Coming Soon:

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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."




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Saturday, September 1, 2018

READING TEA LEAVES


Several commentators have raised once again questions about critiques of Piketty’s work, and I would like to address them, but that will take a while since the questions are complicated, and a little later this morning Susie and I will be going to meet a cat we are interested in adopting [the central question is whether the foster parents approve of us as adopters], so let me start this morning with the guilty plea of somebody named Sam Patten.  Why may it matter?

The central question of the Mueller investigation is whether the Trump campaign, and Trump himself, conspired with the Russian government to try to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.  This is not an investigation of whether the activities of the Russians affected the outcome.  No one can know the answer to that.  However, we do know that Clinton lost for two reasons:  She was the worst candidate imaginable, and she ran a godawful campaign.  So why do I care?  Because if Trump’s complicity can be proved, it will deal a death blow to him and also to the Republican Party.

Mueller has now established, I believe, that the Russians did two things to influence the campaign.  First, they hacked into the email accounts of Clinton, the DNC, and others, and leaked the hacked emails in ways designed to hurt her chances.  Second, they used social media to target swing voters with messages ostensibly from Americans.

Most attention has focused on the first of these actions, in part because of the public discussion of the Trump Tower meeting at which Russian agents offered the hacked emails to Trump campaign representatives.  So everyone wants to know whether it can be proven that Trump himself had advanced knowledge of the meeting and approved its purpose.

The second Russian effort was more complicated, for two reasons.  First, to pay for ads on social media platforms, one must provide an authenticatable identity, and the Russians wanted to keep their involvement secret.  Second, to be effective, such a social media campaign just have access to a huge database of voters, identifying them by location, gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity, income, past voting behavior, and party registration, a database of the sort that political parties in the United States now develop and maintain.  [In my own local efforts, I have encountered the Obama campaign program VoteBuilder, and it is extraordinary.]

In February, Mueller indicted a host of unreachable Russians for the social media actions, along with one American nonentity.  On February 20th of this year, I wrote a post in which I quoted this bit from a news story:  “Separately, Mueller’s office announced that Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, California, had pleaded guilty to identity fraud. Pinedo, 28, admitted to running a website that offered stolen identities to help customers get around the security measures of major online payment sites. It was not made clear whether his service had been used by the Russian operatives.”

Poor Mr. Pinedo, just an enterprising young man stealing online identities, had gotten swept up in the biggest legal case of the century.  That answered the first question:  How did the Russians get the false identities?  That left the second question: Where did they get the fine-grained voter data for their efforts?  Enter Cambridge Analytica, whose records Mueller subpoenaed.  Cambridge Analytica did data work for the Trump campaign?  And who headed up the Trump campaign’s data efforts?  None other than golden boy Jared Kushner, husband of Trump’s Number One daughter and secret passion, Ivanka.

But that left one link missing in the chain from Trump to Putin.  Enter Sam Patten.  Sam Patten, in addition to working for the pro-Russian Ukraine faction, also had links to Cambridge Analytica.

Aha!  If Patten, who is now cooperating with Mueller, can connect Cambridge Analytica to Pinedo and to Kushner, then the chain is complete.

That is why it matters that on the last day before the magic September 1 deadline, Mueller’s grand jury handed up an indictment against obscure Sam Patten.

Stay tuned.

48 comments:

Jerry Fresia said...

"the Trump Tower meeting at which Russian agents offered the hacked emails to Trump campaign representatives"

I thought the Trump Tower mtg was one where the agents were offering "dirt" on HRC...and the Trump reps jumped at the
chance to see what they had but then the mtg shifted to adoption issues. Are you sure they "offered the 'hacked' emails." (Notice the quotes around hacked.) Huge difference.

From Wiki:

Trump Jr. himself admitted that Rob Goldstone had stated in an email to him that the Russian government was involved and that the purpose of the meeting was to get "dirt on Clinton" and that the meeting concerned a "Russian effort to aid (the Trump) campaign."[5][6] In early July 2017, it was reported that President Donald Trump himself drafted Trump Jr.'s initial misleading statement;[7] the report was later confirmed by the president's attorneys.[8]

Jerry Fresia said...

I found the chronology: The Trump Tower meeting was on June 3, 2016; WikiLeaks posted thousands of DNC emails on July 22. And I realize that some speculate that Russia gave the "hacked" emails to Wikileaks, but I don't think that Mueller's indictments are suggesting this but then again, I haven't read the indictment.

MS said...

According to this report (https://abcnews.go.com/US/papadopoulos-documents-offer-insight-dnc-email-hacking-timeline/story?id=50832978), the Russians had already hacked the DNC computers as early as June, 2015. Papadopoulos has testified in his affidavit that in early 2016 he was informed by his contact that the Russians had emails of Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos tried to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in March, 2016. Trump Jr. was informed in an email on June 7, 2016, that the Russians had “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia ... .” While Trump Jr., may not have been told at this time that the “official documents” were hacked emails, I don’t believe that it is overly speculative to surmise that the attendees at the meeting on June 9, 2016, were told that the “official documents” were hacked emails. Wikileaks published the hacked emails in its possession on July 22, 2016. At a news conference on July 27, 2016, Trump stated, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." I do not believe it is a stretch to conclude that when Trump said this, he already knew that the “official documents” that were referred to at the June 9 meeting were hacked emails and that the Russians had already provided them to Wikileaks.

The following is off topic, but I cannot resist relating the following story. I was playing chess on chess.com today (a fantastic site for those who enjoy the game). The site randomly selects chess opponents from around the world. My opponent was from Ireland. During a game, you have the option of exchanging messages. So, between moves I sent my opponent a message, “How are things in Ireland today?” He/she responded, “The weather is great. Some liberals are organizing an anti-trump protest.” I typed the response, “Great. I hope they humiliate the jackass.” Before I could even strike the enter key to send the message, I received the following message: “You have been warned by a moderator or admin. Be careful or you will be kicked off or banned.” !!! My initial reaction was a combination of surprise and shock. Did I get the warning because the word “jackass” was in the comment, or because I was referring to Trump as a jackass? I am assuming the former, that it was considered bad sportsmanship to use the term, but I was not referring to my opponent as a jackass. Perhaps the message got flagged by the computer simply because I used the word “jackass.” I rephrased the message to: “Great. I hope they succeed.” and sent it. S/he responded, “I know what you mean.” So, welcome to the Brave New World of computer surveillance. I hope that this comment si not censored because of my use of the word “jackass.” (By the way, I won the game.)

Postscript: Prof. Wolff, I am absolutely no threat to your son.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Pinedo, I think his website offered services to use his company as the billing/billable entity in a transaction. So instead of someone registering all their known facts with ebay/paypal/amazon, Pinedo acted as an intermediary... The fact that these services exist and are profitable is due to the premium savvy Internet users will pay to remain anonymous... Those book from David Harvey and even your book, if ever listed in your purchase history, could be the reason you are denied a job, security clearance, or career opportunities... I know it sounds paranoid but these databases are massive. The money is made in knowing how to pull them in all together... (Probably why someone stole your book from the library)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/us/politics/richard-pinedo-russia-bank-accounts-guilty-plea-mueller.html

a majority of his users were probably LBGTQ, alternative lifestyle, anonymous users...

I know the newspaper articles make him sound like a criminal but many people use these services to mask their purchases. They would even use his service to mask themselves as selling certain objects/services on ebay... It is a service the Internet needs.

I think it's more depressing people need to use their services because privacy is not assured.

MS said...

Anonymous,

I don't quite understand how the clientele that you describe that Pinedo catered to would be the kind of individuals whom the Russians, via Cambridge Analytica, would have been interested in. In order to influence the election, the Russians were interested in identifying people whose political views they could manipulate in order to favor Trump over Clinton, e.g., with the preposterous story about Clinton being involved in a child sexploitation ring being run out of a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. I doubt that individuals as savvy as you describe, who are primarily concerned about concealing their identity, could be manipulated into believing such nonsense, or that the Russians would believe that they could be manipulat3ed. Am I misunderstanding something?

MS said...

Anonymous,

Sorry. I got it. The targets for the Russian manipulation were not Pinado's clientele. The targets were obtained via the data of Cambridge Analytica. Pinado's clientele provided the concealed identities which the Russians then used to disseminate the manipulating stories to their targets, thereby concealing the source of the stories.

Jerry Fresia said...

This will be my last salvo on this specific item: the Podesta emails.

"We know they have weapons of mass destruction. We know they have active programs. There isn't any debate about it," said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Turns out not only was the intelligence "bad," some of it was made up. Not unlike Gulf War I, where Iraqi soldiers had taken scores of babies out of incubators in Kuwait City and left them to die. Or the Tonkin Gulf attack on US ships by the North Vietnamese and so many, many other instances of intelligence in grave situations.

Regarding the Podesta emails: there is credible evidence that the Podesta emails (not all the DNC emails) were leaked not hacked. And so far, despite suggestive indictments and the position of Rachel, Maher, and the entire liberal establishment ("There isn't any debate about it."), there has been no evidence that has been made public to support the claim that Russia hacked Podesta's emails (which I think were the most consequential). MAYBE THEY DID. But I will await the public presentation of the evidence before I jump on the bandwagon.

Anyway, that's not the issue with regard to this blog and the linkages that the Professor was making. I'm unaware that the supposed "dirt" that was the basis of the Trump Tower meeting ever materialized at the Trump Tower meeting.

Michael Llenos said...

"the central question is whether the foster parents approve of us as adopters"

Dr. Wolff,

You will always be a cool-cat! On that note alone you are worthy of adopting the cat. Although I know nothing about cat raising, myself, I remember sorta reading the following quote:

"An ethical man feeds his cat before sitting down to supper."

If you are motivated along those lines, I'm sure the cat will be in the bag.

MS said...

Jerry,

You may regard this as beating a dead horse, but it is not the Podesta emails that are at issue. The Podesta emails were not the "hacked" emails that are being referred to. Agreed, the Podesta emails were, technically, not hacked; they were, as you put it, leaked, as a result of a phishing email to the DNC. The connection between hacked Clinton emails and the "dirt" on Clinton that the Trump campaign believed it was going to acquire at the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting was made by Papadopoulos in his affidavit that was included with the Mueller criminal charges that were arrayed against him. See https://abcnews.go.com/US/documents-detail-trump-campaign-adviser-set-meeting-russians/story?id=508115, particularly the April 26, 2016, and January 27, 2017 entries. The Popodopoulas affidavit, and the criminal charges against him, do constitute public evidence. Moreover, based on the information in the affidavit, Popodopoulas pled guilty to lying to the FBI.

Jerry Fresia said...

MS

I'm unclear as to what the Popodopoulas affidavit constitutes as evidence. I have been focused on the Podesta emails because that, it seems to me, was the first big reveal that the 17 US intelligence agencies supposedly had agreed was a Russian hack which in turn motivated the talking heads to tell us that Russia "attacked" the US. I think the salient "take him down" material will be money laundering and other mafioso type crimes and the related problems linked his sexcapades - and the inevitable obstruction stuff. Trump is beginning to go the way of Sen. McCarthy. His shtick is becoming less and less entertaining. Thank you for the clarification.

Calgacus said...

Mueller has now established, I believe, that the Russians did two things to influence the campaign. First, they hacked into the email accounts of Clinton, the DNC, and others, and leaked the hacked emails in ways designed to hurt her chance.

No, Mueller has not established that at all. What Mueller has done - and it is provable way beyond a reasonable doubt, is to prove that he, Mueller is not investigating the core, initial issue - the Podesta emails - AT ALL. The Mueller "Investigation" is a Big Lie.
Mueller has no interest at all in getting at the truth. And we should then believe him on other things? Then I have a bridge to sell you.

As Jerry Fresia mentions above, the evidence indicates that the Podesta emails were leaked, and had nothing to do with any hack. Former UK Ambassodor and university Rector, longtime Wikileaks associate, Craig Murray says he personally received the emails from a DNC insider in Washington who had legitimate access to them. Period. No hack involved. Also - and just because Trump mentions it, doesn't make it less true or relevant - no law enforcement agency has tried to inspect the DNC server.

Whether Murray is telling the truth or not - and there is every reason to believe he is - a genuine investigation MUST interview him - as Murray has been offering to, offering his testimony to deaf ears. But Mueller has no interest in a story that contradicts the accepted fairy tale of the day.

The idea that law enforcement would not obtain the physical computer involved in a genuine computer-related investigation - as it always does in real, rather than play investigations - is an insult to one's intelligence.

The Mueller "investigation" is no more an investigation than Captain Renault's "investigation" of Major Strasser's death in Casablanca. After he sees Strasser shot with his own eyes, he tells his men to "round up the usual suspects." That's all Mueller is provably doing.

MS said...

Jerry,

The Papadopoulos affidavit is “evidence” only to the extent that it, and other publicly available documents relating to the Mueller investigation, are the only documents attested to under oath that we have the opportunity to review. I used the term “Papadopoulos affidavit” as short-hand,” since the affidavit in question is actually an affidavit, sworn to under oath, by FBI Special Agent Robert M. Gibbs, and was appended to the criminal complaint that was filed against Papadopoulos. (The complaint and affidavit can be accessed online.) The affidavit recounts what Papadopoulos told the FBI and what the FBI learned he had told others which contradicted what he had told the FBI. Currently, the affidavit is the “best evidence” that we have to evaluate what information the Russians claimed they had and were offering to the Trump campaign. Were there a trial – which, with respect to Papadopoulos, at least, will not occur, since he pled guilty – the affidavit itself would not be admissible as evidence (absent the application of a technical exception), since it would constitute hearsay. Agent Gibbs would have to testify in person about what Papadopoulos told him, and what he learned from others Papadopoulos had told them. Gibbs’ testimony about what Papadopoulos had told him and others would be admissible and not constitute hearsay (“an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted’) because a criminal defendant’s out of court statements are admissible as an exception to the hearsay rules. Under the 5th Amendment, a criminal defendant can not be required to testify and incriminate him/herself. Consequently, others can testify in court regarding what the defendant has said in the past that incriminates him/her. Since the statements are testified to as the actual words of the defendant, being the words of the defendant him/herself they are deemed to have the earmarks of truth. Were such statements not admissible, in most cases the prosecution would have an insurmountable burden to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” since the defendant cannot be compelled to testify. On cross-examination, the defense attorney can challenge the credibility of the witness’s attribution of the statements in question to the defendant.

As a side note, based on previous comments that you have submitted to the blog, I was prompted to obtain a copy of your book, “Toward an American Revolution – Exposing the Constitution & Other Illusions,” from the library. Upon reading it, I was very impressed by your scholarship. I will say that, though you have not succeeded in fully awakening me from my dogmatic slumber, you have disturbed my sleep. I believe that the Constitution, with all the flaws that you identify, is notwithstanding the greatest political document conceived by imperfect human beings since the Magna Carta. Since the book was only a one week inter-library loan, I had to return it before I completed reading it. (My apologies, I did not honor you by stealing it.) I have since purchased a copy from Amazon and intend to purchase additional copies to send to my friends. (It will take me some time to finish reading it, since I have a stack of some 15 other books that I am reading at the same time – plus, there is chess to play on the internet.) I promise you, I will fight intellectual tooth and nail to salvage my respect for the Constitution against your criticisms.

Dean said...

MS writes, "a criminal defendant’s out of court statements are admissible as an exception to the hearsay rules." Is this generally so? Or are you suggesting that a particular exception might apply, i.e., that *some* out of court statements by a criminal defendant are admissible? Isn't the whole point of hearsay exclusion precisely to prevent a free-for-all of unreliable assertions to the effect that "defendant so-and-so told me he committed the crime" unless there are circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness?

MS said...

Dean,

Perhaps I was not clear. A defendant’s out of court statements, if offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted, are admissible in a criminal trial, as an exception to the hearsay rules. And in civil trials, both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s out of court statements are admissible. In a civil trial where the plaintiff is suing on a claim that the defendant struck him/her, for example, a witness for the defense will be allowed to testify that the plaintiff privately told him/her, “Actually, so-and-so [the defendant] never laid a hand on me.” The plaintiff’s attorney, on cross-examination, can seek to discredit the defense witness by impeaching his/her testimony, trying to prove that the plaintiff never said this, by, for example, showing that the witness has a reason to lie because s/he harbors a grudge against the plaintiff.

In a criminal trial, the defendant’s out of court statements are likewise admissible, e.g., the defendant’s confession, or a jail house snitch’s testimony that the defendant told him, while they were sharing a cell, that he did in fact kill the victim and it was not self-defense, for example. The defense attorney will, in the case of a confession, seek to have it excluded on the basis that it was coerced; in the case of the snitch, the defense attorney will argue that the snitch offered this testimony in order to reduce his own sentence (the prosecution has to divulge whether there was in fact an agreement to lessen a potential penalty in exchange for the snitch’s testimony).

What is not admissible, unless there is an applicable exception (and under the Rules of Evidence, there are several exceptions that lawyers have to know by heart), is witness A testifying that person B, who is not the defendant (in a criminal case), or neither the plaintiff nor defendant in a civil case, told him/her such-and-such. For example, witness A testifies that Mr. Jones, not the plaintiff, told her that he saw the plaintiff and defendant interacting, and the defendant never struck the plaintiff on the occasion in question. This would not be admissible, because Mr. Jones’ out of court statement is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted, that the defendant did not strike the plaintiff. Mr. Jones, being absent, is not subject to cross-examination. Mr. Jones would have to testify to this in person.

Dean said...

You were and are clear, MS. Is that exception embodied in the FRE? (I studied this long enough ago not to remember at this late stage.) It just seems odd to me that any out of court statement by the defendant affords an exception.

MS said...

Dean,

Yes, it is embodied in the FRE. What I do not recall (I have not practiced law now for some 3 years and do not have a copy of the FRE in front of me - they are somewhere in my basement) is if it is included as one of the many exceptions to the hearsay rules, or what is called an "exclusion" to the hearsay definition altogether, as a party admission. Perhaps a reader of the blog who either has a better memory than me (than I? that does sound pedantic), or who is still practicing law, can illuminate.

MS said...

(MS, Part One)

Calcagus,

Prof. Wolff is too much of a gentleman, and, I assume, too busy preparing his lectures for his seminar at Columbia University later this week, to take time to respond to your nonsense. I, on the other hand, am not a gentleman and do not have anything more pressing to attend to, so I will take up the gauntlet on what is probably a fool’s errand in terms of convincing you of the truth, but I believe it is important so that other readers of this blog will not be tempted into thinking that there is a scintilla of rationality in what you have written.

First, I believe that you are probably a Trump supporter who is trolling this blog. I say this based not only on the content of your comment, but also on your choice of identity as well. I strongly suspect that “Calgacus” is not your actual surname. Rather, you have chosen the identity of the Celtic chieftain who fought the Romans , and lost, at the Battle of Mons Graupius in 83 A.D., to enhance the purported nobility of your cause. Calgacus may have been a hero in opposing Rome’s oppressive tyranny, but you, apparently, are operating under the delusion, like Trump and his supporters, that Washington represents a similar threat to the liberty of this country’s citizens, as Rome did to the Britains. (I am frequently amused by the monikers that people on the internet assume in an effort to inflate their resume by identifying with notable historical and literary decedents. I use “MS,” my actual initials, but I would never presume to use the names “Maurice Sendak” or “Makoto Saito.”)

You write it is “provable way beyond a reasonable doubt that ... .” Please, do you have any idea whatsoever what these words mean?? I certainly hope that you are never empaneled on a jury in a criminal case. You claim that Mueller’s investigation is a farce because he is failing to focus on what you deem is the main issue, the leak of the Podesta emails – which you contend were actually provided by a DNC insider to Craig Murray, a former UK ambassador and associate of Julian Assange. First, John Podesta has indicated that the emails from his DNC account were accidentally leaked by a DNC employee who was responding to a phishing email. Do you have any rational reason to believe that Murray is telling the truth, whereas Podesta is not? Do you know them personally? Have you deposed them?

MS said...

(MS, Part Two, response to “Calcagus”)

Second, Podesta’s email account was not the only account that was under attack and the DNC insider that you claim actually leaked his emails was not the only DNC employee whom the Russians were seeking to compromise. The Russians engaged in an “all-out blitz” seeking to obtain information from some 130 DNC employees in order to obtain inside information on the Clinton campaign. https://www.apnews.com/dea73efc01594839957c3c9a6c962b8a

Third, as I have indicated above in my response to Jerry Fresia, the emails from Podesta’s account, and how they were either hacked or leaked, is not relevant to Mueller’s investigation, because they are not the emails that the Russians were offering to the Trump campaign. The Russians first accessed the DNC computers in June, 2015, long before the Podesta emails were leaked. Moreover, the Papadopoulos affidavit (clarified in my last comment to Jerry Fresia) indicates that Papadopoulos was approached by Russian intermediaries in March, 2016, to arrange a meeting with Trump campaign operatives, months before Wikileaks released the Podesta emails on July 22, 2016. On April 26, 2016, Papadopoulos was advised by his intermediary that the Russians had “thousands of emails” embarrassing to Hillary Clinton, again, well before Podesta’s emails were leaked. Your assertion that Mueller is deliberately avoiding focusing on the Podesta emails because his investigation is a sham is, to put it bluntly, baloney. You, like Trump and Giuliani, are trying to discredit the Mueller investigation before it is released in an effort to insulate Trump from the truth.

Finally, your reference to “Casablanca,” which I regard as the greatest love story committed to film, is inapt and sullied by your invocation of it in defense of your harebrained theory. As you indicate, Captain Renault knows who shot Major Strasser because he was an eyewitness and saw Rick Blaine pull the trigger. Under these circumstances, his command to “round up the usual suspects” is a ruse. Mueller, on the other hand, was not an eyewitness to the meetings between Papadopoulos and his intermediaries, or to the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016. He is, therefore, not rounding up “the usual suspects” in a sham investigation He has been interviewing witnesses who have been eyewitnesses to various aspects of the Trump campaign in a dedicated effort to get at the truth. Your comparison to “Casablanca,” however, is accurate in one regard. Rick Blaine and Captain Renault are motivated in their conduct by their contempt for Major Strasser and his Nazi thugs.

Dean said...

Thanks, MS. FWIW, Justia states without providing authority, "Multiple exceptions to the hearsay rule exist, and a defendant’s own out-of-court statements are excluded from the definition of hearsay entirely." I'll take the matter as settled.

Dean said...

FRE 801(d)(2). My work is done.

s. wallerstein said...

MS,

Since you don't having anything pressing to attend to, I'll ask you whether or not when you affirm that the U.S. Constitution is the greatest political document since the Magna Carta, you have studied the Constitutions of other democratic states, many of which seem to function as well as the U.S. or better, for example, those of Western Europe and of the other ex-British colonies, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

I'm not an expert myself on Constitutions nor have I read any besides that of the U.S. and that of Chile (not so great), but I wondered how you reached such a grand generalization.

MS said...

s. wallerstein,

Picky, picky, picky.

Your point is well taken, so I will amend my assertion to state that the U.S. Constitution is one of the greatest political documents since the Magna Carta.

While I do not have anything pressing to do at the present time (other than have dinner), I suspect (yes, only an educated suspicion) that if I were to investigate the other constitutions that you refer to, I would find that most (perhaps all) post date the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and drew on many provisions in the U.S. Constitution, e.g., the Bill of Rights. Is there any body out there who knows more about this issue than I, and can confirm or disconfirm what I have written?

s. wallerstein said...

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man is exactly contemporary to the U.S. Bill of Rights and interestingly, Jefferson worked on the first draft of the French Declaration along with Lafayette.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_the_Rights_of_the_Man_and_of_the_Citizen_of_1789

MS said...

s. wallerstein,

It seems that on issues other than lexicographic you and I are forever destined to disagree with one another.

I would readily acknowledge that the French Declaration of the Rights of Man is undoubtedly a magnificent political document. But it is a Declaration of rights, not a document creating a form of government to ensure that those rights are protected. The U.S. Constitution, by contrast, includes much more than the Bill or Rights. It establishes a form of government with three branches that constitute a check and balance on overreaching by any one branch. It creates a legislature to, among other things, enact laws to protect the rights enunciated in the Bill of Rights. Most importantly, it creates an independent judiciary that ensures that the rights articulated in the Bill of Rights are protected. The Declaration of the Rights of Man does none of this. How were the rights in the Declaration protected during the Reign of Terror? So, judging the documents as a whole, I believe that the U.S. Constitution is a superior political document. Moreover, while the Constitution had provisions that unfortunately recognized the de jure legitimacy of the “peculiar institution” of slavery, it also included a provision that allowed for the Constitution’s amendment, which, ultimately, resulted in the abolition of the legality of slavery in the 13th Amendment. Now, you may deplore the fact that the U.S. Constitution even included provision legitimizing slavery. but, as the Wikipedia article you link to indicates, the Declaration of Rights of Man did not outlaw slavery either. And no amendment of the Declaration, and no mechanism for doing so, corrected this grievous error.

David Palmeter said...

"No right without a remedy."

s. wallerstein said...

MS,

It's not that we are destined to disagree. You see everything in terms of competitive disagreements.

I, without having an opinion on whether the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or the U.S. Bill of Rights, is a "greater document" (your terminology and to be sure, a competitive one), merely linked to an article on the French Declaration to show that there was an interesting cross-fertilization about rights in exactly the same year and that Jefferson, one of your heroes surely, contributed to it.

Although it may surprise you, since you see everything in competitive terms, I have no opinion at all as to which is the greater document nor do I care much. I'm not playing chess here, I'm simply conversing, which for me is not the same as arm wrestling.

You probably see not competing as another form of competing, but I don't. Good night.

Jim said...

Professor Wolff --

You write the following: "we do know that Clinton lost for two reasons: She was the worst candidate imaginable, and she ran a godawful campaign."

There is another crucial reason: many voters harbor an irrational hatred for Clinton -- some even viewing her as the devil incarnate. As a consequence, the voting choice of many U.S. voters during the last presidential campaign was repeatedly articulated by the voters themselves as "anyone but Hillary."

Moving on to far more important issues, were you and your wife "approved" as cat adopters? My thinking is that Christmas would want you to have the opportunity to care for another cat.

-- Jim

MS said...

s. wallerstein,

You can read this when you awaken. Perhaps I should let your last comment slide, but an appeal to the better angels of my nature has been unsuccessful.

I'm being competitive? In my comment to Jerry Fresia, I asserted that, in my opinion, the U.S. Constitution was the greatest political document since the Magna Carta. I recognize that he does not agree, since I purchased his book which takes a different view, and I complimented him on his scholarship. You then asked me if I had studied constitutions of other democratic nations, which you asserted function as well as "or better" than the U.S. Constitution. In deference to your assertion, I conceded that your point was well taken, and I amended my statement to state that the U.S. Constitution was "one" of the greatest political documents since the Magna Carta. I mentioned as one of its merits the inclusion of the Bill of Rights, which I opined had been copied by other nations in their constitutions. You responded by pointing out that the French Declaration of Rights was "contemporaneous" with the Bill of Rights, which I interpreted as stating that, therefore, the Bill of Rights could not be one of the greatest political document since the Magna Carta, since there was an equally great document contemporaneous with it. I then responded that, "taken as a whole," the U.S. Constitution was a "superior political document" to the Declaration, since the Constitution, unlike the Declaration, established a form of government that included institutions intended to protect those rights.

Now you come back, accuse me of being "competitive" and assert, erroneously, that I stated that the Bill of Rights is a "greater document," terminology which you claim is "competitive," than the Declaration of Rights. That is not what I said. I said that the Constitution, taken as a whole, and which includes the Bill of Rights as a sub-part, is a superior political document to the Declaration. This assessment is not "competitive," it is comparative. Please don't twist my words. I am not, as you claim, being competitive. But when someone challenges something I've written, and in doing so, gets it wrong, I respond.

I'm not sure what your gripe is, but in past comments you have asserted that Americans who are proud of their political heritage are narcissistic and that (I am paraphrasing) it makes you sick. I am open minded enough to acknowledge the flaws in the U.S. system of government and the mistakes that the U.S. has made in international relations. But among the nations of the world, the U.S. is not alone in this regard. I am far from a flag-waving jingoist, but I also believe that there is a lot that the U.S. has done that it can be proud of (yes, I know, the institution of slavery and the oppression of Native Americans are not among them). And I also believe that the U.S. Constitution is one of the greatest political documents crafted by imperfect human beings, and that, at the time it was ratified it represented a significant contribution to the improvement of human self-government. I will read Jerry Fresia’s critique of the Constitution with an open mind, but it will take a lot to persuade me otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Who will rid us of this troublesome MS?

Or to put it otherwise: I come to this blog to read what RPW writes and to read what a range of others say on the matters he raises. But for weeks now, every set of comments is MS going on and on again and again trying to impose his "wisdom" on us. Enough!

MS said...

Anonymous,

I certainly hope that there are no individuals in the blogosphere who, like the minions that answered Henry II’s invocation and hunted down and murdered Thomas Becket, will feel inclined to answer your prayer. Fortunately, my address is not public knowledge.

I am not seeking to impose my “wisdom” on anyone. All my comments are prompted either by what Prof. Wolff has written in his posting, or in response to a comment posted by another reader. And I don’t regard my comments as offering “wisdom,” but what I believe is an alternative informed opinion. You apparently disagree with my use of the adjective “informed” and are certainly entitled to your opinion.

I recognize, obviously, that this is Prof. Wolff’s blog, not mine. If he regards my comments as inappropriate or overly intrusive, he can advise me as such and I will defer to his request. In point of fact, he has my email address, and if so inclined, he could make that request to me. I can assure you that Prof. Wolff is candid enough that if that is what he thought, he would have emailed me, and would not be concerned about bruising my feelings.

Short of such an admonition from Prof. Wolff, my advice to you and to any other readers who find my comments obnoxious or irrelevant, just skip over them – they will always be identified by the initials “MS.”

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

I've had more than my share of disagreements with MS, and I'm hardly a fan of his (or hers, but I'd guess it's a him).

I think of this blog as a classroom with RPW as the professor. In every class there is always someone who raises his hand at every question, who generally sits in the first or second row, whose answers are long and at times stray from the meat of the question.

In a classroom you either have to listen to him or her or do your NY Times crossword puzzle (I went to school before the days of smart-phones) under your desk while he or she speaks. In this virtual classroom we have, as MS themself points out, the option of skipping over their words.

In general, I find it sane to imagine this blog as a classroom situation.

MS said...

s. wasserstein,

Thank you for the quasi left-handed compliment, I guess.

By the way, I was not that student. I did not sit in the front of the class and rarely raised my hand to answer questions. And you are correct, I am male.

Anonymous, please don't renew your call for my assassination. I was just responding to s. wasserstein's observation.

midcan5 said...

Who needed the Russians? Hillary hatred (HH) and Clinton hatred was well established long before the election. Personally I find HH the most fascinating piece of this puzzle on how America could elect a dishonest doofus as pres? Hillary is probably a saint (?) compared to Donnie and yet there was not a single action or behavior that did not become evil personified. Email really? Benghazi really? Foundation really? To this day all you have to do to stir up the right in America is mention Hillary and you have them by the ....

Anonymous said...

To midcan5

Propaganda works. The Republicans and their fake news apparatchiks have been trying to destroy the Clintons since at least 1992. I don't know that they've actually managed to destroy the Clintons, but they have certainly done them a lot of damage. And now we're stuck with the Great Grabsby. Somehow, as the Republicans see it, he's not as bad as Hillary. I don't get it, but this seems to be the case with them. There is even a logo tee shirt gaining popularity among Republicans (= Trump supporters) emblazoned with the language: "I'd Rather Be A Russian Than A Democrat." It's for sale on the internet. Seems like a sick joke to me--but I think that for a lot of these clowns the logo expresses what they really believe. As you put it: the Democrats are "evil personified." We don't have to deal with Putin in person (yet), so the Republicans can make jokes about it. I don't distinguish anymore between (the terms) Republicans and Trump Supporters; they're synonyms.

MS said...

Anonymous,

I appreciate your humor in referring to Trump as the Great Grabsby, but it does a disservice to Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby takes the fall for Daisy Buchanan by not revealing that it was Daisy who was driving when she struck and killed Myrtle. Trump would never sacrifice himself for anybody. And, I daresay, Trump would never appreciate your literary reference, since he probably has never read The Great Gatsby (if it was required reading at the military academy he attended, he probably read only the cliff note, if even that).

Anonymous said...

MS

Far be it from me to say anything nice about Trump, or about Jay Gatsby. I don’t like either one of them. Gatsby may have had a human moment, but mostly he was a pig. Milton, so his critics have said since the 17th century, gave almost all of the best lines in “Paradise Lost” to Satan. But one should be careful about admiring Satan—at all. Still, I don’t think that Satan’s rhetoric was all just a con job—it’s always seemed to me that he meant and felt some of what he said. Maybe I’m giving Satan too much credit. I’m not sure. Blame Milton for writing the script. I don’t know what Fitzgerald had in mind in humanizing Gatsby. With Trump, maybe he’d take a bullet for his older daughter: he seems genuinely fond of her. He seems to have loved his parents, or has some recognizably wistful human affection for them. And his older brother’s death from alcoholism seems to have affected him and made him a tea-totaler. (I know, maybe it just scared him and made him obsessive about addiction, and his self-restraint here isn’t a moral virtue.) Also, I heard him say that, while his sons like to hunt, he thinks it’s barbaric, and he won’t do it himself. Of course, Hitler loved his mother. One can find touches of humanity in a lot of famous monsters. They’re still monsters. Trump seems to me a really weird, bizarre, sleazy person. I can’t get past that impression, and I don’t know how the Republicans can. They’re making a pact with the devil. By the way, I actually stayed a couple of nights at Fitzgerald’s Plaza Hotel, in the summer of 2000. I was at a conference there, so I didn’t choose the venue. I thought it was a dump and a rip-off—at least the part of it I was housed in. Sic transit gloria. Sic semper tyrannis.

MS said...

Anonymous,

I know that literary criticism is not the focus of Prof. Wolff’s blog, and I have already been criticized by some readers for allowing my ego to divert its focus from its intended purpose, so I will try to keep this brief. Jay Gatsby a “pig”? Isn’t that a bit strong? Why, then, Nick Carraway’s unadulterated admiration for Jay? Is he, too, deluded? Yes, Gatsby engages in ostentatious displays of wealth to impress Daisy, and his constant reference to Nick as “old sport” can seem patronizing, but he is a man hopelessly in love (in infatuation, not love, you say?) with the beautiful, charming girl of his youth. And yes, Daisy is superficial and self-centered and, perhaps, Gatsby’s love for her is a reflection of his own shallowness, but still, the heart has its reasons which reason knows not. I hope that your disdain for Gatsby does not also reflect a disdain for the novel itself. It is, after all considered the paradigm of the Great American Novel, ranked No. 2 on the Modern Library’s list of the greatest English language novels of the 20th century. In this age of Trump, are we not still “beat[ing] on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into [a yearning for] the past”? (For a fascinating story about the relationship between Fitzgerald and his best friend, Ring Lardner, and their admiration for Joseph Conrad, see https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/00/12/24/specials/fitzgerald-lardner.html)

Regarding Trump and his relationships with his father and brother, his father was a sadistic man, who taught Donald that there are only two kinds of people in the world – “killers and losers.” This is a lesson that Trump has internalized as his gospel. It was this sadism that drove his brother to drink, and what I have read indicates that Donald had absolutely no empathy for his brother, thought him cowardly and weak. Regarding his infatuation (incestuous?) with Ivanka, I am not so sure that if she were driving the car and struck and killed Myrtle, that he would say, no, it was I who was driving.

I had best skidaddle before another Anonymous (see above) sends his devotees to rid this blog of my troublesome self.

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

If when you affirm that Gatsby is a pig, you refer to the fact that he is a stock market speculator, all the major characters in the novel, including the narrator, are filthy rich and profit from Wall St., the narrator dealing in bonds if I recall correctly.

Within the world of the novel, Gatsby is portrayed as one of the good guys. Since all the major characters are linked to Wall St. speculation, to call Gatsby a pig is a bit like calling Hamlet a pig because he is royalty and undoubtedly benefits from the exploitation of Danish peasants, since all the major characters in the play Hamlet are either royalty or aristocrats, all of whom live off the labor of peasants.

Anonymous said...

Sounds right to me. Pig, as in capitalist pig. Things were going great for them until the stock market crashed—which would have been a major transient news item except that it led to the destruction of the national economy. That class of people caused that mess. (Just like the close-call we had a decade ago. “They” were at it again.) Being one of the good guys in that demimonde doesn’t say much in Jay’s favor. Also, it seems to me that Gatsby was mixed up with organized crime, a bootlegger—right? (I read that book in high school, maybe a year after Kennedy was murdered. (I don’t think much of him either.)) While I think Prohibition was a socially foolish idea, that doesn’t mean that I think that the criminals who benefited from it were the good guys. And so on. As for Hamlet and medieval or otherwise ancient social structures—well, they’re a story line. I don’t blame Hamlet for being a prince any more than I blame Oedipus for being a king. There’s enough about them, or rather about mythical great men in general, to build a story around: there’s something there to notice. What can we say about the average medieval peasant? Not much that differentiates one peasant from another. Also, and this is no small thing in the tragedy genre: Hamlet and Oedipus were the playthings of fate—moira, in Greek. I don’t know any Danish. (I read, by the way, that publication rights to that book are still in Scribner’s hands—and will be until 2020, which will be (coincidentally?) 80 years after the author’s death. Not a bad run—with someone else’s work.)

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

First of all, let me compliment you on your memory given that you read the book the year after Kennedy was assassinated and still remember the plot line. I've read it at least 4 times, taught it and read it the last time 5 or so years ago and still my memory of it is hazy.

However, as I recall, there is some speculation on and gossip whether Gatsby is a bootlegger, but that is never clear. At one point Gatsby greets as a friend a man who fixed sporting events (the World Series?), and so maybe Gatsby is mixed up with illegal gambling. There is no omniscient narrator, and the narrator is a times unsure about events.

I can see why you distinguish between a 20th century novel and Greek tragedy as to their treatment of non-elite characters: in the 19th century novelists began to portray poor people and working class people: for example, Dickens, Dostoyevsky and Zola, so Fitzgerald was aware of the possibility of incorporating non-elite points of view in this narrative and did not. So in light of that fact, would you condemn all the main characters of Proust's Search of Lost Time as pigs, given that they are idle rich who live off the labor of the proletariat? Just asking….



Anonymous said...

S. Wallerstein
I've never read Proust. I think I know how to pronounce his name. But that's it. Maybe his reincarnation comments on this blog sometimes. I've seen his name here. I wasn't much interested in Fitzgerald in my junior year in high school (which was American Literature year)—I didn’t care about New York wealth, but I did find The Scarlet Letter interesting and mulled over it for a while, and retained some of it. I’m a New Englander and such things appealed to me even then. Good, and lucky, thing, as it turned out. First of all, I went to Bowdoin College a couple of years later--Hawthorne's alma mater (he was in the same class there as Longfellow and Franklin Pierce (later the 14th President)), and Hawthorne even then was a presence there. Second, about 10 years after my junior HS year, I met the person whom I’m married to. She is a relative of Hawthorne’s wife’s family—and she knew it. So I had a kind of ice-breaker. We could talk about Hester Prynne, Pearle, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth. (Now, those were ordinary (non-elite) people, too.) The men didn’t come off looking so good. I do wonder, though, what the educational point is in having 15 year-olds read that stuff: I suspect that I then saw the whole book as a kind of 17th century soap opera. I’ve long thought that kids should study philosophy in high school: literary symbolism would make more sense if one knew some philosophy first. And the kinds of critical and analytical techniques one can get from philosophy are the sorts of thing that bright adolescents would eat up—and enable them to be even more annoying than they are anyway.

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

I agree that there's not much point making 15 year-olds read The Scarlet Letter. I didn't understand most of the books I had to read in high school. That is, I understood the story well enough to get a good grade, but I was much too immature to understand the human element or even the ethical point of the work. In fact, high school literature classes turned me off to certain writers, perhaps unjustly, those we were forced to read, for the rest of my life.

If I were giving literature classes to high school students, I'd tell everyone to chose a novel that they want to read, any novel, and to give a book report on it to the class. That would foment reading. Sure, some of them would chose the shortest and simplest text they could find, but the kind of people who chose the shortest and simplest text are not likely to put the energy needed into reading Moby Dick, if that is assigned. Some kids will pick Moby Dick (not me), and for them that will be a first step towards understanding 19th century American Literature. For the first "serious" novel that I recall reading, enjoying and feeling that it spoke to me and for me was Camus's The Stranger, so maybe in retrospective I'd pick that for my teenage reading.

MS said...

The character Meyer Wolfshein in The Great Gatsby is modeled after Arnold Rothstein, a New York gambler, renowned at the time for his business savvy and acumen. It has been rumored, but, not to my knowledge ever confirmed, that he master-minded fixing the 1919 World Series loss by the Chicago White Sox, which is referred to in the novel.

Which leads me to the larger point. The Great Gatsby has many themes, among them the shallowness of the rich, the lack of marital fidelity, illustrated by Tom Buchanan’s affair with Myrtle, the meaning of friendship, exemplified by Nick Carraway’s fondness for Jay Gatsby. Carraway is the only person, aside form Gatsby’s father and Gatsby’s house guest described as wearing “owl-eyed glasses,” who attends his funeral – none of the people who sponge off Gatsby and attend his opulent parties show up. Fitzgerald is not blind to the selfishness and destructiveness of the rich, he is actually quite critical of it. Towards the end of the book, Carraway says, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they made[.]”

But, ultimately, the novel is a story of unrequited love – the story of a kid growing up poor who falls in love with a socialite and spends his life chasing the earmarks of wealth in order to impress her enough so she will reciprocate his love. She never does. And he dies at the hands of a man who thinks he has been having an affair with his wife – when it was Daisy Buchanan’s husband who was having the affair. It is a very human story that goes beyond pigeon holing people as good or bad, capitalist or socialist.

Unfortunately, it appears that Anonymous cannot not see this. Jay Gatsby is a “pig” because he is a capitalist, and, perhaps, a dishonest one at that. And, apparently, Carraway is not much better, because he is a stockbroker. We are now to evaluate the merits, or lack thereof, of literature through the prism of capitalism vs. Marxism/socialism. All capitalists are bad, without any redeeming qualities whatsoever; all socialists/Marxists are good, deserving our admiration. By this yardstick, all of the characters in every novel written by Henry James is a capitalist or aristocratic pig. And what about Atticus Finch – yes, he may have been fair-minded and heroic in defending Tom Robinson against the trumped up charge of rape – but did he own stock? (An aside. For the life of me, I cannot understand why To Kill A Mockingbird was excluded from the Modern Library’s list of the 100 greatest English language novels of the 20th century. Yes, there is something preachy about it – but the sermon is well worth hearing. And what about the exquisite language of the prose, the authenticity of the Southern dialogue? Oh, I see, it lacks the sophistication of Virginia Wolff’s To The Lighthouse, No. 15 on the list.)

So it is with the world at large. Anonymous, and those who think like him/her, divide the world into good people (socially progressive) and bad people (capitalists). Sometimes, when I read some of the comments on this blog, I am reminded of that famous quotation of Friedrich Nietzsche from “The Gay Science,” “God is dead – but, fortunately, we still have the omniscient commentators to Prof. Wolff’s blog who can fill the void and tell us the difference between right and wrong and good and evil.”

s. wallerstein said...

That all capitalists may be bad does not necessarily imply that all socialists are good. I'm not claiming that all capitalists are bad by the way. It is worth exploring what degree of complicity in capitalist exploitation implies that one is not a good person and whether that complicity need be conscious or deliberate for one not to be a good person. I don't have the formula myself.

Anonymous said...

MS
I don’t know that “famous quotation from ‘The Gay Science.’” Nobody does, because it doesn’t exist. The one I do know (section 108 of that work) has to do with Buddha’s shadow. The thing runs: “God is dead; but given the way people are, there may still for millennia be caves in which they show his shadow.—And we must still defeat his shadow as well!” Now there is a more famous mention of the Death of God in that book (section 125—The Madman), but it likewise can’t be stretched to imply what you’re getting it. Then again, you might be thinking of this, from “Twilight of the Idols” (section 5 of “Reason in Philosophy): "’Reason’" in language -- oh, what an old deceptive female she is! I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” In any case, I don’t see Nietzsche dividing the world into socialist know-it-alls and everybody else. On the other hand, Nietzsche did divide the ethical world, or the history of it, into Master Morality and Slave Morality. He seemed pretty sure of himself. And it’s pretty clear which side he was on. (When I first went off to college, I had already read through a lot of Walter Kaufmann’s “Portable Nietzsche.” I had an advisor who was actually a friend of Kaufmann’s and early on told me to be careful with Nietzsche, saying something like Nietzsche’s not as benign as Kaufmann makes him out to be. As it turned out, I meandered into American Pragmatism and pretty much have stayed there. I don’t believe in black and white, in anything. There are capitalist pigs—that’s a recognizable type—but not all capitalists are pigs.)

MS said...

Anonymous,

The statement “God is dead” first appears in The Gay Science, Sec. 125: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”. I, too, have a copy of Prof. Kaufmann’s Portable Nietzsche. And how astute of you – correct, my modification of that statement does not appear anywhere in Nietzsche’s works. It is called satire.

And, of course, you know who the capitalist pigs are, because they are a “recognizable type,” like Jay Gatsby, and Nick Carraway, and ......

Anonymous said...

MS

This is not debatable: look at section 108 of The Gay Science. That's 17 sections before section 125: "God is dead." Also, the "God is dead" phrase (or whatever one calls it) wasn't original with Nietzsche anyway. Among others, Hegel used the term long before. I know what satire is, but if you want to say that the following is a famous quotation from Nietzsche and you put it in quotation marks--and it isn't what Nietzsche said (and not even close to it), then don't expect this strawman to take it lying down. (Kaufmann's Portable Nietzsche doesn't include much from the Gay Science--it has only about 9.5 pages of excerpts from the first edition of the work. It doesn't include, e.g., section 108.) As far as capitalist pigs are concerned, none of the characters in the book are in fact capitalist pigs because they're fictional. Still, there are such things: The bastards who actually wrecked the economy and gave us the Depression and those real people, most of them still among us (I guess), who tanked things back in 2008. (Maybe Trump qualifies as one--I bet he'd like to. I don't know about him; I don't want to credit him with being sui generis, but maybe he is.) And the Koch Brothers--not because they've tanked the economy (so far as I know they didn't have anything to do with that) but because they're using their money and power to screw the majority of people in this country. And so on. There's nothing new in any of this. Having said that, I'm not anti-capitalism or anti-capitalist. I don't think that we'd have the modern world without it and without them. But they have to be watched and controlled. The ancient Greeks would ostracize people who they thought were getting too powerful. I wouldn't go that far, but I do think that we have to be wary of power. Look at what that jackass in the White House can do--and I emphasize "can."

MS said...

Anonymous,

This verbal sparring is getting a bit jading. Of course I put my apocryphal quotation which I attributed to Nietzsche in quotation marks – that’s what made it satire.

And yes, it is a bit silly to get all worked up over a fictional character like Jay Gatsby. But it was you who associated Gatsby, a fictional character, with Trump, unfortunately an actual human being and our terrifyingly pathological President, in your comment on 9/4 at 4:21 P.M., saying you don’t like either one of them, and that Gatsby “was a pig.” And then on 9/5, at 10:38 A.M., you elaborated on your appellation by saying of Gatsby that he was a, “Pig, as in capitalist pig," as if his porcine character derived from his being a capitalist. I’ve just come to Gatsby’s defense, opining that your comparison of him to Trump, or Trump to him, does Gatsby a disservice.

On that note, I’m going to call it a night.