As we all know, there is an organized network of right-wing websites, sometimes with help from Fox News, that are devoted to exposing faculty who think verboten thoughts and launching cyber-jihads against those faculty by their brain-dead readers and followers. Now the AAUP weighs in.
This will not have much impact on the ignoramus-in-chief, but I have no doubt that colleagues at UNAM and elsewhere in Mexico will appreciate a public repudiation by American philosophers of Trump's stupidity towards Mexico. (To sign, you have to scroll down from the letter to get to the signature place.)
(Thanks to Pau Luque for calling this to my attention.)
...out of concern about protests. Good work Milwaukee protesters! If he remains "radioactive" (as my friend Scott Shapiro put it), he will be damaged, and the more damaged he is, the sooner he will be impeached.
...does not greatly concern me, at least at this stage. It sounds like the point will be to deregulate, to make it easier for for-profit institutions to operate and religious institutions to discriminate. Both are bad, but not nearly as bad as everything else going on! But we'll see whether the taskforce's mission changes.
Judge Gorsuch, nominated by President [sic] Trump for the U.S. Supreme Court, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former Supreme Court clerk himself. Judge Garland, nominated last year by President Obama for the Supreme Court, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former Supreme Court clerk himself. Both are currently sitting federal courts of appeal judges. The Republicans, it will be recalled, refused to even consider Judge Garland; they are now demanding, of course, prompt consideration of Judge Gorsuch. What's going on? This is what's going on.
Useful chart. Note that in addition to the 48 Democratic Senators, 10 Republican Senators have come out squarely against it (a half-dozen Republican Senators support it, most are just quiet). It remains to be seen how things shape up in the House.
A useful take on Bannon & Trump's executive order regarding refugrees and visas. I vote for more incompetence, since we're guaranteed the malevolent intentions.
Note that the author of this anlaysis is a pretty reliable apologist usually for so-called "counterterrorism" efforts. Note this from his assessment of this executive order:
[I]n the rational pursuit of security objectives, you don’t marginalize your expert security agencies and fail to vet your ideas through a normal interagency process. You don’t target the wrong people in nutty ways when you’re rationally pursuing real security objectives.
When do you do these things? You do these things when you’re elevating the symbolic politics of bashing Islam over any actual security interest. You do them when you’ve made a deliberate decision to burden human lives to make a public point. In other words, this is not a document that will cause hardship and misery because of regrettable incidental impacts on people injured in the pursuit of a public good. It will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do.
Here Eliot Cohen, formerly of the George W. Bush Administration, and a longstanding Trump skeptic:
Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better.
There are enough flippable Republican Senators to join Demomcratcs in convicting Trump of impeachable offenses, but first the House has to impeach, and that will require something Paul Ryan doesn't obviously have: a spine. But it's early days, and even Ryan & co. may see the merits of ousting the delusional narcissist.
UPDATE: A propos Ryan, this is funny. (Thanks to Roger Albin for the pointer.)
...and suggests removal may constitute a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. According to the colleague from whom I got this, this is the first mention of the Establishment Clause being implicated in the Muslim ban.
IHE collects them here. Some are a bit tepid, others foreceful. Note the critical comments by the President of Purdue, Mitch Daniels, the former Republican Governor of Indiana. If President [sic] Bannon and his lapdog Trump can continue to alienate Republicans like Mitch Daniels, impeachment may come sooner rather than later.
I would not endorse all of this, but follow some of the links as well. The one thing which is plainly the case is that Trump and his "inner circle" call the real shots, and he wants to keep it that way: that's the Mafia way, after all.
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).
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)