I've been hammered. Not from drinking. I went out to Salted Pig with my wife and the Director of Marketing of our company for a mid-evening meal, while we awaited election results. I drank artisanal root beer and decaffinated coffee. My wife declined alcohol, too. Our marketing chief shuns the stuff. We were sober all eve. We got the news of Romney's defeat before we left the restaurant when my wife went to the web on her phone. I was less surprised than disappointed. Then, trying to sleep, instead of counting sheep, I began to enumerate the factors that will push up the misery index in Obama's next four years. Sleep came eventually, but when I woke in the morning, my face felt swollen and bruised. Slick Eddie the Street Smart President beat my face senseless.
I look forward to seeing Steven Spielberg's new movie, Lincoln. I understand from the synopsis that it focusses on the clash between Lincoln and his cabinet in the last few months of his presidency. I'm sure it will be a great movie, given the director, his writer, Tony Kushner, and the fine leading actors.
But, knowing Spielberg's and Kushner's political sympathies, I am also confident that the film will not speak of two major aspects of Lincoln's political career and the anti-slavery movement.
First, Lincoln was a Republican, the first Republican president, of the same Republican Party that continues today; and that the major opposition to the War and to abolition and support for slavery came from the Democratic Party, the same Democratic Party that continues today.
Second, that one of the two major impulses behind the anti-slavery movement was evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, the same evangelical and fundamenalist Christianity that is so reviled and ridiculed today by liberals and the Left. (The other major impulse was the revolutionary philosophy of equality in the Declaration of Independence, which has important roots in Christianity, and also seen in the secularizing French Revolution.)
Despite these expected omissions, no adequate understanding of Lincoln's political ability to undertake emancipation can exist without understanding the importance of the radical Republicans, the extreme abolitionist wing of the Party, which was anchored in Christianity and who came to dominate Congress, without understanding either of these important facts.
Twenty five years ago, I had a Cocker Spaniel I loved, "Chester". Chester had the same dysfunctional appetite as Labrador Retrievers, and, adding to the joy of ownership, a dysfunctional bladder system. But this anecdote is not about his bladder. It's about his ... um ... bowels, so, well, on with the anecdote.
My young son loved Legos. He had enough Lego sets, with the Legos from different models - pirate ship, rocket, castle, and so on - jumbled together in a box to rebuild our condo. He was a genius at sorting them out to the appropriate models and then building them. After a while, however, we noticed he was missing key Legos. I attributed this to the whirlwind of childhood dispersal and/or my spotty housekeeping or the housekeeper's indifference. Meanwhile, Chester showed extraordinary interest in the brightly colored Legos. Especially red and blue - odd, since I believe Cockers have poor color vision. Whatever. Then one day, when potty walking him, rather than turning my head, I watched the action. To my surprise and astonishment, he began to shit out Lego bricks. Not too much straining and adjusting position. Slowly they emerged, festooning the pile of excrement like decorations.
I did not retrieve the bricks. Instead, I resolved put the Legos away and keep Chester away from them. Neither resolution succeeded. And today, my son 30 years old and living with his family in Seattle, we have a large, 1 1/2' x 2 1/2' trunk filled with unsorted Lego bricks, probably a dozen Lego models, all lacking key red and blue bricks.
I pretty much think that summarizes my concerns about the election. I'm hoping for more red than blue bricks will appear out of the political process.
Hurricane Tropical Storm Sandy was huge, perhaps the largest storm recorded to strike the East coast, perhaps, measured in pressure, the most powerful. And it was destructive - very destructive over a wide area of the coast from the Carolinas north to New England. Highways, homes, beaches, large buildings, lives lost. The destruction will probably continue with flooding inland, when rivers swell and in West Virginia when snow quickly melts.
But the scale of the storm and scope of destruction does not mean that it was the worst storm or the worst destruction. It does not mean that nature has given us a reason for inverting the nation's federal arrangement, so as to make the national government responsible for dealing with natural disasters. FEMA has a distant role and is a doler of dollars, but local and state government and private community and charitable organizations are doing well, demonstrating that the American people themselves, organized at the local level at which disasters strike, are prepared and able, absent political corruption and incompetence, to look after themselves.
First, the wartime comparison. Hundreds of thousands of persons evacuated. The terrible fire in Queens destroyed over 100 contiguous houses. Some beach front towns in New Jersey are devastated, houses destroyed, phone and electric poles and lines down, trees down and smashed into houses, some fires, people picking through debris. Inland flooding has destroyed some roads and snow in Maryland and West Virginia has stranded automobiles and made it difficult, sometimes impossible, for emergency responders to get through.
Some commentators have remarked, watching the aerial perspective videos of the devastation that it looks like movies of German cities in World War II. Looks are deceiving. Bad as is the destruction in the Northeast, we are talking about neighborhoods, not whole cities obliterated. We are not talking thousands of deaths. We are not talking about the collapse of civil government and destruction of all property, political, and government records necessary for reconstitution of civil order.
To the contrary, it should be a source of patriotic pride and encouragement about our strength as communities and civil societies that local and state disaster support have been working and civil order has not collapsed.
Local first responders have been out in the midst of the storm - fire, police, EMR, road crews; private company workers such as those of ConEdison, road crews; in New York and New Jersey, Port Authority workers, train workers, did not abandon their positions but worked to shut down the transportation system and close stations in an orderly way. National Guard soldiers, under state governor authority and command, drove into the disaster areas to provide aid and assist protection or property.
I also have no doubt that insurance companies readied their agents to enter neighborhoods as soon as they safely could do. I have no doubt that major retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe's and Walmart, stocked up on supplies and prepared for consumer need. And private citizens, ordered to evacuate, did so in an orderly way.
I have not heard or read of a single case of panicked or mob activity in evacuating. And I have not heard or read of a single case of looting. Tonight on the Weather Channel, a reporter on Long Island stated that he has heard rumors of looting and fears of looting. The only instance cited was, however, testimony of a family defending the the home of a neighbor. If persons defend their neighbors home, community spirit is strong. None of this inspiring self-control during the disaster was due to the national government or to FEMA. It was due to local and state preparation and an informed and forewarned citizenry.
Second, the destruction on the ground, caused by Storm Sandy, was not the worse seen by American cities or regions. Not by far. Consider the following disasters:
Great Chicago fire, 1871: destroyed 10 square miles of the city, killing 300 persons and leaving 100,000 homeless
Tri-State Tornado, 1925: tornado cut 219 mile path through Missour, Indiana, and Illinois, killing 625 persons, injuring 2000 more, and destroying 15,000 homes.
Great Mississippi flood, 1927: From Illinois to Louisiana, the Mississippi overflowed levees, flooding nearly 25,000 square miles, destroying or damaging homes of 931,000 people, and causing $1 billion (1927 dollars) in damages.
New England Hurricane, 1938: A catagory 5 hurricane, destroyed 57,000 homes and killed between 682 and 800 people, and caused $306 million damages ($4.7 billion in 2012 dollars)
Third, the notion that the national government should be the first and most important disaster agency is misplaced. FEMA has its role to play. Regional planning and preparation for disaster has to involve the national government. Federal properties, interstate rivers, and the outer coast are federal responsibilities. National money might have to be provided should disasters be sufficiently destructive.
But our governmental system relies primarily upon local and state governments and private organizations to prepare for, cope with, and clean up after disasters, and repair and rebuild our cities, towns, and rural areas. When these governments and elected officials do their jobs, as they have done in preparation for Storm Sandy, loss of life and destruction of property are minimized, the civic order is maintained, and civil society is able to help itself. When private organizations work as they should, such as the Red Cross, private hospitals, volunteer rescue and fire departments, the community infrastructure holds. People are scared, but their pull themselves together and do not panic.
To make disaster preparation and protection and rebuilding a national responsibility would be a disaster in itself. Ask yourself, should a parallel organization of first responders, employed by the government, be established, to work along side local and state police, fire, safety, etc. departments? Or should local and state responders be nationalized? Should the federal government have huge fleets of trucks and repair crews standing at the ready all around the country to rush in and help local communities in a disaster? Should the National Guard be replaced by this federal fleet and its personnel? Do we want huge bureaucracies, headquartered in Washington, D.C., responsible for planning, preparation, and protection of local communities? Imagine the difficulty of their knowing what is going on in a disaster in your neighborhood. Do we want the pay the hundreds of billions of dollars for such nationalization of local disaster relief, when local and state governments are already organized to do the job? As rebuilding requires local input, planning, and decisions by the affected citizens themselves, do you want decisions relocated to Washington, D.C.?
Hurricane Katrina's rampage in New Orleans is not an object lesson that we should nationalize disaster planning and preparation and clean up. The failures in New Orleans were - contrary to the political interpretation offered by news media at the time -, nearly all, failures of local officials, especially the mayor and the governor, from diverting levee and dam funds for other uses, from not planning evacuations, and not availing themselves of the supplies prepositioned by FEMA. Had they done their jobs, much of the human damage would have been minimized.
Do it for the first time like the first time in the ass with someone who doesn't talk to you before hand about doing it with you, you know, there - now that's contraception.
Do it for the first time with him, cause like he's like totally beautiful, and you don't feel you are beautiful and maybe you'd feel beautiful if you did it with him.
Do it for the first time cause it's like being kicked out of your parents' home because you can't get it together, just like he couldn't get it together for four years either.
Do it for the first time with someone who interviews you for your first job like your first political ad and you want to talk about fucking him - just like the women journalists in 2008.
Do it for the first time like your first visit to a gynocologist to check you for AIDS when you have no idea whether anything you and he did together could infect you.
Do it for first time with him because he is clueless- after all, you are totally clueless too.
Do it for the first time with him because he is a pathetic fool, because - after all - you are are a pathetic fool, too.
In any case, do the ad, cause you're thinking he might be willing to do cameos on Girls, if he is not re-elected.
Vote for Obama if your life has no transcendent meaning, if you stumble blindly from meaningless encounter to meaningless encounter, unable to get your life together, if your life is not to be taken seriously as a gift you have been given and should not waste, if your life is too foolish even to qualify as existentially absurd, if, in other words, your life is like that of your character in Girls.
In "WSJ Magazine" (November 1912), we find a photograph ad for Brunello Cucinelli, the Italian clothing design and manufacturing house. The ad photo pictures an international collection of five young people, walking toward the camera in a line along the elevated pedestrian walkway. The walkway stretched in the background distance toward the archaeological relic of a Medieval hilltop village, Bagnoregio. The formal and casually formal garments they are wearing are the subject of the advertisement.
The models are attractive: two young men - one black, looking down toward his feet as if selecting his step with care, with closely cropped hair wearing brown outer garments, one European white with a five-day shave moustache, his eyes looking to his right, wearing a earth pebble double breasted jacked with white button down shirt and brown tie and chocolate brown slacks. Three young women: one European white with shoulder length black hair, a white open weave sweater, and dust colored slacks, one American white, red lipstick, light brunette hair, apparently shoulder length, swept over her back, one Chinese, with dark black hair framing her intense face, a white overcoat clinched at the waist with a brown belt, and wearing a gray feathery thigh high skirt, her legs in body stocking.
The only text for this advertise is a line, an English translation of Hegel's description of the state from his Philosophy of Right. "The State is the actuality of the ethical idea."
The full Hegelian paragraph containing the text is:
"The state is the actuality of the ethical Idea. It is ethical mind qua the substantial will manifest and revealed to itself, knowing and thinking itself, accomplishing what it knows and in so far as it knows it. The state exists immediately in custom, mediately in individual self-consciousness, knowledge, and activity, while self-consciousness in virtue of its sentiment towards the state, finds in the state, as its essence and the end-product of its activity, its substantive freedom."
I gloss this philosophy this way: Freedom is the ultimate ethical idea, toward which history moves. The (political) state is the material embodiment of that idea, self-consciousness of the individual realizing itself, (I suppose) much as a sculpture is the material embodiment of the sculptor's self-consciousness, representing his freedom of expression.
In the ad, it is not the political state that the ad is talking about. Rather, the text references the individual who creates her/himself as a substantive embodiment of their idea of themselves in an act of freedom. Fashioning her/himself out of fashion. So the impermanent and transitory - fashion - is the embodiment of the permanent ideal - freedom.
To which I must say, young people, choose your political leaders more carefully than your clothes, or your embodiment of yourself will be the actualization of the collective created by party rulers. For in the real world, the State has become most notably the embodiment of collective destruction of the individual's freedom.
I have listened to serious discussions about "the common good" conducted within the context of the contrasting philosophical visions of presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Romney speaks for a free economic market vision of American society, while Obama speaks for a social vision built around governmental planning and government action to secure social justice.
Spokespersons for both visions seem to agree that American society has and should cultivate a "common good". Republicans say that an individualistic society build around private ownership and enterprise in a free market should somehow not obliterate the common good. Obama and liberals sponsors the notion that only government planning, directed by a class of intellectuals and scientific experts acting as agents of "the people", can secure the common good.
Prior to World War I, in America and Europe, conservatives primarily spoke for the idea that the common good was required for a stable enduring society and nation, liberals for the free market as the mechanism to achieve a utilitarian common good, and radicals - descendents of the French Revolution, European socialism, and Marxism - identified the common good as requiring destruction of the private property and the class system based on it.
This classifications and labels do not, however, define "the common good", how a common good is recognized when it exists, who decides what a common good is, and points to the means to obtain the common good. Obviously, each of these questions continues to engender multiple disagreements. Nonetheless, today we can see the broad disagreement between Romney and Obama as a disagreement over what the common good is and how it should be obtained.
For Romney and conservatives, there are two common goods. The first common good is the utilitarian outcome of free market economic activity and the social structure (individualism, private property ownership, free enterprise, free price competition). Hundreds of millions of individual economic decisions result in common patterns of consumption and production that citizens and consumers identify as their common good.
The second common good is private and personal social interaction grounded in freedom of personal choice, religious freedom, and freedom to develop personal property as one wishes. Charity to support churches and institutional church philanthropy - established in terms of religious values to help one's neighbor - produces social bonds of belonging that people see as a common good.
Both utilitarian common good and social common good are, in the conservative view, derived from personal, individual activity that is freely chosen and executed.
For Obama, the two kinds of common good identified by conservatives, as I lay it out above, are inadequate for two reasons. First, those common goods are not equally distributed to all members of society. Second, those common goods are the product of a class system in which real property ownership is concentrated in a few persons and/or families, and property owners manipulate markets and labor relations to take nearly all of the wealth produced by others. To end these social abuses, economic exploitation of labor and manipulation of social norms, Obama and other radicals call for government action to curtail private property ownership to be greatly curtailed, for wealth to be socially owned, and for individual fulfillment to be obtained through collective action.
Both of Obama's critiques are derived, since the early twentieth century, from Marxist socialism.
Neither socio-economic-political vision exists today in its purest version. The progressive regulation of the economy that occurred before World War Two, including FDR's New Deal, created what Max Lerner called "a mixed society" in America As A Civilization, that seemed to unit the best of both visions, without totalitarianism. Continued expansion of welfare programs and regulation of politics since 1945 has, however, in the view of many persons, fundamentally altered the mix.
The conservative response to Obama's radical vision is that the kind of government action and collectivism Obama wants to have requires the end of freedom, or, at the least, the great restriction of freedom. The freedom of democratic politics must end once a political class of radicals secures power, because they must be able to implement their utopian vision unobstructed the political organization of property owners. Historically, the closer a society has come to realizing the socialist vision, the more totalitarian it has become.
The historical story of radical socialism in the past century troubles conservatives. For Russia and the Soviet Union and China, the path of socialism and the effort to implement communism required ending individual and political freedom and brought totalitarianism. In Western Europe, fascism brought a brief period of totalitarian socialism. After World War Two, democratic socialism advanced in all countries in an effort to satisfy labor and pay the mass of the citizenry for the horrific sacrifices made in the war. Democratic socialism has not led to totalitarianism or extinguished political freedom, but it has led to restriction of social freedoms, such as in medicine.
In looking at the choices of visions in this presidential election, the specter of restricted freedom is very much involved in three great governmental policy initiatives under Obama: ObamaCare, the Dodd-Frank regulation of securities, and the tightened regulation of home mortgages. All three policies involve enlargment of federal bureaucracies, implementation of thousands of pages of new regulations, and less individual freedom in health care, in financial investment, and in home investment. Conservatives would like to repeal or greatly change, so as to decrease regulation and increase freedom, these policies. From this point of view, much is at stake in the election.
Common Good, Wikipedia, provides a brief introduction to a very large topic.
Obama and the Democrats have a single major argument for women's support - they will maintain unlimited abortion policy and promise free access to birth control and abortion for poor women. This political line, which erects a straw man argument, because Romney is not in favor of removing the right to abortion for medical reasons, appears not to be holding women to Obama. A minor argument: the equal pay is hardly a winner argument, too, since it has been the law for decades,and because it is another straw man argument -Romney is not in favor of unequal pay for equal work. In these political arguments, Obama has tried vigorously in the campaign to portray Romney as an unfeeling and untrustworthy man.
Surveys see other issues more important to women, such as economic security and jobs. But there must be more.
Perhaps there is a visceral issue that women sense as they become more acquainted with Romney.
In the real world, most women are betrayed by men who cannot be trusted. Obama proposes, as liberals always do, that the remedy for women is in governmental support. But what woman is satisfied with dependency on a different set of men - liberal politicians who are mostly men?
Romney is different. He is an honorable man who has stood by his wife in her most horrific medical crises. He has been attentive, even though he has pursued a demanding private business career and a political career. He has stood by his family. He has supported his family in material and emotional comfort. His personal love and loyalty is, further, anchored in his religious values. Mormonism is, along with Catholicism, one of the nation's major supporters of the family.
Romney's character is the subliminal message, I think, that women are beginning to receive and understand - Romney stands by his woman. He is a man women can trust.
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, has already accepted responsibility for the mistakes made in the Libya affair. But her mea culpa will be insufficient to stop the waves of accusation and criticism now breaking upon the President. The President has, assuredly, lied and abetted a coverup of his failures and his lying. For this fundamental debacle of American foreign relations, someone needs to removed from office. That person should be him, but I'm betting someone else will undertake the symbolic diplomatic suicide of shame. Like savages throwing a sacrificial virgin girl into the boiling volcano, hoping to appease the gods and prevent the volcano from erupting, Hillary will be shoved, Obama hoping to distract the nation from his failures.
I'm betting Obama will tell the Secretary of State to fall upon the sword; but he hesitates to take this drastic action before the election, for fear that her husband will be outraged. Bill Clinton has become an important supporter of the President's re-election. He is - whatever the state of his marriage to her - proud and protective of his wife's career; certainly she has earned no less from her perpetually philandering husband. I am further sure that Bill still smarts from the accusations of racism raised againt Hillary by Obama's campaign staff during the 2008 election season. If she is pushed onto the sword, Bill's public support for Obama will vanish, even if he doesn't openly criticize Obama. The world would notice. Obama needs Bill's support to get Democrats to the voting booth. He won't risk alienating Bill more than he already has. So Obama will string out this crisis until after the election. If he is re-elected, once he is re-elected expect him to push her upon the sword.
Article II p. 4 of the Constitution states that the President and Vice President and all civil officers of the government may be removed from office "on impeachment for and conviction of Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors". President Obama is not impeachable on grounds of treason, bribery, or criminal behavior, on current basis of knowledge; but the interpretation of "other high crimes and misdemeanors" can be broad and flexible. Proponents of the impeachment of President Nixon in the 1970s argued that criminality under the existing laws was not necessary for impeachment and removal. Indeed, that criminality was not the central issue. The central issue was unfitness for office. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York argued, " 'we believe that acts which undermine the integrity of government are appropriate grounds whether or not they happen to constitute offenses under the general criminal law.' ".*
I would argue serious failure to perform the duties of office would constitute undermining the integrity of government, in the meaning intended by the liberal bar of New York City. The Libya affair, as I am calling it, surely reaches the level of seriousness expected in the recommendations of Association of the Bar.
*This view and others summarized and quoted in Gerald Gunther, Constitutional Law, Cases and Materials (New York, the Foundation Press, 1975) p. 451.