"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, February 29, 2016


I haven't seen it. I think I probably will. (Frankly, I pay so little attention to movies, except for superhero epics, that I hadn't even heard of it until seeing lists of Oscar winners this morning.) And then two stories I ran across this morning brought it right front and center.

First, from Digby, a post about the background story:

But I have to say that I think it's pretty amazing that the biggest Christian church in the world has been revealed to have covered up thousands of cases of child rape over the course of many decades, perhaps centuries, and they somehow came out with their moral authority intact. This I will never understand. This wasn't just a slip-up. These are among the worst crimes human beings commit, a total taboo, particularly in a church which has no compunction about policing the sexuality of its flock.

I don't know that I agree with the "moral authority intact" part: granted, the Church never had much moral authority with me to begin with, but after the revelations of child sexual (and other) abuse not only in Boston, but in Chicago, in Ireland, in Germany, in Australia -- globally -- what little respect I had for the Church is gone. Not even in tatters, just gone.

And then I ran across this story:

Vatican finance chief George Pell admitted Monday the Catholic Church “mucked up” in dealing with paedophile priests and vowed he would not “defend the indefensible” before an Australian inquiry.

The jaw-dropper was this comment:

But he denied the Church’s structure was to blame for the way it handled paedophile priests, despite counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness saying many inquiries around the world had found those in senior positions did not take proper action.

“I don’t think it calls into question the divine structure of the Church which goes back to the New Testament, the role of the pope and bishops,” he said.

The Church's structure has had everything to do with the way this was handled, starting with the Church's contention that it is above the law and with its first priority: protecting its privilege.

Australia, at least, has called a Royal Commission to investigate. One wonders why the House Witch-Hunt Committee wasn't on top of this.

And for those who thought Pope Francis was going to fix everything, Digby has this quote from an article by Sarah Larson in The New Yorker:

Before I left, we talked about Pope Francis and his often disappointing response to the crisis, as well as the Church’s inflexible positions on the celibacy requirement, women in the clergy, contraception, homosexuality, and so on. I told Rezendes a theory I’d heard from the comedian and childhood-rape survivor Barry Crimmins: that Pope Francis is the Church’s way of changing the conversation without changing the Church. Rezendes looked thoughtful. “That makes some sense,” he said.
(Emphasis added.)

Granted, Francis has a lot of very conservative inertia to overcome, but the idea that his election is a way of deflecting attention from the moral bankruptcy of the hierarchy makes a lot of sense.

And for those who haven't seen it, here's a trailer for Spotlight:

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

More Updates

It's Sunday, which means more updated links to reviews at Green Man Review.

Who knows? I may even come up with something new soon.

Today's Must-Read

From Bruce Hay, one of Antonin Scalia's former law clerks:

His own weapon was the poison-barbed word, and the battleground was what he once labeled the Kulturkampf, the culture war. The enemy took many forms. Women’s rights. Racial justice. Economic equality. Environmental protection. The “homosexual agenda,” as he called it. Intellectuals and universities. The questioning of authority and privilege. Ambiguity. Foreignness. Social change. Climate research. The modern world, in all its beauty and complexity and fragility.

Most of all, the enemy was to be found in judges who believe decency and compassion are central to their jobs, not weaknesses to be extinguished. Who refuse to dehumanize people and treat them as pawns in some Manichean struggle of good versus evil, us versus them. Who decline to make their intelligence and verbal gifts into instruments of cruelty and persecution and infinite scorn.

This is the Supreme Court justice beloved of the right, the same one who thought that procedure is more important than innocence.

Read the whole thing -- it's devastating.

Via Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Because We Need It

Via Digby:

It might be impossible for any one person to adopt every pet in need of a good home, but these kids are doing the next best thing — by bringing shy shelter dogs out of their shells.

An innovative new idea, called the Shelter Buddies Reading Program, is already making a huge difference for animals at the Humane Society of Missouri.

The idea is simple: train kids to read to dogs as a way of readying them for forever homes, all while instilling a greater sense of empathy in the youngsters, too.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

And Now, the Antidote

I love this sort of thing:

The first kiss for a returning sailor after a long deployment at sea is a sweet and memorable tradition. But in what is believed to be a first for the Royal Canadian Navy, that time-honoured ceremonial kiss was between two men.

There were loud cheers today when Master Seaman Francis Legare embraced his partner, Corey Vautour, after more than eight months at sea. “I have been away for 255 days, so it feels great,” a smiling Legare said. “I am speechless.”

HMCS Winnipeg, which has a crew of 250, returned to Victoria on Tuesday after a tour in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. Being the first sailor off a ship is considered an honour and privilege in the Canadian navy, and it’s decided by a random raffle.

Toto, I don't think we're in Texas any more.

Today In Disgusting People

The latest bigoted baker looking for martyrdom:

A same-sex couple says they were saddened last week when a Longview bakery refused to bake their wedding cake, and the business owner said it would have offended her faith for the business to be linked to the event.

See -- you don't even have to "participate" any more to be offended. I wonder if living in the same town as this couple offends her faith?

And you get prejudice and ignorance in one hefty package:

Edie Delorme, co-owner of Kern’s with her husband, David, said she was up-front when the couple replied. “And when they said it was them, I said, ‘Sorry. We don’t provide cakes for homosexual marriages,'” she said. “It’s not against people or what they choose to be part of.”

Of course it's against people. What does this idiot think her actions are based on? (Sorry, "the Bible" is not the correct answer.) And what they "choose" to be part of? From a woman who has voluntarily subscribed to a bigoted version of a religion that's a lot better than what she represents.

Sorry, but these people disgust me. And of course, this is Texas.

Monday, February 22, 2016

You Really Have to Wonder

I mean, why would anyone take a statement like this seriously?

Anti-government attorney Kory Langhofer argued over the weekend that the Supreme Court could continue to decide cases 5-4 in favor of conservatives after the death of Antonin Scalia because the deceased justice could effectively cast votes from the grave.

"There's no Ouija board required to figure out how Justice Scalia would vote on these things, he's already voted," Langhofer told KPNX during a panel discussion on Sunday. "We're at the second-to-last step in how these cases unfold when Justice Scalia died."

"We know exactly what he thought," Langhofer continued. "And it's not unprincipled to say we should give affect to that."

It's not a question of principles -- it's a question of whether Langhofer has all his marbles. I think the answer is either 1) no, or 2) he's just yankin' someone's chain. (And reading through the rest of the story, option 2 seems to be the case.)

And someone actually took this seriously enough to reply, rather than just bursting into hysterical laughter.

Wanna know why public discourse in this country has become so degraded? Look to our "independent" press; they're the ones who set up nonsense like this as legitimate discourse.

Friday, February 19, 2016

In Trump's America

Things like this happen:

According to a police report Knoble — who described herself to police as a ‘soccer mom’ — confronted Adly Ohalley and his wife, Worood Abumayaleh, as they sat in their car in Brooklyn Park waiting for their son.

“Suddenly a lady came with a rifle,” Abumayaleh said in an interview. “Knocking very very hard. And she said, ‘Open the window or I’ll kill you. Open the window.’ And I was scared, I couldn’t even call 911 or do anything. I just froze, my brain froze. I just said, ‘Maybe she’s going to kill us now.'”

“She asked us, ‘What are you doing here?’ I told her that we are picking up our son from this house. She said, ‘What house?’ I said, ‘This house,'” Ohalley recalled, before adding, ” “So she came around with her rifle, pointed it at me, and said, ‘Get out of the car, and move in front of me to the house to prove that your son’s in there. So she put the gun on my back.”

As you might guess from their names, Mr. Ohalley and Ms. Abumayaleh are Muslim.

But, we've not quite arrived at the trumpbagger paradise yet: Knoble was arrested, tried and convicted of "felony terroristic threats."

But give it time.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I Saw Goody Two-Shoes With the Devil!

That's a line one of the cast came up with during a long rehearsal for Arthur Miller's The Crucible way back when -- the scene where the girls are accusing everyone and anyone of consorting with Satan. Somehow, it just seems to fit this latest "news":

How in the world could the death of a Supreme Court justice on a remote ranch in Texas be linked to Hillary? Well . . . because of her own words and campaign desperation.

Just weeks ago, on January 26th, an enthusiastic supporter in Ohio publicly asked Hillary if she would be willing to name Barack Obama to the Supreme Court. Her response? Hillary responded with, “What a great idea . . . he is brilliant and he can set forth an argument and he was a law professor. He has got all of the credentials.”

Clinton has been running against her socialist opponent, Bernie Sanders, as a continuation of the Obama legacy. What better way to continue to give voice and power to the Obamas than to place the two-term president on the highest court in the land?

Clinton’s and Obama’s supporters went nuts over the concept of “Justice Obama,” lighting up Twitter and Facebook. The “Supreme Idea” was a winner. But like all evil plans, someone has to die to get the ball rolling. Enter Antonin Scalia.

If this were a political crime thriller, it would be too unbelievable to sell. But in the world of the Clintons they somehow have managed to get away with murder and more for decades.

The story got one thing right: it's too unbelievable to sell as a crime thriller, but in the world of wingnut conspiracy theories, it's a perfect fit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Today's Republican Party

This was just too good to let pass:

Yesterday on “Trunews,” End Times radio host Rick Wiles discussed “the possible occult connections” to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he concluded was murdered by President Obama and was a human sacrifice to mark the pagan festival of Lupercalia.

Wiles explained that the “Luciferian” “devil-worshipers” who control the government are out for blood, noting that Lupercalia is observed between February 13 and 15. Scalia’s body was discovered on the 13th. “There’s always human sacrifice involved,” he said, claiming that Scalia was “killed” to mark the beginning of pagan fascism ruling over the U.S.

“The 13th was the 44th day of 2016, Obama is the 44th president of the United States,” Wiles said, “so you have this numerology thing taking place.”

Wiles said that the assassins who killed the conservative justice “deliberately left the pillow on his face as a message to everybody else: ‘Don’t mess with us, we can murder a justice and get away with it.’ And I assure you, there’s a lot of frightened officials in Washington today, deep down they know, the regime murdered a justice…. This is the way a dictatorial, fascist, police state regime takes control of a nation.”

“The day the justice died, the day justice in America died,” he continued, “they got away with it.”

I wonder if Wiles has endorsed anyone for president yet. If he has, the only one I can see admitting it is Ted Cruz.

There's a sound clip at the link, if you want the full effect.

Via Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dear Republicans: Overturn This!

From USA Today:

Spc. Shane Adriano and Pfc. Tristian Resz chose the Greene County Courthouse as a venue because they wanted something small and intimate for their Feb. 11 wedding. It was to be just the happy couple, a few supportive friends and a judge.

But after they shared their "first married kiss" photo on Facebook, their small ceremony turned into a worldwide event.

Marriage and the military. SNAP!

(And they do make a really cute couple. Best wishes, guys.)

Via Joe.My.God.

Today's Must-Watch: The Real Scalia Legacy

Cenk Uygur, a reformed conservative (can we say "ex-rightie"?), on the rush in conservative circles to create the myth of "Antonin Scalia, the Greatest Legal Mind Ever."

Scalia's comments about evolution are total bullshit. And no, most people have not believed in the Devil. Jews didn't even believe in Hell or the Devil (as Christians conceive of him) until late.

I'm sure you can find more nonsense.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Day Late, Just Because

I seem to remember this ad from last year, but it may be just the music, which seems to pop up everywhere. At any rate:

Needless to say, the likes of Linda Harvey and Janet Porter hated it, so it must be a good thing.

(And a side thought: considering all the ads that stress inclusiveness and especially the number that are showing gays and lesbians favorably -- which is to say, just treating them as perfectly normal -- and the fact that their boycotts are big flops, it's no wonder the god-botherers are so hysterical: when it comes to hearts and minds, they're losing. Badly.)

By the way, if anyone knows the title/artist on that song, leave it in the comments. It's going to drive me crazy now.


Todat's Must-Read

From Digby, on Scalia's real legacy.

But then, if there’s one Supreme Court justice who exemplifies this propensity of modern American conservatives to bend the system for partisan ends when needed, it was Justice Antonin Scalia. His legacy as a hardcore legal conservative is second to none, but it will always be over-shadowed by one decision: Bush v. Gore. The Republicans had already begun the process of destroying the integrity of Congress with its partisan witch hunts and the impeachment circus of the 1990s; but if there’s one Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for the total abandonment of any pretense of dignified non-partisan adherence to traditions for the sake of preserving the integrity of our institutions in the eyes of the public, it is that one.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Antonin Scalia, Follow-Up

The reaction is starting to hit the blogosphere. Here's my comment at a post at Box Turtle Bulletin:

I have no particular feelings about Scalia’s death, except that it’s always sad for someone when someone dies.

He may very well have been a brilliant legal mind, but he never let that get in the way of his ideology, and he was an ideologue — I always thought of him as the Vatican’s representative on the Supreme Court.

He’s been called a “true conservative,” which perverts the meaning of conservative: he was a reactionary, pure and simple. As a thought experiment, compare him to Richard Posner, who sits on the Seventh Circuit: a real legal scholar, a brilliant analyst with impeccable conservative credentials, and a jurist who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. (His opinion in Baskin [http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/usca7_ssm_20140904.pdf] is not only erudite, but scathing in its dismissal of the states’ claims. I wouldn’t mind at all seeing Posner nominated to take Scalia’s place — he’s everything Scalia was not.)

What’s going to happen is that anyone Obama nominates is going to be ignored by the Senate. Even if there is pressure to proceed with a confirmation vote, some red-state asshole will put a hold on it.

But then, this is the Republican party, which is still working on making Obama a one-term president.

Also, here's Jim Burroway's commentary on Scalia's "brilliant legal mind."

In the next several days, we’ll have a number of pious politicos tell us what a great Justice he was, and why they want more Justices like him on the bench. And we’re also going to hear a number of politicians and thought leaders tell us what horrible people we are for remembering Scalia for the judicial scourge that he was. But how can we remember him otherwise, particularly when his oft-quoted dissents from four landmark gay rights cases are so memorable?

So in the interest of remembering that great man Antonin Gregory Scalia, here are some choice quotes from those four dissents.

It's worth reading the whole post, just to see Scalia skewered by his own words.

This, from Ted Cruz, via Joe.My.God., is pretty funny -- but then, consider the source:

Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.

You have to wonder if someone in Cruz' camp was able to write this with a straight face.

Cruz, of course, is only one of the Republicans who are calling on the Senate to stall on any nomination from Obama, because Freedom! and the Constitution! (With just a bit of racism and obstructionism.)

For a fun Twitter recap, see this post at Balloon Juice.

John Cole has a no-holds-barred post at Balloon Juice that sort of sums up Scalia pretty well:

“There is no basis in text, tradition, or even in contemporary practice (if that were enough), for finding in the Constitution a right to demand judicial consideration of newly discovered evidence of innocence brought forward after conviction.”

“My concern is that in making life easier for ourselves we not appear to make it harder for the lower federal courts, imposing upon them the burden of regularly analyzing newly-discovered-evidence-of-innocence claims in capital cases (in which event such federal claims, it can confidently be predicted, will become routine and even repetitive).” – Antonin Scalia

This is the man that Ted Cruz called an "American hero."

And of course, the tinfoil hat brigade is out in full force. From conspiracy theorist and all-out wingnut Alex Jones (video at the link):

Jones: My friends, it's Saturday night, this is an emergency transmission.

Jones: The question is, was Antonin Scalia murdered? And the answer to that is, has the Bill of Rights and Constitution been murdered? Has it been reported that members of the Supreme Court have been blackmailed? Yes it has.

When they kill somebody they say, "it appears to be natural causes, nothing to see."

And I wish it was natural cause, but man, my gut tells me no. And if this is an assassination, this signifies that they are dropping the hammer.

I'm not making this up.

Feel free to add any of your own favorite reactions in the comments.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Report: Antonin Scalia Found Dead

No, that's not a joke. This is coming from multiple sources, so I'm taking it as accurate. From the San Antonio Express News:

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, of the Western Judicial District of Texas, was notified about the death from the U.S. Marshals Service.

And from The Dallas Morning News:

The U.S. Marshal Service, the Presidio County sheriff and the FBI were involved in the investigation, the paper reported.

A federal official who asked not to be named told the paper there was no evidence of foul play and it appeared that Scalia died of natural causes.

Anything I might say at this point is going to be misinterpreted, or worse, will not be misinterpreted.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Oh, By the Way

More updates on reviews. You can, of course, check them out at Green Man Review.

Friday, February 05, 2016

In My Country, We Call That "Projection"

From the clueless Marco Rubio, on the president's visit to an American mosque:

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) somehow found a way to criticize President Barack Obama's speech on Wednesday denouncing anti-Muslim bigotry.

Rubio, who often stresses religious liberty and his own faith on the campaign trail, said Obama's words at a Baltimore mosque were intended to divide, rather than unite, the American people.

"I'm tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president's done," Rubio said at a Wednesday campaign stop in Dover, New Hampshire. "Always pitting people against each other. Always! Look at today: He gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims."

"Implying"? When the entire Republican stable is demanding discrimination against Muslims?

This counts as a WTF? Moment, I think.

Footnote: Mustang Bobby has a good comment on this at Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Culture Break: Journey: A Twofer

I may have mentioned that I've been making an effort to listen to things that I haven't listened to in a while -- when you've got I forget how many hundreds of albums stored on your computer, you tend to keep going back to a few favorites and lose track of other things that are equally interesting.

At any rate, guess who popped up on my radar this morning:

There's something about Steve Perry's voice -- like, it's perfect.

And then this came up:

I don't love the video, but it's the official video, and the song is one of their best.

I really sort of miss the '80s, sometimes.