Perspective

Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

It's good to be king

Trump has decided he has the power to pardon all his minions and all his family members, not to mention the power to pardon himself. Wow - even Richard Nixon didn't try this, apparently because he found the idea "dishonorable".



This "pardon oneself" idea comes after last week's news about Sean Spicer quitting in protest, after Jeff Sessions appears to have lied again about his Russia contacts, after mention of Trump and Putin's date night at the G20, after the revelation of Jared Kushner's other money, after Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting to get dirt on Hillary, and after Trump's recent unhinged interview with The New York Times in which he castigates Sessions, accuses Comey of blackmail, and threatens special counsel Mueller.

Did I miss anything? It's so hard to keep up. If Trump is allowed to pardon himself, our democracy really will be a joke.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Music from The Young Pope

I really need a break from the insanity of Trump. Perhaps a song from the end of episode 4 of The Young Pope. Here it shows him listening to an Italian song given to him as a gift from the Prime Minister of Greenland (don't ask why) and imagining the Prime Minister dancing to the tune ...



Sunday, July 16, 2017

Drip, Drip, Drip

Rachel Maddow and then PBS NewsHour commentary from Shields and Brookstoday on the ever spreading 'Trump Jr/Russian Story' .....





There is not doubt now of collusion between Trump and Russia to affect our elections, and of course, no doubt that Trump and his minions continue to lie their asses off. It's said that Trump's supporters know all this but just don't care, and I believe that's true. I don't think they would care if he blew someone's head off on prime time tv as long as he was still useful to them ... Yes, Most Donald Trump Supporters Are Deplorable and Irredeemable. What they don't get is that Trump didn't become president in order to advance their agenda, he ran for office so he could enjoy being king.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Kittens

Remember the kittens I mentioned weeks ago who turned up in my yard? They're still here. If I could only catch them, my sis would give us a ride to the County shelter where they hopefully could find homes. Unfortunately, I'm totally inept at catching them, so they're still here, quickly growing past the adoptable age. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if there were not already so many cats living in the yard.

Here's Marie and one of her babies ...



The two white kittens are wrestling ...



Two of three (I think) stripey kittens ...


Monday, July 10, 2017

Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate

Nope, I'm not posting about The X-Files but about the latest White House press briefing ...



I've been watching it (or actually 'listening to' it, since it's another press briefing they wouldn't allow to be om-camera) and the twisting of the truth and the propaganda that spewed from Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her guest speaker, Marc Short, director of legislative affairs, threatened to drive me batty. Just a few comments to try to set things straight ....

- Marc Short spoke about Democrats obstructing the confirmations of Trump nominees. He said the Democrats were frustrating the wishes of the American people by doing this, and that the Democrats should be more bipartisan. Hey, let's try to remember that Hillary won the popular vote and that the will of the American people is probably split, at best, over these nominees. And the bipartisan stuff - this is incredibly disingenuous given how the Republicans in Congress refused to even consider President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Courtl.

- Short also stated that most Americans support the Senate health care bill (not true - Poll: Only 12% of Americans support the Senate health care plan). And he said that this is because the ACA is dying, but he neglected to mention why it is happening (Trump’s Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare Are Working ... The costs of Trump's sabotage of Obamacare already are showing up in rate hikes)

- Sanders later went on about the unprecedented rapport between Trump and Poland on his trip to Europe. This should come as no great surprise since Poland presently has one of the most conservative governments of recent times ... Trump picks Poland for his second foreign trip, where the government is accused of attacking democratic institutions ... Poland Is Busing Trump Supporters to Warsaw to Ensure Cheering Crowds

- And she tried to avoid questions about Trump's two hour love fest with Putin at G-20. Why were there only four people in the meeting? Why was there no press? Why did what was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting go on for over two hours (Donald Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin lasts more than 2 hours after being scheduled for 30 minutes)? Why did Trump accept Putin's assertion that there was no Russian meddling in our elections? You can read more on this but come on, but I think the fact is that Trump likes Putin and that it doesn't bother him that the Russians interfered in our elections. I would not be surprised to learn that Trump colluded with the Russians to win. So what was happening during those two hours? Probably a lot of celebrating.

- Sanders also tried to deflect questions about a previously undisclosed meeting between Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Trump's campaign manager with a Russian lawyer yo obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton ...



And ...



The WH press briefings now seem to only exist to spread misinformation.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Young Pope



This week's DVD rental was The Young Pope, a 10 episode English-language Italian tv series from HBO. It stars Jude Law (Gattaca, Enemy at the Gates, A.I.), Diane Keaton, James Cromwell, and Sebastian Roché.

The story begins as Lenny Belardo (Law) has just been elected pope. Abandoned by his parents at a Catholic orphanage as a boy, Lenny was raised by Sister Mary, grew up to become a priest under the mentoring of NY Archbishop Spencer (Cromwell), and then archbishop and cardinal. The conclave of cardinals chooses him as the first American pope because they believe he is nondescript and malleable, but instead they find he is a ruthless and damaged autocrat who does not really believe in God.

I haven't watched much HBO stuff because its shows are notorious for treating women characters like things (HBO Slammed For Sexual Violence Against Women in Its Shows), and so far this show seems to have more than it's share of unpleasant sexual encounters. I'm still watching but it isn't a show I'd ever want to revisit.

But, it's interesting from a Catholic point of view to see a facsimile of what the Vatican is like and how it's run .... the show had the help of Vatican experts. The sets and costumes are very nice and the cinematography is nice too.

Here's the title sequence of the show (from episode 3) with the pope walking past a line of famous paintings. As he walks, a little comet (or the holy spirit?) proceeds him through the paintings, bringing the characters and things within them to life. For some reason the video clip doesn't show all the animation in the paintings, only just a bit (see the the fire burning in the last painting, The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre?), but if you watch the series, you'll get the whole effect. And in the background plays the tune of Jimi Hendrix' Watchtower ...



Here's a look behind the scenes ...



Saturday, July 08, 2017

More on Cardinal Pell

From the editorial board at The New York Times: The Vatican’s Failure in the Abuse Scandal

For all of Pope Francis’ deserved acclaim in leading the Roman Catholic Church to new directions, he is failing badly on his promise to address the child abuse scandal at the crucial level where ranking churchmen systematically protected priests who raped and molested children.

His failure to confront the problem was underlined last week when the pope had to grant one of his closest advisers, Cardinal George Pell of Australia, a leave of absence from the Vatican to answer multiple charges of sexual assault in Melbourne.

Until now, Francis stood by Cardinal Pell, the Vatican treasurer, even after the cardinal admitted to a special Australian investigation last year that the church had made “enormous mistakes” in responding to the scandal while he was a ranking archbishop .....


Meanwhile, Cardinal Pell, who has left Rome, is seen taking a break at an ice cream cafe in Singapore (Cardinal George Pell spotted in Singapore en route to Australia) ...


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Photos from the yard










Tuesday, July 04, 2017

July 4th - still hating fireworks

UPDATE: it's almost midnight and the fireworks continue in my neighborhood, including the illegal cherry bombs tossed in front of the house. The terrified cats are hiding somewhere in the yard. The little kittens I've been trying to catch in the backyard must be both deaf and insane by now. I hate fireworks and I hate the jerks who abuse them.

On the 4th of July I usually write about how much I hate fireworks ... they scare animals and birds, and they pollute the air, cause a fire hazard, and and seem to be some people's method for harassing others. It's not just me who doesn't like them - Jesi master Luke Skywalker feels the same ...

Monday, July 03, 2017

Celebrate our free press on the 4th



On this, the (almost) fourth of July, given Trump's war on the media, I'd like to remind us of how lucky we are for the Fist Amendment ...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Without a free and investigative press, would we know about Watergate, Cardinal Law's sex abuse cover-up, what's going on in war zones? I don't think so.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Thomas Reese SJ fails on Pell

One of the few priests I have any respect left for in the church has been Thomas Reese SJ but I was really disappointed to see what he had to say in an interview about Cardinal Pell, who is charged with at least three serious sex assault charges, including at least one count of rape.

Reese turned himself into a pretzel in an effort to excuse Pope Francis having chosen Pell for top jobs at the Vatican despite Pell's decades long terrible reputation on sex abuse (Marie Collins: Cardinal Pell's leave from Vatican service comes 'far too late').

Also disappointing is how Reese downplayed contemporary sex abuse crimes by Catholic priests ... a couple of examples: U.S. priests accused of sex abuse get second chance in South America (2015), For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad (2014)

Here's Reese temporizing ...



The situation in the Catholic church is kind of like our current political situation here in the US. The guy in charge (The Pope or Trump) is not doing a good job, but for certain reasons, the leader's minions and the rank and file will do all they can to make him look good and to excuse his actions.

In US politics, this means the Republicans will support Trump even though he is a psycho because he will sign off on their agenda. For the Catholic church, this means the hierarchy and the average priest will wax lyrical on Francis the reforming Pope, though he's made no real reforms and is failing badly on issues like sex abuse, the rights of women, divorce/remarriage/communion, and LGBT relationships. Why? Because they don't want to see a return of the little tin god who was the previous pope.

What a failure of integrity. I had expected more of Thomas Reese.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trump tweet-bashes 'Morning Joe'

In the news: Trump Twitter Attack on ‘Morning Joe’ Hosts

How can any of us be surprised by this? Trump is the person who was accused by a number of women of sexually assaulting them, who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy, who encouraged his followers to resort to violence. He is and has always been a sociopath. What's hard to justify is why so many Republicans still shamelessly support him. I listened to the press briefing today and when this subject came up, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, an avowed Christian, tirelessly defended Trump's actions ....



The Republicans in Congress and the administration's minions who support Trump no matter what he does reveal themselves to be cynical hypocrites who have no other goal in life than to stay in power.

Here's more: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Hits New Low with Trump Tweet Defense ... and ... The Logic of Trump's Sexist Attacks

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cardinal Pell finally charged with sex abuse



In the news: Australian Cardinal and Aide to Pope Is Charged With Sexual Assault

Australia’s senior Roman Catholic prelate, and one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, has been charged with sexual assault, the police in the Australian state of Victoria said on Thursday.

The prelate, Cardinal George Pell, became the highest-ranking Vatican official in recent years to face criminal charges involving accusations of sexual offenses. The case will test the credibility of Francis’ initiatives to foster greater accountability after abuse scandals that have shaken the church around the world.

“Cardinal Pell has been charged on summons, and he is required to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court” on July 18, Shane Patton, the deputy police commissioner, said at a news conference.

The charges were served on the cardinal’s legal representatives in Melbourne. Commissioner Patton said there were multiple complainants but refused to provide further details about them, including their ages ....


Man, this has been a long time coming! There was a furor when Pope Francis, knowing of the terrible reputation Pell had on sex abuse, hired him to be on of his gang of eight. The Pope's own sex abuse commission in 2015 advised that Francis fire Pell (read what Marie Collins had to say), but the pope ignored them. Now that Pell is officially under investigation and charged with returning to Australia, will the Pope finally send him packing, or instead will he refuse to fire him and instead keep him safe from prosecution in the Vatican as he did with Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski?

More from Andrew Sullican: The Pope’s Pedophile?

And more on Pell from my past posts ...

February 26, 2014: Cardinal Pell

March 18, 2014: Cardinal Pell and the Ellis sex abuse case

March 26, 2014: Pell, sex abuse, church money

April 3, 2014: Eureka Street and David Marr on George Pell

May 21, 2015: The continuing badness of Cardinal Pell

May 31, 2015: 60 Minutes: Cardinal Pell and sex abuse

March 7, 2016: Editorial on Cardinal Pell

Here's a really interesting video interview from a few years ago with journalist David Marr on Cardinal Pell and sex abuse. It is really worth a watch .....


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Destroying the White House Press Briefings



I had never watched a White House Press Briefing before Trump won = they seemed kind of boring. But once Trump was in office the briefings became important to me ... they were an instance of public scrutiny of the Trump administration's policies. All the questions I myself wanted to ask about what Trump and his henchmen were up to were being asked by the press, and not just asked publicly and on tv, but asked and answered in real time. The press briefings are about accountability.

But ever since that early press briefing in which Sean Spicer avowed that the attendance at Trump's inauguration was the biggest that had ever occurred (lie) ...



... the Trump administration has been struggling to control and shape the briefings, and the reporters who attend, as if the briefings were a propaganda tool for the Trump administration. The latest effort in this direction has been the decision to end real time televised briefings and instead to only allow audio and even that only recorded for later use. In the 6/26 briefing, CNN's Jim Acosta tried to bring the subject up ...



Spicer's answer was non-responsive, lame, and, I believe, untrue.

Does this all matter? Yes! ...



I think the main reason Trump is destroying the WH press briefings is because he knows that most people watch televised news and that most people are owned by "seeing is believing" ... if we can no longer watch a video clip of Trump and his representatives being caught in their many lies, then in a way, those lies didn't really happen.

Here's an example of what I mean: Trump averred that he fired James Comey on the recommendation of Rosenstein and Sessions. All of his minions repeated this untruth, from Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Pence. And then came the televised Holt interview in which Trump said he had already decided to fire Comey because of the Russia investigation, before Rosenstein and Session provided a pretext for that ...



And then here in a following press briefing, White House Correspondent for ABC News, Jonathan Karl, makes the effort to hold the White House accountable on this. The antagonism, factual gymnastics, and blame-shifting by Huckabee Sanders are breathtaking ....



We need reporters like Karl to ask these kind of questions in real time and on tv, even if the Trump administration turns into pretzels trying to avoid giving a straight answer, because we need to get the truth out there in public, visually, viscerally, if we want to be a democracy.

Monday, June 26, 2017

More Moodies

I don't know about you guys, but when things get depressing I often turn to music to try to change my mood. Today I came upon a couple of Moody Blues songs, the versions of which I hadn't seen before. This first one is Tuesday Afternoon sung by Justin Hayward at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 ...



And this is Justin singing Nights in White Satin, same concert ...


The Supreme Court: travel ban

A depressing day in the news: Supreme Court allows limited version of Trump’s travel ban to take effect and will consider case in fall ...



I guess that's what happens when a Court seat belonging to Merrick Garland is stolen and given instead to a Republican sock-puppet (Neal Katyal: Senate's Obstruction of Merrick Garland 'Was Unforgivable'). God, please don't let Justice Kennedy retire !!!