A propos this earlier discussion, Professor Bonevac has explained his reasons in detail. Some dubious factual claims are involved, and some even more dubious implicit claims about cause-and-effect. But the basic mistake is in thinking that Trump means what he says, and so is an instrumentally rational choice given Professor Bonevac's stated objectives.
...we won't be done with him, since he's psychologically incapable of losing gracefully, and will without a doubt do his best to incite violence and disruption after the election. My prediction, however, is that once he has officially lost, Republican leaders will move quickly to repudiate and discredit him in full. One fortunate aspect of his latest insane rhetoric about election fraud is that it may depress turnout among his supporters, which will have ramifications for other Republican candidates. In the happiest scenario, Trump's craziness will hand the House (as well as the Senate) to the Democrats.
AND A MORE REPUTABLE pollster (NBC/Wall Street Journal), consistent with the preceding, shows Clinton up by 11 points. The really happy scenario is that this magnitude of a loss at the top of the ticket will throw both the Senate and the House to the Democrats, and then the liberals and 1970s Republicans who make up that party can actually govern!
Most readers have probably heard by now about an interview in which Trump jokes about various acts of sexual assault and how he can get away with them, which now is leading to speculation that he'll withdraw (he won't) or, perhaps a bit more likely, that the Republican Party will instruct the electors to choose someone else when they vote in December, probably Mike Pence, the extremely conservative Indiana Governor who is Trump's usually invisible VP candidate. That would be a risky gambit for the Republicans, since it's not clear whether the message would get out in time to affect the election, and it's also not clear what the effect would actually be, given the cult-like loyalty Trump enjoys among an alarmingly large segment of the electorate. I'll add links if I see any intelligent analyses of these possible scenarios (please e-mail me, readers, if you see any). As things stand now, we are looking at a huge win for the Democrats, and Trump still has another month of gaffes and outbursts to come (plus two more debates, starting tomorrow)!
He has touched—embraced!—every third rail in American politics. He has offended (and I apologize if I’ve left some group out): African-Americans, Native Americans, Mexicans, Jews, Muslims, war heroes—war heroes!—families of war heroes, the disabled, women, and babies. Babies! Through word or action, Trump has promoted gun violence, bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, lying, and just about everything else that can be wrong with a society. And yet he marches on, playing to a constituency that just doesn’t seem to care. The thing is, this ramshackle campaign, following a ramshackle business career, has exposed his flaws and failures to the world and, more importantly, to the people he will brush up against for the rest of his life. To them he is now officially a joke. I suspect he knows this. And if his thin skin on minor matters is any indication, he will be lashing out with even more vitriol. He is a mad jumble of a man, with a slapdash of a campaign and talking points dredged from the dark corners at the bottom of the Internet. I don’t think he will get to the White House, but just the fact that his carny act has gotten so far along the road will leave the path with a permanent orange stain. Trump, more than even the most craven politicians or entertainers, is a bottomless reservoir of need and desire for attention. He lives off crowd approval. And at a certain point that will dim, as it always does to people like him, and the cameras will turn to some other American novelty. When that attention wanes, he will be left with his press clippings, his dyed hair, his fake tan, and those tiny, tiny fingers.
A propos my observation last week that academic law has more conservatives and libertarians than academic philosophy, along comes this study, which doesn't cover philosophy (but one can infer the likely result):
We investigate the voter registration of faculty at 40 leading U.S. universities in the fields of Economics, History, Journalism/Communications, Law, and Psychology. We looked up 7,243 professors and found 3,623 to be registered Democratic and 314 Republican, for an overall D:R ratio of 11.5:1. The D:R ratios for the five fields were: Economics 4.5:1, History 33.5:1, Journalism/Communications 20.0:1, Law 8.6:1, and Psychology 17.4:1. The results indicate that D:R ratios have increased since 2004, and the age profile suggests that in the future they will be even higher. We provide a breakdown by department at each university. The data support the established finding that D:R ratios are highest at the apex of disciplinary pyramids, that is, at the most prestigious departments.
These results are not surprising, given that the Republican Party is now nothing more than a FOX-created freak show. But the variation by field is telling: economists have many more Republicans because they are in the grips of a theoretically coherent but false world view about markets and regulation that make support of Republicans instrumentally rational against that background worldview (academic law is parasitic on this). "Journalism/communication" is not a Wissenschaft, so put that to one side. Most parts of current academic psychology mimic and sometimes live up to wissenschaftlich standards, but nothing about the field's self-conception as a scientific discipline would lead anyone to think Republicans are anything other than a fringe party. My guess would be that academic philosophy is closer to Psychology than Law, but if anyone looks at the facts about party registration let me know. Unnoted in studies like this is that the Republican Party in the U.S. is now a radical outlier, a "freak show" as I've put it. The old Republican Party now occupies the Democratic Party, which still also has its liberal, FDR wing. The current official Republican Party is, as Donald Trump has made finally clear, a deranged amalgamation of the pathologies of capitalism in America in the early 21st-century.
This may be significant, since USA Today, America's news-lite national paper, has never before endorsed or dis-endorsed any candidate for the Presidency. That, together with their ordinary right-leaning "even-handedness," gives them credibility with an ill-informed segment of the electorate who might have entertained voting for Trump. Trump is clearly "unfit" for the Presidency; he's "unfit" for any actual job, but it will suffice if he is deflected from the Presidency.
Obviously, it is embarrassing that educated people would vote for Trump, but it isn't that hard to explain. Dan Bonevac and Rob Koons--my former colleagues at Texas (with whom I had a very enjoyable reading group back in the 1990s)--are both conservative Christians, though of different denominations. Trump's invisible running mate, Mike Pence, the former Indiana Governor, is a very conservative Christian, and many people suspect that given that Trump is a narcissist with a short attention span, that his VP would really govern. I am hardly surprised my former colleagues are supporting Trump under those circumstances.
USC's Scott Soames, whom I do not know except through his work, is a more puzzling case, though I had long heard that he was on the political right (now that is confirmed!). My guess is that his "reasons" are not unlike the reasons proferred by the handful of right-wing law professors supporting Trump, like Stephen Presser (emeritus, Northwestern) and Ronald Rotunda (Chapman). This is perhaps worth emphasizing: there are a lot of conservative and libertarian law professors (whereas there are few philosophy professors, proportionally, in those camps). Most are not supporting Trump: some are voting for Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate; most seem to be sitting out the election; and another large group are voting for Clinton, for a simple reason, that reflects their legal knowledge: domestically, the President operates under various constraints, but in terms of foreign policy, there are almost no meaningful limits to what the President can do. Entrusting that power to a psychologically unbalanced narcissist isn't a good bet, obviously.
This is worth emphasizing: the Trump nightmare won't end with the election. Even if (as I still expect) Clinton wins, we know (he's told us) that Trump won't be a graceful loser, since he's psychologically incapable of that. The threat to the constitutional and democratic order will continue, as Trump hurls reckless accusatiosn of voter fraud and a stolen election, accusations that will be repeated by the increasingly openly fascist mass media--Fox on TV, Breitbart on-line--that threaten civilization. Like any broken clock, or psychopath, Trump is occasionally right, and one thing he may be right about is that our speech laws permit too much falsehoods (he is wrong about what is false, obviously, which is also telling). Until we can shut down Fox and Breitbart and Drudge, we are all in danger, not only in America, but in the world, since this benighted country continues to be the greatest threat to human well-being on the planet. I have no faith, alas, that this country is capable of closing down only the sociopathic morons, so the libertarian legal regime that sanctions 24-hour lies and stupidity may mark the future for this dying empire.
...for leadership of the most dangerous country on earth, you'll want to watch some of the debates. It turns out they don't matter very much, but the odds that Dopey Donald Chump can control himself are low, so hopefully they will generate lots of negative headlines, which will help the Democrats.
I want to argue that this situation demonstrates an absolute fissure in contemporary progressive politics, that there is a direct and unambiguous conflict between our efforts to address mass incarceration and the insistence that people accused of crimes such as sexual assault should be presumed to be guilty and that those who are guilty are permanently and existentially unclean. I want to argue that there’s nothing particularly hidden about this conflict, that acknowledging it is as simple as noting the direct contradiction of two progressive attitudes: the belief that certain crimes, particularly sex crimes and domestic violence, should be treated not only with harsh criminal punishments but with permanent moral judgment for those guilty of them; and the idea that we need to dismantle our vast criminal justice industrial complex, to oppose the carceral state, and to replace them with a new system of restoration and forgiveness. I further want to argue that progressives are not doing any of the moral and legal reasoning necessary to resolve these tensions, and that if we don’t, eventually they’ll explode....
[I]f an acquittal is insufficient to prove Parker’s innocence, what would such proof look like? Is exoneration even possible? And what do we do with people who are accused of crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence when their cases never go to trial? The current progressive impulse seems to be to simply treat them as guilty regardless, and permanently. Yet this strikes me as unambiguously contrary to the spirit and philosophy that contribute to our drive for criminal justice reform. How can we make such reform possible if we condemn huge groups of people to the status of guilty despite never being found guilty of any crime? And if such crimes carry existential and disqualifying moral judgment for life even for those only accused, how can we bring those imprisoned and released back into normal adult life?
People swing wildly from talking about criminal justice reform to insisting that everyone accused of entire classes of crimes, let alone convicted, are necessarily condemned to a lifetime of guilt. These impulses are not compatible. I strongly believe that we can balance the need to give sexual assault victims far more support and understanding than we traditionally have, and to begin to fix our society’s ugly failure to protect women from sexual assault, while still fighting mass imprisonment and the carceral state. But it will take hard work to get there, and the issue does not seem to even been on the radar for most people.
Clinton leading Trump by huge margins in North Carolina and in Colorado? The margins in Florida and Virginia are also dramatic. Trump is in freefall, and we can be sure, given his psychological disturbance and stupidity, that he is the gift that will keep on giving. That's important because, as Achen and Bartels discuss in Democracy for Realists, events in the three months before an election have a hugely disproportionate impact on voter behavior.
People are playing with fire here, and there is no bigger flamethrower than Donald Trump. Forget politics; he is a disgusting human being. His children should be ashamed of him. I only pray that he is not simply defeated, but that he loses all 50 states so that the message goes out across the land — unambiguously, loud and clear: The likes of you should never come this way again.
And what about the children, who are unabashed supporters and enablers? Why would anyone do business with them after this nightmare Presidential campaign?
A propos this item, reader Mike G. calls my attention to the fact that a California congresswoman has called for Trump to undergo a psychiatric evaluation given that he displays all the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I was speaking the other day with a psychologist who also thought that Trump was a "textbook" case for this diagnosis, more so he thought than Anti-Social Personality Disorder (though the two are related). Pathological lying is a feature of both, as is lack of empathy and exploitation of others; the key difference, this psychologist thought, is that "sociopaths" tend to lay low, so as not to attract extra attention to their manipulation and exploitation of people, and that obviously isn't Trump.
Some readers suggested a DSM personality disorder could not be at issue since it requires some kind of impaired functioning, and Trump is, as one reader put it, a "success." Here, I think, even readers unsympathetic to Trump have been fooled by his endless self-promotion: he is not a success, and his functioning is seriously impaired, a fact obscured by the team of lawyers that protect him from what would be the normal consequences of his dysfunctionality. Remember (I reviewed some of the facts here): this is a guy who came into a huge real estate fortune ($250 to $400 million dollars) in the mid-1970s in New York (way before the huge run-up in New York real estate prices), and has managed to underperform the stock market and other investors for forty years. He's not one of the major players in New York real estate, in part because the actual major players view him as unhinged and unreliable and steer clear of him. He's managed to wrack up 3500 lawsuits over the course of his business career, as well as many failed business ventures. Daddy's money plus the general run-up in New York real estate prices, and the team of lawyers, plus the unbelievable knack for self-promotion, obscure all this.
DSM is a highly problematic tool, of course, and whether his disordered personality should be deemed a "mental illness" is debatable. But what DSM is pretty good at is picking out behavioral patterns, and it certainly seems to pick out his: if someone does not think Trump's way of behaving is "disordered" that's their prerogative! But I think "personality disorder" is a rather good description of the distinctive behavioral pattern he exemplifies. And I'm glad to see it's gaining more public attention. (For the poll watchers, by the way, Trump's national polling numbers have collapsed in the last week--even the Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports shows Clinton ahead by 4 points, and other polls show her leading by up to 10 points nationwide.)
UPDATE: Turns out The Onion, as usual, was on to this awhile back. (Thanks to James O'Connor for the pointer.)
I was a lawyer in New York in the late 1980s, and everyone then knew Trump was a bombastic and slightly unhinged character, though one constrained by lawyers on the other side. It would not have been controversial then to worry that he was a narcissistic sociopath, because his mental illness was circumscribed by countervailing forces. That was then. Now he's the nominee of the Republican Party. Why isn't the press seriously investigating the question that Michael Bloomberg, raised at the democratic convention last week, i.e., whether Trump is sane? Bloomberg is another ideologically deluded billionaire, to be sure, but those are a dime-a-dozen; but he's clearly not in the grips of a DSM-defined disorder, and he's known Trump for a long time, so knows what New Yorkers, especially rich ones know: this guy is seriously "off." Some prominent opinion pieces have raised the issue, but where are the systematic media inquiries? He released a report from his personal doctor, why not from a psychiatrist? Will some journalist ask him whether he has even been diagnosed with or treated for a DSM-recognized mental illness?
MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY: THANKS TO THOSE WHO HAVE SIGNED, THEY ARE SLOW TO UPDATE THE SITE, BUT I ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO SIGN AS WELL!
A philosophy graduate student (who did not want to be named, for reasons that will become obvious) calls my attention to this petition which I encourage all faculty to sign: it protests the creation of a blacklist of students deemed anti-Israel by an organization called "Canary Mission." The aim is to harm their professional and educational prospects. I do wish so many American defenders of Israel weren't disgusting fascists.
Among those awaiting the speakers was Jim Magill, a retired chief master sergeant in the Air Force. A Republican, he said he supported Mrs. Clinton and did not believe Mr. Trump’s promises to veterans.
He was appalled, he said, about the Republican nominee’s criticism of the Khans.
“It was deplorable somebody would say anything like that about a veteran who died for his country to his parents,” Mr. Magill said. “He should have been slapped.”
There are 10.7 million more eligible voters today than there were in 2012. More than two-thirds of net growth in the U.S. electorate during this time has come from racial and ethnic minorities. Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other minorities had a net increase of 7.5 million eligible voters, compared with a net increase of 3.2 million among non-Hispanic white eligible voters.
The growth among non-Hispanic white eligible voters has been slower than among racial or ethnic minorities in large part because they are overrepresented in deaths due to an aging population. Non-Hispanic whites make up 69% of U.S. eligible voters, but accounted for 76% of all eligible voters who died (6.6 million of 8.7 million) between 2012 and 2016.
If, as Achen & Bartels argue in Democracy for Realists, social and group identity drives much of voting behavior, then this bodes ill for DDC.
From Gingrich to Trump. The only future for America is one in which what remains of that Party is vanquished for good, and then the Democratic party can divide into its two factions, the 1970s Republican faction led by Clinton, and the liberal faction led, for now, by Sanders.
Obsessing over last week's or this week's polls is irresistible, but they are pure noise (see here). This essay in the NYRB makes for timely reading (I've been reading the Achen & Bartels book, on recommendation of Jason Brennan, and it is instructive on a number of points). 10% of the electorate might actually be undecided; everyone else will largely vote their tribalist loyalties. Events in the world, or what the candidates say and do, are not wholly irrelevant, but apparently fairly close to being so. Here's two things that might matter:
1. An economic collapse of 2008 proportions in the next couple of months--that would favor Trump, not because he'd have a rational response to it, but because the Democrats would be blamed (also irrationally).
2. A catastrophic terrorist attack (e.g., a 9/11-scale event in the US) or catastrophic military event (e.g., Israel bombs Iran, Russia invades Urkaine). This might favor Trump as well. (Assuming ISIS favors Trump, which they presumably do [assuming they are somewhat instrumentally rational], then that probably raises the risk of a domestic terrorist incident in the coming months.)
I realize all of these are pretty dramatic scenarios. But read the NYRB essay. Clinton's pick of Kaine is explained pretty easily by the thought that there's only 10%, if that, of the electorate up for grabs. And barring one of the preceding extreme scenarios, it's still a very good bet Clinton will win, and win by the margin she's been leading for most of the last eight months, namely about 4% or so. If 1 or 2 occur, or something else comparable, then all bets are off. Anyone have contrary evidence? Informed criticism, with links preferably, of Achen & Bartels would also be welcome.
Here. Dreger is an historian of science, who has herself been the victim of the thought police because she has discussed, sympathetically, disfavored views about transgender people. Her main theme is that threats to academic freedom in universities come from three sources: the "left" (as she calls the "identity politics left," which, of course, isn't the left, since for the actual left, only one identity counts, the human), the right (I.e., reactionary state legislatures that want to censor research and teaching), and corporate sponsorship (which wants universities to adhere to the "brand").
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)