A photo of me with two lovely human beings - Charlie and Victoria Harris - at the David Foster Wallace conference this past weekend. Victoria and Charlie were both in the English department at Illinois State University during Wallace's time there. Both were close friends, and Charlie was the person responsible for hiring Wallace to the faculty. I made two new friends, one of whom - Victoria - is a fellow Derrida enthusiast! Just two of the many terrific people I met this weekend! 

I'm here at the David Foster Wallace conference in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. It's good to be back in the Midwest! I've heard some really outstanding papers, and met some great people. 

Jeffrey Severs gave a wonderful keynote today on DFW as a thinker of immanence, drawing connections between Wallace, Franz Kafka, and Deleuze and Guattari, exploring the significance of doors in Wallace's work. It's been a terrific weekend. 
In this New York Post piece, John Podhoretz writes, "It might seem bizarre to say that an administration only 23 days old needed a fresh start, but look: if Adele can stop 45 seconds into a live performance at the Grammys and begin again, so too can Donald Trump." 

This has to be a new low in political commentary. What the hell are we becoming? How on earth did this become the new normal? This is what it looks like to defend the indefensible. 

CNN Piece: Fox, Breitbart Focus on Leaks in Flynn Story

Ah, I remember the good old days, when the DNC servers were hacked by Russia with the support and applause of then-candidate Donald Trump, and the 'real story' in that case was the content of the leaks, not the hacking itself. 

Funny how all it takes is winning the election to suddenly change Trump's tune.
This U.S. Uncut piece by Kenneth Lipp reports on comments by Pope Francis on the refugee crisis. Pope Francis notes that one of the most egregious sins in the gospels, against which Jesus preached constantly, is hypocrisy. 

The very essence of the Christian gospel rests, not upon opposing abortion, dictating who can marry whom, rejecting science or reason, or securing property rights for the affluent. The heart of the gospel rests upon the ethical injunction to care for the least of these: "For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me... Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me' Matthew 25: 42-45. 

When we close our hearts and our borders to those who are fleeing oppression and death, warfare and certain destruction, who are simply trying to find some semblance of stability in which to care for themselves and their children... there is no other way to say it - we are refusing that injunction, the defining core of Jesus's teaching. And to profess the name of Christ with the lips, while rejecting this injunction with one's actions (or with a nation's actions), is hypocrisy. 

I don't care what stripe of Christianity one espouses, Pope Francis is indisputably correct. 

In response to Chuck Todd's questions about Trump press secretary Sean Spicer uttering four demonstrable falsehoods in his 'press conference', Kellyanne Conway claimed that Spicer was merely offering 'alternative facts.' 

Nope, you just can't make this stuff up. 

Just stumbled onto this excellent piece by Kerry Walters, my friend, former colleague, and personal hero, who constantly reminds me that the words 'Christian' and 'conservative' are not quite the necessary bedfellows that American politics might lead us to think they are. 

It's been a while since I've posted. The holidays, travel, a nasty cold, exhaustion, among other things, have kept me quiet. But here we are, as I'm about to fall asleep one last time under President Barack Obama. I just read this inspiring article on Slate, and felt compelled to post on it before lying down to sleep. 

I've wrestled ethically with this question, as to whether or not the Congressional democrats who are boycotting the inauguration are behaving like infants. God knows the legion of Trump supporters on Facebook and in the media (isn't it funny how Trump demonizes 'the media', when you look at all the pro-Trump articles on Realclearpolitics?) are suggesting as much. 'Suck it up, buttercup' seems to be the mantra. 'I didn't like everything Obama did either, but I respected him as my president' - that's another good one. 

The Slate piece brought it all flooding out of me, what a massive dose of insanely idiotic and amnesiac nonsense that is. The man about to take the oath is the same man who for five long years and beyond questioned the legitimacy of the outgoing president. Who ran the absolute ugliest campaign of my lifetime, and who, to this day, has not taken even a single step toward undoing the hateful rhetoric that he spouted on a daily basis on the campaign trail. The Congressional Republicans were the ones who shouted 'You lie' as Obama addressed Congress and the nation. And who implemented obstruction as an explicit strategy to try to regain power. Dick Cheney was the former VP who continued to trash Obama from the moment he left office (violating a presidential norm that Rick Santorum just yesterday tried to say that Obama should adhere to). John Boehner was the man who shouted 'Hell No!' to President Obama in a public address. Rush Limbaugh was the man who mocked Obama's tenacity when he gave the order to go after Bin Laden. Congressional Republicans were the ones who shut down the government for weeks when the democrats refused to defund the ACA. And, oh yes, Senate Republicans were the ones who stole, yes, STOLE, a Supreme Court nominee from Obama. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the Republican party demands decency and respect for the institutions when they are in power, but when they're not, the gloves are off. 
Yesterday I went with my daughter on the David Foster Wallace tour through Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. We stopped at his home, St. Matthew's Episcopalian Church, the Illinois State University campus where he taught, Babbit's books, and Monical's Pizza. Thank you to my daughter Hayley for indulging your old man's fan-worship, and thank you to the kind folks in the departments of English and Philosophy at Illinois State University, for their generosity and hospitality!