Well, this isn't really about "conservatives," it's about those who are called "conservatives" in the United States, who are more correctly described as "reactionaries," the kind of people the Republicans used to try to ignore until Reagan let them out of the basement. They're the people who have been keeping the Republican Presidential Primary rolling on for months as one crazy after another gives the imprudent plutocrat of choice, Mitt Romney, a challenge for the nomination. In any case, it turns out that even the "educated" ones now no longer accept scientific findings. No surprise, really.
The battle between the various wackos and frauds for the Republican Presidential nomination has been sustained entirely by billionaires now unconstrained by campaign finance laws. And that same influx of money threatens to take over the general election as well now. Maybe we should just skip the electoral charade, and let the billionaires gather and vote? Some of them are at least socially liberal and tolerant.
So let’s recap the state of mental health in establishment Democratic circles: the President who claims (and exercises) the power to target American citizens for execution-by-CIA in total secrecy and with no charges — as well as those who dutifully follow him — are sane, sober and Serious, meriting great respect. By contrast, one of the very few members of Congress who stands up and vehemently objects to this most radical power — “The idea that the United States has the ability to summarily execute a US citizen ought to send chills racing up and down the spines of every person of conscience” — is a total wackjob, meriting patronizing mockery.
I imagine he is unknown to most readers outside the U.S., but within the borders of this benighted country he was one of the better-known organizers of the Right-Wing Blob, who helped debase the public culture and organize the harassment of many decent people.
UPDATE: Bryan Van Norden, a leading expert on Chinese philosophy at Vassar College, writes:
Thanks for the pointer in your blog to Eric Li's editorial in the NY Times. Li's view is an extremely common one in China, and not just among government apologists. My guess (based partially on anecdotal evidence to be sure) is that most Chinese intellectuals think that an adversarial democratic system is not a model they want to follow. I'm not saying that they are right, but most Chinese are not as unhappy with their basic government system as we in the US think they ought to be.
ADDENDUM: Professor Van Norden adds: "Daniel A. Bell's China's New Confucianism is a helpful discussion of some of the figures and issues in recent Chinese political philosophy. His lead essay includes the following quotation: "It is not just the government that balks at the prospect of turning over the levers of the Chinese state to eight hundred million rural residents with primary school education. Few academics teaching in mainland Chinese universities -- including those who call themselves 'liberals' -- favor countrywide democracy within the next decade or so (and discussions are completely free in the context of alcohol-feuled dinners with friends)." Bell is here discussing the practical limitations of democracy in China, but elsewhere in the chapter (and the rest of the book) he examines leading thinkers who advocate, at most, local democracy as a political ideal.
...from Barack W. Bush. More here. The only hopeful thing to say is that there are almost certainly six votes on the U.S. Supreme Court to hold this legislation unconstitutional: Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Kennedy, Scalia, Sotomayor; even Roberts may balk at this one. Alito is hard to predict, though I'm not optimistic. And Thomas has indicated in the past his Schmittian deference to the power of the state.)
UPDATE: A useful review of the statutory language here.
The video is here, and a letter to the Chancellor from a UC Davis faculty member is here. (The first paragraph of the letter is dispensable, but the rest is quite sound.) I only hope that the parents of some of the students terrorized needlessly by the police are lawyers or have access to lawyers.
(Thanks to the many different readers who sent me these links.)
UPDATE: UC Davis philosophers have sent the following apt letter to the Chancellor:
Dear Chancellor Katehi,
We are saddened and disappointed by the way that the University decided to handle the removal of the students' encampment on the Quad on Friday afternoon.
Until now we used to take pride in the way UC Davis was able to handle the students' protesting against the tuition hikes in what seemed to us an enlightened and non-confrontational manner, especially compared to other occurrences at Berkeley and elsewhere.
We do not question the University's right to remove the students' encampment (although there are reasons to question the wisdom of such a move). But we do object to the way UCPD decided to resort to what are unquestionably violent methods in order to deal with a peaceful, non-violent protest. Pepper-spraying students who were sitting on the ground and posed no direct or indirect threat to the police officers strikes us as a vastly overblown reaction.
Surely skilled and highly trained police officers could have come up with a better way to remove the students' encampment in the face of non-violent, passive student opposition?
It seems to us that the general principle the University should abide by is that violence is never an appropriate response to peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience. We hope you will agree with this assessment, and call on you as the highest officer of the University to see to it that such principle informs the actions of University officials at all times.
Aldo Antonelli, Lesley Byrns, David Copp, Gerald Dworkin, Joel Friedman, Cody Gilmore, James Griesemer, Elaine Landry, Robert May, Roberta Millstein, Bernard Molyneux, Marina Oshana, Adam Sennet, Jan Szaif, Paul Teller, Michael Wedin
This is very, very alarming. And contrary to the start of the linked article, Obama unfortunately has lots of reasons to be enthusiastic about military conflict with Iran, including the massive stimulus spending that wars always generate.
...that even the folks who really fund the Republican Party won't back her. I hope readers in civilized countries realize how bizarre this is. To be sure, France and Italy and Germany and England have their racists and crypto-fascists contending for office; but in the United States, we have candidates for the Presidency who are not qualified to do anything that affects more than their immediate household. And all that stands between humanity at large and these quasi-persons is the unwillingness of the plutocrats to actually back them. So, for example:
“This is the nail in the coffin in her campaign. Because you can be a cable television darling by saying provocative things, but you can’t be president of the United States.”
Not yet. "Anywhere out of this world," said Baudelaire.
UPDATE: Several readers sent this piece: Penn bioethicist Art Caplan's offer of $10,000 for evidence that the vaccine causes cognitive defects.
ANOTHER: Longtime reader Roger Albin, the Anne B. Young Collegiate Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, writes:
Caplan, unfortunately, shows himself to be almost as ignorant as Bachmann. All vaccines can cause autoimmune reactions that result in severe brain injuries. This is exceedingly rare and the benefits of this vaccine definitely outweigh the risks by a large margin but these unfortunate events happen. The story Bachmann related probably isn't true but it could be true and it's virtually inevitable that a complication like this will occur if enough people are vaccinated with Gardasil. How many - a million, ten million? Impossible to say. The Federal government runs a fund to compensate people for such injuries. Caplan has spent much of his career in academic medical centers and should know better. At a minimum, he should have asked someone really expert before offering this bet.
So I guess it turns out that crazy Bachmann is a deontologist, while everyone else is a utilitarian! Another nail in the deonological coffin?
Krugman's 9/11 blog post (noted briefly yesterday) didn't strike me as very good (his follow-up was better), for reasons well-described here (to which I would only add: it seems very unlikely that the exploiters of 9/11, let alone the nation as a whole, "knows" or recognizes the exploitation of the atrocity). It was, of course, predictable that Krugman's posting--which violated all the rules for commenting on 9/11 in right-wing America--would make the crazies even crazier. You can get a taste by following the links here. (And Twitter is awash with insightful remarks like this, which shrewdly identifies Krugman's real motivation: money!) Let's just call this reacting entity, "the Right-Wing Blob," since it emits its largely predictable messages through various physically distinct, but otherwise indistinguishable, persons.
The Right-Wing Blob, as you can see from the preceding links, is very, very angry--especially since Krugman did not permit comments on his post. This is a sign of his "cowardice" according to the Right-Wing Blob (an example). The other possibility doesn't occur to the Blob: every civilized person knows that if you write something offensive to the Blob, it responds hysterically and stupidly, and just as you wouldn't want the Blob pissing on your carpet at home, you don't want it pissing on your website. Who wants to hear from know-nothings, after all? That's not cowardice, just a wise allocation of time and energy.
The Right-Wing Blob specializes in two rhetorical moves: armchair psychology and condescension from below. It is not, alas, very good at the former (a shame, it is fun when done well), and tends to be rather repetitive (witness the "cowardice" meme, above); it is utterly tone-deaf to the irony of the latter. Thus, we have some non-entity right-wing pundit, "John Hayward," who emits the "coward" meme, and then issues a threat conjoined with some condescension from below:
You are now at a decision point, editors of the New York Times. If Paul Krugman still works for you on Monday morning, you endorse every damned word he said in this piece. You will be endorsing the cowardice of this drive-by slander artist, whose failure as a human being exceeds even his miserable failure as an “economist.”
Your choice, New York Times. Your move. Your honor, decency, and integrity. Your consequences.
This is weird on so many levels. Does Mr. Hayward, whoever he is, think the New York Times must respond to his emission? Could he be this delusional? It appears so. As to Krugman's human failure exceeding his "failure as an 'economist,'" this doesn't seem so bad, since his failure as an economist includes a Nobel Prize for economics, tenured positions at MIT and Princeton, and a column in The New York Times. Personally, I am skeptical that qua human being Krugman really exceeds this litany of "failure."
Because the last Texas Governor who became President worked out so well! But a serious comment: I lived in Texas when George W. Bush was Governor, and his rather benign and conventional Wall Street Republican performance there (cutting taxes, "tort reform," bankrupting the state) simply would not have predicted the world-historic monster and war criminal he became as President. Perry, by contrast, has been as reactionary and morally heinous as a Governor can possibly be: he is the Texas Taliban incarnate, and whereas Governor Bush was disliked by the Texas Taliban because he paid no mind to their issues, Perry is their creation. America, be very, very afraid.
The comic opera in Washington this summer, which disgusts the country and bewilders the world, may have no analogue in the annals of parliamentary democracy.
The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office may in fact bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.
Corporate power's ascendancy over politics and society - by now mostly financial - has reached the point that both political organizations, which at this stage barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.
For the public, the primary domestic concern is unemployment. Under current circumstances, that crisis can be overcome only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the recent one, which barely matched decline in state and local spending - though even that limited initiative probably saved millions of jobs.
For financial institutions the primary concern is the deficit. Therefore, only the deficit is under discussion. A large majority of the population favor addressing the deficit by taxing the very rich (72 percent, 27 percent opposed), reports a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69 percent Medicaid, 78 percent Medicare). The likely outcome is therefore the opposite....
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)