man-dust on any otherwise boring sentiment. It’s a jarring form of macho intimidation surely based in deep insecurity, meant both to establish power and to give Scaramucci an inch or two of an advantage in the dick-measuring contest that is taking place in every White House conference room as you read these very words ....

Of course none of this really matters now that we have a thug as president. In-fighting among his toadies will continue to be encouraged because Trump's an escalating psychopath and because the Republicans don't have the integrity to put a stop to him.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Thanks to 3 Republicans

Collins, Murkowski—and McCain

The rushed, secretive, reckless effort to get a “win,” any win, by undoing the Obama health care plan is at an end—for now.

It is over because the 48 Democratic and independent senators led by Chuck Schumer refused to be peeled off or to support a measure that was opposed by most of the public and by all professional groups involved in health care.

It is over because Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, refused to budge from her position that such a consequential bill needed to be considered in an appropriate, systematic way, and because Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, refused to be bullied into giving her support.

And it is over because John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, in the end cast a vote matching the principles he had expressed in his dramatic speech two days earlier, on his return to the Senate after cancer surgery ....

From a disabled person with Medicaid, "thanks" to the three Republicans who had the spines to vote no.

More: Collins and Murkowski Stood Up for Womankind Over the Threats of Men

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wonder Woman: the book

My latest book borrowed from the public library is Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization by New York Times bestselling author Nancy Holder. I haven't seen the movie yet so while I'm waiting for the DVD I thought I'd get a head start. Though I haven't seen the film, I did see and review Batman v Siperman in which Wonder Woman was introduced and I thought Israeli actress, Gal Gadot did a really good job in the role. There's been a lot in the news about the film and whether it is feminist or not. I will withhold judgement until I see the movie and instead write here about how the story deals with the Amazons.

When I was in college I took some classes in Greek history, philosophy, and literature, and I really liked Greek mythology, so it was interesting to hear that Wonder Woman is supposedly an Amazon .... I read almost no DC comics as a kid and never read any of Wonder Woman, so her story and background are all new to me. I had to do a little Wikipedia research and boy was the background of the Wonder Woman character weird ;) ....

Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston (aka Charles Moulton) who was a psychologist at Tufts University, among other things. He carried on a ménage à trois, living together with his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, a Brit attorney/psychologist, and also with his student, Olive Byrne, who was the daughter of Ethel Byrne, a early feminist and the sister of Margaret Sanger with whom she opened the country's first contraception clinic. And they all had kids together.

One of Marston's favorite pet theories was that bondage was a good thing for women. He said ...

The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound... Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society... Giving to others, being controlled by them, submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element.

I know I said I wasn't going to opine on the feminism issue but I've got to at least say that a predatory professor and polygamist who is into submissive women is not my idea of a feminist. But the effort is already underway to make him a feminist icon, with a movie about him and his oh so very liberated women (snort ;) ... Professor Marston & the Wonder Women. But I wanted to address the Amazon issue, not the feminist issue (yet). The professor may have been good at psychology but he and later writers at DC comics were not very reliable when it came to the Amazons.


The Wonder Woman story has her as the daughter of top god Zeus and the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. Supposedly the Amazons were created by Zeus to protect mankind from the god of war, Ares, who was jealous of humanity. Ares kills all the other gods but Zeus and Zeus gives the Amazons a secret weapon to use against Ares. The secret weapon turns out to be Wonder Woman herself, who ends up destroying Ares.

But this is nothing like what we have been told of the Amazons in Greek literature. They were a band of warrior women, perhaps based on real women but probably mythical, who were ruled by Hippolyta, the daughter of Ares. The Amazons had no special mission to protect mankind from Ares or anyone else.

There were Amazons at the battle for Troy and Hippolyta shows up in the tale of Heracles' labors, but she didn't have a demi-god daughter with Zeus (come on, he was her grandpa), she instead had a son with the hero Theseus, for love of whom she left the Amazons. Sad story, actually ... everybody dies A couple of pretty good novels about Theseus which touche on this - The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea.

So anyway, the Wonder Woman story is only in the tiniest sense based on Greek mythology, but that doesn't mean I won't find it to be a good and perhaps even feminist film .... looking forward to seeing it, and I'll write more about it then.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cardinal Pell appears in court

Cardinal George Pell showed up in court today in Australia ...

More: A First: Cardinal Pell Appears in Australian Court on Sexual Charges

I will watch this case with interest as I've been an anti-fan of Pell's for years due to his attack on the primacy of conscience, his hand in the terrible missal translation, and his bad treatment of sex abuse victims (see here for details). The Pope hired Pell for very important jobs at the Vatican even while knowing of his bad reputation, and when members of his own sex abuse commission asked Francis to remove Pell, he refused .... another sign of the Pope's disinterest in fixing the sex abuse problem.

What's up?

I haven't been posting as much lately for a number of reasons. I've had some health issues and also worries about the house, the cats, and finances. And then Sitemeter retired its site, and you'd be surprised at how hard it is to write blog posts when you no longer can see proof that anybody ever visits the blog.

I haven't posted much lately about religion either because, I must admit, Catholicism seems more and more irrelevant to me. For more than 20 years I have hoped and waited for the church to evolve, even in some small way, on the issues of women priests, sex abuse, marriage equality, contraception/abortion, mandatory celibacy, wealth redistribution, etc.. Nothing has really changed, not even under Pope Francis, and in fact he has done little but double down on most issues.

It makes me sad - I have really come to respect some of the guys in the church ... William Barry SJ, John Dear SJ, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Tom Doyle OP .... but at the end of the day they are just individuals within a despotism that has marginalized some of them and has forced out others for speaking up for sex abuse victims, for women, for peace. Those who prosper in the church now are the moderate/conservative buddies of the guy on top, like Antonio Spadaro, SJ. The church is reminding me a little too much lately of our political situation.

But I will still continue to post about the stuff that matters to me .... movies, books, music, politics, animals and the environment, history and philosophy, and religion too. I just need to cheer up a bit.

Trump's engineered break-up

It's an engineered break-up. You know, like when a man wants to ditch a woman so he can move on to greener pastures, but he doesn't want to take responsibility for that. So instead of being hones and telling the woman he wants to end the relationship, he makes her environment so unpleasant that she herself will finally leave. It's the jerk's way out.

And that is what Trump is now doing to Sessions. He is making Sessions' environment toxic with his constant and disingenuous public criticisms of him, hoping Sessions will decide to resign. In that way, Trump thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of two groups of people .... the conservative voters who still love Sessions, and all those who believe Trump wants Sessions gone so he can replace him with a puppet who will fire special counsel Robert Mueller for him and end the Russia investigation.

But it won't work because Trump is transparent, not in the sense of being honest, but in the sense that everyone can see right through him. Putz.

Fact Checker Analysis: A quick guide to President Trump’s false Twitter claims today
... and ... Trump's strategy -- troll Sessions to get to Mueller

Saturday, July 22, 2017

It's good to be king

Trump has decided he has the power to pardon all his minions and all his family members, not to mention the power to pardon himself. Wow - even Richard Nixon didn't try this, apparently because he found the idea "dishonorable".

This "pardon oneself" idea comes after last week's news about Sean Spicer quitting in protest, after Jeff Sessions appears to have lied again about his Russia contacts, after mention of Trump and Putin's date night at the G20, after the revelation of Jared Kushner's other money, after Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting to get dirt on Hillary, and after Trump's recent unhinged interview with The New York Times in which he castigates Sessions, accuses Comey of blackmail, and threatens special counsel Mueller.

Did I miss anything? It's so hard to keep up. If Trump is allowed to pardon himself, our democracy really will be a joke.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Music from The Young Pope

I really need a break from the insanity of Trump. Perhaps a song from the end of episode 4 of The Young Pope. Here it shows him listening to an Italian song given to him as a gift from the Prime Minister of Greenland (don't ask why) and imagining the Prime Minister dancing to the tune ...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Drip, Drip, Drip

Rachel Maddow and then PBS NewsHour commentary from Shields and Brookstoday on the ever spreading 'Trump Jr/Russian Story' .....

There is not doubt now of collusion between Trump and Russia to affect our elections, and of course, no doubt that Trump and his minions continue to lie their asses off. It's said that Trump's supporters know all this but just don't care, and I believe that's true. I don't think they would care if he blew someone's head off on prime time tv as long as he was still useful to them ... Yes, Most Donald Trump Supporters Are Deplorable and Irredeemable. What they don't get is that Trump didn't become president in order to advance their agenda, he ran for office so he could enjoy being king.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Remember the kittens I mentioned weeks ago who turned up in my yard? They're still here. If I could only catch them, my sis would give us a ride to the County shelter where they hopefully could find homes. Unfortunately, I'm totally inept at catching them, so they're still here, quickly growing past the adoptable age. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if there were not already so many cats living in the yard.

Here's Marie and one of her babies ...

The two white kittens are wrestling ...

Two of three (I think) stripey kittens ...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate

Nope, I'm not posting about The X-Files but about the latest White House press briefing ...

I've been watching it (or actually 'listening to' it, since it's another press briefing they wouldn't allow to be om-camera) and the twisting of the truth and the propaganda that spewed from Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her guest speaker, Marc Short, director of legislative affairs, threatened to drive me batty. Just a few comments to try to set things straight ....

- Marc Short spoke about Democrats obstructing the confirmations of Trump nominees. He said the Democrats were frustrating the wishes of the American people by doing this, and that the Democrats should be more bipartisan. Hey, let's try to remember that Hillary won the popular vote and that the will of the American people is probably split, at best, over these nominees. And the bipartisan stuff - this is incredibly disingenuous given how the Republicans in Congress refused to even consider President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Courtl.

- Short also stated that most Americans support the Senate health care bill (not true - Poll: Only 12% of Americans support the Senate health care plan). And he said that this is because the ACA is dying, but he neglected to mention why it is happening (Trump’s Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare Are Working ... The costs of Trump's sabotage of Obamacare already are showing up in rate hikes)

- Sanders later went on about the unprecedented rapport between Trump and Poland on his trip to Europe. This should come as no great surprise since Poland presently has one of the most conservative governments of recent times ... Trump picks Poland for his second foreign trip, where the government is accused of attacking democratic institutions ... Poland Is Busing Trump Supporters to Warsaw to Ensure Cheering Crowds

- And she tried to avoid questions about Trump's two hour love fest with Putin at G-20. Why were there only four people in the meeting? Why was there no press? Why did what was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting go on for over two hours (Donald Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin lasts more than 2 hours after being scheduled for 30 minutes)? Why did Trump accept Putin's assertion that there was no Russian meddling in our elections? You can read more on this but come on, but I think the fact is that Trump likes Putin and that it doesn't bother him that the Russians interfered in our elections. I would not be surprised to learn that Trump colluded with the Russians to win. So what was happening during those two hours? Probably a lot of celebrating.

- Sanders also tried to deflect questions about a previously undisclosed meeting between Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Trump's campaign manager with a Russian lawyer yo obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton ...

And ...

The WH press briefings now seem to only exist to spread misinformation.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Young Pope

This week's DVD rental was The Young Pope, a 10 episode English-language Italian tv series from HBO. It stars Jude Law (Gattaca, Enemy at the Gates, A.I.), Diane Keaton, James Cromwell, and Sebastian Roché.

The story begins as Lenny Belardo (Law) has just been elected pope. Abandoned by his parents at a Catholic orphanage as a boy, Lenny was raised by Sister Mary, grew up to become a priest under the mentoring of NY Archbishop Spencer (Cromwell), and then archbishop and cardinal. The conclave of cardinals chooses him as the first American pope because they believe he is nondescript and malleable, but instead they find he is a ruthless and damaged autocrat who does not really believe in God.

I haven't watched much HBO stuff because its shows are notorious for treating women characters like things (HBO Slammed For Sexual Violence Against Women in Its Shows), and so far this show seems to have more than it's share of unpleasant sexual encounters. I'm still watching but it isn't a show I'd ever want to revisit.

But, it's interesting from a Catholic point of view to see a facsimile of what the Vatican is like and how it's run .... the show had the help of Vatican experts. The sets and costumes are very nice and the cinematography is nice too.

Here's the title sequence of the show (from episode 3) with the pope walking past a line of famous paintings. As he walks, a little comet (or the holy spirit?) proceeds him through the paintings, bringing the characters and things within them to life. For some reason the video clip doesn't show all the animation in the paintings, only just a bit (see the the fire burning in the last painting, The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre?), but if you watch the series, you'll get the whole effect. And in the background plays the tune of Jimi Hendrix' Watchtower ...

Here's a look behind the scenes ...

Saturday, July 08, 2017

More on Cardinal Pell

From the editorial board at The New York Times: The Vatican’s Failure in the Abuse Scandal

For all of Pope Francis’ deserved acclaim in leading the Roman Catholic Church to new directions, he is failing badly on his promise to address the child abuse scandal at the crucial level where ranking churchmen systematically protected priests who raped and molested children.

His failure to confront the problem was underlined last week when the pope had to grant one of his closest advisers, Cardinal George Pell of Australia, a leave of absence from the Vatican to answer multiple charges of sexual assault in Melbourne.

Until now, Francis stood by Cardinal Pell, the Vatican treasurer, even after the cardinal admitted to a special Australian investigation last year that the church had made “enormous mistakes” in responding to the scandal while he was a ranking archbishop .....

Meanwhile, Cardinal Pell, who has left Rome, is seen taking a break at an ice cream cafe in Singapore (Cardinal George Pell spotted in Singapore en route to Australia) ...

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Photos from the yard

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

July 4th - still hating fireworks

UPDATE: it's almost midnight and the fireworks continue in my neighborhood, including the illegal cherry bombs tossed in front of the house. The terrified cats are hiding somewhere in the yard. The little kittens I've been trying to catch in the backyard must be both deaf and insane by now. I hate fireworks and I hate the jerks who abuse them.

On the 4th of July I usually write about how much I hate fireworks ... they scare animals and birds, and they pollute the air, cause a fire hazard, and and seem to be some people's method for harassing others. It's not just me who doesn't like them - Jesi master Luke Skywalker feels the same ...

Monday, July 03, 2017

Celebrate our free press on the 4th

On this, the (almost) fourth of July, given Trump's war on the media, I'd like to remind us of how lucky we are for the Fist Amendment ...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Without a free and investigative press, would we know about Watergate, Cardinal Law's sex abuse cover-up, what's going on in war zones? I don't think so.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Thomas Reese SJ fails on Pell

One of the few priests I have any respect left for in the church has been Thomas Reese SJ but I was really disappointed to see what he had to say in an interview about Cardinal Pell, who is charged with at least three serious sex assault charges, including at least one count of rape.

Reese turned himself into a pretzel in an effort to excuse Pope Francis having chosen Pell for top jobs at the Vatican despite Pell's decades long terrible reputation on sex abuse (Marie Collins: Cardinal Pell's leave from Vatican service comes 'far too late').

Also disappointing is how Reese downplayed contemporary sex abuse crimes by Catholic priests ... a couple of examples: U.S. priests accused of sex abuse get second chance in South America (2015), For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad (2014)

Here's Reese temporizing ...

The situation in the Catholic church is kind of like our current political situation here in the US. The guy in charge (The Pope or Trump) is not doing a good job, but for certain reasons, the leader's minions and the rank and file will do all they can to make him look good and to excuse his actions.

In US politics, this means the Republicans will support Trump even though he is a psycho because he will sign off on their agenda. For the Catholic church, this means the hierarchy and the average priest will wax lyrical on Francis the reforming Pope, though he's made no real reforms and is failing badly on issues like sex abuse, the rights of women, divorce/remarriage/communion, and LGBT relationships. Why? Because they don't want to see a return of the little tin god who was the previous pope.

What a failure of integrity. I had expected more of Thomas Reese.