Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis Met Kim Davis In DC... In Secret

Only today was that fact acknowledged by the Vatican... and the Catholic Church's history of doing bad things in secret is too long and too egregious to assume anything other than that they, and probably Kim Davis, have something to hide in this case, not sexual in nature but nonetheless abusive of the goodwill of the Pope's American hosts. And to think I was just about to have some positive feelings toward the Church... what folly on my part. Sigh!

"... however, we will listen to Kim Davis,
but only in complete secrecy..."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Dreck Is In The [E]Mail, Or
Firefox 41.0 Kills My Webmail Service

For about a decade I've used a commercial email hosting service at, a service and a company reliable enough that I can forget it for months at a time, which is certainly more than I could say about my previous service. The change to was relatively painless and was, as it turns out, a good decision. I recommend this service to any individual or company requiring exceptionally great reliability in email to and from customers (in my case, contract IT clients). delivers what it advertises, and I am grateful for that. includes in its service an excellent webmail site, good enough that I long ago switched to it for all my email management needs, in preference to (say) Mozilla Thunderbird, which gave me lots of grief for the few years I relied on it. That's right: I use no client-side email software on any of my computers; this webmail fulfills all my email needs. (Pro forma, I have Thunderbird installed, but I seldom use it.)

But every ointment has its resident fly, and this is no exception. Last week, Mozilla released Firefox 41.0, distributed (at least in the Linux world) through the usual software update service which your distro (I use Ubuntu) provides with the OS. It was automatic, seldom gave any trouble and required virtually no individual attention to install the patches. So Firefox 40.0.3 (I think) was seamlessly replaced with Firefox 41.0, no muss, no fuss...

... until I tried the webmail and found it completely dysfunctional under FF 41.0 .

Fortunately, the webmail continued to work under the latest Google Chrome, so I was not completely dead in the water. But I had a lot of my personally valuable links stored in Firefox, and not all of them were replicated in Google Chrome. So I opened a trouble ticket with, explaining that although I understood the problem likely was not in their software, the most direct route to a solution probably involved their efforts testing their own product on FF 41.0, and indeed that proved to be the case. They determined that the problem is NOT just a Linux matter: it occurs on every OS on which FF 41.0 runs and which supports.

As those of you who blog probably know, if you use a webmail service, you often must do your email work and your browsing for the web material on which you base your blog content on the very same browser... i.e., all on Firefox or all on Google Chrome or Chromium or (Dog forbid) MSIE. It's not an absolute requirement, but it can be truly inconvenient to switch browsers 10 times in developing a simple 3-paragraph post. So I am now getting used to Google Chrome as my new single browser, at least until resolves its problems with Firefox.

Now... wasn't that exciting? NOOOO... but if things look a bit shaky on the YDDV blog for a while, at least you know why.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pope Francis Is Wrong About Kim Davis

In an AP article about a wide range of subjects covered in an interview of Pope Francis conducted on the papal airplane, the Pope, who more or less admitted not knowing the particulars of the case, sided with Davis, saying she had a right of conscience to refuse to issue marriage licenses to LGBT same-sex couples:


In another issue pressing on the American church, Francis was asked about the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed for several days after she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples despite the Supreme Court's ruling making same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Davis said such marriages violate her Apostolic Christian faith.

Francis said he didn't know the case in detail, but he upheld conscience objection as a human right.

"It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right," Francis said.


I'm sorry, but the Pope is mistaken. It happens to every human person, especially when that person is shooting from the hip based on incomplete knowledge, and that's exactly what the Pope did in this case.

The freedom of religion conferred on American citizens by the First Amendment to the US Constitution is a freedom of belief, and that freedom is, quite rightly, very nearly absolute.

But any associated freedom of action is, necessarily, limited by ordinary secular law and common law. If that were not so, what possible effectiveness could any law have on the undesirable activity it was intended to control? If all of us could summarily rewrite or reinterpret any law in our minds and then act on that reinterpretation, the result could be, and probably would be, chaos in society.

The Pope also mistakes what it means to be a conscientious objector. America's history of conscientious objection, to war, to legally enshrined racial injustice, etc., requires that the objector be willing either to step back from the confrontation... in Davis's case, resign from her job in which her nonfeasance is illegal... or to go to jail for the illegal behavior s/he commits in the process of objection. That is the means by which an ordinary American citizen can have an impact on a law which the courts have declined to rule unconstitutional.

(ADDED: The issues in which exceptions have been carved out in law for religious conscientious objection have resulted in IMHO grossly unfair treatment of individuals whose only substantive difference is what they say they believe. A good friend of mine from middle school through college was a member of a religion which the US government recognized as having a conscientious objection to war. While most Unitarian Universalists I know object on principle to war, and I certainly did and do, there is no broad objection enshrined in the religion itself; it is left as a matter of conscience to the individual UU. As a result, my friend had an automatic draft exemption, while I was subject to the draft. I do not begrudge him his exemption, but I certainly begrudged my non-exemption. I later obtained a deferment for my left knee, wrecked in an accident when I was 13 and still troublesome to this day; eventually that deferment was commuted to an exemption. Sigh!)

In other words, the conscientious objector can, in fact, be a law unto herself or himself... but only at a price, and that price is to accept the punishment society's law imposes on him or her. It's the only way conscientious objection could possibly work without leading to unlimited lawlessness.

Davis clearly doesn't understand that (or, in my opinion, just wants to make trouble). But there is no excuse for the Pope; he should educate himself on the workings of such a fundamental principle as conscientious objection.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Articles On Boehner; Articles On Other Outrageous Matters

On Boehner:
According to Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress,
  1. Boehner shut down the government to protect the country from “the threat of Obamacare.”
  2. Boehner killed bipartisan immigration reform because had technical difficulties.
  3. Boehner turned the debt ceiling into a political football.
  4. Boehner ran the least productive Congress in history.
See the article for Volsky's reasoning.

And on a miscellany of outrages:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Die Zauberflöte, Revisited

The parody below got me to thinking. I have no attachment to the philosophical content of Mozart's Masonic opera, Die Zauberflöte, but it has to be one of the most tuneful operas ever written. And it gives beautiful young people with spectacularly good voices an opportunity to show off!

If you have 2-3 hours to spare, go enjoy Die Zauberflöte; you won't regret it.

(Full disclosure: yes, I do know and used to work with one person in the orchestra in this live performance. If that prejudices me, I think you'll agree if you watch the performance that he must be pretty good to be in that orchestra!)

Krugman On Boehner

Boehner and the Belt. Krugman rightly complains about Boehner's "common sense." Not quite a "good riddance," but more perspective than I showed in my last post.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Boehner To Resign From Congress By End Of October

The Pope Speaks — The Speaker Weeps
Basics available from Laura Clawson at Kos, though I heard the news first on ABC. Here's the statement from Boehner's office via Clawson:

Speaker Boehner believes that the first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution and, as we saw yesterday with the Holy Father, it is the one thing that unites and inspires us all. 

The Speaker's plan was to serve only through the end of last year. Leader Cantor's loss in his primary changed that calculation.

The Speaker believes putting members through prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution.

He is proud of what this majority has accomplished, and his Speakership, but for the good of the Republican Conference and the institution, he will resign the Speakership and his seat in Congress, effective October 30.

(Jeez, I thought when they said "the institution" they meant the Republican Conference. You mean the jokers actually acknowledge there are others in Congress than their own arrogant selfies selves?)

There's no love wasted on Boehner at Our House, but to the extent that his resignation makes another government shutdown more likely, or Obama's last year more difficult, I regret Boehner's sudden departure. Maybe it wasn't just the Pope's speech that left him in tears...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What Will The American Media Do When The Pope Has Gone Home?

Well, perhaps they could produce an opera. Here's a duet from it...

Pope... Pope Pope... 
 Pope... Pope Pope...
Pope... Pope... Pope... Pope...  
  Pope... Pope... Pope... Pope...
... etc. ...
Nah... that's too much like what we're hearing right now when anyone but the Pontiff himself is speaking...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Inquiring Herbivore Minds Want To Know...

The daily Trump TPM email pointed to an article titled "Trump Truth! Was Trump’s Obama/Muslim Questioner A Plant?" Well, surely, yes, but that isn't the half of it; the real question is, what kind of plant?

A ficus? a tulip? broccoli? a forest of giant oak trees (some assembly required)? I'd guess the last option; he was clearly some kind of nut...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fiorina Lies, Or At Best, Is Grievously Mistaken About Planned Parenthood Videos... Nah. ‘Lies’

Via Sara Jerde at TPM yesterday, we have this:
Fiorina Defends Planned Parenthood Comment: I've Seen The Footage!
... which is damned peculiar, since...
Her campaign and the organization that released the "sting" videos can't point to the video that shows what Fiorina described.
What's ugly? It's not her face...
It's her baldfaced lies
Ah, well; all's fair in love, war, and kicking Planned Parenthood every time it offers necessary health care services to poor women. And lying certainly counts as part of that "all," not just for Fiorina but for all the GOPer presidential candidates.

TPM reader The_Mask points us in comments to a NYT article,
Planned Parenthood Videos Were Altered, Analysis Finds,
and a article,
Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video,
both of which do a lot to put the lie to what Fiorina and other Republicans are claiming.

It is a testament to the political extremism of the GOP: the actions of congressional Repubs (especially John Boehner and his uncontrollable tea-bagging crew) in reinforcing this blatant hit piece are yet more evidence that Planned Parenthood continues to exist because it provides basic health care services to women whom the government underserves or, more often, does not serve at all. And no, I'm not talking about abortion: the GOP clearly wants to prevent these women, mostly indigent women or women of color, from receiving basic exams for cancer and other diseases potentially fatal to them, and that same GOP is willing, nay, eager to destroy the organization that makes those services available. Write it large in your personal notepad:
The GOP kills poor women.
If accomplished by other means, these heinous acts would be called murder, or even gendercide. Does America want to be listed among the countries where that unconscionable crime is committed? The GOP is taking us there in a hurry!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Republican Philosophy Of Government Inaction [sic] And My License Plates

It must have happened in my childhood and early teen years, but I literally cannot remember a time when the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector or the Harris County Clerk was a Democrat. And so it is today: these elected county officials are Republicans. I'm sure they would tell you, as would every GOPer who bothers to tell you anything, that "less government is better" and "government costs too much." When they are in office, GOPers simplify the combination of these two statements into "less government service is better." And act accordingly.

(not mine)
I received a notice that it's time to renew my auto registration. The state, at long last, is doing the sensible thing and combining registration and inspection status into a single sticker. I can't blame Repubs alone for that, though it's been a long time since Dems had the power to legislate it. Anyway, my notice contained a statement telling me "* NEW PLATES REQUIRED *" and telling me in a very few words my options for obtaining the plates. The short version: the notice arrived too late for me to do it online or by mail with any reasonable expectation of plates arriving before my current ones expire. As undiligent as county officials are about notifying, that's how diligent HPD is about stopping people with out-of-date stickers; I am not the only person I know to whom they've done that (never mind that the state failed to send me a notice that year). So today I have to go to the county tax assessor's office to pay my registration fee and get my sticker (now only one) and plates.

In the past, the lines at the closest branch tax assessor's office have been so long and slow that they confirm every GOP stereotype of government inefficiency. I'd be very surprised if that has changed. So my day is cut out for me.

The GOPers will not succeed in making me loathe government; they only succeed at that when their government officials try repeatedly to illegalize or otherwise interfere with a woman's constitutionally protected right to choose abortion, which of course they do several times a year here. If the goddam gummint lets me get back home soon enough today, I'll write an article about the recent execrable hostility of Repubs in Congress and the state Lege to the very existence of Planned Parenthood, which is many women's only source of health care of any sort.

Once more into the fray queue...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Donald Trump And Religious Freedom

Sara Jerde at TPM succinctly summarizes Trump's problem:
During the town hall in New Hampshire, the audience member also said that President Obama was a Muslim. Trump was criticized for not defending Obama and Muslims to the audience member.

CNN "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper asked Trump on Sunday if he had a responsibility to "call out the hatred."

"Well we could be politically correct, if you want, but are you trying to say we don't have a problem," Trump said. "I think everybody would agree. I have friends that are Muslims. They're great people, amazing people. And most Muslims, like most everything, I mean they're fabulous people, but we certainly do have a problem."

Tapper asked him to clarify what the "problem" was.

"Well, you have radicals that are doing things," Trump replied. "It wasn't people from Sweden that blew up the world trade center, Jake."
I'm going to address Trump's problem... he's almost right when he says "we certainly do have a problem," but actually, HE "certainly do[es] have a problem" ... with an excerpt from Wikipedia on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his religion:
Jindal was raised in a Hindu household. He converted to Christianity while in Baton Rouge Magnet High School. During his first year at Brown University, he was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. His family attends weekly Mass at Saint Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge.
Raised Hindu; converted Christian in a magnet high school; baptized Roman Catholic and attends weekly Mass... now THAT is religious freedom, as protected in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. That Constitution does NOT say an American may practice "any Christian religion," nor indeed does it require an American to practice any religion whatsoever, or to refrain from practicing any religion whatsoever, as long as s/he does not violate ordinary secular laws (e.g., forget any notion you may have of engaging in ritual sacrifice of humans; that's still murder).

So Jindal, a stalwart Republican if there ever was one, gets to practice his religion... indeed, his long series of quite different religions over the years... and that's his right under the First Amendment. But according to Trump's audience member, uncorrected by Trump, a Muslim has no similar right: the audience member is certain that America's problem is specifically Muslims, not specifically terrorists.

The late great Thomas Jefferson would have been very surprised to hear an American citizen eliminate that right for Muslims (Jefferson called them "Mahometan," but demonstrably knew what and who they were), and with equal certainty intended the First Amendment to protect them. I guess Trump, like so many right-wing nutjobs, is only selectively fond of our nation's founders, and he disapproves of Jefferson and his liberality toward a wide variety of religions.

Religious Diversity in Symbols
(UU Flaming Chalice: 2nd row, 3rd symbol)
How do you know Trump, if elected, would not at some point disapprove of your religion, if you happen not to be Christian (as indeed I am not; I'm a Unitarian-Universalist)? What would he do about his disapproval? The question is not far-fetched: a few years back, an appointed elected Republican official in Texas issued an order removing tax-exempt status for Unitarians, whose membership historically included three or four American presidents. The order was quickly rescinded under considerable public pressure, but Texas GOPers would do it again in a millisecond if they had the chance.

What's your religious freedom worth to you? More to the point, what's YOUR religious freedom worth to Trump?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bernie In The News This Week

First, let me say I saw Bernie live on CBS News this morning (sorry; I can't find that particular segment online) and I am even more convinced we need this man as president.

Second, note that Hillary no longer has an insurmountable monopoly in all polls, indeed she has dropped even in some national polls. And in at least two early states, New Hampshire and Iowa, Sanders leads Clinton: he holds a 22% lead in NH and a 10% lead in Iowa. I am not an enthusiastic poll-watcher and I don't think this means Bernie will become the Democratic candidate; I just want to rebut those who insist I am wasting my vote. Strategy is well and good, but an honest, democratically motivated vote is never wasted. And yes, I'll switch to Hillary when Bernie leaves the race.
Now a couple of article links:
You gotta love a man that Bill-O can't succeed in ambushing...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NO, Damn It, I'm Not Watching The Free Air-Time Being Misrepresented As A Debate

The White House is right to announce that it has better things to do than watch. Actually, there is probably nothing to do that is NOT a better use of the time.

Debate, MFA! If any "debate" "moderator" asks an even slightly challenging question to even one, let alone all of the GOP candidates, the whole party will be whining about it for weeks.

To Hell with each and every one of them, including the network owners giving away the air time! So what's next: will Dems, who appear to have three or at most four primary candidates, be generously granted a share of air time proportional to the number of candidates, or proportional to the number of political parties? or both, to minimize both total and individual Democratic air time? I suspect I know the answer to that one, but either way it's an unfair distribution, goddamn the network administrators...

Maybe it's time to declare an end to the debates and compel network reporters to interview every officially entered candidate individually in prime time, so that both the candidates' credentials and the reporters' are on the line with no fakery about a "debate" to get in the way. Never happen, of course, but that is what it would take to make the time spent worthwhile to the viewer.

The GOP Threatens Yet Another Government Shutdown

I have a book, Linda R. Monk's The Words we Live By, that contains the complete text of the US Constitution with intercalated explanations of the interpretations that various Supreme Court rulings over the centuries have settled on. It may not turn me into a Supreme Court Justice, but it's a good starting place for an ordinary citizen who gives a damn about process in lawmaking.

I have read that book perhaps four times through in the 12 years since the first edition was published. In it, I have found nothing that would indicate that members of Congress can use the threat of a government shutdown to accomplish by blackmail something they cannot bring about by the well-defined process of legislation (see video of "I'm just a bill"). Can Congress really do that? Maybe; they've come close in the past. Can they do it legally? That's not nearly as clear. Doing so certainly belies the notion that our government is a representative democracy.

I also find no support for the legitimacy of forcing the implementation of a law that is detrimental to one specific individual or nongovernmental institution. Such a law is not quite a bill of attainder, but this particular threatened act is damned close, because it would effectively "execute" Planned Parenthood without any sort of due process. (And we all know, don't we, that corporations are people; the R's told us so...)

But that doesn't seem to matter much to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Hell) or the Teabaggers. To them, it's all an exercise in maximizing their power to get what they want, and if the process is illegitimate, well, so are they, and they just don't care what anyone else thinks. Or votes.

Blackmail... an evil, ugly technique... is what the Tea Party is all about.

Have a nice day. </irony>

(Usual reminder: IANAL. - SB)

Jane Fonda Aims At Reviving Fight For ERA, Demands Answers From Candidates

Please read her post at CNN. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the ERA Coalition. It's been 40+ long years since the last great battle for the constitutional amendment that would... do what? require unisex bathrooms? force all women to be trained as lesbians? Actually, the wording is a lot simpler than what some opponents (damned liars) will tell you:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
To paraphrase Fonda, who could take issue with that, apart from some politicians, mostly men, who genuinely wish to see women's subjugation in the political arena? Answer: you'd be surprised, in a nominally "free country," how much resistance there was back in the 1970s, and while many of those opponents have died off, their extremist views run rampant in today's America. I'll let Fonda tell you about it; she's in the middle of the battle herself.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Kossack Explains How To Choose Between Bernie And Hillary

... and they get it just right. Please read.

Blue Bell Update — And It's Not Good News

This updates my post on the return of Blue Bell ice cream to the market.

Suggested new Blue Bell slogan
My thanks to regular reader George ('B'-but-not-Bush) who points in comments to an article from last Sunday's Houston Chronicle, Inside Blue Bell: Grime and discontent, that indicates a culture of indifference to worker safety and plant cleanliness... or as George put it, in what may or may not be a terrible pun, "the manufacturing culture that existed at the Blue Bell plants." Here's George:

My saying I probably would not buy any more Blue Bell products was not based on the likelihood that I or my family might get listeriosis, but on the manufacturing culture that existed at the Blue Bell plants. The Chronicle article gives some graphic descriptions of employee injuries apparently due to failure by management to maintain a safe facility. Providing lots of jobs is a good thing, and Blue Bell did that until the latest crisis, but the working conditions should be safe, which they were not. Indeed, some of the safety features on machines were overridden, and that caused one or more employees to lose parts of fingers.

I simply cannot see supporting a company that operates that way.
[Bolds mine. - SB]

Added to the Houston Press article I offered in the same comment thread, an article George says is lacking in some important details, the total impression is that Blue Bell has more to rectify than just contaminated equipment. For all I know, this may be common in older companies manufacturing dairy products, but even if so, Blue Bell should get its own house in order, the sooner, the better.

AFTERTHOUGHT: whatever you do about the ice cream, please do view the TV ad from a decade or so ago, one of the all‑time best.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Wish Bernie Could Become President: We Need Him

Unconvinced? Watch him as he summons his poise and diplomacy to wrap the RWNJs at Liberty University around his little finger. Part of being POTUS is having all the skills necessary to engage one's own... and the nation's... adversaries face on, and walk away with more than anyone expected from the encounter. Bernie's got those skills, packed full and running over.

Oops. That was the livestream, which was over a couple hours ago. Here is a YouTube of (I think) the same encounter.

Oops. Not the same encounter, but rather a speech on the same day in the same place with many of the same people; it makes my point.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Possible Gov't Shutdown Attempt Over Defunding Planned Parenthood Has Political Implications For GOP — Who Knew? Apparently Not The GOP

Tierney Sneed at TPM, in an article well worth reading on its own merits, quotes Senate Majority Leader John Cornyn (R-TX) and the number 3 GOPer Senator John Thune (R-SD) on... what else... the politics of the matter:


"I think it's nearly unanimous the view that a shutdown doesn't defund Planned Parenthood, and it doesn't help us maintain our majority so we can have some influence who the next members of the Supreme Court are and can elect a Republican president," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the majority whip, according to CNN.

Likewise, the Senate GOP's Number 3, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) also admitted the political costs of a shutdown when explaining to the plan to focus on the 20 week abortion ban, instead.

 “I think there’s a good, strong co­ali­tion be­hind [the 20 week abortion bill] who want to see that bill de­bated, voted on, and so I think it’s cer­tainly something that’s con­sist­ent with ad­van­cing the pro-life move­ment,” Thune told the National Journal. “I think a lot of the pro-life move­ment also re­cog­nizes that a scen­ario that might end up in a gov­ern­ment shut­down would not be good for the cause.”
The 20 week bill passed in the House earlier this year and has already been introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the Senate. ...

It's all about the politics, the politics, the politics, and not about the women or the nation as a whole.

As noted by Sen. Corny, an attempt to use a shutdown to force defunding of Planned Parenthood likely wouldn't work anyway. Sneed explains:
Any budget bill that defunded Planned Parenthood would likely be blocked by Democrats and vetoed by President Obama. GOP leadership has acknowledged that such a shutdown fight could have political consequences for the party, as Planned Parenthood's popularity among Americans has continued despite the allegations. [Bolds mine. - SB]

Damn Repubs anyway; they do not share the goals of America's citizens, and they seem unable to tie their shoes when it comes to effective politics. Why do we keep them around?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Where No Ma'am Has Gone Before

Thanks to Stella's Catherine's generosity back on my birthday (yeah, I know; that was soooo last month), I am now working my way through viewing Star Trek: The Animated Series (Wikipedia; Memory Alpha; IMDb), a continuation of Star Trek: Classic or Star Trek: The Original Series (Kirk, Spock, Bones, et al). As astonishing as it may seem for a confirmed decades-long Trekker like me, I have never viewed these before today. Most of you will have seen the 22 episodes in 1973‑4 when they were first aired by NBC; I was too busy with other young-man activities in those days, so I have some catching up to do today.

The first thing that struck me is, as in the ST Classic series, the lack of women among command-level officers in Starfleet. Classic/Animated (essentially one series begun with human actors and concluded with animations) was the last ST context with that limitation, and I am always astonished for a few minutes watching any episode from that series. That deficiency, both in the officers and in the canonical declaration (as parodied in the post subject above), was remedied starting with Next Gen and all subsequent ST series.

The next surprise to me was the animation. The animated series was done by Filmation, reputedly one of the best in the business 40 years ago; nonetheless, any typical kid's cartoon aired today has markedly superior animation to ST:TAS. It does my heart good to see something that has actually improved over my lifetime. 

The crew voices, at least of the stars, were performed by the original cast of Classic (William Shatner and his late lamented sidekicks Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley). All in all, it was a convincing job. They even enlisted Dorothy Fontana to write or edit some of the new episodes, which means they were a significant improvement over some of Classic's disappointing third season episodes.

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11 Thought: What If They Gave A War And Everybody Came?

As a child born three years to the day after the A-bombing of Hiroshima, I actually asked myself that question once in a while over the years, not as an hypothetical extreme, but as a real possibility. So, I believe, did most American kids who did literal duck-and-cover drills in our elementary school classrooms before we were old enough to understand what we were covering ourselves from.

As the years passed and the details of the consequences of even the smallest nuclear war were filled in for us... anyone else remember a made-for-TV movie titled "The Day After"? ... at least a few teens like me came to see what it meant for the world, especially the part of it divided into "the free world" and "the Commies," if that scenario were ever realized. The weapons to destroy literally all humankind existed; "we" had them; "they" had them... and every time the US and the USSR fought a proxy war, I wondered if it was to be our last encounter.

Fast-forward 25 or more years. Some actual reduction of tension was achieved, to a point at which many of us held some hope that the Cold War need not become hot, at least not right away. Some weapons reductions were actually performed, although both sides still had enough nukes to destroy the "civilized" world several times over. Most of us learned to live with the conflict. Uneasily. Looking over our shoulders every day...

... Except the likes of Ronald Reagan, John Bolton, Dick Cheney, and... Osama bin Laden and his ilk, including Bush Junior. Every nation had its share of nut-jobs willing at least in theory to blow us all to kingdom come in an ultimate ideologically triggered and driven war. I actually knew Americans in the 1980s who would say, out loud, the Russians have these weapons so we have to have more of them. You talk about people unclear on the concept...

Fortunately, I knew damned few ordinary American citizens... and "damned" those few truly were... who actually thought Armageddon was a good idea. As long as those held no leadership positions, there was still some hope that humankind would not be vaporized en masse. But then some of them, not in any real sense power brokers but still determined to have their way, discovered terrorism, and then some opponents of those people discovered they could use the terrorists for their own purposes in projecting the classic "fear, uncertainty and doubt" (FUD) onto understandably concerned and occasionally terrified ordinary individuals, to achieve the effect of their great ultimate ideological battle without having the raw political power to order the necessary ultimate engagement of forces.

Most people, even so, thought it was a crack-brained idea actually to do those things. But "most people" don't always control the disposition of real-world forces... and then there are the utterly crazy people who sometimes do.

We've managed to survive 14 years from Osama bin Laden's attempt at, and of course George W. Bush's collusion in, provoking their respective worlds into indulging in some sort of ultimate engagement of forces. I probably won't live another 14 years, but many of you will.

Can you... please, I urge you... stave off the crazies for at least another 14 years? What with ISIS and all, Armageddon kinda nervous about the direction of things...

Jeepers Peepers, Where'd They Get ‘Oaf Creepers?’

Tierney Sneed at TPM:

Oath Keepers On Their Way To 'Protect' KY Clerk Kim Davis From US Marshals

Did they get night soil
on their watches
while slinging sh!t
from the chamber pot?
The Oath Keepers -- the armed, anti-government vigilante group known for popping up at the Ferguson protests and elsewhere -- has told Kim Davis' legal counsel that they would be willing to "protect" the anti-gay marriage Kentucky clerk from being detained by the U.S. Marshals Service. According to Right Wing Watch, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has said he is already on his way to Kentucky.

In a statement posted to the Oath Keepers' website, Rhodes claims that the federal judge who ordered Davis' detention after she refused to issue gay marriage licenses "grossly overstepped his bounds and violated Mrs Davis’ due process rights, and in particular her right to a jury trial."

TPM's David Kurtz says it all:
What the Kim Davis saga in Kentucky has really needed is the potential for a confrontation between the US Marshals and the Oath Keepers. What could possibly go wrong?
<steve-rolls-eyes />

It's been an aggravating morning already. During a 6:00 A.M. CT thunderstorm, a lightning bolt that struck less than a block away took down the power, with everything that implies in Houston: no A/C, only natural light to read by, no computer, no internet, no TV moment-to-moment weather reports during morning rush hour, ... Amazingly, the cats did not hide (or at least didn't stay hidden), but instead claimed that the stress from the thunderclap required more or at least fancier food. Some things never change!

(A note about the date: it's really time for American civilians of every political stripe to stop acting as if they see a terrorist behind every Bush. Uh, I mean, every bush. I'm not saying forget September 11, but do at least stop obsessing over it. If you don't stop your obsession, the terrorists will have... oh, f^<k, just forget I said anything!)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Two Oregon County-Level Judges Stop Performing Marriages, Citing Personal Conscience

Katherine Krueger at TPM sketches the story.

Judge Vance Day

Judge Thomas Kohl

In the judges' defense, some are pointing out that Oregon permits, but does not require, judges to perform marriages. To that, I can only say that such a state law would allow such judges to remain silent on the subject, but not to announce a policy of refusing to perform marriages, their announcements coming specifically in response to the legalizing of same-sex marriages. If a judge has the power to perform a marriage and ceases to exercise that power directly in response to the now legally required institution of gay marriage, that judge should resign his/her office or prepare to be jailed in contempt.

When judges begin playing legal tricks to avoid the clear intent of a Supreme Court decision, they no longer serve their rightful purpose. That has been true when I've disagreed with the Court's decision, and it must in turn be true when I happen to agree with the SCOTUS decision.

Otherwise... we have no justice. Those among us who are unwilling to see justice subverted to the religious purposes of individuals must draw the line RIGHT HERE.

(The usual warning: IANAL.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kim Davis For GOP Presidential Nominee

This gal is in and out of jail faster than a two-dollar... ah, never mind; it's not her sexual behavior that I take issue with but rather her willingness, indeed, eagerness to ignore her (presumed) oath of office. I doubt seriously she herself thought of doing that: someone put her up to it, I'm certain. It's a stunt. No, I said "stunt": 's', 't', 'u' ...

Putting aside her willful default of a significant duty of her office, or perhaps in light of that dereliction, she could be the perfect GOP presidential candidate:
  • She believes her religion always, in all circumstances, trumps all other considerations in decision-making.
  • She doesn't think rules... nay, laws... apply to her as they apply to other people.
  • She has found a way to use her criminal nonfeasance to her political advantage with constituents who apparently actually appreciate her family's resemblance to the Clampett family:

  • And she wants to have it both ways: to substitute her personal judgment for that of a federal judge, but nonetheless suffer no legal consequences.
As I said... she's the perfect Repub presidential candidate. The GOPers seem to be having difficulty picking a candidate; maybe they should consider... nah. I forgot: no Republican president will ever be a... woman.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Like Asking The Cats Humans
Who Gets The Cream Blue Bell

This morning as we dressed for our Labor Day outing, Stella favored me with a wicked grin and flashed me. It is probably illegal in Texas for a mid-sixties-ish woman to look that enticing, but she does, and I, remembering that Blue Bell Ice Cream came back on the market about 2-3 days ago after what seemed an eternity to those of us addicted to it, couldn't help thinking... but not saying aloud... "By the way, Stella, let's remember to stop by a Blue Bell outlet [note: not every store has been favored with a restock yet, and only four flavors are available] and pick up some Homemade Vanilla just before we return home." Instead, I said something equally complimentary and a lot less publicly repeatable, and indeed we did get some Blue Bell on the way home. Mmmmm! It's been a day full of treats!

Those without a steady supply of Blue Bell have to understand: when the company calls their vanilla ice cream "Homemade," I don't question their choice of word for even a second: what they sell bears a respectable resemblance to the ice cream both sets of grandparents hand-cranked when I was a tot... and little else on the market here evokes that memory the way Blue Bell does. Their traditional flavors do not assault the ice cream lover with too much sugar or overly intense flavorings; if you buy Dutch Chocolate or Homemade Vanilla or plain old Strawberry, the flavors are about 99 percent like those you once cranked, and the Strawberry contains small chunks of, um, strawberry, the real thing.

Welcome back, Blue Bell. Don't ever go away again!

[Be]Labor[ed] Day: Obama Orders Paid Sick Leave By Gov't Contracting Firms

It's a start. Lisa Mascaro at LA Times:

Obama adds another worker benefit: paid sick leave


President Obama plans to use Labor Day to announce a new step toward increased benefits for workers -- ordering companies that do business with the government to provide paid sick leave for their employees.

The move, which Obama plans to announce with labor leaders in Boston, adds to a series of executive actions Obama has taken and comes as Congress resists legislation to change labor conditions and pay to cover all private-sector workers.

Obama's executive actions directed at the labor market, which many Republicans see as excessive use of presidential authority, have been designed to boost worker pay and benefits. White House economists say that will lead to higher productivity in an era of stagnant wages, while nudging private companies and Congress to join in updating work conditions.

Hey, working men and women... GOPers despise, detest and disrespect you: take note, and don't ever vote Republican again!

Enjoy your BBQ or "whatever makes ya happy," as the late great do-gooder Marvin Zindler used to close his editorials. G*d, we could use a few Marvin Zindlers today...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

RWNJ Kentucky County Clerk Ordered Jailed For Contempt Of Court Over Refusal To Issue Gay Marriage Licenses

Katherine Krueger and Tierney Sneed at TPM:
Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses, has been found in contempt of court and taken into federal custody.

According to AP, U.S. District Judge David Bunning said Thursday that Davis would be held in jail until she complied with the previous court orders to begin granting the marriage licenses.

And thus it must be in a society where the rule of law prevails over the rule of wo/man. If people start choosing which judges' orders they obey and which they do not, the required balance between freedom and order in society will quickly collapse in favor of wanton freedom, and the laws of the land will become utterly unenforceable.

Someone could do Kim Davis a favor by explaining the workings of civil disobedience to her: the person engaging in civil disobedience expects to go to jail for what s/he does; it cannot be otherwise, because s/he is violating the law. If Ms. Davis wants to decide in her own mind what the law means and act accordingly, but not be jailed for her lawbreaking, then she is asserting that she is some kind of queen, or at least a princess: not in America, baby, not in America.

Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz had some interesting things to say in Krueger and Sneed's article (which you really should read before proceeding)...
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also rushed to Davis' defense: "I think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberties," he said on CNN.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) issued a statement calling for "every lover of liberty to stand for Kim Davis." “Kim Davis should not be in jail. We are a country founded on Judeo-Christian values, founded by those fleeing religious oppression and seeking a land where we could worship God and live according to our faith, without being imprisoned for doing so," he said.
(Sigh! the RWNJs always require explanation of the simplest matters of rights and responsibilities.)

Sen. Paul, it's not for exercising her religious liberties that Davis is being jailed: those are liberties of belief and expression, not of action in contravention to the law, especially as in this case where the law couldn't possibly be clearer after the Supreme Court's refusal to support Ms. Davis's position.

And Sen. Cruz, I am at least as American as you are, and the nation I fight for is NOT "founded on Judeo-Christian values" because though I am religious, I am not a Christian, whether you like that fact or not. And I'm pretty sure you don't, you un-American bastard.

Just for good measure, Mike Huckabee chimed in:
... former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said, "Kim Davis in federal custody removes all doubts about the criminalization of Christianity in this country."
No, ex-Gov. Huckabee, it "removes all doubts about the criminalization of" criminal behavior, and most of us don't have any problem with that. Sit down and STFU!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Flu? cold? hangover? food poisoning? reading a new vegan cookbook 'til 3:00 AM? Whatever this is, it's got me a bit (blue-)green around the gills this morning. Sorry about the scarcity of posts! I'll be back as soon as I'm able.

UPDATE Thursday morning 9/3: Last night, kitty Esther piled on top of me for several hours with her patented healing embrace, not to mention her considerable bulk; the result is that I'm feeling somewhat better today, albeit still exhausted. I may be ready to face politics tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.

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