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Friday, August 31, 2018

Catholic women write the pope

Viganò letter: 14,000 Catholic women ask Pope Francis for answers

A Catholic women’s group has called for Pope Francis to issue a “direct response” to Archbishop Viganò’s claims, condemning his response to date as “inadequate”.

The 750-word letter, published on August 30 by the Washington DC-based Catholic Women’s Forum (CWF), has gained 14,000 signatures so far ....

Justice League

This week's movie rental was Justice League ...

a 2017 American superhero film based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name .... and features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher as the titular team, with Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons in supporting roles. In the film, Batman and Wonder Woman recruit The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg after Superman's death to save the world from the catastrophic threat of Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons.

This is the poor man's version of The Avengers, but still kind of fun. I especially wanted to see it because Jason Momoa, who plays Aquaman in this film, was Ronon Dex in Stargate Atlantis. Here he is as the guy who talks to fish :) ...

The best part of the movie, I thought, was that they brought Superman back to life ... he had been killed in the previous Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ... and I do like this recent version of Superman, though Christopher Reeve's version will always be my favorite.

The reviews of the film were pretty negative, like this one from Vanity Fair - Justice League Is a Big, Ugly Mess - but if you're a fan you'll probably be entertained.

Here's a trailer ...

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Throwback Thursday

I can remember sitting on the floor as a teen with my ear near the speakers of the family Grundig sterio, listening to this version of an old folk song ...


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Oh God!

It's so weird - I just read an article in the very conservative Washington Examiner and it actually made sense to me. Why? Because it was about the pope and sex abuse.

America magazine mentioned today that Pope Francis has just spoken about the sex abuse problem in his first public audience since the letter accusing him of covering up abuse was published. He condemned abuse and those who have covered it up in the past, but said nothing about the allegations against himself. He's not worried ... apparently he's feeling quite tranquil.

That's nice. I guess when you're the dictator of your own tiny country, accountability just isn't even an issue, so don't worry, be tranquil.

In the church and to much of the public, the pope is considered a liberal champion, but he isn't. This may sound harsh, but I'm tired of being polite: Pope Francis is a sexist who speaks of women as if they are high-functioning brood mares (It's time to be honest about Pope Francis and women), and he's a homophobe who has described LGBT marriage as the "work of the devil" (Pope Francis Against Gay Marriage, Gay Adoption). If you're willing to sell these two groups, women and LGBT people, down the river because the pope seems so kindly and grandfatherly, you are not a liberal either.

Here's the beginning of the article in the Washington Examiner ...

Catholic leaders continue to pretend the sex abuse scandal is no big deal

They still don’t get it. It's like they're begging for a revolt of the laity.

Catholic officials are still treating the clergy sex abuse scandal like it’s some niggling issue that’s getting in the way of bigger and more exciting things.

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, for example, praised Pope Francis’ feeble non-response this weekend to accusations he covered up credible allegations of sexual abuse leveled against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

“The Pope has a bigger agenda,” Cupich told NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern. “He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”

For good measure, Cupich also said of the pope’s critics, “Quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino.”

The Chicago cardinal isn’t being taken out of context. This look-the-other-way line is his actual position regarding an 11-page letter alleging Popes Francis and Benedict knew for years about McCarrick's alleged abuses. Cupich told the National Catholic Reporter this week that he understands Catholics must be “sickened” by the sex abuse scandal. But “this is not what the church is about," he assured.

"We have to speak on behalf of the migrant. We have to make sure the Gospel is preached to people who are left out of society. We have to educate children," Cupich added. "Let's make sure we do not forget the church's bigger agenda." ....

Right - the work of the church is just soooo important that you should consider the sexual abuse of children as just the cost of doing business and get out of our way. Cupich is another of those un-liberal "liberals". As I wrote of him a couple of years ag in my post Cupich: not a liberal beacon, this is the man who implied that marriage equality would lead to incest and polygamy when he was trying to get his parishioners in Washington state to vote down same-sex marriage (Washington State Bishop: Oppose Marriage Equality To Keep Heterosexuality Special).

Wake up, you guys. The pope isn't a liberal and the clergy supporting him are not liberals. He is the "reformer" pope who has reformed nothing, including the way the church handles sex abuse. And now he thinks he's above even answering questions on that subject. I understand the desire to believe there's a liberal light in the church. I used to feel optimistic about the pope too, but the truth is he just aint that guy. And meanwhile, the sex abuse and cover-ups continue.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

More on the Pope

It's been a few days now since the former Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, made accusations in an eleven page open letter that Pope Francis knew of and covered up the sexual misconduct of Cardinal McCarrick .

As I wrote in my previous post on this, the issue is not just about what the pope knew and when he knew it, it's as much about politics as any Republican v Democrat issue that crops up ... Vigano is part of the super conservative traditionalist block of the church that is characterized by anti-LGBT bias, rigid devotion to doctrine, and a longing for the pre-Vatican II days of yore. On the other side we have the Pope and what passes for a liberal faction.

This is where the analogy breaks down, though, because there is no liberal faction in the church hierarchy anymore. Pope Francis and his "liberals" are the guys (and yes they are of course all guys) who will not let women be priests or even deacons in their church (Pope Francis says women will never be Roman Catholic priests). They are the guys who say friendly things about celibate gay people, but who say awful things about gay people getting married (If the pope loves gay people, he has a strange way of showing it).

And, it seems like it is this liberal faction in the church that often makes excuses for the clergy sex abuse scandal. It is Pope Francis who raised Cardinal Pell, now on trial for sex abuse in Australia, to high place in the Vatican. It is Pope Francis who blew up his own commission on sex abuse, causing sex abuse survivor Marie Collins to quit. It's Pope Francis who whisked sexual predator Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski back to the Vatican instead of extraditing him for trial in Poland. It's the Pope who installed a bishop in Chile who had covered up abuse, causing riots. It's Pope Francis who just months ago refused to allow a Vatican diplomat stand trial in Washington DC for child pornography but instead called him back to the church's loving bosom. There's more, but don't take my word for the terrible job the Pope has done on clergy sex abuse - here's article on the subject in The Boston Globe from a few years ago: Pope Francis has done nothing to prevent sex abuse, and this from The New York Times - Vatican Sex Abuse Scandal Reveals Blind Spot for Francis.

So, here I am, a liberal Democrat, and I'm expected to be on the pope's side in this because those making allegations against him are conservatives. Tribalism reigns in religion as much as in secular politics ... America Magazine, Commonweal, The Tablet, etc. will likely take the Pope's side because they are liberal-ish sites in this church, just as the secular press is taking sides, with CNN and The Guardian with Francis.

This is depressing. Sides on the issue of clergy sex abuse should not be chosen based on politics. Everyone should be against sex abuse. I don't know if the Pope did what he's accused of, and I'm not going to take his side, especially given his track record on abuse, without more info.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Should the Pope resign?

In the news: Ex-Vatican official accuses Pope Francis of covering up McCarrick’s sex abuse

What's this all about? It's about more than whether Francis knew about and covered up McCarrick's actions ... it's also about the battle for power between the super conservatives and the middle-of-the-road conservatives in the church (there are no real liberals left in the church hierarchy).

The former Vatican official who wrote the letter is one of the super conservatives and it's no surprise that the letter first showed up at the anti-abortion site, LifeSiteNews and then the conservative Catholic Register

A factor in this battle between the two conservative groups is the issue of gay priests in the Catholic clergy, of which there are a very large number ... Cardinal McCarrick Scandal Inflames Debate Over Gay Priests. The super conservative wing of the church is convinced (or wants to convince us) that gay priests are behind the clergy pedophile sex abuse problem (In the Church, The Problem is not Pedophilia but Homosexuality). The more sane middle-of-the-toad conservatives dispute that, and the facts are on their side.

The super conservatives dislike Pope Francis for a number of reasons, like his softening on divorced/remarried people getting communion, his interest in the environment, his care for the poor over the rich, his decision on the death penalty, his less belligerent attitude towards LGBT people, etc. ... they pine for the good old days of B16.

But though the motives of the super conservatives may not be pure, this doesn't mean that the allegations made in the letter against Pope Francis are false. I would be (and have been) one of the first to say that Francis has done a really bad job on clergy sex abuse and I wouldn't be shocked to learn he had covered some of it up. If he did, I hope he is held accountable. It certainly isn't helping that he will not comment on the charges.

For more details: Viganò’s accusations: What we know and what questions they raise

Saturday, August 25, 2018

RIP: John McCain

Sad to see that John McCain has passed away ...

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Trump: the musical

Heh :) Lawrence O'Donnell quipped that some of what Trump said in a recent Fox interview would make good titles of songs in a future musical about Trump's presidency ... "If I ever got impeached" and "Without this thinking" ...

Those two lines above made me think of another song that would work for the Trump musical ...

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Liar Liar Pants On Fire

Trump lies about conspiring with Michael Cohen to affect the election by paying hush money to women with whom he had sex ...

Little Yoda

Taking a nap by the front door ...

How the mighty are falling

In The Washington Post today about Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former Bishop of Pittsburgh - The con man in the cardinal’s cap

And this: Cardinal who says he protected abuse victims battles report indicating otherwise

I first heard of Wuerl back in 2012, when he was lying about the Obamacare contraception mandate ... Fact-checking Cardinal Wuerl & Archbishop Lori.

Now his name has been removed from a new high school and there's a petition going around to have him removed from office. I doubt, though, that he will even get a word of criticism from Pope Francis.

More from The LA Times: How would a female pope handle the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal?

Old Habits Die Hard

A bad day for Trump. Manafort was found guilty on eight counts and Michael Cohen implicated his former boss in two felonies ... Cohen, Manafort, Hunter, oh my: Donald Trump’s nightmare news day, explained

Trump grew up rich. He never worried about making mistakes because he knew he could survive them by paying them away. Being president is different than being rich - it's power, yes, but wedded to accountability. Trump must have known this, but old habits die hard.

Reminds me of something unrelated except by title ... a song by MicK Jagger and Dave Stewart for the Jude Law movie remake of Alfie ...


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Meet The Press: Catholic sex abuse

On Meet The Press today, a discussion of the Catholic church and the recent sex abuse.

Those on the panel are horrified and don't know what can be done to make the changes necessary in the church to stop the abuse, but I have a few suggestions, suggestions that will never be followed, of course: Allow women to be priests, allow priests to have normal and public romantic lives, put term limits on bishops, cardinals, and the pope, allow lay people to have a vote on what happens in the church, and finally, stop effing lying!!!

People will say the Pope can't make these changes. That is bullshit. He just changed a centuries-old Catholic teaching on the death penalty without consulting anyone else and, as far as I can tell, for no other real reason than to distract us from the abuse scandal.

Civil authorities will have to legally and publicly hold the church accountable, because church leaders will not do it and most Catholics really don't care.

More: Pennsylvania AG: Cardinal under scrutiny over report on priest abuse 'is not telling the truth'

Friday, August 17, 2018

John Brennan interview

A really interesting interview by Rachel Maddow of former CIA director John Brennan, the man at the top of Trump's enemies list, a list compiled of those in the intelligence community who could be witnesses against Trump in the Mueller investigation. Here's the first of three segments ...


Thursday, August 16, 2018

RIP: Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin Is As Immortal As Can Be

Sad to see her go. I especially like her song Chain of Fools. It's such good dance music that it shows up in movies like Sneakers. Here's a scene from the movie where Mary McDonnell dances to the song with Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, Dan Aykroyd, and River Phoenix ...

More on the Pennsylvania Catholic sex abuse

Seeing in the news that Pope Francis finally has responded to the news of the Pennsylvania sex abuse report ... he says he's on the side of the victims. That's nice. I don't really believe that, though, because if he was, the US church would not be spending millions of dollars to keep statutes of limitation in place - Catholic Church spent $2M on major N.Y. lobbying firms to block child-sex law reform

Here's a bit from an article by lawyer Marci Hamilton ...

Clergy Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania: No Justice Is Intolerable

[...] Out of over 300 abusing priests and 1,000 victims documented, only claims against two priests were within the criminal statutes of limitations. These two priests were indicted earlier. The rest of the victims are simply, totally out of luck. There is literally only one way to restore justice to them: revive their expired civil statutes of limitations. In other words, to fix the wrongs done to them, they deserve the choice to file civil lawsuits. The Report itself makes that very recommendation, so let’s do it.

Well, the ones who can do it—Pennsylvania lawmakers—have failed to do so. Bills have been introduced and rallies have been held, but Pennsylvania Senate Republicans have blocked this one opening to justice for the victims. They are lobbied publicly by the bishops (via the Catholic Conference) and in the shadows by the insurance industry, and then they smilingly embrace these lobbyists’ lame and immoral arguments against the victims. They say they are horrified by what they read in such a report, but the bill that Senate Republican leader Scarnati now backs does nothing for the victims in this Report. The bill would extend the civil statute of limitations until a child victim reaches age 50 and eliminate the criminal statute of limitations. They clearly hope that the public will believe they are doing something meaningful in response to the Report while they thumb their noses at every victim in it and then kiss the bishops’ rings. This is cynicism. This is, actually, evil ...

I'm not sure the average person understands what it's like to have something like sex abuse happen to you when you're a kid. I was abused as a kid by a relative. My mom told me it would be our little secret. The guy who did it was never punished. I think people believe it's not a big deal, that kids will forget. I was five and I have never forgotten. It can taint your whole life, influence the way you see yourself, influence the way you will feel about sex, and in the case of sex abuse by priests, probably forever influence the way you feel about God. To let all the abuse by the church - abuse happening around the world, for decades, of thousands of children - be shrugged off with lame apologies is just wrong.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Prince Wendell the cat

Today we caught and took one of the two cats we still need to spay and neuter to the SPCA to be fixed. He's a boy cat and I've named him Wendell after Prince Wendel, the doggy prince in The 10th Kingdom which I've been re-watching ...

Meanwhile I've been taking photos of everyone so I can put their spay/neuter documentation together with a picture of them if they need to be IDed. Look, here's Lucy :) ...

Now just one more cat to catch now (saying there aren't any kittens and leaving out Yoda). Whew!

The stain on the church

From the Editorial Board of the Washington Post: The scale of the Catholic Church’s criminality still shocks

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S decades-long practice of enabling and systematically covering up the rape and molestation of children by priests is by now sickeningly familiar. Yet the scale of abuse; the breadth and depth of trauma inflicted by predators wearing Roman collars; and the coldbloodedness of senior church figures zealous in their resolve to protect the church but indifferent to the suffering of minors, retain their power to shock the conscience .....

Even as apologists for the Vatican and the clergy continue peddling the myth that the Catholic Church’s pedophile scandals simply reflect society’s problems, the weight of evidence is overwhelming proof to the contrary .....

[T]he pope has proved unwilling and possibly unable to take the sweeping steps required to implement a genuine zero-tolerance policy. In the United States, the church continues to block legislative reforms in state capitals that would allow victims and prosecutors to seek justice for abuse that occurred decades ago .....

This is one of the reasons I don't identify as Catholic anymore. Pope Francis and the others running the church are basically unaccountable - the Pope is a virtual dictator in the church, a dictator with his own country. Yes, the occasional priest may be charged by civil authorities and even go to trial, but all too often those being investigated for crimes get called back to the safety and immunity of Vatican City ... a recent example is Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella, a Vatican diplomat being investigated for child pornography in the US and Canada: Amid Pornography Case, Vatican Recalls Priest From Washington Embassy.

Things could change inside the church in ways that would make clergy sex abuse less likely: there's evidence that Christian denominations that have women priests and married priests have much less clergy sex abuse than the Catholic church ...

[R]ates of reported child sexual abuse by priests and religious in the Catholic Church are many times higher than for clergy and paid pastoral staff such as youth workers, in other denominations .... The figure for the number of victims in the Catholic Church was exactly 10 times that in the Anglican Church ....

But things won't change because Pope Francis won't change them and no one else can. I believe there's just one thing that could make a difference - if priests/bishops/cardinals sttod together on this and challenged the Pope, if lay people stood together and refused to accept the current situation, then I think the Pope would have to listen. This tactic worked on a smaller scale to get the notorious Cardinal Law to step down. But in this instance, it just won't happen.

In this way, there's a similarity between the church and the Trump administration. There's no question that there's corruption in the organization - it's evident to all - but Republican politicians (and Catholic clergy) won't challenge their leader because they care more about staying in power than anything else in the whole world. And Republican voters support Trump almost completely in the same way that most lay Catholics support the Pope .... they don't care about the damage caused to others, because all that matters to them is that they get what they themselves need from the organization.

Meanwhile, the church continues to spend literally millions of dollars in the US on lobbying against the relaxation of statutes of limitation, which is what is keeping most clergy child abusers from being held accountable ... Why the Explosive Report on Catholic Church Abuse Is Unlikely to Yield Criminal Charges

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

In the UK ...

Monks should be stripped of control following sex abuse cover up at two Benedictine schools

Monks should be stripped of control at two leading Benedictine schools after sex abuse was covered up for 40 years, a report has found. Leaders at Ampleforth in North Yorkshire and Downside in Somerset hid allegations of "appalling" abuse against pupils as young as seven to protect the church's reputation. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on Thursday published a damning report on the English Benedictine Congregation, which has ten monasteries .....

But let's not forget what's happening here in the US as well: More than 300 accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse ...

When will the Pope make the changes necessary to end the ongoing clergy sex abuse problem ... allowing women priests, married priests? I'm afraid the answer is 'never'.

Monday, August 13, 2018


Omarosa Manigault has been in the news recently for her new tell-all book about Trump and her tenure in the White House ...

She's been pretty beaten up by the different talking heads for her lack of credibility, but I have to wonder why she deserves more contempt than other former WH employees like white nationalist Steve Bannon or grifter Scott Pruitt or wife-beater Rob Porter..

All most of us know of her is that she's a reality tv show personality. I've never even seen any of her tv stuff. But, for some context: Her father was murdered when she was just seven. She earned a BA and a master's degree (Howard University). She's probably one of the few people Trump chose for his WH staff who actually had previous WH experience ... she worked in Al Gore's office during Bill Clinton's administration ...

And Lordy, she has tapes!

So, to paraphrase an old saying, maybe in this instance the enemy of our enemy can be our friend.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A sonnet

Long long ago in a galaxy far away, I belonged to an online writing BBS. We had challenges, or contests, posting short stories, reading everyone's stuff, and picking a winner who would choose the next challenge topic. So much fun. I learned a lot about writing. Some of my old short stories can be found here - Short Stories. I forgot, though, that we sometimes wrote poems too, but my friend from the BBS, Susan, reminded me of this sonnet I tried to write, based on a Stargate Atlantis episode :) ...

Diminishing Returns

StarGate Atlantis was on TV shown
this very night and I could not but gaze
as humans transplanted far from home
battle aliens so fell that they amaze.
Our heroes formed a drug that would destroy
the enemy, but half the humans too.
They deemed the plan was worthy to employ,
“victory at any cost” expressed their view.
But at what point does necessary loss,
in the cause of winning, sacrifice the thing
wished preserved, and the ultimate cause
become a victim of results diminishing?
To justify the means with worthy end,
does integrity and truth and honor rend.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

A bad day

UPDATE: we aren't doomed after all. It appears that as long as I get all the cats who appear spayed and neutered, it's alright for them to be here. Or at least that's what I was told when I called for more info today. It's not an optimum situation - I never wanted a zillion cats living in my yard - but I don't want to see them euthanized either. I'm just going day by day, trying to do the best I can.

It seems the neighbors have stepped up their complaints to animal control about the cats, saying that they are a "nuisance" and that I am running an "illegal cattery". The man who came was almost scary, wanting to see my ID and grilling me on how many cats were here and how many were spayed/neutered.

All of the cats but four of them have to be taken to the County Animal Shelter, where I suspect most of them will be euthanized. He wanted to start trapping them today but I asked if I could do it myself ... he has given me only one to two weeks to get it done. I don't know how I can catch them all, much less how to decide who has to go (and probably die).

Most of them are really afraid of people and haven't ever been in a confined space. All of them trust me and think I'm their friend.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Yoda naps

Yoda takes a nap after playing with her tissue paper :) ...

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Eight years ago ...

President Obama presented The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Paul McCartney ...

Paul sang Michelle :) ...

We miss you, President Obama!

Wonderful Tonight

One of Eric Clapton's song about Patti Boyd ...


Friday, August 03, 2018

Ivanka: anchor baby

Lawrence O'Donnell on how Ivanka's Czechoslovakian mother got into the US as an immigrant ...

Thursday, August 02, 2018

The Pope and the death penalty

So, Pope Francis has changed the catechism and the official church teaching on the death penalty ... Pope revises catechism to say death penalty is 'inadmissible'

This really is quite a change, given that in the past Catholic popes themselves had people put to death - here's a list of people executed in the Papal States.

- Giovanni Battista Bugatti, executioner of the Papal States between 1796 and 1861, carried out 516 executions

I think this change to church teaching is a good thing - I'm against the death penalty.

But why change this and not other stuff? The pope believes he can alter this teaching based on changes in our thinking and our society, but on other issues like women priests, LGBT marriage, contraception, divorce, abortion, married priests, he will not consider change. Why not?

And timing is everything - this change in doctrine seems a convenient distraction from all the current news about clergy sex abuse. Here's just some of it ....

- Pennsylvania investigating sex abuse by priests in six Catholic dioceses

- Catholic Church Faces Reckoning in Chile as Sex Abuse Scandal Widens

- Catholic sex abuse scandal stretches to South Bend, drawing in Bishop Rhoades, Notre Dame

- Australian Bishop Convicted of Covering Up Sexual Abuse Resigns

- Victims of Montana clergy sex abuse vote on $20M settlement

Perhaps I've become too cynical where the church is concerned, but in a church that keeps women and gay people down, while doing all it can to evade responsibility for clergy sex abuse (US Catholic church has spent millions fighting clergy sex abuse accountability), it's hard not to be.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The stupid

There's a scene in the first Captain America movie where Steve Rogers, before he has become Captain America through a government experiment, is saying goodbye to his friend, Bucky, who's going off to Europe to fight the Nazis (WWII) ...

Bucky: Don't do anything stupid until I get back.
Steve: How can I? You're taking all the stupid with you.

I was reminded of this when watching the news today. Some people worry that the Democrats are going to do something stupid before the midterm elections, but I'm not worried ... how can we do something stupid when the Republicans have taken all the stupid with them?

From Trump's dead-head base, those nutty believers in conspiracies like Q ...

To Trump displaying his obstruction of justice in public with his twwet that Sessions should shut down Mueller's investigation ...

Trump and his followers *own* the stupid.