Criminalizing compassion

criminalizing compassionI recently came across this Common Dreams article, ‘Criminalizing Compassion’: Trial Begins for Humanitarian Facing 20 Years in Prison for Giving Water to Migrants in Arizona Desert.

Human rights advocates accused the U.S. Justice Department of “criminalizing compassion” as a federal trial began in Arizona Wednesday for activist Scott Warren, who faces up to 20 years in prison for providing humanitarian aid to migrants in the desert.

I think the prosecution is terrible, of course. But it DOES reassure me that we’re not a Christian nation, despite protestations to the contrary. A Christian nation would follow these familiar tenets of Matthew 25:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Or the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10:

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

This regime targets trans health care protections, has IRS audit poor taxpayers at the same rate as richest One Percent and other things too numerous to mention here.

Rev. Franklin Graham, among other “Christian leaders”, is asking “followers of Christ across our nation to set aside June 2 as a special day of national prayer” for the regime. He said, “In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has. The lies and the deceptions rage on.” The irony is striking.

I do agree with part of Graham’s call, that the regime “will know and understand the power of God in a new way.” But for me, it is different than what we’ve experienced the past 28 months.

February Rambling: niece Rebecca Jade in a movie

My niece, Rebecca Jade, appears as a singer (typecasting, that) in a film called 5 Hour Friends, starring Tom Sizemore,

autocorrectFrom Jeff Sharlet, who I knew long ago: Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia. In 2010, Jeff wrote about the American roots of Uganda’s anti-gay persecutions. He notes: “Centrist media sources dismissed my reporting as alarmist; The Economist assured us it would never pass. [This week], Ugandan President Museveni is signing the bill into law.”

There was no Jesse Owens at Sochi.

Arthur’s letter to straight people: why coming out matters; read the linked articles therein, too. (Watch that Dallas sportscaster on Ellen.)

So Dangerous He Needs a Soo-da-nim. Racist homophobes who comment on Sharp Little Pencil’s blog.

With conversations about shipping potentially dangerous liquids through my area, here’s a recollection of a train wreck 40 years ago.

If you knew you were going blind, what would be the last thing you would want to see before everything went dark?

The mess of an answered prayer and talking about mental illness.

A Hero’s Welcome after World War II. On a lighter note, The Margarine Wars.

This school is not a pipe, or pipeline.

An alto’s-eye view of choral music.

Who the heck was Ed Sullivan. Plus, Meet the Beatles and what it replaced, and What the critics wrote about the Beatles in 1964, and Introducing the Beatles to America.

Evanier’s experiences with Sid Caesar. Evanier wrote a brace of followup stories here (which also talks about Howie Morris) and here. Also, Dick Cavett reviewed one of Caesar’s two autobiographies, plus an article about the ever-foldable Al Jaffee of MAD.

Leonard Maltin on meeting Shirley Temple.

There are several Harold Ramis films I haven’t seen yet, but the ones I DID view – Animal House, Ghostbusters, Analyze This – I really enjoyed. Groundhog Day was among the first movies I ever purchased on VHS. And his SCTV stuff was fine, too.

A reminder that this is why we are so touched by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, from Anthony Lane. As someone put it, “It’s not his celebrity but his art.”

An audio link to a 46-minute lecture by Charles Schulz.

My niece, Rebecca Jade appears as a singer (typecasting, that) in a film called 5 Hour Friends, starring Tom Sizemore, a 97 minute comedy/drama/romance. “A lifelong womanizer gets a taste of his own medicine.” It was made in 2013, but not widely released, if at all. It will be in theatrical release in San Diego March 28-April 4th. Here’s the trailer, in which Rebecca can briefly be both seen and heard singing.

After only an 18-month hiatus, Tosy and Cosh are back ranking every U2 song.

Why Tom Dooley was hanging his head. Plus hangman John Ellis.

That is NOT the way Dustbury remembers that song, and I don’t either. Plus the history of Unchained Melody.

Mark Evanier’s teacher from hell.

Lefty Brown’s Valentine’s Day post to Kelly. “The Married Gamers – Play Together. Stay Together.”

Maypo Cereal Commercial (1956) Yes, I DO remember it, so there.

The five-second rule, expanded. Very true.

One can count on SamuraiFrog for all things Muppet: Getting to the Big Game and Miss Piggy’s response, plus a meta ad for the upcoming movie and Rowlf getting ice cream and saying good night to Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night; I hear Fallon’s gotten another job. Fallon, BTW, went to school at the College of Saint Rose, about five blocks from my house.

Yet another version of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Frog still torturing himself with 50 Shades of Smartass: Chapter 13 and Chapter 14 and Chapter 15 and Chapter 16. When I typed the title, I accidentally wrote “50 Years…”; read into that what you will.

GOOGLE ALERTS (me)

And now for the AmeriNZ section: Arthur’s linkage, in which he calls my Everly Brothers post “diabolical.” Arthur’s Law restated, tied to my Facebook unfriending. The law is a ass.

YouTube and AIDS deniers.

Curiouser and curiouser: 20 questions

Donald Trump, because he’s a twit. Planned Parenthood, because it’s constantly under attack.

There’s this website Curious as a Cat, and it asks one to three questions each week. Here are some from 2006 and 2007 I deigned to answer.

1. What is the one experience in your life that has caused the most pain?
Physical pain. Tie between a broken rib and oral surgery. Emotional, surely an affair of the heart.

2. If you had to pick one thing, what would you say is the single thing that can destroy a soul?
Telling so many lies that you start thinking it’s the truth.

3. What one thing always speaks deeply to you, to your spirit, no matter your mood or what else is going on in your life?
Music, always. I hear it all the time. Sometimes it’s something I’ve heard recently, but more often it’s a tune suitable for the moment.

4. What is the least appropriate thing to pray for?

Actually, the harm of someone else. But I get most irritated when sports figures seem to think that God was on THEIR side after a victory; I was reading a Guideposts magazine article recently, which said, and I agree, “God doesn’t care.”

5. If you could remove one of the current Supreme Court justices based on their moral positions, whom would you choose?
Tough. Clarence Thomas is SO awful, and ought to be impeached for ethical violations. But Antonin Scalia (pictured) tends to steer Thomas’ voting compass, so I guess I’ll say him; he ought to be checked out, too.

6. Name one event that changed your relationship with your family the most.
I think it was the rapprochement of my two sisters in the past few years, who used to argue a lot. They would (especially one of them) call me up and vent about the other. Now that that’s no longer the case, I get fewer calls.

7. If you were to make a collage to describe yourself to others, what sorts of pictures or symbols would you include?
Clearly, it would have a picture of red sneakers; I used to have a Christmas ornament of red sneakers, but it broke. A racquetball racquet, the picture of me as a duck, the cover of the Beatles Revolver album, the cover of a Howard the Duck comic book, a caricature of me singing several years ago, the front cover of the World Almanac, a picture of my two sisters and me when I was a kid, a picture of my parents, a picture of my wife & daughter & me.

8. Which year was the best of your life? How old were you? Would you want to live it again?
1978, when I moved to Schenectady, got a job I liked, had my first steady girlfriend in over two years. I was 25. Absolutely not.

9. What is your favorite way to travel?
By train. I like the light rail in San Diego a lot as well.

10. What spiritual concept, from any religion, is the hardest for you to understand? Is it something you have studied, or something you have only observed from the ‘outside’?
I think Christianity has a lot of difficult concepts: the virgin birth, the resurrection of the dead. But nothing seems to mystify as much as the notion of the Trinity, God in three persons. I’ve studied it a lot, but couldn’t explain it adequately if I tried. St. Patrick used to say it’s like the three-leaf clover, three flowers in one, but that falls short for me.

11. What is your earliest memory? Why do you think you have remembered that particular event or thing?
Trip to the now-closed Catskill Game Farm when I was three, which I remember because there were pictures. So it may be the pictures I recall, not the trip.

12. What position in any team sport is the hardest to play? Why? Have you played that position?
Catcher in baseball, and yes, I played it in a pickup league.

13. Imagine you could redesign your hands. Whose hands would you remodel yours to resemble?
Or would you keep the hands you’ve got?
I like my hands. I like the length of my fingers, the shape of my fingernails. I do which they didn’t have the vitiligo on the back.

14. What bothers you most in other people, generally?
Impatience. People four cars back beeping because the line isn’t moving, and it isn’t moving because some considerate driver’s actually letting an older pedestrian cross. Or the surge of shoppers at the front door on Black Friday openings, which is why I avoid that day like the Plague.

15. What one thing have you done that pleased your parents the most?
Graduating from college. Took five years. My one sister and I actually graduated on successive weekends, she from SUNY Binghamton and me from SUNY New Paltz, and my parents, who were by then living in Charlotte, NC, came up to both.

16. You have to choose one rich person to be forced to give all their money away to a cause or charity. Whom would you choose, and to which cause or charity will the money go?
Donald Trump, because he’s a twit. Planned Parenthood, because it’s constantly under attack.

17. Is there an emotion that you think has gotten stronger as you’ve aged? If so, why do you think that has happened?
I’m more of a sentimental sap, where songs or TV movies might make me a bit misty-eyed. I think it’s a function of the experiences, and the fragility, of life.

18. What kind of cowardice do you most despise?
Lack of conviction. I may hate Rick Santorum’s politics, but I believe he believes what he says (and that’s scary.) Whereas I think Mitt Romney will say just about anything to appeal to whomever he is speaking at the moment.

19. If the U.S. had to give up one state, which one would you pick? Why?
Texas. It was briefly its own country and still acts like it.

20. When were you most moved by a ceremony?
I’m often moved by ceremony – communion, weddings, a US naturalization. The funeral of a 20-month old, though…

Meal Blessing QUESTION

We now sing grace to the Nestles chocolate commercial.


With families getting together for the holidays, I was wondering:
Does your family do a blessing for the holiday meal? Is it a corporate blessing (i.e., rote) or is it free form? Is there a designated pray-er?

It’s interesting that even in my more…secular days, there was always a blessing at Thanksgiving and usually at Christmas. One girlfriend always evoked the memory of John F. Kennedy, who died around Thanksgiving in 1963.

When my wife’s family is together, the designee is usually my mother-in-law. When the Greens are together, it’s usually my sister Leslie. But in other situations, it’s devolved to me. I remember that at a work function in 2002 in New York City, there was a clergyperson who was supposed to offer the invocation, but he didn’t show, and I got pressed into service.

Growing up, the corporate prayer at daily dinner was:
Heavenly Parent, thank you for this food we’re about to receive for the nourishment of our bodies. In Christ’s name, Amen.
But somewhere in the mid-1960s, my father changed Christ’s to His, trying to respect other faiths.

My wife’s family’s corporate prayer is:
Bless this food to our use, and us to thy service, and keep us ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.

Our corporate prayer was:
God is great, God is good. Let us thank you for our food.

However, recently, the Daughter discovered this one, which we now use:
A-B-C-D-E-F-G. Thank you, Lord, for feeding me. Amen.
However, she did it to the tune of the Alphabet Song, which wouldn’t do. Instead, we now sing it to the Nestles chocolate commercial.

I remember Bob Feller.

I saw only a handful of Blake Edward films, “10”, one of the “Pink Panther” comedies, and collaboration with his wife, Julie Andrews, “Victor/Victoria,” but sad to see him pass.