A striking account of the standoff at the airport. This may be defiance of a court order and it also may be brute incompetence. Either way, the federal judge will not be happy, so this will pay watching. And the fact that a U.S. Senator intervened is remarkable.
Comments are open for more information and links about what's going on.
(Thanks to Ashwini Vasanthakumar for the pointer.)
I hope other universities will follow suit. The biggest obstacle to the fascist proclivities of Trump & Co. will be local and state refusals to comply; the country is too vast, with too many centers of political power, for the gangsters in Washington to succeed without voluntary cooperation from localities and states.
I would urge all U.S. faculty to sign this statement, which was drafted when President [sic] Trump was only proposing a 30-day suspension of visas from certain Muslim countries, as opposed to the actual 90-day suspension he enacted. Mousa Mohammadian, a PhD student in HPS at the University of Notre Dame, who called this to my attention, also shared some examples of the immediate harm and disruption this is causing:
What is happening is truly terrible. A friend of mine, a sociology PhD student at the University of Chicago, is doing her dissertation’s field work in Iran now. She had plan to come back in March and teach her own course but now she cannot. Another friend of mine, a PhD student at CUNY had a flight from UAE to the US some hours after Trump issuing the order. Officials in Abu Dhabi International Airport didn’t let her to take the flight. She is going to miss her second semester, if not the whole opportunity of studying here.
The New York Timesarticle on this calls attention to a philosophy student affected by this malicious stupidity:
Shadi Heidarifar, a philosophy student recently admitted to New York University, said in a message on Twitter that she had spent three years applying to universities in the United States.
“I had to work to save money, gather documents. The application fees were so expensive that a whole family could live for a month” on them, Ms. Heidarifar wrote. When she was accepted recently, she was elated. “But now my entire future is destroyed in one second.”
Per the instructions:
to sign, email your name, [major distinctions], title, affiliation to: firstname.lastname@example.org
By "major distinctions," they clearly mean only things like, "Member, American Academy of Arts & Sciences," or "Nobel Laureate [Physics]." See many of the first names on the statement. (You'll notice that many of the leading representatives of the right-wing Chicago School of Economics have signed this statement, which I was pleased to see.)
Just to add one more immediate consequence of the executive order, students and scholars with the wrong nationality who are studying or working in universities outside the US can no longer attend US conferences. For instance, an Iranian student of mine cannot go to the Central or the Pacific APA meetings as they are within the 90 day period. Needless to say this is not just a loss for the philosophers with the targeted nationalities (though, of course, they are the ones who suffer the most), but to all APA members who’ll no longer be able to interact with these scholars in our conferences.
The even bigger question is what happens after 90 days. My bet is that they settle on vetting procedures that are so onerous and unpleasant as to effectively discourage people from those countries, at least those who have a choice, from even trying to enter.
At least he didn't refer to the media as the Lügenpresse (that must have required some self-restraint). Bannon seems to have forgotten that Trump won because of 100,000 unexpected votes in three states, and that 55% of the electorate didn't vote for his man. (For those who missed it, here's some insight into this weird, stupid man, Stephen Bannon.)
MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY: GAO is sending out the following in response to e-mails:
Thank you for your message. If it concerns the request that the Government Accountability Office received from Senator Warren and Congressman Cummings regarding the presidential transition, GAO has already accepted this request in accordance with our established procedures for working with the Congress. We will conduct the work in the same non-partisan, fact-based approach we take with all Congressional requests.
(Thanks to David Ozonoff for passing this on.)
This is circulating on Facebook, and I thought I'd share it here to reach others:
If you want to support Senator Warren's request to audit President Trump's finances for conflicts of interest, the Government Accountability Office says that the most effective way to be sure your support counts is to email two administrators, Katherine Siggerud and Timothy Minnelli, as well as a third email address through which they're tracking people who are urging support for the audit. You can send ONE email addressed to:
Subject line: Re: Audit for President Trump's financial concerns
Dear Ms. Siggerud and Mr. Minnelli,
I’m writing in support of Senator Elizabeth Warren's request for an audit of President Trump's finances, to ensure that no conflicts of interest exist that would prevent him from carrying out the responsibilities of the office without corrupt influence.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Reader Michael Swanson calls my attention to this, which suggests that e-mailing the GAO may not be that purposeful. It won't be counter-productive, obviously.
Here's an economist's theory: basically, a kind of loyalty-testing (will you fall on your knife for me?). This fits, of course, what I said long ago about his Mafia mindset. Anyway, this is a plausible hypothesis, and it does seem to cry out for some kind of explanation, since it is so bizarre!
I've noticed The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN all refer to false statements by President [sic] Trump as simply "false": no hedging, none of the "Trump says, but others say," they just declare, correctly and flat out, that what Trump (or sometimes Spicer, his increasingly pathetic spokesperson) have sometimes said is "false." I imagine other outlets are doing this, given the influence of the Times in particular. This is a significant change in practice--even during the campaign, media outlets often hedged. But no more: when the man lies, as he does constantly, the media are reporting that his statements are false.
At the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, filmmaker Michael Moore made a good, concrete suggestion about regularly calling your Senators and Representative regarding Trump mischief. As a start, he proposes targeting Senators to oppose the awful Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary (see his post for the phone number and other info). There's some good reasons for opposing DeVos here, and it also includes direct phone numbers of Senators on the relevant committee; I've copied and pasted those below, for your convenience. If you live in Alaska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Georgia, Maine, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, or Wyoming, it's particulary important to call, so that your Republican Senator knows that you are unhappy with Ms. DeVos. (Democratic Senators should hear from constituents too, so they know not to roll over.) I suggest you keep the message short and simple: "President Trump's nominee has a long record of hostility to public education. Public education has served me and my family well, I want an Education Secretary who supports it wholeheartedly. I expect my Senator to oppose this unqualified nominee."
Below is the list of all Senators on the Senate HELP Committee, who heard testimony from Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos. The first 12 are the Republicans, the rest (from Sen. Murray onward) are Democrats.
If the suit goes forward--at this point, I have no informed opinion to offer--it may present the first direct conflict between Trump and the courts, especially if the court orders that he produce his tax returns. I'll be watching this one!
So the good news is that he's been President [sic] for 24 hours, and hasn't killed us all, so that's hopeful. Anyway, following up on yesterday, here are a couple of other reactions from philosophers to that comically bad and delusional inauguration speech. ("Carnage"? What is this crazy man talking about?)
Ken Taylor (Stanford) posted the following very funny comment on Facebook, and kindly gave permission to repost here:
What Trump really meant to say when he said that for the first time the American People have taken power is something more like, "With the aid of the electoral college, Russian tampering, and FBI malfeasance, the minority of American people who up until now have deluded themselves that I'm not really the crazy narcissistic fuck that I appear to most Americans to be have for the first time taken power." Now that's unfortunately true.
An untenured philosopher wrote: "‘Thus spake Herr Trump’ indeed. But I thought Donnie Darko’s speech needed a little more oompah loompah, so I’ve set its sentiments to the tune of ‘Der morgige Tag ist mein’, inspired by this Spitting Image episode (very striking similarities to our present predicament) (the episode is itself a parody of this scene from Cabaret (1972)):
Many philosophers contributing, including Gerald Gaus, Sharon Lloyd, Nicole Hassoun, Matthew Lister, Torbjör Tännsjö , and Simon Keller, among many others. I've only looked at a couple of the many essays; Gaus's was, I thought, interesting in particular.
...which it's not impossible Trump will adopt, which would be hugely salutary and maybe the only salutary thing he might accomplish. (My main disagreement with Mearsheimer is that "liberal hegemony" is mostly ideological cover for the traditional ambitions of imperial powers.)
What may be in store. Of the two conservative thinktanks in Washington, American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, only AEI has ever been concerned with adult policy analysis; Heritage is just a front for reactionary hacks. And the budget plan allegedly comes from Heritage.
Yup. Norm Ornstein at AEI has been good on this subject for a long time too. It began with Reagan, but jumped the tracks totally in the early 1990s with Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, then Drudge etc. It's an interesting question why the capitalist ruling class in America has proved so irrational and imprudent, so much so that "conservative" parties in other democracies would largely be moderate Democrats in the U.S.
Trump critics note with alarm that an American president does not need the approval of Congress, his cabinet or any other entity to order the use of nuclear weapons—although in theory, his defense secretary could refuse to transmit a launch order down the military chain of command.
Gen. Mattis will be the Secretary of Defense. It is widely reported that near the end of Richard Nixon's Presidency, when he was drinking heavily and depressed, the Defense Secretary James Schlesinger instructed the military not to act on any orders by the President to launch nuclear weapons without first clearing it with him.
This is a welcome development. Trump's lawyers will argue that this is a matter of "public interest," so the standard for a defamation action to proceed is that Trump spoke with "actual malice," i.e., without any regard for the truth of what he said. Of course, this is tricky, because if he would know whether the allegations she made were true, and if they are true and he still called her a liar, then it certainly looks like actual malice! (A court might also simply treat the plaintiff as an ordinary citizen, so it will simply suffice if the statement that she is a "liar" is false--but in this context, for the reason noted, this may no matter.)
UPDATE: Some more details, including the complaint, here. An ironic sidenote: Trump apologist and spokesperson Kellyanne Conway is married to the lawyer (George Conway) who briefed the Supreme Court case that held that a sitting President (in that case Bill Clinton) could be a defendant in a civil suit. Mr. Conway is mentioned as a possible candidate for Trump's Solicitor General!
The Lincoln Center campus denies approval for students who wanted to start a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. The Center for Constitutional Rights' letter to the Fordham admin sets out what happened and why it is unlawful. This is all-too-typical of the brazen hypocrisy about free speech on American campuses when it comes to Israel. Shame on Fordham. I hope their President will reverse this decision promptly.
...but since "conservative" doesn't mean conservative anymore, but something more like "bonkers reactionary religious fanatic with little grip on reality" these days, this is a horrifying statistic. Gallup's analysis of its own poll results is naïve: it fails to take account of the fact that the extension of the terms "conservative" and "liberal" have changed over the last quarter-century, as the overall political discourse has moved to the right on every topic except a handful of social issues (notably, LGBT rights).
In five days, a new President of the U.S. will be inaugurated. Although it would be unprecedented for someone other than the winner of the electoral college to be inaugurated on Friday, this has been a year of unprecedented happenings, so perhaps, given the wide reach of this blog, you, dear readers, can influence the nation's direction. Rank order these 30 individuals from most to least qualified to serve as President of the U.S. Let's see how the President-elect fares in a real competition!
...call them to voice support for the Affordable Care Act (see this useful NYT piece). It's clear that a good number of Republican Senators are getting cold feet about the disaster they're about to unleash if they cut the funding for the ACA (which they can do with a bare majority) but leave the regulations in place (e.g., the prohibition on denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions). Phone calls have much more impact than any other form of communication with these ding-dongs!
What you're calling "elitism" is just simply not being ignorant. We don't have our heads shoved up Jesus's ass. And when the left gets angry because of how fucking dumb some of the shit coming out of rural and red mouths is, we're told we need to understand what they believe. No, we're just gonna say that stupid is stupid.
The percentage of workers engaged in alternative work arrangements – defined as temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, and independent contractors or freelancers – rose from 10.1 percent [of all employed workers] in February 2005 to 15.8 percent in late 2015.
That is a huge jump, especially since the percentage of workers with alternative work arrangements barely budged over the period February 1995 to February 2005; it was only 9.3 in 1995.
But their most startling finding is the following:
A striking implication of these estimates is that all of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements. Total employment according to the CPS increased by 9.1 million (6.5 percent) over the decade, from 140.4 million in February 2005 to 149.4 in November 2015. The increase in the share of workers in alternative work arrangements from 10.1 percent in 2005 to 15.8 percent in 2015 implies that the number of workers employed in alternative arrangement increased by 9.4 million (66.5 percent), from 14.2 million in February 2005 to 23.6 million in November 2015. Thus, these figures imply that employment in traditional jobs (standard employment arrangements) slightly declined by 0.4 million (0.3 percent) from 126.2 million in February 2005 to 125.8 million in November 2015.
Take a moment to let that sink in—and think about what that tells us about the operation of the US economy and the future for working people. Employment in so-called traditional jobs is actually shrinking. The only types of jobs that have been growing in net terms are ones in which workers have little or no security and minimal social benefits....
There is a clear age gradient that has grown stronger, with older workers more likely to have nonstandard employment than younger workers. In 2015, 6.4 percent of those aged 16 to 24 were employed in an alternative work arrangement, while 14.3 percent of those aged 25-54 and 23.9 percent of those aged 55-74 had nonstandard work arrangements.
The percentage of women with nonstandard work arrangements grew dramatically from 2005 to 2015, from 8.3 percent to 17 percent. Women are now more likely to be employed under these conditions than men.
Workers in all educational levels experienced a jump in nonstandard work, with the increase greatest for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. “Occupational groups experiencing particularly large increases in the nonstandard work from 2005 to 2015 include computer and mathematical, community and social services, education, health care, legal, protective services, personal care, and transportation jobs.”
The authors also tested to determine “whether alternative work is growing in higher or lower wage sectors of the labor market.” They found that “workers with attributes and jobs that are associated with higher wages are more likely to have their services contracted out than are those with attributes and jobs that are associated with lower wages. Indeed, the lowest predicted quintile-wage group did not experience a rise in contract work.”
The take-away is pretty clear. Corporate profits and income inequality have grown in large part because US firms have successfully taken advantage of the weak state of unions and labor organizing more generally, to transform work relations. Increasingly workers, regardless of their educational level, find themselves forced to take jobs with few if any benefits and no long-term or ongoing relationship with their employer. Only a rejuvenated labor movement, one able to build strong democratic unions and press for radically new economic policies will be able to reverse existing trends.
There is no sign that 2017 will be much different from 2016.
Under Israeli occupation for decades, Gaza will still be the biggest open prison on Earth..
In the United States, the killing of black people at the hands of the police will proceed unabated and hundreds of thousands more will join those already housed in the prison-industrial complex that came on the heels of plantation slavery and Jim Crow laws.
Europe will continue its slow descent into liberal authoritarianism or what cultural theorist Stuart Hall called authoritarian populism. Despite complex agreements reached at international forums, the ecological destruction of the Earth will continue and the war on terror will increasingly morph into a war of extermination between various forms of nihilism.
Inequalities will keep growing worldwide. But far from fuelling a renewed cycle of class struggles, social conflicts will increasingly take the form of racism, ultra nationalism, sexism, ethnic and religious rivalries, xenophobia, homophobia and other deadly passions.
The denigration of virtues such as care, compassion and kindness will go hand in hand with the belief, especially among the poor, that winning is all that matters and who wins — by whatever means necessary — is ultimately right.
With the triumph of this neo-Darwinian approach to history-making, apartheid under various guises will be restored as the new old norm. Its restoration will pave the way to new separatist impulses, the erection of more walls, the militarisation of more borders, deadly forms of policing, more asymmetrical wars, splitting alliances and countless internal divisions including in established democracies.
None of the above is accidental. If anything, it is a symptom of structural shifts, which will become ever more apparent as the new century unfolds. The world as we knew it since the end of World War II, the long years of decolonisation, the Cold War and the defeat of communism has ended.
Another long and deadlier game has started. The main clash of the first half of the 21st century will not oppose religions or civilisations. It will oppose liberal democracy and neoliberal capitalism, the rule of finance and the rule of the people, humanism and nihilism.
If there's anything wrong with this diagnosis is that it understates the role of capitalist logic in everything that came before too. And from the conclusion:
Neoliberal capitalism has left in its wake a multitude of destroyed subjects, many of whom are deeply convinced that their immediate future will be one of continuous exposure to violence and existential threat.
They genuinely long for a return to some sense of certainty, the sacred, hierarchy, religion and tradition. They believe that nations have become akin to swamps that need to be drained and the world as it is should be brought to an end. For this to happen, everything should be cleansed off. They are convinced that they can only be saved in a violent struggle to restore their masculinity, the loss of which they attribute to the weaker among them, the weak they do not want to become.
In this context, the most successful political entrepreneurs will be those who convincingly speak to the losers, to the destroyed men and women of globalisation and to their ruined identities.
In the street fight politics will become, reason will not matter. Nor will facts. Politics will revert into brutal survivalism in an ultracompetitive environment.
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)