Two revealing articles have recently appeared, which one can only read for amusement if one assumes, as I still do, that my country will not elect this vermin (with apologies to vermin, who do something useful). Quoted in the NYT piece is lawyer Richard Seltzer, whom I worked for almost 30 years ago, on various real estate litigations, though none (at that time) against Trump. (Seltzer was the partner who thought I was "crazy" to leave law practice to go get a PhD in philosophy, as I discussed in my interview with Clifford Sosis.)The New Yorker piece, quoting at length from the Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer of Trump's fake book The Art of the Deal, is even more damning. An excerpt:
“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”
"[I]t’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said....
...site of a highly publicized police killing of an African-American man a couple of weeks ago. The only thing this guarantees is that there will be more police shootings of innocent people, since increased and justified paranoia among police in certain neighborhoods will now be the norm: those afraid of being shot are more likely to fire in what they take to be self-defense. (Earlier coverage of these issues here and here and here.) The only possibly hopeful note is that just maybe this kind of violence against the police will lead to stricter gun control. I admit that is a remote hope.
UPDATE: That it was a lone individual murdering police is better than the alternatives. Although it was not an organized resurrection by African-Americans, it will still increase paranoia among police nationwide, which will only result in more harm.
...while a self-driving car kills its driver (maybe intentionally?) Joking aside, as I was discussing with Markus Gabriel recently at the Bonn Summer School on the "Hermeneutics of Suspicion," there is something very odd about sci-fi fantasies about domination by robots occupying philosophers when there is actual domination by states and ruling economic elites throughout the developed world. Imagine if equivalent intellectual energy were expended on the actual issues? (Earlier discussion.)
He collects some useful links, and more or less makes the crucial point that the Brexit vote is a symptom of the dysfunctionality of the neoliberal model of capitalism (though without drawing very clearly the connection between racism and xenophobia and the latter).
In 1964, the Republican Party made a fateful decision to “go hunting where the ducks are” in Barry Goldwater’s (in)famous words. Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that of some of his supporters may have been based on the sincere libertarian conviction that government should not tell businesses who they must serve and who they must consider hiring. Nevertheless, Goldwater and his allies were well aware that the vast majority of persons who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related measures did so because they supported a racist status quo. The end result was the modern Republican Party, an alliance of elites and interests who advanced intellectual respectable justifications for policies that the mass base of the party supported because they buttressed longstanding racial, religious and gender hierarchies....
These observations explain why the drive to have mainstream Republicans repudiate Trump is besides the point. The real issue is will Republicans repudiate Trump supporters and no longer hunt where those ducks are. The answer seems already clear. Trump is to be repudiated only because he speaks too directly and not because he is mobilizing the most bigoted forces in American politics. Republicans want to mobilize those forces as well. They have been doing so for years. But Republican political operatives want the more respectable forces in the party to lead the crusade through language that will, without making the direct bigoted appeals that turn off more affluent Republicans supporters, again signal an unwillingness to challenge existing status hierarchies. Should this happen, the repudiation of Donald Trump will have no lasting significance. A political culture in which a quarter to a third of the electorate is moved by race, gender and religious prejudice is a political culture headed towards a train wreck, regardless of the Supreme Court and regardless of the Constitution.
I know that many readers are concerned that, after the massacre of degenerate young people in Orlando by a 2nd-Amendment-freedom-lover affiliated with ISIS, there is a real risk that normal Republicans and Christians could be affected by the proliferation of Instantaneous Laser Incineration (ILI) technology. Obviously, the Framers of the Constitution were concerned with the threat of tyranny involved in state regulation of ILI. Thomas Jefferson,, for example, wrote in 1772:
If King George could have banned ILI, the cause of the American Patriots would have been lost.
Chief Justice Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court, in the first major incineration decision after the War of Independence, concluded:
ILI weapons guarantee our liberty, as long as they aren't turned on the Supreme Court.
It is true, of course, that none of the Founding Fathers anticipated all the ways in which the "arms" protected by the 2nd Amendment might evolve. But even James Madison wrote in 1777:
There may come a time when the musket will be replaced by the mega-musket, a weapon that might not only obliterate the English army in New England, but obliterate England, and any of its allies. But that is the price of freedom. Even so, the ILI would be a step too far.
The wisdom of Jefferson and Madison should be respected, so I propose a reasonable solution to the current crisis involving the proliferation of ILIs:
(1) no members of ISIS or Al-Queda should be allowed to acquire Laser Incineration technology; and
(2) No convicted mass murderers should be allowed to acquire Laser Incineration technology.
There would, of course, be an exception for the Republicans leaders of the House and the Senate.
His unfavorable rating hits a new high (while Clinton's improves), and his poll numbers are collapsing, with Clinton now having a 12% lead. One thing about most Americans, they are nice and polite people, and Dopey Donald Chump is neither.
We realize he's the nominee of a freak show of a party--did you ever read AEI's Norm Ornstein?--but he's also the clearest threat to what remains of democracy in the American plutocracy. He's also a narcissistic sociopath, clown, and life-long fuck-up: ask anyone in the real estate business in New York over the last forty years. If he farts, you can ignore it. If he tweets, you can ignore it.
You should do so before civilization ends. We've just concluded the first election cycle in my lifetime in which an honest person who actually supports regular people has garnered millions of votes. That wasn't Hillary Clinton, and that wasn't Dopey Donald Chump. That humane candidate lost, alas. Hillary Clinton is reprehensible, a war-mongerer worthy of George W. Bush, a Nixon Republican, an empty vessel like her husband Bill. But at least the Clintons are parochially decent and mildly prudent plutocrats, unlike the mentally ill ignoramus whose opinings you report.
There's only one serious question about Dopey Donald Chump, the proto-fascist and narcissistic ignoramus worth contemplating. But it would not be polite to write about it here. So, please, just ignore him.
Let me begin by thanking all the people who signed the Change.org petition to save the WIU philosophy major. Though I have signed quite a lot of petitions, I used to think signing them was silly, and now I know they are broadly ineffective. But what I didn’t anticipate was the feeling of emotional and psychological support the kind words of friends and strangers from across the globe could provide. So, thank you.
It will come as no surprise to those paying attention that the Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to authorize the elimination of philosophy and three other programs at Western Illinois University, but readers may be interested in how this happened so quickly over the last two weeks.
Early on, as readers will recall, I endorsed Dopey Donald Chump as clearly the most qualified of the Republican candidates, and I stand by that judgment. I can not claim sole credit for his victory, but I can claim prescience.
Dopey Donald Chump, alas, is also afflicted with certain rather obvious deficiencies as a candidate and a person, including: (1) he finds criticism, and especially humiliation, very painful, (2) he's a lifelong fuck-up, whose incompetence has been obscured by Daddy's fortune, lawyers, and bankruptcy, and (3) he hates to lose.
Ergo, I predict that as it becomes increasingly clear that he will go down in catastrophic flames and become the laughing stock of the entire world, he will withdraw from the race, blaming a "rigged" and "biased" system/media/dishonest people/Mexicans/Muslims/menstruating women for making a fair election impossible. By doing so, he will avoid ending up like this guy, a real loser!
...with these appropriately condescending attacks. She's got three big advantages: she's smarter, she's more articulate, and she's not a pathological liar. As this perceptive game-theoretic analysis of Dopey Donald Chump's modus operandi makes clear, Senator Warren's relentless, belittling attacks will drive him to distraction and self-destruction.
The first is an interview with AEI political scientist Norm Ornstein, who was one of the first prominent voices to diagnose the pathological dysfunctionality of the Republican Party and who also was one of the first in 2015 to see that Trump could win. He views Trump's rise as resulting from the pathology of the Republican Party, but still gives him a 20% chance of winning in November. The whole interview is worth a careful read.
The second piece by neocon war-mongerer Robert Kagan is actually a good piece of writing about Herr Trump:
[W]hat Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up....
Today, less than 5 percent of eligible voters have voted for Trump. But if he wins the election, his legions will likely comprise a majority of the nation. Imagine the power he would wield then. In addition to all that comes from being the leader of a mass following, he would also have the immense powers of the American presidency at his command: the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, the military. Who would dare to oppose him then? Certainly not a Republican Party that lay down before him even when he was comparatively weak. And is a man like Trump, with infinitely greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more generous, less vengeful than he is today, than he has been his whole life? Does vast power un-corrupt?
This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.
This is amusing, but contains no surprises for anyone from New York who has watched Dopey Donald Chump for years. His is a mafia mentality from top to bottom, one familiar to any New Yorker, and one visible not just in narcissistic huckters like Trump, but in many political figures in New York, as well as the actual criminals. You take care of your friends; you kill, or at least fuck over, your enemies. You're loyal to your gang, you keep your distance from the other gangs, though you do business as necessary. You get things done for your friends, no matter what it takes. No rules apply when it comes to your enemies. Dopey Donald Chump is Don Corleone, but without the fictional Don's dignity. There's simply no way he wasn't up to his neck in dealings with the mob while expanding his father's real estate empire in the 1970s and 1980s. And I'm sure it came completely naturally to him.
Jerry Dworkin calls my attention to this NYRB piece on Donald Chump, which includes this:
I recalled a remark that the philosopher Richard Rorty made back in 1997 about “the old industrialized democracies…heading into a Weimar-like period.” Citing evidence from “many writers on socioeconomic policy,” Rorty suggested that:
members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots….
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion…. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
Let's hope Rorty sticks to his track record, and is wrong about this too.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)