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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trump orphans children

Hearings are being held in the Senate on the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their parents. One thing that has been made clear is that the idea was Trump's and was always to have children permanently taken from their families, with no intent to ever reunite them, with the children being treated as orphans. In simple terms, Trump planned and executed stealing people's children to punish them for daring to come here and to deter others from doing the same. How is that not terrorism?

Monday, July 30, 2018

I'll Get You

Did I already post this song? Don't think so. More Paul McCartney ...


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pope Francis and McCarrick

So, the pope has accepted the resignation of Cardinal McCarrick ... No question, Pope Francis made history Saturday on McCarrick. What's depressing is that this is considered a big deal. If the church was instead any other organization in the west, an employee with multiple credible accusations against them of child abuse and sexual abuse of young adults working under them would have been suspended/terminated and the person would likely be investigated by the law.

But instead, this is notable because it's the first time a cardinal accused of such acts has ever stepped down. One recent example is Cardinal Keith O'Brien. Though he was credibly accused of sexually harassing a number of priests who worked for him (which he admitted doing) ... Vatican accused of cover up over Cardinal Keith O'Brien's 'sexual conduct' ... Pope Francis allowed him to remain a cardinal, and the church bought O'Brien a home in Northumberland in which to live.

And then there's Cardinal Pell, the third most important prelate at the Vatican after the pope, who's now on trial in his native Australia for sex abuse and rape .... 2 Trials Set For Cardinal Pell On Sex Abuse Charges. The pope hasn't asked him to resign and so far is supportive of him.

Meanwhile, there are and have been numerous cardinals who are known to have covered up sex abuse but who have never even heard a harsh word from Pope Francis, mush less been asked to resign. There include the notorious Cardinal Law of Boston (now dead), Irish Cardinal Sean Brady, American Cardinal Roger Mahony, Chilean Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati, and others.

When people think about the Catholic church and Pope Francis, they have to stop putting them in some special class when it comes to the handling of sex abuse .... what the pope and the church get away with on this issue would never be tolerated in any other organization.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Ready Player One

People come to the Oasis for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be.

This week's movie rental was Ready Player One ...

a 2018 American science fiction adventure film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on Cline's 2011 novel of the same name. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.

The film takes place in 2045, when much of humanity uses the virtual reality software OASIS to escape the desolation of the real world. Orphaned teenager Wade Watts (Sheridan) discovers clues to a hidden game within the program that promises the winner full ownership of the OASIS, and joins several allies to try to complete the game before a large company run by businessman Nolan Sorrento (Mendelsohn) can do so.

I had been looking forward to this film with trepidation - I really like the book and have read it many times, so I wondered how it might be changed in the movie. It was indeed changed, but it basically stayed true to the spirit of the book, if not all the details - it was different but still fun. I do recommend the movie.

Here's a trailer ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

I Only Want to Be with You

On the muzak at Whole Foods today, British singer Dusty Springfield ...

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Midterms: Trump poisons the well

Given the probability that the Democrats will win big in the midterm elections, and given the assertion of the intelligence community that Putin is still meddling in our elections, Trump is working to discredit any Democratic win ...

To aid in Trump's lie that Russia doesn't want him to be president (see above tweet), the White House has altered the transcript of the actual press conference from Helsinki of Trump and Putin, leaving out this question asked of Putin by a reporter - “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?” (to which Putin answered “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”) ... The White House Transcript Is Missing the Most Explosive Part of the Trump–Putin Press Conference And it's not just the transcript - they altered the official WH video of the exchange as well.

How dumb does Trump think we are?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Trump's enemies list

As the bad reviews come in for Trump's sick performance in Helsinki, and as Trump's plan to out Carter Page's FISA warrant backfires on him, and as an audio tape showing he lied about an affair with a Playboy Bunny surfaces, Trump does what dictators do .... he takes out his rage on his "enemies" ... Donald Trump Unveils Blacklist: Threatens To Pull Security Clearance Of Ex-Intel Chiefs

[...] That’s former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Advisor Director Michael Hayden, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe ....

Various Trump targets responded. McCabe’s rep, for instance, tweeted that “McCabe’s security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy. You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps.”

Clapper, meanwhile, called it a “sad commentary” that POTUS would, “for political reasons” engage in “petty retribution for speaking out against the president which I think on the part of all of us, are borne out of genuine concerns about President Trump.” Clapper, speaking to CNN, clarified that he does not get the briefings and does not have access to classified information.

Some of these guys don't even have security clearances anymore - Trump is not only vindictive, he's incompetent as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Quiet Place

This week's movie rental was A Quiet Place ...

a 2018 American horror film directed by John Krasinski, who stars with Emily Blunt, his real-life wife .... Over three months in 2020, most of Earth's human population has been wiped out by sightless creatures with hypersensitive hearing that attack anything that makes noise.

I had seen a lot in the news about this movie when it first came out and though it's categorized as horror, I think it's science fiction too. It's unusual in a number of ways, including the virtual lack of verbal dialog - it tells the story almost completely visually.

Here's the beginning of a review ...

‘A Quiet Place’ Review: ‘Stay Silent, Stay Alive’ Says This New Horror Classic

Did you ever think that quiet – the hush in which no talk is above a whisper – could scare the hell out of you? A Quiet Place does just that, raising the stakes on terror until no one can hear you scream. As director, star and cowriter (with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck), John Krasinski hits on a killer hook: What if a family of four, among the few left alive after a monster apocalypse, can survive on their upstate New York farm as long as they don’t make a sound? Any sound. At all ....

I thought it was very good, especially for horror (not too gory), and they did an interesting job with the monsters. I recommend it.

Here's a trailer ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

President Obama ...

delivers the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa ...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Be honest about celibacy

In the recent news - Cardinal removed from public ministry after sex abuse allegation

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who led the Archdiocese of Washington and was a political force in the nation's capital, said on Wednesday that he has been removed from public ministry by the Vatican because of a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse .... McCarrick was also accused three times of sexual misconduct with adults "decades ago" while he served as a bishop in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, the current bishops of those cities said on Wednesday. Two of those allegations resulted in settlements, the bishops said ...

This case is similar to a case a few years ago in the UK when Cardinal Keith O'Brien retired after priests working under him went public with accusations of his sexual misconduct against them ... UK's top cardinal accused of 'inappropriate acts' by priests

Jesuit Thomas Reese had an article about this today - Priests, celibacy and sex - in which he writes about the weirdities of a mandatory celibacy rule that is overlooked by large percentages of clergy.

This isn't just about the criminal behavior of the sexual abuse of children by priests. Richard Sipe is quoted in the film Spotlight as saying that only 50% of the celibate clergy actually practice celibacy, which creates a culture of secrecy in the priesthood that encourages cover-ups. Priests have sex with parishioners, each other, their superiors, seminarians, and all this is furtive because of the public adherence to the rule of celibacy.

If the church is serious about reducing the sex abuse of children and the unhealthy secret relationships between priests and other adults, the church has to be honest about celibacy. If celibacy is important, then enforce it, and if it isn't important, then make it optional and let priests have public above-board relationships.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Manchurian candidate

UPDATE: 7-17 ... Trump, facing fury, says he misspoke with Putin. Oh, a pesky double negative mistake! Well that explains away everything. Not.


Trump, after some 'alone' time with Putin, tells the world that Russia didn't mess in our elections ... it was all Hillary's doing. This even after the most recent Mueller indictment of 12 Russians ...

I can't decide if Trump is crazy, if he's guilty of conspiring with Putin, or if he's just in love. Probably all three.

More about all this from Rachel Maddow ...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Back in the U.S.S.R.

For some reason, this song has been on my mind lately ....

Friday, July 13, 2018

The new indictment

I'm sorry if it seems that all I write about is politics. It's just that I lived through the Watergate scandal and never believed that there would be a president who could be so much worse, much less such spineless and soulless Republican lawmakers and such a horrific pile of Republican voters supporting them. Every day of the Trump administration brings new damage, not just to the US but to the world, so I blog about it .... no one should let this stuff go by without registering it.

Today's example is Mueller's indictment of Russian government agents involved in hacking and distributing DNC and Clinton emails. The news was given to Trump days ago, but he still plans to meet with his good buddy Vlad in a play date that will contain no US observers. Some people excuse this by saying Trump's just naive but I am convinced that he was and is eyeball deep in the coordination with the Russian attack on our elections and that he remains Putin's lackey.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Peter Strzok

FBI agent Peter Strzok gave testimony on the Hill today before the House judiciary and oversight committees. The Republicans had hoped to use him as a way to derail the Russia probe, on which Strzok once worked, because of some emails written by him to a girlfriend dissing candidate Trump.

It didn't go well at all because the Republicans had no real clue as to who they were trying to bully ...... FBI agent Strzok defiant in face of Republican interrogation

Here's Rachel Maddow from last night giving us the really impressive FBI background of Peter Strzok ...

And here she is going over his testimony today ...

The whole thing was another example of the desperation of the Republican Congress to tarnish Mueller's investigation into Trump's coordination with Russia to gain the presidency. It backfired on them again. How stupid are these guys?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The liar-in-chief

Trump lies, this time to NATO and the world, by saying that Germany gets "60%-70%" of its energy from Russia via a new gas pipeline. Not true, of course ...

Trump vs. Merkel: Blistering Salvo Meets Quiet Rejoinder

This was just one of the many lies he told at the NATO summit.

Steve Bannon tried to cast Trump's lies about Germany as Trump being like really really tough on Putin. Pretty lame misdirect, given that Trump is next planning to visit with his crush, Vlad.

The latest on Yoda the kitten

It's been about two weeks since Yoda's last vet visit. At that time, they said she has a deflated lung, though they don't know why - she doesn't have an infection after all. They decided they could take her to adopt out as soon as all her tests came back as ok. The test results were good, but now the vet people have decided they can't take her to adopt out until another of the kittens they already have has been adopted out first.

I'm beginning to believe they won't ever take her and that I am now the single parent of a nutty little 8 week old indoor kitten who has no other living companion but me ..... eeeeeeeeeeee! Not sure how I can take care of another cat (#16), pay for food, vet bills, etc., plus just the emotional investment for the next almost 20 years.

Oh well, she is awfully cute :) ...

Monday, July 09, 2018

Trump picks Kavanaugh

I'm glad to see that Trump did not pick religious extremist Amy Coney Barret as I had feared, but instead chose Brett Kavanaugh.

Still, having said that, Kavanaugh is what one would expect from someone on the Federalist Society/Heritage Foundation list of nominees ... a fairly extreme conservative.

In 2017 he was among those of a three judge panel who tried to prevent undocumented immigrant teens in US custody from obtaining abortions - that decision was reversed on appeal to the full court but he dissented ...

In a statement, Kavanaugh said the court’s decision creates “a new right” for unlawful immigrant minors who are being federally detained in the U.S. to get an “immediate abortion on demand,” an approach he said is “radically inconsistent with 40 years of Supreme Court precedent ... [but] ... Millett slammed Kavanaugh’s claim that the court is creating abortion "on demand." “Unless Judge Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion means the demands of the Constitution and Texas law. With that I would agree,” she wrote, noting that Jane Doe has already satisfied every requirement of state law to obtain the abortion. ”

That phrase "abortion on demand" is a favorite of conservative pro-life organizations ... Trump's potential court picks scrutinized for 'code' words on Roe v. Wade ... and ... Abortion on demand' phrase pushes idea women will get abortions as easy as choosing a Netflix movie.

But it's not just about women's reproductive rights ...

Kavanaugh is also hostile to the Affordable Care Act ... Brett Kavanaugh could take an ax to Obamacare

Kavanaugh also apparently lied about his role in the torture of detainees during the Bush administration ... Federal Judge Downplayed Role in Detainee Cases

And he is no friend to the environment ... Brett Kavanaugh Will Mean Challenging Times For Environmental Laws

Nor is he a friend of consumer protections ... One of Trump’s top court candidates would be trouble for the CFPB

And of course, there's the fact that Kavanaugh has opined that a sitting president can't be a subject of a civil or criminal investigation - doubtless one of the main reasons Trump has picked him ... Brett Kavanaugh wrote that presidents shouldn’t be “distracted” by criminal investigations

These are just some of the reasons why Democrats in the senate should stick together - including those blue dog Democrats - and vote against Kavanaugh's confirmation, even if it seems just a gesture.

More: Kavanaugh will not uphold Roe

Saturday, July 07, 2018

More on the separation of families

As the Trump administration fails to meet a court deadline to reunify the parents and children they tore apart at the border, lawsuits brought by an asylum seeker who entered the country legally shows a mother shackled hand and told her son would be adopted out and she would not see him again until he was 18 years old ...

And it appears that the Trump administration has decided that having these children living permanently in foster homes without ever being reunited with their parents will count as "reunification" ...

Trump and his pet monsters, ruining lives one day at a time.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Old stuff in drawers

Today my sister came over and we went through all the stuff in my mother's and grandmother's old dressers. There was a lot and I took photos of some of what we found ....

Here's me at my (outdoor) wedding. I'm wearing a dress my mom made. Unfortunately the color of the photo was so bad, I had to make it B&W ...

We also found some things from our one trip to Europe just after college. Here is a ticket from a play we saw in London at the Young Vic. I don't remember what the play was, but Simon Ward was in it ...

And here's something (a museum ticket?) from when we visited Greece ...

But most of what was in the drawers was family stuff - old photos and news clippings. There were quite a few about my grandmother's brother, Uncle Earl. He had actually played baseball in the World Series in 1924 and he has his own Wikipedia page. Here's one of the articles about him - that's Yoda the kitten's foot at the top ;) ....

Looking through all this stuff with my sister made me realize that I do still have a family ... yes, most of them are dead, but they are still my family.

July 4th, 2018: resistance

On this Independence Day in the time of Trump, I think of what historian Jon Meacham said today on Morning Joe .... resistance (marching/protests) is essential if you believe those in power are a threat to what's right ... the American Revolution is an example.

What I heard this it reminded me of a line from the Declaration of Independence, one I only know about from watching the film National Treasure :) .....

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

As Nick Cage's character explains: It means if there's something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.

That's us, you guys, even if taking action only means writing a blog post.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Trump will pick Amy Barrett

I predict that Trump's pick for the new Supreme Court Justice will be Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett is pro-life, has little judicial experience, and is the member of an obscure ultra-conservative lay Catholic/Protestant group, People of Praise. Trump will pick her because he believes she will be the most unacceptable candidate for Democrats. When Democrats freak, he will accuse them of being hostile to religion, and the cherry on the top will be that Trump will claim this is actually also a feminist pick.

Those who have kept track of Barrett will recall that she was among Trump's earlier choices for a circuit judgeship and that then Dianne Feinstein (my senator) voted against her because of her religious bias against Roe v. Wade ...

Everyone jumped on Feinstein for this comment and in the coming hearings all criticisms of Barrett's religious beliefs will be cast as bigotry. But I think Feinstein was right to address these concerns. Given that a majority of Americans (and a majority of Catholics) don't want Roe v. Wade overturned, the idea that a prospective Justice's extreme religious views on that issue shouldn't matter is nuts. Some people believe no one should ever make judgements about religion and the impact that religion may have on society, but that is not the American tradition ... if it was, Mormons would still be practicing polygamy.

Read more about People of Praise: Amy Coney Barrett Is Allegedly a Member of a Religious Group That’s Been Called a “Cult”.

John Roberts and Roe v. Wade

In the news, there's much about the next Supreme Court Justice, Roe v. Wade, and the idea that the Chief Justice, John Roberts, is a moderate who will protect abortion rights. I think that's an unrealistic expectation. Roberts is a conservative Catholic whose wife is a member of the pro-life group Feminists For Life. This subject came up when Bush appointed Roberts ...

Anti-Abortion Advocacy of Wife of Court Nominee Draws Interest

[...] Mrs. Roberts, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was not recruited by Feminists for Life, but sought the group out about a decade ago and offered her services as a lawyer, said its president, Serrin Foster. The group was reorganizing at the time and beginning to focus its work on college campuses. Its mission statement, driven home in advertising in recent years, says: "Abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."

Mrs. Roberts served on the board of the organization for four years, and later provided legal services. Ms. Foster said that as an adoptive parent, Mrs. Roberts made contributions that included urging the group to focus more on the needs of biological mothers, and adding a biological mother to the board of directors.

Ms. Foster said Feminists for Life was committed not only to ending abortion, but also to making it "unthinkable" by providing every woman with the assistance she needs. Reversing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, is a goal, she said, "but not enough." .....

The group, Feminists For Life, one member of which is Sarah Palin, sounds benign but it's not. Here an article in The Nation about the group ... Feminists for (Fetal) Life (2005).

Sunday, July 01, 2018

I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better

Here are the Byrds recording one of my favorite songs in studio. I love the shimmer effect of the electric12 string guitar ...


Overturning Roe v. Wade

Susan Collins says she won't vote for a Justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade, but not all the Justices have made their views public. The thing is, all of those candidates would not be on Trump's Federalist Society list if they were not already known to be pro-life ... Why It Doesn't Matter If Trump Asks His Supreme Court Nominees About Abortion

And now that it is clear that a majority of Americans do not want Roe v. Wade overturned but want abortion to remain legal (Most Americans want Roe v. Wade to stand, survey shows) ...

... Republican lawmakers are pretending that Trump's Supreme Court Justice pick has nothing to do with overturning Roe v. Wade, as if we would forget everything they have said on the issue up to this point ...

More from E.J. Dionne Jr. ... This is the fight of our lives. Here’s how we win it.