This is not just extremist right-wing violence. It is our violence. And we must own it.

In the wake of three incidents of xenophobic and extreme right-wing violence,[1] some are pointing a blaming finger at Donald Trump, who feeds and feeds upon what’s properly called hierarchically invidious monism, a prominent feature of—some might call it a “mother’s milk” for—authoritarian populism: Read more

  1. [1]Ray Sanchez and Melissa Gray, “72 hours in America: Three hate-filled crimes. Three hate-filled suspects,” CNN, October 28, 2018,

Musings of a San Francisco kid

Even after all these years, it feels weird to be in the Los Angeles area.

I was raised in San Francisco. We learned that Southern California steals all our water (actually it mostly goes to wasteful corporate agriculture) and that you can cut the air with a butter knife (this is certainly not true now).

Oh yes and, of course, the traffic. The traffic is Southern California is the stuff of legends. When I first encountered what we in the San Francisco Bay Area call the “South Bay,” I referred to it as a northern outpost of Los Angeles because it boasts something of a maze of freeways, smog, and urban sprawl. Read more

On understanding the ‘other’

One of the curious issues that cropped up, that unfortunately I did not have a chance to address at the time, at the recent Human Science Institute retreat, following a presentation by Milton Reynolds, was that a couple of white women apologized to Reynolds, a Black man, for imposing upon him to explain his worldview. Both of them are entirely worthy scholars so I mean absolutely no disrespect here.

Rather, I think I know where they were coming from. I was there once, too. Read more

Criticism of Elizabeth Warren for revealing her DNA test confuses the potential for the actual

Update, February 7, 2019: Now that she wants to be president, Elizabeth Warren has apologized for calling herself Native American.[1] To be honest, I don’t see how this apology helps her: If the claim is really that serious, it will stick, regardless of any apology, especially an apology given in service to a presidential candidacy.

Our story begins, yet again, with Donald Trump, who bundles misogyny with racism in calling Elizabeth Warren, a possible Democratic Party presidential contender in 2020, “Pocohontas.” He did this much like when he was a “birther,” questioning Barack Obama’s U.S. birth. And we might remember that Obama eventually released his long form birth certificate—also in response, partly, to Trump’s protracted goading.[2] Warren now has released a DNA test demonstrating that she probably does indeed have some American Indian heritage.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Annie Linskey and Amy Gardner, “Elizabeth Warren apologizes for calling herself Native American,” Washington Post, February 5, 2019,
  2. [2]Mike Vilensky, “Trump Roasted and Skewered at White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” New York, May 1, 2011,; Jacob Weisberg, “Are Republicans losing their grip on reality?” Slate, May 20, 2011,
  3. [3]Masha Gessen, “Elizabeth Warren Falls for Trump’s Trap—and Promotes Insidious Ideas About Race and DNA,” New Yorker, October 16, 2018,

Why we won’t respond to climate change

I let a passenger down yesterday.

I’m going through a particularly rocky transition at the moment, with woefully inadequate financial resources, so I’m back doing the Uber and Lyft thing, which pays abysmally, but in a weird way manages to keep me barely afloat. I was in the East Bay yesterday, initially to get my car inspected so I could resume doing this so-called ‘ridesharing’ driving, but then to make what money I could—fast. Read more

Emily Yoffe asks if “anyone still take[s] both sexual assault and due process seriously.” She certainly doesn’t.

I am not going to delve very deeply into debates over the statistics about how many women are raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed. Let’s just stipulate that there are many such cases, that incidents of this nature can be considered ubiquitous, and that many more offenses occur than are reported to police or otherwise come to light. Read more

Damn it, Rondi! I’m a doctor, not a medical doctor!

Note: I am, of course, borrowing my title from the original Star Trek’s Doctor “Bones” McCoy, who in various adventures reprimanded his captain with the line, “Damn it, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a [fill in the blank]!” I particularly recall a case, in the episode “The Devil in the Dark” involving a silicon-based life form called a horta, injured before the Enterprise crew figured out that she was an intelligent life form and how to communicate with her, that had been trying to protect her eggs from Federation miners. In it, that blank was filled with “bricklayer.”[1]

So this morning, I saw that the Wall Street Journal carried an op-ed lampooning the use of the honorific “Doctor” with the author claiming, “I am fortunate to spend a lot of time in Italy, where very nearly everyone is a doctor—a lowly bachelor’s degree will do.” Context here is important: As Ms. Rondi Adamson notes, “during the [Brett] Kavanaugh confirmation madness[,] Christine Blasey Ford was scrupulously referred to by media and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee as ‘Dr. Ford.’ Failure to comply was frowned upon.”[2] And we should note that the opinion pages of the Journal were as friendly toward Kavanaugh as those of the National Review and the Daily Standard. Which is to say, very friendly indeed, and utterly dismissive of any questions of Kavanaugh’s alleged sex offenses. Read more

  1. [1]Star Trek, episode 26, “The Devil in the Dark,” directed by Joseph Pevney, written by Gene L. Coon, featuring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley, aired March 9, 1967, on NBC.
  2. [2]Rondi Adamson, “Is There a Doctorate in the House?” Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2018,

A single set of values

One of the things that stood out to me when I was reading Benedict Anderson’s  Imagined Communities was a point he made about how minority languages and customs must be suppressed in the name of national unity.[1] An interesting point, I thought, explaining some of the tensions we see around the world: China with Tibet, India with non-Hindus, the Rwanda genocide, and well, the list goes on.

I didn’t see the point as applying so well within the United States. But it does. Read more

  1. [1]Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. (London: Verso, 2006).

Getting out the vote

In the wake of probable sex offender Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court,

Both Republicans and Democrats insisted that the tumult would motivate their voters to turn out for the Nov. 6 election — with both sides citing the anti-Kavanaugh protests that have roiled Capitol Hill and far beyond as a sign of change to come.”[1]

And indeed, the corresponding campaign, at least on the Democratic Party—the same party whose coronation of Hillary Clinton in 2014 and insistence on her nomination in 2016 led directly to Donald Trump’s election—side fills my Twitter feed. Read more

  1. [1]Jennifer Haberkorn, “Senate narrowly approves Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court, cementing conservative majority,” Los Angeles Times, October 6, 2018,

Means to toxic ends

At this writing, it appears increasingly likely that a probable—even if only marginally probable—sex offender, Brett Kavanaugh,[1] will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.[2] This will occur in the wake of a woefully deficient FBI report on its investigation of some allegations against Kavanaugh[3] and as Kavanaugh’s supporters engage in ad hominem attacks against his accusers.[4] Read more

  1. [1]Benjamin Wittes, “I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him,” Atlantic, October 2, 2018,
  2. [2]Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, “Kavanaugh moves closer to Senate confirmation as GOP argues FBI report exonerates the judge,” Washington Post, October 4, 2018,; John Wagner and Seung Min Kim, “Key Republicans signal satisfaction with FBI report, increasing confirmation odds for Kavanaugh,” Washington Post, October 4, 2018,
  3. [3]Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, “The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh,” New Yorker, October 3, 2018,; John Wagner and Seung Min Kim, “Grassley, White House stand by Kavanaugh as Senate reviews FBI report,” Washington Post, October 4, 2018,
  4. [4]Sean Sullivan and Gabriel Pogrund, “Adopting Trumpian strategy, Republicans level personal attacks against Kavanaugh accusers,” Washington Post, October 3, 2018,