WASHINGTON — President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda.
If the Times is lying and President Trump is telling the truth about so many illegal votes, it is urgent that we restore the integrity of the electoral system. Surely, President Trump will order the Justice Department to undertake a thorough investigation to determine exactly how this happened.
Health Warning: Don't hold your breath waiting for the investigation.
We saw 20th Century Women (director Mike Mills) twice last week. I hope this movie is assigned for our next film group. Silence (Martin Scorsese) could also be a good film for group discussion, but I almost have too much to say about Silence. So of the two films, I'd prefer that we take on 20th Century Women. I'm sure others will bring up perspectives I haven't considered yet. My rating for 20th Century Women: 92%
So according to Trump, a majority of American voters will judge all black candidates based on their opinions of one black man, and that judgment will hold for decades. It should be needless to say that we've never observed this pattern with respect to white presidents.
Personally, I think Trump is wrong about this, and besides, Obama is leaving office with high favorables that are considerably higher than his approval ratings were when Trump posted this tweet.
A black engineering doctoral student at Northwestern University is suing the City of Evanston and several Evanston police officers for use of excessive force, malicious prosecution, battery and conspiracy.
In October 2015, Lawrence Crosby was tucking some dislodged window molding in place before entering his car and departing for the nearby Northwestern campus. A woman called Evanston police saying that she thought Crosby was breaking into a car, but also said that she felt guilty because she might be racially profiling him. When Crosby drove off, she followed him in her own vehicle until Evanston police caught up with them and pulled Crosby over.
Crosby reported that he had seen the woman, and wondered if she suspected him of breaking into the car based upon racial bias. So when police pulled him over, Crosby exited the vehicle with his hands in the air, and tried to tell police that it was his car and that he had documentation. The police shouted at him all at once to get on the ground, and quickly tackled and arrested him. Since the car did belong to Crosby and he had no other violations, they couldn't charge him for an automobile-related crime, but they charged him with disobeying police officers and resisting arrest.
If you watch the video, and have a modicum of ability to put yourself in another person's shoes, you could understand that Crosby could have easily been confused and frightened by the police screaming at him, giving him no time to comprehend their orders to get on the ground. It's also clear that he was surrendering to police, and I believe what we see in the video is a man confused by an instantaneous and overwhelming escalation by the police.
Giving the police every bit of possible room for a favorable interpretation of events, charging Crosby with resisting arrest and disobeying orders is ludicrous. I know how the police operate. They were covering their asses, making a criminal out of a non-criminal because they roughed up an innocent man based upon a mistake. Mistakes happen, but they didn't have to charge him with crimes.
Fortunately, Crosby was acquitted of all charges at his criminal trial.
Here's the video of the incident, released this week.
When I was in college at Northwestern, a friend and I went to his father's local business late one evening to pick up some things his dad needed. Evidently, someone saw us enter the rear door of the business after hours and called the police.
When we stepped out the back door to leave, a half dozen or so police officers jumped out from behind dumpsters and, with guns drawn, ordered us to raise our hands, which we did immediately. They didn't all scream at once, they didn't rush us and tackle us, but they demanded to know what we were doing there. My friend explained, and they questioned us with our hands raised overhead. With guns still pointed, they demanded our ID's. Fortunately, my friend's name was the same as his father's, and the business bore his father's name. After concluding that we were innocent of any wrongdoing, the police didn't quite apologize, but they explained that they were just doing their job to protect my friend's father's business. We were fine with that.
I'd probably feel quite differently about what happened, had the police all screamed at once, rushed and tackled us, and arrested us for resisting arrest. One additional difference between our incident and the one with Mr. Crosby is that we're white and he's black, and the white boys in that area were often assumed to be the children of well-heeled parents, possibly with clout. And back when our incident occurred, Mr. Crosby, as a younger black man, would likely have been seriously beaten before even being give a chance to prove that the vehicle was his. If you think racial bias plays no part in differences in how these incidents unfolded, I have a bridge for sale.
We saw Martin Scorsese's new movie, Silence. I expect that audience interpretations of this film will vary markedly based on life experience, religious beliefs or non-belief.
Scorsese was reared and educated as a Catholic and considers himself Catholic (per an interview linked below). The sensibility of the film is, IMO, Roman Catholic, so much so, that I suspect there are things a viewer would miss if they hadn't had a Catholic education. Still, a Catholic education is far from necessaary to form thoughtful opinions about Silence, both artistically and philosophically.
One person I discussed it with thought it was an indictment of religion. I thought it could be an indictment of religion, but I didn't make that assumption with respect to Scorsese's intention. I'd note here, as well, that when I say that the film had a Catholic sensibility, that sensibility has no bearing on whether the film would be seen as an endorsement or an indictment. By sensibility I mean both an aesthetic, and a focus on particular concerns about belief, doubt and disbelief.
I did some googling and found an interview with Scorsese about the film. Clearly, he doesn't view it as an indictment of religion. The interviewer asked him if he'd read any Flannery O'Connor, which was a question I had. If you're familiar with O'Connor and you see the movie, you'll understand why he was asked the question.
We saw this at the Music Box in Chicago. A ticket seller said that the Catholic archbishop of Chicago will be at a Sunday showing of the film to discuss it with the audience. My guess is that he'd like the film, but I also think plenty of atheists would like this film. I imagine that reviews might be more mixed among Evangelical Christians because of the way the film ends. Also, the Catholic view of justification weighs heavily in this film, and while Scorsese doesn't appear to take a position, I could see some people being bothered by its presentation, even though the film could be interpreted as a criticism of that view. Better that you just see it and form your own opinions. Again, this film is going to be interpreted based on what you bring to it. I view that as one of its merits.
One part of the Scorsese interview that particularly interested me had to with the development of his viewpoint as a storyteller. I speculated on that in a recent post, but in the linked interview, I also learned that he suffered from asthma in the 1950s. I'll leave you with his thoughts on how that contributed to his perspective. My rating of Silence: 87/100 Don't bring children to this film, unless you want to deal with their nightmares over the next month.
The first thing to say about asthma is that when it’s severe, you really feel like you can’t catch your breath. Quite literally, you feel like you could pass away, like you’re actually making a passage. There were times when there was just no way to breathe, and the wheezing was so strong and my lungs were so congested that I started wondering: if this is the way it’s going to be from now on, how can I continue? That does go through your mind: you just want some peace.
Now, when I was young, back in the 50s, there was a certain way of dealing with doctors, at least for people like my parents. You believed whatever the doctor said, you never went to get a second opinion—and even if they’d wanted to seek out a second opinion, they probably couldn’t have afforded one. And the doctors had a certain way of dealing with asthma. There were certain drugs and treatments, but more importantly there was the dictation of a certain lifestyle. You could not play any sports. You could not exert yourself. They even warned about excessive laughter. And, I was allergic to everything around me—animals, trees, grass—so I couldn’t go to the country.
So, all of this meant that I lived a life apart—I felt separate from everyone else. It also meant that I spent a lot more time with the adults, and it gave me an awareness and, I think, a heightened understanding of the adult world. I had an awareness of the rhythm of life, the concerns of the adults, the discussions of what’s right and what’s wrong, of one person’s obligation to another, and so on. It made me more aware : more aware of how people were feeling, more aware of their body language—again, the difference between words and actions—more aware of their sensitivity, which in turn led to me cultivating my own sensitivity. I became sharpened, I think.
And, looking at the world from my window... the memory of looking down on the street and seeing so much, some of it beautiful and some of it horrifying and some of it beyond description, is central for me.
The other side of it is a kind of intensity of focus when I’m at work, staying fixed on what’s important. I think that my separateness, my solitude, and my awareness led to a determination and an ability to shut out everything extraneous...which is what happens when I make a film. It’s paradoxical, because it’s a concentration that protects a sensitivity which results in a kind of insensitivity