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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Trump and Hate. Let's Not Normalize Hate.

I don't know if Trump is personally a racist and I don't care.

Trump's behavior includes the following red flags:

Trump denied housing to African Americans.  

See here:

Trump set up a front group whose sole purpose was to defame Native Americans as drug abusing criminals.

For almost twenty years, Trump refused to pay Polish workers he treated abominably.

Trump prefers to hire Romanians and other foreigners rather than black people born in the US. See here:

Black employees were hidden from his view

And of course he called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five *after* they were exonerated by DNA evidence.

Trump repeatedly lied about having evidence proving that Barack Obama was not born in America.

Trump refused three times, on camera, to denounce David Duke and the KKK.

When Trump encountered backlash, Trump lied about his words. He blamed a "bad earpiece," saying that he could not hear Jake Tapper. In fact he repeated Jake Tapper's words.

Trump denounced a heroic judge as unworthy to adjudicate a case for no other reason than that that judge was the son of immigrants.

Trump disseminated an anti-Semitic meme defaming Hillary Clinton.

Trump's final two-minute campaign advertisement dog-whistled anti-Semites by depicting three prominent Jews, Janet Yellen, George Soros and Lloyd Blankfein, as being part of a conspiracy against decent Americans.

Trump's followers now insist that any bad press Trump receives is part of a conspiracy by an evil Jew who controls the world, George Soros.

For an example of this, see this comment under the "Sieg Heil" video, here Comment: "Reminder that all of this is staged by George Soros to discredit Trump and his supporters as racists and neo-Nazis."

And then there is this GIF of Trump, dressed as a Nazi, gassing Hillary Clinton:

And then there is this ADL report:

White supremacists celebrated Trump's election and his initial appointments of Jeff Sessions, who joked about the KKK and was deemed unfit for a federal judgeship on that basis, and Steve Bannon, who identified his website as a platform for the alt right. See here:

During the campaign, Team Trump released lie after lie. Fake news flooded my Facebook page, all posted by Trump supporters.

Hillary Clinton murdered an FBI agent. See here:

Hillary Clinton admires Sharia Law

Hillary Clinton told the Des Moines Register she will shut down the NRA and/or confiscate guns:

Tim Kaine is in an open marriage:

Fake news writers make up to $30,000 monthly. The man who wrote the fake Hillary-murders-an-FBI agent story said he tried to write fake news for liberals but they wouldn't buy it. Trump supporters bought his swill, no matter how absurd. See here:


Under pressure from journalists, Trump has issued tepid words against hate. But only when prompted, and only tepid. Compare his denunciations of race hatred with his attacks on beauty pageant contestants and Broadway musical actors.


White supremacists and Neo-Nazis play at "passing," at speaking under the radar to see how much they can get away with.

Richard Spencer, the man in the Hail Trump video released earlier this week, said, "Hail victory." In German, "hail victory" is "sieg heil."

Spencer could have said "sieg heil." That is clearly what he meant. He's playing at passing. Playing at how much you will swallow.

Another "passing" game. Spencer used the word "lugenpresse," or lying press.

Remember Joseph Goebbels February 10, 1933 speech at the Sportspalast. Hitler had just won a victory and the first thing Goebbles did was attack the press. Beware, my friends, of those who attack the press, artists, universities, and Jews. See here:

"Lugenpresse" is a Nazi term. Spencer used a Nazi term, that few Americans would be familiar with.

And guess what Breitbart, which is virtually an arm of team Trump, is now doing. Breitbart is now covering for Spencer and for the term lugenpresse.…/20…/11/23/kassam-bbc-lugenpresse/

When haters play passing, they are seeing how much you will put up with before they move on to the next level.

You put up with calling Mexicans rapists? Okay. Let's move on to the next level.

You put up with demeaning a heroic judge? Okay, next level.

You put up with an anti-Semitic meme? Okay, next level.

You *voted* for *all this* for president? Okay, next level ...


Otto's dad served in Hitler's army. Otto is working on a book about WW II.

Otto understands how all this works.


First he's already mobilized the dogs of war on the racist front, so if he didn't believe in the hate group mentality he should have said that before the election. But it appears he had plenty of time to consider his words, support for hate, and his political appointments and it was only when he felt it didn't suit his aspirations did he change his stance. Political game of tag and not moral awakening.

Kristallnacht at the hands of the Fuhrer followed up by speech suggesting all he wants is safety for the German people in the Sudetenland … I'm expecting the Reichstag will burn down mysteriously.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me the thousandth time vote for Trump.

We see how loose and free he is with the truth. Does 1984 newspeak proud. Today's speech is old by the end of the day and we've seen he'll flip his beliefs on a dime. Given how many times he's reacted to things on video that he's said that are ugly and claimed he never said I'm just putting it down as an another random thought de jour on today's menu board that gets wiped clean as the menu offered changes day to day.


Finally, neither Otto nor I is saying that Trump is Hitler or that Trump is even like Hitler. I don't think he is.

Rather, hate is a game. It is played in a predictable way. Exploiting hate to gain power is a game. It has predictable moves. Trump is playing the game of exploiting hate to gain power. That much is clear. What he does with the power he gains is yet to be seen.

That his supporters are turning on patriotic Americans who reject hate is also part of the game.

Ben Shapiro faces ongoing attacks and threats from Trump supporters. See here:

And Trump supporters, rather than confront and condemn the hate crimes that have followed his election, have labeled all such crimes fabrications. At least one pro Trump website falsely blamed Jews for faking hate crimes. See here:

From the above linked article: 

"Mike Huckabee apologized for posting a false news report blaming “liberal, Jewish” students for an alleged hate crime that involved a mention of President-elect Donald Trump.

The story, appearing on the Conservative Tribune website, blamed an attack in March at Northwestern University on “liberal, Jewish Northwestern students” seeking to smear Trump and his supporters....

Huckabee proceeded to apologize for posting an out of date story as if it was news, and for misidentifying the students as Jewish — although he appeared to persist in the belief that the claim that they were Jewish had been in some way credible. He stuck to the unproven claim that the vandalism was an attempt to smear Trump.

Huckabee, who has millions of followers on Facebook, frequently posts poorly sourced stories from conservative websites....

“They’re two liberal, Jewish Northeastern students who were trying to smear Trump and his supporters,” Huckabee’s post said.

The Conservative Tribune story made it appear as if the vandalism was recent, although it took place in March...

The Chicago Tribune did not identify the accused, Anthony Morales, 19, and Matthew Kafker, 18, with any political allegiance or otherwise suggest that the attack was a false flag bid to smear Trump, nor did it say they were Jewish...

The Jewish identification remained on the Gateway Pundit’s posting Wednesday night. It’s not clear why the Gateway Pundit made the assumption; it linked to a New York Jewish Week account of the vandalism, which did not identify the students as Jewish.

Normalizing Donald Trump

to normalize: verb.

"Look, he hasn't hit you in a week now. The bruises have already faded. Why not just brush on some blush, cook him a nice dinner, spread your legs at night, and try not to set him off."

normalization: noun

"Okay, so you just found out that that substance your company dumped in a landfill in Jersey contains dioxins. And you just found out that that landfill is located over an aquifer. But you're up for a promotion. Wouldn't you be able to do so much more good in a few years when you are a member of the inner circle? Let this one slide."

"to get along to go along": verb. colloquial

"I know your child was mistreated by this priest. I know the parish told you he'd never work with children again. I know you just saw a photo of him working with kids in another state. But, listen, this is the Church you're talking about. It moves like an ocean liner. Slowly. And remember. There are wiser heads than yours at work on this."

"to lay low": verb. "to cover your ass": verb

"So you let your boss get away with a little hanky panky and now you realize he is full bore in violation of major federal guidelines. And you want to blow the whistle on him. Why not someone else? Do you realize how much paperwork you'd have to fill out? And you'd never get that letter of rec you'd need to stay afloat once your ship goes down. And you were with him in the beginning so you'd be in trouble, too."

Respect the institution. Respect the more important people. Respect the masses. Who are you to speak out?

The "normalization" of Donald Trump is in full swing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Teacher Is Sad

Jacob Taanman When the Teacher's Back Is Turned 
Professor Jane Doe prides herself on not discussing current events with her students during class time.

She is not one of those self-indulgent poseurs who prepare no lessons and merely wing it, convinced that access to her font of wisdom enriches the students' lives.

She carries a backpack. In it are enough materials for two full lesson plans. One to present, one as backup in case the designated lesson plan goes south for any reason.

But on Tuesday, November 22, 2016, she wants her students to see something. A video that is visible on youtube.

Funny that this should occur on November 22, the anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Doe is not a Kennedy acolyte. He served only a thousand days. But. Kennedy had dignity. Kennedy inspired. Kennedy changed the country through his classy style. People around the world looked at Kennedy and believed that anything is possible and the world can be a better place. Leadership matters.

On November 22, 2016, Doe will allow an incursion of current events into her precious and protected classroom time because the video is pertinent to her class' topic. The class addresses cultural diversity, social inequities and education.

Cultural diversity? Like this. Doe once had a Muslim student whose family threatened to murder her because she had been seen alone in a car with a Christian American boy. Doe had to drive this Muslim student to a woman's shelter. Like this. At a local high school, teachers are used to their female Muslim students disappearing at around age 14 or 15. They are sent to their ancestral homelands and married off.

Social inequities? Recently candidate Hillary Clinton mentioned that "schools are more segregated today than they were in the 1960s." Politifact broke this statement down and rated it "mostly true." See here

Doe regularly visits a public high school with almost two thousand students that, she is told, has not one white student. Three miles away, in a wealthier town in a densely populated state, another high school has almost all white students, with a few Asians.

Doe teaches her students these words: "de facto" and "de jure."

"We no longer have de jure segregation. We now have de facto segregation."

Doe also, as part of her job, visits an elementary school. To get to this school she travels past empty factories, encampments of homeless men, high fences and broken glass. In brightest day, she, an adult, is terrified of this neighborhood. She thinks of what it must be like to be seven, eight years old and to face this trip to school every day.

The school has no library. No art. No music. There is sometimes corporal punishment.

Doe attempts to speak to the students. A noticeable percent can't bring themselves to make eye contact.

So. Cultural diversity and social inequity are not just buzzwords. They are empty stomachs, treacherous commutes, hands that have never held a book that is read cover to cover. Ears that never experience any escape from the constant noise of traffic, sirens, loud rap, boom boxes, street fights. Contrasted, of course, with wide grassy lawns and strapping football stars, surrounded by rolling green hills, hundreds of dollars paid to SAT tutors and parents buying son or daughter a car. All three miles apart.

Yes, yes, yes. There is a lot of history and politics behind the words "diversity" and "inequity." A human being responds to hunger in a child's stomach and fear in a child's eyes and recognizes that that child did nothing to create the history or the politics. And recognizes that that child is the future, a future that will impinge on the green rolling hills in a good way, or in a nightmarish way. We choose.

On November 22, a video has just been released. It features Richard B. Spencer, a white nationalist, leading his followers in stiff-armed salutes and chanting "Hail Trump," in an overt imitation of "Heil Hitler." Spencer praises white people and whiteness. Whites are the doers. Everyone else is a parasite. You can read Spencer's speech here. You can view the video here.

Doe is confident that her students can handle watching this video. Doe is proud of her students.

The class itself is diverse. The class itself is unequal. There are white students, black students, rich students, poor students, differently abled students.

Doe has hit them with difficult material. For example the 1916 book by Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race, a book that Hitler called his "bible." Grant was a great man. He helped save the redwoods, the buffalo, and he cofounded the Bronx Zoo. Grant championed Darwin at a time when Darwin was controversial. Grant attempted to prove Darwin correct by placing Ota Benga, a human being, a man from Africa, in the Bronx Zoo. See? See this black man, very low down on the evolutionary scale? He's little better than a monkey. Benga committed suicide.

Grant was key in Congress passing the 1924 quota act, that all but barred immigration of Poles and Slovaks to the US, on the basis of their racial inferiority. Doe's parents were among those inferior immigrants. She knows how racism feels.

Doe's class discusses the achievement gap, the persistent underachievement of African American students on standardized tests. She feels for her black students when this material is studied. It must hurt to be in a class with white students and to be reminded that black students persistently score lower than whites.

Doe assigns to her students various authors' explanations for this gap. She assigns the liberal Jonathan Kozol, who blames greed and white racism, and wants to create a federally funded "utopia" for children.

Doe also assigns Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative, who blames the achievement gap on "black culture." African Americans must pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

White students and black students, rich students and poor students, read all of this material, from the left and from the right, examine it for truth value, and surprise Doe with their assessments. Many black students are among the most conservative in the class. Yes, we have to change our own fate. No, white liberals can't rescue us.

So, yes, Doe is confident in these students. They can handle the video.

The video is only three minutes long.

It ends and … pain. An explosion of pain.

This is what white people think. They all hate us. How dare he say that America belongs to white people? What about the Native Americans that white people killed off? What about black slaves? White people hate us.

At first, the white students condemn Spencer. But then, in the face of so much pain, they go quiet.

Many of the students most likely to talk say nothing.

Finally Doe says, "I'm white."

Well, you're one of the nice ones.

Doe is overwhelmed. She's been with these students for weeks. The class has discussed very difficult material. This is the first time she's seen exactly this: the class divided on color lines.

This is the first time she's heard this: a sense of doom and paranoia from the black students. It's as if the video has opened a hidden vein of defeat. Students who had been positive and determined and ready for a better, brighter tomorrow, a tomorrow they would help create, suddenly sound a hundred years old: No matter what we do, people hate us.

Doe tries to rescue.

Listen, she says. We've been studying people like this all semester, in the material we've been reading. Remember Madison Grant?

Yes, the students say.

He said the same stuff, Doe reminded them. We learned how to refute him. We know about the IQ tests devised by Carl Brigham. Remember he "proved" that Polish people are at the bottom of the barrel intellectually, and yet here I am a Polish American with a PhD. We know enough to prove racists wrong.

Doe's introduction of facts does nothing to heal the wounds.

What the students know is that a new president has been elected, and white supremacists holding their meeting "hailed" him with stiff armed salute. They know that their new president has used twitter to savage a beauty pageant contestant and a Broadway musical that has vivified the Founding Fathers for millions of fans. They know that their new president, without prompting, has not unleashed the same level of invective against white supremacy. The playing field has changed.

Leadership matters. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Talk in Florida

A while back an author I love and respect emailed me to invite me to a conference he'd be hosting in at a luxurious resort in Florida.

If you know me you know exactly what my very first thought was: BIRDS!

I've never been to Florida. I could see birds I'd never see in New Jersey!

My second thought was, of course, I have done nothing to deserve such a fairy tale invitation.

My third thought was, how can I ever repay him?

My fourth thought, that superseded all others, was, BIRDS!

"Yes! I'd love to attend your conference in Florida!"

I had a fifth thought, too.

I am not a Trump supporter.  

I hoped that Hillary Clinton would win the election, and that I would attend the conference as a member of a winning team.

I had been told that I'd be part of a panel, and that I'd speak for seven minutes.

I had prepared my talk before the election results were in. I just sat down and imagined that a Republican Trump supporter were seated in front of me, and I spoke to that person from my heart.

Election night I was haunted by a fear of the Bradley Effect, James Comey's violation of the Hatch Act, that may have thrown the election, and the closeness of the polls. I woke up early and turned on the radio. All I heard was the BBC announcer saying "He will…" The masculine nominative pronoun. I knew that Trump had won and was now steering the car in which I was a passenger. I would be leaving for the conference in two days. I would be surrounded by Trump supporters, including a man I love and respect and to whom I owe a great deal. I was so torn.

On arriving at Palm Beach airport Friday morning, I was struck by the heat and humidity. An African American man in his sixties from Connecticut drove me to the hotel. He said to me, "I looked at her, and I thought to myself, she can't be going to this hotel."

"Why?" I asked. I wondered what I was doing wrong that already marked me as different.

"Well, for one thing, you are carrying a backpack."

Expensive sports cars with gleaming paint traveled the trash-free and eggshell-smooth roads. Buildings looked like toys in a miniature train set village: without any of the dings and pockmarks accrued surviving the insults of daily life. Even the palm trees appeared to meet with a groomer once a week – each one was lustrous and symmetrical. I'd simply never in my life been around this kind of money.  

My plane had been delayed on the runway for ninety minutes. I was cramped and really wanted to get to my room and decompress before my talk. The desk clerks, all of whom were very young, excruciatingly polite and model-perfect, apologized: they had no room for me just yet.

I stood there, carrying my stigmatizing backpack, and glanced off to my left. I saw Donna Brazile. My head went, "Oh, there's Donna Brazile," as if she were someone I had gone to high school with. Then I realized who I was looking at – the Democratic National Committee Chairwoman – and her connection to my tension. I immediately walked over to her.

"He is like one of my own children," Brazile was saying to a handsome man in a suit. Evidently they were close friends.

I didn't care. I barged right in. I grabbed her hands. I made no attempt to introduce myself.

"I am so sorry that she lost."

"I am too," she said.

I told her that when one of my acquaintances became a Trump supporter, though he had previously been respectful to me, he suddenly called me an "immigrant." We talked for a few minutes. We hugged twice. I let her go.

I slipped into a lady's room and changed from traveling clothes into the clothes I had brought for the talk. I wore a white, pink, and black floral scarf one of my best students had given me. He told me that I was like his mother. He was a Muslim, from Pakistan. I brushed my hair.

I carried my pack into the room where I was told I'd be speaking and rested it against the wall. An unsmiling man speaking in harsh manner told me that I would not be speaking. I swallowed my heartache. Another man, much nicer, and more in the know, told me that I would be speaking. I brightened.

Public speaking is one of the most common fears. When I speak publicly, I feel my gears whir smoothly. It's a good feeling to me, like what I get from exercise or cooking. One reason I love teaching so much, and look forward to going to work. So, though I was nervous about being the lone Hillary Clinton voter two days after her loss to Trump, I was very happy to climb up to the podium and take my seat behind microphone.

Here's the text of my talk:


"Love is stronger than death."

Song of Songs chapter 8, verse 6.

The New American Bible translation:

"Set me as a seal on your heart,

stern as death is love,

relentless as the nether world is devotion"

I am a teacher, and I love my students.

I am a Catholic and I love my church.

I am an American and I love my country.

I am a Jersey Girl and I love my city, Paterson, America's first planned industrial city, once Silk City, now North Jersey's heroin hub. Since 2011, three men have been murdered directly in front of my building.

My students don't know who the Founding Fathers are. They have no idea of the uniqueness of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution or the scientific method or Western emphasis on the individual. They are tabula rasa on the Greek Miracle. They take cultural relativism as dogma it would be anathema to question. If they have heard of the Crusades or Jihad, they believe that they are identical, except that the Crusades were worse. They believe that Christianity is responsible for misogyny; they invent Bible verses to support this assumption. After the Boston Marathon bombing, one of my students spoke to me with a smug smile on her face. "Oh, all these silly Islamophobic white Americans thought that Muslims bombed the marathon! In fact it turns out that they were Russians!"

I am an adjunct. I have no job security. No one has my back. Most college hours in the US right now are taught by adjuncts.

At one college where I taught, I used to stand outside a classroom waiting to make use of it. The professor who used the class before me delivered his lectures as I waited outside.

He was teaching a basic grammar class. Our students need basic grammar classes.

He would sit on his desk, never circulate among the students and harangue for hours about how stupid Americans are because they don't have socialized medicine and how superior Europe is because it does. I never saw him teach basic grammar. His students were captives.

I go home and turn on the radio and listen to right wing radio talk.

This right wing radio talk show host lives in this solar system here.

My students live in this solar system over here.

The two solar systems are separated by tens of millions of miles of cold, silent and empty space.

I introduced one of my students to black conservative author Shelby Steele, who says that African Americans must forgo welfare and get ahead through self-reliance. This student emphatically insisted that Steele was correct.

One of my students, totally spontaneously, with no prompting from me, said, "I wish it were cool to be patriotic. I wish our professors encouraged us to feel part of something bigger than ourselves."

One of my students insisted to me that immigrants should leave aside their native cultures and assimilate to American culture.

The student who loved Shelby Steele was a young black man, who considers himself a radical. He wears dreadlocks and he has been in prison.

The student who voiced a yearning for patriotism is a Muslim. Decades ago, her family entered this country as refugees from Syria.

The student who insisted on immigrants' assimilating to American culture is herself an Hispanic immigrant.

These students recognize that their professors are selling them, and reward them for, Political Correctness. They suspect that PC is somehow fake.

But they are also convinced that Republicans hate them. And in recent days that conviction has become stronger.

This gap of cold and empty space does not need to exist.

I love the truth. And I love my students. And I love America's future that will be after I am gone.

And I need allies whose work is based not on hate but on love.


As soon as the panel wrapped up, several audience members approached my seat on the podium and spoke to me with great urgency. They wanted to know what they could do to help Paterson.

Throughout the weekend, participants at this very conservative conference approached me on their own initiative. They often approached me with real passion on their faces, focus, and intensity. They often took my hands as they spoke. They said variations of these words:

I heard your talk. You said something important. We need to do something about this. What can we do?

I have to tell you – these people are very different from me. Obviously they have more money than I do; I live in Paterson, and they can afford to attend a conference at a luxurious hotel. Most are more conservative, though some, not all, confessed to me (and I will not reveal their names) that they, too, had misgivings about Trump.

But what was abundantly clear was that these people want to make the world a better place, and are willing to dream outside the box and do hard work to put earth beneath their airborne castles.

I have not been in a room so full of idealistic, activist people since I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I loved the heart, the compassion, the willingness to risk, and the activism in these people.

Those gaps that force us as humans apart from one another: yes, we need to be brave and acknowledge that they exist. But there's more to be done after that acknowledgement.

If we take the steps to traverse those gaps, we discover that we are all people, that we all are made in the image and likeness of God, and we can find common ground, no matter how different we are. And if we are willing to be a little bit more brave, we find out that we can work with each other to make the world a better place.

The rest of the conference? Surreal. I'm simply not used to such luxurious surroundings. Of the gourmet food, the ornate architecture, and the many hands eager to serve, the one thing I wish I could carry in my backpack as I travel back to Jersey is the sheets. I honestly had no idea that sheets that feel this way even exist.

Every time I turned around I saw a celebrity. My best celebrity experience: sitting next to an author I admire during dinner one night. I asked him what I thought was a very simple yes / no question. He plunged into a lengthy and elaborate reply, one he appeared to hope I would retort. As I watched him, I flashed on being a kid in a high school cafeteria, and finding the one boy there who would have a serious conversation with me about current events. Eventually I'd develop a crush on this boy. I really didn't want to develop a crush on this famous author so I weaseled my way out of the conversation. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Less happily, I found myself standing next to an author who is even more astoundingly thin in person than she is on TV. I mentioned this to someone else who promptly reported that this very author had just mocked "fat girls" in a twitter post. I am a fat girl. I know that verbal bullying of, and social contempt for fat girls causes much damage.

I'll be honest; I thought of just putting down my champagne flute, turning to her, and smacking her. Another part of me insists that smacking people is wrong. Perhaps I could have "said something." But thousands are "saying something" in responses to this tweet. I wonder if any of what is said will be heard. She identifies as a Christian. Perhaps if someone were to mention to her that the combination of her fame and her cruelty causes people to conclude negative and false things about Jesus, she might change. One can pray.

I left to walk along the Atlantic beach behind the hotel.

I gazed at the ocean and thought about a poem I wanted to share with everyone at the conference, Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach."

"The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits…
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in…
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."

In a small patch of ocean, the hotel shone high beam lights. The lights penetrated one patch of water, while all around was darkness. Only the frothing caps of waves caught the moonlight and glimmered white over vast blackness. Only distant fishing boats and Orion competed with the moon.

The square patch of illuminated ocean water was turquoise and clear. It truly was an idyllic scene.  

I studied the water, as I always do, looking for sharks. If not sharks, U-boats. Pirates. Aquatic Kossaks!!!

I chided myself for being such an Eastern European, always seeking the dark side, even in an idyllic setting.

Well, guess what I saw, just at the line where the waves were breaking, just at the point where my knees would be had I not been wearing slacks and had I gone wading???

Yes! A shark!

Sleek, menacing, gliding, not needful of any John Williams' Jaws theme to enhance the terror it aroused in me, even though I was firmly earthbound, and not even moistened by the ocean spray.

It moved in front of me, I chased in its direction, it turned and moved back in front of me, and I was able to watch it for a couple of minutes. At one point its dorsal fin did break the surface.

I birdwatched every chance I got. I saw wood storks, American egrets, great blue herons, yellow crowned night herons, kingfishers, solitary sandpipers, palm warblers, turkey vultures, red-shoulder hawk, red-bellied woodpecker, boat-tailed grackles, fish crow, white ibis, brown pelicans, Egyptian geese, cormorants, terns (couldn't identify), and feral parrots: Amazona viridigenalis.

This morning, Sunday, as I was watching the parrots, a little electric vehicle with the word "Security" written on its side pulled up alongside me. An intense looking Hispanic man got out. "Are you a guest at this hotel?" he demanded.


"There's been a phone call. Someone reported someone walking in and out of the bushes."

That's me. Walking in and out of bushes looking at birds. For this they had to phone security? Why not just ask me?  I could have turned the person on to birdwatching!

This morning a conference goer said to me, "You are an enigma. You look like a leftwing hippie, but you have conservative ideas."

After the conference wrapped up, I just had time to make it to mass. As I was walking toward Saint Edward Roman Catholic Church, I reflected on the weekend conference I had been so nervous about, and had now completed. I had had to navigate my own anxiety about being around people different from myself, and I had found those people lovable and admirable. I had been worried about being out-of-place in a wealthy environment. I was repeatedly reminded that I was out-of-place, but I survived. I had been worried about my talk, and it went better than I could have dreamed.

In reflecting as I walked to church, I remembered a line I learned in Saint Francis grammar school: "Deus meus et omnia." It was Saint Francis' motto. It is Latin for "My God and my all." I had liked that line very much as a child. It informed me that if you keep God first, everything else, no matter how scary or chaotic, falls into place.

I took my place in a pew upfront and gazed up at the ceiling. It had an Italian-renaissance style coffered ceiling comparable to the ceiling at the luxury hotel. I had gazed at the hotel's ceiling as I was gazing at this ceiling; appreciating its beauty, and tsk tsking over how expensive it must be.

My eyes moved to words written on the beam: "Deus Meus et Omnia." I was astounded. I had just been thinking those words, those words I learned in Saint Francis grammar school, the school named after the saint who served "Lady Poverty." I don't think I've seen those words written anywhere since I learned them in what, fourth, fifth grade? And here I think them as my North Star for this weekend even as I walk to mass, mass in a church with a – to me – decadently ornate ceiling, a ceiling that reminds me, through its decadent art, that in no matter the setting, no matter the company, God is the north star, who guides our navigation. 

I'm going to be relying on that motto a lot during the next four years, I suspect. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Vote for Hillary Clinton: Thirteen Reasons

Vote for Hillary Clinton: Thirteen Reasons


"On Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress' most conservative lawmakers."

Source: REPUBLICAN newspaper Dallas Morning News which has "not recommended a Democrat for the nation's highest office since before World War II – if you're counting, that's more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections." But endorsed Hillary Clinton


"Hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton … dozens of top advisers from previous Republican administrations, including Henry Paulson, John Negroponte, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. Also on this list is Jim Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas"

"She helped make tough calls on the Middle East and the complex struggle against radical Islamic terrorism."

She understands that the war against jihad cannot be solved with jingoistic non-thought like Trump's "bomb the shit out of them" and "ring the oil wells" with American troops who "take the oil." Trump's approach is a recipe for WW III and hundreds of thousands of body bags.

Source: REPUBLICAN newspaper Dallas Morning News


Hillary Clinton "would be a steady hand on the nuclear code."

Source: REPUBLICAN Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey


"She's going to do a good job protecting the country … for me the national security issue is the paramount issue, and I've had the opportunity to give her some advice during the last few weeks, and I also worked with her when she was a senator and I was Secretary of Homeland Security.

She exhibited good understanding of what the issues and challenges were, to be steady in terms of her approach and also interested in educating herself … in the area of national security, those kind of temperament issues are critical tools for the next president at a period of time when I think our challenges to security are perhaps more acute than at any time since Sept. 11.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was the head of the Criminal Division and I was part of the immediate response … in the '90s we spent an enormous amount of time pursuing issues involving the Clintons' associations back in Arkansas in the '80s, Whitewater and other things, and we didn't spend nearly the same amount of time on what bin Laden was up to and others were up to in the region.

Chasing small peccadilloes is a luxury we only have in a world at peace. In a world at war, you've got to focus on the top priority which is protecting the United States and protecting our friends and allies."

Source: REPUBLICAN Michael Chertoff, who lead Republican investigations of the Clintons during the 1990s and later served as Homeland Security Secretary


Clinton "is a person of the pragmatic center-left, rather than the ideologically committed extreme left wing of the Democratic Party … centrism will be a most essential quality … in finding common ground with Republicans in Congress and in fostering a national culture of healing after what has been a national campaign year of racial, ethnic and political polarization fueled by the Trump campaign.

Hillary Clinton gives me hope and optimism … I believe it will be an administration of bipartisan accomplishment and national reconciliation."

Source: REPUBLICAN Alan J. Steinberg, a Reaganite conservative Republican who has worked in Republican administrations and never voted for a Democrat


"If there’s one thing about candidate Clinton that you’ve got to understand, she throughout her whole life has been prepared, done her homework and studied."

Source: REPUBLICAN Senator John Warner, Warner, 89, second-longest serving senator in Virginia history, secretary of the Navy during the Nixon administration. Endorsing Clinton.


Clinton "has withstood decades of scrutiny so intense it would wither most politicians. The vehemence of some of the anti-Clinton attacks strains credulity." Clinton is "mature, confident and rational." Clinton "retains her composure under pressure. She’s tough. She doesn’t back down … she knows how to lead with intelligence, decorum and perspective."

Source: REPUBLICAN newspaper: "Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles. This year is different. Trump is not conservative and he is not qualified. That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president."


"She is well-known to foreign leaders and understands that world order depends upon a U.S. foreign policy that is committed to its international obligations. The United States is the most stabilizing force in a world prone to chaos, and she knows that role is not something to be trifled with on a whim, as Trump’s reckless pronouncements would do."

Source: REPUBLICAN newspaper Columbus Dispatch


Clinton "could help restore a working relationship between the White House and Capitol Hill that has been in tatters"

Source: REPUBLICAN newspaper San Diego Union Tribune which "has not endorsed a Democrat for president in its 148-year history. But we endorse Clinton. She’s the safe choice for the U.S. and for the world, for Democrats and Republicans alike."


Hillary Clinton's "commitment to America’s bedrock national values" make her the only choice for anyone similarly committed to American values. "In a tumultuous world, America needs the kind of stable and aspirational leadership Secretary Clinton can provide. I urge all Republicans to reject Donald Trump this November."

Source: REPUBLICAN fundraiser and former Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO


The bottom line is the bottom line.

The Financial Times endorsed Hillary Clinton "Clinton is eminently qualified to be the first woman elected to the White House."

The stock market wants Hillary Clinton to win because a Hillary Clinton win would be better for the economy. Source: Forbes here:


Abortion is complex and those who attempt to address it in soundbites blaspheme against truth. Consider this: there were fewer abortions under pro-choice Democratic President Bill Clinton than under anti-choice Republican Ronald Reagan.

In short: don't lie about something this important. No, Hillary Clinton does not want to "kill babies" and Donald Trump wouldn't save a baby unless there were fame and money in it for him.


Some claim to be Christian and support Donald Trump.

These self-identified Christians actively support a man who

Promised to murder innocent family members of terrorists

Promised to torture

Promised to pillage

Called for the murder of the Central Park Five *after* they were exonerated by DNA evidence

Calls for hate. Rejects Christian love and forgiveness. Said, "rancor should be removed from our hearts? I do not think so. I want to hate."

Calls for revenge. Rejects the basic Judeo-Christian understanding that "vengeance is mine saith the Lord."

Said, "Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe that."

Admitted sexual predator

Serial adulterer, publicly flaunting his affairs in the face of his wife

Publicly sexualizes his daughter as a "piece of ass" and expresses lust for her

Refers to the Eucharist as "my little cracker."

Pathological liar of record-setting proportions, with over fifty percent of his statements outright lies as proven by objective, comparative fact-checking: Ted Cruz's father killed JFK; I never supported the Iraq War, etc.

Hillary Clinton is a Methodist who lives by their credo of "Do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we ever can."

Tim Kaine did Jesuit volunteer work in a dangerous, Third World country *after* earning an Ivy League degree that could have guaranteed him millions in income. He has attended the same majority African American Catholic Church for decades.

That self-identified Christians embrace and celebrate Trump and slander Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine is a stain on Christian witness.

Those who should be reached by Christ's message through Christian example see, instead, stinking hypocrisy.

Vote for Hillary Clinton. God Bless America.