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The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

LET US NOT LOSE FOCUS

When I blog about Marx or Kant or Game Theory or the theory of democracy, I do so with a certain confidence that I have some idea what I am talking about.  Readers may disagree with me -- Lord knows they always do! -- but I have at least a prima facie claim to knowledge on those topics.  By contrast, when I blog about the current political crisis, I am painfully conscious much of the time of simply echoing what I have read online or heard during my endless surfing of the TV news stations.  Nevertheless, I think it is essential to speak about what we are confronting.  "Attention must be paid," as Willy Loman's wife insists.  Herewith, therefore, my view, offered with full awareness of its lack of authority.

The current administration, despite its extraordinary chaotic incompetence, is steadily doing genuinely terrible things that either seek to threaten the lives of countless millions or actually succeed in doing so.  Here is just one example among scores.  Trump's action will deprive millions of women of essential health services, particularly in Africa, leading to countless preventable deaths and illnesses.  That is sheer evil.  There is no other word for it.

The men and women Trump has appointed to his cabinet will do immeasurable harm to the environment, to women's reproductive health, to education, to worker's rights, and to voting rights.  They will greatly increase the number of men and women incarcerated for long periods for non-violent crimes.   All of this is the deliberate intention of the entire Republican Party, not merely of the Trump Administration.

I do not for a moment believe that Congressional Republicans will act to remove Trump from office, no matter how manifestly egregious his actions, principally because they fear opposition at the polls from Trump supporters.  I predict that Trump will survive all scandals, all revelations, and serve out his term unless he actually comes utterly unglued and must be led off in a straight jacket.

From all of which I draw the conclusion that the only way to limit the harm being done to millions of Americans is to take back the House of Representatives in 2016 and the White House in 2020.  This will by no means end the harm being inflicted by this Administration -- see the example linked to above, which is an example of presidential action alone.  But it will limit the damage.

How to accomplish this overthrow of the Republican majority in the House?  My guess -- not grounded in genuinely deep political knowledge or experience -- is that calls for impeachment will be ineffective, but that a ceaseless hammering on the Republican threats to health care can be a winning strategy.  Repeatedly I have heard anecdotal reports from reporters and politicians that outside the Beltway, health care remains a red hot issue while impeachment only agitates the reliable Democratic voters.

Meanwhile, I freely admit that I am mesmerized by the chaos and self-inflicted wounds of this White House.  But I shall try not to be seduced from  attending to the issue that can win back the House.

13 comments:

Chris said...

I was disappointed to see that when Kasich and Sanders were jointly asked if Trump should be impeached, both said no.

Carl said...

"2016" should be "2018."

s. wallerstein said...

betting odds on Trump being impeached and when

http://www.paddypower.com/bet/politics/other-politics/donald-trump?ev_oc_grp_ids=2944322

s. wallerstein said...

more on the bets on Trump's impeachment

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-impeachment-odds-increasingly-point-to-an-early-exit-2017-05-17

David Auerbach said...

Pence will do equally bad things with less delay, distraction and incompetence. What's keeping the Republicans in Congress from throwing Trump under the bus is fear of the Trump voter (or, at least, enough of them). What would benefit us (I think) is not a quick impeachment, but a drawn out investigation. And, of course, the midterm election is the main deal.

Chris said...

Maybe David. Although, as awful as Pence is, I don't think he'll drop bombs on people in a tissy fit, whereas I can see Trump lobbing bombs across the globe as a distraction and/or temper tantrum....

Charles Rossi said...

Re: Trump unglued, Trump Agonistes. After Trump's self-pitying and ressentiment-laden speech today, I can imagine him someday soon starting an investigation into strawberries missing from the White House kitchen and describing his proving "beyond a shadow of doubt" that a duplicate key to the kitchen exists and that the White House staff was "disloyal." He would testify thus to Lester Holt while rolling steel anxiety balls in his hand. Soon thereafter, Mike Pence with his acolyte (and soon-to-be Attorney General) Franklin Graham and 12 evangelicals with bell, book, and candle, would escort the former President spouting word debris and oaths at his enemies to a gold-clad, locked condo in New York. Sean Spicer will become a spokesperson for Recip Tayip Erdogan; Kellyanne Conway will enter a convent and make a pilgrimage to Rome asking the Pope for forgiveness. Michael Flynn will become absolute leader of native armies in a deep part of the Congo (the horror, the horror). Reince Preibus will become host of a daytime game show on the Fox channel. Jared Kushner will become a rabbi in a Kahane West Bank settlement. Ivanka Trump will become an acclaimed actress, appearing many time as Charlotte Corday in the play Marat/Sade. Melania Trump will become first lady of Slovenia. My apologies to Dean Swift.

Jerry Fresia said...

Initially, I had thought, as had the Professor, that Trump would endure.

I've changed my mind. There are just too many tentacles to this thing and they are spreading, growing.
Moreover, the shift from "Russia hacked out elections" to "Trump is a mafioso and an utterly incompetent and dangerous
one at that," to me, means only one thing: President Pence.

Trump will resign, avoid jail, and will complain endlessly that the system is rigged, and that he's the greatest and doesn't need the stupid presidency anyway. One hopes that Pence will be swallowed up too but that leaves Ryan.


Robert Paul Wolff said...

Charles Rossi, Bravo! Gallows humor, but much needed. Brilliant. Jerry, it won't be Ryan because Pence will appoint a new VP, someone -- if this is possible -- even worse. This is a nightmare from which it is impossible to awaken.

Jerry Fresia said...

I'm trying to remember the exact sequence of events during Nixon's last term: Agnew was force to resign first I believe. Then Nixon chose Ford as VP and then Nixon resigned, elevating Ford to the Presidency.

But I see your point: Trump resigns and Pence becomes president and then nominates a VP. Then they go after Pence and that VP becomes president. Easier and better politically if they can tag Pence with something right away, a la Agnew.

Boy, talk about fantasizing!

Dave said...

1) If we were living in a reality constructed by an evil demon, highly unlikely and disturbing events would be common.
2) TRUMP
3) Hence, we are living in a reality constructed by an evil demon.

I admit that this lacks some of the characteristics that are usually desirable in an argument, such as being deductively valid. However, I'd ask readers to seriously consider the fact that TRUMP.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Alas, the trouble with the argument, Dave, is that it is invalid. "If p then q. q. Therefore p" is not valid. Howver, that is not to say that not-p.

Dave said...

Yes, I was phone posting and meant to write "not deductively valid". However, even given the error, one can argue given that TRUMP is true and this equivalence is true, TRUMP equivalent to ⊥, that this argument is possible:
If P then Q.

Therefore, evil demons (via just 2).