Archive | September 2015

Let’s Hope That It Is Harder to Get Elected President than It Is to Get into Heaven


I know that the heading to this post may sound somewhat blasphemous, but if the Calvinistic or Puritan notion of the “Elect” has now gotten so narrow that the opposite is true, we are all basically screwed and heaven is kind of like most of Montana or Wyoming or Alaska, at least in terms of its population density.

This past week, Ben Carson has come under fire for suggesting that Islamic beliefs may be incompatible with American values (though I don’t think that he ever managed to say it as straightforwardly or as articulately as I have done so in this sentence).

Now, Mike Huckabee has seemingly tried to synthesize elements of Ben Carson’s Islamophobia with elements of Donald Trump’s birtherism by suggesting that one’s performance as president—one’s fitness for the presidency—is tied to the genuineness of one’s religious beliefs, to the degree to which one’s religious beliefs are integral…

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Wright State University to Host the First Presidential Debate in Fall 2016


This is the press release from Wright State University:

“The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced today that Wright State University has been selected to host the first debate in fall 2016 prior to the November general election.

“The debate will be held Sept. 26, 2016, at the Wright State University Nutter Center.

“’I could not be any prouder of our university and the fact that the Commission on Presidential Debates has entrusted Wright State to host such an important event,’ said Wright State University President David R. Hopkins. ‘The Commission had the daunting challenge of selecting just a few institutions and the fact that Wright State was selected is very gratifying and humbling. I am confident that our university will excel in supporting the Commission and represent our students, faculty and staff, community, and the State of Ohio in a way that will make us all proud. This is a…

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That Was Then; This is Now: Part 2


This is a re-post from Ana Fores-Tamayo’s’ blog Adjunct Justice [].

Given that the issue of undocumented immigrants in the United States has moved to the forefront during this year’s still nascent presidential campaign, and given that much of the discussion of immigration has been quite generalized and abstract, this sort of personalized perspective on the contemporary experience seems all the more necessary and valuable.

Part 1 is available at:


So that’s why we moved to Montana, and that’s why we went off to Minnesota afterward — when my dad got his first teaching job — to a wee bit trailer farm out in the boondocks. The nearest town of 1000 people loomed 7 miles away from our lonely tree farm, the only place we could afford to pay.

Ana Fores Photo 1 

My Winter Childhood, © Dinorah Fores

In North Branch, Minnesota, my dad began to teach…

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Offering Non-Partisan Alternatives to the Relentless Tax Cutting Promoted by ALEC and the Club for Growth


The Ohio Conference provides some financial support to One Ohio Now, a non-partisan group advocating common-sense tax policies that actually meet the needs of our state—that provide sufficient funding of our state’s public institutions, public services, and physical and digital infrastructures.

Yesterday, I came across the following news item reporting that a similar group has now been formed in West Virginia:

Kabler, Phil. “Coalition Argues for Tax Changes `That Work.’: Charleston Gaztte-Mail [WV] 16 Sep. 2015: C, 1.

Offering a counterpoint to the ongoing meetings of the legislative Joint Committee on Tax Reform, a coalition of education, faith, labor and community-based organizations called on legislators Tuesday to pursue tax changes that they said would benefit all West Virginians.

Declaring “you can’t cut your way to prosperity, Rick Wilson of the American Friends Service Committee said, “We need a tax system that invests in things that work, like education, infrastructure and…

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How Might Roland Barthes Have Explained Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign


When I read the headline, “This French Philosopher Is The Only One Who Can Explain The Donald Trump Phenomenon” and then realized that the “French philosopher” was Roland Barthes, I exclaimed, Wow!?! Or maybe it was, Wo!?!

And this item did not even appear in some sort of academic newsletter or other publication focused on academia such as the Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Education.

It was published, instead, by ThinkProgress. The author, Judd Legum, connects Barthes and Trump in this manner:

“You won’t find Roland Barthes on the Sunday morning roundtables dissecting the presidential race. Barthes is a French philosopher who died in 1980. But his work may hold the key to understanding Trump’s popularity and his staying power.

“Barthes is best known for his work in semiotics, the study of signs and symbols. But he wasn’t limited to lengthy, esoteric treatises. Rather, Barthes published…

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That Was Then; This is Now: Part 1


This is a re-post from Ana Fores-Tamayo’s blog Adjunct Justice [].

Given that the issue of undocumented immigrants in the United States has moved to the forefront during this year’s still nascent presidential campaign, and given that much of the discussion of immigration has been quite generalized and abstract, this sort of personalized perspective on the contemporary experience seems all the more necessary and valuable.


I write this in anticipation of World Refugee Day, June 20th.

I would like you to read the stories of refugees today, interwoven with my own tale of a better yesterday. I would like you to think hard, and to make changes to this existing system, a detrimental, unsparing blistering network that systematizes inhumanity and greed, and makes it the status quo.

How can this be right?

Ana Fores Photo 1

La playa,  Cuba © Dinorah Fores

A few weeks ago, my daughter got into…

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Former Nuclear-Weapons-Research Sites Expected to Be Popular in China, Too


Several weeks ago, I posted an item on the effort to turn three sites associated with the Manhattan Project into a National Park. The post was titled “This Is Where Great-Grandpa Helped to Build the Bomb,” and someone apparently employed by the National Park Service responded by characterizing the post as “uninformed” because, in his or her view, I did not appreciate the Park Service’s commitment to preserving sites of historical importance. I replied to the comment by saying that although I did very much appreciate such efforts, I did not see how it was appropriate to turn these sites into a National Park–rather than, for instance, simply designating them as national historic sites.

In addition, as Hank Reichman noted in another comment on the post, at least one of the three sites is a Superfund site—something that I made a dark, though less explicit joke about in the post…

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Intelligence Service Veterans Denounce the Apologists for Torture


In July, Hank Reichman posted a piece on “a 542-page study examining the involvement of the nation’s psychologists and their largest professional organization, the American Psychological Association (APA), in the harsh interrogations of the post-9/11 years, [a study that] ‘raises repeated questions about the collaboration between psychologists and officials at both the C.I.A. and the Pentagon.’”

That post, which includes a link to the report, is available at:

Now, the apologists for the use of torture are heralding the publication of a book by ex-CIA leaders that ostensibly refutes the APA’s report and a concurrent report by the U.S. Senate denouncing the use of torture as both unproductive and unethical.

Now, in a letter addressed to President Obama, other U.S. intelligence veterans have reiterated their repudiation of the use of torture and have denounced the apologists for the use torture for their refusal to accept responsibility for a misguided and…

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Speaking American as Americans Speak It and Speaking English as Jesus and St. Paul Spoke It


Recently, I posted an item on Sarah Palin’s abuse of the English language, which included her observation that if immigrants don’t want to be stigmatized, they should start “speaking American.” Very coincidentally, later on that same day, I came across an item in the discussion list for the American Dialect Society that included a link to a much lengthier item posted previously to Language Log. The two items are re-posted here with the permission of the author, Ben Zimmer. They demonstrate concretely that Palin’s nativist sensibility has deep historical roots in American life.

First, the item from Language Log:

April 29, 2006


Eric Bakovic recently invoked the famous saying attributed to Texas Governor Miriam Amanda “Ma” Ferguson: “If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the children of Texas!” Bloggers commenting on Bush’s opposition to “Nuestro

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What Do You Say to a Roanoke Truther?


This blog has included many posts about faculty members who have been demonized for statements that they have made on social media and/or who have been haunted, professionally and personally, by things that have been posted about them on social media or on the Web. Though there are permutations of this phenomenon specific to academia, it goes without saying that this is not a problem exclusive to academia. But this afternoon, I came across an article that seems to me absolutely essential to any full understanding of and any more visceral appreciation of the broader context in which these issues are playing out.

The title of this post is also the title of a piece written by Ben Collins and published in the Daily Beast. Collins is a longtime friend of Chris Hurst, the fiancé of Alison Parker, the reporter for a Roanoke television station who was recently gunned…

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