Author Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces  (Read 704398 times)


ccp

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ccp

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Kunstler
« Reply #1853 on: December 08, 2019, 11:07:54 AM »
"I’ve said often that I remain a registered Democrat despite the fact that I’m at odds with the current disposition of the party. But the political Left has always been kind of a vehicle for the thinking classes in America and yet the thinking classes appear to have lost their minds – and done so worse than any other group in America."

Very interesting to read

As probably most I only know Kunstler as a liberal defense lawyer
so his thought discussions are quit surprising to me .
Unfortunately he remains a Democrat despite agreeing the party is totally nuts .
I didn't read all of the posts but I would ask him , why not Republican - he noted the Republican Party is so hollow a clown like Trump could take it over .  Ok, so what would give the Republican Party some beef so to speak that would attract him to it?

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #1854 on: December 08, 2019, 02:27:06 PM »
If I am not mistaken, that was a different Kuntstler.

DougMacG

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #1855 on: December 08, 2019, 07:39:13 PM »
Different Kuntstler.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kunstler

I saw Wm. Kuntsler speak one time about the Wounded Knee trial.

ccp

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James much more savvy then William
« Reply #1856 on: December 09, 2019, 05:04:51 AM »
*different* Kunstler

Thanks for clarifying that .  I made the mistake of assuming.

The other Kunstler (William), the one I remember , has got to be die heart Democrat to the death.
He is more the SPLC type.



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Nick Freitas
« Reply #1857 on: December 09, 2019, 11:09:10 AM »

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Noonan: The Post Heroic Presidency
« Reply #1862 on: December 27, 2019, 12:47:10 PM »
There's quite a bit that Peggy does not get about Trump IMHO, but there is substance here as well.

The Century of the Postheroic Presidency
Bill Clinton started the trend. By 2016 voters had given up on high standards in the White House.

By Peggy Noonan
Dec. 26, 2019 6:56 pm ET


When we think about current history we tend to be expecting or predicting something as opposed to experiencing something. But what we need to understand now is that the 21st century isn’t new. It still feels new, but it isn’t. We are entering its third decade. We have been waiting for the century to take its shape and fully become itself, but it’s already doing that.

The 20th century was shaped by the events of 1914-19, the Great War and Versailles. The past two decades have been shaping the 21st.

If we limit ourselves to domestic politics it’s been a time of big change with big implications.

Both parties have been overthrowing the elites and establishments that reigned for at least half a century. In doing so, both parties are changing their essential natures. In both cases the rebellion is driven largely by a bottom-line bitterness: You didn’t care about us, and now you will be gone.

Among Democrats it is the rising left, the progressives, kicking away from the old Clintonian moderates, from old party ways and identifications. They hate Clintonism almost more than they hate conservatism. And they are hated back. In a recent conversation with a politician who was a high official in the Clinton administration, I asked: When you go talk to progressives about your differences, how does that conversation go? “I don’t speak to them,” he shot back. The new New Left—we have to find a better name—is closer to socialism or proudly socialistic. What they feel for the old party establishment: “Thanks for standing up for the little guy while your trade deals made you and your friends rich.” “Thanks for creating a tax system in which you guys become billionaires while everyone else sank.”

The left-wing millennials will rise because the young always do. It’s tempting to compare the rise of the left in the party now with the 1970s and the rise of the old New Left. Boomer leftists then were mad at America over the war, and some of them had read Marx for the first time. But they loved America, and they went on to show that love as the workhorses they were—the first to put the lights on in the office or the institution in the morning, the last to put them off at night.

The rising millennial left seems to love high abstractions—economic justice, global movements for change. But they weren’t raised in a patriotic age, they weren’t taught what in America is admirable, even noble. Do they love America? Do they love this thing we have and are part of in the same, moist-eyed way Americans have in the past? It’s unclear. But if they don’t, when they triumph we’re in trouble.

On the Republican side the rise of Donald Trump revealed the new party to itself. It is a big-government, antiwar, populist party that is conservative-leaning in its social policy. Any card-carrying Trump supporter will immediately say, after lauding the economy, that he has delivered on the courts and has aligned his administration, for all his personal New Yorkiness and indifference to social issues, with those who think conservatively.

Republicans in 2016 were to the right of party leaders, elders and professionals on essential issues—immigration, political correctness, the LGBTQ regime and the arguments it spurred in the town council about bathroom policies, and in schools over such questions as, “Are we still allowed in sports to have a girls team composed of biological girls and a boy’s team composed of biological boys? Will we be sued?”

They knew that on these questions and others the party’s establishments didn’t really care about their views or share them.

When Republicans rebel against the status quo, it’s a powerful thing. They produced in their 2016 rebellion something new: They changed the nature of the presidency itself. The pushing back against elites entailed a pushing against standards. It’s always possible a coming presidential election will look like a snap-back to the old days, a senator versus a governor, one experienced political professional against another. But we will never really go back to the old days. Anyone can become president now, anyone big and colorful and in line with prevailing public sentiment.

We have entered the age of the postheroic presidency. Certain low ways are forgiven, certain rough ways now established. Americans once asked a lot of their presidents. They had to be people not only of high competence and solid, sober backgrounds, but high character. In modern presidencies you can trace a line from, say, Harry S. Truman, who had it in abundance, to Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, who also did.

But the heroic conception of the presidency is over. Bill Clinton and his embarrassments damaged it. Two unwon wars and the great recession killed it. “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” buried it. When you deliberately lie like that, you are declaring you have no respect for the people. And the people noticed.

They would like to have someone admirable in the job, someone whose virtues move them, but they’ve decided it’s not necessary. They think: Just keep the economy growing, don’t start any new wars, and push back against the social-issues maximalists if you can.

In the last cycle we spoke of shy Trump voters—those who didn’t want to get in an argument over supporting him. I suspect this cycle we’ll call them closeted Trump voters—those who don’t want to be associated with the postheroic moment, who disapprove of it, but see no realistic alternative.

In time we’ll see you lose something when you go postheroic. Colorful characters will make things more divided, not less. They’ll entertain but not ennoble. And the world will think less of us—America has become a clownish, unserious country with clownish, unserious leaders—which will have an impact on our ability to influence events.

I close with another entity of American life that should be worried about seeming like it doesn’t care about its own country. It is what used to be called big business.

America has always been in love with the idea of success. It’s rewarded the creation of wealth, made household saints of the richest men in the world. We were proud they lived here.

But big business, especially big tech executives and bankers, should be thinking: In this century they’re coming at you left and right.

The left used to say, “You didn’t build that,” while the right said, “You did.” But now there’s a convergence, with both sides starting to think: This country made you. It made the roads you traveled; it made the expensive peace in which your imagination flourished; it created the whole world of arrangements that let you become rich.

You owe us something for that. You owe us your loyalty. And if you allow us to discern—and in this century you have been busy allowing us!—that you do not really care about America, that your first loyalty isn’t to us but to “the world” or “global markets,” then we will come down on you hard.

It isn’t only parties that can be broken up in this century, the one that isn’t coming but is here.

G M

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Re: Noonan: The Post Heroic Presidency
« Reply #1863 on: December 27, 2019, 05:32:09 PM »
The America we were born in is dead.

Now it's just a matter of salvaging what we can from what is left.



There's quite a bit that Peggy does not get about Trump IMHO, but there is substance here as well.

The Century of the Postheroic Presidency
Bill Clinton started the trend. By 2016 voters had given up on high standards in the White House.

By Peggy Noonan
Dec. 26, 2019 6:56 pm ET


When we think about current history we tend to be expecting or predicting something as opposed to experiencing something. But what we need to understand now is that the 21st century isn’t new. It still feels new, but it isn’t. We are entering its third decade. We have been waiting for the century to take its shape and fully become itself, but it’s already doing that.

The 20th century was shaped by the events of 1914-19, the Great War and Versailles. The past two decades have been shaping the 21st.

If we limit ourselves to domestic politics it’s been a time of big change with big implications.

Both parties have been overthrowing the elites and establishments that reigned for at least half a century. In doing so, both parties are changing their essential natures. In both cases the rebellion is driven largely by a bottom-line bitterness: You didn’t care about us, and now you will be gone.

Among Democrats it is the rising left, the progressives, kicking away from the old Clintonian moderates, from old party ways and identifications. They hate Clintonism almost more than they hate conservatism. And they are hated back. In a recent conversation with a politician who was a high official in the Clinton administration, I asked: When you go talk to progressives about your differences, how does that conversation go? “I don’t speak to them,” he shot back. The new New Left—we have to find a better name—is closer to socialism or proudly socialistic. What they feel for the old party establishment: “Thanks for standing up for the little guy while your trade deals made you and your friends rich.” “Thanks for creating a tax system in which you guys become billionaires while everyone else sank.”

The left-wing millennials will rise because the young always do. It’s tempting to compare the rise of the left in the party now with the 1970s and the rise of the old New Left. Boomer leftists then were mad at America over the war, and some of them had read Marx for the first time. But they loved America, and they went on to show that love as the workhorses they were—the first to put the lights on in the office or the institution in the morning, the last to put them off at night.

The rising millennial left seems to love high abstractions—economic justice, global movements for change. But they weren’t raised in a patriotic age, they weren’t taught what in America is admirable, even noble. Do they love America? Do they love this thing we have and are part of in the same, moist-eyed way Americans have in the past? It’s unclear. But if they don’t, when they triumph we’re in trouble.

On the Republican side the rise of Donald Trump revealed the new party to itself. It is a big-government, antiwar, populist party that is conservative-leaning in its social policy. Any card-carrying Trump supporter will immediately say, after lauding the economy, that he has delivered on the courts and has aligned his administration, for all his personal New Yorkiness and indifference to social issues, with those who think conservatively.

Republicans in 2016 were to the right of party leaders, elders and professionals on essential issues—immigration, political correctness, the LGBTQ regime and the arguments it spurred in the town council about bathroom policies, and in schools over such questions as, “Are we still allowed in sports to have a girls team composed of biological girls and a boy’s team composed of biological boys? Will we be sued?”

They knew that on these questions and others the party’s establishments didn’t really care about their views or share them.

When Republicans rebel against the status quo, it’s a powerful thing. They produced in their 2016 rebellion something new: They changed the nature of the presidency itself. The pushing back against elites entailed a pushing against standards. It’s always possible a coming presidential election will look like a snap-back to the old days, a senator versus a governor, one experienced political professional against another. But we will never really go back to the old days. Anyone can become president now, anyone big and colorful and in line with prevailing public sentiment.

We have entered the age of the postheroic presidency. Certain low ways are forgiven, certain rough ways now established. Americans once asked a lot of their presidents. They had to be people not only of high competence and solid, sober backgrounds, but high character. In modern presidencies you can trace a line from, say, Harry S. Truman, who had it in abundance, to Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, who also did.

But the heroic conception of the presidency is over. Bill Clinton and his embarrassments damaged it. Two unwon wars and the great recession killed it. “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” buried it. When you deliberately lie like that, you are declaring you have no respect for the people. And the people noticed.

They would like to have someone admirable in the job, someone whose virtues move them, but they’ve decided it’s not necessary. They think: Just keep the economy growing, don’t start any new wars, and push back against the social-issues maximalists if you can.

In the last cycle we spoke of shy Trump voters—those who didn’t want to get in an argument over supporting him. I suspect this cycle we’ll call them closeted Trump voters—those who don’t want to be associated with the postheroic moment, who disapprove of it, but see no realistic alternative.

In time we’ll see you lose something when you go postheroic. Colorful characters will make things more divided, not less. They’ll entertain but not ennoble. And the world will think less of us—America has become a clownish, unserious country with clownish, unserious leaders—which will have an impact on our ability to influence events.

I close with another entity of American life that should be worried about seeming like it doesn’t care about its own country. It is what used to be called big business.

America has always been in love with the idea of success. It’s rewarded the creation of wealth, made household saints of the richest men in the world. We were proud they lived here.

But big business, especially big tech executives and bankers, should be thinking: In this century they’re coming at you left and right.

The left used to say, “You didn’t build that,” while the right said, “You did.” But now there’s a convergence, with both sides starting to think: This country made you. It made the roads you traveled; it made the expensive peace in which your imagination flourished; it created the whole world of arrangements that let you become rich.

You owe us something for that. You owe us your loyalty. And if you allow us to discern—and in this century you have been busy allowing us!—that you do not really care about America, that your first loyalty isn’t to us but to “the world” or “global markets,” then we will come down on you hard.

It isn’t only parties that can be broken up in this century, the one that isn’t coming but is here.

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ccp

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #1866 on: January 29, 2020, 02:25:02 PM »
Funny how NSA holds up release
of book but NYSlimes seems to get an inside scoop that of course is negative to Trump and just in time to shove it is the nation's face at this time

Amazing how the NYT can seem to get information on just about anything they need in order to advance the Dem Party cause.

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Ross Douhat: The Age of Decadence
« Reply #1867 on: February 09, 2020, 12:23:33 PM »


The Age of Decadence
Cut the drama. The real story of the West in the 21st century is one of stalemate and stagnation.
By Ross Douthat
An Opinion columnist and the author of the forthcoming book “The Decadent Society,” from which this essay is adapted.

Feb. 7, 2020

1225
Everyone knows that we live in a time of constant acceleration, of vertiginous change, of transformation or looming disaster everywhere you look. Partisans are girding for civil war, robots are coming for our jobs, and the news feels like a multicar pileup every time you fire up Twitter. Our pessimists see crises everywhere; our optimists insist that we’re just anxious because the world is changing faster than our primitive ape-brains can process.

But what if the feeling of acceleration is an illusion, conjured by our expectations of perpetual progress and exaggerated by the distorting filter of the internet? What if we — or at least we in the developed world, in America and Europe and the Pacific Rim — really inhabit an era in which repetition is more the norm than invention; in which stalemate rather than revolution stamps our politics; in which sclerosis afflicts public institutions and private life alike; in which new developments in science, new exploratory projects, consistently underdeliver? What if the meltdown at the Iowa caucuses, an antique system undone by pseudo-innovation and incompetence, was much more emblematic of our age than any great catastrophe or breakthrough?

The truth of the first decades of the 21st century, a truth that helped give us the Trump presidency but will still be an important truth when he is gone, is that we probably aren’t entering a 1930-style crisis for Western liberalism or hurtling forward toward transhumanism or extinction. Instead, we are aging, comfortable and stuck, cut off from the past and no longer optimistic about the future, spurning both memory and ambition while we await some saving innovation or revelation, growing old unhappily together in the light of tiny screens.

The farther you get from that iPhone glow, the clearer it becomes: Our civilization has entered into decadence.

The word “decadence” is used promiscuously but rarely precisely. In political debates, it’s associated with a lack of resolution in the face of threats — with Neville Chamberlain and W.B. Yeats’s line about the best lacking all conviction. In the popular imagination, it’s associated with sex and gluttony, with pornographic romances and chocolate strawberries. Aesthetically and intellectually it hints at exhaustion, finality — “the feeling, at once oppressive and exalting, of being the last in a series,” in the words of the Russian poet Vyacheslav Ivanov.

But it’s possible to distill a useful definition from all these associations. Following in the footsteps of the great cultural critic Jacques Barzun, we can say that decadence refers to economic stagnation, institutional decay and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development. Under decadence, Barzun wrote, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.” He added, “When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.” And crucially, the stagnation is often a consequence of previous development: The decadent society is, by definition, a victim of its own success.

Note that this definition does not imply a definitive moral or aesthetic judgment. (“The term is not a slur,” Barzun wrote. “It is a technical label.”) A society that generates a lot of bad movies need not be decadent; a society that makes the same movies over and over again might be. A society run by the cruel and arrogant might not be decadent; a society where even the wise and good can’t legislate might be. A crime-ridden society isn’t necessarily decadent; a peaceable, aging, childless society beset by flares of nihilistic violence looks closer to our definition.

Nor does this definition imply that decadence is necessarily an overture to a catastrophe, in which Visigoths torch Manhattan or the coronavirus has dominion over all. History isn’t always a morality play, and decadence is a comfortable disease: The Chinese and Ottoman empires persisted for centuries under decadent conditions, and it was more than 400 years from Caligula to the actual fall of Rome.

“What fascinates and terrifies us about the Roman Empire is not that it finally went smash,” wrote W.H. Auden of that endless autumn, but rather that “it managed to last for four centuries without creativity, warmth, or hope.”

Whether we are waiting for Christians or barbarians, a renaissance or the Singularity, the dilemma that Auden described is now not Rome’s but ours.


II.
“Do people on your coast think all this is real?”

The tech executive sounded curious, proud, a little insecure. We were talking in the San Francisco office of a venture capital firm, a vaulted space washed in Californian sun. He was referring to the whole gilded world around the Bay, the entire internet economy.

That was in 2015. Here are three stories from the five years since.

A young man comes to New York City. He’s a striver, a hustler, working the borderlands between entrepreneurship and con artistry. His first effort, a credit card for affluent millennials, yanks him into the celebrity economy, where he meets an ambitious rapper-businessman. Together they plan a kind of internet brokerage where celebrities can sell their mere presence to the highest bidder. As a brand-enhancing advertisement for the company, they decide to host a major music festival — an exclusive affair on a Caribbean island for influencers, festival obsessives and the youthful rich.

The festival’s online rollout is a great success. There is a viral video of supermodels and Instagram celebrities frolicking on a deserted beach, a sleek website for customers and the curious, and in the end, more than 5,000 people buy tickets, at an average cost of $2,500 to $4,000 — the superfluity of a rich society, yours for the right sales pitch.

But the festival as pitched does not exist. Instead, our entrepreneur’s plans collapse one by one. The private island’s owners back out of the deal. The local government doesn’t cooperate. Even after all the ticket sales, the money isn’t there, and he has to keep selling new amenities to ticket buyers to pay for the ones they’ve already purchased. He does have a team working around the clock to ready … something for the paying customers, but what they offer in the end is a sea of FEMA tents vaguely near a beach, a catering concern that supplies slimy sandwiches, and a lot of cheap tequila.

Amazingly, the people actually come — bright young things whose Instagram streams become a hilarious chronicle of dashed expectations, while the failed entrepreneur tries to keep order with a bullhorn before absconding to New York, where he finds disgrace, arrest and the inevitable Netflix documentary.

That’s the story of Billy McFarland and the Fyre Festival. It’s a small-time story; the next one is bigger.

A girl grows up in Texas, she gets accepted to Stanford, she wants to be Steve Jobs. She has an idea that will change an industry that hasn’t changed in years: the boring but essential world of blood testing. She envisions a machine, dubbed the Edison, that will test for diseases using just a single drop of blood. And like Jobs she quits college to figure out how to build it.

Ten years later, she is the internet era’s leading female billionaire, with a stream of venture capital, a sprawling campus, a $10 billion valuation for her company, and a lucrative deal with Walgreens to use her machines in every store. Her story is a counterpoint to every criticism you hear about Silicon Valley — that it’s a callow boys’ club, that its virtual realities don’t make the world of flesh and blood a better place, that it solves problems of convenience but doesn’t cure the sick. And she is the toast of an elite, in tech and politics alike, that wants to believe the Edisonian spirit lives on.

But the Edison box — despite endless effort and the best tech team that all that venture capital can buy — doesn’t work. And over time, as the company keeps expanding, it ceases even trying to innovate and becomes instead a fraud, using all its money and big-time backers to discredit whistle-blowers. Which succeeds until it doesn’t, at which point the company and all its billions evaporate — leaving behind a fraud prosecution, a best-selling exposé and the inevitable podcast and HBO documentary to sustain its founder’s fame.

That’s the story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. It’s a big story. But our third story is bigger still, and it isn’t finished yet.

An internet company decides to revolutionize an industry — the taxi and limousine market — that defines old-school business-government cooperation, with all the attendant bureaucracy and unsatisfying service. It promises investors that it can buy its way to market dominance and use cutting-edge tech to find unglimpsed efficiencies. On the basis of that promise, it raises billions of dollars across its 10-year rise, during which time it becomes a byword for internet-era success, the model for how to disrupt an industry. By the time it goes public in 2019, it has over $11 billion in annual revenue — real money, exchanged for real services, nothing fraudulent about it.

Yet this amazing success story isn’t actually making any profit, even at such scale; instead, it’s losing billions, including $5 billion in one particularly costly quarter. After 10 years of growth, it has smashed the old business model of its industry, weakened legacy competitors and created value for consumers — but it has done all this using the awesome power of free money, building a company that would collapse into bankruptcy if that money were withdrawn. And it has solved none of the problems keeping it from profitability: The technology it uses isn’t proprietary or complex; its rival in disruption controls 30 percent of the market; the legacy players are still very much alive; and all of its paths to reduce its losses — charging higher prices, paying its workers less — would destroy the advantages that it has built.

So it sits there, a unicorn unlike any other, with a plan to become profitable that involves vague promises to somehow monetize all its user data and a specific promise that its investment in a different new technology — the self-driving car, much ballyhooed but as yet not exactly real — will make the math add up.

That’s the story of Uber — so far. It isn’t an Instagram fantasy or a naked fraud; it managed to go public and maintain its outsize valuation, unlike its fellow unicorn WeWork, whose recent attempt at an I.P.O. hurled it into crisis. But it is, for now, an example of a major 21st-century company invented entirely out of surplus, and floated by the hope that with enough money and market share, you can will a profitable company into existence. Which makes it another case study in what happens when an extraordinarily rich society can’t find enough new ideas that justify investing all its stockpiled wealth. We inflate bubbles and then pop them, invest in Theranos and then repent, and the supposed cutting edge of capitalism is increasingly defined by technologies that have almost arrived, business models that are on their way to profitability, by runways that go on and on without the plane achieving takeoff.

Do people on your coast think all this is real? When the tech executive asked me that, I told him that we did — that the promise of Silicon Valley was as much an article of faith for those of us watching from the outside as for its insiders; that we both envied the world of digital and believed in it, as the one place where American innovation was clearly still alive. And I would probably say the same thing now because, despite the stories I’ve just told, the internet economy is still as real as 21st-century growth and innovation gets.

But what this tells us, unfortunately, is that 21st-century growth and innovation are not at all that we were promised they would be.

III.
The decadent economy is not an impoverished one. The United States is an extraordinarily wealthy country, its middle class prosperous beyond the dreams of centuries past, its welfare state effective at easing the pain of recessions, and the last decade of growth has (slowly) raised our living standard to a new high after the losses from the Great Recession.

But slowly compounding growth is not the same as dynamism. American entrepreneurship has been declining since the 1970s: Early in the Jimmy Carter presidency, 17 percent of all United States businesses had been founded in the previous year; by the start of Barack Obama’s second term, that rate was about 10 percent. In the late 1980s, almost half of United States companies were “young,” meaning less than five years old; by the Great Recession, that share was down to only 39 percent, and the share of “old” firms (founded more than 15 years ago) rose from 22 percent to 34 percent over a similar period. And those companies increasingly sit on cash or pass it back to shareholders rather than investing in new enterprises. From World War II through the 1980s, according to a recent report from Senator Marco Rubio’s office, private domestic investment often approached 10 percent of G.D.P.; in 2019, despite a corporate tax cut intended to get money off the sidelines, the investment-to-G.D.P. ratio was less than half of that.


This suggests that the people with the most experience starting businesses look around at their investment opportunities and see many more start-ups that resemble Theranos than resemble Amazon, let alone the behemoths of the old economy. And the dearth of corporate investment also means that the steady climb of the stock market has boosted the wealth of a rentier class — basically, already-rich investors getting richer off dividends — rather than reflecting surging prosperity in general.

Behind this deceleration lurks the specter of technological stagnation. Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign notwithstanding, leaping advances in robotics aren’t about to throw everybody out of work. Productivity growth, the best measure of technology’s effect on the economy, has been weak in the United States and weaker in Europe ever since the first dot-com bust.

In 2017 a group of economists published a paper asking, “Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?” The answer was a clear yes: “We present a wide range of evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply.” In his 2011 book “The Great Stagnation,” Tyler Cowen cited an analysis from the Pentagon physicist Jonathan Huebner, who modeled an innovations-to-population ratio for the last 600 years: It shows a slowly ascending arc through the late 19th century, when major inventions were rather easy to conceive and adopt, and a steepening decline ever since, as rich countries spend more and more on research to diminishing returns.

These trends don’t mean progress has ceased. Fewer blockbuster drugs are being approved, but last month still brought news of a steady generational fall in cancer deaths, and a possible breakthrough in cystic fibrosis treatment. Scientific research has a replication crisis, but it’s still easy to discern areas of clear advancement — from the frontiers of Crispr to the study of ancient DNA.

But the trends reveal a slowdown, a mounting difficulty in achieving breakthroughs — a bottleneck if you’re optimistic, a ceiling if you aren’t. And the relative exception, the internet and all its wonders, highlights the general pattern.


The Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon, one of the most persuasive theorists of stagnation, points out that the period from 1840 to 1970 featured dramatic growth and innovation across multiple arenas — energy and transportation and medicine and agriculture and communication and the built environment. Whereas in the last two generations, progress has become increasingly monodimensional — all tech and nothing else. Even within the Silicon Valley landscape, the clear success stories are often the purest computer-and-internet enterprises — social media companies, device manufacturers, software companies — while the frauds and failures and possible catastrophes involve efforts to use tech to transform some other industry, from music festivals to office-space rentals to blood tests.

The Silicon Valley tycoon Peter Thiel, another prominent stagnationist, likes to snark that “we wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” And even the people who will explain to you, in high seriousness, that nobody would really want a flying car can’t get around the basic points that Thiel, Gordon, and others have been making. Take a single one of the great breakthroughs of the industrial age — planes and trains and automobiles, antibiotics and indoor plumbing — and it still looms larger in our everyday existence than all of the contributions of the tech revolution combined.

We used to travel faster, build bigger, live longer; now we communicate faster, chatter more, snap more selfies. We used to go to the moon; now we make movies about space — amazing movies with completely convincing special effects that make it seem as if we’ve left earth behind. And we hype the revolutionary character of our communications devices in order to convince ourselves that our earlier expectations were just fantasies, “Jetsons stuff” — that this progress is the only progress we could reasonably expect.

IV.
With this stagnation comes social torpor. America is a more peaceable country than it was in 1970 or 1990, with lower crime rates and safer streets and better-behaved kids. But it’s also a country where that supposedly most American of qualities, wanderlust, has markedly declined: Americans no longer “go west” (or east or north or south) in search of opportunity the way they did 50 years ago; the rate at which people move between states has fallen from 3.5 percent in the early 1970s to 1.4 percent in 2010. Nor do Americans change jobs as often as they once did. For all the boosterish talk about retraining and self-employment, all the fears of a precarious job market, Americans are less likely to switch employers than they were a generation ago.

Meanwhile, those well-behaved young people are more depressed than prior cohorts, less likely to drive drunk or get pregnant but more tempted toward self-harm. They are also the most medicated generation in history, from the drugs prescribed for A.D.H.D. to the antidepressants offered to anxious teens, and most of the medications are designed to be calming, offering a smoothed-out experience rather than a spiky high. For adults, the increasingly legal drug of choice is marijuana, whose prototypical user is a relaxed and harmless figure — comfortably numb, experiencing stagnation as a chill good time.

And then there is the opioid epidemic, whose spread across the unhappiest parts of white America passed almost unnoticed in elite circles for a while because the drug itself quiets rather than inflames, supplying a gentle euphoria that lets its users simply slip away, day by day and bit by bit, without causing anyone any trouble. The best book on the epidemic, by the journalist Sam Quinones, is called “Dreamland” for a reason.

In the land of the lotus eaters, people are also less likely to invest in the future in the most literal of ways. The United States birthrate was once an outlier among developed countries, but since the Great Recession, it has descended rapidly, converging with the wealthy world’s general below-replacement norm. This demographic decline worsens economic stagnation; economists reckoning with its impact keep finding stark effects. A 2016 analysis found that a 10 percent increase in the fraction of the population over 60 decreased the growth rate of states’ per capita G.D.P. by 5.5 percent. A 2018 paper found that companies in younger labor markets are more innovative; another found that the aging of society helped explain the growth of monopolies and the declining rate of start-ups.

This feedback loop — in which sterility feeds stagnation, which further discourages childbearing, which sinks society ever-deeper into old age — makes demographic decline a clear example of how decadence overtakes a civilization. For much of Western history, declining birthrates reflected straightforward gains to human welfare: victories over infant mortality, over backbreaking agrarian economies, over confining expectations for young women. But once we crossed over into permanent below-replacement territory, the birth dearth began undercutting the very forces (youth, risk -taking, dynamism) necessary for continued growth, meaning that any further gains to individual welfare are coming at the future’s expense.

V.
Now the reader will probably have an obvious objection to this portrait of senescence and stagnation: What about politics? Would a decadent society really reproduce the 1969 Days of Rage on social media, with online mobs swarming and the old extremes back in action? Would it produce a populist surge and a socialist revival, a domestic civil war so polarizing that Americans could mistake the work of Russian hackers for the sincere convictions of their fellow citizens? Would it elect Donald Trump as president?

Strangely, the answer might be “yes.” Both populism and socialism, Trump and Bernie Sanders, represent expressions of discontent with decadence, rebellions against the technocratic management of stagnation that defined the Obama era. “Make America Great Again” is the slogan of a reactionary futurism, a howl against a future that wasn’t what was promised, and the Sanders Revolution promises that what the left lost somewhere in the Reagan era can be regained, and the climb to utopia begun anew.

But the desire for a different future only goes so far, and in practical terms the populist era has mostly delivered a new and deeper stalemate. From Trump’s Washington to the capitals of Europe, Western politics is now polarized between anti-establishment forces that are unprepared to competently govern and an establishment that’s too disliked to effectively rule.


The structures of the Western system, the United States Constitution and administrative state, the half-built federalism of the European Union, are everywhere creaking and everywhere critiqued. But our stalemates make them impervious to substantial reform, let alone to revolution. The most strident European nationalists don’t even want to leave the European Union, and Trump’s first term has actually been much like Obama’s second, with failed legislation and contested executive orders, and policy made mostly by negotiation between the bureaucracy and the courts.

There is a virtual Trump presidency whose depredations terrify liberals, one that airs on Fox in which Trump goes from strength to strength. But the real thing is closer to the genre the president knows best, reality television, than to the actual return of history. (Trump’s recent State of the Union, with its theatrics and premature declaration of victory over decadence, was a particularly striking case in point.)

Likewise in the wider political culture. The madness of online crowds, the way the internet has allowed the return of certain forms of political extremism and the proliferation of conspiracy theories — yes, if our decadence is to end in the return of grand ideological combat and street-brawl politics, this might be how that ending starts.

But our battles mostly still reflect what Barzun called “the deadlocks of our time” — the Kavanaugh Affair replaying the Clarence Thomas hearings, the debates over political correctness cycling us backward to fights that were fresh and new in the 1970s and ’80s. The hysteria with which we’re experiencing them may represent nothing more than the way that a decadent society manages its political passions, by encouraging people to playact extremism, to re-enact the 1930s or 1968 on social media, to approach radical politics as a sport, a hobby, a kick to the body chemistry, that doesn’t put anything in their relatively comfortable late-modern lives at risk.

Close Twitter, log off Facebook, turn off cable television, and what do you see in the Trump-era United States? Campuses in tumult? No: The small wave of campus protests, most of them focused around parochial controversies, crested before Trump’s election and have diminished since. Urban riots? No: The post-Ferguson flare of urban protest has died down. A wave of political violence? A small spike, maybe, but one that’s more analogous to school shootings than to the political clashes of the 1930s or ’60s, in the sense that it involves disturbed people appointing themselves knights-errant and going forth to slaughter, rather than organized movements with any kind of concrete goal.

Internet-era political derangement is partially responsible for white supremacists goading one another into shooting sprees, or the Sanders supporter who tried to massacre Republicans at a congressional baseball game in 2017. But these episodes are terrible and also exceptional; they have not yet established a pattern that looks anything like the early 1970s, when there were more than 2,500 bombings across the continental United States in one 18-month period.

Maybe today’s outliers are the forerunners of something worse. But our terrorists don’t feel like prophets or precursors; they often feel more like marks.



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Big news
« Reply #1870 on: March 08, 2020, 02:58:05 PM »
Katherine just got me a MAGA coffee mug.  :-D

but it came with a tiny chip in it.   :-o

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The Commie China Virus and the Rural Urban Divide
« Reply #1872 on: March 25, 2020, 03:03:07 PM »
March 25, 2020   View On Website
The Coronavirus and the Rural-Urban Divide
By: Antonia Colibasanu

The coronavirus crisis is a source of common concern across the globe and a shared invisible enemy. But as it develops, the crisis will push toward a global reset. The distribution of power around the world had become more diffuse before the coronavirus outbreak, with countries like China and Russia increasing their role at the global level and nationalism growing at the expense of the authority of multilateral institutions. But with the coronavirus pandemic, the deepening differences between classes and between rural and urban societies are not only becoming more visible worldwide – they are restructuring societies and thus reshaping national strategies.

In the last chapter of my book "Redrawing the World Map: Contemporary Geopolitics and Geoeconomics" (to come out later this year in Romanian and then in English), I write about how the social changes brought on by digitization, while they differ from place to place, will eventually restructure all nation-states and the global system. Social changes also reshape how we see the world, geopolitically. My argument referred to the way that resources – including human resources – change and evolve over time depending on the ecosystem they are part of, and depending on that system’s geography and social patterns.

I argue that globalization and access to digitization made it possible for people living in very different locations to consider themselves peers. In the process, people working from laptops in their offices, or independently from home or some coffee shop, have been uniting the urban zones of the world. I also argue that while “urban” areas begin to share common characteristics all over the world, rural areas will not only remain distinct from one country to the next, but as a whole will grow increasingly different from urban centers within each nation. The social geography of rural areas, depending on the specific structure of each nation-state, will have a great impact on nation-states’ strategies. The characteristics of a state’s rural reality – and its interconnections, similarities and tensions with rural counterparts elsewhere – will determine to what extent that state cooperates with or opposes other states. The urban setting is where they come to talk; it is a setting for mutual understanding.
 
(click to enlarge)

What this means is that society, and the settings in which it acts, will become more important to the state’s strategic imperatives – not less, no matter the promises of technology. Demographics matter because they are the very core of society and because they are ever-changing, at distinct paces, within each society. Communities, through their levels of education and specialization as well as their living environments, determine the country’s economic development and, with that, its imperatives. I wrote the introduction of my book too early to consider the effects of the novel coronavirus on demographics and society overall – even if I acknowledged its potential to drive significant changes.

Now I am beginning to see what may come. As of this writing, the coronavirus has already brought Europe to a close. Extraordinary things are happening. Italy is in complete lockdown; Paris is quiet for the first time in history. Borders have been resurrected: The checkpoints are back in use. Goods are allowed to move through them, while only citizens returning to their home countries may pass. Nation-states have banned exports of essential medical equipment to fight the virus. In this crisis, EU member states are visibly national first and foremost. They seek solutions in the nationalization of businesses, and the national military is called in to help.

There are several dimensions to discuss when talking about EU resilience to the coronavirus crisis. First, coordination among member states is what makes the EU relevant – the states administer borders and essential trade traffic. Second, they coordinate on a bilateral level, sending in timely resources and medical aid. Health is a prerogative of the nation-state. However, the way each country reacts to the needs of the other will determine intra-EU relations. Third, how EU institutions coordinate national actions following the crisis will determine the future of the EU. The public perceives the EU through what Brussels does to help. So, we will know how the EU evolves based on how it acts in front of its public.

Ultimately, the future of the EU, and that of the world, depends on how society is shaped by the coronavirus pandemic. We are all subject to “social distancing” policies imposed by nation-states in fighting contagion. Much has been said and written about how social distancing will affect supply chains and the economy – because people may choose to work or not to work, because they may revolt against the policy considering the need to support themselves. The financial costs are high. Much has also been said and written about how labor will change – telecommuting, for those who can work remotely, will potentially set new standards. The opportunities may also be high. All writings I have read also point to inevitable yet uncertain changes approaching, including the potential for a depression.

However, social distancing, in practice, doesn’t affect only working habits. It relates to personal feelings, of which the most important is fear. You fear the virus, therefore you keep your distance. You don’t do that because someone told you to; you do it because you feel you should, for your own sake. It is personal, even if it is imposed. Fear of getting sick with something that is not necessarily deadly depends on the trust you have in the health system. Fear of getting sick along with many others depends on the trust in your country’s ability to cope with a situation where a lot of people get sick and many others are economically inactive. The two are very distinct matters, distinct fears.

Anthropologists teach us how humans and humanity have evolved and have been shaped by their fears. It is fears and the actions taken to deal with fears that create social changes. The geography people live in sets them to fear differently and therefore respond differently to challenges. Geopolitics takes into consideration the behavior of the mountain people, which is different from that of other people, because they fear different things. Similarly, in the coronavirus pandemic, the urban population, while more connected through digitization, in a much more enclosed environment, behaves differently from those living in villages.

The people living in urban environments have better access to medical services than those living in villages. It matters greatly for urban areas whether the health care system is under pressure; for most rural areas, the health care system is meager or nonexistent. True, differences exist between countries – the rural setting in Germany is different from that of France, with people having more access to medical facilities in Germany than in France. But overall, medical care for the urban population is a lot more accessible than it is for the rural population. Similarly, the role of the state and its economic power are perceived differently in rural versus urban areas, which are not created equal.

In the coronavirus crisis, considering the potential for the medical system to be overloaded and the closeness imposed by urban settings, the fear of living in an apartment is intense. Acknowledging that you don’t have access to services you used to have access to means acknowledging some of your needs will not be met. And when social distancing includes state-mandated isolation (as is the case in Italy, Spain and France right now), having to stay indoors for longer than a few days and fill out forms to show the local police authority just to walk your dog certainly has some effects on your lifestyle and psychological state. Fighting the negative effects of the quarantine may include singing on the balcony, as we saw in Italy, but this means only that there are negative effects to fight.

In the process of social distancing, we are testing the links between social groups. The well-off will behave differently from the poor, the young differently from the old. In a town, all groups have access to the same services – in an unequal manner. Observing the food bought in the rush hours for the quarantine is a lesson in how different in both lifestyle and ultimately in income urban people are. Their tolerance, their acceptance for the other doesn’t relate to their willingness to help. For all the physical closeness there is between urban people, there is just as much distance. Living in an apartment doesn’t mean you talk to your neighbors outside of saying “hello.” Not talking disengages – you are too busy, but also you need not know. If you don’t know that a neighbor needs help, then you have no responsibility to help. The urban social network is that of class, and once in a class, in a group, relations with the other groups are minimal.

For the rural, things are different. There are groups in the villages, as there are influencers. But the network rules are different. It is family ties that matter, before economic classes. Links between people are well established, and the same from one generation to another. When you are living in the countryside, you are generally more aware of geography and closeness than you would be in the city. You know a lot about your neighbors because you need to deal with them on a more or less daily basis. The plots of land around the villagers’ houses don’t impose human distance, as good neighborliness includes helping out one another. The state is largely not present – but God is. Religion and family are key concepts for what forms the basis for trust in rural areas.

During the pandemic, fear in rural areas is dependent on their connection and their dependency on the cities. In this sense, the more distant they are, the less affected they get. However, considering contagion rules, once someone gets infected, the rural setting facilitates infection. Imposing social distancing in such communities is difficult – considering their poor access to public health services, rural people consider themselves doomed from the very beginning. They live not in fear, but in the hope that God will help them again. Because no one else really helped before. They need not learn that medical services are available, because it is in distant hospitals that they can get access to such services – in theory. Digitization, when available, is only for communication with and learning about the rest of the world. They rely mostly on religious services and their own.

The coronavirus crisis creates different fears for different geographies. While digitization gives all people access to information, fears of the unknown – which include not only the virus but also the way that it is and could be dealt with at all levels – deepen differences between the urban and the rural. While it's unclear how the EU will come out of this new crisis, and while it's urgent that nation-states act and show they can fight the coronavirus, it is clear that the outbreak will also affect the distance between the urban and the rural and that between the social classes. In effect, the crisis is accelerating a process that was already happening, as fears create social changes affecting the structure of society, everywhere around the globe. Urban reactions are similar, their problems too. They may bring the world together. But rural reactions are not similar – and we don’t know them yet.   





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George Friedman: Thinking about this moment
« Reply #1873 on: April 02, 2020, 08:57:16 AM »
April 2, 2020 View On Website
Open as PDF

George Friedman's Thoughts: Thinking About This Moment
By: George Friedman
Geopolitical Futures

My job is to write, and my goal in writing is to put things in perspective. The world has been to me an endlessly shifting kaleidoscope of nations, all moving in different directions that can be predicted by understanding the forces that shape their actions. I take pleasure in seeing the order behind the chaos. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but I have lived in a world of many colors, shapes and tempos.

For the past month, a vast fog has made that world difficult to see. The coronavirus pandemic has rendered normal global events irrelevant. Something deadly is stalking the world, and it respects neither power nor money. Governments are obsessed with protecting us, or at least with appearing to protect us, but there is no protection except for what we provide ourselves. An infection cannot be destroyed yet. It will run whatever course it runs. Our bodies may or may not rally to overcome it. Our will has nothing to do with what happens.

Therefore, the only action we can take is to not allow the virus to enter our bodies, and the way it can enter our bodies is not through the air, or through food, or even through dirt. The disease invades our bodies from the bodies of other human beings. So we avoid contact with others. Governments have adopted a policy of building barriers between nations and sometimes barriers within their nations. The choice of families is to build barriers between themselves and their neighbors. Our politics and our lives are focused on this at the moment, and the distance we put between ourselves and the rest of the world.

The other consequences of doing social distancing are not at the moment of prime importance. There is something unseen out there that will sicken us and even kill us, and we cling to whatever safety there is by being alone. But we are social animals. We do not live alone. Love of one’s own is not simply love of those in our household but of those with whom we share language, faith and history. If we see our neighbors, our countrymen and the world as being potentially infected with a hidden pestilence, if the barriers of borders and doors supplant all of these other things, then how do we remain human?

I have been at home for nearly a month, my wife making heroic forays to pick up pre-ordered food at the supermarket, commanding me not to share her risks for I must not get ill so I can think and write and earn money. I am the man, and I am supposed to risk my life at the supermarket, yet she insists I must not get ill. The oddity of all of this is not only that this reduces my sense of manhood, but that a trip to the supermarket has become an act of quiet heroism.

What is most frightening in all of this madness is that it is not madness. It is all we can do, and we are for the most part doing it. We are not doing it because of threats from the government; we are doing it because it is all we can do. I used to think about the Russia-Turkey confrontation in Libya, about Brexit, and about the development of hypersonic missiles. All that is still there, but for now none of it matters. There are slight glimpses of U.S.-China tensions or a Belarusian leader saying that the cure to all this is vodka. In some ways he makes more sense. Doctors tell us to wait. The president of Belarus tells us to get drunk. That won’t save us, but at least we won’t be afraid.

This is an extraordinary moment in human history. Our world has contracted. And this is true not in one country but in virtually all countries. In some countries, of course, life goes on unchanged along with all too common disease and death. In most countries, those violating the new laws and customs are seen as social deviants. But even in wartime, perhaps especially in wartime, I have not seen social responsibility being defined as refusing to enter into social life.

I am a fan of science fiction, and I love post-apocalypse novels. This is not playing out as it’s supposed to. We have our disease, but it will not wipe out everyone but a lone woman, as happened in “Extinction Point.” In novels like these, the virus would be delivered by aliens even now colonizing the planet, and the woman making contact with a crippled man in Alaska plans survival and resistance. Reality is even more stunning. We do not face the annihilation of the species – or so it seems – but we do, almost seamlessly, face the danger and transform our lives. We face combat not with aliens but at most with our own boredom.

What is perhaps most different in our apocalypse novel is that we have not seen a surge of banditry roving over the landscape. For me, one of the most remarkable things – and from what I can see, this is true globally – is that our retreat into our homes and ourselves has been remarkably orderly. But that I suppose is because heroes are still at work in our warehouses and trucks and stores, and food is still ample. That may continue indefinitely, but in a world we can’t recognize, nothing is certain.
That this cannot become the new model of human existence is obviously true. It can be done only if we accept a level of poverty and loneliness until the day medicine finds a solution. And since the experts speak in terms of years, maintaining our current stance will be difficult. Our position now is that preventing deaths from the virus takes precedence over all other things. Whether this posture can be maintained in the face of massive social and economic failure, where the trip to the supermarket is pointless, is unknown. But for the moment that is not the question. For the near future this will go on, and my world will contract, and my kaleidoscope will see grey, not the vivid colors I have lived with. And I do take walks, seeing occasionally other neighbors out walking, and we pass on opposite sides of the street each wondering whether the other is in the grip of the invisible plague.

We can do this. For a while longer.

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A time to hate
« Reply #1878 on: May 19, 2020, 11:50:26 AM »

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Dan Crenshaw: Why Does Reopening Polarize Us?
« Reply #1880 on: May 20, 2020, 10:13:40 PM »
Why Does Reopening Polarize Us?
The divide over lockdowns reflects deeper differences in attitudes about risk, liberty and morality.
By Dan Crenshaw
May 18, 2020 7:03 pm ET

The debate over reopening the economy has a peculiar characteristic: It breaks down almost entirely along political lines. Liberals emphasize the dangers of an open society, shaming those who want to go back to work. Conservatives argue the opposite. Red states are steadily reopening, while most blue states lag. House Democrats believe it isn’t safe for lawmakers to go back to work, while the Republican-controlled Senate is back in session.

It isn’t obvious that such a debate should be partisan, yet it is. Why? One popular explanation is that all roads lead to President Trump. Whatever he says, the left will say the opposite.

Geographic distribution has also been proposed as a factor. Liberals tend to pack into crowded cities, where the virus spreads more easily, while conservatives populate the more rural, safer regions. This explanation is neat but fails to explain the divide within cities, where Republicans support reopening more than their Democratic neighbors.

Another factor is that the economic fallout has harmed working-class, high-school-educated Americans far worse than the liberal-leaning college-educated. It is easy to “prioritize public health” when you work comfortably from home.

Finally, the far left is treating the lockdowns and the consequent economic devastation as an opportunity to “restructure” America into a socialist utopia. So they’re in no rush.

These factors contribute to the partisan divide, but I believe a complete account would take us deeper, into the realm of psychology and morality. Liberal and conservative brain function has been shown to differ considerably during exercises in risk-taking. These differences led researchers to conclude that socially conservative views are driven, at least in part, by people’s need to feel safe and secure. While liberals present themselves as more open to experience and change, conservatives seem more likely to protect that which we know. This divide appears to apply to multiculturalism, traditional institutions and financial risk, but not all unknown risks.

Today conservatives are the ones ready to confront risk head-on. That’s consistent with my experience in the military, where the overwhelming majority of special operators identify as conservatives. Recent data confirm my experiences, indicating that high-risk civilian occupations tend to be filled by those who lean right. If conservatives show more brain activity when processing fear, they also seem better at overcoming it.

Liberals are also more comfortable with a government that regulates more behavior and provides more services. They often say, “You can’t be free if you don’t have service X, Y and Z.” Such statements sound nonsensical to conservative ears. The conservative emphasis on personal responsibility leaves less room for the government micromanagement we’re witnessing now.

Conservatives understand basic morality differently, too. Research shows that among the five moral foundations—care, fairness, authority and tradition, in-group loyalty, and purity—liberals prioritize care and fairness, while conservatives engage all five about equally. The liberal weighting means that far more emphasis is placed on a single consideration—“If it saves even one life . . .”— to the exclusion of others, such as the costs to society. Liberals equate those costs with simple monetary hardship, easily replaced by a government check. Conservatives realize economic devastation may affect lives for years, altering their entire trajectories.

The liberal approach betrays a lack of imagination. Just because you dislike Mr. Trump doesn’t mean he must be wrong here. Just because you can work remotely doesn’t mean others can, too. Just because you don’t want to confront risk doesn’t mean others should be prevented from doing so. Just because you have a single-dimensional view of “caring” doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore the consequences of economic devastation.

It is time to reopen America in a smart and deliberate fashion and stop calling people murderers because they want to get back to work. The American people are responsible enough to live free and confront risk. Let them do so.

Mr. Crenshaw, a Republican, represents Texas’ Second Congressional District.

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substitute "socialism" for "man"
« Reply #1881 on: May 27, 2020, 06:10:55 AM »
And assume he is speaking to the liberal youths of today:

https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/e21913f5-370f-4a28-95c9-edd6f54d00d5

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There are no good narratives on Race
« Reply #1882 on: June 09, 2020, 06:58:35 PM »
There Are No Good Narratives on Race
By AARON SIBARIUM
About Aaron Sibarium
Follow Aaron Sibarium On Twitter
June 9, 2020 8:54 AM


Protesters hold placards as they rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Manhattan, New York City, June 2, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

The Left’s is overstated and divisive, but the alternatives aren’t much better.

Whenever police brutality sparks riots and resentments, from Rodney King to Freddie Gray to George Floyd, there is a current of contrarian opinion that wants to blame “The Narrative.” The Narrative holds that police killings are common; that they are motivated mostly by race; and that race is the defining line in American society, the source of all its problems and divisions.

Each claim, the naysayers note, is either exaggerated or fabricated. No, police killings are not common; law-abiding citizens are more likely to be struck by lightning than shot by the police. No, they’re not racially-motivated; once you control for crime rates, police kill whites just as often as they do blacks. And while racism is certainly a part of American society, to say that it’s the whole thing is ridiculously reductionist, a potted, politicized tall tale that excuses, maybe even encourages violence.

And they’re right: The Narrative does trade on hyperbole, ignore inconvenient facts, and deepen the divisions it purports to redress.

But if its shortcomings suggest the naivety of a certain sort of protestor, its persistence despite those shortcomings suggests the naivety of much of the pushback. In particular, it suggests that the three main counter-narratives on offer today — creedalism, nationalism, and localism — simply ring hollow, and provide very little in the way of unity or hope.

Start with creedalism. For many centrists-cum-civic nationalists, racism and rioting alike are rooted in a betrayal of America’s founding identity, its classically liberal character. What unites us all as Americans, on this view, is (or should be) reverence for the Constitution, respect for the rule of law, and belief in the fundamental equality of man: in other words, a series of abstract principles.


It’s an admirable vision, and no doubt it would be less divisive than The Narrative. But “less divisive” is a far cry from unifying. It’s easy to agree on abstract principles in the abstract; it’s hard to interpret and apply them when their whole point is to transcend concrete conflicts and experiences. And even if we could agree on what the principles mean, it’s not clear that they would satisfy our need for kinship and identity — indeed, it’s not clear “principles” are an identity at all.

The other problem with creedalism is that it tends to imagine Americans as individuals first, and members of groups second. But — and The Narrative is right about this — individual and group identity aren’t always so separable. People have parents, parents have pasts, and pasts contain pains, not all of which time can anesthetize. George Floyd’s murder may have been an outlier, in other words, but it took place in a country where racial violence was the norm for centuries, where blacks are nearly ten times poorer than whites, and where, if police killings are unbiased, policing itself is not, as any serious scholar will attest. And of course, race does not exhaust the list of divisions that “free markets, free people” seems unable to bridge.

Partly in response to these problems, some conservatives have pivoted toward a more particularist understanding of American identity — based on shared values, yes, but also shared history, shared culture. This was the understanding that dominated last summer’s National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C., with more than one panelist invoking “the mystic chords of memory” posited by Abraham Lincoln in his First Inaugural. At first glance, it can seem like a healthy corrective to creedal abstraction, and perhaps, in some small sense, it is.

But as a blueprint for racial union, it’s got some pretty big design flaws. Leave aside for a moment the question of whether we’ve ever had a common culture, or the fact that we don’t have one now; it’s not even clear we have a common history. Yes, our ancestors fought the same wars . . . but not always on the same side. Yes, blacks have lived here for over three centuries . . . first as slaves, then as second-class citizens to whites. Even if you think racism is mostly a thing of the past (and it’s debatable whether you should), American history does contain quite a lot of it, enough to make those “mystic chords” rather hard to harmonize. Arranging them may be possible in principle; in practice, no one has written a score.

And in a country of 330 million people — black, white, and every shade in between — that lack of harmony is a huge problem. It would be one thing if our diversity broke down neatly along state lines, so that each demographic were largely self-governing under our federal system. But that is not the America we have, and, more to the point, it’s not the one we should want — meaning that localism, the last-ditch solution to which Americans often turn, doesn’t solve much at all. If anything, it has become another vector for polarization, cynically deployed by whichever side is out of power, from the grassroots gutting of Obamacare to the California crusade against ICE — and on the specific issue of police reform, it is poised to polarize us further still: consider how a local vote to disband the police became national news, and part of national debate, literally overnight.

94
So it’s not enough to reject the racial gnosticism of The Narrative. You need a positive replacement, a story that’s sufficiently broad to include everyone but sufficiently narrow to make inclusion seem worth it. The academic defenders of the riots, the reporters determined to downplay them, the pious protesters lamenting their privilege, clearly don’t know what that looks like.

But nor, I think it’s safe to say, do you.

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apple admits they are racist
« Reply #1883 on: June 12, 2020, 01:27:46 PM »
or how else does one explain this:


https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2020/06/12/apple-ceo-tim-cook-announces-100-million-racial-justice-initiative/


https://www.apple.com/leadership/


Al Gore is on the BOD - I guess for his prowess running corporations?

yup no , no colored people , woops excuse me,  people of color. 

but lots of women.
cook is gay I think

Any Republicans?   :wink:
« Last Edit: June 12, 2020, 01:36:54 PM by ccp »

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Caldwell: The Age of Entitlement
« Reply #1884 on: June 13, 2020, 07:12:05 AM »
I seek to grasp the implications of the following from "The Age of Entitlement" by Christopher Caldwell:
=========================================

"Less well understood was that the internet approach to data, and to reality, undermined ALL types of thinking aimed at understanding systems from the outside-- not just religion, but also science, political ideology, and deductive reasoning. Big Data worked by correlation, not by logic. As the Oxford technology expert Viktor Mayer-Schonberger put it, "Society will need to shed some of its obsession with causality in exchange for simple correlations: not knowing 'why' but only 'what.'" Big Data was a reassertion by powerful corporations of a right that had been stripped from other Americans: the right to stereotype.
, , ,
"The information-gathering capacities of the new internet firms brought them into both collusion and competition with government.
, , ,
"GOOGLE and SWIFT were private companies-- yet their regulatory and public information roles made them look like governments in embryo.
, , ,
"The problem was not the expansion of government until it crowded out the private sector-- it was the expansion of the private sector until it became a kind of government."

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #1885 on: June 13, 2020, 09:40:42 AM »
".As the Oxford technology expert Viktor Mayer-Schonberger put it, "Society will need to shed some of its obsession with causality in exchange for simple correlations: not knowing 'why' but only 'what.'"

very good point.

as AI bighots like Google Microsoft and FB work feverishly to replace myself as a primary care doctor
I will keep this in mind.

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2nd post RELIGION OF WOKE 2020 AND COMPARISON TO CHRISTIANITY AND ROME
« Reply #1886 on: June 13, 2020, 11:02:53 AM »
The religion of WOKE
and almost identical comparison to how Christianity in the Roman Empire


https://wabcradio.com/podcast/the-john-batchelor-show/

the comparison is uncanny.

BUT I do not think the "new found virtuosity " explains our civil war 2020.

To me the religion of WOKE is just a front, a ruse , to use as a club that those who are woke are more virtuous , more good and on the "right side " of history (we keep hearing Don the Lemon tell us every night)

It is a front for the real issue - power and control over the money -

The woke are no more virtuous than the rest of us .  They just use the concept as a cover .
It is useful to shame , to play on guilt (white guilt as Shelby Steele points on on LEvin)
to pressure and even further to extort from and destroy all opposition to forced redistribution of wealth so fully embraced by the DNC .

The celebrity rich newscaster academic and soros bezos zucker zuckerberg libs think they are safe because they are converts.

Maybe - enemies of the Muslims were granted freedom or spared from death if they convert.  But by doing so they relinquish all control to the Isllamists.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2020, 11:56:14 AM by ccp »


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George Friedman: History and Decency
« Reply #1888 on: June 18, 2020, 07:56:24 AM »
   History and Decency
Thoughts In and Around Geopolitics
By: George Friedman

When I was a child, I learned that history moves forward, sometimes gently and sometimes brutally, but that I had no control over what happened. I heard the stories of the Holocaust and the communists, and I learned that they happened not because Hitler and Stalin were monsters but because history unfolds as it does, sometimes monstrously. I saw the lives of my parents and myself as trapped in the tides with millions of people, each confined in their lives, each acting as they must, and the sum total leading to whatever came. I wondered why my father did not take arms and fight the evils that history imposed on his life, and his answer was this, if not in his words: courage is a self-indulgence. It allows you the illusion that you can control history. All that was possible for him was to try to live or make a small decision about how he died. No one would know, no one would care. His only guide was fear, and his only goal was the vague possibility that he could somehow shape the fate of the few that he loved.

I learned to watch history unfold not because I thought I could change it but because I thought that if I knew the direction it would take, I could in some small way shape my own life to evade its wrath. I learned to observe the broad tidal waves of history, largely ignoring those who presided over it. Leaders and rulers come and go, governing millions for short periods of time. We imbue them with power they don’t have because the things we learned at the kitchen table were terrifying. We want to think someone must be in control, someone must be responsible, someone must be held accountable. The idea that we are simply the audience and victims of impersonal forces that create leaders who speak their lines and then move off the stage is intolerable. As a child, I shared the affection of many for Dwight Eisenhower. My father once asked me if I knew how many people he had killed. And then he said that if Ike had not, someone else would have. It had to be done.

We are each shaped by our childhood, and this was mine. When I went to college, the question I wanted to know was why this was so. I read Hegel and Marx and Thucydides and the rest but could not figure out what would happen next. Of course, to do that I had to understand first why this was so. I found that answer in Machiavelli, who explained what a prince must do if he is to remain a prince. The teaching of Machiavelli is simple. If you want to be a shoemaker, you must make a shoe a certain way. If you want to be a prince, you must rule a certain way. Shoemakers and princes are trapped in the same matrix of reality. You can choose to do it differently, but then your customers will leave you, and your citizens will loathe you.
What I learned during that period is that history consists of people doing what they must do under certain circumstances. They do not make history. History makes them. A prince must do what is necessary or he will quickly cease being the prince, discarded and forgotten, while another, less fastidious, does what must be done. I turned from trying to make history to forecasting it. It was the best and most I could do.

As I grow older, I want there to be more. For some, the tale I tell is reasonable, adding to it the idea of a merciful God, who guides each of our lives and allows them to form into history. I believe deeply that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by philosophy. But for me the mystery is the horror of the 20th century. I know it had to be. I don’t understand why.

But my need for it to be more goes deeper. I know myself and the things I did that shouldn’t have been done, and the things I didn’t do that should have been done. I cannot hold history responsible for these sins of commission and omission. They are mine. I did things I told myself would do good but knew in my heart would not. I can refer to “The Prince,” but I was no prince. I can refer to necessity, but I knew even then my sins weren’t necessary. I suspect that as we grow old and look back on our lives, there is much each of us would do differently. When we’re young, we are confident that all we do will be different. It’s human.
I am good at seeing what horror might come, and take satisfaction only in being right. I forgive myself by saying there is nothing to be done. But the fact that there is nothing to be done does not relieve us of the obligation to be appalled by even the most necessary thing. At this point I would point to morality, justice and all the transcendental concepts that are so hard to fathom that we dispense with them, and accept that we are sinners and apologize.

But there is a more mysterious concept that we cannot evade: decency. If we accept everything about the impersonal power and predictability of history, we are still left with the question of how we should live our lives. Indeed, the prince, doing what he is compelled to do in order to rule, has this question as well. Otherwise, everything I think of history permits us to do anything we wish. And if we are free to do that, then we are free to think that political ambitions justify the most horrible crimes of a Hitler and a Stalin. Each praised ruthlessness and rejected decency. Perhaps ruthlessness is imperative. It can still be softened by decency.

Decency is a mysterious concept. As an ambition, it seems to affirm our weakness. It is not a concept on which philosophers will discourse. We have no guide to it, but we know it when we see it. I think, hesitantly, that its core is modesty. Modesty is the ability of humans to laugh at themselves gently as they go about their great schemes. It affirms that they are prisoners of events but that they will, with humor, try to shape them anyway.

Decency is also kindness, even (or especially) to those who are incapable of modesty. The immodest suffer the most from their fear of being ordinary. Decency is an awareness of our limits, and a refusal to condemn others for the limits they have.

Ultimately, I think of decency as a sense of how noble humanity can be and how funny it is. Decency is not weakness. The decent know when they must act, but they also are aware of their own maliciousness and refuse to celebrate their own virtues.

I do know that history is a terrible and relentless engine. At best we can understand what a dictator will do or what a virus is. But in the end, the cold watching of it unfold and enjoying your prescience has to be leavened, lest you become a monster.

Living a decent life is not part of history, but then we are more than history. We are ourselves. We live in a time when self-righteousness abounds and decency is rare. But then it was always so. Self-righteousness justifies ruthlessness and self-celebration. It justifies contempt for others.

The Declaration of Independence spoke of a decent respect to the opinions of mankind. I think Thomas Jefferson chose the words carefully. Decency sounds weak. He knew it wasn’t.


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Friedman: Beethoven
« Reply #1890 on: June 25, 2020, 07:18:33 AM »
    Beethoven and Now
Thoughts In and Around Geopolitics
By: George Friedman

I know nothing about music. I can’t play an instrument, nor can I read music. My singing appalls even me. Yet music has defined my life. When I hear a song it conjures in me, as it does in others, a particular place on a particular night with a particular person. Or it conjures a phase of my life. Cyndi Lauper’s songs remind me of the time when I said to hell with duty. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” is gender neutral. Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” – “No, I Do Not Regret Anything” – reminds me of a thing that had to be done but ought not to have been done. When I hear the Christian hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” I think of my wife and the choices we’ve had to make.

Music is the sound that happens to be permanently linked to a memory, and the memory fixed to an emotion that I felt then.

The emotions can be exuberant or thoughtful, but they are always tinged with sadness. They all speak of the past that I cannot forget but cannot relive.

I discovered the music that will always remind me of this time: Beethoven’s “Pathetique.” It is a somber piece but not sad. It tells me that time is not of the essence, and it invites me to think deeply, or as deeply as I can. And then it breaks into a tempo, with a sound that admits that time is of course of the essence. And then it breaks into a strange celebration of life, not of its finitude but of the passions that should be embedded there.

Today, time has slowed, and our mood is somber. Thanks to quarantine measures imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we live the same day over and over again until we cannot remember what day it is. We search for an exit, but there is none. We look for something different only to discover that mere difference doesn’t redeem the day. The sense of rebellion we feel subsides, and we accept that time isn’t of the essence any longer. But, of course, it is. It is not simply that life is short, but that it has so much to offer. And then you learn to celebrate the things you cannot have now, but in that celebration, as Beethoven teaches, there arises a sense of being that is distinct from doing. You are drawn into yourself, and find the music that Beethoven tried to teach us. “Pathetique” is far from the pathetic. It is an invitation to see that the somber is the preface to the joyous, but that the work and discipline to achieve that is more difficult than contemplating the status of the Chinese navy. The latter has rules. Beethoven demands that you make your own rules.

That seems to me to be the nature of our moment. We do not know whether it will be long or short. It is in this moment that we live, and the music of the beginning is not that of the end. This is a difficult and even terrible time. Arguing that it is not as bad as this or that moment is pointless. The moment in which we are living is what matters. The worst part of it is that we didn’t choose it; it chose us, and that is outrageous. The issue facing us we know how to resist: by not going outside and living with the consequences. But even then we are helpless. Courage won’t save us, and fear really doesn’t protect us.

Beethoven has the virtue of being accessible to those without learning or even taste in music, such as myself. The opening to "Symphony No. 5" fills me with a dreadful anticipation. "Symphony No. 9" and its "Ode to Joy" remind of the moments of delirious happiness before revolutions turn into monstrosities. “Moonlight Sonata” draws out the rare moments that make a love affair a moment of redemption. And "Pathetique" reassures us that ennui and sorrow are a preface to triumph – and that is for me the music of this moment.

The virtue of feelings is that no one can tell us that we are wrong. What we feel is what we feel. The virtue of Beethoven, for me, is that he evokes feeling, where there is much music that I can’t understand. I take meaning from The Doors because they remind me of a night I treasure. But these are merely reactions. I rarely have time to consider these things. But now there is time, and that has transformed living.

One of the singular characteristics of the moment is that there is time, time in excess of what we might be able to bear. For some, this time is a period of reprieve from a life of endless urgency and activity. For them, this time may be a gift, a time to be free from the constraints of the urgent, to the consideration of the urgent. It is also a dangerous time. With endless empty days, we have a chance to confront who we are and what we have been and what, because of the choices we made, we will never do. We may also confront, with our significant others, what we have been together, the answer to which may be the discovery of mutual loathing or the rebirth of the joy we once felt.

As humanity suffers from a host of maladies, this may sound like narcissism, but it is merely the inevitable outcome of the cessation of happening that these past few months have brought us, and which will likely continue for a long time. Our civilization has been built around doing, and doing is seen as a sign of our success. Those who had failed in life were thought not to be busy. Those who were busy were in demand, and the demand for our time was affirmation of our worth.

Many of us remain busy today, but even the busiest among us have had the pattern of our lives changed. Most of us thrive in social life, be it tennis, dinner parties or getting drunk together. Those moments now carry with them the possibility of disease and death, so we avoid them. And so even for those who eagerly await a teleconference, time has changed its shape. More precisely, time has emerged, demanding that we fill it. Importantly, this emergence of time is greater for the older than the younger among us, especially for the younger who have children who never cease to devour every moment. But for those who never had children or whose children now need little from their parents, their lives have vast gaps in them.

Beethoven is making a vital point. Life is difficult and tedious, and for many of us it will always be that. We all long to be free of constraints, to shape our lives, but that is an illusion. The most brilliant investor makes his money by aligning his actions with the market. Generals align their orders with the reality of the enemy they are facing. Doctors align with the reality of nature. The brilliant can see what must be done before others, but in the end they are no more free for that. They are held in the constraints of the beginning of the “Pathetique” like anyone else. They live life by its own rules.

When I play the songs I remember, and think of the things I was doing at the time, I realize what I didn’t know then: When I broke free of all responsibility, the constraints of life dictated the exit and the return. When I heard Edith Piaf regretting nothing, regrets were too late. And when I heard the alien sounds of Protestant hymns and wondered whether I could live with them, the decision had already been made and there could be no other answer.

This is not a sense of helplessness. As the last movement of the “Pathetique” makes clear, the logical necessity of the music takes us to the logical necessity of our lives and times. What we feel does not matter to a virus. But it matters to us. This for now is our life, and Beethoven is inviting us to listen to Cyndi Lauper. We may not be able to do what she says, but we can think, and that thought can be enough.   


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George Friedman: The Redemption of Prediction
« Reply #1891 on: June 25, 2020, 12:41:53 PM »
The Redemption of Prediction
Friedman’s Thoughts In and Around Geopolitics
By: George Friedman

Foreseeing what will happen is not difficult. It requires only that we face the fact that life always repeats itself if not perfectly, then roughly. As Mark Twain famously put it, “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” We are born of a woman, are nurtured and grow, live our lives as best we can, and die, and within a generation or three, our names and lives will be forgotten, along with what little we have done. There are variations within the rhyming tune, but on the whole this is what we are. We cannot predict everything about life, but we can grasp the pattern that grips us and within which we struggle to live.

It is conceited to claim that the pattern that grips the individual does not also grip humanity and all of its parts. It is more difficult to grasp the song that is being sung than to grasp its rhyme. An individual is born to his life. Where he was born and to whom tells an observer a great deal about what his life will be. The place you were born and the people to whom you were born is both a comforting cradle and a painful prison. If place, people and time will tell us what is possible and impossible in our life, then the possible and impossible is held in common by all those whose origins we share, and with subtlety and gentleness, we can tell the story of cities and nations before they occur. It demands only that we see the obvious and be honest with ourselves as to what we have seen.

There are those who wish that they would be different. There are others who wish that their city or nation would be different. And there are those who wish people would be different. As we learn playing poker, it is important never to lie to yourself about the cards you were dealt, or comfort yourself by imagining that the other player’s cards were different. If you accept that your own life is an inevitable cycle, and you accept the cards that you have been dealt, then altering the pattern ever so slightly is possible. If you demand that it be vastly different, life will crush you, as history crushes nations that try to escape what they are.

It is not difficult to predict, to some degree, what path your children will take, and the path that nations will take. But as with children and your own nation, it is impossible not to lie and wish for them what is not in their nature. Both are loved, but both are ultimately untamed, subject to their own nature and moving predictably toward an end you will not see.

I am living through my second transition. I know what these transitions look like, but even knowing what is to come, I forget how painful it is. I saw Harlem burn after Martin Luther King was murdered. I thought that in the second and last cycle of my life, it would be different. More precisely, I didn’t think. I separated my knowledge of the cycles and sanitized them into an abstraction. I lied to myself in not remembering that the cycle comes with rage over past and present injustices, with lives shattered unexpectedly by poverty, and the fundamental truths of who we are, dismissed in favor of strange and alien beliefs.

The 2020s, a decade of change, have opened as I expected, but the sense of being a stranger in a strange land was not what I expected. Or more precisely, I welcomed the first cycle with my youth; the second is made unwelcome by my age.

This is how my country grows. It explodes in rage, and mutual loathing and self-righteousness become universal. We grow this way because we have little time. Americans live their lives with urgency, knowing that as individuals they are born and die, knowing that they will be forgotten as all others are, yet they are unwilling to believe their cards. The American phrase is the epicurean “Dum vivimus, vivamus,” meaning, “While we live, let us live,” with a joyous assertiveness in the last phrase. And implicit in that phrase is a will to be remembered through the ages, like Benjamin Franklin, who enjoyed the finest wines and women to be found in Paris. That is not the card we were dealt, but it is the hunger we have. And the problem is that the urge to play a busted flush leads if not to disaster, then to discomfort and disappointment.

Americans are a lucky people, partly because the country was invented to deal us, to continue the card analogy, full houses, and also because when we lose, the country will stake us to another hand. And so I know that, as in the past, the pain of the 2020s will pass. Who imagined electricity or microchips? We are a nation built to reinvent itself.

COVID-19 was mindless nothingness as viruses are. But the events of the past few weeks, the demonstrations and riots and preposterous claims that each will assume belong to the other side, raise Shakespeare’s vision: “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Implicit in my work is that there is something uniquely nobler about my country. I know this was forgotten when Detroit burned, when children starved and froze in the Great Depression of 1929, when the dead were buried after the Civil War and a vile corruption seized the nation.

I know that the nation redeemed itself after each of these events. I know that few thought at the time that it could, and that they passed into the light confident of their redemption. I know that this will likely happen again. But in a decade whose beginning has been announced with authority, sending the country into wrenching pain, I am caught up with the thought that predicting these things is a chump’s game, and that this time we won’t pull the “case ace.” But I know we will because Mark Twain taught me the secret. It all rhymes. I know this is necessary, but I wish the nation would not put itself through this again, and perhaps be less ambitious. But that is not our nature, and in our lives we live the struggle to be more than we might be, and as a people to be a “light unto the nations.”

It is ugly, painful work at times, and we are in those times

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Joe Rogan and Bret Weinstein
« Reply #1892 on: July 01, 2020, 08:29:46 AM »
Haven't listened yet but comes well recommended

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRCzZp1J0v0&feature=youtu.be

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« Last Edit: July 09, 2020, 02:02:27 PM by Crafty_Dog »

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Mike Savage
« Reply #1894 on: July 11, 2020, 09:21:46 PM »
the bailout corruption , devaluation of the dollar, and the myth of white privilege:

https://michaelsavage.com/podcast-the-myth-of-white-privilege-interview-with-dr-marilyn-singleton/

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Arsonists in the Attic
« Reply #1896 on: July 20, 2020, 09:29:11 AM »

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VDH: Will 2021 be 1984
« Reply #1897 on: July 20, 2020, 09:29:54 AM »

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2021=1984
« Reply #1898 on: July 20, 2020, 11:04:30 AM »
https://amgreatness.com/2020/07/19/will-2021-be-1984/
Will 2021 Be 1984?
It’s all about the power, not the equality.

By Victor Davis Hanson • July 19, 2020

Cultural revolutions are insidious and not just because they seek to change the way people think, write, speak, and act. They are also dangerous because they are fueled by self-righteous sanctimoniousness, expressed in seemingly innocuous terms such as “social activism,” “equality,” and “fairness.”

The ultimate aim of the Jacobin, Bolshevik, or Maoist is raw power—force of the sort sought by Hugo Chavez or the Castro dynasty to get rich, inflict payback on their perceived enemies, reward friends, and pose as saviors.

Cubans and Venezuelans got poor and killed; woke Chavezes and Castros got rich and murderous.

Leftist agendas are harder to thwart than those of right-wing dictators such as Spain’s Francisco Franco because they mask their ruthlessness with talk of sacrifice for the “poor” and concern about the “weak.”

Strong-man Baathists, Iranian Khomeinists, and the German National Socialists claimed they hated capitalism. So beware when the Marxist racialists who run Black Lives Matter, the wannabe Maoists of Antifa, the George Soros-paid activists, “the Squad” and hundreds of state and local officials like them in cities such as Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis, and Big Tech billionaires take power. These are “caring” people who couldn’t care less about the working classes or the hundreds of African-Americans murdered in America’s inner cities.

Vice President as President
If Joe Biden is elected, the effort to remove him by those now supporting him will begin the day after the election and it will not be as crude as rounding up a Yale psychiatrist to testify to his dementia in Congress or shaming the White House physician to give him the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test in the manner that the Left went after Donald Trump.

It will be far more insidious and successful: leaked stories to the New York Times and Washington Post from empathetic White House insiders will speak of how “heroically” Biden is fighting his inevitable decline—and how gamely he tries to marshal his progressive forces even as his faculties desert him. We would read about why Biden is a national treasure by sacrificing his health to get elected and then nobly bowing out as he realized the cost of his sacrifice on his person and family.

In the past until now, there was zero chance that the hard Left would ever win an American election. No socialist has ever come close. Even Bernie Sanders accepted that the Democratic establishment for six years broke rules, leveraged candidates to drop out, and warped the media to ensure that he would remain a septuagenarian blowhard railing at the wind from one of his three houses. George McGovern was buried by a landslide. Most Democrats, after Kennedy and until Obama, never won the popular vote unless possessed of a Southern-accented hinting at centrism.

Only the Great Depression and World War II ensured four terms of FDR, who still knew enough not to let his house socialists ruin the wartime U.S. economy.

But in perfect storm and black swan fashion, the coronavirus, the lockdown, the riots, anarchy and looting, all combined with Trump Derangement Syndrome to be weaponized by the Left—and the media far more successfully than with their failed pro forma, legalistic efforts with Robert Mueller and impeachment to destroy the Trump presidency—have pushed socialism along.

Yet even that chaos and anarchy by itself would not have been able to bring the radical Left into power. Only a “candidate” like Joe Biden could do that.

“Good ‘ole Joe from Scranton” could offer the trifecta formula for a socialist ascension: a reassuring pseudo-centrism, decades’ old establishment familiarity, and his current cognitive decline. In a rare time of virtual campaigning, virtual conventions, and perhaps even virtual debates, Biden alone could successfully massage the virus/quarantine/rioting and panic to win the election, and then nobly exit.

This is not the analysis of a conspiracy theorist but the operating principle behind the Democrats’ and Biden’s basement strategy. It is for that reason that his vice presidential selection is shaping up like none other in memory. In short, Joe Biden of all people is now the face of a cultural revolution, although even he may not fully realize it.

Fundamentally Transforming Everything
What should we expect then if Biden wins and either steps down or more or less is left as a diminished figurehead controlled by the hard Left?

First, there is one theme that unites “the Squad,” Black Lives Matter, the globalist technocracy, and the international Left: unapologetic anti-Semitism. We will see overt anti-Semitism in a way this country has not seen since the early 20th century, all couched in ideological and politically correct attacks on “Zionists” and “the rich” and “Wall Street”—and why Israel has no business being a “Jewish state.”

It has already begun with an NFL player voicing Hitlerian tropes and praising Louis Farrakhan, and then being seconded by an array of rappers, woke Black Lives Matter activists and “Free Palestine” demonstrations. To smear “the Jews” no longer is grounds for an immediate and expected apology, but more “So what are you going to do about it?” Anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within the DNA of the BLM movement—and professional sports as well, as we saw recently from the warnings of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley.

“Eat the rich” sloganeering and plans for a wealth tax, and jacking up capital gains and income tax rates, all seem like they are aimed at the super-rich. But don’t think weaponizing the tax code, the government bureaucracies, and the culture itself will do much to the immense wealth of Jeff Bezos, the heirs to Steve Jobs, the Google zillionaires, George Soros, the Walmart fortunes, the lesser tech billionaires, the Facebook clan, or Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. None of them will be touched.

Why would any socialist go after the sympathetic mega-funders of the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Google or Apple News, Twitter, or Vox?

Left-wing billionaires are not so strange as we might think. After all, they can afford to be socialists. They like the idea that fewer may follow in their footsteps. They think social activism offers them penance for their hard-driving acquisitiveness. Most of all, they feel their knack for making money is proof that they have the wisdom, the right, and the need to redirect the lives of less successful others—and for the good of all.

Otherwise, the plutocratic class will spend hundreds of millions—a proverbial drop in the bucket in their fortunes—to consult with lawmakers about how to avoid their own progressive legislation and policies. It will hire phalanxes of tax lawyers, trust evaders, and philanthropy scammers that will make the architects of the Clinton Foundation seem a poor joke.

The real enemy in 2021 would be the upper-middle-class as it always is, the kulaks—and not really the professionals such as the lawyers, media grandees, and professors—although many should expect to become collateral damage.

The special targets will be the self-employed successful business class. The enemies of the people will be mostly those striving to be millionaires who run local insurance agencies, the store owners, salespeople, the successful medical practices, car dealerships, large family farms, the millions who keep the country competitive, innovative, and prosperous.

All of them lack the romance of the poor and the cultural tastes of the rich, but for the most part, they are just too damn informed and stubborn to be tolerated. They need to be marginalized by taxes, regulations, and a second-wave cultural assault that renders the prior “you didn’t build that,” “spread the wealth,” “no time to profit,” and “at some point you’ve made enough money” mere sandbox chatter.

The Coming Segregation
Race? We already see the new contours of the always changing commandments of the anointed posted on the Animal Farmbarnyard wall. A new segregation and apartheid will be sold as needed justice and enlightenment. Admission quotas and hiring on the basis of race will no longer be subtle but overt and triumphant. Separate facilities predicated on race will be common on campuses. What will happen if someone of the wrong race drinks from a fountain in a racially-segregated safe space?

Equality or superiority of result for the favored will be “justice.” Reparations will follow. The sort of creepy anti-white propaganda we saw at the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture will become orthodoxy. Some of the U.S. GDP won’t be devoted to production but rather toward ferreting out “racism” as they reconstruct society in order endlessly to punish “racists.”

Merit will soon become a dirty, counterrevolutionary word.

Discrimination and the one-drop racial rules of the Old Confederacy will be rebranded as woke, hip, and progressive. Expect more Rachel Dolezals and Ward Churchills. In Seattle, the city conducted whites-only, segregated reeducation sessions, teaching the naïve how to undo their “whiteness.” It was overseen by an office of “civil rights” and sought to ensure that white employees give up their “comfort,” and even their supposed “guaranteed physical safety.” They were to curb any “expectations or presumptions of emotional safety,” or “control over other people and over the land,” and probably end “relationships with some other white people.”

All that was missing were the Maoist dunce caps.

In 2020 we call racism and segregation “civil rights.” I doubt very many graduates of Seattle’s reeducation efforts decided to dismantle their home security system, will vote to defund the police, will declare their mortgaged home community property, or plan to shun their suburban neighbors if they appear too white looking. But that’s not the point. Instead, the state is joining the racists by institutionalizing venomous tribalism. An Oregon County tried to demand masks for all its residents except African-Americans—the sort of apartheid policy no one in his right mind four months ago would have imagined could be tried in the United States.

Borders? The wall will stop dead in its tracks, and what has been built likely dismantled. Citizenship and residency will be further blurred, with the rights of citizens insidiously transferred to resident aliens. Perhaps the word “citizen” will disappear as discriminatory. Illegal immigration will be favored over legal immigration, in that the latter is too diverse, too meritocratic, and too politically unpredictable.

Farewell to Institutions, Hello to “Progress”
The military? A progressive’s dream. It will transcend its current race and gender edicts in a way no elected slow-coach legislature could imagine. Virtue signaling and quotas will be the quickest route to flag-officer rank, and with it a nice retirement as a woke lobbyist, a wise-man member on an enlightened defense contractor board, a Wall Street “security analyst,” or a cable TV paid woke pundit. How a colonel handled “diversity,” not whether he understands tanks, planes, choppers, or guns will determine his chances at generalship. The Pentagon budget will be rebranded, as “national security” is no longer defined in anachronistic terms like hardware, missiles, ships, and planes, but by diversity and ending implicit bias—a sort of vast ongoing city of Seattle training session.

Finance? The country is broke. Yet the Left wants to borrow trillions for the New Green Deal, reparations, and massive new and expanded old social projects.

It can do that only through one of three ways. It can institutionalize zero or negative interest for a decade or so until the debt crushes the United States. Or it can inflate the economy, eroding accumulated wealth and paying off debt in funny money.

Or it can follow the Chrysler creditor model of the Obama Administration, and begin selectively renouncing debt obligations or reordering the priorities of various creditors. At first, the effort will appear noble and popular by canceling all student debt. But soon the Left will extend such exemptions to minority mortgages and credit card obligations. Debt cancellation and “starting over,” based on race, will be a cornerstone of the “transformation” as it has been since the age of Catiline.

High tech? Like the media, it will formally fuse into the progressive party, as elites go back and forth between jobs in Washington and those at Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Everything from the order of internet searches to censoring ads and videos for their political content will be greenlighted. Silicon Valley will be seen as the most important asset of the Left, both for its political utility in blocking conservative expression, and its enormous wealth that fuels leftist campaigns.

Finally, if the Senate and House go progressive along with the presidency, the filibuster will end. And we will see fundamental constitutional changes never quite envisioned. Expect legislation to make the Electoral College inert without the use of a clumsy constitutional amendment process.

The Supreme Court will be enlarged and packed on a majority congressional vote to neuter existing conservatives until reinforcements of progressive new justices arrive.

Some will wish to make senators popularly elected on the basis of demography or the Senate expanded into the hundreds—anything to do away with the paleo-idea of two senators from Montana or Wyoming standing in the way of the bending arc of history.

Such are the wages of a global pandemic, national quarantine, sudden recession, cultural revolution in the streets—and an impaired Joe Biden.

Add it all up, and 2020 may be the first, best, and last chance for “1984”—and the Left knows it.

G M

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