...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.
On Facebook, I've got, broadly speaking, three "kinds" of friends: academic lawyers, academic philosophers, and regular people (the latter category including some lawyers, relatives, neighbors etc.). The FB habits of these three groups are strikingly different.
Regular people use FB the way I thought it was supposed to be used (and the reason I joined): to post photos of kids and pets, recent vacations, occasionally a bit of personal or professional news. Academic philosophers do a little of that, and so do academic lawyers, but for most of them, that's only a small portion of their posting.
Academic philosophers increasingly treat FB like a blog, a forum for pontification about everything from real politics to academic politics. Until I realized I could "unfollow" people without "unfriending" them, I dumped a fair number of academic philosophers because their pontifications were so tiresome. My advice: get a blog! Anyone who wants to read me pontificating, can come here, but I don't impose it on my FB friends.
Academic lawyers do a fair bit of pontificating too, though not nearly as much as the academic philosophers, and theirs is almost always confined to real politics. The really revolting aspect of some academic philosopher behavior on FB is its "high school with tenure" quality: back-stabbing, preening and posturing, endless displays of righteousness and "pearl clutching", faux solidarity with all the oppressed and "wretched of the academy" (less often the actual wretched of the earth), and so on. An awful lot of academic philosophers on FB come across as teenagers desperately seeking approval and affirmation. I've managed to "unfriend" most of the offenders, but it was really a kind of depressing and sickening spectacle while it lasted.
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.
Now admittedly the reliability of these things isn't great, and in the Clinton v. Trump poll less than 90% of those polled expressed any preference, plus, of course, Trump is getting a bump from having locked up the Republican nomination, and Sanders hasn't been subjected to the kind of withering criticism that both Clinton and Trump have been. But still, Clinton really should step aside and let Sanders be the nominee: too much is at stake!
Story at IHE, with some particularly interesting remarks by philosopher Talbot Brewer (Virginia); an excerpt:
For Talbot Brewer, professor and chair of philosophy at the University of Virginia, the liberal arts need saving in part from the “black mirrors” so many of us are glued to each day. Cellular phones, computers and, especially for children, television, facilitate a kind of “reverse-Weberian,” late capitalistic assault on our collective attention, he said. The effect is that we no longer know how to interact with the meaningful, valuable media that take time and effort to understand— that is, the bulk of what makes up the liberal arts.
Calling attention a “vital resource,” Brewer described it as “the medium of passion, of friendship, of love. The sign of our presence to one another, both in intimate spaces and in public. The antidote to listlessness and heedlessness.”
It’s also the prerequisite “for any concerted activity, including the activities of reading, viewing, critical thinking, writing and intensive conversational exchange that are central” to the liberal arts, he said.
So amid the clamor of “manipulative messages when there suddenly appears something quite different, something called literature, or art or philosophy, it is not easy to open ourselves to this newcomer,” Brewer continued. “The attentional environment has not encouraged the traits required for properly appreciate engagement — the habit of devoted attention, and of patience and generosity in interpretation, the openness to finding camaraderie and illumination from others in the more treacherous passages of human life [and] the expressive conscience that insists upon finding exactly the right words for incipient thoughts.”
In short, almost half the students are majoring in economic, biology or math. But some of my colleagues think this is typical of national trends, with students gravitating towards majors that purportedly lead to jobs (or, I guess, business school or medical school--or law school, if you add in poli sci). But barely 4% History majors, even though Chicago has one of the best history departments in the country? If you look at the core humanities fields, they account for just 12% of undergraduate majors. Do readers know of other data on undergraduate majors from other schools?
The concept of "diversity" as a positive good is now a commonplace in academia and beyond. But where did this "idea" come from? My assumption has always been that it derives from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bakke, a case challenging affirmative action for African-Americans at the medical school at the University of Calfornia, Davis. In the key opinion, written by Justice Lewis Powell (a successful lawyer from the heart of the old South, Richmond, before Nixon appointed him to the Court), the Court rejected the many sensible rationales for affirmative action policies (and "quotas" in particular): e.g., compensatory justice, counteracting continuing discrimination (absent a record that had to meet a rather high evidentiary bar). Instead, Justice Powell opined that "diversity" is a factor universities could rightly consider in admitting students, since that (purportedly) had some independent academic value (though not one to be realized by a "quota").
My question for readers, especially those older than I, is whether "diversity" as a concept with a positive valence has a history that pre-dates Bakke, or whether Bakke is really the key to understanding how "diversity" became such a pervasive concept and mantra in America?
An apt commentary by a Yale undergraduate philosophy major in Boston Review. President Salovey's decision is so bizarre on its face that one can only surmise how many threats from rich alumni must have poured into his office. But even if Yale isn't quite as filthy rich as Princeton, it's surely filthy rich enough to be able to do the obvious thing in a case like this and tell a few alumni fat cats, "Sorry."
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.
A new study finds no such effect. If it is accurate, that is hopeful: it may mean that norms, including the implicit ones, are changing in positive ways. Comments are open for any readers who know more about this latest study and its soundness.
Votes of no confidence spread. President Cross is in a difficult situation; the Regents should all resign, they have more power and they have been complicit in laying the seeds for the destruction of what was a great state university system. Shame, shame.
This is quite interesting, though it does proceed on the assumption that Trump actually means what he says, but who really knows? But Mearsheimer is plainly correct that Hillary Clinton is a "super hawk" with a record of terrible judgment on foreign policy matters. Mearsheimer clearly likes that he hears Trump as moving away from the "liberal imperialism" of both the Republicans and Democrats, of which, of course, Mearsheimer himself is a critic (though, needless to say, a more nuanced one than Trump!).
This crazy legislation has passed in other benighted states (e.g., Texas), but lucky for Georgia, the Governor vetoed it; from his explanation for the veto (#9 at the link):
Perhaps the most enlightening evidence of the historical significance of prohibiting weapons on a college campus is found in the minutes of October 4, 1824, Board of Visitors of the newly created University of Virginia. Present for that meeting were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, along with four other members. In that meeting of the Board of Visitors, detailed rules were set forth for the operation of the University which would open several months later. Under the rules relating to the conduct of students, it provided that “No student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any spirituous or venomous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind…”
The approval of these specific prohibitions relating to “campus carry” by the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the principal author of the United States Constitution should not only dispel any vestige of Constitutional privilege but should illustrate that having college campuses free of weapons has great historical precedent.
So religious crazy Ted Cruz--"Lucifer in the flesh" in the memorable phrase of the former Speaker of the House John Boehner (himself not exactly a paragon of cosmopolitan virtue and enlightenment, but still quite a bit saner than Lucifer)--has dropped out of the Republican race after losing to Herr Trump in the Indiana primary. It is true that, early on, I endorsed Trump for the Republican nomination, not realizing how much impact that would have. Clinton, alas, will be the Democratic nominee, which means however this ends, it will be bad for humanity at large. Bear in mind that the various polls about Clinton vs. Trump so far all show Clinton leading substantially (the exception is the consistently right-leaning Rasmussen reports), but often with 15-20% of the electorate undecided. Trump will begin his assault on Clinton soon, which may or may not inflict damage. Assuming Trump does not pick a woman as a running mate (e.g., his wife or daughter) or find a minority running mate, someone who would no doubt make Uncle Tom look like Frederick Douglass, Clinton would be well-advised to pick the liberal Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio, a crucial state to win, and a running mate more likely to appeal to Sanders supporters and working class white men. In the end, the demographics will propel Clinton to office: women, young people, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American voters will all vote for Clinton, or at least against Trump, by sizeable majorities (on the order of 60-90%), which will send not only Trump but hopefully many other Republican congressional candidates down in flames in November. With luck, the Republican Party will disappear from the face of the earth, or regroup in smaller factions, e.g., "the Lucifer Party," the "Libertarians" and so on.
An interesting essay by journalist Andrew Sullivan, who even works in some Plato, not implausibly. As with everything by Sullivan, the substance is mixed, but there are, as one of the several readers who sent this to me today said, some "gems." Herewith a few excerpts:
Could it be that the Donald has emerged from the populist circuses of pro wrestling and New York City tabloids, via reality television and Twitter, to prove not just Plato but also James Madison right, that democracies “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention … and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths”? Is he testing democracy’s singular weakness — its susceptibility to the demagogue — by blasting through the firewalls we once had in place to prevent such a person from seizing power? Or am I overreacting?
I'd be curious to hear from philosophers of biology and other biologically-informed readers about this New Yorker piece. Accurate? Misleading? Links to better or other discussions of epigenetics accessible to non-biologists welcome.
This is hopeful. To be sure, there will still be tens of millions of benighted Americans, their minds clouded by religion or simple ignorance, who will remain loyal to the crazed ideology that is the current Republican Party, but without a formal organization, they will become irrelevant to electoral outcomes. And then the U.S. might return to the league of civilized nations, with Clintonites playing the role of acceptable Republicans and Sanderites becoming the opposing social democrats.
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)