Not a Normal Presidential Election

This presidential election year has shaped up to be something I never anticipated. A candidate I both distrust and disagree with on fundamental issues is running against a demagogue who is utterly unqualified by education, temperament or character to be President of the United States. I think the first is less bad than the second, so I’ll probably vote for Hillary Clinton. If there’s any real risk that Donald Trump might win the election, I will also campaign for her.

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The Woman I Wish I Could Vote For

In the past few months, as a flood of desperate people have escaped Syria and other intolerable places and flooded into Europe, I’ve watched German Chancellor Angela Merkel rise above a massive flood of panic and xenophobia that is sweeping most of Europe, the United States, and many other countries. Merkel could so easily have gone along with calls to close Germany’s borders and refuse to admit any but a tiny number of refugees. Instead, she called on Germany to prepare to admit as many as two million desperate people. In doing so, she has broken all the usual “politician rules”, and might well be voted out of office as a result.

But not if I could help it. Merkel has shown a degree of character, courage in the face of adversary, and basic decency that no other European leader has demonstrated in my lifetime. I’m not sure who I’ll vote for in the upcoming American Presidential election. If I were German, though, I’d know. I don’t care who else was running.

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Bigotry against Muslims and Preserving the American Experiment

In the past couple of months, some American women whose names I don’t remember have called on all American women to wear headscarves in public to show support for and solidarity with Muslim women in America. That call has led to an active public discussion on Twitter and elsewhere, and several interesting articles published on various news sites and blogs. I’m a non-Muslim American women who has had an unusual degree of contact and interaction with Muslims in the past 25 years. I responded to one of the articles earlier today. On further thought, I decided to expand what I said and post it on my blog as well.

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On “Cultural Appropriation”: Sanity at Last!

As an undergraduate in the early 1980s, I studied German and Russian literature in college. Over my adult lifetime, however, I’ve felt increasingly out of place in the humanities.

I’m not leftist. I don’t think capitalism is a bad word, although capitalists (like all people) sometimes do bad things and try to justify those things through their ideology. I also think racism is both evil and stupid: in all of its manifestations. So I have been horrified to see racist views come to be acceptable again in the very social and political communities that once loathed and fought racism. The form taken by the “politics of identity”, and the idea that people are defined inexorably by their racial/ethnic/cultural background, is different than that of racism in the early and middle 20th century, but those ideas are fundamentally racist.

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Profiles in Courage: Military Officers Who Opposed Torture After 9/11

The American Civil Liberties Union has posted a web page that tells the stories of a number of military officers and CIA employees who objected to the US use of waterboarding and other forms of torture after 9/11. I just wanted to acknowledge these people who stood up for American values and protected American honor when many of those in power were hell-bent on destroying both of these things.

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The Senate Report on CIA Torture of 9/11 Terrorism Suspects

There’s very little in the redacted executive summary of the Senate’s report on CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques” that is news to me, or most people who have been following this story for the past decade. I’ve been rather quiet because, frankly, I’m so appalled at the fact that so many Americans consider it worth discussing whether torture is ever effective. For me, that’s like discussing whether killing and eating babies can stave off starvation: if you’ve got to that point, you’ve lost. All you are doing is negotiating the terms of surrender to evil, the devil, whatever you want to call it.

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Ebola: What Average People Can Do

The ebola epidemic has reached the United States and at least one country in Europe, although so far it does not look much like an epidemic in either place. (Four people confirmed to have fallen ill in the United States and one in Spain, as opposed to a few thousand in west Africa.) In the middle of all the frightening news, no national health agency (not even the U.S. CDC) has posted a list of effective simple measures that average people can take to protect themselves and their families. There are two reasons for this fact:

  1. The average person who does not live in west Africa and is not a health care worker has a miniscule chance of ever being exposed to ebola.
  2. National health agenices such as the U.S. CDC need (and mostly don’t have) PR departments that understand how simple information fights panic about a deadly disease, not just the disease itself.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation: Surveillance Self-Defense

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has created a new web site, Surveillance Self-Defense ( The site collects information about surveillance techniques that governments, large companies, marketing firms, criminal organizations, and some individuals are using to track you through the day. It then tells you how to guard against and to some extent prevent that surveillance, or at least keep private those parts of your life that you want to be private.

Bravo! And thanks, EFF. 🙂

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The Costs of Committing Violence Against Innocents

Seen this evening on Twitter:

My sorrow for the family of 3 month old Haya Zissel-Brown murdered in Jerusalem. May G-d protect the innocents of this world.

Committing wanton violence against innocents makes hell on earth for others and hell beyond this earth for yourself.

— Lee Weissman (@JihadiJew)

There really is nothing I can add to this. Here’s a link to his blog.

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Shellshock Restrictions Lifted

Comments are enabled again on this blog.

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