Saturday, September 29, 2018

Note To A Friend As To My Reponse To The Kavanaugh Confirmation Process

Thanks for the wise words.

Yeah, fretting, of a constant kind, is also a good way to describe how I feel.

Kavanaugh’s worst case is pretty far reaching. Can he continue to sit on the DC Circuit court? Will a law firm have him? How does he ever get out from under a perpetual cloud? We’ll survive, no doubt, but Kavanaugh  and his family I’m not so sure. Although I feel  most badly for them, at the heart of my feelings about it all is my impotent fury with the reprehensibility of the D tactics.

I’m under no delusion that most Ds will ever be placated or satisfied. The stated presupposition of the woman who yelled at Flake in the elevator is that “investigation must lead to ‘No.’” The Ds were at “No” from before the get go. The Ds’ insistent stooping to “by any means” tactics has tipped them over into their losing their minds as they and their base, and more than their base, more or less the entire left of that country, are in the clutches of a moral fervour that merges in their collective mind the worst of scorched earth with righteousness. They’ve lost sight, so many of them, of their own hypocrisy. 

What Kamala Harris did at the hearing before this issue arose was maliciously misleading and anger-arousing but I could live with it. I could ascribe it sadly to “it’s politics” and think “so it goes.” But what we have now is so wrenching, such an apotheosis of the excesses of #metoo married to sheer political opportunism that has lost sight of its take-no prisoners character-assassinating self, that, I think, the only answer to it all that can satisfy me and purge my deep anger and disgust, my only means of “fighting back,” so to say, is Kavanaugh’s ultimate confirmation. 

And maybe in saying that I’ve hit on the underlying reason for my persistent fretting. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Wokeness As A Social Status System. Really ???

I wrote this right after the comment by a fella named John Mason, but it was free standing, i.e. not a response to his comment:

.... I have not read the thread comments save for John Mason’s just preceding mine. 

I see in this essay for the most part twinkling in four eyes, each bro having two, and I see two tongues pushing hard against two facial cheeks, as the bros, as I read them, had a good time kibitzing around while making a few points.

I don’t understand why a social status system is necessarily “inexpansible,” if I understand what the bros contend by that. Maybe my social science background, which is non existent, literature and then law my areas of study, fails me here. If a social status system is inexpansible, then does that mean no one who’s not in it can join it? But that’s flatly self refuting. Does it mean that fixed criteria for belonging to that system can never blend into, mix with, adopt or adapt to other such criteria? That seems rigid to a point of sheer reductionism, and, so, missing the complex ebbs and flows and mixings of social dynamics. 

The analogy undergirding this piece to the great religious movements dotting American history seems to me to be a clue to the pervasive kibbitz, a way of poking fun at the self righteous zeal and earnestness of our new woke preachers. But the limit of the analogy speaks to (me at least) a conceptual weakness in the argument that tracks the seeming (to me at least) incoherence of social status systems as inexpansible. 

The attempt to fit the complex phenomenon of what might metonymically be called wokeness into the bros’ conception of a social status system—the very idea of a social status system suggests (to me at least) trying to build a social construction unable to contain what it’s meant to house, like trying to fence in the wind—suffers from fitting it, wokeness, into a Procrustean bed, a social status system. There are some insights to be gained from that fitting no doubt, but finally wokeness as a thing gets descriptive short shrift in that fitting. There’s so much more to it behaviourally then that fitting allows for. 

One final comment on a jarring note in the bros’ conclusion:

....The preceding analysis, although it may deflate some of the pretensions of the most extreme preachers of the Woke faith, does nothing to impugn its accuracy or urgency....

I understand the bros’ point: their social science analysis need not and does not entail any judgment about the content of wokeness: their analysis only is concerned with dispassionately seeing in it the operation of a social status system.

My problem with this is that the essay is filled with so much obvious playfully exuberant derision of both the pretentions and much of key content of wokeness, that the bros are guilty of having it both ways—attacking and mocking that content along the way but then in conclusion disclaiming any substantive judgment of it as irrelevant to their argument. In this I fear, the bros do not sufficiently know what they are about here. 

For with that disclaiming, the twinkle is gone, the exuberance has been leached out and the two tongues have been placed squarely back in the position they normally occupy in the bros’ mouths...

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Note On First Reading Belobaba J. On Reducing Toronto City Council

To some friends:

Just read his reasons, albeit not with laser like focus. 

I can see where on the ground of timing he has an arguable line of reasoning, though the argument seems strained to me. I can see the fundamental unfairness of the province changing the rules of the game in the middle of it but I have trouble seeing how the “legal pigeon hole” for that is the curtailment of the candidates’ right of expression. It feels to me that there’s a better way legally to conceptualize that fundamental unfairness. But maybe not: on first blush I can’t think of what principle to root that fundamental unfairness in. So maybe 2b is the best way to go.

I have more trouble on a more meta level with the ground of denying voters effective representation as an incident of freedom of expression. 

It may well be that Belobaba has the law on his side. He distinguishes this case from the amalgamation case—where the same argument on an unconstitutional curtailment of the right to vote, “effective representation,” as an incident of freedom of expression was made—on the basis that there Ontario led evidence that amalgamation didn’t hobble effective representation while here only the applicants led evidence, the study he cites, while, unlike in the amalgamation case, Ontario led no evidence at all contra the study. (Or if it did, I missed any reference to it. I did for now skip over the section 1 analysis. I’ll get to that later.) 

So it’s hard to fault Belobaba’s reasoning on ground two. The law seems to be that under the Charter, the court has a role to play in ensuring on evidence that electoral systems in fact provide effective representation. On this point, as I have it, Belobaba had a study as to the 45 wards compared to no evidence from Ontario. 

What’s a judge to do?

My difficulty with ground 2 at a more meta level is the notion of courts, short of something egregiously extraordinary, which 45 down to 25 doesn’t seem to be, imposing policy considerations under the umbrella of legal doctrine on the legislature with respect to systems of representation. I already noted the smaller city councils in two other big cities, LA and London. 

On this more meta basis I have some sympathy with the use of the Nwst Clause, as Blatchford argues. 

It does seem to me as a side observation that the city way out-lawyered the province....

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

On William Blake’s “Ah, Sun-Flower”

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time, 
Who countest the steps of the Sun: 
Seeking after that sweet golden clime 
Where the travellers journey is done. 

Where the Youth pined away with desire, 
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow: 
Arise from their graves and aspire, 
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

Actually there is no split between the poem’s voice, a “speaker,” and Blake. Blake as such really doesn’t come into it. It’s one voice, the voice of the poet emerging from the poem. It mimics and mocks a view of the sun flower as aspiring towards death. The poem is shot through with sardonicism. The poem takes on and explodes any view idealizing suppressed passion for sake of afterlife eternal. The poet (not Blake as such but the Blake of the poem) increases that attack by showing that what’s death- creating is that suppression for the sake of nothing. What’s death-creating reaches its heights in the youth pining away with desire—with the intimation of a withering unto death and a pine coffin—and the pale Virgin shrouded in snow: the aspiration for the sweet golden clime inverts itself: the longing for life-everlasting by denying desire is a death-in-life for nothing.  The speaker’s tone is sardonically complex in mocking what it mimics. And so the view of the sun-flower as symbolizing an ideal in inclining toward death, a “sweet golden clime” in following the sun till it sets—a mythologizing of the sunflower’s diurnal “journey:” what it was thought sunflowers do, follow the path of the sun each day—gets exploded.