Song for Donald – Parody of Song of Roland.

Of Course the Christian Right Supports Trump

From The New York Times:

Jan. 26, 2018

In 1958, the Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell, who would go on to found the Moral Majority, gave a sermon titled “Segregation or Integration: Which?” He inveighed against the Supreme Court’s anti-segregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education, arguing that facilities for blacks and whites should remain separate.

“When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line,” he wrote, warning that integration “will destroy our race eventually.” In 1967, Falwell founded the Lynchburg Christian Academy — later Liberty Christian Academy — as a private school for white students.

The Lynchburg Christian Academy, in Virginia, was one of many so-called seg academies created throughout the South to circumvent desegregation. In the 1970s, these discriminatory schools lost their tax-exempt status. Feeling under siege as a result, conservative Christians started organizing politically. This was the origin of the modern religious right, and it helps explain why a movement publicly devoted to piety has stood so faithfully by Donald Trump.

In his 2014 biography of Jimmy Carter, the Dartmouth historian Randall Balmer quotes the conservative activist Paul Weyrich: “What caused the movement to surface was the federal government’s moves against Christian schools. This absolutely shattered the Christian community’s notions that Christians could isolate themselves inside their own institutions and teach what they please.” (This should sound familiar to anyone who has heard Christian conservative outrage over being forced to accommodate gay marriage.)

In 1980, the nascent religious right overwhelmingly supported Ronald Reagan, a former movie star who would become America’s first divorced president, over the evangelical Carter. In doing so, it helped destigmatize divorce. “Up until 1980, anybody who was divorced, let alone divorced and remarried, very likely would have been kicked out of evangelical congregations,” Balmer, who was raised evangelical and is now a scholar of evangelicalism, told me.

Given this history, it is not surprising that the contemporary leaders of the religious right are blasé about reports that Trump cheated on his third wife with a porn star shortly after the birth of his youngest child, then paid her to be quiet. Despite his louche personal life, Trump, the racist patriarch promising cultural revenge, doesn’t threaten the religious right’s traditional values. He embodies them.

This week, Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, told Politico that Trump gets a “mulligan,” or do-over, on his past moral transgressions, because he’s willing to stand up to the religious right’s enemies. Evangelicals, Perkins said, “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”

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How a Holocaust-Era Yiddish Song Became a Women’s March Slogan

From Tablet Magazine:

The strange and inspiring history of “Mir Velen Zei Iberleben,” or “We Will Outlive Them”

By Avi Shafran
January 30, 2018

At the recent second Women’s March, New York participants saw a banner held aloft with a hand-lettered Yiddish message, helpfully transliterated and translated into English. The transliteration read “Mir Velen Zei Iberleben”; and the translation, “We Will Outlive Them.”

The banner didn’t specify who the intended “them” might be (not men, I hope–though, of course, women do tend to live longer than those of us burdened with Y chromosomes). As to the legend on the banner, well, therein lies a tale, and it is a moving one.

It begins with a love song penned by Latvian-born cantor and composer Solomon Rosowsky, who received a degree in law from the University of Kiev but then opted to study music at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. (One of his teachers was Rimsky-Korsakov).

The song, with its lively gypsy-style melody and a favorite of klezmer groups, is in the voice of one half of a couple begging the other half to reconsider some unelaborated-upon spat.

Its clever lyrics match its catchy tune, rhyming fenster (“window”–from the Latin fenestra; “fenester” was in fact a common English word for window until well into the 16th century; and see: “defenestrate”) with shenster (“most beautiful”); and pomerantzen (“oranges,” from the Latin pommom, “fruit” and Italian arancia, “orange”) with tantzen (dance).

The song’s title and refrain is “Lomr Zich Iberbetn”–or, rendered colloquially, “Let’s Make Up.”

Iber means “over” or “above.” Its German cognate, Über, is familiar to those who have read Nietzsche or requested a ride service (the philosopher’s Übermensch is a “superhuman”; and the recently resigned CEO Travis Kalanick’s choice of company name was intended to herald a “super” form of transportation).

And betn means to “request” or “plead.” So iberbetn might be understood as a plea for forgiveness, a “getting over” a quarrel, a reconciliation

What the song has to do with perseverance or overcoming something or someone lies in an account told to the Holocaust researcher Moshe Prager by an eyewitness, one Dr. Warman.

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My Questions About the #MeToo Moment

From Huffington Post:

By Phyllis Chesler

I am glad so many women are speaking out—and I hope that this leads to some enduring changes; I would be delighted if this moment becomes a movement which leads to legislation that is both funded and enforced. Good faith and hard-won victories such as The Violence Against Women Act and the William Wilberforce Act Against Human Trafficking were passed, under-funded and therefore, could not fulfill their missions.

I am glad that women-workers-as-prey are each publicly confirming the details of their working lives—but I worry about our blurring all distinctions. An unwanted and forcible kiss is not legally the same as being forcibly touched, sexually assaulted. or kidnapped, beaten, and gang-raped.

The New York State Penal Law distinguishes between Sexual misconduct, Forcible touching, Sexual abuse, Aggravated Sexual Abuse, Rape, Criminal Sexual Act, Facilitated Sex Offense with a Controlled Substance, and Predatory Sexual Assault. Each violation is described differently and is subject to different penalties. We must remain aware of these distinctions.

However, I am concerned about something that is not even part of this Penal Law. Can we reduce to a single penalty the reality of an ongoing sexually hostile and coercive work environment, one filled with leers, sexualized comments, demeaning pats, humiliating exposures to pornography, street corner-like wolf calls and low whistles, repeated discussions of how women “look,” non-stop invitations to go out drinking, to a strip club—or to a hotel ? What do we call having to endure a brothel-like atmosphere at work?

I also worry when a mere accusation is equivalent to a conviction. Most entertainers and Talking Heads are employees at will and, as such, are not entitled to due process. They can be hired and fired and will. Those employees with union protection are entitled to inside hearings which may take years and in which the woman who has made the allegation will be fired, or eventually paid off with a pittance. This, too, is worrisome.

I am glad that Hollywood celebrities have crafted a very good ad and launched a fund for lawsuits about on-the-job sexual harassment and abuse. Yet, however noble this statement may be, I wonder whether such “virtue signaling” will be able to change the working conditions of farm and factory workers? More important, how will we be able to monitor and intervene in the daily work lives of female agricultural workers, waitresses, secretaries, housekeepers, bar tenders, miners, students, soldiers and prostituted women?

Yes, I am concerned with prostituted women who are paid to be treated with contempt: groped, grabbed, cursed, slapped, beaten, and sexually assaulted. I now wonder whether their working lives will become harder, harsher, if powerful men lose their sexual perks in the office and have to pay to treat women badly.

Still, I am glad the #MeToo Moment is happening. One hopes that women will be less afraid of exposing work-related sexual harassment and rape. But will they? Will lawyers agree to represent these women? Will juries find the perpetrators guilty when they really are?

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More people aging alone as ‘elder orphans’

From The Olympian:

By Anna Schlecht
January 03, 2018

With luck and good genetics, you might be able to live on your own terms until the end of your days. But chances are, if you live long enough, you’ll eventually need help with things like cooking, cleaning and personal care. And independence becomes harder given the growing number of people who are aging alone as “elder orphans.”

According to AARP, more than 20 percent or 8.6 million people older than 65 are now, or are at risk of becoming, an elder orphan — a senior citizen who does not have a spouse, significant other or children

With luck and good genetics, you might be able to live on your own terms until the end of your days. But chances are, if you live long enough, you’ll eventually need help with things like cooking, cleaning and personal care. And independence becomes harder given the growing number of people who are aging alone as “elder orphans.”

According to AARP, more than 20 percent or 8.6 million people older than 65 are now, or are at risk of becoming, an elder orphan — a senior citizen who does not have a spouse, significant other or children to help care for them as they age. A far greater percentage have adult children who, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to help care for them.

This number will increase steadily until it doubles by the year 2050. That’s a lot of people who will need help to age in place.

Aging alone is tough given that the vast majority of elder care is provided by families through “informal caregiver” networks. These are networks of relatives who are pressed into service by need without specialized training. They are the people who cook, clean, and assist elderly people with basic personal care needs. According to a 2010 report, “The Evolving Balance of Formal and Informal, Institutional and non-Institutional Long-Term Care for Older Americans: a Thirty-Year Perspective,” two-thirds of older people who need assistance received all of their home-based care from a family caregiver, usually wives and daughters. Of this group of family caregivers, almost a third are themselves 65 or older. Approximately a quarter of elders received both informal care and some paid caregivers. Less than 10 percent relied solely upon on paid caregivers.

The Family Caregiver Alliance’s National Center on Caregiving reports that in 2015 there were nearly 66 million informal family and friend caregivers who cared for older adults who were unable to manage their “activities of daily living,” or ADLs, such as bathing, dressing or eating. This statistic includes a “live-in” category of offspring who move in with parents or grandparents to help them with unskilled care. It also includes a “drop-in” category of care from informal family networks of adult children or family friends who are visiting caregivers. Typically, they share the duties of elder care, with some providing food, others providing transportation or other assistance.

As a result of the growing need for elder care and the reduced numbers of family members willing or able to provide it, the Home Care Provider industry has grown rapidly to accommodate older people without family caregivers. As one of the fastest growing health care sectors, home care is a more affordable alternative than assisted living facilities, which cost as much as $9,000 per month, or skilled nursing, which can cost more than $3,000 per day. In comparison, home care costs average about $50 per day, clearly the most affordable option.

What does this all mean? It’s not an issue for my parents’ generation of 90-somethings, who are happily out-numbered by their numerous children who are eager to provide care. But for my generation of 60-somethings, the outlook isn’t so rosy. Many baby boomers, including me, are positioned to become elder orphans.

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The Patriarchs Are Falling. The Patriarchy Is Stronger Than Ever.

From The New York Times:

It would be easy to end 2017 with the impression that, whatever its afflictions, it was at least a game-changing year for feminism.

“The Female Revolution Is Here” and could “Smash Patriarchy at Its Core,” social and mainstream media headlines declared. “We are blowing the whistle on the prime directive of the master/slave relationship between women and men.” “This is the end of patriarchy” — this from Forbes! — “the male domination of humanity.” Twitter, the newsstand and the street concur: This year witnessed a transformational moment in American sexual politics.

Surely the results of the #MeToo phenomenon are worthy. It’s a seriously good thing Harvey Weinstein is gone and that the potential Harvey Weinsteins will think twice or thrice or a thousand times before harassing women whose fortunes they control. But “the end of patriarchy”? Look around.

This month, President Trump signed into law a tax bill that throws a bomb at women. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act systematically guts benefits that support women who need support the most: It means an end to personal and dependent exemptions (a disaster for minimum-wage workers, nearly two-thirds of whom are women). An expiration date for child-care tax credits and a denial of such credits for immigrant children without Social Security cards. An end to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. And, barely avoided, thanks to Democrats’ objections: an enshrinement of “fetal personhood” in the form of college savings accounts for unborn children, a sly grenade lobbed at legal abortion.

Not to mention that Republican congressmen plan to pay down the enormous federal deficit the bill will incur by slashing entitlements that, again, are critical to women: Medicaid (covering nearly half the births in the nation and 75 percent of family planning), Medicare (more than half of beneficiaries 65 and older — and two-thirds of those 85 and older — are women) and so on.

And that’s on top of all the other Trump administration insults: reviving the global gag rule on abortion, suspending tracking of the gender wage gap, deep-sixing the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order and much more.

Which leads me to wonder, if we get rid of a handful of Harveys while losing essential rights and protections for millions of women, are we really winning this thing? How is this female calamity happening in the midst of the Female Revolution? An answer may lie in a schism that has haunted women’s protest for 150 years.

American women’s activism has historically taken two forms. One is an expression of direct anger at the ways individual men use and abuse us. It’s righteous outrage against the unambiguous enemy with a visible face, the male predator who feeds on our vulnerability and relishes our humiliation. Mr. Weinstein’s face is the devil’s face du jour, and the #MeToo campaign fits squarely in this camp. The other form is less spectacular but as essential: It’s fighting the ways the world is structurally engineered against women. Tied to that fight is the difficult and ambiguous labor of building an equitable system within which women have the wherewithal and power to lead full lives.

The clarion cry against individual male predation and the push for broader gender equality may seem part and parcel, especially now. When Donald Trump is the titular head of the machine, it’s tempting to imagine that the machine itself has orange hair — and that to defeat Harvey Weinstein is to win. But the patriarchy is bigger than the patriarch.

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‘End Times’ Beliefs Are Extreme, and Extremely Influential

From Psychology Today:

Apocalyptic views are shaping policy at the highest levels.

David Niose
Dec 12, 2017

To those who don’t circulate in fundamentalist religious crowds, apocalyptic thinking—the belief that the world will soon be coming to an end, fulfilling biblical prophecy—might seem strangely fringe and hardly worth serious attention. Perhaps for this reason, the topic rarely gets much consideration in mainstream press. But it would be a mistake to be dismissive of “End Times” beliefs, because their influence in American policymaking is far from marginal.

A case in point is the recent declaration by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Though it was reported in the media that this move was intended to appease Trump’s conservative Christian base, few news accounts explained in any detail why the religious right considers the issue so important. Their motivation is not any desire to promote peace in the turbulent region, but in fact, the exact opposite: they sincerely believe the move will hasten the end of the world.

Robert Jeffress, a high-profile evangelical leader, praised Trump’s decision, calling Jerusalem “the touchstone of prophecy.” The “prophecy” in question is the New Testament’s Book of Revelation, which depicts Jesus returning and an epic battle with forces of evil. Florida legislator Doug Broxson, while introducing Trump at a rally last week, couldn’t contain his excitement over the policy change and its biblical implications: “I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Jerusalem – where the King of Kings [applause], where our soon-coming King is coming back to Jerusalem – it is because President Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.”

“Evangelicals are ecstatic” about the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital “for Israel to us is a sacred place,” explained pastor Paula White, who led the invocation at Trump’s inauguration. The restoration of Israel, along with various events incidental thereto, is seen as a necessary condition for the End Times.

Israel may be a Jewish state, but many fundamentalist Christians clearly feel they have their own theological skin in the game. Scriptural interpretations vary, but the End Times are generally understood by believers as the culmination of all of history, the climactic point where God’s promises are fulfilled, where the righteous are rewarded and God’s wrath is delivered to unrepentant sinners. And the role of Israel in all of this Christian prophecy is central.

This perceived importance is reflected in poll numbers comparing the views of white evangelicals and American Jews on the question of whether they believe God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people: evangelicals hold the belief at a rate more than doubling that of Jews, 82 to 40 percent.

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