Thursday, April 28, 2016


Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of my sister Gayle. I still miss her. Frank, Donna, Gretchen, and Eric, I know you miss her, too. Though we didn't live near each other, we talked on the phone or emailed nearly every day and visited back and forth from time to time. I think she would have liked Facebook, warts and all.

The photo shows Gayle in York on a day trip from London when we traveled together to England. We took the train and saw York Minster and other sights in the city.

Below is a poem I wrote some years ago when my grief was fresher. As time passes, the hurt is less, but I've never stopped missing her.
Why Couldn't You Stay?

You walked away; you left us
Bereft, bereaved.
How could you go?
It wasn't your doing,
I know, I know.
Yet, how could you go?

Two years passed and gone,
Slipped away.
After you left, I'd think
I'll call her; I'll email.
Oh no! None of that!
You won't answer.

Now I know you're gone.
No thoughts of visits to come,
Seeing your face, hearing your voice,
The sound of your laughter.
Sadness lingers, emptiness remains.
Why couldn't you stay?

June Butler - 04-27-08

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Several nights ago, I watched the film Spotlight, which was riveting and all around excellent.  The movie earned its well-deserved Academy awards in Best Picture and Best Screen Play categories.  Though I followed the story of child abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston in the newspaper from the beginning, the story as told from the point of view of the newspaper reporters and editors kept me in full suspense mode throughout.  I'd be hard put to single out particular actors for fine performances, because the principals were all outstanding.

The child abuse scandals in Louisiana broke earlier than the Boston scandal, but there was only spotty coverage by the national media.  South Louisiana is heavily Roman Catholic, and I now realize how courageous the reporters and editors in the local newspapers, the Daily Comet and the Houma Courier, were in publishing their stories.  No doubt, they took a great deal of heat from diocesan leaders and lawyers at the time.

The Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux is small, and I knew some of the people involved.  When I learned of the child abuse, the hush money paid to victims, and the attempts to cover up by supposedly moral and psychologically sound leaders, I left the church at age 60.  Though my alliance with the church had been uneasy for quite a while, my decision to completely break the ties was difficult.

Night before last, I watched Spotlight again before I sent the DVD back to Netflix. I wanted to enjoy the fine artistry on display in the film without being overwhelmed by suspense.  Upon seeing the movie the second time, I remembered the light-bulb moment when, after hearing the stories about more than one priest in more than one diocese in Louisiana, I concluded that the abusive priests didn't simply slip through the cracks, but that the actual policy of the church was to shift abusive priests from parish to parish, perhaps after a leave of absence, where the abusive behavior continued in their new placements.


Atrios makes a good point at Eschaton.
If Bernie had dropped out a month ago (or, frankly, if he dropped out yesterday), there would be no horse race to cover, and no "both sides" (on the Democratic side) necessitating some balance between critical pieces of Clinton and critical pieces of Sanders. So any press coverage of Clinton would be one sided and critical, elevating nonsensical stuff into front page news.
My comment to the post:
Probably no reason to leave the 819th comment, but you make a point, Atrios.  If Sanders left the race, the media and Republicans would continue to minutely pick apart Clinton's every statement and bash her at every opportunity.  With Sanders in the race, the media will focus on the horse race and give the two candidates equal scrutiny and picking apart.  Republicans leave Sanders alone now, because they see the handwriting on the wall and also because they'd prefer their candidate to run against Sanders.  If Sanders should surprise us all and become the candidate, of course, the GOP will be merciless.
When I posted the link on Facebook, one of my friends who is a Sanders supported noted that the GOP will be merciless to either candidate.  The difference is that Sanders has not yet been scrutinized for 25 years, as Clinton has. Does anyone see the GOP bashing Sanders now? I don't. Why is that? I'd hope he and his family and his campaign are prepared if he is the nominee, because the attacks won't be pretty.  Also, a candidate who has less to lose feels freer to make negative comments about his Democratic opponent, comments that will attract the attention of the media and keep him in the spotlight.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Jane Sanders told CNN that she thought the candidate's hour-long interview with the tabloid's editorial board was "odd."

"We commented on that afterwards, that it was more of an inquisition, hurry, hurry, interrupt, let's ask the questions don't let you even finish your answers," Sanders said. "We didn't realize they had planned to release the transcript. So it became a little bit more evident what they were trying to do."
The media is mean, and they ask probing questions, even gotcha questions, alas.  Welcome to the world of presidential politics. I'd have thought Sen. and Ms Sanders understood that transcripts happen when public figures give interviews.

What the hell. I'll pile on.  Dr Paul Song, a speaker at the Bernie Sanders rally in Washington Square last night:
"While I agree with Secretary Clinton that Medicare for All will never happen if we have a president who never aspires for something greater than the status quo.
Not true.  Clinton aspires to build on the status quo.  See?  Not the same thing.  
Medicare for all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to big Pharma..."
Yikes!  The tone deafness in the Sanders campaign is appalling. Of course, Song was not referring to Clinton. No, not at all.  More than half the voters in the New York primary are women.  To women: nothing to see here.

The rally attracted quite a large crowd, between 15,000 and 27, 000, depending upon law enforcement estimate or campaign estimate.  In any case the large number of supporters at the rally should have been the Sanders news story today, but attention is now focused on the offensive comment, on Sanders' repudiation of his out-of-control speaker, and on Song's lame, tweeted non-apology apology.
I am very sorry for using the term "whore" to refer to some in congress who are beholden to corporations and not us. It was insensitive.
— Paul Y. Song (@paulysong) April 14, 2016
Who is Dr Paul Song?
Thursday afternoon, Courage Campaign, a California-based progressive group that Song chairs, distanced itself from his remarks in a statement.

"Courage Campaign does not endorse political candidates. Dr. Paul Song, acting in his own capacity as a health care advocate, and separate from Courage Campaign, made comments at a rally in New York for Senator Bernie Sanders last night that are contrary to the values of Courage Campaign," the statement said. "These comments were unacceptable and that sort of rhetoric has no place in our political dialogue."
Do we know him?

Dr Song is also one half of a celebrity couple.  He's married to Lisa Ling, host of This Life with Lisa Ling on CNN.

Post inspired by Rmj at Adventus, but he is in no way responsible for the content.

Monday, April 4, 2016


Several weeks ago,  I decided I would not write anything negative about either of the Democratic candidates for president, but I'm on my last nerve with Bernie Sanders.  Sanders is not clean, and he's not pure. No candidate is.  He's beginning to sound like a Republican when he criticizes Clinton, and I've had enough. If Sanders ends up as the nominee, I will vote for him, but I've reached the point where it will be hold-my-nose-and-vote.

Sanders does not campaign for nor does he contribute to down ticket candidates, but he is trying to woo super delegates to support him. I guess he doesn't know that a number of super delegates are running for reelection to Congress or for governor of their respective states.  Sanders is about Sanders and how he will save the country because millions will rise up. If his millions don't rise up to elect Democratic candidates, then he will accomplish nothing if he is elected. He is not and never has been a team player. He became a Democrat to run for president, because it was to his advantage.

Michael A. Cohen says it well in the Boston Globe.
The candidate who pledged last May that his campaign would not be about Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, but “about the needs of the American people”; the candidate who boasted he’d never run a negative political attack in his life; the man who said he would be “driven by issues and serious debate . . . not reckless personal attacks of character assassination,” has begun to run a very different race.

Sanders is increasingly embracing the tactics he once decried. Rather than trying to unify the Democratic Party behind its almost certain nominee, Hillary Clinton, he is ramping up the attacks against her. While once Sanders refused even to mention Clinton’s name, now he doesn’t go a day without hitting her.
When Rachel Maddow asked Sanders in an interview about Trump's comments on punishing women who have abortions:
SANDERS: But because media is what media is today, any stupid, absurd remark made by Donald Trump becomes the story of the week. Maybe, just maybe, we might want to have a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America. Donald Trump will not look quite so interesting in that context.

MADDOW: Are you suggesting, though, that the media shouldn't be focusing on his call to potentially jail women who have abortions? Because that's another stupid --

SANDERS: I am saying that every day he comes up with another stupid remark, absurd remark, of course it should be mentioned. But so should Trump's overall positions. How much talk do we hear about climate change, Rachel? And Trump? Any?
Now Sanders is whining that Clinton took his comments about whether abortion is a serious issue out of context. The senator didn't pay much attention to Louisiana during the primary, but I'd like him to know that ongoing efforts to limit access to abortion and health care provided by Planned Parenthood to both women and men is a deadly serious issue in my state.

Sanders is on the right side on many of the issues, but his Medicare for All plan as described on his campaign website is no such thing.

As a patient, all you need to do is go to the doctor and show your insurance card. Bernie’s plan means no more copays, no more deductibles and no more fighting with insurance companies when they fail to pay for charges. 
Our primary health care provider is Medicare with supplementary insurance from the State of Louisiana, as my husband is a retiree.  We pay both deductibles and and co-pays, so the information on Sanders' campaign website calling his single payer plan Medicare for All is deceptive.  I'm surprised neither the media nor the Clinton campaign has picked up on the mistake.

I could go on, but my post is long enough to explain why I'm losing patience with Sanders.  At the beginning of the campaign, I supported him and contributed to his campaign, but, more and more, I came to see a number of his promises as pie-in the-sky that will not happen if he is elected president, and I switched my support to Clinton several months ago.  Since then, nothing has changed my mind, and I'm even more convinced that I made the right decision.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


From TalkingPointsMemo:
After The Washington Post published a lengthy investigation into the origins of Hillary Clinton's email scandal, including the bombshell revelation that 147 FBI agents were looking into her private server, the newspaper corrected its report late Tuesday to note the number of agents looking into Clinton’s emails as actually fewer than 50. 
The recently edited version of the 5000 word article by Robert O'Harrow in the WP has the following correction at the very end for those who have the stamina to read that far.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Clinton used two different email addresses, sometimes interchangeably, as secretary of state. She used only as secretary of state. Also, an earlier version of this article reported that 147 FBI agents had been detailed to the investigation, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey. Two U.S. law enforcement officials have since told The Washington Post that figure is too high. The FBI will not provide an exact figure, but the officials say the number of FBI personnel involved is fewer than 50. 
When I read about the nearly 150 FBI agents in the original article, the number sounded incredible to me. Since the article has been linked several times, the number 150 will stick despite the correction. My guess for the anonymous source in the original is a GOP congressional staff member who had incomplete information or who passed on incorrect information to Robert O'Harrow, and - surprise! - the reporter fell for the story.  (Added note: I did not need to guess about the anonymous source; the statement "a lawmaker briefed by FBI director James Comey" appears in the article and in the correction.)

What those who hope for an indictment don't understand or don't care to understand is that Clinton would have had to knowingly send classified emails on an insecure server. Emails that were classified after being sent would not lead to an indictment. Who knows but that Clinton's server was more secure that the State Department server? Colin Powell said he set up a private server when he was Secretary of State because the Department's server was so old and clunky.

Chris Cillizza could not resist chiming in on his WP blog, and, as of now, his blog has not been corrected.  Cillizza noted the following:
Both stories make clear that, according to legal experts, Clinton is very unlikely to be punished for her exclusive use of a private email server during her time at State since the practice was not forbidden. (Worth noting: Lots of other secretaries of state used private email accounts to supplement their official accounts; none used only a private email account and server.)
But then Cillizza goes on to add:
Potentially more problematic for Clinton is her insistence that she never knowingly sent or received any messages that were marked classified at the time. It’s been shown in the year-plus of investigations into her server that there were a number of items on Clinton’s server that were classified after the fact, but there is no evidence to make her initial statement untrue.  (My emphasis)
If there is no evidence that Clinton's initial statement is untrue, why is her insistence that she never knowingly sent classified emails problematic?  It is a puzzlement.

Full disclosure: I skimmed through most of the article in the WP, because I've already read so much about the email "scandal", and I watched much of Clinton's 11-hour grilling in which she made fools of the six Republican members of the Benghazi!!! committee. 5000 words was just too much of the same old, same old.  How unfortunate that with all that work, the reporter made such a mistake.   A source who will not go on the record is problematic, too.

Update from NBCNews:
But a former federal law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the Clinton investigation tells MSNBC an estimate anywhere near 50 agents is also off base.
"There are currently about 12 FBI agents working full-time on the case," says the source, who would only speak anonymously about an open investigation.
More anonymous sources, and the plot thickens.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, was pulled from theaters soon after its release in 2005 in only a small number of venues because of early negative reviews.  How sad.  Because my first viewing was interrupted several times and because I loved the film. I watched it twice.  Evelyn Ryan (Julianne Moore) is the mother of ten children, married to alcoholic Kelly Ryan (Woody Harrelson).  Kelly spends much of his wage as a machinist at the liquor store, which sometimes leaves the family with no money to buy food or milk before the next paycheck.

The running thread of Evelyn's (and Kelly's) humiliation is highlighted throughout the movie by Evelyn pleading and bargaining with Ray, the milkman, (Simon Reynolds) to leave milk for the children when she has no money to pay the bill.  The desperate and embarrassing plight of the family leads Kelly to despair and turn even more to the bottle for relief.

The story is true (allowing for artistic liberties) and is based on the book of the same name by "Tuff" Ryan (Jordan Todosey), one of the daughters of Evelyn and Kelly.  Set in the 1950s and 1960s, when the traditional role of a woman was to be a wife and mother, Evelyn is expected to put up with the lack of money and Kelly's occasional drunken rages and try harder to make the best of the situation.  Julianne Moore's performance is splendid.  Evelyn carries on, mostly cheerfully, against enormous odds for the sake of the children and for the sake of maintaining her own sanity.  With ten children, her options are few to none.

Prizes for sending in lyrics for jingles for TV commercials were in their heyday at the time, and Evelyn has a gift for finding the right words to match the jingle melodies.  Her family urges her to send in her lyrics, which she does, and she begins to win.  The prizes get larger and larger, and she goes from toasters, to freezers, to trips, cars, and money.   Usually, the trips have to be exchanged for funds, and the cars cars sold to make ends meet.

Before my review becomes too much of a spoiler, I'd better stop.  I'd only add that I recommend this sentimental, bittersweet movie highly.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


It is not ourselves that we proclaim; we proclaim ChristJesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants, for Jesus' sake.For the same God who said, "Out of darkness let lightshine," has caused his light to shine within us, to give thelight of revelation--the revelation of the glory of God in theface of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:5-6)


The other night, I watched The Guard on DVD. Often the movies from Netflix have been on my list for quite a while, and, when I look at the title, I wonder why the film on was on my list in the first place. As soon as the movie started, I remembered why. The wonderful Brendan Gleeson stars in the leading role as a sergeant in the Guarda (Irish police), and the equally wonderful Don Cheadle plays an FBI investigator gone to Ireland to help with the investigation of an international drug cartel. The movie, which is an Irish police whodunnit/comedy, is excellent, and I recommend it highly.

I'd seen Gleeson in the role of an Irish priest in Calvary and praised the actor and the film on my Facebook page. Because I enjoyed the Gleeson's moving performance immensely in the previous film, a few of my excellent FB friends recommended The Guard. Thank you. The movie was a treat.

Because I live in a small town, movie theaters near me seldom show independent films or well-reviewed films that play to less than blockbuster audiences. Later, local movie rental outlets often did not stock the less popular films, so, unless I purchased them (which can be quite expensive), I'd never get to see them. Three cheers and more for Netflix, because now I watch movies that I never expected to see in my lifetime.