My Photo
Location: United States

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Reproductive Health Act

Much in the news about recent abortion legislation in New York and Virginia. In both states, the laws make abortion more accessible for women and Republicans/pro-life people are in coniptions about this.

The laws should come as no great surprise to Republicans and pro-lifers. In the last two years of Trump, they have done all they can both to stock the Supreme Court with super conservatives and to whittle away at abortion rights on the state level too.

Now that Democrats have won elections, their priority is to make the states ready for the probability that Roe will be overturned. If Republicans had been fair about Merrick Garland, if they had not cooked up so many obstructive state regulations to make access to abortion a virtual impossibility for some women, then maybe we wouldn't be here.

What Republicans will do now is lie about the provisions of these new laws and try to whip up furor for their side in the upcoming 2020 elections.

The Virginia bill has been tabled for now,.

The New York law, The Reproductive Health Act ...

NY will now allow nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, and licensed midwives to perform abortions. Abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures (Major complications after abortion are extremely rare, study shows) but laws requiring one or more doctors to perform them and for them to take place in hospitals have made abortion expensive and difficult to arrange.

The law also allows abortions after 24 weeks now. According to the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 66 percent of legal terminations occur within the first eight weeks of gestation, and 92 percent are performed within the first 13 weeks. Only 1.2 percent occur at or after 21 weeks, so this change will apply to a small percentage of abortions, done because of fetal non-viability or risk to the woman's health (not just if her life is threatened). The law does not allow for unrestricted abortion up to the time of birth.

The new law also makes abortion a public health matter now, and no longer a criminal matter.

You can read more about the law here: Fact Check: Did New York Pass a Bill Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth?

And this from National Catholic Reporter: Abortion extremism will yield more laws like New York's

And this from The New Yorker: How Abortion Law in New York Will Change, and How It Won’t

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

It's spring!

While much of the country is experiencing a polar vortex, in my area it's springtime in January - 66 F and sunny.

The strange yellow flowers are beginning to bloom ...

Even the fungi are happy ...

And the loquat tree will soon be making loquats ...

Monday, January 28, 2019

Just eat it!

Tonight, as I tried to get finicky Yoda to eat her dinner, this song came to mind :) ...

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Catholic high school bigots?

There was much in the news a while ago about a video showing about 100 Catholic high school boys wearing MAGA hats, shipped into DC to attend an anti-abortion march, mocking a Native American elder. The video went viral and there was condemnation of the boys' actions. But then there was an equal and opposite backlash to the condemnation, with Trump coming out in support of them.

Some conservatives have said that the boys should be excused from their behavior because there were near some members of the tiny anti-Semitic sect, Black Hebrew Israelites, the extreme fringe of which is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-Jewish and Black supremacist, who were being obnoxious.

But how does being near a group of vocal religious extremists somehow force Catholic teens into becoming anti-Native American bigots? What I think is more probable is that those high school kids already were bigots .... they were proudly wearing MAGA hats, evidencing their support for Trump, a man who has many times shown his contempt for Native Americans in particular and non-whites in general.

It's hard to come to any other conclusion when seeing footage of the event - here's an interview of Tara Houska, a tribal attorney who works in DC, often with Bernie Sanders, who was actually there when the confrontation took place ...

PS - maybe shipping out-of-state Catholic high school kids to anti-abortion marches isn't a really great idea, for anyone.

Read more: What Covington Catholic Students Should Know About the Church’s History With Indigenous People

Saturday, January 26, 2019

She's Not There

- Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, back in the day

Busy news day. I feel I should say something about Trump ending the government shutdown or about Manafort being in court or about the arrest of that friend to both of them since the 80s, Roger Stone.

But let's listen to some ancient music by The Zombies instead :) ...

Thursday, January 24, 2019

It's not just me

It's not just me who's angry over the shutdown. Today the normally quiet Democratic senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet, spoke up when Ted Cruz accused Democrats of holding the Coast Guard hostage with the shutdown in order to spite Trump ...

Let them eat cake

Holy effing crap. Rich Republican Trump-minion Wilbur Ross suggests federal workers without paychecks take out loans to cover their expenses while they are working without pay. Because, you know, there's nothing that saves you economically like incurring more debt. God, I hope these jerks loss their jobs, their fortunes, their health care, their homes, and are forced to walk in the shoes of people without money or hope.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Kamala Harris on Rachel Maddow's show

One of my senators, Kamala Harris, was on Rachel Maddow's show tonight. She is one of the latest Democratic entries into the 2020 presidential race. I like her and voted for her for senator. I learned something about her in the interview that I didn't know before - she's against the death penalty. I think that's great. So many good Democrats to choose from :)

Trump can't bully Pelosi

Trump has written to House Speaker Pelosi, telling her he *will* give the state of the union speech on Jan. 29 and in the House. She wrote back and said, 'no you are not'. She has the right to disallow the speech. He thinks he can bully her into caving. News flash for Trump - you aren't dictator of the US and you can't bend a co-equal branch of the government to your every whim (well, except for the Republican-run senate which gets down on its knees whenever Trump is near).

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

AOC on The Late Show

Here's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with Stephen Colbert. She likes ice cream :) Towards the end, she explains her 70% tax plan, which has been really mis-characterized by Republicans ...

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Live And Let Die

When I was young, people used to actually describe me as sweet ;) My grandparents raised my sis and me to be nice above all else, and multiple things, including a BA in philosophy taught me to question my certainties and give others the benefit of the doubt. Here's the kinder gentler me in high school ...

I'm not that person now. I don't trust the goodness of human nature anymore, ... political corruption, religious bigotry, the petty meanness encountered in everyday life ... it just makes that seem improbable. And that makes me wonder why I should try to be good myself anymore. Made me think of this song ...

Friday, January 18, 2019

Mueller and BuzzFeed

Much in the news about BuzzFeed's story that Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to congress about the Moscow tower. Then much in the news about the Special Counsel's comment about the BuzzFeed story. From what I understand, the basics of the story ... Trump telling Cohen to lie ... is accurate, despite the obscure note from Mueller. Here's more on this from Rachel Maddow and former FBI agent Chuck Rosenberg ...

Mechanical Turk

I've been trying to figure out how to make some extra cash. One idea is to publish my past short stories through Amazon's self publishing thingy - it's just taking too long to rewrite my longer story.

Another thing is Amazon's Mechanical Turk page. Here's a bit of what Wikipedia has on it ...

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace enabling individuals and businesses (known as Requesters) to coordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks that computers are currently unable to do. It is one of the sites of Amazon Web Services, and is owned by Amazon. Employers are able to post jobs known as Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs), such as choosing the best among several photographs of a storefront, writing product descriptions, or identifying performers on music CDs. Workers, colloquially known as Turkers, can then browse among existing jobs and complete them in exchange for a monetary payment set by the employer .....

The name Mechanical Turk was inspired by "The Turk", an 18th-century chess-playing automaton made by Wolfgang von Kempelen that toured Europe, beating both Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. It was later revealed that this "machine" was not an automaton at all, but was in fact a human chess master hidden in the cabinet beneath the board and controlling the movements of a humanoid dummy. Likewise, the Mechanical Turk online service allows humans to help the machines of today perform tasks for which they are not suited ...

I've tried doing some of the jobs at Mechanical Turk but so far it's been kind of disappointing ... most tasks only pay a penny! Here's an article from CNET that is pretty informative: Amazon's Mechanical Turk lets you make $$$, sort of

It may come to me sending the cats out to find part time jobs, perhaps with the circus :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


As the shutdown continues, we have to wonder, as did Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, where the hell Mitch McConnell is. He's the one person who could quickly end the government shutdown by allowing bills to open the government to make it to the senate floor. He knows these bills would pass, and most likely with a surplus high enough to overturn Trump's veto, but he won't allow them to be voted on. Why not? Because he apparently works for Trump, not the American people.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Summer Song

I remember looking out of the window in the living room with my cat Spot and singing along to this song ...

Monday, January 14, 2019

The not so secret lives of priests

The American cardinal who slept with numerous seminarians and abused minors has been in the news again - Wuerl knew of McCarrick abuse allegations, according to Catholic officials

This scandal is just the latest that has come to public attention, but the real story is a about that slow-motion train wreck known of as the Catholic priesthood. Mandatory celibacy and anit-gay policies have created an environment of dishonesty and abuse.

Last year Fr. James Alison wrote a couple of articles for The Tablet about McCarrick and about life in the priesthood. It's pretty amazing in its honesty. Here's a bit of what he wrote in the articles, from his website ...

[...] The McCarrick shock was not what he got up to with seminarians and other adults. These were widely known about. It was that in addition to a standardly furtive, albeit egregiously creepy, clerical gay life, this generally kind and well-liked man had also abused at least two minors. ....

In all these cases, in as far as the behaviour was adult-related, plenty of people in authority sort-of-knew what was going on, and had known throughout the clerics’ respective careers. However the informal rule among the Catholic Clergy – the last remaining outpost of enforced homosociality in the Western world – is strictly “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Typically, blind eyes are turned to the active sex lives of those clerics who have them, only two things being beyond the pale: whistle-blowing on the sex lives of others, or public suggestions that the Church’s teaching in this area is wrong. These lead to marginalisation, whether formal or informal.

Given all this, it seems to me entirely reasonable that people should now be asking “How deep does this go?” If such careers were the result of blind eyes being turned, legal settlements made, and these clerics themselves were in positions of influence and authority, how much more are we going to learn about those who promoted and protected them? Or about those whom they promoted?

So it is that voices like Rod Dreher – keenly followed blogger at The American Conservative – are resuscitating talk of the “Lavender Mafia”, and the demand, which became popular in conservative circles from 2002 onwards, that the priesthood be purged of gay men. Investigative journalists are being encouraged to lay bare the informal gay networks of friendship, patronage, and potential for blackmail which structure clerical life (or are being excoriated for their politically correct cowardice in failing to do so). The aim is to weed out the gays, especially the treasonous bishops who have perpetuated the system. Ross Douthat – the New York Times columnist – has called for a papally mandated investigation into the American Church (I guess along the lines of Mgr Charles Scicluna’s in Chile) in order to restore its moral authority. Others, like Robert Mickens, The Tablet’s Rome correspondent for many years, are equally aware of the “elephant in the sacristy” which is the massively disproportionate number of gay men in the clergy, but highlight the refusal of the Roman authorities to engage in any kind of publicly accountable, adult discussion about this fact. Their refusal reinforces collective dishonesty and perpetuates the psychosexual immaturity of all gay clergy, whether celibate, partnered or practitioners of so-called “serial celibacy”.

How to approach this issue in a healthy way? As a gay priest myself I am obviously more in agreement with Mickens than with Dreher or Douthat. However I would like to record my complete sympathy with the passion of the latter two as well as with their rage at a collective clerical dishonesty which renders farcical the claim to be teachers of anything at all, let alone divine truth. Jesus becomes credible through witnesses, not corrupt party-line pontificators.

Having said that, I suspect that particular interventions, whether by civil authority or Papal mandate, are always going to run aground on the fact that they can only deal with, and bring to light specific bad acts, usually ones that rise to the level of criminality. I cannot imagine a one-off legal intervention in this sphere that would be able to make appropriate distinctions where there are so many fine lines: between innocent friendship, sexually charged admiration, abusive sexual suggestion, emotional blackmail, financial blackmail, recognition of genuine talent, genuine love lived platonically, genuine love lived with sexual intimacy, sexual favours granted with genuine freedom, sexual favours granted out of fear or in exchange for promotion, covering peccadillos for a friend, covering graver matters for a rival in exchange for some benefit, not wanting to know too much about other people’s lives, or obsessively wanting to know too much about them. Let alone the usual rancours of break-ups, career disappointments, petty jealousies, bitterness, revenge and so on. All of these tend to shade into or out of each other over time, making effective outside assessment, even if it were desirable, impossible ....

When I joined the Catholic church about 20 years ago I was pretty naive about the priesthood - I thought most priests were like Fr. Dowling. But womb-to-tomb Catholics do know about the dysfunctionality and they just ignore it. I don't understand that.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Naming the cats

Out in the yard today with the cats ...

Olive likes to drink from the hose rather than a dish :). Olive is a male and a Maine Coon, but at first I thought he was a girl ....

Vicky was into some serious grooming. I didn't know when I named him Vicky that about 80% of yellow tabby cats are male ...

Tortie Hansel was lying on the warm driveway. When I named Hansel after a boy (Hansel and Gretel) I didn't know that almost all tortoiseshell cats are female ...

And here's Yoda napping by the window - a female cat named after a male Star Wars character who has really big ears, because she had huge ears as a kitten. But now her hears are kind of small, so her name doesn't really fit either :) ...

At least I was right about Lucy, who really is a girl and I named her after St. Lucy because of her luminous eyes ...

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Will Hurd on border security

Republican congressman Will Hurd of Texas, a former undercover CIA operative in the Middle East, gives a really cogent argument for why "the wall" is not the smartest way to deal with the situation at the southern border ...

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

"So sad"

"So sad" said Trump during his bizarre talk from the White House - I think those words fitly describe his whole speech. He lied continuously throughout, blamed everything but the Lindbergh kidnapping on the Democrats, and turned building the wall akin to a religious crusade.

Here The New York Times fact checks all he said ... Trump’s Speech to the Nation: Live Updates and Fact Checks

An example ...

“The federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”


Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in funding for border security measures like enhanced surveillance and fortified fencing. They do not support Mr. Trump’s border wall. At a meeting with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer in December, Mr. Trump took responsibility for the partial government shutdown. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,” he said.

— Linda Qiu

All this sturm und drang is about one thing only ... Trump and his invertebrate Republican sycophants staying in power by hook or crook or dead-head base support. They are unworthy to run this country.

Monday, January 07, 2019

60 Minutes: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on 60 Minutes. The Republicans have been trying to make her into a radical liberal boogey-woman to stir up their base, but as a Democrat I don't find her radical, I find her exactly what I hope a Democratic lawmaker would be - she's for protecting the environment, free education, economic justice, health care for all, an assault weapons ban. women's reproductive rights, etc. What's not to like? :)

Sunday, January 06, 2019

It's a hostage situation

Trump's latest plan to get the money for his wall is to have it made out of steel instead of concrete, as if that makes any difference. Meanwhile, people are asking why the Democrats don't just give in and let him have the money. The Democrats don't do that for the same reason that governments don't negotiate with terrorists ... if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk.

Trump isn't an effing king who can order the government to comply with his every stupid whim. And the wall *is* a stupid whim. It's not the best way to deal with the border situation, it's just a prop to Trump's ego and a sop to his brain-dead zombie horde of a base. Since he can't simply order it done, he's taken the country hostage instead.

Because of this shutdown, people have already died (Three dead in national park system accidents as shutdown wears on), and soon millions of food stamp recipients, elderly people and little kids, will be deprived of food (Food stamps for millions of Americans become pawn in shutdown fight).

Trump isn't worried about the damage done, he's relishing it (Trump’s Leverage in the Shutdown Fight: His Own Nihilism). If the Democrats give in to this moral blackmail, Trump will use the same tactic again and again to satisfy his every selfish urge.

There is a solution to the problem. The Republicans could vote to pass the very same bill they did pass earlier that would keep the government open. It won't matter if Trump refuses to sign it because Congress has the votes to override his veto. But the Republicans won't do this. They give more fealty to their would-be king than they do to the American people.

What Rashida Tlaiub said

In the news: GOP Clutches Pearls Over Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s ‘Foul Language,’ Shrugs Over Trump’s

After newly sworn-in Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) pledged to “impeach that motherf**ker,” referring to President Donald Trump, during a progressive rally Thursday night, Republican lawmakers on Friday immediately turned up the outrage machine.

“You’ve had very foul language used,” said House GOP chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), whose dad, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in 2004 told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to “fuck yourself” while the two were on the Senate floor for a group photo.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also condemned Tlaib’s remarks as “wrong,” and lauded the previous Republican freshman class because they “put a resolution together to actually work with one another, to not use foul language.” ....

The hypocrisy is breathtaking. It's not just that Republicans have yawned over Trump's own use of the F word, they have refused to condemn him for stuff from boasting about grabbing women's lady parts, to saying that the neo-nazis at Charlottesville were fine people, to calling countries in Africa sh*tholes, to implying Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is a whore. The list of Trump's slurs and lies could go on forever.

Republicans are always justifying the awful things Trump says by asserting that he's only voicing what people really think but are afraid to say. In most cases, I don't thin that's true, but in the case of what What Rashida Tlaiub said about Trump, it's definitely true for me.

Friday, January 04, 2019

The latest uppity woman

There's been a lot in the news lately about how Republican lawmakers have been concentrating their criticisms on new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The latest .... they have come down on her for a video from her college years in which she and other students are dancing to old John Hughes' movies.

From The Guardian ... An attempt to humiliate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the day she was sworn in as the youngest ever US Congresswoman has backfired impressively, prompting a huge outpouring of support for her.

Republican dopes - did they never see Footloose? ;)

Some have tried to figure out why the Republicans are so fixated on Ocasio-Cortez. My theory is that they just really hate to see an unapologetically intelligent, confident, liberal female rising to a position or respect and power. In short, AOC is the latest (after Nancy Pelosi) uppity woman.

Deal with it, jerks :)

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Nancy Pelosi :)

Here New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries nominates Nancy Pelosi as the new Speaker of the House. When he describes her and what she will do, you can see what it means to be a Democrat, what the Democratic party stands for. And of course she won :) ....

Throwback Thursday

During the college years, my sister and I went to a lot of martial arts movies. We saw the Japanese samurai films like Samurai Trilogy by Inagaki and most of the ones by Kurosawa like Rashomon and Yojimbo. Also the films/tv episodes about Zatoichi, the blind swordsman. We saw kung fu movies too, the Bruce Lee ones probably being the most accessible at that time.

And we also went to most of the earlier Chuck Norris movies. In the present, Chuck is mostly known as a politically conservative talk show host (I think?) but back then he was known of as a really good karate practitioner .... In 1969, he won Karate's triple crown for the most tournament wins of the year, and the Fighter of the Year award by Black Belt magazine.

Here's a clip from a movie in which Bruce Lee and Chuck appeared together in a fight scene in the Colosseum (Chuck is the bad guy ;) - ...

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Elizabeth Warren & Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow interviews Elizabeth Warren. I didn't realize that Warren was so knowledgeable about financial stuff. I didn't know she had been a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and at Harvard Law School, specializing in bankruptcy law. I also didn't know she's written a number of books about financial issues - must look them up at the library. And I didn't know she had been named Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by Obama to set up the new agency. As Rachel said, Warren, through her work, too the shame out of the financial struggle that many working Americans faced. I know all about that shame. Another reason to vote for Elizabeth Warren.

Here's are some segments of Rachel's interview ...