Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I miss President Obama!


Monday, August 14, 2017

More unplugged music

Here's Paul McCartney singing We Can Work It Out, from MTV Unplugged ...

Democrats must move left, not right

There's been much in the news about the Democratic party making compromises with conservatives in order to win elections ... one example is the effort by pro-lifers to gain a foothold in the DNC. I think that is a terrible idea and I'm not the only one - Elizabeth Warren agrees with me ... Amid 2020 buzz, Warren urges Democrats to reject centrist policies and move leftward ...

Here's a bit from another article a couple of weeks ago in The New York Times ...

Of Course Abortion Should Be a Litmus Test for Democrats

Democrats will fund anti-choice candidates in conservative districts, Representative Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview this week, citing the party’s need to build “a broad coalition” to win control of Congress in 2018 ....

I relate to the flailing panic that is no doubt undergirding such a morally putrescent idea. Nineteen hyenas and a broken vacuum cleaner control the White House, and ice is becoming extinct. I get it. I am desperate and afraid as well. I am prepared to make leviathan compromises to pull us back from that brink. But there is no recognizable version of the Democratic Party that does not fight unequivocally against half its constituents’ being stripped of ownership of their own bodies and lives. This issue represents everything Democrats purport to stand for .... to be anti-choice on a policy level is absolutely indefensible from an economic justice, racial justice, gender justice and human rights standpoint. And if the Democratic Party does not stand for any of those things, then what on earth is it?

It’s true that the left will have to choose (and soon) between absolute ideological purity and the huge numbers required to seize the rudder of the nation and avert global catastrophe. But abortion is not valid fodder for such compromise, nor is racism, nor is L.G.B.T.Q. equality, nor is any issue that puts people’s fundamental humanity up for debate. Abortion is not a fringe issue. Abortion is liberty ....

What the Democrats need to do, I often hear, is to move away from issues of “identity” and toward purer, broader issues of economic equality. But there is no model of economic equality that does not reckon with “identity politics.” There is no economic equality without the ability to terminate a pregnancy. There is no economic equality without the overthrow of white supremacy. What good is an economic opportunity if large swaths of the population can’t access it? Telling minority groups that it’s their responsibility to sit back and wait, to subordinate their needs for the good of the party — that implies that “the party” is not theirs as much as everyone else’s. And it sounds a lot like the people we’re trying to defeat .....

Some say we should be willing to support candidates that disagree with us on just one issue, but why is it only women who are expected to take one for the team? Will the DNC support candidates who want to roll back marriage equality in order to get more religious conservatives' votes? Will the DNC support racist candidates so they can pick up the bigot vote that they missed in the last election? At what point does the Democratic party become just another version of the Republican party?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Unplugged music

I've been looking through old music from MTV's unplugged shows. Here's one for tonight - R.E.M., Losing My Religion ....

Trump: willing champion of white supremacists

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Taylor Swift and bodily integrity

I've been reading/watching in the news about the trial in which Taylor Swift has accused a man of grabbing her behind ...

I'm glad she has chosen to make a public issue of this. I think it's probable that most women have experienced some level of sexual harassment at the workplace - I have - but many of us are not able to really redress it. What's disturbing is that using another person as your involuntary squeeze toy is often not seen as a serious violation. I know this because many Americans, including Catholics and Evangelical Christians, just knowingly voted for a professed pussy grabber for president.

This issue touches on the idea of bodily integrity, a concept which has informed issues not just of assault but also of torture, suicide, abortion, circumcision,. Some people think our bodies are the property of God or of society or of other people, but bodily integrity emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. In the field of human rights, violation of the bodily integrity of another is regarded as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal.

Here's a bit from an article on the Taylor Swift trial ...

Taylor Swift’s Sexual Assault Testimony Was Sharp, Gutsy, and Satisfying

[...] For young fans of Swift’s, hearing a beloved artist speak candidly about the emotional damage of sexual assault and stand up to a courtroom of men trying to prove her wrong could be a formative moment for their developing ideas of gender, sex, and accountability. Swift certainly has advantages most women who endure similar violations will never have: the money and time to mount a strong case against her alleged assailant, the jury-endearing privileges of white skin and a beautiful face, and millions of supporters rallying publicly behind her. And since he’s suing her for money and she’s already one of the biggest superstars in the world, detractors can’t argue, as they so often do in sexual-assault cases, that she’s making up a story for money or fame.

But Swift also faces some of the same obstacles other assault survivors endure if they bring their perpetrators to court. She must relive a distressing moment over and over again to dozens of observers, recounting in detail how her body was allegedly touched without her consent, while lawyers on the other side try their hardest to make her look unreliable, petty, and fake. When McFarland asked her how she felt when Mueller got the boot from his job at the Denver radio station, Swift said she had no response. “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault, because it isn’t,” she said. Later, she continued: “I am being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions and not mine.” Women who allege sexual assault are scolded all the time for ruining men’s lives, even if those men are proven guilty. Swift’s sharp testimony is a very visible condemnation of that common turn in cases like these. That’s an important message for women who may find themselves in Swift’s position someday, and maybe even more so for the men who’ll be called on to support or rebuff them.

Good on you, Taylor.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Another song from the distant past

Magic Man by Heart ...

OK, chortle if you must ;) but she does have a nice voice.

Trump/Star Trek

Fans of Star Trek will recall that there is a regulation that allows a ship's doctor to relieve the captain of command if he is for some reason no longer competent to fulfill his duties (here Kirk provokes then acting Captain Spock to the breaking point to prove that he should be relieved of duty) ...

Today as I watched Trump double down on his threats to the leader of North Korea, seemingly daring him to nuke Guam, I couldn't help wondering if there isn't some kind of similar safety measure in place in our government that allows for the removal of a president who's as crazy as a bedbug. ...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Life with cats

Watching this video made me laugh :) ...

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

We Used to Know

I remember seeing these guys, Jethro Tull, in concert when I was a teen :) .....

On a path to thermonuclear war

Yes, another post on the possibility of us being nuked by North Korea. Effing idiot Trump has just upped the chances of N. Korea bombing us ... Trump, North Korea Trade Escalating Threats of Fire. How can the Republicans stand by and let this obviously unstable person lead us to the brink of thermonuclear war? Wake up, fools!

Monday, August 07, 2017

What if we get nuked

There are a lot of things to worry about, from drug resistant bacteria to global warming, but the thing that's so scary I can't allow myself to consider it more than moments at a time is the threat from North Korea .... yep, us getting nuked. The subject was in the news again today - North Korea Ready To Teach U.S.‘Severe Lesson’ - and I can't help wondering how long we have before our crazy president pisses off N. Korea's crazy dictator enough to make him flip the switch.

Here's some info on what it might be like if that happened .... WAR GAMES This is what would happen if North Korea launched a nuclear attack on the US… and Trump would have just 10 MINUTES to decide how to react.

When I imagine what it would be like, I can't get that horrific scene from Terminator 2 out of my head. But, but, but, that can't be a realistic depiction, right? Uh oh, it pretty much is ...


Sunday, August 06, 2017

Music from the ex

When I was first going out with the ex, he loaned me some of his albums and one of them was by this guy :) ....

Friday, August 04, 2017

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

My latest kindle book from the public library is Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by journalist Mark Bowden. The Wikipedia page for the book begins ...

It documents efforts by the Unified Task Force to capture Somali faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid in 1993, and the resulting battle in Mogadishu between United States forces and Aidid's militia. One of the key events is the downing of two United States UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, from which the book derives its title, and the attempt to rescue their crews. United States forces included Army Rangers, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Delta Force and Navy SEALs, with United Nations peacekeeping forces also involved.

The raid became the most intense close combat in U.S. military history since the Vietnam War. Although the particular mission to apprehend Aidid was officially codenamed Gothic Serpent, the media colloquially termed it the Battle of Mogadishu as well as the Battle of the Black Sea ...

I had seen the movie of the same name a few years ago and wrote a blog post about it: Somalia at the movies . That post goes into the historical details of the actual incident, if anyone is curious.

It's fairly interesting if only as a look at how modern warfare operates. I haven't yet read to the part where everything goes teribly wrong - the movie depiction of that part was pretty harrowing. This is kind of an atypical book choice for me because I have mixed feelings about the military itself and military engagements ... I suppose in some senses they are necessary but I cringe at what they must do to the heads and hearts of the people involved.

For those interested, here's a trailer of the movie version, to which Ebert gave 4 stars ...

Thursday, August 03, 2017


Another day of hotness here (102°) and Fig the kitten is pooped out by the water dish :) ....

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

This week's movie rental was Kong: Skull Island ...

a 2017 American monster film that is a reboot of the King Kong franchise and serves as the second film in Legendary's franchise MonsterVerse. The film stars an ensemble cast consisting of Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson .... Kong follows a team of scientists and Vietnam War soldiers who travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific and encounter terrifying creatures and the mighty Kong.

Mostly I watched it because I wanted to see Tom Hiddleston in a role where he was a good guy instead of Thor's evil brother ;) .....

It was a pretty good monster movie. Set in the 70s just after the war in Vietnam, some scientists, some army helicopter guys, and a photographer and a British tracker (Hiddleston) investigate an uncharted island and find there a pilot whose plane had crashed in WWII, some indigenous people, and a lot of monsters. Many people get squished or impaled or eaten, and a few of the team survive and escape, because: the sequel. What's not to like?

Here's a positive review: Kong: Skull Island' review: Big budget buys dazzling effects and a really good movie too. And here's one not so positive: Kong: Skull Island review – only de-evolution can explain this zestless mashup.

And here's the trailer ...

Monday, July 31, 2017

We needs must have music :)

The Cars ....

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Trump's toadies really need a union

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Thanks to 3 Republicans

Collins, Murkowski—and McCain

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

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

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

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

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

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