Author Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces  (Read 699428 times)

Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman: Dignity
« Reply #1900 on: July 23, 2020, 10:14:14 AM »
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    Dignity in Our Time
Thoughts in and around geopolitics.
By: George Friedman

I went once to the funeral of a friend, a soldier. He had died an ordinary death, a car crash that left his parents in agony. I remember his father standing stock-still with an expressionless face. I thought for a moment that he was indifferent, but upon further consideration I realized he chose to be dignified, and his stolid figure meant that he would not share that moment of agony with the rest of the world. It was his final salute to his son, and the only solace he had the right to call on.

Dignity is not the absence of feeling. It is the presence of feeling so profound that sharing it with the rest of the world would degrade it. It commends a person to privacy, to feel without indulging self-demonstration. It means that the most extreme moments of feeling, particularly of pain, should be experienced in the quiet of your own soul. Self-control is a gift we owe ourselves and a duty we have to each other. You can weep, but your tears are too precious to share.

It strikes me that our time is singularly lacking in dignity. I will not bore you with examples of the lack of dignity in modern politics. From the lowest citizen to the highest official, of all parties and of all ideologies, the desire to be dignified is gone. In America, no feeling is so squalid as to be hidden, no appetite too low not to be shown, and no ambition too embarrassing to reveal. We all have squalid feelings and appetites. Dignity is not an absence of these things; it’s the will to keep them private.
Some simply cannot believe that reasonable people might disagree. Instead, disagreement is the result of the other’s corrupt soul. This is nothing short of a form of rage. Dignified opponents will not reveal their rage, not because they are not angry, or because they like their opponents, but because self-control is something they owe themselves. The most powerful argument against a lout is to listen to their argument then leave, agreeing to disagree. It will usually enrage him. His raging against you, and the fact that he cannot draw you into a reciprocal rage, the fact that you appear untouched by his insults, leaves your opponent in agony. He will keep thinking of what he should have said for a week. Most important, in retaining your dignity, you have shown yourself the pleasure of being strong. Dignity is the highest manifestation of strength.

I think of the dignity of Martin Luther King Jr. who would not defile himself by raging at his enemies. He was able to assert his views and himself without engaging in public rage. What he felt privately, was private. But in public he sought reconciliation with those he opposed, and offered a hand of reconciliation. He wrote the Letter From Birmingham Jail, an act of profound dignity in an unjust world. He understood that how he waged his battle was as important as what the battle was about. He opposed but did not demean opponents. The way in which he carried himself may have hidden rage, but dignity is the art of hiding what should be hidden, and controlling passion. He is remembered not only for his eloquence and courage but also for his presentation of what a public person ought to be, especially when under attack. Dignity allows for dissent and confrontation, while allowing the world to see how such battles ought to be fought.

I remember when I was young that the highest imperative was to be true to yourself. That was interpreted as burdening everyone you met with your beliefs. It was a time when repression was a dirty word and did not apply to regimes. It applied to your feelings. Repressing your feelings would betray your belief and damage your liver. It was a time of what I call pseudo-Freudianism. Freud was believed to regard repressing feelings as self-destructive. He didn’t but that didn't stop some from proclaiming that he did.

When we look at the howls of outrage in the world surrounding us, we see the sense that beliefs should be shouted at the top of your lungs, with your enemies disparaged and crushed if possible. The crisis of dignity today is the abandonment of the idea that there is a time and place for everything, and the refusal to believe that your own beliefs might be wrong. The indignity of self-certainty and celebration has been elevated above the dignity of public modesty and, with it, the profound and unbending love of one’s own belief.

Dignity is a form of art. It is built on deep and complex passions that are controlled in spite of their power, and the will to craft a persona that has a place for passion and a place for courtesy. The ugliness of our time is those who have only passions, to be displayed at any time.

In the end, dignity is always reborn. People who love their own views and passions above all else are weak. Their self-absorption leads them to forget that this is a dangerous world. However much they proclaim it, they don’t really believe it. Their self-righteousness leaves them little room to watch their backs. But dignified life allows you time to observe the world, and strike before you are struck. Yet there’s always is a time and place for everything, even for enemies to share a drink and a moment to reflect. Understand that enemies may need to be destroyed, but not despised, for your own sake.

We have lost our dignity and must regain it. We need a society that regards a lack of dignity as a sign of weakness.   




Crafty_Dog

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Tucker Carlson: The Big Power Grab
« Reply #1901 on: July 31, 2020, 10:38:26 AM »

DougMacG

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #1902 on: August 01, 2020, 04:17:47 PM »
Where is our 'ray of hope' thread?

"HOCKEY: There’s no kneeling in the NHL: No less than 6 teams link arms, stand together during national anthem to show unity."
https://www.theblaze.com/news/theres-no-kneeling-in-the-nhl-no-less-than-4-teams-link-arms-stand-together-during-national-anthem-to-show-unity
Hat tip Glenn Reynolds.

A real sport.

Or this.  The P.A. system fails and an Edmonton arena full of Canadian hockey fans sing the American national anthem, April 2017:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf2jb51HzTs

Real sports fans.

Crafty_Dog

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The Elites fiddle while America burns
« Reply #1903 on: August 04, 2020, 11:10:10 AM »
The Elites Fiddle While America Burns
The Great 2020 Meltdown has exposed the rottenness of our political and corporate establishments.

By Gerard Baker
Aug. 3, 2020 11:53 am ET


The most intolerable irony of the past few miserable months has been listening to our self-appointed moral leaders lecture us on the nation’s irredeemable sinfulness from the comfort of their own secure, well-upholstered positions, while we endure daily the urban nightmare of a world created by their political allies.

As our cultural, media and corporate chiefs deliver their social and political wisdom from their redoubts in New York’s Hamptons, Palm Beach, Fla., and the greener pastures of the San Francisco Bay Area, America’s cities have been ravaged by successive predations of lockdown, disorder and violence.

Urban living is a fragile trade-off at the best of times between convenience and discomfort, excitement and peril, opportunity and expense. If you take away the convenience, excitement and opportunity, the residue isn’t an appealing one.

For cities like New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland, Ore., the damage done by this indulgent summer of insanity may never be repaired. For decades these cities have been controlled by monolithic Democratic establishments—though Republican mayors proved they could govern New York. They have milked the more dynamic parts of their populations to feed their own ideological agenda while doing nothing to lift the least advantaged out of misery.

The Great Meltdown of 2020 has exposed how rotten these urban establishments have become.

The lockdown, that soul-crushing exercise in economic suicide, imposed and enforced largely by the people it least affects, has permanently demolished vast elements of the economic base of these cities: businesses that will never return, employees who have moved away or will work from home rather than tolerate the increasingly perilous lottery of commuting and working in a deteriorating urban environment.

Adding to the injury were weeks of unrestrained, anarchic unrest, with whole parts of cities burned and blighted, with the willing connivance, even encouragement, of authority.

Then, as Democratic mayors actively encouraged an all-out assault on city police forces, a terrifying wave of violence and crime swept the cities. In Chicago last month murder rose 139% over a year earlier. New York had more shootings in the first seven months of 2020 than in all of 2019. The victims of these crimes are almost never the vocal elites, safe in their well-protected homes and offices. They are the poorest and least secure of our neighbors.

Meanwhile, political leaders—backed with money and words from their business allies—have responded with an elaborate performative exercise that has nothing to offer the daily reality but is designed to redraw the boundaries of our free thought. So, for example, those of us who stayed in New York this summer weren’t permitted to worship in church, but we were allowed—we were more or less instructed—to worship at the feet of those who preach hatred of the police, racial strife and white self-loathing. Friends weren’t permitted to attend parents’ funerals, but the right people were free to travel across state lines to attend multiple funerals for political and public show.

If you think irony is dead you had only to observe Bill de Blasio, New York’s mayor, posing for pictures as he painted “Black Lives Matter” on America’s most famous shopping street, while a few miles away his city resonated to the sound of gunfire and the anguished cries of families of children murdered in broad daylight.

This is what modern leadership looks like: a morality play that treats us all like recalcitrant children, even as the cities we helped build implode around us.

Whatever the political consequences of this unprecedented summer, there will be hefty costs, and they won’t be borne by those responsible. As cities are further hollowed out by crime and decay, taxes will rise, further stifling investment and growth, further harming the most disadvantaged, and accelerating a vicious circle of decline.

It’s a needless tragedy engineered by ideologues that is sending into sharp reverse the gains made in large American cities in the early years of the 21st century.

Already between 2015 and 2019, migration away from America’ largest cities had accelerated. That was largely an economic phenomenon, as rising taxes and the possibilities of technology drove people away. City leaders are now re-creating the social conditions that ruined these cities in the 1960s and ’70s: violent crime; urban blight, crumbling infrastructure. And they’ve added to that list schools run by unions dedicated to radical ideology and the mob in control of the streets in furtherance of an intolerant political agenda.

Worst of all, now we have a corporate elite, safely sequestered from the consequences of all this ruin, loudly helping it along by signaling their own virtue and denouncing our supposed vice.


Crafty_Dog

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Walter Russell Mead: The Pandemic is a Dress Rehearsal
« Reply #1904 on: August 04, 2020, 11:38:31 AM »
second

The Pandemic Is a Dress Rehearsal
The world is entering a transformative era. Prepare for more chaos and instability.

By Walter Russell Mead
Aug. 3, 2020 6:52 pm ET

Eight months after the novel coronavirus burst out of Wuhan, China, it has created unprecedented economic and social disruption, with economies cratering across the globe and more destruction to come. Tens of millions have lost their jobs, and millions more have seen their life savings disappear as governments forced restaurants, bars and other small businesses to shut their doors.

Wealthy societies are able, for now, to print and pump money in hope of limiting the social and economic damage, but such measures cannot be extended forever. For the first time since the 1940s, political authorities around the world face a flood of economic and political challenges that could overwhelm the safeguards built into the system.

In poorer countries, the situation is worse. The pandemic rages unchecked through countries like South Africa and Brazil, where low commodity prices, falling remittances and falling demand for industrial products are intersecting with capital flight to create an unprecedented economic shock. Countries like Lebanon and Ethiopia, facing grave crises before the pandemic, struggle to maintain basic order.

Science will, we must hope, come to the rescue with a vaccine or a cure before our resources are exhausted. But as the world wrings its hands and waits for a deus ex machina, we must recognize that the end of the pandemic does not mean a return to the relatively stable world of the post-Cold War era.

Governments and other institutions have always had to deal with difficult challenges that they couldn’t predict. Disease, famine and barbarian invasions fell unexpectedly on societies that often struggled merely to survive. The Industrial Revolution brought new perils like financial panics, the business cycle and social upheavals. Millions left the land and learned to depend on the modern economy for sustenance. Revolutionary political movements that challenged the old order could be as destructive and mysterious as the plagues and famines of earlier times.

After World War II, as the threat of nuclear war glowered in the background, the assumption that humanity could deal with most natural disasters, health problems and the business cycle took hold. It wasn’t utopia, but life seemed more predictable than in the past. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the threat of nuclear war receded into the background and Western self-confidence reached new heights. Over the past 30 years, the world has developed an intricately organized, massively complex, extraordinarily effective and extremely dynamic global civilization.

The pandemic, which is mild as the great plagues of history go, demonstrates that the complexity of this global civilization has become a source of new vulnerabilities. And with the legitimacy of many institutions resting on their ability to solve problems quickly and effectively, Covid-19 challenges political leaders and institutions in ways that they cannot easily manage.

The world needs to get used to that feeling. The pandemic’s legacy will be crisis and chaos—and the trajectory of human civilization has shifted in ways that will test political leaders and economic policy makers more severely than anything since World War II. This is partly because the return of great-power competition introduces new risks and complications into the international system. More fundamentally, it is because the information revolution is beginning to disrupt the world as profoundly and traumatically as the Industrial Revolution disrupted the 19th-century world.

The transformation of the workplace by information technology has been a bright spot in the pandemic, allowing many businesses and important institutions to continue functioning even as key employees stay home. But the same transformation is also driving many of the forces destabilizing society: declines in stable manufacturing jobs, whole regions hollowed out by economic change, the collapse of professional journalism and the rise of social media, the implosion of traditional retail, and looming job threats as self-driving cars and other new technological innovations move into the marketplace.

A host of 21st-century problems threaten to overwhelm the institutions of both national and global governance: the emergence of China as a new kind of economic and geopolitical challenger, the escalating arms races in cyber and biological weapons, the global surge of populism and nationalism, and the growing risks from poorly understood vulnerabilities and relationships in volatile and rapidly changing financial markets. Any one of these could push the world into a cycle of crisis and conflict resembling the first half of the 20th century.

Covid-19 is less a transient, random disturbance after which the world will return to stability than it is a dress rehearsal for challenges to come. History is accelerating, and the leaders, values, institutions and ideas that guide society are going to be tested severely by the struggles ahead.

Crafty_Dog

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Crafty_Dog

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #1906 on: August 24, 2020, 03:35:02 PM »
From an interaction I had with a German FMA friend on FB:
===================

Much I could say in response to the specifics of your argumentation, yet somehow we are in agreement on your fundamental point that America is very badly divided.

The responsibility for this is not equal in my opinion. Obviously there is a danger of hubris in such a conclusion, but sometimes in Life things are not even.

The Progs et al, in their own words, seek to "fundamentally transform" America.

NO.

The Progs et al abused the power of the intel and national police apparatus in an attempted soft coup of our elected President and punish their political opponents with lawfare that subverts the Rule of Law itself.

NO.

The Progs et al seek to impose a racial caste system, wherein people are not defined by the content of their character but instead by the color of their skin.

NO.

The Progs et al with open borders and amnesty to illegal aliens seek to dilute the American citizenry with voters more to their liking.

NO.

The Progs et al now seek to create electoral chaos with millions of ballots sent out with no signature verification process and no verified chain of custody (a.k.a. ballot harvesting)

I would say "NO", but there is a very real chance they will succeed in this and the lawlessness that they have unleashed on our streets may well turn out to be only the appetizer for a much heavier meal.

The Progs et al promise to come very our guns.

HELL NO!!!

Crafty_Dog

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The 2020 Revolution
« Reply #1907 on: September 28, 2020, 06:14:50 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman: Clever and smart
« Reply #1908 on: Today at 07:05:59 AM »
   
    On Presidential Debates
Thoughts in and around geopolitics.
By: George Friedman

As I write this, my wife is watching the presidential debate in another room. I am sitting alone and sipping a port because I loathe presidential debates. This has nothing to do with the candidates – they are a separate matter. I hate presidential debates because they are designed to bring out the worst in every candidate, making it impossible to determine whether any of them is worthy of the office. Had Thomas Jefferson debated John Adams the way debates have been staged since Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, I would have hated them too.

To understand what I am saying, we need to distinguish between being clever and being smart. There are several differences between the two, but for the current topic, the useful distinction is between thinking fast and thinking deep. Thinking fast allows you to see an opportunity, conjure a sharp statement and focus for an hour. Thinking deep means recognizing that the issues are all complex and therefore being unable to give simplistic responses to questions that are unanswerable in the time allowed. No issue to be faced by a president could responsibly be addressed in an hour. A candidate might have thought deeply on race, but precisely because he had thought deeply he would be aware of the difficulty and danger of trying to express what he has thought in two sentences.

Clever has the power to take your breath away with a witty and apt jab. Smart is boring. The deeper you see, the harder it is to talk about it. A smart person who takes on a clever person in front of an audience with limited time and interest will always lose. The first modern debate was between Kennedy and Nixon. Nixon had far more experience on the issues. Kennedy won the night by claiming that President Dwight Eisenhower had allowed a missile gap to develop. The statement was untrue, and Kennedy knew it was untrue, but it didn’t matter. A clever falsehood can sweep the table in a sentence. The explanation of why the statement is untrue requires a great deal of time.

The smart frequently suffer from the social defect of the inability to be glib. The paradox is that a person appears to be less than bright, when standing next to a truly clever candidate. It is not impossible to be smart and clever. Franklin Roosevelt was brilliant in many ways, but he was also able to say what he was thinking in a way that the audience could understand and be persuaded by. The fireside chats were clever. But FDR did not have to stand next to a simply clever man. He had the freedom that comes from owning the moment and using it to sum up the complexity of your knowledge. FDR had the opportunity to reveal his depth without simultaneously fending off a clever man. He might have won a debate, but showing that you are more clever than the other guy is hardly a qualification for president.

A competent president must think deeply on a dizzying range of issues, yet a president need not be a master improviser.

Rather, a president should have thought deeply about what to do when the moment to act comes. Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson told Kennedy that his first task as president was to go off alone and think about whether he would be prepared to use nuclear weapons and, if so, identify the circumstances under which he would. Acheson told him not to tell anyone what he had decided. A president manages a crisis by going away and thinking about it even before it happens.

The hunger for the clever leads the American people into some absurdities. Eisenhower had been a soldier and was not always clear when speaking. The media therefore raised the question of whether he was suited for the presidency. Here was the supreme commander of Operation Overlord, the first commander of NATO and the man who negotiated an end to the Korean War, being ridiculed at times because of his convoluted public speaking. Some claimed he was senile. He wasn’t, but the media expected the president to be clever, and Eisenhower was deep and complex. He likely defeated Adlai Stevenson only because both were, in their own way, smart. In those days, clever might not have been as honored as it is today. Since the debate became a critical part of a presidential campaign, we have been plagued by clever presidents.

This makes the task of a citizen far more difficult. The citizen must have the discipline not to draw rapid judgments and to listen carefully to what someone wishing to govern has to say. Looking back in history, we see few instances in which elections weren’t raucous occasions. What saved the day was the expectations the public placed on candidates. Candidates were expected to comport themselves appropriately. The public can rant, but smart candidates let others do the ranting for them.

Unfortunately, sometimes debates are the only opportunity for a citizen to judge the candidate. A citizen’s fundamental job is to figure out who is smart and who is merely clever – and, of course, who is neither, which shows rather quickly. This is a tricky business; voters often can’t know whether there is actually a missile gap. When President Harry S. Truman placed a plaque on his desk saying “the buck stops here,” the public had to decide if he was clever or smart or both in publicizing that plaque.

Democracy generally places a premium on the clever because the clever can move the public in a way that the smart usually can’t. The smart will drone on subjects such as health care or nuclear war. The smart know that the subjects are so important that they need to be dealt with soberly, and so complex that they need to be dissected in excruciating detail. There is no need for one liners that dazzle, but an absolute need for sobriety and meticulous thought.

So my bottle of Taylor Fladgate 20 and I are refusing to watch the debate. I brood over what is the fundamental distinction within human reason, of which the presidential debates are merely specimens. Democracy frightened the founders, and the debates remind me, after the third glass, that there has to be a better way. There isn’t unless we demand it, but we love the clever sally and loathe the boring truth.