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Sunday, June 16, 2024

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI

 I managed to make it through college, graduate school, and a Harvard instructorship without owning a car, but in 1961, As I set out from Cambridge, Massachusetts to find out whether there was a world beyond Harvard Square, I decided I needed transportation, so I bought Sam Todes' ancient Plymouth for a $100.  The next year, when I got married, I decided wanted to get rid of the car but I could not find anybody to buy it or even take it away. I will never forget calling the police department and having a Sgt. lean in conspiratorially to the telephone as he said "dump it in the river." Eventually i did find a garage that would take it away for $25 (that is to say, I paid them $25 to take it away.)


Now, 63 years later, I have decided my car owning days are over, so I shall do something or other with my 20-year-old Toyota Camry and rely from now on on the transportation of others.As losses go, it is small one.

186 comments:

John Rapko said...

Already some decades ago the philosopher Woodrow Guthrie opined that cars are strictly for young people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmcrlvNPTJw

LFC said...

You may be able to donate the car to a local public radio station, if you're so inclined, and they'll pick it up (and then sell it and keep the proceeds and give you a receipt). That can be done where I live at any rate. There may also be other possibilities re donating.

s. wallerstein said...

You can probably find some sort of charitable organization that would be happy to receive your car in Google or Instagram or Twitter.

When I moved several months ago, we found a church organization that worked with Haitian immigrants that came and took all my old electric appliances in a cart pulled by a motorcycle.

Chris said...

I am always glad to hear from you. Freedom in loss perhaps. As others said, you can donate if you don't need the cash.

Jim said...

I donated one car to Defenders of Wildlife and another to our local NPR station. They just dropped by and towed it away -- no hassle whatsoever.

-- Jim

james wilson said...

This is really a comment in relation to the previous thread. But I imagine many don't return to the past but would appreciate an update on Noam Chomsky.

https://mronline.org/2024/06/17/a-message-about-noam-chomsky-an-update/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-message-about-noam-chomsky-an-update

Anonymous said...

more on chomsky:

https://jacobin.com/2024/06/noam-chomsky-obituary-media-theory-elites

s. wallerstein said...

I just saw on Twitter that Chomsky passed away.

All my condolences!!!!

A great human being.

Michael said...

Oh, no. :(

(That was fast, by the way, s.w. - his Wikipedia page hasn't been officially changed yet! Perhaps we're only in the rumor stage?)

David Zimmerman said...

Re Jacobin piece: Unless I have misread it, it is a tribute, not an obituary.

s. wallerstein said...

It's all over Twitter, but I have Twitter in Spanish.

If you google it in Spanish, you'll find articles on his passing away.

It seems that Chomsky was more important in the Spanish-speaking world than in the anglophone world.

s. wallerstein said...

It's even top news in La Tercera, rightwing Chilean newspaper.

https://www.latercera.com/mundo/noticia/muere-el-escritor-y-filosofo-noam-chomsky-a-los-95-anos/466YJAQ6BJEAZPW7EB6NRUJOM4/#

Google can translate for you.

DJL said...

The New Statesman had a piece out just now stating that Chomsky had died today, June the 18th, but it has been taken down now. Not sure this is confirmed, let's wait a bit.

F Lengyel said...

Not confirmed, as far as I know. New Statesman took their announcement down.

s. wallerstein said...

It seems to be just a rumor.

Sorry to mislead people, although not sorry that Chomsky is still with us.

DJL said...

Yes, Pinker has just stated on Twitter that he's spoken with Chomsky's wife and he is well.

Anonymous said...

re DZ's observation that the jacobin piece was a tribute rather than an obituary, I, who posted the reference, was actually rather confused as to which it was. I started reading it as a tribute but by the end I felt like it was something other than that. Still, I thought it was a significant set of reflections on Chomsky's significance.

LFC said...

In the previous thread, at 3:01 p.m. on June 17, a commenter writing as Anonymous suggested that U.S. foreign policy (among other matters) was or had been "so broadly and deeply accepted as common sense that [it] seem[ed] to brook no discussion" -- until Chomsky came along.

In my opinion, this suggestion of Anonymous is wrong. U.S. foreign policy has been a contested matter since at least the late 19th century, indeed since before that, going back to the early republic. (The end of the 19th cent. is usually viewed as the point at which the U.S. entered into formal imperialism w/ the conquest of the Philippines among other things; there was an anti-imperialist current that opposed this.)

It doesn't take anything away from Chomsky to say this, or to note the long line of critics of U.S. foreign policy (from various directions).

s. wallerstein said...

LFC,

No doubt that some people have always been skeptical of U.S. foreign policy, but Chomsky is a leader of a movement that became massive in the 60's which questions U.S. foreign policy.

A personal story: when the Bay of Tonkin incident occurred in 1964, I was just beginning to read alternative news sources which at that time explained that LBJ's justification for the escalating the Viet Nam War was based on fake news. I was a high school senior and I recalled pointing that out to my father, who replied that the president would not lie to the American people that way.

My father was not an intellectual, but did read the news and was not especially innocent., I believe his thinking was typical of middle class Americans at the time.

Fast forward 40 years and the U.S. is invading Iraq. I'm communicating with my father by email and I ask him where are the weapons of mass destruction. He replies that if they don't find them, they'll plant them.

That process of growing skepticism about whether U.S. presidents lie or not is the product of 40 years of agitation, activism and denunciation of U.S. foreign policy by folks like Chomsky. There were others, to be sure, but Chomsky is perhaps the best known, the most eloquent and the most efficacious educator in such matters.

I don't know if my father ever read Chomsky, but the Bernard (my father) of 1964 would have indignantly refused to read a critic of U.S. imperialism like Chomsky while the Bernard of 2003 would have read him with interest. That also says something about how effective Chomsky was and is.

LFC said...

s.w.,

If the comment by Anonymous to which I responded had said what you just said, I would have had little or no problem with it. (Regrettably I have to leave it at that for now. Have to run out somewhere.)

aaall said...

I believe a certain Representative from Illinois (among others) opposed Polk's adventure in Mexico. This happened later:

"If Judge Douglas’s policy upon this question succeeds and gets fairly settled down, until all opposition is crushed out, the next thing will be a grab for the territory poor Mexico, an invasion of the rich lands of South America, then the adjoining islands will follow, each one of which promises additional slave fields."

https://teachingamericanhistory.org/document/the-lincoln-douglas-debates-5th-debate/

Chomsky was a right time. right place thing.

Anonymous said...

Well, LFC, you’re surely right that like most other things US foreign policy has been much discussed. I am perfectly aware, for example, of the so-called great debate between realists and idealists, etc. etc.. What I intended to intimate, however, was that there were certain assumptions about America’s place in the world and a broad rejection of the notion that the term imperialism might be applied to what the US did, and it was all of that that I think Chomsky tried to expose and criticise. s.w. thanks

s. wallerstein said...

Dylan's song "With God on our Side" came out in 1963.

That God was on our side, that "we" were always the good guys who acted out of noble principles, was believed by almost everyone in the U.S. in 1963 except a few comsymps, as they were generally called.

Just watch the Nixon-Kennedy debates in the 1960 elections or worse JFK's inaugural address, which was a classic of the anti-communist "crusade" rhetoric.

What people like Chomsky did was show how illusionary and dishonest the "with God on our side" rhetoric is and by now few people believe it. Maybe Biden does and probably Hillary Clinton does, but outside of a few mainstream liberals no one does.

Trump is an imperialist of course, but his message is "we're the biggest and strongest guys in the neighborhood and we'll kick ass and break heads if we feel like it", outright fascism without any "with God on our side" hypocrisy.

So thanks to Chomsky, a lot more people have their eyes open about U.S.imperialism than was the case before he began, along with others, to educate us.

Thank you, Noam.

charles Lamana said...

I am glad to say I fell prey to the rumor and was wrong, that Noam Chomsky died. and I am happy to say he is recovering at home according to this AP story.
https://apnews.com/article/noam-chomsky-alive-not-dead-5b7a1b23b8731ca311e1ec38cdc3c119 Like all other friends, colleges and associates we wish him and his family nothing but the best for his recover and rehabilitation.

LFC said...

In addition to the "crusade" ("long twilight struggle") element of JFK's inaugural address, there was this:

"To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required--not because the [C]ommunists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."

https://www.jfklibrary.org/archives/other-resources/john-f-kennedy-speeches/inaugural-address-19610120

s. wallerstein said...

Media now saying that Chomsky has been discharged from the hospital.

I saw a video of Chomsky walking out of the hospital in twitter.

https://x.com/eleconomista/status/1803490485685854365

DJL said...

That's obviously an old video from a few years back.

charles Lamana said...

S. Wallerstein I suspect you know the latest about Noam Chomsky. You are right he has been discharged from the hospital.

https://www.democracynow.org/2024/6/20/headlines/noam_chomsky_leaves_hospital_after_suffering_stroke

But, DJL is correct that the clip you sited is not correct. I doubt there is an up-to-date clip on his leaving the hospital. I also doubt that he would be walking. Typically patients are wheeled out of the hospital to a waiting vehicle, either family or otherwise.

David Zimmerman said...

From today's Guardian:

Smotrich group takes over administration of the West Bank

Part One

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
Thu 20 Jun 2024 15.32 BST

The Israeli military has quietly handed over significant legal powers in the occupied West Bank to pro-settler civil servants working for the far-right minister Bezalel Smotrich.

An order posted by the Israel Defense Forces on its website on 29 May transfers responsibility for dozens of bylaws at the Civil Administration – the Israeli body governing in the West Bank – from the military to officials led by Smotrich at the defence ministry.

Smotrich and his allies have long seen control of the Civil Administration, or significant parts of it, as a means of extending Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank. Their ultimate goal is direct control by central government and its ministries. The transfer reduces the likelihood of legal checks on settlement expansion and development.

​Israeli politicians have long sought to​ find ways to permanently seize, or annex, the occupied West Bank​, which it captured in 1967 and where millions of Palestinians live.

Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer, said: “The bottom line is that [for] anyone who thought the question of annexation was foggy, this order should end any doubts. What this order does is transfers vast areas of administrative power from the military commander to Israeli civilians working for the government.”

It is the latest coup for Smotrich, who became finance minister and a minister in the defence ministry after a coalition agreement between his far-right political party and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

The Civil Administration is principally responsible for planning and construction in Area C of the West Bank – the 60% of the Occupied Palestinian Territories under full Israeli administrative and security control – as well as enforcement against unauthorised construction, whether by Israeli settlers or by Palestinians.

Smotrich clasps Netanyahu’s hand as he walks behind the prime minister
View image in fullscreen
Bezalel Smotrich became finance minister and a minister in the defence ministry after a coalition agreement between his far-right party and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/AFP/Getty Images

David Zimmerman said...

Part Two:

The transfer of laws, which was largely unremarked upon in Israel, follows a years-long campaign by pro-settlement politicians to accrue many of the legal powers previously wielded by the military chain of command.

The laws cover everything from building regulations to the administration of agriculture, forestry, parks and bathing locations. Lawyers have long warned that transferring them from military to political control would risk bringing Israel into conflict with its responsibilities under international law. After entering government, Smotrich moved quickly to approve thousands of new settlement homes, legalise previously unauthorised wildcat outposts, and make it more difficult for Palestinians to build homes and move around.

Reports in the Israeli media say US officials have privately discussed the possibility of imposing sanctions on Smotrich over his destabilising impact on the West Bank, where he lives in a settlement that is illegal under international law.

Netanyahu has become more reliant on the support of Smotrich and other far-right elements of his coalition government since the moderate former defence minister Benny Gantz quit Israel’s emergency war cabinet in a row over strategy in the Gaza war and how to bring home Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

Smotrich has made no secret of his desire to carve out his own stronghold in the ministry of defence to pursue his policies, downplaying the significance as merely technical.

In April, Smotrich appointed a long-term ideological ally, Hillel Roth, as the deputy in the Civil Administration with responsibility for enforcing building regulations in settlements and outposts.

Roth is a former resident of Yitzhar, a West Bank settlement with a reputation for violence and extremism. He served as an official with Bnei Akiva, an NGO linked to Smotrich’s Religious Zionist party.

Sfard said the transfer meant legal power in the West Bank was now in the hands of “an apparatus headed by an Israeli minister … whose only interest is to advance Israeli interests”.

Equally important, Sfard said, was that although the head of the Civil Administration is an officer subordinate to the military command, Roth is a civilian who answers to Smotrich.

Sfard’s view echoes a legal opinion published by three Israeli jurists last year who warned that transferring powers from the military would amount to annexation in law, as Smotirch “considers himself committed first and foremost to advancing the interests of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, rather than the welfare of Palestinian residents”.

Mairav Zonszein, a senior analyst for Israel-Palestine at Crisis Group, said: “The big story is that this is no longer ‘creeping annexation’ or ‘de facto annexation’, it is actual annexation.

“This is the legalisation [and] normalisation of a long-term policy. Smotrich is basically re-establishing the way in which the occupation works by taking a large part out of the hands of the military.

“Half the people he has brought in to the defence ministry are from [the pro-settler Israeli NGO] Regavim. The same people who worked at Regavim to disposess Palestinians in Area C are now in government positions.”

LFC said...

D.Z.,

Thanks for that. Important (and v. bad) development.

Michael Llenos said...

This may be a precedent for the future governing of places like Gaza. Meaning, the military rules Gaza then annexes Gaza openly to the Israeli government. However, the problem with turning any Palestinian territory into any kind of Israeli protectorate is, that if you want a peaceful existence in that protectorate, you're going to have to crack down hard on criminals & terrorists. Meaning, more Israelies will be killed, and that unless Netanyahu is planning to become supreme dictator of Israel for the next 50 years, new governments will eventually be elected that oppose Netanyahu's old draconian policies and that won't crack down hard on criminals & terrorists. This lax in law & order will give Palestinians even more opportunities to join organizations like Hamas & Hezbollah and make terrorist activities & wars even worse.

To solve this problem Gaza must be handed over to the U.N. temporarily or until a democratic Palestinian government is elected. And if you can't stop terrorist organizations from infiltrating Gaza it will just be the same old stuff.

james wilson said...

You eventually sort of come down on the right side, Michael. But your first paragraph is objectionably phrased. Unless by your definition everyone who opposes being subjected to an authority imposed upon them against their will is a criminal & a terrorist, it’s not just “criminals & terrorists” who would resist. But you leave no room for such resisters in what you say. I think you shd. take a look at, say, John Locke, on that sort of issue.

aaall said...

"...if you want a peaceful existence..."

ML, I believe you mean "co-existence" and the Israeli Right doesn't want that, they want something else. As long as Russia is (illegitimately) one of the veto holders on the SC, I wouldn't expect your scenario. Also, as for a "democratic Palestinian government" - and a pony.

Michael Llenos said...

I think the Palestinians would welcome the U.N. into Gaza. If the U.N. brings food, clothing, medicine, nurses, & doctors into Gaza (with no Israeli military left in Gaza) it would be the "carrot" everyone needs. To stop mass protests would be something they would not have to worry about initially, but only after many months, since everyone welcomes promising new things. Two things would have to be done to stop mass protests later on. (1) A written plan shown to the Palestinians with the steps laid out from beginning to end, or from the first shipments of humanitarian aid to a freely elected government & complete U.N. withdrawal from Gaza. And (2) The following of that plan without straying from it to garner trust.

Anonymous said...

aaall

“As long as Russia is (illegitimately) one of the veto holders on the SC”? Why the “illegitimately,” apart from your by now well recognized hostility for Russia? As the recognized successor state to the USSR, surely its place as a permanent, veto-possessing member of the UN Security Council is as legitimate as that of any other successor state, as, e.g., China (which replaced the Nationalist rump state on Taiwan). And should the UK break up, in all likelihood its place would be assumed by England.

If you’re terming it illegitimate here because it behaves contrary to the supposed aspirational goals of the UN, there is surely no permanent member of the SC which would escape a similar judgement. So maybe all the permanent members are illegitimate? (I might go along with that.)

And then there’s the possibility that the possession of the veto itself is in some sense illegitimate? It certainly doesn’t any longer match the powers the permanent members possessed when the SC was formed. It’s very doubtful whether France or Britain belong there since their rankings in the system of power are way below the powers of, e.g., India, Germany?, Brazil? But maybe its the very notion of a veto at the SC that no longer matches global circumstances, constituting blockages rather than judgements (as can be seen by the way certain countries regularly use vetos to defend their friends/satellites and discomfit their enemies)?

james wilson said...

Michael, there you go again, presenting yourself as somehow an advocate of goodwill but you throw in stopping mass protests as if that was a universally acknowledged good thing, a necessity. Despite your emphasising the “carrot” you still present yourself as more than willing to see the stick being used on people who may well have no other way to make it known that they are discontented and maybe even suffering. De haute en bas, I suppose?

Anonymous said...

JW

You gotta try something. If you don't help the People of Gaza it might turn into a Sudan, or Haiti, or Northern Ireland: or, any of those three combinations.

Michael Llenos said...

My mistake. That was me.

JW said...

I'm certainly not disputing that something ought to be done. Thankfully, something was done in Northern Ireland, but that's an interesting case, for it's pretty obvious that years of wielding heavy sticks there didn't work. Besides, I don't believe the agreements which brought an end to "the troubles" required that mass protests be illegal, something Michael is intimating. (The modern criminalisation of protest in the UK is quite a recent, most unfortunate re-invention.) That said, it strikes me as rather odd that you don't consider the state of Gaza to be just as horrific in its own way as Sudan or Haiti, as if somehow it could be worse.

Michael Llenos said...

JW

The gangs & crime in Haiti & Sudan are extremely bad. And the famine in Sudan is worse. (Or at least has existed a great deal longer.) Although any sort of famine is nefarious and culpably unendurable.

But the scenario I'm proposing is a post IDF presence in Gaza. The IDF can be worse in many ways than gangs & crime by via their bombing actions. I do acknowledge the horrific famine as well. That's why the Israelies should not take any part in any U.N. mission to Gaza.

Michael Llenos said...

By "culpably unendurable" I meant that any nation that brings famine to a group of people is culpable of such an unendurable act.

John Rapko said...

There's an outstandingly interesting in the new NYRB by Mark Lilla of recent books giving the latest more or less crypto-Right and/or crypto-Catholic ideology of postliberal return to order by Patrick Deneed, Sohrab Ahmari, and Adrian Vermeule (a Harvard man--you can't have the bold advocacy of political regression without the Crimson!). An interesting point is Lilla's acknowledgement of "the hollowness of contemporary culture, which is now heightened by the ephemeral yet fraught online they [that is, young people attracted to this style of regression] have with others", and he recalls the (vaguely?) analogous attraction in the 60s to the writings of Thomas Merton and Paul Tillich. Here's a quote from Harvard's finest Vermeule suggesting sensitive folks enter into political coalitions with any and all right-alt right-radical right types: "The hunger for the real might then make people so desperate, so sick of the essential falsity of liberalism, that they become willing to gamble that the Truth . . . will prevail--or at least willing to gamble on entering into coalition with other sorts of anti-liberals." And further wisdom out of Harvard: "It is a matter of finding a strategic position from which to sear the liberal faith with hot irons, to defeat and capture the hearts and minds of liberal agents, to take over the institutions of the old order."--Lilla also quotes Montaigne's "it is much easier to talk like Aristotle and live like Caesar than to talk and live like Socrates", which reminds me to note that Raymond Geuss has a new book that opens with a lengthy essay on Montaigne. Here's Lilla: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2024/06/20/the-tower-and-the-sewer-why-liberalism-failed-deneen/

LFC said...

Here's another take "out of Harvard" (a phrase implicitly defined by John Rapko to mean anything written by anyone who's on any Harvard faculty):

https://www.amazon.com/Tyranny-Minority-American-Democracy-Breaking/dp/0593443071

aaall said...

Long Marches seem to tilt towards unfreedom: https://www.thenation.com/article/society/bozell-religious-right-gop/

s. wallerstein said...

I remember Thomas Merton from the 60's and he wasn't rightwing at all.

Unless I'm mistaken (I'm refraining from googling his name), he was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and far from being a rightwing Catholic, he was into Zen Buddhism, which was very cool and alternative in the 60's, as well as being a Catholic monk.

I would associate him with the school of liberation theology which was "in" with progressive Catholics during the 60's.

Now he wasn't a new atheist but if I have to opt between Merton and Sam Harris, I prefer to hang out with Merton.,

LFC said...

Mark Lilla himself, as far as I'm aware, is not exactly on the left.

aaall said...

Merton was a Trappist monk and quite outside of the hierarchy. Then there was Father Coughlin.

Achim Kriechel said...

Dear s.w,

" ...Now he wasn't a new atheist but if I have to opt between Merton and Sam Harris, I prefer to hang out with Merton... "

There is hardly any topic where my perceived distance across the Atlantic, i.e. between Europe and America, is as great as when observing the discussions between Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens and Dennett and people with religious convictions. I am not sure why this is. I am particularly struck by the insistent question: does God exist or not? Perhaps on this side of the Atlantic, Kant's refutation of the ontological proofs of God has penetrated the general subconscious to such an extent that no one who values his intellectual integrity dares to ask this question seriously. In any case, it seems as if the whole Transcendental Philosophy has not survived the crossing into the New World. (Exceptions prove the rule Prof. Wolff)

On the other hand, of course, it is also possible that, in view of the very deeply rooted naivety of some evangelical communities in the U.S., one is faced with completely different challenges. Then there are people like Gordon Peterson who are able to eloquently disguise this discussion behind a wall of seemingly rational arguments.

David Zimmerman said...

It's Jordan Peterson... not Gordon.

Fritz Poebel said...

AK: I don’t think that Kant proved that God does not exist—or that he destroyed the case for the existence of God (or what he and a lot of people mean/meant by the term). If anything, Kant offered proofs for believing (though maybe not knowing) that God exists. The First Critique isn’t the only thing he wrote on this subject. His “proofs” for God’s existence are delivered in his moral philosophy. He makes a case for the need to believe in a deity. For what it’s worth, I think that his arguments for this are sophistical, and I don’t believe them or believe in the deity that he says is a matter of rationality. As for the divide between America and Europe on belief in God, I’d mention that the popes who immediately preceded the present South American one were German and Polish. And then, of course, there’s the middle east. My sense in general about religious belief is that Nietzsche’s madman is still waiting (for non-Godot).

David Zimmerman said...

Kant undermined one argument for the existence of a god... the ontological argument, on the grounds (as we all learn in Phil 100) that "existence is not a predicate."

He did insist in the Groundwork and other places that the objectivity of morality presupposes the existence of "God, freedom and immortality." Whether this counts as a vindication of the existence of God is a matter of controversy.

james wilson said...

Achim, Unless you regard the English Channel as Atlantic--and admittedly, Britain may not be the Europe you're thinking of--your geographical allocations are a bit off. Dawkins is decidedly British, and while Hitchens eventually did become a US citizen he retained his British passport, so maybe we can call him a mid-Atlantic person?

I'd add, however, in relation to the distinctions you draw, that I, an atheist since the age of about 10, was most taken aback to encounter the sort of virulence with which American atheists advocated their disbelief. Prior to coming to the US, I was more accustomed to a sort of 'well, we're atheists, but so what?' attitude. And while our atheism may have disturbed our theist families and friends, again it was hardly worth talking about.

PS. After last night's "debate" I sense that a lot of Americans are now echoing Heidegger: 'only a god can save us.'

Achim Kriechel said...

thx @ David ... Jordan of course

@ Fritz,
yes, I realize that in Kant's critiques "God" becomes a very convoluted problem. That's why, careful as I am, I spoke of the "ontological proof of God", and not of God as a regulative concept etc.. If you follow the discussions between Peterson and Harris, for example, this problem is examined again and again from all sides and both seem to wonder why they cannot solve the problem of "existence".

As far as the popes are concerned, a distinction should be made between what is at the heart of their religious conviction and the unquestionable basic idea of their dogma and the way in which the church institutions and their members participate in public discourse. In the manner that for example Ratzinger before he became Pope, debated with Habermas, it was evident how much 'Enlightenment' Catholicism has already incorporated, for instance.

Eric said...

"He did insist in the Groundwork and other places that the objectivity of morality presupposes the existence of 'God, freedom and immortality.'"

Kant died 5 years before Darwin was born.

David Zimmerman said...

To Eric:

Your post carries an intriguing possibility, viz. that -- had he know about it -- Kant's views about the existence of God might have been affected by "Darwin's dangerous idea."

Hmmm.

Eric said...

Prof Zimmerman,

Maybe it wouldn't have altered his views about the existence of God. (Wasn't Darwin himself, at least at the time he began writing Origin of Species, a theist, or at least agnostic?)

But it might have given Kant pause when it came to arguing that God is required for the objectivity of morality. Evolution provides an mechanism for some degree of commonality of values (what could be called morality) among closely related organisms.

Eric said...

Context of that exchange in my last post.

Aaron Bastani [49:09] Something you hear on the left in the UK is that obviously what's happening in Gaza and the West Bank is bad, obviously there's a right-wing Israeli government [and] they're bad; but the British Left should work with the Israeli Left in order to underpin a two-state solution, or whatever you think is the preferred political outcome....
What you're saying, though, [is] actually, since the 1950s, these are the precise interests which have underpinned apartheid--the impossibility of Palestinian liberation.

Ilan Pappé: Absolutely.... [W]hat is interesting about Labour Zionism in Israel, and later on we would call it 'Liberal Zionism,' is there is no connection between the language that they use and the actions that they perform on the ground. So there is a deception here that is very sophisticated and for many years worked very well.

That you talk about, unlike the right wing in Israel, you talk about the wish for peace, for reconciliation, and yet you build more Jewish settlements in the West Bank than the right wing governments. But you talk much nicer about the future. And it takes time...to cut through this deception. And this kind of provided a shield of immunity for Israel, as long as it seemed like liberal or left Zionist parties are at the [helm]. But it was really a kind of thing that mesmerized people and blinded them to what was going on on the ground....

I think that's why this whole idea that there was a genuine peace camp in Israel that unfortunately was waiting in vain for the emergence of a similar, equivalent peace camp on the Palestinian side--this was never true. What people call the peace camp in Israel was a willingness, a tactical willingness, to rule the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in a more indirect way [somewhat like how the white South African apartheid regime indirectly ruled the black Bantustans, without directly occupying them].

Eric said...

Bastani [52:25}: So there is no real peace camp in Israel.

Pappé: There is not. There never was.
There are small anti-Zionist individuals and groups like Matzpen at the time [or] CAMPUS. There are members of the Israeli Communist Party [who] I think would genuinely believe in peace which is reconciliation, which is admitting what Israel did in the past and now looking for rectification of injustices and building a future on the basis of equality.... But what is called--usually the peace camp in Israel is not thinking in equal terms....

The best way of describing it is to talk to people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and they will tell you that life after the Oslo Process in 1993 was far worse than life before.... In every aspect, life became much worse for Palestinians after the Oslo Peace Process. And this is a reflection of what the peace camp in Israel is, because the peace camp in Israel determined the conditions and terms of the Oslo accord.

John Rapko said...

On a lighter note: I've only looked at the headlines, but I gather that the so-called presidential debate went as expected, except that the Dismal Dem's Dotard was even worse than feared. I did come across a good line from Freddie deBoer: "The bar for "best president" is now like the bar for "smartest of the 3 Stooges"".

Fritz Poebel said...

JR: I see that Berkeley literature professor Frederick Crews just died. He was a long-term debunker of Freud (etc. et al.) I wondered whether you knew him and if so what you thought of him. How much Freud is built into contemporary aesthetics theory?

Anonymous said...

I just happen to know quite a number of people who studied under Crews. Some of them even were close to him during his transition away from Freudianism, of which he was a passionate and influential teacher. What I gather from all of them is that despite not following him along the path he chose to follow, they nevertheless continued to think of him with affection for his personal qualities.

As for me, I found his "Pooh Perplex" one of the great introductions to literary criticism.

John Rapko said...

Fritz Poebel:
I'm very sorry to say that I never knew or studied Crews. When I was an undergraduate at Berkeley in philosophy (it took me 16 years to get an undergraduate degree; Berkeley was 1983-1991) Crews had a reputation (via distant gossip) of being a lightweight; I was in graduate school there 1991-1998, and I don't recall him ever being mentioned. Because I didn't know anybody who thought highly of him, I never checked him out, and so had and have absolutely no opinion whatsoever on his work.--It's because of countless things like this that I always stress Alasdair MacIntyre's saying that a major part of academic professionalization is absorbing a sense of who you must admire, who you must take seriously, who you may respectfully disagree with, who you may ignore, and to whom you may condescend. Professionalization is inter alia self-impoverishment.--My chief guides in aesthetics are Aristotle and Richard Wollheim, with Adorno a distant third. Wollheim was of course massively, yet also curiously indirectly, oriented towards psychoanalytic thinking, not just through Freud, but also Melanie Klein, Hannah Segal, and above all Adrian Stokes, with Wollheim's most overtly psychoanalytic work being the accounts of Titian, Poussin, and Ingres in Painting as an Art, all of which I consider absolutely brilliant and profound, though highly partial. I'm not aware of anyone substantively developing the psychoanalytic dimension of Wollheim's thought. These days I almost never come across any interesting work in aesthetics and/or the philosophy of art that owes much to psychoanalysis. In the philosophy of art there's the fascinating, occasionally profound, and wildly uneven work of Alva Nöe (I've written lengthy reviews of his last two books, for which see my blog or my academia.edu page); Mohan Matthen has written some exceptionally interesting essays in aesthetics; and to my mind most interesting there's the work of the anthropologists Carlo Severi and Philippe Descola on world visual art. None of this draws substantively on psychoanalytic thinking.

Eric said...

Anonymous, do you mean that they did not agree with his assessment of Freud?

Whatever one may have thought of Crews personally (I did not know him myself)--his analysis of Freud in, say, "Freud: The Making of an Illusion" was devastating and persuasive.

Eric said...

Fritz Poeble,
btw, did you know Peter Dale Scott. What did you think of him. At 95, he's been emeritus for decades now.

Eric said...

Poebel

John Rapko said...

In his just-published book Cosmic Connections (p. 544), the 92-year-old philosopher Charles Taylor cites "the remarkable book [published in January this year] of [the 95-year-old] Peter Dale Scott, Reading the Dream: A Post-secular History of Enmindment" in which "Scott sets out his notion and detailed unfolding of "ethology" as the multimillennial history of human ethical growth". Taylor also praises Scott's nearly 400-page book on Czesław Miłosz that was published last year. 90+ is the new 60+.--But I digress. I came to pass on Frankie Boyle's latest: "Even the name Biden sounds like someone's last words".

Eric said...

Wrt to the US presidential election.

At this point, I am often reminded of Grover Norquist's bit about how the only requirement conservatives have for their presidential nominee is that he have enough working digits to sign bills sent to him by a Republican-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate--no need for a president with a working brain.

Dyed-in-the-wool Democrats (and Trump haters) seem to share that sort of approach to the presidency now.

If Joe Biden were a candidate for any other job that required critical thinking skills, would you support his candidacy? Would you trust him to pilot your plane? Would you trust him to perform your heart surgery? (Assuming, of course, that in each case he had had the requisite training and had the experience to otherwise qualify for the job)

Heck, would you trust Biden to drive your kid's bus home from school?

I could understand people supporting Biden if the only other choice were Trump. But there are still several other people running who are not named Biden or Trump.

Eric said...

(John Rapko, thanks for replying. I obviously meant to address you, not Fritz.)

John Rapko said...

Eric,

I don't know Scott's work very well. I heard him read poetry a couple of times back in the day, and once heard him talk about the C.I.A. Those were the days when people I knew whispered about Alfred McCoy's book The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia and did a great deal of asserting about the C.I.A's role in drug smuggling and connections with Fort Benning's School of the America's (alleged) training of paramilitary torturers and assassins. I never pursued any of that, maybe because I had read Chomsky's and Herman's The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, and the documented and/or overt stuff was sufficiently appalling that I didn't care to read speculations about the covert operations. Because of Taylor's recommendation, I'm keen on taking a look at Scott's new book.

Michael said...

Some comments on the last day-or-so's conversation -

Re. Darwin's religious beliefs: All I can remember him saying is, (1) Some zealots had tried to spread the false rumor that, with the end of his life approaching, Darwin (re-?) converted to Christianity and disowned his scientific findings; (2) As the famous quote goes, he couldn't persuade himself that a beneficent God designed a certain species of wasp to implant its eggs in the living bodies of other insects, so that the latter would be slowly devoured from within; nor cats to play with mice.

Re. Kant and Darwinism: FWIW, I can't picture Kant (as a moral philosopher) being moved by the discovery of human morality's evolutionary origin; I think he's too much of a rationalist, too concerned to spell out the character of morality and the moral law in a-priori fashion, in a way that purports to be compatible with any empirical discovery whatsoever. Suppose some scientist came along and informed Kant that our spatial awareness had an evolutionary origin as well - I don't think Kant would want to revise his understanding of geometry or his teachings in the Transcendental Aesthetic.

Re. Kant's moral argument for belief in God: Was this influential? (And does it remain controversial today?) I'm not sure. Nietzsche ridiculed it (likening Kant to a fox who used his cunning to escape his cage, only to freely return to it), but I think it left a mark on some followers in e.g. Reinhold and some of the 19th-century British moralists and/or idealists...? I'm shaky on this.

Re. voting for Biden, or not: In a way, Trump of course is the only other choice - the only other candidate who has a shot of winning. Obviously not an Earth-shaking revelation, but still deserving of acknowledgement whenever the topic comes up... But do what you've got to do (which IMO is fine if you're not in a swing state). Also, the way it seems to me (and I ordinarily refrain from political commentary, b/c I'm pretty ignorant about the stuff), the Presidency isn't a one-person job, so the bus-driving etc. analogies aren't totally persuasive. If the Presidency really were a one-person job, then Trump's "first" (God willing, only) term would have turned out worse in ways I can hardly imagine.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael,

Right. I was thinking the same thing, that the presidency isn't a one person job.

Biden, if re-elected (and I hope he is), could become a Queen Elizabeth sort of figure, appearing in ceremonies and mouthing cliché phrases, while smart and ambitious young people run the show.

So Biden's obvious cognitive deterioration does not matter all that much.

David Zimmerman said...

"So Biden's obvious cognitive deterioration does not matter all that much."

It matters on the campaign trail!!

s. wallerstein said...

David,

I realize that it matters on the campaign trail.

I meant that it shouldn't matterr to us on the left.

In any case, Biden never was particularly brilliant. Obama strikes me as being very smart and having a high IQ, Clinton too, but Biden not at all.

George Bush 2 was especially dense, Trump is at least cunning and manipulative, which is a kind of intelligence.

Eric said...

'Trump is "the only other choice"' is only so if you make it so. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Discussing this with Biden supporters, I feel like the therapist who is trying to convince a terminally suicidally depressed person that they don't have to feel so bad, that there are other possible ways of being, it just takes being able to accept that and change one's perspective.

s. wallerstein said...

Eric,

Biden sucks, but Trump sucks a thousand times more.

I can see the point of building a third party option, but not when Trump is the Republican candidate.

There have been Republican candidates who were not as corrupt and dishonest as Trump, without his authoritarian tendencies.

The next time the Republican candidate is someone like Romney or McCain, fine, go for the third party option, try to build an alternative, but not now.

Eric said...

There are responsibilities of the presidency for which as a practical matter it is a one-man job. One is being the face of the government and the American people when dealing with other countries. (Just as the impression a candidate makes to potential voters matters, so does the impression a sitting president projects to other world leaders matters.) The days when it was possible for a president's wife and inner circle to hide the fact that he'd been completely incapacitated by a massive stroke are long gone.

Another is deciding what to do in a middle-of-the-night Fail-Safe/Doomsday scenario. There is no constitutional mechanism to block a presidential order to launch a nuclear strike.

Anonymous said...

Eric @ 1:12

Yes, I did mean that those of his students whom I know did not give up on Freudian analysis of literary works.

As to how impressive his post-Freudian debunking career was, I'd suggest you look more closely at two things: first, the philosophical foundations of the approach he adhered to (to my mind, it was extremely positivistic), and second, the bitter animus he directed at someone whose work he had previously taken quite uncritically (reminiscent of all that god that failed stuff familiar elsewhere).

I'm with you on your later comment, that being the US President is a sort of one-person job, esp. wrt nuclear war. (I wonder how Edith Wilson would have handled that.)

Michael said...

Right, not everything in the position is done collaboratively. But my general impression is that Biden (or any of the candidates not named Trump) has the sense and capacity to defer to, or welcome the input of, people with more advanced specialized knowledge, in at least some cases. And besides, for any of the one-person tasks you mention, I think it'd be a tough thing to argue that Trump would be a less dangerous fit than Biden. (In some individual cases I could easily be wrong - but in most or all of them? I strongly doubt it, FWIW.)

Any way I look at it (I think the strictly factual, non-ethical considerations are pretty much agreed-on here), I think where individual voters basically part company here is on the decision between two ethical stances (if "ethical" is the right word). One stance has it that choosing a candidate is ultimately a matter of damage-control, harm-minimization (or less pessimistically, "half-a-loaf versus none at all"); the other stance, to put it in terms of a slogan I've sometimes seen here, is "You don't fight fascism because you can win" - or, "The lesser of two evils is still evil" - maybe it's not a stretch to also reference "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

I have no idea how someone occupying the first stance might begin to persuade someone occupying the second stance, or vice-versa. It just seems like a sort of basic (i.e. fundamental), ground-level decision, if that makes sense.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael,

Right. I see electoral politics at this moment when the extreme right is growing everywhere as damage control.

LFC said...

Biden's debate performance has been rightly criticized (it was awful), but what Trump's debate performance showed yet again is that he has no conception of anything resembling the truth, that he lies repeatedly and without compunction, and that he makes stuff up out of whole cloth (e.g., his statement that "everyone" [sic] wanted Roe v. Wade to be overturned and the abortion issue sent back to the states). Also his deranged raving about undocumented immigrants being housed in penthouse suites and being all terrorists and murderers, when the data show that immigrants commit fewer crimes than non-immigrants.

Trump is increasingly appearing to be a deranged narcissist, a tendency that he was able to some extent hold in check when he was Pres. but is now, exacerbated by his fury over his criminal conviction and other legal travails, coming to the fore with a vengeance. Anyone who has even a nodding acquaintance with the gist of the Heritage Foundation-sponsored wet dream Project 2025 should realize that a second Trump term would be a catastrophe. Under these circumstances, a vote for a third-party candidate, especially in a swing state or tightly contested state, is an act of profound irresponsibility.

Being Pres. is not analogous to flying a plane (there are legal age limits for commercial pilots, btw, an exception to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act) or performing surgery. So this line I find unpersuasive. As to whether I would trust Biden or Trump more with the nuclear codes, the answer is Biden, unequivocally.

Biden has been the most pro-labor Pres. in decades. He also has a record of legislative accomplishment esp given the closely divided Congress. He can no longer speak well extemporaneously (not that he was ever that great at it), but when you look at the overall picture, and despite his disappointing debate performance, voting for him, esp. in a swing state, is the obvious thing to do if you care about combating right-wing authoritarianism, xenophobia, and neo-fascism.

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MAD said...

@LFC
Those who have not already decided to vote for Biden, despite knowing his opponent, either don't care (to know) or agree with what you are saying. Most people here, I think, understand the depth of Trump's immorality, ignorance, etc. Biden's job was to make some undecided (clueless) voters understand some of this. He blew it. What I am interested in is this: if Trump becomes president what damage will he cause and whether the US will ever be the same again.

LFC said...

@ MAD
Those are good questions. I need some time to think about them. Partly it will turn on what the balance of power in Congress is, since while Trump can do some damage on his own, other measures will require congressional action. Perhaps others will weigh in on this. P.s. If you search on "Project 2025" some of the Trumpist agenda will likely be spelled out.

Danny said...

I dropped by because I was wondering about a Biden-Trump debate thread. I have liked Biden all along, and am seriously wondering if the idea of him pulling out of the race can possibly gain traction. I would be amused if AOC became the candidate, if only for entertainment value. I don't think she's *that* famous. It's hard to get excited about Kamala Harris and her chances, I say this as a Californian, I don't think she's an especially talented politician.

But, I find myself distracted by the comment thread here -- it is very clear in my own mind that Kant was never remotely 'arguing that God is required for the objectivity of morality', so I wonder where one gathers that impression, like as if Kant said, in so many words, that 'God is required for the objectivity of morality'.

David Zimmerman said...
'Kant undermined one argument for the existence of a god... the ontological argument, on the grounds (as we all learn in Phil 100) that "existence is not a predicate."'

I'm not sure I'd sum up the issue as being about any 'argument for the existence of a god', so much as it is about attempting a logical proof of the existence of god. I guess that can construed as an argument for the existence of god, but this rather elides Kant's point of emphasis, that we don't know what we don't know.

'He did insist in the Groundwork and other places that the objectivity of morality presupposes the existence of "God, freedom and immortality."'

Not true. What, indeed, is 'the obejctivity of morality'? Does it actually even mean anything? You don't read about 'the objectivity of morality' in Kant.

aaall said...

"Partly it will turn on what the balance of power in Congress is.."

Loper Bright is another judicial coup that, short of New deal/Great Society majorities, will render Congress yet more ineffective. Of course, majorities like that would mean a Democratic president.

I see even folks on the Left seem to have a problem with an African American/S, Asian president of the female persuasion.

Also, how about that Vichy France?

How would one determine if one was headed into a Dark Age?

David Palmeter said...


LFC,

I will vote for Biden, if for no other reason, because he isn't Trump. Trump and, increasingly the Republican Party, are not constitutionalists, not small "d" democrats or small "r" republicans. They do not see the other party as the loyal opposition that is wrong on the issues, but as the enemy that must be destroyed. They do not respect the basic premises of a constitutional system, and do not respect is borders or its norms.

I can't think of another President who did not respect the constitution and the norms. For instance, there were at least four Presidents that that were defeated in their attempts to win a second term: Herbert Hoover lost to FDR; Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter; Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan; George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton. Every one of them congratulated his opponent, and every one of them rode in an open car from the White House to the Capitol with his opponent to witness his taking the oath, and listened to his inaugural address. Carter began is address by thanking Ford, on behalf of the nation, for healing the country after Watergate. Can you imagine Trump ever doing anything like that? These norms are not laws, but they reflect values that are essential to a free society. They are totally alien to Trump.

I pay no attention to all the comparisons of the two candidates. This election is not about policy--or at least it shouldn't be. It's about the Constitution, the peaceful transition of power, of rule by law. Trump is a danger to all of these. Biden's age, inflation, US policy on Israel and the Middle East--are not important. Preservation of free government as we've know it is important. It is the only thing that is important in this election. And there's only one option for those that want to preserve it.






LFC said...

D. Palmeter,
I think both preservation of democracy and policy issues (e.g. environment, climate, taxation, reproductive rights, foreign policy, immigration, etc.) are important. But there's little point in debating this since we end up in the same place re voting.

s. wallerstein said...

Gaza is an issue too. Biden needs to cut military aid to Netanyahu.

David Zimmerman said...

Trump gets some immunity.

We are doomed.

aaall said...

"Trump gets some immunity."

Amazing how we went 236 years without having to consider the issue of presidential immunity.

s.w., Gaza isn't an issue in the U.S. election because the Palestinians are screwed on multiple levels regardless of U.S. aid while a Trump presidency in the context of our international fascist moment will be a global disaster (doesn't make the present situation OK but we just live here). Also consider the likely reaction of a Trump administration to Russia using tactical nukes in Ukraine and Israel doing the same in Gaza and Lebanon and more robust items in Iran (answer - ho, hum). Then there's four years to construct the O-5,6 and GO promotion lists.

s. wallerstein said...

aaall,

Gaza is an issue for many on the left and for Arab-Americans.

If Biden steps down, the Democrats can nominate someone with clean hands on Gaza, who unlike Biden, is not complicit in Israeli genocide and thus gain the votes of the left (the Jill Stein votes) and those of Arab-Americans.

Biden is a liability on many levels, first of all, his cognitive deterioration and second, his support for Israeli genocide.

LFC said...

@ D Zimmerman

I have downloaded but only looked fairly quickly through the opinion(s). The key holding wrt the Trump Jan. 6 prosecution seems to be that a President's "official acts" -- if they fall outside the "core" powers of the Presidency (e.g., veto; pardon power) which get absolute immunity -- are entitled to at least a "presumptive" immunity.

So on remand the lower courts have to decide which of the acts in the indictment are "official" and whether the "presumption" of immunity attaching to them does or doesn't apply (i.e. whether the presumption is overcome -- by what exactly? Idk, bc have only glanced through Roberts's opinion so far.)

In the end, then, the US Ct of Appeals for the DC Circuit could still decide that Trump can be tried on most of the charges in the indictment, bc even if many of the acts are deemed official, the ct of appeals cd rule that the presumptive immunity doesn't apply (hence the word "presumptive" -- a presumption can be overcome).

By the time all that happens, however, the Nov. election will have occurred, and if Trump wins, his attorney general will probably dismiss the whole case.

The real problem here was that SCOTUS decided to review the DC Circuit's ruling in the first place, which almost guaranteed that Trump wd not go to trial before the election.

aaall said...

Opinion and Sotomayor's dissent:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/23pdf/23-939_e2pg.pdf

LFC said...

p.s. Whatever the lower courts decide on remand wrt immunity and the character (i.e., official/unofficial) of the charged acts, Trump cd (if he wanted) appeal it, and SCOTUS might or might not take it up; but again, by that time the Nov. election will probably have passed.

n.b. All opinions in decided cases (at least for the most recent SCOTUS terms) are available at the SCOTUS website.

LFC said...

P.s. Everyone interested should read the opinions for themselves. That way they won't have to rely on what anyone says on any blog (including LGM, where S. Lemieux's "summary" of the majority opinion consists of an upside-down flag picture, the one flown over Alito's house).

aaall said...

The summary is mostly quoting Sotomayor's dissent which everyone should read and which ends thusly (N.B. LFC).

"The majority of my colleagues seems to have put their
trust in our Court’s ability to prevent Presidents from be-
coming Kings through case-by-case application of the inde-
terminate standards of their new Presidential accountabil-
ity paradigm. I fear that they are wrong. But, for all oursakes, I hope that they are right."

"In the meantime, because the risks (and power) the Court
has now assumed are intolerable, unwarranted, and plainly
antithetical to bedrock constitutional norms, I dissent."

Given the last couple of terms and what a Trumped up judiciary would be going forward, trusting the courts to preserve the Republic seems unwise.

LFC said...

aaall,

You're quoting Jackson's dissent there, not Sotomayor's dissent. (There are two dissenting opinions; Jackson joined Sotomayor's dissent, but also wrote separately.)

From what I can tell so far, Roberts's opinion is bad, prob very bad. But still shd be read.

Re "trusting the courts to preserve the Republic seems unwise": since I never said anything about trusting the courts to preserve the republic, I assume you're not addressing me here.

(p.s. I'm sure some will be glad to learn that I'm off the blogosphere for the rest of the day. Bye. Have fun w/ the LGM commentariat.)

A WPF admirer said...

From the Facebook page of Tobias B. Wolff, yesterday, June 30th:

"A brief personal update. My father has had a health emergency that brought him to the hospital ten days ago. He was discharged this past Monday and is now in the skilled rehab section of the lovely senior community in Chapel Hill where he and his wife Susie live. He is stable and is beginning the recovery process. I have spoken to him every day since this all happened and will be flying to North Carolina later this week (with a brief stop in Philadelphia) to visit and help with the tasks my Dad and Susie confront, including getting their independent-living apartment set up in the ways they will need to live safely going forward whenever my Dad is able to exit rehab. It will be a long process."

Be well, professor Wolff!

aaall said...

Best wishes and a quick recovery!

s. wallerstein said...

My best wishes for a swift recovery too!!!

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,
Although, I believe through the testimony of your previous posts, that as a Jewish-atheist, you can relate more towards Christianity than Judaism because of the KJV Bible, I have left a note in the Western Wall (by via Aish.com) on your behalf. I personally find the free Western Wall prayer service at Aish.com very helpful in times of need & crisis.

Achim Kriechel said...

I am thinking of you, dear Professor, and wish you a good recovery.

aaall said...

Apologies for the careless scrolling. Since prior presidents have dealt with wars, depressions, and other serious matters without evident fear of subsequent indictment, we have to wonder just what the majority sees as necessary future presidential actions that will require this immunity?

"The hesitation to execute the duties of his office fearlessly
and fairly that might result when a President is making de-
cisions under 'a pall of potential prosecution,' McDonnell v.
United States, 579 U. S. 550, 575 (2016), raises 'unique
risks to the effective functioning of government,' Fitzger-
ald, 457 U. S., at 751. A President inclined to take one
course of action based on the public interest may instead
opt for another, apprehensive that criminal penalties may
befall him upon his departure from office. And if a former
President’s official acts are routinely subjected to scrutiny
in criminal prosecutions, 'the independence of the Execu-
tive Branch' may be significantly undermined. Vance, 591
U. S., at 800. The Framers’ design of the Presidency did not
envision such counterproductive burdens on the 'vigor['
and 'energy' of the Executive. The Federalist No. 70, at
471–472."

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/23pdf/23-939_e2pg.pdf

N.B. once again we get sucky law office history.

charles Lamana said...

Professor Wolf, get better soon we need your input on the latest developments of the Biden debate performance and the Supreme Court's decision to give presidents enhanced power to act like a Monarch.

David Palmeter said...


Get well soon!!!

David Zimmerman said...

It is time for Biden to expand the Supreme Court by 4-6 seats.

There is time to do so.

There are no constitutional bars to his doing so.

This is no time for him to be timid.

Will he do it?... Probably not.

Shame.

aaall said...

"There are no constitutional bars to his doing so."

Article 2, section 2 of the Constitution/ 28USC

This morning on CNBC the pricing of a drug by (I believe) Lilly was being discussed. It was noted that the present administration is trying to talk prices down. It was also noted that lowering the price might help in the coming election. One of the hosts then pointed out that that might result in serious retaliation by a Trump administration should that be a thing in January. What struck me is that was taken as an "of course" and meh. This is how folks like Putin and Orban operate.

David Zimmerman said...

Right... It would take action by congress, which is now under the control of Repugs in the House and subject to the filibuster in the Democratic controlled Senate.

I was venting out of frustration at the impotence of the Democrats.

David Zimmerman said...

The frustration I was directing toward Biden in particular -- even granting the necessary role of Congress-- was about his consistent unwillingness to countenance any attempt to press for an expansion of SCOTUS in the face of the Republican take-over of the Court.

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John Rapko said...

Jeffrey St. Clair has published his weekly Friday round-up today (Wednesday), in order to get it out while Biden is still around. It gives a bracing summary of elite reactions to Biden's cognitive decline, as well as Gordon Lightfoot's timely new lyrics to 'Sundown', a quote from Frank O'Hara, and the priceless remark "Liberal fantasies about Biden ordering Seal Team 6 to take out Trump [I've seen this several times already on Facebook] before the election seem misguided on several grounds, notably because Biden would inevitably send them to the wrong address."--https://www.counterpunch.org/2024/07/03/biden-in-the-bardo/

s. wallerstein said...

Professor Wolff may take a while to recover.

We have formed a interesting group of regular commenters here and I would like us to keep conversing.

I see that for some reason Michael's last comment does not appear above although I received it in my email.

So we might try another form of communicating while Professor is recuperating.

LFC has a blog and we could migrate there if he is willing for that to occur.

Or someone of us could start a blog, for us to converse. It takes about 5 minutes to start one in Google blogger.

Just a suggestion.

LFC said...

There are a number of things I could say about that Jeffrey St. Clair piece referenced by J. Rapko, but on due reflection I've decided not to say any of them.

LFC said...

P.s. Re s.w.'s comment: I'd be happy, like most bloggers, to have more traffic at my blog, but if the regular commenters here want another venue to converse among themselves, it might make sense for someone to set up a blog with Blogger. (My blog is on WordPress which, while not esp. difficult, may be a bit less user-friendly for people unfamiliar with WordPress.)

Michael said...

I'm not sure I know what I'm doing, but I just made an open discussion forum if folks want to carry on over there. It shouldn't cost anything. You do need to make an account, so (hopefully) spam and trolling etc. won't be a thing. I don't think there'll be the issue of multiple "Anonymous" postings, either - but pseudonyms are fine.

https://sophistryandillusion.freeforums.net

Michael Llenos said...

Made a simple Corkboard at top of my website. Click on a link when over there...

"http://michael.www2.50megs.com"

Michael Llenos said...

Problem with my Corkboard is that although you can post anonymously you have to put in a valid email address no matter who's it is.

A RPW admirer said...

It seems Professor Wolff is on the road to recovery, though his condition was gravely serious. The latest update from Tobias B. Wolff via Facebook:

"I write with a more guardedly hopeful update about my father than I expected would be possible yesterday. A lot lies ahead, but the conversation right now is about what his recovery will look like.

My father had a fall about three weeks ago that produced an acute subdural hematoma -- bleeding inside the membrane surrounding the brain. As he has written about on his blog, he has advancing Parkinson's Disease and he has been experiencing serious physical and mobility issues. He went to UNC hospital after this fall where the hematoma was diagnosed, but successive CT scans suggested the blood was receding on its own and he was alert, aware and very much himself. After several days of steady improvement he was discharged and started rehab in the skilled nursing section of the senior community where he lives. After several days, however, he experienced a worsening of symptoms that quickly became precipitous. He was rushed to the hospital yesterday -- it should have been Monday -- where they quickly diagnosed a resurgent subdural hematoma that had become gravely serious. As I scrambled to make travel arrangements, get Spark taken care of and get to the airport, I was on the phone with his care team authorizing intubation and a series of emergency procedures. My father was probably a few hours away from death if left untreated during those phone calls and the prognosis for survival and recovery were both very unsure. I spent most of yesterday preparing to say goodbye.

The emergency procedure was successful, however, and all the signs of his early recovery have been positive. He is still intubated and sedated so no real communication is possible, though he has responded in small, promising ways to his care team. I wanted to wait to write about his condition until we knew more about how he is doing cognitively, which remains a question given the nature and severity of this trauma, but it looks like the breathing tube will not come out until late Friday for a variety of reasons. The conversation now, however, is about the recovery path ahead of him and not whether he will survive the day, which is a very different place to be.

My Dad taught a remote course at Harvard this past spring on Marx's Das Kapital. At 90 years old and confronting advancing Parkinson's he has stubbornly remained active in the life of the mind, much to our collective benefit. It is my ardent hope that he will emerge from this crisis still able to engage the world of ideas that has been his home for almost a century. He still very much needs your thoughts, but there is space to breathe and reason to hope today."

Godspeed, Professor Wolff!

David Palmeter said...


Let's hope all is well. They say that you do not die WITH Parkinson's but FROM Parkinson's. The disease itself doesn't kill, but it aids other causes in doing so. The biggest cause of death for people with Parkinson's is head injury caused by a fall. My wife has fallen frequently, and has been hospitalized four times so far this year because of head injuries resulting from falls. Fortunately, she so far has had no serious consequences. It's a dreadful disease.

David Palmeter said...


In my haste, I had "with" and "from" reversed. You die WITH Parkinson's, not FROM Parkinson's.

Michael Llenos said...

If anyone wants to post anonymously on my Corkboard then they can do it by posting my email address after clicking on the POST icon. However, make sure you write in the heading or main body that it is not your email address but mine or someone else's. Plus write what you call yourself or title yourself but with your own name or title. That way you can still post anonymously at my Corkboard.

Michael Llenos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Llenos said...

Hopefully this link works:

"The Corkboard"

LFC said...

@ Michael Llenos
I don't know exactly how your Corkboard works, but on the Internet sites with which I'm familiar, "posting anonymously" does not mean posting with an email address other than one's own. Rather, posting anonymously means posting under the name "Anonymous" or some variant of it. What you seem to be talking about is people who not only want to post as "Anonymous" but who also want to keep their email addresses hidden from a site's proprietor, in this case hidden from yourself. That's a step beyond what "posting anonymously" usually means, at least as I understand the phrase. This is nitpicking perhaps, but I think it may be worth having a shared understanding of what the phrases "posting anonymously" or "commenting anonymously" mean.

LFC said...

P.s. Unless the way your Corkboard works is that everyone's email addresses are visible to everyone else.

Michael Llenos said...

"Unless the way your Corkboard works is that everyone's email addresses are visible to everyone else."

You have to fill in all the empty fields or you can't post a message. That includes the heading, the body, your name, and finally your address. In these empty fields you can type almost anything. But the email field has to have a real email address. To get around people posting fake email addresses, they can post mine--just as long as they type UME (Using Michael Email) at the end of the body. It would be an "honor system" of course. And, yes, I cannot change the way the Corkboard is set up. I got the idea to use my website from s. wallerstein's post. The Corkboard is the best I can do.

Michael Llenos said...

"To get around people posting fake email addresses"

The problem is that if anyone types in a fake email address, it may match up with a real email address & then someone emails me all angry at me and the Corkboard I'm displaying.

Michael Llenos said...

By the way the categories are off the top of my head. If anyone wants me to post a new category, then just write to me, or on my Corkboard, or on this blog. And if the body is too difficult to paste in then just use a word processor and cut and paste. I think each post is 1,000 characters long. So for a 1,500 character post or more then just create multiple posts.

Michael Llenos said...

And if anyone says my Corkboard sucks then I agree. It's not meant to replace RPW's website but to be an alternative (in categories) until RPW posts again.

s. wallerstein said...

I wrote Professor Wolff's son at his academic website expressing my concern for his father's health and asking him to update us about the recovery process in the comments section here from time to time.

aaall said...

Red Wall rebuilding?

https://election.news.sky.com/elections/general-election-2024

james wilson said...

Red Wall rebuilding? Well, after a fashion that’s so, aaall. But it surely isn’t a very strong wall. Indeed, there's a lot of rot in its foundations. The Labour Party has the support—or at least garnered the votes—of only about 20 percent of the British adult population. Worse, perhaps, is that it got even many fewer votes than it did in the 2019 General Election when Corbyn was the Party's leader. Labour has certainly benefitted from the collapse of the Tories (and good riddance to them!!) But it was so many others, including, very troublingly, the Farange-led camp, who really stuck it to the Tories. And there is a significant element of Farangism in the very constituencies that you’re designating as a rebuilding Red Wall.

PS. After seeing the imbalances the British first-past-the-post system has again resulted in, I feel moved to apologise for my namesakes role in creating the U.S. Electoral College. But he was trying to respond to proposals for other, more extreme forms of indirect election. He actually wanted direct election for the Presidency, the Senate, as well as the House, but no one else at the Convention would support him. He was moved to do so, or so I like to believe, because, growing up in Scotland, he had grown up within an electoral system which was in actuality one rather large 'rotten burgh' where the electors were a tiny, self-perpetuating handful of people.

s. wallerstein said...

Tobias Wolff answered me very cordially and said that he would keep this blog's readers informed about his father's recovery process.

Achim Kriechel said...

many thanks s.w !!

aaall said...

"many thanks s.w !!"

Ditto!

"Atmosphere at National Rally campaign event took nosedive in the hour before polls closed."

https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/france-election-runoff-results-07-07-24-intl/index.html

Vichy? It appears there will be no stinkin' Vichy!



aaall said...

Folks considering third part fantasies in November in the U.S. should ponder the common sense the left and center demonstrated in the French elections.

s. wallerstein said...

aaall,

Sure, but the Democrats have to get rid of Biden. It's an insult to the voters that they are expected to vote for a senile candidate as the alternative to Trump.

A lot of folks may not vote for a third party candidate, but they simply will not vote for someone who does not have the mental capacity to be chief executive of a super power with nuclear weapons.

David Zimmerman said...


The polls are closed in France and the first projections have been published.

From The Guardian....

France’s national assembly has 577 seats, with 289 seats needed for an absolute majority.

Here is the first projected seat distribution, from Ipsos. It shows the left in the lead, in a major shift compared to opinion polls during the campaign.

Left-green New Popular Front: 172-192 seats

Emmanuel Macron’s allies: 150-170 seats

Far right National Rally and allies: 132-152 seats

Anonymous said...

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/jul/06/joe-biden-neurologist-doctor-meeting

Achim Kriechel said...

vive la france

The Red Baron said...

Folks considering third part fantasies in November in the U.S. should ponder the common sense the left and center demonstrated in the French elections.

Leftists should consider that as an example at their own peril. As long as they can screw the left, the centrist scum in English-speaking countries will side with the extreme right. They will do, in other words, exactly as the centrist scum in Germany did with the Nazis and against the SPD and KPD.

David Palmeter said...


All human relationships, from marriages to governments require compromise. Calling your most likely allies "scum" is not the best way to make progress. Macron's party needs more votes, and can look right as well as left to get them. Both sides can offer something. The left needs to make its offer is better than the right's. And in exchange for support, it gets many things that it wants.

Although the systems are different, the left in both the US and elsewhere, in my view, should take a lesson from Bernie Sanders--not Ralph Nader. Although not a Democrat, Bernie challenged for the nomination both before and after Trump, and in so doing moved Biden and the Democrats decidedly to the left.

Anonymous said...

not that i expect applause from the usual suspects, but still there's this:

https://www.historynewsnetwork.org/article/its-time-to-put-ralph-naders-role-in-the-2000-elec

David Zimmerman said...

I guess I am one of the "usual suspects," but the piece from the history news network is utterly unconvincing.

Sure... Gore was saddled by many of the policies of B Clinton, and Sure... Florida election official disenfranchised a lot of Democratic voters.

But.... 100,000 votes for Nader, most of which would have gone to Gore, truly made the difference that made the "hanging chad" Brooks Bros riot possible, were what made the difference that landed the election in the SCOTUS,

Similarly with those "80,000 votes in the upper Midwest" that H Clinton did not get (10,000 of them in Michigan) because Jill Stein ran her feckless campaign.

Democrats... Do not vote for 3rd party candidates!

David Palmeter said...


Anonymous,

Consider David Zimmerman's post my reply to you. I couldn't say it better.

Anonymous said...

Better ain't good enough. Some people are just not able to accept that their biasses are part of the problem.
Besides as we all know, the largest bloc of voters in the upcoming presidential election will be the non-voters. And lets not forget the very great many who'll vote against the candidate of the party they claim most of the time to belong to.

John Rapko said...

I haven't been following the 'Who Shall Lead Us to Victory?' saga, but I did read Richard Falk's piece today in Counterpunch, 'Critiquing Biden’s Worldview, Democratic Party Tactics and America’s Destiny'. The quotations from Biden's recent speech induced the philosophical question: What is the line between the epideictic and the deranged? https://www.counterpunch.org/2024/07/09/critiquing-bidens-worldview-democratic-party-tactics-and-americas-destiny/

David Zimmerman said...

Life in Amerika (From The Daily Beast)

Justice Sotomayor’s Bodyguard Shoots Suspected Carjacker Outside Her Home
ON GUARD

The U.S. Marshals office said that Kentrell Flowers, 18, allegedly walked up to one of the deputies’ cars at around 1:15 a.m. and pointed a gun at the bodyguard.

David Zimmerman said...

Richard Falk's piece is right on point.

Anonymous said...

Convey to your dad, please, that decessero is with him. It will make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Professor Tobias,
May we please have an update on RPW's condition? We are deeply concerned.
All the best
A long long time fan

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

You might write Tobias Wolff directly at his University of Pennslyvania law school website.

I wrote him a week ago and I don't want to nag him since I'm sure that he has other worries and things to do besides keeping us up-to-date here.

However, if more people were to write him, it's probable that he would comment here on his father's condition.

I also wrote Professor Leiter and he told me that he is in contact with Tobias Wolff through Facebook. I don't have Facebook myself. However, if Professor Wolff's condition were to take a negative turn (I hope and pray that it doesn't), I imagine that Leiter would notify us here or maybe in twitter where he is fairly active.

Anonymous said...

"... if more people were to write him, it's probable that he would comment here on his father's condition."

Good grief. The man's father is in the ICU, and you are urging us to email him en masse to get him to post here?

He posts updates to FB. Ask someone who uses FB to keep you up to speed.

s. wallerstein said...

Anonymous,

Trying to contact Tobias Wolff through Facebook is a good idea.

Othewise, it's a question of tact.

When I was in a similar situation, I appreciated the surprising number of people who called me or emailed me showing concern.

It may be heartening for Tobias Wolff to see how many people admire his father for his learning, wisdom and political commitment.

However, as I said above, everything should be done tactfully and showing our genuine concern.

Michael Llenos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Llenos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Llenos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Llenos said...

Donald Trump was just shot, so watch the news.

David Zimmerman said...

Only grazed... thoughts and prayers...

Michael said...

Some stuff on my mind:

I feel as if the thing for me to do over the next three-ish months is just to presume that Trump will win, just accept it as if it were almost totally certain. (I'll vote anyway, straight Democratic.) It scares and sickens me, but it also inspires me to take a fresh look at where I am in life, and set some new goals in the way of self-improvement as well as "self-sufficiency" (a mythical ideal, yes, cruelly abused by right-wingers as a matter of principle; but still, the ideal isn't completely bogus). Various thoughts in connection with this:

I'm depressed, heavily medicated, out of shape, a "failed academic," an habitual over-sleeper, an Internet addict, kind of putzing through life on family money and disability benefits, etc. (Among my basic anxieties re. GOP leadership are the potential evisceration of the safety net I currently depend on - I stand to lose most of my personal income and most of my healthcare.)

For the most part, I want to be the opposite of these things, but my habit has been to procrastinate, give into defeatism, talk myself out of more meaningful sustained effort. My most recent physical gave me an unexpected kick in the ass - my numbers were worse than they'd ever been - and this as I approach the age at which my grandfather prematurely died from a heart attack - and I have no doubt that the main causes (in my case) were lifestyle-related. (This last point, of course, is dumb luck speaking. It's awful to think how many people's lives are destroyed by things utterly beyond their influence, and often by things that a less cruel, less irrational society would readily obviate.)

However, a few weeks into my post-physical dietary adjustment (nothing fancy, just more fruits and veggies, less eating out; I haven't yet gotten around to the other key categories, e.g. exercise), I'm down ten-plus pounds, my mood has somewhat improved, and I'm beginning to consider my bigger picture with confidence and optimism. There's room for further improvement via the gradual accumulated payoff of small-but-significant personal changes, some of which may over time become easier and even enjoyable in themselves.

What does this have to do with Trump? Well... I've only ever been able to dip my toes into the world of political analysis and reflection, but I've consistently gotten the impression that its main lesson is: "Human society is in many ways terrible, broken, doomed; and there's pretty much nothing you can do to change this." IMO, perhaps a healthy response to this lesson (at least for those without more than ordinary political power) is - not to remove yourself from political engagement, but - to shift your personal focus more in the direction of things that are susceptible to constructive influence on your part. To whatever extent happens to be possible, stick it to Trump and his friends by doing something good, positively impacting others (if only a very limited number), and being a better version of yourself despite the hardship and opposition their policies create. (This is obviously worth aspiring to quite apart from the "stick-it" factor.)

Lastly, I want to state (not sure how many more chances there will be) that Prof. Wolff is someone whose example has positively impacted me. We do not know one another, but just the act of viewing some of his lectures, reading some of his books (as well as the blog) - this makes me hold onto the hope that I can still do something good with my education (albeit not in today's academia), and in some small way promote and participate in a great human tradition. (I've thought e.g. about doing an educational blog or vlog myself.) I admire the professor's honesty and humanity as much as his intellect, eloquence, and philosophical ability.

Sorry for the sermon, just thought it perhaps worth writing.

s. wallerstein said...

Michael,

It's not a sermon. No need to apologize at all.

Why don't you start a blog? You're quite a talented writer. I used to teach college composition and I give you a high grade.

If you start one, I'll follow you for sure.

Maybe a blog where you combine philosophy with autobiography as you do in your comment above.

By philosophy I don't refer to the academic stuff, but to the old-fashioned search for wisdom and meaning in life.

LFC said...

Substack seems to be the place where a fair number of former bloggers are these days. It lets them "monetize" via subscriptions. I only follow one person there and am not a paid subscriber but many people do pay (usu. a small amt per month). Just a note to anyone (in this case Michael) thinking of starting a blog. Old-fashioned blogging (though I have a blog) has drawbacks, which I won't take time to go into. I add my voice btw to those wishing RPW the best.

charles Lamana said...

For Michael, thank you for that very open look into what your life is at this point in time. You have the courage to express your thoughts about your life and how it may be changed if Trump becomes President again. That thought of the fascistic right of which he is a part is anxiety-producing. The thought of scrapping environmental programs to address the urgent action needed to mitigate the main problem of greenhouse gases is also anxiety and fear-producing. The genocide and ethnic cleansing as horrific as it is now its very possible to get worse if hat's even possible. The thought of the use of Nuclear weapons is also fear producing.

As for exercise, the college of Sports Medicine, states that you should exercise on most days of the week. Thirty minutes of walking and some type of resistance training. You can do push ups, jumping jacks and deep knee bends, along with front and side planks. I suspect you know all about these forms of exercise. And keep in mind that you are highly educated and I should think you would be able to get a job in teaching or any other professional field.

What you wrote was valuable, I didn't take it as any kind of sermon.

John Rapko said...

Michael--
I found your comment quite interesting and very much worth reading. (Especially when prodded once by my e-friend S. Wallerstein), I've put up way more autobiographical material here than I should have. But here's what works for at least one person I'm familiar with: 1. Count calories, and restrict yourself to 200-300 fewer than needed to maintain body weight with little activity. 2. Walk a lot. --> You'll knock off 1+lbs/week without even noticing it. 3. When walking, memorize/sing songs and memorize/recite poetry. 4. When walking, notice the geography, the feel of the ground, the plants, the animals, the sky. Stop occasionally to ponder an especially interesting bit. 5. Whatever you find yourself most drawn to (geography, botany (Crime Pays But Botany Doesn't on YouTube!), biology, meteoreology, song, poetry), read about it, reflect on it, paint it, write about it, etc. ==> T***p will become what Wallace Stevens called 'a bug in the grass':

A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts

The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten in the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

Fritz Poebel said...

Cannon Law.
NYT Headline
“Judge Dismisses Classified Documents Case Against Trump
“Judge Aileen Cannon ruled that the entire case should be thrown out because the appointment of the special counsel who brought the case, Jack Smith, had violated the Constitution. “

LFC said...

@ F Poebel
That is, probably not coincidentally, precisely what Clarence Thomas argued (or strongly suggested) in his solo concurrence in the immunity case.

LFC said...

P.s. I assume Trump's lawyers seized on the Thomas concurrence as soon as it came down and filed a motion to dismiss using Thomas's arguments, suspecting that Cannon wd respond favorably to them, as she has.

aaall said...

DJT jumped ~50% in the pre-market which was a gift to the nimble at the open. Still up ~33% over Friday close. Size is interesting. Lemmings.

LFC said...

Should anyone who doesn't bet on elections care about the betting market? What is its track record as a predictor of results?

aaall said...

-LFC, I was referencing Trump media stock which is a classic pump and dump. My trading program shows individual transactions in real time. The ~50% spike in the pre-market on solid volume followed by a big red candle on high volume on the open was amusing.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Chomsky is going to bury this one too in the end.

LFC said...

aaall
I see (more or less).

A RPW admirer said...

A very cheering update about our dear Professor Wolff, via his son Tobias's Facebook. It seems he has been through the wringer, but his cognitive faculties have come out intact.

Tobias B. Wolff writes:

My brother and I got my father safely situated today in the inpatient rehab facility where he will be undertaking his recovery from this ordeal and I am at the airport preparing to fly home. For much of the last two and a half weeks I did not think I would ever be able to write that sentence. There were three separate occasions during this crisis when I prepared myself to say a final goodbye to my father. The last of those occasions, on Friday night and Saturday morning, I said everything to him but a formal farewell. And yet when I left my father just now, and indeed for much of the three days previous, my Dad and I have been having normal conversations about what he has just been through and what lies ahead.

As I mentioned in my last update. Dad had a severe resurgence of his subdural hematoma -- about 20 mm of compression / herniation of brain tissue, for those of you will understand the implications of that degree of mass effect from a hematoma -- and most of the last two weeks have been a nightmare of hours upon hours in the ICU, then in a normal recovery room, then rapid escalation back through intermediate care to the ICU again, with impossible decisions at every stage about what forms of treatment to authorize and, sometimes, whether to stop sustaining life. Yet somehow Dad found his way through and emerged on Saturday evening from what had looked like a total state of cognitive decompensation to a set of forceful, entirely rational assertions in which it was clear that he had heard and understood most of what I was saying to him while he was non-responsive and was already focused on what came next.

Dad's voice is still weak and halting, still barely more than a ragged whisper. But it is his voice. We have discussed philosophy, politics, his academic career, family dynamics — he is himself. His physical condition atrophied a great deal during this extended period of hospitalization and intubation and he faces a very difficult period of physical rehabilitation with no guarantee that he will return to his previous baseline. But he is eager to get started despite his weakened state and the discomfort and indignity of this kind of physical infirmity. It is genuinely astounding.

Friends and family with whom I have been in touch through this time can attest that I have been a ragged mess, barely able to keep from sobbing as I manage this crisis hour by hour and describe to loved ones what has been unfolding. I found my equanimity again yesterday, more or less, though I will need to collapse a bit when I get home and permit myself a period of recovery that will involve lots of hugs from Spark and humans alike.
Robert Paul Wolff has decided that he is not yet done trying to browbeat the world into doing better.

Michael said...

Big thanks to you and Tobias for the update.

Anonymous said...

So Chomsky is not burying this one just yet.

Boram Lee said...

Thank goodness. Wishing Professor Wolff a swift physical recovery!

John Rapko said...

Although it's not in a different ballpark from doomscrolling, the millions thirsty for philosophical blogging might enjoy a sip of the latest from Justin Smith-Ruiu (formerly Justin E. H. Smith), wherein he compares himself to the next U.S. Vice-President with
'Vance is also a frightening ideologue, far too certain of the truth of his —evolving— views to merit a place anywhere near the centers of power. And he is also very smart, and will be able to translate Trump’s sentence fragments and sublinguistic gestures into real human language. This is a significant turn in the history of the MAGA movement.'

Etc.: https://www.the-hinternet.com/p/world-history-on-feedback

aaall said...

"This is a significant turn in the history of the MAGA movement."

And then he talked and talked and talked and...

LFC said...

When Trump gave a shout-out to Vance at the beginning of his speech last night, Trump highlighted the very thing that, from a populist MAGA standpoint, he should have downplayed: namely Vance's, and his wife Usha's, educational pedigrees. It was a revealing moment imo, showing that Trump, for all his supposed shrewdness, can be tone-deaf to his base.

I didn't listen to most of Trump's speech, but I gather it was pretty much a long version of his standard, rambling trainwreck.

Vance's own speech, putting the highly dubious (to put it mildly) content of much of it aside, was competently delivered, but he's not a particularly exciting orator. Good enough for the purpose at hand, but not great. He fits in the category of smart people who have espoused, for a mixture of reasons (some of them opportunistic), a set of mostly v. bad ideas.

Patrick said...

THIS IS PATRICK WOLFF, BOB'S OLDER SON. I AM PUBLISHING A NOTE FROM BOB THAT HE DICTATED TO ME TODAY. ALTHOUGH HIS BODY IS CONVALESCING, AS YOU CAN TELL FROM THE COMMENT HIS MIND REMAINS SHARP AND HE IS THINKING OF ALL OF YOU.

While the rest of you were worried about more serious things, I suffered a subdural hematoma, went to the ICU, was released, got worse, went back, nearly died, and am now in post hospital rehab. I just didn't want you to think that I was neglecting you.

s. wallerstein said...

Thank you very much Patrick for commenting here.

My best wishes for a swift recovery for your father.

I can see that his mind is as sharp as ever with his characteristic ironic sense of humor.

My best to you and Tobias.

LFC said...

Seconding what s.w. said.

Jordan said...

Also seconding (thirding?) s.w. Great to hear that he's on the other side of the danger.

Terry Williams said...

Sincere wishes for your complete recovery Professor.