Anecdotal Evidence .

Sunday, January 22, 2017

And then there was light ..

Photos from around the world of yesterday's Women's March. Breath-taking.
    Please click here

Saturday, January 21, 2017

To Whom It May Concern:

Doctors Oz & Roizen in Bangor Daily News, January 21, 2017: According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder sees himself or herself as exceptional; requires the approval of others; has no ability to empathize or identify with others; has superficial relationships that only exist to serve self-esteem; exhibits pathological personality traits of antagonism and feelings of entitlement and self-centeredness.

May God bless and protect the United States of America. Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

No Bully Zone!

This week’s edition of The Republican Journal, published in Belfast, Maine, has a nice story about a family who are suggesting to the City Council that Belfast be declared a NO BULLY ZONE “because there are a lot of people who might not be able to say that for themselves.”

Speaking of bullies, the current President-Elect insists he is going to bring Americans “together as never before.” I wonder when he is going to begin doing that. A week or so ago, I saw him on CNN at one of his “Thank You” rallies. Judging from his words and performance at that event, it is clear he has not yet begun. And it really did not sound like he ever intends to begin doing so. It was all about “we versus they.” He left me convinced that this is a man who intends governing only forty-some percent of the country — those who voted for him — and leave the rest of us, not to mention the coming together stuff, to chance.

I have to say, too, that on that CNN screen, he still sounded like a bully to me. I wonder when the Trump family is going to bring out of the closet for us the Donald Trump whom Ivanka Trump talked about at their convention. As she described him, he sounded like a decent fellow. Maybe they are holding him in reserve until the inauguration on January 20. If so, what will they do with the one we have now? Take him to the pound?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Is Islamic terrorism Islamic?

For those of us better acquainted with Christianity than Islam, an easier way to address that question may be to ask another, similar question: Is Christian terrorism Christian?

Here, recall bombings of clinics that offer abortions, murders of physicians who perform abortions, threatening of women who seek abortion counseling, all done under an umbrella of Christian righteousness.

The question is, should we label these kinds of actions “Christian terrorism”? Are they Christian actions? I do not know any better way to answer that question than to ask Jesus himself how he feels about such actions.

I have a “red lettered” edition of the Gospels (a red lettered edition being one in which the reportedly spoken words of Jesus are printed in red). I looked there to find quotations in which Jesus calls upon his followers to perform acts of violence either generally or specifically (like bombings of clinics, killing of physicians, and threatening women in desperate situations). I am not a biblical scholar, and so perhaps I missed the most apt references; but I did find three that seem to me to be relevant:

(1) At Luke 9, the disciples ask Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to burn to the ground a village that chose not to receive him. How did Jesus respond? He rebuked his disciples. I take that to be a rejection of violence. (Can you imagine being rebuked by Jesus? Ouch! I’ll bet they went all aquiver, insisting, “Teacher, it wasn’t our idea. The devil made us say it!”)

(2) At John 18, Peter draws his sword to defend Jesus, which surely seems a defensible action. But here again, Jesus rejects the violence. He instructs Peter, almost bluntly it seems to me, to put his sword away.

(3) At John 8, a woman “caught in adultery” is brought before him. Under the Law of Moses, we are told, she is subject to stoning. When asked about it, Jesus responds, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Not an outright rejection of violence, to be sure, but certainly not an endorsement. (It almost sounds like sarcasm, but that may be a cross-cultural stumble on my part.) Anyway, apparently none of those present met his standard: “… they went away, one by one …”

From these incidents, it seems clear that Jesus does not call upon us to be violent, and neither does he authorize us to perform violence in his name. From that, I conclude he would not approve our labelling the bombing of clinics as “Christian terrorism” or our justifying such acts as done in his name.

Now, terrorists may call themselves “Christians” if they like, but that doesn’t make them — or their actions — Christian. Surely, to be a Christian, it is not enough just to say, “I am a Christian.” Here consider John 13:15, ”For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” I expect that before we dare publicly call ourselves Christian, or our actions Christian, we should be doing a lot of that. The expression “Walk this way” comes to mind.

Further, I expect the same is true of Islam: simply saying “I am a Muslim” does not make one — or one’s actions — Islamic. Thus, I conclude that “Islamic terrorism” is, like “Christian terrorism,” a misnomer, possibly even a rebukable misnomer. Such acts are simply what they appear to be: senseless violence performed by angry, violent people.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ponder this

Here’s a question I ponder as I seek to understand why so many voted as they did: If Donald Trump had been black but with the identical message, would the same voters have voted for him and elected him?

If, as some insist, Donald Trump won because white male voters without college degrees felt neglected by Washington, then his race — or for that matter his gender — should not have counted one whit, and if either his race or his gender had been other than it was (that is, white male), then presumably the outcome would have been the same.

That's what the experts seem to be suggesting. I hope they’re right. Which is to say, I hope it was not simply a backlash against a previous black President because of his race or a rejection of a current opponent because of her gender, but instead a genuine, considered choice for a candidate who his voters genuinely believed is a good person with good values and good intentions, and worthy of the office and our trust.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Freedom of The Press

After 240 years of history, after too many wars and too many killed and wounded and missing in action on countless battlefields and oceans, after too much evidence of the natural tendency of government to overstep its boundaries, are we as a people really still arguing about the wisdom, the effectiveness, the necessity of a free and healthy and active press? Certainly, there is a fringe element with a knee-jerk reaction against the press. I suppose in a country as large and diverse and imaginative as the United States of America, there is undoubtedly a fringe element pro or con every possible subject from apple cider to zebra stripes. But can we really have elected a President who wants to silence the press? Pray God, let it not be so.
“The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”
Thomas Jefferson
“In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”
Hugo Black, US Supreme Court
“Debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”
William J Brennan, US Supreme Court
“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive.”
John F Kennedy
“A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both.”
James Madison
“A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy.”
Nelson Mandela

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Is Global Warming Trump's Vietnam War?

The selection of Scott Pruitt, reportedly an outspoken climate change denier, to head the Environmental Protection Agency, could become for Donald Trump what the Vietnam War became for Lyndon Johnson. I expect the current generation of teens and twenties will eventually respond to the increasing threat to the planet they live on that is posed by global warming, and to Pruitt’s apparent sense that nothing needs to be done about it, in the same way and with the same enthusiasm, even ferocity, as the sixties generation responded to the Vietnam War. Here’s why I think so:
       I was a graduate student at Columbia University in the mid-sixties, and evidence of opposition to the war in Vietnam was everywhere on campus and beyond, and it was heated: posters, speeches, meetings, sit-ins, marches. At the invasion of Iraq and in the years following, I lived in Orono, Maine, a couple of blocks from the University of Maine campus. I never saw or heard any evidence whatsoever of opposition to the invasion or to the war. (That's not quite true: There was one home on Main Street whose lawn evolved into a war memorial with crosses marking those killed in action, sadly updated regularly.)
        Why the difference? In a word, the draft.
       In retrospect, it is apparent to me that the sixties’ chant “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many babies did you kill today?” was, to be sure, partly about Vietnamese babies, but mostly it was about ourselves. What was really driving my generation was fear for our own lives, and so what we really meant was, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many of us have you killed today?” The war in Vietnam was personal because we were subject to the draft, subject to becoming one of the 58,220 being killed in action. And we knew it. On the other hand, the war in Iraq was not, is not, personal (except to those who choose to serve). Surely just as many babies died from “Shock and Awe” and are dying in its continuing, endless aftermath, but no one chants about them, no teens and twenties are marching in the streets. Because there is no draft.
        What has that to do with Scott Pruitt and the EPA? Global climate change is an existential threat to the planet, the planet today's teens and twenties live on, and expect to live on for the rest of their lives. That means it is an existential threat to them, just as the draft was to us. It is real. It will not go away by itself; left alone, Global warming! it will only get worse. There are no student deferments this time, and there are no other planets to move to. Everyone is at risk, everyone everywhere in every country. We are all 1-A. When today’s teens and twenties become truly aware of the enormity of the threat, and of the inevitable and inescapable impact on the planet and on their lives of Scott Pruitt’s denial of the threat, a latter day SDS or SNCC will appear, a movement will evolve, and the rest will follow. I expect protests to spring up on campuses and spill over into streets across the nation, eventually with the same enthusiasm and ferocity as the anti-war protests of the sixties.
        Lest skeptics take comfort in Occupy Wall Street’s failure to take root, I suggest this movement will be different, more tenacious than the Occupy movement, precisely because this issue will have what Occupy lacked, an appeal that is directly and personally and immediately relevant to every protester, even to everyone on the planet: survival. This issue is as personal, as visceral, and as potentially powerful – indeed, perhaps even more so, as the sixties draft.
       So, over time, just as Lyndon Johnson became the personification of the war in Vietnam and its victim, Donald Trump could become the personification and the victim of climate change denial.
        “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many babies did you kill today?” could reincarnate as “Hey, hey, Donald J., how much warmer is the world today!”

Thanks to for the flames and to NASA for the globe.