"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

Sunday, December 29, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

It's still the holidays, and coming to the end of the year:

Best Music of The Decade, Holdstock Interviewed, and Other Holiday Matters

Pop on over and enjoy.

Health Care in America

One of the perennial hot topics, when we can get a rest from the acting president's rage-tweets. Here's a horror story for you:

Alexa Kasdan is the patient in question. She went to her primary care doctor, Dr. Roya Fathollahi, in New York City, for a sore throat that hadn't gotten better in a week's time. She was preparing for a vacation and didn't want to have the trip interrupted, so she went to the doctor, had the strep test and a blood test, and was given antibiotics. She got better, went on her trip, and came home to find that her insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, had been billed $28,395.50 for the out-of-network lab work on the throat swab. The insurance company paid $25,865.24. Fathollahi’s office told her that $2,530.26 of the bill was her responsibility.

$28,000 plus for a throat swab. It gets worse. The discussion in the comments is worth reading, as well.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas (Updated)

It snuck up on me -- I think it's the weather: it's been in the upper forties and fifties for the past ten days -- the forecast high today is 57. Not exactly Christmas weather.

Nevertheless, once again here's my favorite Christmas song of all time:

Peace on earth.

And, in the spirit of the season, Yule was Saturday, Hanukkah started Monday, and Kwanzaa is Friday.

Good will to all.


This, via The friendly Atheist:

Monday, December 23, 2019

Don't Mess With Nancy

This image says it all:


With thanks to commenter Joe in PA at Joe.My.God.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Boy the Way

Happy Solstice! Yesterday was the shortest day of the year.

Now the days are getting longer -- slowly but surely.

What's New at Green Man Review

It's a special, issue -- sort of: a Winter Solstice edition, with (mostly) winter-related things. Here it is, so dig in.

Today's Must Read

It seems the good citizens of Spokane Valley, in Washington State, elected a real "patriot" to the state legislature. It turns out he's not such a paragon:

The House Republican Caucus has expelled Matt Shea after an investigation revealed that he "participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States."

Shea represents Washington’s 4th District, which encapsulates the area surrounding Spokane Valley. He has since taken to social media to call the investigation a "sham." He wrote on Facebook the people behind the investigation do not "share the same political views". He also announced on Saturday to "look forward to a couple huge announcements early next week."

On Facebook he wrote:

Like we are seeing with our President this is a sham investigation meant to silence those of us who stand up against attempts to disarm and destroy our great country. I will not back down, I will not give in, I will not resign. Stand strong fellow Patriots. Thank you to everyone for the massive outpouring of support prayers! I will continue to defend the constitution against tyranny and fight to protect our God given unalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the ability to defend the same.

Remember Cliven Bundy, who refused the pay grazing fees for using public land -- our land -- for his cattle? He claimed it was his right because it was his land. Well, Shea was involved in that mess up to his neck, including the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

And of course, he's a "Christian" -- he has even called for the execution of non-Christian males. (Why males? I have no idea.)

Somehow, Shea and those like him -- basically, the whole "armed militia" movement -- have got it in their heads that they are "patriots" by participating in armed rebellion against the lawful government. It's worth reading the whole article to get a good take on just how far out there these loons are.

And of course, they love Donald Trump.

Via Joe.My.God.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Today In Disgusting People

This is the sort of thing that Trump has brought out into the open:

A Des Moines woman smoked methamphetamine hours before intentionally hitting a 14-year-old central Iowa girl with her SUV this month, according to court documents.

Nicole Poole Franklin, 42, told police she targeted her victim because the girl "is Mexican." Clive Police Chief Michael Venema shared Franklin's admission at a news conference Friday morning.

She now faces an attempted murder charge and a number of other charges from a racially-charged incident that occurred 15 minutes later.

Community members are calling for Franklin, 42, to be charged with a hate crime because she admitted targeting the girl because of race. Authorities aren't ruling that out.

To be honest, racism has always been part of our social fabric. And now that there's an open racist in the White House, all the white supremacists, neo-Nazis and run-of-the-mill racists are crawling out from under their rocks and going public.

Thank you, Trump.

Via Joe.My.God.

Turn Off Your Irony Meter (Update)

Apparently Christianity Today, which has long been a mouthpiece for conservative "Christians", has done the unforgivable:

Just in from hate group leader Tony Perkins:

Yesterday, Mark Galli, the outgoing editor-in-chief of Christianity Today published a scathing editorial calling for President Trump to be removed from office. Within hours, the article went viral as the mainstream media rushed to capitalize on what they believed was an opportunity to exploit a divide in President Trump’s evangelical supporters.

But anyone following Christianity Today shouldn’t be surprised by the magazine’s public backing of impeachment. In 2016, CT’s executive editor denigrated Christians who supported then-candidate Trump weeks before the general election, writing: “Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord.”

What's happening to the evangelical movement? First it was Chick-fil-A tapering off their donations to anti-gay hate groups, then the Hallmark Channel restoring a commercial with a lesbian kiss (in spite of the outrage expressed by another hate group), and now this!

This is the part that got my irony meter whirling out of control:

Dismissing the genuine concerns of millions of evangelicals and publicly questioning their commitment to Christ signaled an out-of-touch, ivory-tower elitism completely out of step with Jesus’ own command to love one another (John 13:34).
(Emphasis added.)

(Perkins always likes the sprinkle his press releases with references to Bible verses. I guess we're supposed to be impressed by that. To me, at least, it doesn't mask the fact that he has built his career on the exact antithesis of Christ's teachings.)

There's a lot of speculation that the evangelical movement is starting to unravel, and, at least in part, that might be the case: the wing that is sincere in their beliefs may very well be alarmed at the polls showing the majority's low opinion of Christianity, largely due to the efforts of Perkins and his ilk. The political wing is obviously alarmed at the openness of dissent, and feels they have to quash it to maintain their own credibility.

Oh, well -- pass the popcorn.

Update: There's more information on this whole flap at Crooks and Liars, including Franklin Graham's reaction (his father founded the magazine) and the oop-ed writer's reaction to Trump's rage tweets.

Friday, December 20, 2019


Bad week -- medical stuff, not desperate, but time-consuming.

At any rate, for those who are over impeachment already, this:


And you thought they just did it automatically.

With thanks to commenter Doug105 at Joe.My.God.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

Another Sunday, more reviews:

Gwyneth on Chestnuts, Reynard on De Lint, the Ministry of Hades, Live Music by Tull and Other Wintery Matters

You know the drill -- click on over and enjoy.

Blatant, Chapter Two

Following in the footsteps of Moscow Mitch, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Dixie) has stopped even trying to appear fair and impartial:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Saturday pledged to help impeachment "die quickly" in the Senate as it becomes increasingly likely that the House will vote to impeach President Trump, leading to a Senate trial.

"This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly," he told CNN while at the Doha Forum in Qatar.

"I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here," Graham added. "What I see coming, happening today is just a partisan nonsense."
Emphasis added.

And of course, which party made it "partisan"? (I'll take Republicans for $400, Alex.)

Via Joe.My.God.

The Trump regime has given up even pretending to work for anything but their own control of the country. Thanks, Uncle Vlad.

Digby has more background on Graham's transformation. Yes, once upon a time, about twenty years ago, he was all in favor of impeachment. This video is from November, 1998:

Let me think -- who was president then?

How times have changed. something tells me Graham hasn't -- he's just gone public.

Saturday, December 14, 2019


They're not even bothering to pretend any more. Start with this:

In other words, Trump will be dictating how the "trial" will be handled.

And it goes on from there:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday that there was “no chance” that President Donald Trump would be removed from office in any impeachment trial and that it “wouldn’t surprise” him if some Democrats split from their party and voted in the president’s favor.

“The case is so darn weak coming from the House,” McConnell said in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News Thursday night, as the House Judiciary Committee continued to debate articles of impeachment. “We know how it's going to end. There's no chance the president's going to be removed from office.”

Digby sums it uP

The Senate will acquit the criminal. They are made men in the criminal organization known as the Republican Party. But whether a few go the other way, giving the Democrats a majority for conviction is another story. And yes, for all we know, there could be some defections from the Democrats. There almost always are., unfortunately.

Democratic defections? Say it isn't so. (Do I hear Joe Manchin's name?)

Monday, December 09, 2019

Image of the Week

Or maybe of the year. This is dedicated to all those "Christians" who support the acting president's immigration policies. (They're the same assholes who get all bent out of shape because some store clerk says "Happy Holidays!")

From the accompanying article:

Ristine described the Holy Family as “the most well-known refugee family in the world” in the post on Saturday.

“Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death,” she wrote, asking: “What if this family sought refuge in our country today?”

“Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center,” she continued, adding: “In the Claremont United Methodist Church nativity scene this Christmas, the Holy Family takes the place of the thousands of nameless families separated at our borders.”

It's nice to know there are some real Christians left.

Merry Christmas.

With thanks to commenter Bite Me Fan Boy at Joe.My.God.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

The usual mix of this, that, and something you hadn't expected:

Scarecrows, A Classic H.G.Wells’ Novel , Metallica in Antarctica, So-so chocolate, Improv Jazz, Steeleye sans Maddy and Other Interesting Matters

So grab your coffee and dig in.

Snowflake du Jour

None other than former governor and current trumpanzee Mike Huckabee, whose knickers are twisted because someone said mean things about him:

When a persistent critic, a lawyer on the public side of the beach access battle, tweeted back with sarcasm and humor, Huckabee tried to silence him by filing a formal complaint with the Florida Bar. The complaint should be tossed out as a sham and an abuse of the system of disciplining lawyers.

In his Bar complaint, Huckabee accuses lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder of “vile and unprofessional attacks” and “repeatedly posting disparaging information about me,” which Huckabee claims violate Bar rules on integrity of the legal profession. Huckabee argues that the Bar is the right forum because the lawyer’s Twitter profile mentions his law practice.

The one that really got Huckabee's goat:

In his bar complaint, Huckabee accuses Uhlfelder, who has a mere 422 Twitter followers, of disparagement. The complaint points to a tweet in which Uhlfelder joked that Huckabee’s Secret Service code name should be “beach thief.” “He accused me of theft, a crime of moral turpitude,” Huckabee’s complaint reads.

Well, if anyone should know "moral turpitude," it's Mike Huckabee, whose son tortures animals for fun and whose daughter is a professional liar.

This is just another variation on a relatively new tactic of "convervatives": use the courts (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) to harass people you disagree with. And interestingly enough, although the "offensive" tweets happened months ago, Huckabee filed his complaint shortly after Uhlfelder retweeted photographs showing him in the company of two of Rudy Giuliani's pals, currently under indictment, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Of course, I'm sure that has nothing to do with the timing of the complaint. Yeah, right.

And here's the capper (turn off your irony meter):

As for Huckabee, he’s on Twitter promoting a new documentary entitled No Safe Spaces, which features two conservative radio talk show personalities in an examination of restrictions on free speech on college campuses. Without a hint of irony, Huckabee tweeted: “The 1st Amendment right of Free Speech is precious, but it hangs by a thread.”

Via Joe.My.God., who has these articles and more, including some very pointed editorial cartoons and a link to a delightfully snarky opinion piece. I do recommend reading the whole thing and following the links. If nothing else, it will give you a good take on just how petty and vindictive "conservatives" are these days.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Another WTF? Moment

From Glorious Leader, of course, who somehow, at a small business conference, got focused (if you can call it that) on water conservation measures. I think. Here's what he said:

“We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms, where you turn the faucet on in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it. And you don’t get any water. You turn on the faucet — you don’t get any water. They take a shower, and water comes dripping out, it’s dripping out very quietly, dripping out.

“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion. You go into a new building or a new house or a new home, and they have standards where you don’t get water. You can’t wash your hands, practically, there’s so little water comes out of the faucet. And the end result is you leave the faucet on, and it takes you much longer to wash your hands. You end up using the same amount of water.”

“So we’re looking at, very seriously, at opening up the standard, and there may be some areas where we’ll go the other route. Desert areas. But for the most part, you have many states where they have so much water that it comes down — it’s called rain — that they don’t know what to do with it. So we’re going to be opening up that, I believe. And we’re looking at changing the standards very soon.”

Here in Chicago, we have a lot of water, and we know exactly what to do with it: we store it next to the city -- it's called a lake -- and it's there when we need it.

Of course, this is by way of setting the stage for gutting what we have left of water standards -- now that industry is pretty much free to dump their crap in our drinking water, the idiot in chief thinks we should use more of it.

The post has several responses to the diatribe, but this one appealed to me as an overview:

And there you have it. If we needed any more indication that Trump is completely disconnected from reality -- well, I don't know what could drive the point home more effectively.

"It's called rain" -- seriously?

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Today's Must-Read: What He Actually Said

Mustang Bobby has a very good post at Bark Bark Woof Woof on the flap over Pete Buttigieg's oft misquoted remarks about his standing with the black community, quoting extensively from Jonathan Capehart at WaPo:

When you’re black and gay, there are times when you feel that the two identities integral to your whole self are in conflict. Actually, let me rephrase that. There are times when other folks put your two identities in conflict and you feel compelled to respond.

When I thundered against the ugly lie that homophobia among African Americans was the reason Democratic presidential contender Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., wasn’t gaining their support, I had more than a few white gay men lecture me about black people as they hurled studies at me in the worst-ever display of apples meeting oranges. Those folks were blocked. Now, I have to push back against African Americans who are ripping Buttigieg for what they see as his equating his experience being gay with that of being black.

That’s not what happened. That’s not what he said.

The WaPo piece is behind a pay wall, but Bobby has what seems to be almost all, of not all, of it. Read it.

Today in Digusting People: Getting Blatant

I actually ran across this one yesterday afternoon, but I'd had enough disgusting people for one day. This is our Attorney General, the country's top law enforcement official, speaking to a gathering of police:

Speaking to a roomful of police officers and prosecutors on Tuesday, Attorney General William P. Barr drew a parallel between protests against soldiers during the Vietnam War and demonstrations against law enforcement today. But this time, he suggested, those who don’t show “respect” to authority could lose access to police services.

“Today, the American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers. And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves,” Barr said in pointed remarks delivered at a Justice Department ceremony to honor police officers.

Barr added that “if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”

It doesn't take much imagination to get the meaning: "Nice community you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it."

Alternate reading: "Shut up and do what you're told. Or else."

It's getting more and more obvious that we're dealing with a bunch of fascists making a power grab -- and I'm not just name-calling: Trump and his cronies and cultists really are fascists, and true to form, they've put together an unholy alliance of business, churches, and political figures.

Sound familiar?

But our fascists can't even make the trains run on time.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Culture Break: Real Life: Catch Me I'm Falling

I'm not sure how I ran across Real Life -- probably when their first big hit, "Send Me An Angel", was inescapable. (I also seemed to be hearing a lot of Australian bands at that point -- Duran Duran, Icehouse, and there were a couple of others.) This is their other big international hit:

From the description at YouTube:

Real Life are a Melbourne-based Australian New Wave/synthpop[1] band that had hits with their debut single, "Send Me an Angel" (1983) and with "Catch Me I'm Falling" (1983), both of which were featured on the band's debut album Heartland (1983).

Today in Disgusting People: A Twofer

First, Secretary of "Education" Betsy DeVos (whose family money, you will remember, comes from the Amway pyramid scheme). It seems the DoE wasn't really enthusiastic about cancelling student load debt incurred through scam "educational institutions":

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her Department of Education (DOE) violated a court order which prohibited the agency from collecting student loan payments from defrauded borrowers–and then she drastically under-counted the number of former students who were impacted by that initial illegal decision.

In a 14-page compliance report filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday, attorneys for the DOE confessed to unlawfully collecting such payments from nearly 46,000 students (45,801 to be exact) who were scammed by for-profit colleges.

Those students attended various campuses owned by the Corinthian Colleges chain and were enrolled in educational programs which DeVos has personally described as “worthless.”

Note that DeVos is a big believer in for-profit colleges -- especially the "Christian" variety.

And second, none other than Trump's Department of Agriculture, implementing another step in the "Christian" dream: starve the poor:

The Trump administration announced a plan Wednesday to end food-stamp benefits for about 700,000 Americans, issuing a new regulation that makes it harder for states to gain waivers from a requirement that beneficiaries work or participate in a vocational training program.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the new rule will move more food-stamp recipients “toward self-sufficiency and into employment.”

In an economy in which jobs are vanishing. I guess they can always take the jobs that undocumented immigrants won't touch.

It's not totally draconian:

The work requirement covers “able-bodied” recipients. A U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said it doesn’t apply to recipients who are over 50, disabled or pregnant, or anyone with a child under 18.

It's still 750,000 people without adequate food.

Both stories via Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

There's No Bottom. Part ?

Long and interesting article by Digby about just what a piece of merde our "President" is. I'll let Digby introduce it:

"The president called out her name as he acted out an orgasm in front of thousands of people at a Minneapolis rally on Oct. 11, 2019"

That's the title of her post. It goes on:

It was one of the grossest moments at any of his rallies and that's saying something. It was so gross that it prompted Lisa Page, the "Lisa" he was mocking in that depraved speech to speak on the record for the first time. She spoke with Molly Jong Fast for the Daily Beast:
That was the moment Page decided she had to speak up. “I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” she says. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back.”

You have to ask yourself what kind of person -- the president of the United States, for crying out loud -- would behave that way? And what kind of people would applaud and cheer?*

It's worth reading the whole thing -- although it's pretty appalling -- or it would be, if we hadn't become hardened to this kind of corruption over the past three years.

* As for the kind of people who cheer on that kind of disgusting behavior, this post gives a thorough analysis of Trump's narcissistic personality disorder, but this bit is, I think, key to understanding his cultists:

It's a long and interesting article about how he's alienated insiders who tried desperately to help him. That, apparently, tracks with what narcissists usually do. But how can we explain his hardcore, unmovable base? That' the strange part. He attempts to explain it:

Those who can’t point to specific achievements may remain loyal supporters because they hear relatively little that is expressly negative about their hero. If the president shot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue, would Fox News even cover it? Trump supporters and Trump detractors live in different worlds. They may not speak to one another about politics, knowing that such a conversation is likely to end badly. They get their news from different sources. They stay faithful to their respective political tribes.

But the crux of the matter—the secret to Trump’s success with the base—may be that if bad news can’t quite pierce the Trumpist bubble, neither, in a way, can Trump. The millions of American voters who adore the president do not have to interact with him directly. Unlike the White House staff, they do not have to endure Trump’s incendiary outbursts or kowtow to his unpredictable whims. As anonymous members of a television audience, they can gaze upon their hero from afar.

If they want to get a little closer, they can attend a Trump rally. In the local sports arena or civic center, they can sit just a few hundred feet away from the president, cheering and chanting. They can express their love for the him in the presence of thousands of others who love him too. They can laugh at his jokes and partake of the anger and disgust he expresses toward his enemies. Excitement fills the arena. What outlandish thing will he do? What will he say to capture the headlines of the next day? A Trump rally is a safe space for Trump supporters. They can sit back and enjoy the performance, because whatever he says cannot directly threaten them. He will be gone tomorrow.

And there it is -- Trump keeps the loyalty of his base because they don't have to deal with him on a one-to-one level. They can just worship from afar.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

In spite of the rain, snow, wind, and other harbingers of Winter, there are, as always, reviews:

Tattoos, The Tempest, Dr. Who (Again), Peanuts, Reggae, Beethoven, and more

As you can see, it's our usual mixed bag, so snuggle up and enjoy.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

TO you and yours.

I'm seeing all sorts of posts and articles about how to avoid knock-down-drag-out battles with your right-wing relatives over turkey. I guess I was lucky -- we were all avowed Democrats, although later, my step-mother was a Republican. We just avoided talking about politics. It's not like there was nothing else to talk about.

Simple, no?

Today in Christian Love

You may or may not have been following the Chick-fil-A story, but here's a short summary: Earlier this month, Chick-fil-A, which had gained more than a little notoriety for donating heavily to anti-gay groups, announced a change in its charitable giving priorities:

Starting in 2020, the Chick-fil-A Foundation is introducing a more focused giving approach to provide additional clarity and impact with the causes it supports. Staying true to its mission of nourishing the potential in every child, the Chick-fil-A Foundation will deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger.
(Emphasis in original.)

The outrage in "Christian" circles is way up on the Richter scale, with such luminaries as Tony Perkins, the group that Joe Jervis calls the "red-caped Catholic loons" (for the life of me, I can't remember the organization's real name), Charlie Kirk (whoever he is), and Bryan Fischer calling for a boycott. It seems that not only was the company to cease giving to bigoted groups such as the Salvation Army (remember when during the Bush administration, the SA tried to get an exemption from non-discrimination laws?), but actually donated to the "god-hating" SPLC (one of the oldest and most respected civil rights organizations, which has the temerity to call out hate groups -- so designated as a result of their own words and actions). (Interestingly enough, all the stories I can find on that donation are at right-wing sources; I'm not going to link to any of them, because they have very little contact with reality -- the only thing they seem to have reported accurately is the fact of the donation and the amount -- a very modest $2500.)

And we all know how effective boycotts by the "Christian" right have been.

Anyway, according to Snopes, that's not exactly the case.

What's True

The Chick-fil-A Foundation's November 2019 announcement of a new charitable-donations strategy meant the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, both high-profile groups that have been criticized in the past as anti-LGBT, would no longer receive funding in 2020.

What's False

However, the new donations strategy also meant several dozen other groups — with no anti-LGBT record — would not receive funding in 2020 either, and so the strategy does not appear to have been targeted specifically at the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Further, Chick-fil-A has repeatedly declined to specify that the cut to the controversial groups' funding was linked to their LGBT-rights records, and a company spokesperson would not rule out the possibility that the groups could receive funding again in the future.

So once again, there's a lot of manufactured outrage over something that didn't actually happen. I guess someone's not been getting enough attention lately.

And do notice how these "Christians" are reacting to a donation policy focusing on education, homelessness, and hunger. True followers of Jesus, right?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Yes, I Know

Posting has been haphazard lately, because the news is mind-numbing -- Trump, impeachment, Trump, war criminals, Trump, impeachment again, Trump. . . .

It's hard finding stories that are not about Trump, and frankly, he's about as interesting as a train wreck. I am not into train wrecks.

I suppose I could light into the "free press" for its less than adversarial coverage, but that gets old pretty fast.

Culture Break: Michael Nyman: The Fringed Curtains of Thine Eye

From Noises, Sounds and Sweet Airs, which is a work he created based on The Tempest. The interesting part is that he didn't used any of the songs, having already set the songs for Prospero's Books. This is probably my favorite piece from the work.

Performed by Catherine Bott, Hilary Summers, Ian Bostridge, Ensemble Instrumental de BasseNormandie & Dominique Debart. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a performance video on YouTube or anywhere else.

OK, It's Definite: He's Lost It

Trump has declared war on the war on Thanksgiving:

“As we gather together for Thanksgiving, you know, some people want to change the name ‘Thanksgiving,'” Trump told supporters at a fake “homecoming” rally in Florida Tuesday night. “They don’t want to use the term ‘Thanksgiving.’ And that was true also with Christmas. But now everybody’s using Christmas again. Remember this?”

About this "war on Thanksgiving" -- when did it start, exactly?

Oh, and that's not all:

And what election was that?

Sunday, November 24, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

It's Sunday again, and another bunch of reviews and commentaries on neat stuff at Green Man Review:

Magic Realism, How Trolls See It, Chocolate, Hardanger Fiddles, Mammals, and More

So, have at it, and enjoy.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Remember When This Happened?

I don't either. But Jim Bakker does:

I’m afraid if things keep going the other direction, even Christmas will be outlawed. They tried to outlaw it already. You know that. In fact the stores, a couple of years ago, weren’t allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas.” Did you know that? I’m serious.

One of the greeters at a big store here in Branson, she said, ‘Can’t say Merry Christmas anymore. It’s against the law.’ But we complained! And the people that watch our show called and contacted their stores.

Either he's an idiot, taking something said by some clueless teenager as gospel, or he's a liar. Or both.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Today in Disgusting People (Update)

Tony Perkins has been on a roll lately. This hit the news last evening (hide your irony meter):

Father, most Americans have little understanding about euphemistic titles like “Equal Rights Amendment” or “Equality Act.” Protect the American people from deliberately ambiguous and contradictory use of words to mislead and manipulate voters, common in politics today.

That's called "projection". It gets worse:

Protect us from tragically misguided efforts to redefine sacred words like “man,” “woman,” “family,” “marriage,” etc., in an effort to overthrow your created order. May your people arise to teach the nations everything you have commanded us. Restore your moral order to our backslidden nation.

This, from a man who thinks that "morality" is composed of arbitrary rules cherry-picked from the tribal taboos of Bronze Age nomads. (And I'll bet you didn't know that "etc." was a "sacred word".)

And this is also from yesterday:

If the last 24 hours have proven anything about Chick-fil-A, it’s this: It was never about the chicken. For millions of Americans, there was a much deeper significance behind every decision to pull in the parking lot and walk through those doors. It wasn’t about the menu. It wasn’t even about the service.

It was that every time someone ate there, they were making a cultural statement. Chick-fil-A was a business, yes. But it was also a giant rebuttal of everything the bullies stood for. Until it wasn’t.

Maybe that’s why people are in such denial. They don’t want to believe that the place where they felt at home, the place they’d put on a pedestal and invested so much personal capital, betrayed them.

This, of course, follows on Chik-fil-A's statement that they would no longer donate to anti-gay hate groups. (Which, as it turns out, was so much BS.)

So, eating a fried chicken sandwich is now a cultural statement, proving that you're a godly person, or something. Who knew? And of course, when hate groups boycott entities such as Target for their inclusive policies, that's doing god's work. (That, by the way, was a big nothingburger -- yes, Target's stock fell, but it was because of Amazon, not the American Family Association.)

I seem to remember reading about Jesus preaching love, acceptance, compassion, kindness, generosity -- or did I misunderstand?

Update: Another bigot weighs in on Chik-fil-A:

Hemant Mehta notes:

Huckabee is lashing out at the company for focusing on — I repeat — education, homelessness, and hunger. He’s angry that they’re helping the poor instead of sticking it to LGBTQ people.

Huckabee might do well to remember the words of Christ, as related in Matthew 25:41-46:

41 Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’

45 “Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Criminalizing Humanity

At least, that what Trump's government (such as it is) would like to do. Didn't work:

Jurors found humanitarian aid volunteer Scott Warren not guilty Wednesday of intentionally harboring and concealing two undocumented migrants from the Border Patrol in the remote Arizona desert.

Warren, a longtime volunteer with humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, faced up to 20 years in prison. It was his second trial stemming from his January 2018 arrest in Ajo, about 100 miles southwest of Phoenix.

The 12-person jury in Tucson took just more than two hours to reach a not guilty verdict, striking a blow to federal prosecutors who opted to retry Warren after the first trial ended in a hung jury in June.

“The government failed in its attempt to criminalize basic human kindness,” Warren told supporters outside the federal courthouse.

I wonder if they would have arrested him if he was giving food and water to immigrants from, say, Slovenia.

And his base thinks this is OK. Even -- or maybe especially -- the "Christians" among them.

(Sorry -- couldn't access the full article for some reason.)

Footnote: David Anderson had this comment:

This was not a mistrial. This was not a judge tossing charges. This was a jury saying that the federal prosecutors could not prove that human decency is illegal.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Courtesy of Frances Langum at Crooks and Liars:

And now you know why Republicans are against education.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

It's another Sunday, and more neat stuff at Green Man Review:

Charles de Lint, Robert’s Potato Soup, Folkmanis’ Chipmunk in Watermelon puppet, Rosanne Cash and Other Matters as Well

You know the drill -- go check it out.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

For the "Pro-Lifers"

Ran across this in the comments on this post at Joe.My.God. With thanks to commenter Hank:


The post itself is drawn from this article in Courthouse News:

A federal jury found an anti-abortion cohort led by David Daleiden caused substantial harm to Planned Parenthood by infiltrating abortion industry conferences to secretly tape abortion doctors and staff – and awarded punitive damages of $870,000.

David Daleiden, an anti-abortion activist charged with invasion of privacy for filming attendees at National Abortion Federation conferences in California.
Daleiden, who heads the Center for Medical Progress, and his co-defendant Sandra Merritt, posed as human tissue procurers for a fake company called BioMax as part of a hidden-camera investigation into the organization.

The pair attended abortion industry conferences from 2013 to 2015 – posing as exhibitors named Robert Sarkis and Susan Tennenbaum – where they secretly recorded conversations they later posted online. Daleiden also made recordings at Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics in Texas and Colorado.

What's interesting is that there's no mention of whether the videos and recordings were edited -- if you remember James O'Keefe and his "Project Veritas", that was an essential part of the strategy. If they were edited, it didn't work, any more than O'Keefe's attempt did:

At least three congressional committees and law enforcement officials in thirteen states launched investigations into Planned Parenthood after Daleiden and his group released the first video on July 14, 2015. Planned Parenthood was cleared of wrongdoing by the states and so far nothing has come of the federal investigation.

At any rate, it's worth reading the whole article, as well as Joe's post, which summarizes the outrage on the part of the "pro-life" side. You can almost see the spittle flying as the hysteria mounts.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Religious Freedom!!1!

This is about the most bone-headed thing I've seen coming from the "religious" right:

Ohio lawmakers are weighing in on how public schools can teach things like evolution.

The Ohio House on Wednesday passed the "Student Religious Liberties Act." Under the law, students can't be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs.

Instead, students are graded on substance and relevance.

Every Republican in the House supported the bill. It now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate.

OK -- it's a given that Republicans, especially the evangelical variety, don't like education anyway, especially science -- which relies more than most fields on critical thinking and evidence -- but to adopt something like this is far out, even for them.

I wonder who will have standing to sue.

There's more detail here.

Via Joe.My.God., who notes that the bill's sponsor, Rep. Tim Ginter, "is primarily known for anti-abortion stunts such as reading bible verses aloud and demanding that they be made into law."

Can you say "anti-American"?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Giggle du Jour

Somehow, I find this a particularly appealing image:

Culture Break: The Danish String Quartet: The Dromer

This is one of my favorite tracks from their album Last Leaf. (Which, frankly, has a lot of favorite tracks). Turn up the volume.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Sunday, November 10, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

Another Sunday, and more goodies.

Fairy Tale Feasts, Aaron Copland’s ‘A Fanfare for The Common Man’ , Charles de Lint’s The Wild Wood. The Dubliners Live, A Worm in An Apple puppet and Other Tempting Things

So hop over and dig in.

Today in Disgusting People

There seem to be a lot of these popping up lately. And here's another twofer.

First, this person, Rebecca Carlson, who was, she claims, a teacher for 28 years. Appearing on Fox News' Tucker Carlson (natch):

Let’s just take the free lunch program that we have in our schools. It started out being pushed by the unions and their friends for poor children. Well, 28 years ago, I had two students in my class on free lunch. Today almost every single child is on free breakfast and free lunch.

So what the unions are trying to do, they’ve been pushing something called community schools. And in these community schools, we’re giving children free healthcare, we’re are giving them free food, free emotional support, and by the way free political indoctrination for their parents.

If these unions and their friends, their politicians, get their way, they would like our schools to be open 24/7. They want to replace the family and families raising their children with our own virtues, they want to replace that with the state. With union-controlled government-run schools.

That’s dangerous. That’s communism when you think about it.

First off, I think she's a little confused -- she should be blaming Obama, or George Soros, or at least "the Left". I mean, blaming the unions? That's so 1980s.

As for all this free stuff -- you think it might have something to do with stagnant wages against rising cost of living? So that both parents have to work, and if they're lucky they can put food on the table?

And any bets on whether she claims to be a Christian? I mean, what are the odds? What was it Jesus said about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, all that sort of "liberal" stuff? I think it boils down to "Do it"

I pity any kid who had her as a teacher.

And next, Ken Cuccinelli, well-known racist and white supremacist, also acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (and by extension, the entire Trump regime), who now wants to charge people for seeking asylum:

The Trump administration on Friday proposed hiking a range of fees assessed on those pursuing legal immigration and citizenship, as well as for the first time charging those fleeing persecution for seeking protection in the United States.

The rule, which will be published on Thursday and will have a monthlong comment period, would increase citizenship fees more than 60 percent, to $1,170 from $725, for most applicants. For some, the increase would reach 83 percent. The government would also begin charging asylum seekers $50 for applications and $490 for work permits, a move that would make the United States one of four countries to charge people for asylum.

It would also increase renewal fees for hundreds of thousands of participants of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. That group, known as “Dreamers,” would need to pay $765, rather than $495, for a renewal request. The fee hike comes days before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the validity of President Trump’s justification to terminate DACA.

A lot of people have commented on the cruelty of this idea, and that's certainly there, but it's really more bully tactics from the bully in chief. By all means, charge people seeking asylum -- who are the people least likely to be able to pay a fee. This whole thing stinks, but it's all of a piece with Trump's agenda:

Former agency officials and immigration lawyers, however, said the decision to charge asylum seekers erased a long-held principle of not placing a financial burden on some of the world’s most vulnerable people seeking protection.

“There was a recognition that the likelihood of their ability to pay is really in question,” said Barbara Strack, a former chief of the agency’s refugee affairs division under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “The only way to understand this is as a part of the administration’s campaign of hostility against the asylum program.”

You can bet that Trump & Co. would be more than willing to grant asylum to persecuted billionaires.

And if you're waiting for the outcry from "Christian" leaders, don't hold your breath.

It's worth reading the whole article to get a good picture of just how disgusting and petty these proposed fee hikes are.

Via Joe.My.God.

And a special bonus, courtesy of commenter SoCalGal20 at Joe.My.God.

They really can't stand to lose.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Today in Disgusting People

Junior, boldly going where any number of websites have gone before:

President Donald Trump's son published on Wednesday the name of the alleged anonymous whistleblower whose complaint fired the impeachment inquiry against Trump, breaking strict conventions for protecting officials who reveal wrongdoing in government.

Amid calls by the president himself to expose the whistleblower, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the name of a CIA analyst which has circulated online for weeks, and linked to a Breitbart news article implying the person was pro-Democrat and anti-Trump.

AFP could not independently verify the whistleblower's identity and is not publishing the name.

Echoing Breitbart, of course, because it's sooo reliable.

And note this:

Andrew Bakaj, the whistleblower's lawyer, would not confirm or deny the reported name, but said Trump Jr. and others were endangering the person as well as the system built to protect whistleblowers.

"Identifying any name for the whistleblower will simply place that individual and their family at risk," he told AFP.

"It won't, however, relieve the president of the need to address the substantive allegations, all of which have been substantially proven to be true."

This is nothing more nor less than intimidation, threatening not only the whistleblower in the present instance, but anyone else who might be considering stepping forward. "At risk" only begins to describe the possible consequences.

It's also illegal, under several different laws. The most relevant are the Wistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012.

So, will Breitbart and Junior be prosecuted? With Trump cheerleader Bill Barr heading up the DoJ? Please.

Footnote: And Kentucky's other disgusting senator jumps into the fray:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked a resolution Wednesday reaffirming the Senate's support for whistleblower protections and accused Democrats of "fake outrage."

Here's where the hypocrisy becomes blatant:

Paul objected to passing the resolution after Democrats refused to drop their resolution and instead pass whistleblower legislation that he introduced earlier that day.

"I support whistleblowers, and I do think they have a role to play in keeping government accountable ... but what we have seen over the last few years is that we have a system that we should continue to refine," Paul said.

He argued that his legislation would "make clear" that President Trump should be able to face his accuser. The measure also would expand current whistleblower protections for contractors.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) nailed it:

She added that she was "flabbergasted" by a provision in Paul's legislation that would apply the Sixth Amendment to impeachment proceedings.

"Come forward, but we're going to out you, subject you to threats, intimidation, retaliation," Hirono said, summarizing the impact of the provision.

Note that Paul is another one who has been calling for the whistleblower to be outed.

Via Joe.My.God.

Lucky you -- you get two disgusting people for one click.

Of Course He Did

Several states had elections this week, with some good results -- Democrats flipped the entire Virginia legislature, which means they control gerrymandering -- uh, redistricting -- for the 2020 election, and had notable successes in other areas. And in Kentucky, Republican Dominionist governor Matt Bevin lost -- and of course, is calling "foul!":

Alleging "a number of significant irregularities," Gov. Matt Bevin is formally requesting an official recanvass of the results of Kentucky's election for governor.

Bevin came up about 5,000 votes short in Tuesday's race against Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.

"Significant irregularities" means that votes for Beshear actually got counted.

This is choice:

Speaking at a 5 p.m. press conference at the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort, Bevin said he'll be "entirely comfortable" with whatever the recanvass shows as long as he's confident the results are an accurate reflection of Kentuckians' votes.

To borrow a recurring phrase from any number of comment threads:


I have a feeling a recanvass won't be the end of it. Bevin may also be able to call for a recount. I wouldn't be surprised.

Via Joe.My.God.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Culture Break: Toru Takemitsu: November Steps

Guess who turned up on my playlist this morning.

Takemitsu is another one of those composers, like Morton Feldman, who seems to shape space with his music. It's generally pretty low-key, but I find it compelling. This is one of my favorites by him:

Yes, that is Seiji Ozawa conducting, with Kinshi Tsuruta on biwa and Yokoyama Katsuya on shakuhachi.

It's another one of those pieces that you can just sink into.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

I Was Wondering About That

The answer to one of those vexing questions:


They do seem to be better at creating them.

What's New at Green Man Review

Another week, more reviews of good stuff:

The Men They Couldn’t Hang’s ‘Homefires’, Mice, Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech, Mini Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes and Other Matters

And it's all right here waiting for you.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Culture Break: Modest Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain

We all know what tonight is, so I thought I'd do an extra Culture Break in honor of the holiday. This one's Mussorgsky via Disney, in two parts:


I don't do enough kittens and puppies here. I will probably continue to not do enough kittens and puppies, but at least I have the option.

So this is an antidote to a totally crappy day yesterday:


With thanks to commenter Doug105 at Joe.My.God.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Culture Break: Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, 5th Movement

This popped up on my playlist this morning. It's been a while since I've listened to it.

Not a lot more to be said, is there?

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Words fail me:

[Frank] Luntz graced the soundstage of Ingraham Angle Monday night to declare that (not making this up) the baseball fans at Game 5 of the World Series should be "held accountable" for booing Donald Trump.

FRANK LUNTZ: The fact is, they should hold those fans accountable. Don't boo the president! You may disagree with him, you may say that he's not what you wanted, but you don't boo him, you show respect for him. And I'll tell you something, I think this event is going to have an impact...

LAURA INGRAHAM: It's huge! It's going to be a campaign commercial.

I guess Luntz thinks Kim Jong-Trump needs backup.

And a campaign commercial? For whom?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The City In a Forest

So yesterday, as I was about to come in the front gate, there was a rabbit sitting on the sidewalk, for the second evening in a row. I stopped, we chatted (well, I chatted; the rabbit was chewing on something), and then I decided I had to come in, since it was a little chilly.

The rabbit decided it was time to go somewhere else.

It really is like living in the woods, sometimes.

Monday, October 28, 2019

In the Holiday Spirit

From NASA -- taken a few years ago, but timely:

And for those who want the details:

NASA is getting in the celebration of Halloween.

The U.S. space agency shared a 2014 photo that showed what appears to be a jack-o’-lantern face on the sun. The image was seen in ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite.

NASA explained the image this way:

“The active regions in this image appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy. They are markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. This image blends together two sets of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths…typically colorized in gold and yellow, to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance.”

With thanks to commenter Talisman at Joe.My.God.

Take Me Out To the Ball Game!

So the acting president decided to attend the World Series game in Washington. Apparently he was late -- perhaps he didn't want to witness the first pitch (no, he wasn't asked) thrown out by an immigrant:

As you'll note from his tweet, Andres has fed well over a million people struck by disasters, most notably in the Bahamas after the recent hurricane.

At any rate, the president's reception was not, I suspect, what he was expecting:

Both tweets courtesy of commenter DoILookAmused2u? Résistance☨ at Joe.My.God. (There are a number of comments on this episode, with videos.)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

Halloween is almost upon us, so that's the theme of this week's issue:

Our Halloween Edition

There -- that's nice and succinct. Don't be fooled -- lots of stuff this week. Hop on over and get in the holiday mood.

Wham! One For Our Side

It looks like the Senate hasn't managed to fill enough judgeships with Trump cultists.

The Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Friday afternoon ordered the Department of Justice to hand over the unredacted Mueller report and underlying materials requested by the House Judiciary Committee months ago. The 75-page ruling by Judge Beryl Howell (photo) is a being called a “stunning rebuke” to the DOJ that is leaving some experts surprised and even somewhat shocked.

The ruling also destroys the fallacious argument made by President Trump and Republicans that the House impeachment inquiry is not an actual impeachment. Judge Howell says it absolutely is. Republicans, including administration officials, have refused to respond to requests by the House for documents, and even subpoenas commanding testimony, claiming because the full House did not vote on holding the impeachment inquiry it is, as some on the right claim falsely, a “witch hunt” that can be ignored.

They are wrong.

Judge Howell has successfully accomplished several things. She delivers effective explanations deriding the DOJ’s arguments, she effectively certifies the House’s impeachment inquiry, and she shows just how amateur – or inept – the Barr DOJ has become.

Twitter, or course, is all over this, and most of the commenters include quotes from the decision. Some of them are really on the nose. Here's one example, from Marcy Wheeler:

It's worth reading the whole post for some of the comments on Twitter.

Barr, of course, will appeal to Trump's tame Supreme Court. It that fails, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the regime declares that it is not bound by court decisions. That's where we're headed.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Here We Go Again

I normally don't bother to comment on Monica Cole and her "One Million Moms". If you're not familiar with them, it's another one of those hate groups -- an arm of American Family Association -- that calls for boycotts of anything and disturbs their delicate "Christian" values. This time, they've come out in favor of bullying:

Kellogg’s has supported the homosexual community for a long time, and now it is obvious they are going after our children. As part of an effort to say “we’re all in this together,” Kellogg’s has combined several of its popular cereals into one package to support an LGBTQ “anti-bullying” campaign called Spirit Day.

Kellogg’s calls it All Together Cereal, an exclusive, limited-time offer in which the cereal brand’s famous mascots are promoting their individual cereals packaged together in a purple box with rainbow colors. Purple is the designated color for Spirit Day, which is described by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) as “the most visible anti-LGBTQ bullying campaign and united show of support for LGBTQ youth.”

[. . . ]

TAKE ACTION: Kellogg’s needs to hear from you. Supporting the homosexual agenda verses [sic] remaining neutral in the cultural war is just bad business. If Christians cannot find corporate neutrality with Kellogg’s, then they will vote with their pocketbook and support companies that are neutral. Sign our petition now!

If course, "remaining neutral" in "Christian"-speak means taking their side in favor of the status quo.

And do note, as I indicated in the beginning, they're coming out against an anti-bullying effort.

Such lovely people.

Friday, October 25, 2019

He's Kidding, Right?

This entire regime is made up of bald-faced liars. Secretary of State (and he's not even "acting") Mike Pompeo is one of the most accomplished:

Pompeo rejected a question about whether the president’s treatment of the Kurds had undercut U.S. credibility.

“The whole predicate of your question is insane,” Pompeo said. “The word of the United States is much more respected today than it was just two and a half years ago.”

There's two underlying themes here -- number one, always a major consideration: "It's all Obama's fault."

The second stems from Trump's continual whining about how other countries are being unfair:

“We make clear the things that we will do,” Pompeo continued. “We also make clear the things that we’re not prepared to do. I think it’s important for people to understand that other countries have to step up too. Other countries must share the burden for not just the security of the world, but security for their own countries.”

He sounds there as historically illiterate as his boss. I guess next we'll be demanding that the UN start paying rent for its building in New York.

Via Joe.My.God. It's worth noting that a large portion of the JMG audience is overseas, and they're not very much in agreement with Pompeo's fantasy. In fact, commenter Clive Johnson did some research. Here's just one of his findings:


One country. Mexico's not alone -- he thoughtfully provided a link to Pew Research's article.

Let's face it -- when you start suddenly pulling out of major international agreements, threatening your allies, and sucking up to dictators, not to mention cutting loose the group that has been instrumental in neutralizing a major terrorist threat, who's going to believe anything you say?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Words Fail Me

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) thinks the Kurds are ingrates for objection to our withdrawal from northern Syria:

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul joined ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast, saying the Kurds are acting like 'ingrates' in disrespecting U.S. troops.

With President Donald Trump facing an eruption of dissatisfaction inside his own party over his military policy regarding Syria, Paul has emerged as a fierce defender of the idea that the U.S. has the right to wind down on “endless wars.”

With images of Kurdish forces seen hurling potatoes at American troops leaving northern Syria, Paul said the Kurds should be more grateful for the opportunities and resources the U.S. troops provided for them.

"We saved the Kurds from being beheaded and massacred by ISIS," Paul told the hosts, ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce, on Wednesday. "They were able to win with our armament, with our Air Force, and they should be thanking us and throwing rose petals. And so, no, I'm offended by them throwing refuse at our troops. And it shows them to be ingrates."

So now they can be massacred by the Turks.

This whole thing literally makes me sick. I supposed it's the sort of thing to be expected from Trump -- after all, they're Kurds, not Slovenians -- but it's still wrong on every count I can come up with.

One little tidbit from this story I find revealing:

It's all lip-service to our "security". No mention of giving the green light to genocide. Oh, but wait -- I forgot: that's one of those "Christian values" we keep hearing about.

The Rule of Law

Remember when we had that? I don't think I'm being partisan when I say that we can thank the Republican party for the loss of a fine old tradition. Given that the party as it is now composed (and has been for decades), of plutocrats and theocrats, both of which are sworn enemies of democracy, it's only to be expected that Republican members of the House would engage in behavior like this:

Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) shared audio of a phone call he made from inside a secure room at the Capitol where Democrats were attempting to interview a witness as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The interview was delayed for hours after a group of conservative Republican lawmakers, including Mooney, stormed into the room to protest what they say has been an unfair impeachment process.

The protest took place inside what's known as a SCIF — an acronym for sensitive compartmented information facility. Such rooms are used when secure, nationally sensitive information is to be shared or discussed.

The article does note that the call was made on a secure landline, because all their cell phones were confiscated, but there is still the fact that he's broadcasting a recording of it, and there are pictures of him recording himself on video on the way in.

It's "secret" because classified information is being presented to the committees engaged in the investigation. Duh.

It's also worth noting that this idiot is parroting Glorious Leader's attacks on Schiff, or at least being sure to target Schiff.

I'm not sure if this little frat boy stunt is a violation of the law, but it certainly violates security protocols -- first, breaking into a secure room which they were not authorized to be in, and then making an unauthorized phone call from inside. What's more important is that it happened at all: guess which party has no respect for the rules that make this a civilized country. It's so outrageous that it got a reaction from none other than Lindsey Graham -- who then promptly back-pedaled. And I'm sure Susan Collins (R-ME -- and somehow that seems a fitting designation) is concerned.

What really depresses me, though, is the near certainty that there will be no consequences. If the Democratic leadership is expecting these idiots to pay at the ballot box, they've really got their heads up their asses -- their constituents love this sort of thing. If Pelosi or Schiff don't do something, no one else will.

For more backstory on this see here -- and here's an interesting tidbit.

Via Joe.My.God.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I'm Back

No Internet for several days -- had to wait for a new router to get installed.

Aside from that -- well, more later if I find something interesting to report on.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Culture Break: Terry Riley: Lisbon Concert

This got reviewed a couple of places. This particular review originally appeared at Epinions:

Perhaps one of the most awesome things that can happen to a fan of “new music” is the chance to hear Terry Riley in concert. There is nothing like it. And, for those who cannot travel around the world to where he might be performing, the Lisbon Concert recording brings you a taste of what an experience that is. (Yes, I've heard Riley live. It was amazing.)

The Lisbon Concert was recorded in 1995 at the Teatro Sào Luís in Lisbon at the final concert in the composer’s sixtieth-birthday tour of Europe. The recording quality is excellent. It is an amazing, shimmering fabric of virtuosity that draws on Riley’s compositions spanning several decades. Although the piano was tuned in equal temperament, as opposed to Riley’s preferred just intonation tuning, he draws from it colors and shadings that are ineffably Riley.

A few general observations before I mention some of the specifics: take it as a given that Riley is a virtuoso on the piano. It has always been his favored instrument, and he certainly can put it through its paces. This album does indeed shimmer – it shimmers, it ripples, and then Riley throws in a sweetly reflective passage or a phrase of high drama. He moves effortlessly between jazz and repetitive Minimalism, while throwing in elements that are almost, but not quite, Latin, Chinese, or movie soundtrack, that might hark back to the richness of Mozart or the earthy romanticism of Vaughan Williams, and yet are truly and only Terry Riley. Throughout, there are echoes of things that have gone before, and foreshadowings of things yet to come. The whole is seamless.

“Arica,” which opens the album, has an understated beginning that recalls, in mood if not actual sound, some of Debussy’s preludes. (In fact, while I am typing this, my trusty CD player has finished with Riley and moved on to Debussy, with never a blip – except that the Debussy is leaner and not quite so richly textured.) Riley builds to cascades of notes over a quiet, reflective base, that somehow moves into a high-brow honky-tonk. It fades into “Negro Hall,” which opens with another quiet passage that could be an extension of the opening of “Arica” (one knows this because one went back and forth between the beginnings of these two pieces several times, with no jar, no discontinuity, in spite of all that went on in between), then immediately takes on a jazzy air, a sort of boogy-woogie style. “15/16” has a Latin feel to it, but not quite, while “Havana Man” – well, if Schumann had done jazz, you might be getting close. And that’s an indication of the way the whole concert moves back and forth, almost reprising earlier pieces, but never quite, while building new contexts as it goes along, moving from style to style but never quite leaving the central theme. There is a unity of vision in control of this music that is quite formidable.

One wants to build analogies with Wagner, the Baroque, even Beethoven and perhaps Rachmaninoff, but why push the envelope that far? The experience is of a master at play, and it’s something. This is not drop-dead music – “high drama” for Riley has an order of subtley to it that’s hard to explain – but this is music that leaves you with a very quiet “wow!” and makes you want to go out and start piano lessons.

(New Albion Records, 2009)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

In Memoriam

Damn. Elijah Cummings has passed.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a son of sharecroppers who rose to become one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress and a central figure in the impeachment investigation of President Trump, died on Thursday in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was 68.

His death was confirmed by a spokeswoman, Trudy Perkins, in a statement that said he died of “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” No other details were given. Mr. Cummings had been ailing in recent years and used a motorized wheelchair.

This is a disaster.

Another One of Those Days

Except it's getting worse.

So Trump held a meeting with Congressional leadership, ostensibly on the situation he's created in Syria. It didn't go well:

The President started the meeting with a lengthy bombastic monologue, according to a senior Democratic aide. He bragged about the "nasty" letter he sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Turkish leader's decision to invade northern Syria, the aide said. . . .

"He was insulting, particularly to the speaker," Schumer told reporters later on Wednesday. "She kept her cool completely. But he called her a third-rate politician. He said that there are communists involved and you guys might like that. I mean, this was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe — a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts, particularly the fact of how to curtail ISIS, a terrorist organization that aims to hurt the United States in our homeland."

Hoyer echoed those remarks, saying that the meeting "deteriorated into a diatribe" and that they were "deeply offended" by the way Trump treated Pelosi. He said that after serving in Congress over the course of six presidential administrations, he has "never" seen a president "treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of the government."

Via Joe.My.God., who found this:

This is the White House Press Office, whose job in this administration has been to lie to the American people. That's what they get paid for.

That's not all. Digby has a run-down of the insanity coming from Trump. Here's a sample:

He is completely delusional. The impeachment inquiry is really getting under his skin.

And she follows up with a litany of his foreign policy disasters.

And this is the most powerful man in the world -- for as long as it lasts.