Saturday, December 31, 2016

Great photos of a great president

Thank you to Pete Souza, Chief White House Photographer, for the amazing photo line up in this best-of-2016 collection.

Looking through them, I see clearly the quality of person Barack Obama is: thoughtful, dignified, humorous, compassionate, playful with children, professorial in his approach to law and the office he holds.

He has been such a good president that dt will look that much worse.  

If dt had followed George W. Bush, he wouldn't have looked as bad as he does coming after an outstanding president.

My favorites:

  • Sasha and Malia in ball gowns, March 10, 2016
  • President Obama dancing with aide Ferial Govashiri, March 16, 2016
  • President Obama just landed at LAX in Air Force One, April 7, 2016
  • President Obama with a baby, hands & knees, April 14, 2016
  • President Obama with 3-yr-old Prince George, April 22, 2016
  • President Obama signing a note for the niece of a police officer killed in Dallas, July 12, 2016
  • President Obama on a visit to Midway Atoll, September 1, 2016
  • President Obama reflecting while looking at the Potomac River, September 11, 2016
  • Michelle Obama with Ellen DeGeneres, September 12, 2016
  • Michelle Obama hugging George W. Bush at the Museum of African-American History & Culture, September 24, 2016
  • President Obama reading at his desk in late afternoon light, October 14, 2016
  • President Obama with a Superman toddler on Halloween, October 31, 2016
  • President Obama with the little boy who invited the injured Syrian child Omran Dagneesh to join his family, November 10, 2016
  • President Obama interacting with a veteran who is 108 years old, November 11
  • President Obama tossing orchids into the ocean with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Pearl Harbor, December 27, 2016.

Thank you to my friend Sharon for sending me this link.  

There also links to Souza's best photos of 2015 and each previous year of the Obama presidency.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Do not "normalize" the abhorrent

Here's an important statement from Sen. Harry Reid on Nov. 11 that we need to remember now:

Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.

And also:

If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.

Don't adopt a business-as-usual stance with regard to this presidency.  

Protest his actions and work for change in 2018 and 2020.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"Hallelujah" & Goodbye to 2016

2016 was a terrible year...

But I guess we have to suck it up and stand tall, as in this Saturday Night Live opening for November 12 with Kate McKinnon acting as Hillary Rodham Clinton, singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and concluding, "I'm not giving up, and neither should you."

Saturday, December 24, 2016

So Lynch Could Have Blocked Comey...

The underpinnings of the 2016 presidential election continue to emerge, and what Hillary was up against looks worse every day.

Now there's a long report in the Washington Post about exactly how & why Attorney General Loretta Lynch did not order James Comey not to release his damaging letter to Congress 12 days before the election.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was up against Russian sabotage of Democratic National Committee emails.

She was up against James Comey and the FBI.

She was up against a weak attorney general who didn't have the courage to smack down Comey.

And she was up against her husband Bill, who two months earlier had ambled over to Lynch's plane at the Phoenix airport and talked for half an hour--leaving Lynch somewhat "compromised" in her ability to appear as unbiased if she defended the presidential candidate against Comey's interference.

Here's what the Justice Department saw when they looked at Comey's letter on Oct. 27:

Justice officials laid out a number of arguments against releasing the letter. It violated two long-standing policies. Never publicly discuss an ongoing investigation. And never take an action affecting a candidate for office close to Election Day. Besides, they said, the FBI did not know yet what was in the emails or if they had anything to do with the Clinton case.

But neither AG Lynch nor her deputy Sally Q. Yates spoke out to Comey, forbidding him to send his letter to Congress.

The unfairness of it all is overwhelming.  dt got every lucky break in the book, and many that were in no book prior to this insanely compromised election.

Friday, December 16, 2016

What would Jesus say?

What would Jesus say to the US today?

"A corrupt and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except for the sign of Jonah the prophet." Matthew 16:4

Jesus said this to the leaders of his day when they asked for a sign to prove his legitimacy as a prophet.

No doubt he would also view the next president of the US and the cabinet members he has chosen as "a corrupt and adulterous generation."

Jesus said "It's hard for a rich man to enter God's realm in heaven... it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."  Matthew 19:23-24

Yet dt has chosen only the super-rich for his cabinet and himself has profited from oppressing employees, contractors, renters, women....

Jesus cared about the poor and the sick.  He fed and healed people.

The incoming leaders promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and other programs that help the poor.

The God of Israel sent Jonah to an evil city to warn it to repent, but Jonah fled in the opposite direction by sea.

When a storm attacked the ship he was in, he told the crew to throw him overboard, and the sea calmed.

"A big fish" (dag gadol in Hebrew) swallowed him and kept him for three days before finally spitting him out on dry land.  Jonah 2:1-11

When Jonah finally carried the message to Nineveh, the city repented.  The king said, "Every man shall turn back from his evil way, and from the robbery that is in their hands." Jonah 3:8

The only specific crime mentioned for this city is robbery--exactly what dt and his fellow billionaires have done to the poor, what their friend Vladimir Putin is doing in Russia.

Jesus answer that "the sign of Jonah" will be given has been taken to mean his own death followed by his rising again. See his words in Matthew 16:21.

The corrupt, adulterous, and wealthy president who has just been elected would certainly receive condemnation from Jesus.

He claims his narrow election is a mandate--a sign that he can dismantle health care, environmental protections, regulation of Wall Street, etc.

But history will show that he is part of a corrupt, evil generation that will be judged by God unless he and others repent and make a complete turn-around.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

May the Electoral College Vote Conscience

Dec. 19 approaches... when the electors cast their votes.

I'm hoping and praying that the enough electors will vote against dt to change the outcome.

Here's an editorial in the newspaper of Albany, New York, the TimesUnion:

And also Monday's demand for a briefing:

The New York Times investigative report printed yesterday shows clearly the Russian hacking and attempt to sway our election.  

It was successful--unless the electors stand up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hillary was up against the Russians

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the only presidential candidate in history to be up against the FSB, "the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB."  Probably.  The connection to the Russians is sure; exactly which Russian agency is not yet clear.

Today's lengthy report in the New York Times details each step of Russian hacking of US computers beginning twenty years ago.

The report takes up four whole pages, not counting the front page, where it begins.

The slowness of US response to the hacking is a major concern.

Another is the direct parallel to the Watergate break-in.

In 1972, American thieves physically entered Democratic National Committee offices and stole files for the Republican Party.

In 2015 and 2016, Russian thieves entered Democratic National Committee emails and stole them for the KGB.  Through Wikileaks, selected damaging emails were leaked from summer 2015 through November 2016.  

What began as just spying became an effort to influence the US elections.

Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear will become names recognized in every household.  

Special Agent Adrian Hawkins, who didn't walk two blocks to make his report to the DNC in person, will also become a household word.

Yared Tamene, who had no idea what to do with the email warning of a hack job, and his boss Andrew Brown, will also become widely known names.

Thank you to Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, and Scotty Shane for their investigation and reporting.

The full article is very discouraging to read.  We are in a Brave New World.

No candidate has ever faced what Hillary was up against.

Will the electoral college get the briefing they have requested?

Will some electors change their votes and go with the popular vote favoring Hillary by 2.5 million?

Or will Vladimir Putin get the president he wants in the US?

We can only stay tuned as the unbelievable sequence of events continues.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Watching in Disbelief

Garrison Keillor is as disbelieving as I am.  This can't be an elected president doing these crazy things.

Thanks to Diane for sending me this link to Garrison's current state of mind as we watch dt handle the US government like a bull in a china shop.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Our Prison Population

Here's an email from Senator Cory Booker, NJ, sent on White House stationery.

It's about the huge increase in the US prison population and the Obama administration's efforts to reduce these numbers.

Thank you to my brother Jim for this piece.

If someone had pulled aside the signers of the Declaration of Independence 240 years ago and told them that, one day, the country they founded would be home to the largest number of imprisoned people in the world, they might have been more than a little disappointed.
Yet this is where we find our country today: The United States, founded on the basis of liberty and justice for all, suffers from that distinction. Twenty five percent of all imprisoned people on our planet are imprisoned right here in America. And the fact of the matter is that, at the federal level, the majority of those imprisoned aren’t hardened, violent prisoners. Far too many are nonviolent, low-level drug offenders. 
Thanks to policies enacted by Congress, our federal prison population has exploded by nearly 800 percent over the past the 30 years. And to pay for it, we’ve had to increase our prison spending by almost 400 percent. But the fact that these polices were enacted by our government in the first place should serve as a reminder that we have the agency to change them.
Momentum is building across America -- in states, in the federal government, in both political parties -- to change this misapplication of justice that so grossly misrepresents our priorities as a nation.
A diverse coalition of individuals, groups, and organizations -- ranging from Democrats to Republicans to law enforcement officials and clergy -- have come together to call for a comprehensive change in the trajectory of our justice system. And under President Obama’s leadership, the collective vision of these groups has found a home and a voice in the White House.
I have been proud to stand by President Obama as he has taken courageous steps in recent years to make our justice system more just.
Today, the White House is announcing that over 300 companies and organizations have signed the Fair Chance Business Pledge, a commitment to eliminate unnecessary hiring barriers facing people with a criminal record. Along with this step and a series of Administrative actions to enhance the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, he’s shown that the federal government can lead the way to progress.
President Obama has created a legacy of bold action that we must carry on to elevate the cause of criminal justice reform, from Congress to statehouses across the country.
But the conversation can’t stop there, and neither can the work. We must once again declare that we are a nation of independence, rooted in the spirit of interdependence. What happens to any of us, happens to all of us -- and we won’t get where we want to go faster by leaving anyone behind.
I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with you in this fight to reclaim our criminal justice system in the years to come.
Thank you,
Cory Booker
U.S. Senator

Dangerous Professors

"I am a dangerous professor," reports George Yancy in a column yesterday in the New York Times Sunday Review.

Some of his students have placed him on a new "Professor Watchlist" designed to "oppose voices in academia that are anti-Republican or express anti-Republican values."

As an African-American professor of  philosophy, Yancy is used to being pulled over for driving while black and being harassed in other ways.

But this attempt to intimidate him out of teaching truth is new to him.

He compares it to the way Socrates was put on trial because "he would not cease to exhort Athenians to care more for justice than they did for wealth or reputation."

He cites George Orwell's 1984 with the phenomenon of New-speak--designed "to diminish the range of thought."

Yancy, like Socrates, vows to carry on: "Well, if it is dangerous to teach my students to love their neighbors, to think and rethink constructively about who their neighbors are... then yes, I am dangerous, and what I teach is dangerous."

I too was a dangerous professor, asking my students to rethink Genesis 1-3 and II Timothy, to reconsider Israeli-Palestinian relations, and to understand Islam and gender issues within Islam.

It was difficult, and I got plenty of negative feedback as well as considerable complete lack of comprehension.  I'm grateful no longer to be fighting on that front.

In this context, I would like to honor a professor who lost his life three days ago to a student who had taken a violent dislike to him.  Dr. Bosco Tjan was technical director of the neuroscience center at the University of Southern California.  (See my comments on Dec. 3.)

Like journalists, professors are endangered by those who don't like their message or methods.  

This right-wing "Professor Watchlist" is scary.  Its founders may intend only to intimidate and silence, but the crazies on the fringe may take these names and commit murders.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hope in a Dark Time

Rosemary R. Ruether with Liz Moore

How to bring a word of hope to an Advent liturgy in 2016, shortly after our hopes were dashed in the presidential election?

This was the problem I faced in November, having earlier volunteered to design and lead the December liturgy for the Women-Church gathering in Claremont, California.

Truly, I faced my own despair in November.

I drove to San Felipe, Mexico, to escape the United States, and there on the Friday evening after November 8, I received direction on how to design the liturgy with a modicum of hope and healing.

There I bought 22 colorful little ceramic boxes with removable lids, some in the shape of Our Lady of Guadalupe, others painted only with flowers and bright colors.  My plan was to give one "God box" to each woman present for her to keep a wish or prayer written on a piece of paper in it.  (In Alanon I learned about having a God box like this.)

As it turned out, Rosemary Radford Ruether attended the service for the first time since her stroke in August 2016.  Her daughter Becky pushed her in a wheelchair from the skilled nursing facility at Pilgrim Place to Napier Center, where we hold our liturgies monthly.

I had included her words in the service, not realizing she would actually be able to join us.  In past years she had presented to us orally the vision now recorded in her memoir, My Quests for Hope and Meaning (Wipf and Stock, 2013), p. 18.

Below you will find the text of the whole liturgy, including words to the three songs we sang.  Feel free to re-use it and modify it in any way.

Advent: Waiting for the Holy to enter our fallen world
December 4, 2016 – Second Sunday in Advent
Women-Church Liturgy at Pilgrim Place, Claremont, CA

Preliminary: Go around the circle to share names & where you live or other identity marker.
Announcements: Next liturgy on January 22, 2017, 10 am.  Planners, food providers…
Note: Rosemary Radford Ruether, who lives in Claremont and usually attended the Women-Church liturgies, was brought to the liturgy in a wheelchair by her daughter Becky, for the first time since her stroke in August.

Call to worship:  Psalm 42: 1, 5
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so we long for you, O God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Her, my help and my God.
Advent carol: Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel
            “Comfort ye my people says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Isaiah 40:1-2
                        --written while Israel is still in captivity in Babylon.
Write on a piece of paper a word or two to represent any grief or sadness you are bearing.  Share with the group and place the paper in the red bowl on the table to be burned outside after the service.
After each person speaks, the group responds: We pray for healing.
Then take a box from the table and return to your seat.  Write a wish or word of hope on a piece of paper to keep in the box.
Scripture reading:  The Suffering Servant, Isaiah 42: 1-7
            “Here is my servant, whom I uphold;
                        My chosen, in whom my soul delights.
            I have put my spirit upon her:
                        She will bring forth justice to the nations.
            She will not cry or lift up her voice
                        Or make it heard in the street.
            A bruised reed she will not break
                        And a dimly burning wick she will not quench.
            She will faithfully bring forth justice.
                        She will not grow faint or be crushed
            Until she has established justice in the earth,
                        And the coastlands wait for her teaching.”
            Thus says YHWH God, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
                        Who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
            Who gives breath to the people upon it
                        And spirit to those who walk in it:
            “I am YHWH.  I have called you in righteousness.
                        I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
            I have given you as a covenant to the people,
                        A light to the nations
            To open eyes that are blind,
                        To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
            From the prison those who sit in darkness.”
Reading: taken fromBleeding Jesus or Bulletproof Jesus?” by Rachel Elizabeth Asproth
            Humans crave privilege. We side with empire because we want to rule.
Jesus rejected the human instinct for empire. He chose not to rule.
The powerful read the Bible looking for confirmation of their right to rule… their hermeneutical priority is the image and validation of power.
We serve a God who lost before ultimately winning, a God who was conquered, broken and bleeding, slaughtered by empire.
A God who bleeds, however, who guards the flock like a mother, is far too subversive for those who worship a white, male deity, a bulletproof Jesus.
The marginalized know what it feels like to suffer at the hands of empire. They identify not with a conquering King but with a suffering Christ.
Those who suffer injustice see what the powerful miss. Our God is both loser and ultimate winner… both a victim of injustice and one who is justice, dying but forever alive.
The human instinct for empire is strong. It can creep into our understanding of the Bible, blinding us to our own privilege and to the message of liberation and justice in the gospel.
But a feminist hermeneutic subdues the human instinct for empire… It calls for liberation over oppression, equality over privilege, peace over violence, and justice over empire.
Reading: Rosemary’s Vision: The Great Mother from My Quests for Hope and Meaning: An Autobiography by Rosemary Radford Ruether (Eugene,OR: Cascade Books, 2013), p. 18.
…I remember sometime in my twenties focusing on whether or not I really believed that God existed, in the sense of a male person outside and ruling over the universe.  At some point I had a vivid experience, something like a dream or visual hallucination. I experienced myself as standing in a great hall of a huge fortress.  At the end of the hall was a staircase.  I began to climb this staircase and found myself going up level after level of stairs, throwing open a door at the top of each level.  Finally I reached what I knew was the top level.  I sensed that inside was the throne room of God.  With great excitement and nervousness I threw open this door and saw inside a great room with a throne, but the throne was empty!
I saw clearly that there was no God sitting on a throne in a throne room at the top of a world system in the form of a hierarchical palace.  Instead, I realized, the divine was quite different and existed elsewhere.  God was a great nurturing and empowering energy that existed in and through all things, sustaining and renewing them.  Although not in the image of a human person (not anthropomorphic) this true divinity was more maternal than paternal.  The Great Mother or Holy Wisdom seemed the right title for Her.  This was the divinity that was really there, that I experienced, could pray to, be in tune with and who represented the source of all that is.  I realized that I never had really believed in God as an old man ruling from a throne in the skies.  This founding divine energy of the Great Mother came to be my operative understanding of the divine.  The matrix of mothers who had nurtured and empowered me as I grew up is the experiential base for this vision of the Great Mother.
Responses/Reflections as time permits
Promises of healing:
            “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the reign of heaven.
            Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”  --Matt. 5:3-4, The Divine Feminine Version: NT
            “Come to me, all you who labor and are sorely burdened,
                        and I will give you rest.
            Take my yoke upon you and learn from me
                        because I am gentle and humble in heart,
            And you will find rest for your souls
                        for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matt. 11:28-30, Restored NT
Song: Come Healing by Leonard Cohen      
Bread and wine:
Mary’s body broken to bring the Holy One into our fallen world.
Remembering blood shed by Mary, Jesus, and others to bring the Holy into our world.
Closing prayer:
Merciful God, who sends messengers and prophets and even entered our human condition in the person of Jesus, give us grace to wait and hope for signs of your coming as we move through this dark month and this dark time in the history of our nation.  Help us to feel your presence and to trust that you suffer with us and will bring to birth a better time when we are closer to your will being done on earth.  We pray these things in Jesus’ name.  Amen.
Song: “I have decided to follow Jesus / He decidido seguir a Jesus”
Passing the peace and hope
       --liturgy planned by Anne Linstatter

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel 
Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem,
From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow'r to save;
Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all humankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our Queen of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
First published 1854 –
Veni Emmanuel from French processional
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

Come Healing  from Old Ideas (2012)

Leonard Cohen  1934-2016
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow
The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb
Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace
O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart
O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The heart beneath is teaching
To the broken heart above
Let the heavens falter
Let the earth proclaim
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb.

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

1.    I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.
2.    Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.
3.    The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.
4.    Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.
Words by Sadhu Sundar Singh, 19th C.
Tune: Assam
He decidido seguir a Cristo

He decidido
seguir a Cristo
He decidido
seguir a Cristo
He decidido
seguir a Cristo
No vuelvo atrás, no vuelvo atrás.
El Rey de de gloria,
Me ha transformado
El Rey de de gloria,
Me ha transformado
El Rey de de gloria,
Me ha transformado
No vuelvo atrás, no vuelvo atrás.
La vida vieja
Ya he dejado
La vida vieja
Ya he dejado
La vida vieja
Ya he dejado
No vuelvo atrás, no vuelvo atrás.

Taxation without Representation

Excellent analysis by Steven Johnson in the New York Times Sunday Review today about how the blue states are losing economically as well as in their unequal status in the Electoral College:

"'s the blue state citizens who are funding a system that by law undercounts their votes," he concludes.

For every dollar New Jersey pays in taxes, it receives 61 cents in federal benefits and spending, while Wyoming spends a dollar and gets $1.11 back.

Yet every voter in rural Wyoming has more than 3 times the weight in the Electoral College as a voter in New Jersey or California.  

Being taxed but under-represented is called taxation without representation.

Why are we Californians, Minnesotans, New Jerseyans, New Englanders and others putting up with this system?  

Down with the electoral college!  We need a one-vote-equal-to-all-other-votes system, like the other democracies of the world.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

In Memoriam: Bosco Tjan

A professor of neuroscience does not expect to become a martyr.

He does not expect one of his grad students to come to his office and stab him to death, but this happened yesterday to Bosco Tjan, technical director of the neuroscience center at the University of Southern California.

He was a kind professor, 50 years old, who spent extra time with struggling students, the kind of professor who could be found in his office at 4:30 pm on a Friday.  Thank you to James Queally and Amina Khan for interviewing his colleagues and 

He had been born in Beijing, raised in Hong Kong, and emigrated to the US as a teenager with his family.  He earned his doctorate in computer and information sciences at the University of Minnesota.

His research focused on helping people with retinal degeneration.  He left behind a wife and child.

At USC, some faculty have speculated on "whether Brown attacked Tjan after receiving a 'less than stellar' review from the committee that evaluates graduate students." 

Investigation has not yet been done, but poor grades are the usual motive.  

I remember the ire of students who got a B or B- when they had expected an A.  They hounded me, quibbled over points given on quizzes and exam, told me how they were applying to law school or some other graduate program and needed this grade.

They asked friends what grades they had received and argued that their work was as good as someone else's.  

Tjan's death reminds me of the shooting death of UCLA professor William S. Klug last June.  The assailant was a disgruntled former graduate student.

As scholars in graduate school, soon to be professors, we pursue ever more narrowly defined specializations, but no one trains us in how to identify dangerous students, channel them toward help, and protect ourselves.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Handy Definitions

Definition of the new "alt-right" -- as formulated by New York Times reporters and editors, as tweeted by Raju Narisetti.

And here's the word we will use increasingly as these four years wear on: fascism.


Also found in: ThesaurusLegalFinancialEncyclopediaWikipedia.
Related to fascism: Neo fascism


1. often Fascism
a. system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subjectto stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
b. political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

Grim 4 years ahead...

It's going to be a grim four years.

Today's headline in the Los Angeles Times:

White House billionaires club: Wealthiest Cabinet will be tasked with serving populist agenda

Thank you to Don Lee for reporting on "the most wealthy group of people who have served in a presidential Cabinet in history," as historian Robert Spitzer describes it.

The New York Times describes how dt yesterday "soaked up the adulation" of his followers, "unabashedly gloating about the 'great' victory he had secured.

"He boasted about himself in the third person.  He sneered at the opponents he had vanquished.  He disparaged journalists and invited angry chants from the crowd, grinning broadly at calls of 'lock her up'and 'build the wall.'  He ridiculed the government's leaders as stupid and dishonest failures."

Thank you to Nick Corasaniti and Michael D. Shear for their excellent reporting and writing.

I don't see how I can bear to read coverage about this upcoming presidency.  I have turned off my television, and I quickly switch stations on my radio when I hear his voice or his supporters.

I still read the newspapers, for now.  

Making Money from Lies

How to handle liars?

This is the problem facing US news media this year and in the coming four years.

If someone such as dt speaks outright lies in an interview televised live, do you turn off the camera?

Do you follow with fact-checking to try to counteract the effect of the lies?

The hairline victory by dt in November was built on lies and on promises the candidate did not intend to keep.

On Wednesday evening, journalists and politicians gathered for "what is a typically staid postelection conference at Harvard," according to New York Times reporter Michael M. Grynbaum.

Much anger was directed at CNN president Jeffrey A. Zucker for making about $1 billion in profit this year, much of it from election coverage.

"At what point do you say you cannot come on our air anymore because you have told too many lies?" demanded Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post.

"You showered hours upon hours of unfiltered, unscrutinized coverage of Trump!" shouted a top advisor to Marco Rubio.  

As Zucker noted, lies sell.  Showing dt day after day during the primaries lifted CNN's ratings.

The panel's moderator Sasha Issenberg quipped, let's move on "to a less contentious subject, fake news."

US government is veering off the charts in many ways as a result of this election.  Just one of those ways is having a president who lies freely, often in impulsive tweets.

May God save us, and may the Fourth Estate step up to the task and expose the lies.

Unfortunately, journalists are fewer in number and finding it harder to land paid jobs as print journalism shrinks and online media, websites, and bloggers run rampant, often with facts unchecked.

2/3 of white evangelicals like dt

Yep, white evangelicals voted dt in.

Thanks a bunch, guys and gals.

Here's a survey done by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic, written up in The Atlantic December issue and reported by the Religious News Service:

Two-thirds of white evangelicals said they’re “excited” or “satisfied” about the [election] outcome, compared to less than half of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics and less than one-third of people who are religiously unaffiliated.

In my own opinion, it was the abortion issue that did it.  The opportunity to move the Supreme Court in a pro-life direction overrode the natural impulse against voting for a man who boasts of groping women.

I guess not many of us progressive evangelicals made it into the survey.