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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Heat wave

Hot here on the west coast. We in CA are used to the heat by now, bu I have lived in Portland and they are just not prepared for these kinds of temperatures ... very few people have air conditioning. I can only imagine what a shock the heat is in Canada.

But worse than the heat is the drought. My trees are starting to die :( Here's more on that ...

Given all this, the Republicans in Congress are still trying to get rid of the climate change bits of the infrastructure bill.

Monday, June 28, 2021

The letter

Pope Francis sent a friendly letter to Fr. James Martin SJ about his ministry to gay Catholics, and now everyone is back to thinking Francis is on the side of LGBTQ+ people. Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case.

In the New York Times: Pope Sends More Mixed Messages on L.G.B.T.Q. Rights

A leader in the Roman Catholic Church’s effort to reach out to L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics revealed on Sunday that Pope Francis had sent him a deeply encouraging note, capping an especially disorienting week on the Vatican’s attitude toward gay rights.

On Tuesday, the Vatican confirmed that it had tried to influence the affairs of the Italian state by expressing grave concerns about legislation currently in Parliament that increases protections for L.G.B.T.Q. people. And days later, the Vatican’s second in command insisted the church had nothing against gay rights, but was protecting itself from leaving the church’s core beliefs open to criminal charges of discrimination ...

It's nice to have hope, but the reality is ...

1) The Catholic church officially teaches that LGBTQ+ people are "objectively disordered" and that "homosexual acts" are "intrinsically disordered" and "acts of grave depravity".

2) Pope Francis has done nothing to change this, and has continuously reiterated his own belief that marriage for gay people is against God's plan, and that the adoption of children by gay couples is bad for kids. See his 2016 Amoris Laetitia in which he writes ... There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family (251).

3) And the Pope and the church continue to lobby against gay people's rights out in the greater world, working to doom mattiage equality, doom the adoption of children by gay couples, and doom married gay people as teachers in Catholic schools.

Still, Pope Francis adopts an "I'm your buddy" attitude towards gay people publically. Why? I don't know if it's that he wants to maintain his popular progressive image, or if it's that he doesn't want to alienate those uber-conservative gay men he hopes will join the priesthood.

Either way, the relationship between the Pope, the church, and gay people has made no concrete progress, though there are the occassional touchy-feely moments. If I was LGBTQ+ myself, that would not be good enough for me.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Critical race theory

Yesterday, General Milley was attacked by Republicans in Congress who asserted the military is now too "woke" because critical race theory is being taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point ...

This is all a show, of course, for the Republican party's brain-dead voters. The Republican Congressmen and the pundits at Fox News do know what critical race theory really is ... a college level study of institutional racism and how that has affected society, which originated decades ago at Harvard Law School ... but the Republicans are happy to misrepresent it. To say that critical race theory will be taught to little kids in public schools is disingenuous poop.

Learn more about what critical race theory actually is from the person who originally coined the term, legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw ...

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Better Days

More from Badfinger.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Memory hole

We're learning that Trump, at the start of the pandemic, wanted to send sick Americans offshore so the "numbers" wouldn't look bad for him and doom his re-election. Yep, he wanted to send Americans with COVID to Gitmo. A recent study has shown that 40% of the COVID deaths in the us could have been prevented if we had had a competent leader instead of Trump. As Chrsi Hayes says in the video, "I will be damned if that is going to go down the memory hole".

Where is the International Criminal Court when you need it?

Monday, June 21, 2021

Baby Blue

This is the only live version I could find of this song by Badfinger - Baby Blue. it was released in 1971/2 and did ok, but apparently it had a resugence of popularity when it appeared in the last episode of Breaking Bad. Video from the Kenny Rogers Show 1972.

My people :)

A new series coming to Netflix ...

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Carry On

When shopping at Whole Foods, I heard on the Muzak a familiar Badfinger song, Day After Day. I realized I didn't really know much about them, though I knew many of their songs, and so I looked around until I came across a multi-part documentary about them. Wow, was it sad.

Even though the group had the help of Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison, even though their songs became very popular and they became famous, they had so much financial bad luck and hardship that two of the members, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, ended up killing themselves. Each left behind a wife and small child. Knowing this gives their songs a very different feel.


The US commemorates a new holiday today - Juneteenth.

Friday, June 18, 2021


Targeting Biden, Catholic Bishops Advance Controversial Communion Plan

The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States, flouting a warning from the Vatican, have overwhelmingly voted to draft a statement on the sacrament of the Eucharist, advancing a political push by conservative bishops to deny President Biden communion because of his support of abortion rights.

The decision, made public on Friday afternoon, is aimed at the nation’s second Catholic president, the most religiously observant commander in chief since Jimmy Carter, and exposes bitter divisions in American Catholicism. It capped three days of contentious debate at a virtual June meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The measure was approved by a vote of 73 percent in favor and 24 percent opposed ....

You had to know this was coming. The US Catholic Bishops are right-wing extremists whose conservatism makes middle-of-the-road Pope Francis look like AOC. They loved Trump ... his anti-women and anti-gay stances were music to their ears. Now that Biden, a Catholic Democrat, is president, out comes their wafer-blackmail ploy.

Won't work, though. I believe most Catholics are sick of having communion used as a weapon against those who don't fall in line with the church's defunct teachings. Much as the Bishops would like to, they cannot stand between people and God.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Supreme Court

Supreme Court Rules Catholic Group Doesn't Have To Consider LGBTQ Foster Parents

This isn't a case about the ability of the Catholic church to believe or teach that gay marraige is wrong. The church can do that to its heart's content. This is a case about whether the Catholic church can use government money to discriminate against citizens.

As I've written before, the Catholic church runs many of its charities on government money through government grants and contracts. If the church paid for this charity and didn't take the government's money, yet still discriminated against LGBTQ people, this case would not exist.

Basically, the church wants to have its cake and eat it too. And the (mostly Catholic) Supreme Court has allowed them to do so.

If this doesn't sound disturbing to you, imagine if the Catholic church wanted to discriminate against Jewish people being foster parents, or inter-racial couples being foster parents, or disabled peoplem being foster parents, all while running a government funded program.

When we talk about this case, we should also keep in mind that the majority of Catholics actually support marriage equality. It is Church leaders who perpetuate the failed teaching that there is something wrong with gay people marrying.

As this 2020 Pew survey notes, US Catholics are in favor of marriage equality by about 2/3 (61% approve). That view holds for Europe as well ...

Another point - this illustrates too how little of its own money the Catholic church is willing to invest in charity work. Here's a story in The New York Times from 2011, when the very same subject was in the news ...

Bishops Say Rules on Gay Parents Limit Freedom of Religion

Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children ....

The bishops are engaged in the religious liberty battle on several fronts. They have asked the Obama administration to lift a new requirement that Catholic and other religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and charity groups cover contraception in their employees’ health plans. A decision has been expected for weeks now.

At the same time, the bishops are protesting the recent denial of a federal contract to provide care for victims of sex trafficking, saying the decision was anti-Catholic. An official with the Department of Health and Human Services recently told a hearing on Capitol Hill that the bishops’ program was rejected because it did not provide the survivors of sex trafficking, some of whom are rape victims, with referrals for abortions or contraceptives ....

Catholic Charities is one of the nation’s most extensive social service networks, serving more than 10 million poor adults and children of many faiths across the country. It is made up of local affiliates that answer to local bishops and dioceses, but much of its revenue comes from the government. Catholic Charities affiliates received a total of nearly $2.9 billion a year from the government in 2010, about 62 percent of its annual revenue of $4.67 billion. Only 3 percent came from churches in the diocese (the rest came from in-kind contributions, investments, program fees and community donations) ....

And the Catholic church benefits from taxpayer money in ways other than charity work ...

U.S. Roman Catholic Church used special exemption from federal rules to gain at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, AP analysis shows

The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups ....

File under reasons why I don't go to church anymore.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021


What is a dictatorship? According to Wikipedia ...

A dictatorship is a form of government characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent media. According to other definitions, democracies are a form of government in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore, dictatorships are "not democracies"

Who wants that kind of government for America? Apparently, the Republican party does, with Trump as their leader. This isn't hyperbole. The Republicans and Trump tried after the last election to overturn the will of the people in various ways, including an insurrection. And now they are trying to enact laws in almost every state that will allow Republican legislatures to overturn future election results - to dismiss the winner of the election and put the loser in power instead.

What this will mean is that we will not be a country where the people choose their leader. We will not be a democracy, we will be a dictatorship. People, even the Democrats in Congress, seem almost oblivious to this. Wake up!

Monday, June 14, 2021


I've been trying to keep track of President Biden's European trip on the news. I see that he's now in Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

Brussels is actually a place I've visited - it was one of the stops on my family's trip to Europe in 1976. What I remember about Brussels more than anything else was the restaurant where we had dinner. The meals were arranged by the tour and my sister and I were the weirdos of the group because we were the only vegetarians. The restaurant made us wonderful brocolli and mushroom omelettes.

I also remember the Grand Place ...

Sadly, we only got to spend one day and night in Brussels (our tour visited 11 countries in 21 days - it was insane!). I wish we could have seen some of the newer stuff now in Brussels, like the Magritte Museum, housing the work of the Belgian surrealist artist, René Magritte - that didn't exist back in 1976.

Anyway, hope Biden does well on his trip.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021


On this great day, the day the Keystone XL pipeline finally died (New York Times: The Keystone XL pipeline project has been terminated), environmentalist and journalist Bill McKibben, who fought against it, is on Rachel Maddow's show.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez commented tonight on, among other things, Kamala Harris telling the people of Central America not to come to th US.

I'd like to mention that ....

"Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution" is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and supported by the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Under these agreements, a refugee is a person who is outside that person's own country's territory owing to fear of persecution on protected grounds, including race, caste, nationality, religion, political opinions and participation in any particular social group or social activities.

The US recognizes the right to asylum based on international law and federal law. So Harris telling people that they can't come to the border is odd.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

A plan

We Democrats have to stop the Republicans. How? Well, first we need a plan. Unfortunately, I'm less than confident the Democrats can come up with a viable plan, much less implement it ...

We won the House, we won the Senate, we won the White House, but now it looks almost like we lost.

- Thanks to Democrat Joe Manchin, we probably won't be able to pass any further legislation that will really matter ... no voting rights act, no infrastructure plan, no climate change plan, no police reform bill, no passing the Equality Act, no gun reform, no reproductive rights legislation, no Violence Against Woman Act, no immigration reform, etc. Manchin won't change or do away with the filibuster, and he won't vote for legislation that isn't "bi-partisan".

- Meanwhile it almost looks like Biden's DOJ might as well still be Trump's DOJ. Garland's DOJ is preventing the release of a memo by Barr showing he acted with bad faith in the mueller investigation (Biden’s Justice Department Is Trying to Keep Barr’s Trump Memo Under Wraps). Garland's DOJ spied on journalists (The Justice Department needs to explain why it seized Post reporters’ phone records). And now, Garland's DOJ is defending Trump against a rape victim (Biden DOJ Plans To Continue To Defend Trump In E. Jean Carroll's Defamation Lawsuit).

It doesn't feel to me as if we have really won. The mid-term elections will be here soon and it's likely Democrats could lose the House, maybe the Senate too. If we are going to accomplish anything worthwile we need to get it together and make a coherent plan to actually help the American people while we still have the power to do so. Perhaps the problem is a lack of will on the part of some Democrats. If that's the case, they should just get out of the effing way.

Monday, June 07, 2021

The ad

Fox News Blocks Ad Showing Law Enforcement Officers Describing Capitol Riot Violence

The ad ...

Fox doesn't want its Trump-supporting viewers to see what their "patriots" actually weought on January 6th.

Sunday, June 06, 2021


Pope Francis Expresses Sorrow But No Apology For Indigenous School Deaths In Canada

Pope Francis expressed sorrow Sunday for the gruesome discovery of a mass grave in Canada containing the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children. The remains were found at a boarding school for Indigenous Canadians, operated by Catholic clergy ...

It's so hard to apologize when you're infallible, because that would mean you were actually capable of being, you know, wrong. And once you've admitted that you made a mistake in one area, then how do you hold the line against a rethinking of all your other "from the lips of God" decisions, like that contraception is bad, that cohabitation is bad, that gay relationships are bad, that divorce/remarriage is bad, that women priests are bad, etc, etc, etc.

Saturday, June 05, 2021


Trump and the Republicans rail against Anifa, but Antifa is anti-fascist, and the fight against fascism is noble and necessary. The Lincoln Project reminds us of what that means ...

Thursday, June 03, 2021


Trump keeps asserting his big lie, the one where there was massive voter fraud in the last election and he actually won and is the real president of the US. He believes, or pretends to nelieve, that he will be reinstated in the White House sometime this summer.

Almost all Republican politicians pretend that they too believe that Trump is the real president and that he should be and will be reinstated. Some of them, like Matt Gaetz, have also implied that violence should be used to bring this about ...

Trump's shill artists, like Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, are on the road, assuring Trump supporters that he is the real president and that perhaps we need a military coup to reinstate him ...

All this shit-shoveling has had the desired effect. Nearly all Republican voters now believe that Biden is an illegitimate president and that Trump really won the past election (3 in 4 Republicans Don't Think Joe Biden Won Election Legitimately: Poll)..

What will be the effect of all this falsely created outrage?

We've already seen a preview on January 6th, with a Trump mob attacking Congress to stop the certification of Biden's win. We're seeing now fake audits of the past election. And we're seeing the mushrooming of stste bills and laws that not only suppress the Democratic vote, but which give Republican state officials the power to actually overturn elections if they don't like the results.

I'm worried that when Trump isn't magically reinstated this summer, his followers will try an armed civil war ... after all, they are the party of gun-toters, crazy enough to believe that a cannibalistic ring of satan-worshipping pedophiles is running the world. I fear there is no line they won't cross to return their cult leader to power.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Go Paxton!

In Texas, Lake Highlands valedictorian Paxton Smith went viral for her speech about the most restrictive abortion law in the country. Here's a piece about her speech from The 11th Hour ....

The church

I haven't written much about Catholic stuff lately. There was a time when almost every post was about something Catholic, but it has been years since then, and I guess I'm finally in a place where I don't miss Catholicism. Part of the reason for that is the constant reminder of its enduring dark side. Two recent examples in the news ...

1) 'Unthinkable loss': More than 200 bodies of children found at Indigenous school in Canada

What's not mentioned in most of the headlines is that this was a Catholic school ... Survivors, faith leaders call on Catholic Church to take responsibility for residential schools

[...] The Roman Catholic Church was responsible for operating up to 70 per cent of residential schools, according to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS). United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches were among those operating the remainder. In the years since, the Roman Catholic Church is the only one that hasn't made a formal apology ....

2) Meanwhile, the Catholic church in the US is all hopeful about its case that might be heard by the now super conservative Supreme Court. The case is Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Basically, the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which is paid by the city to run a foster care agency, wants to use those taxpayer dollars to discriminate against married LGBTQ taxpayers who want to adopt ... With Fulton v. Philadelphia, U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide a new LGBT rights issue

This case isn't unique. Under the Obama administration there was a case bought by the ACLU on behalf of sex trafficking victims. The government paid the church to run a social service to help sex trafficking victims, but the church would not give those women information about their contraception or abortion options ... Court Prohibits Religious Restrictions on Government-Funded Trafficking Victims' Program

This subject of a clash between the government, which is trying to protect its citizens from discrimination, and the Catholic Church, which wants to be able to discriminate while at the same time still using government money, has come up often in the areas of adoption, employment, health care, marriage, sex trafficking, and even hate crime legislation. The church *could* discriminate against people to its heart's content if only it would let go of the government's money, but the church really wants those government contracts and grants. This article in The New York Times states ...

Catholic Charities affiliates received a total of nearly $2.9 billion a year from the government in 2010, about 62 percent of its annual revenue of $4.67 billion. Only 3 percent came from churches in the diocese (the rest came from in-kind contributions, investments, program fees and community donations).

And this from an article at Mother Jones ...

Under Obama, Catholic religious charities alone have received more than $650 million, according to a spokeswoman from the US Department of Health and Human Services, where much of the funding comes from. The USCCB, which has been such a vocal critic of the Obama administration, has seen its share of federal grants from HHS jump from $71.8 million in the last three years of the Bush administration to $81.2 million during the first three years of Obama. In fiscal 2011 alone, the group received a record $31.4 million from the administration it believes is virulently anti-Catholic, according to HHS data.

All this changed under Trump, and now with the Supreme Court Justices he appointed, there may be a whole new era of discriminatory bonanza for the Catholic church.