Such is the parlous state of the Trump Administration’s attitude toward constitutional liberties that the knee-jerk reaction is instant alarm to any contact between the Trump Justice Department and, e.g., the First Amendment. Maintaining one’s equanimity is difficult, rather like discovering after lunch that one’s Caesar salad had been sprinkled with Ebola Zaire. In a certain sense, that is as it should be. One does not have to advocate for the sainthood of Barry Goldwater to agree that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”. But especially in just such cases, one needs to exercise some rationality and restraint. One such case is the recent request by the Justice Department for a warrant to obtain the web histories of all visitors to an anti-Trump website. Even granted that
Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!
I owe the Republican Party an apology. I have long believed and said, both verbally and in writing, that the Republican Party, supposedly tainted by its association with conservative-evangelical / -fundamentalist, anti-intellectual Christianity, culminating in essentially unanimous Republican support for Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education, has styled itself the anti-education Party, the Party that has become the political home of people like HUD Secretary Ben “Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Big Bang” Carson, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry who, fortified with a C grade-point average earned on the way to an animal husbandry baccalaureate degree from Texas A&M University (football cheer: “Whoop-Haw!”), assumes the custodianship of the Nation
If you have not yet seen the science-fiction movie Arrival, stop reading right now, and run – don’t walk – to the nearest theater where it is being shown. SPOILER ALERT: if you intend to see Arrival, read no farther than this first paragraph. Be assured that the movie is far more provocative than the following comments, which do not profess to do it justice. Specifically, Arrival (1) harks back almost 1500 years to a text, The Consolation of Philosophy, by the early-Christian philosopher Boethius; and (2) at the same time leverages some of the implications of the quantum “measurement problem”: the relationship between (what we once were pleased to call) “objective” reality and the consciousness of the observer. A lot has been written about both the latter, but Arrival’s twist is to r