Author Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces  (Read 736780 times)

Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: Conrad Black: The Problem with Peggy
« Reply #2002 on: August 04, 2021, 09:01:43 AM »
https://amgreatness.com/2021/08/02/the-problem-with-peggy/

This is a great article, written with respect, context and accuracy.  It is quite a compliment that he indicates he has read nearly all her published work.  Rarely does a critical piece do that.  She deserves credit and benefit of the doubt for how right she has been all the good she has done in the past.  But what matters now is whether she is right now and is she doing good or harm for the country with these writings.

Even Thomas Sowell (2016) said a man with the personality of Trump should not be President.  Pushed further he indicated he would likely vote for him anyway based on the worse choices likely to be on the ballot.

What does Peggy Noonan not understand about worse choices?  Trump's policies were great for this country.  What did he do personally or politically that was so much worse than all his predecessors?  Ask for votes to be counted and fraud investigated?  Good grief.

What did Peggy Noonan write on this scale about IRS targeting under Obama Biden, worse than Nixon?  In fact, she wrote enough about it to show she knew it was as serious as I say it was:
https://peggynoonan.com/stay-shocked/
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323475304578501581991103070
https://peggynoonan.com/cover-the-irs-dont-cover-for-it/
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324448104578614220949743916

She pronounced it the "worst scandal in history", then she helped the people who did it get back into power.  So much for commitment to stopping people who lack integrity.

On my scorecard I see Democrats rigged the system (cheated, stole) on two of their last two Presidential election wins.  Add the 2018 congressional election to that, held under the cloud of the 'Mueller Investigation', (Trump might be a Russian spy and Republicans won't do anything about it, oops he wasn't, it was a media/Democrat setup).  That makes three cheats in their last three victories.  Anyone else notice a pattern?  Some think we shouldn't even try to win more votes in this system they have corrupted.  Where does THAT lead?  To things much worse than "1/6", I'm afraid.

What we should do, as Conrad Black concludes, is "restore integrity to the electoral process", so people would have confidence in the results.

The problem isn't Trump.  He was elected to address what went wrong in Washington.  The solution to moving beyond Trump in our constitutional system, if that's what you believe needs to be done, isn't to have the most powerful people in Washington remove him from eligibility on the ballot, which was exactly what the after-he-left-office impeachment trial Peggy Noonan supported tried to do.  The answer to defeat Trump, if you are his opposition, is to govern better when in power and put better alternatives on the ballot.  All the Dem election tampering indicates they don't believe they did that, and now we know.  The alternative to Trump was worse - in SO many ways.

Noonan hated Trump before any of this happened, just ask her, and she lets that cloud her judgment.  To ignore all evidence of election fraud and misconduct because of that hate makes her writings, at least on this topic, worthless.  Too bad.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 09:11:52 AM by DougMacG »

ccp

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #2003 on: August 04, 2021, 10:08:39 AM »
"Noonan hated Trump before any of this happened, just ask her, and she lets that cloud her judgment."

Agree with Conrad though I need to keep a dictionary nearby to translate his sophisticated use of the English Language

as for Noonan
  she is too stuffy and "inside the beltway for me."

they are so full of themselves

rest assured she will still get the cocktail party invites

decorum is important but not more then outcome

her refusal to recognize that like all the pompous never Trumper's
  is only ok because I have the freedom to ignore her and them


Crafty_Dog

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George Soros?!?
« Reply #2004 on: August 14, 2021, 04:32:00 PM »


Xi’s Dictatorship Threatens the Chinese State
In his quest for personal power, he’s rejected Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform path and turned the Communist Party into an assemblage of yes-men.


By
George Soros
Aug. 13, 2021 5:12 pm ET


811

Chinese President Xi Jinping at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding in Beijing, July 1.
PHOTO: JU PENG/XINHUA VIA ZUMA PRESS

Xi Jinping, the ruler of China, suffers from several internal inconsistencies which greatly reduce the cohesion and effectiveness of his leadership. There is a conflict between his beliefs and his actions and between his public declarations of wanting to make China a superpower and his behavior as a domestic ruler. These internal contradictions have revealed themselves in the context of the growing conflict between the U.S. and China.
At the heart of this conflict is the reality that the two nations represent systems of governance that are diametrically opposed. The U.S. stands for a democratic, open society in which the role of the government is to protect the freedom of the individual. Mr. Xi believes Mao Zedong invented a superior form of organization, which he is carrying on: a totalitarian closed society in which the individual is subordinated to the one-party state. It is superior, in this view, because it is more disciplined, stronger and therefore bound to prevail in a contest.

Relations between China and the U.S. are rapidly deteriorating and may lead to war. Mr. Xi has made clear that he intends to take possession of Taiwan within the next decade, and he is increasing China’s military capacity accordingly.

He also faces an important domestic hurdle in 2022, when he intends to break the established system of succession to remain president for life. He feels that he needs at least another decade to concentrate the power of the one-party state and its military in his own hands. He knows that his plan has many enemies, and he wants to make sure they won’t have the ability to resist him.

It is against this background that the current turmoil in the financial markets is unfolding, catching many people unaware and leaving them confused. The confusion has compounded the turmoil.

Although I am no longer engaged in the financial markets, I used to be an active participant. I have also been actively engaged in China since 1984, when I introduced Communist Party reformers in China to their counterparts in my native Hungary. They learned a lot from each other, and I followed up by setting up foundations in both countries. That was the beginning of my career in what I call political philanthropy. My foundation in China was unique in being granted near-total independence. I closed it in 1989, after I learned it had come under the control of the Chinese government and just before the Tiananmen Square massacre. I resumed my active involvement in China in 2013 when Mr. Xi became the ruler, but this time as an outspoken opponent of what has since become a totalitarian regime.

I consider Mr. Xi the most dangerous enemy of open societies in the world. The Chinese people as a whole are among his victims, but domestic political opponents and religious and ethnic minorities suffer from his persecution much more. I find it particularly disturbing that so many Chinese people seem to find his social-credit surveillance system not only tolerable but attractive. It provides them social services free of charge and tells them how to stay out of trouble by not saying anything critical of Mr. Xi or his regime. If he could perfect the social-credit system and assure a steadily rising standard of living, his regime would become much more secure. But he is bound to run into difficulties on both counts.
To understand why, some historical background is necessary. Mr. Xi came to power in 2013, but he was the beneficiary of the bold reform agenda of his predecessor Deng Xiaoping, who had a very different concept of China’s place in the world. Deng realized that the West was much more developed and China had much to learn from it. Far from being diametrically opposed to the Western-dominated global system, Deng wanted China to rise within it. His approach worked wonders. China was accepted as a member of the World Trade Organization in 2001 with the privileges that come with the status of a less-developed country. China embarked on a period of unprecedented growth. It even dealt with the global financial crisis of 2007-08 better than the developed world.

Mr. Xi failed to understand how Deng achieved his success. He took it as a given and exploited it, but he harbored an intense personal resentment against Deng. He held Deng Xiaoping responsible for not honoring his father, Xi Zhongxun, and for removing the elder Xi from the Politburo in 1962. As a result, Xi Jinping grew up in the countryside in very difficult circumstances. He didn’t receive a proper education, never went abroad, and never learned a foreign language.

Xi Jinping devoted his life to undoing Deng’s influence on the development of China. His personal animosity toward Deng has played a large part in this, but other factors are equally important. He is intensely nationalistic and he wants China to become the dominant power in the world. He is also convinced that the Chinese Communist Party needs to be a Leninist party, willing to use its political and military power to impose its will. Xi Jinping strongly felt this was necessary to ensure that the Chinese Communist Party will be strong enough to impose the sacrifices needed to achieve his goal.

Mr. Xi realized that he needs to remain the undisputed ruler to accomplish what he considers his life’s mission. He doesn’t know how the financial markets operate, but he has a clear idea of what he has to do in 2022 to stay in power. He intends to overstep the term limits established by Deng, which governed the succession of Mr. Xi’s two predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin. Because many of the political class and business elite are liable to oppose Mr. Xi, he must prevent them from uniting against him. Thus, his first task is to bring to heel anyone who is rich enough to exercise independent power.

That process has been unfolding in the past year and reached a crescendo in recent weeks. It started with the sudden cancellation of a new issue by Alibaba’s Ant Group in November 2020 and the temporary disappearance of its former executive chairman, Jack Ma. Then came the disciplinary measures taken against Didi Chuxing after it floated an issue in New York in June 2021. It culminated with the banishment of three U.S.-financed tutoring companies, which had a much greater effect on international markets than Mr. Xi expected. Chinese financial authorities have tried to reassure markets but with little success.

Mr. Xi is engaged in a systematic campaign to remove or neutralize people who have amassed a fortune. His latest victim is Sun Dawu, a billionaire pig farmer. Mr. Sun has been sentenced to 18 years in prison and persuaded to “donate” the bulk of his wealth to charity.

This campaign threatens to destroy the geese that lay the golden eggs. Mr. Xi is determined to bring the creators of wealth under the control of the one-party state. He has reintroduced a dual-management structure into large privately owned companies that had largely lapsed during the reform era of Deng. Now private and state-owned companies are being run not only by their management but also a party representative who ranks higher than the company president. This creates a perverse incentive not to innovate but to await instructions from higher authorities.

China’s largest, highly leveraged real-estate company, Evergrande, has recently run into difficulties servicing its debt. The real-estate market, which has been a driver of the economic recovery, is in disarray. The authorities have always been flexible enough to deal with any crisis, but they are losing their flexibility. To illustrate, a state-owned company produced a Covid-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, which has been widely exported all over the world, but its performance is inferior to all other widely marketed vaccines. Sinopharm won’t win any friends for China.

To prevail in 2022, Mr. Xi has turned himself into a dictator. Instead of allowing the party to tell him what policies to adopt, he dictates the policies he wants it to follow. State media is now broadcasting a stunning scene in which Mr. Xi leads the Standing Committee of the Politburo in slavishly repeating after him an oath of loyalty to the party and to him personally. This must be a humiliating experience, and it is liable to turn against Mr. Xi even those who had previously accepted him.

In other words, he has turned them into his own yes-men, abolishing the legacy of Deng’s consensual rule. With Mr. Xi there is little room for checks and balances. He will find it difficult to adjust his policies to a changing reality, because he rules by intimidation. His underlings are afraid to tell him how reality has changed for fear of triggering his anger. This dynamic endangers the future of China’s one-party state.

Mr. Soros is founder of the Open Society Foundations.

Crafty_Dog

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ccp

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #2007 on: August 21, 2021, 08:20:20 AM »
Tucker yesterday was asking

the question :

Why is MSM turning on Biden now?

he had guest on who proposed some sort of theory about the DC military complex were "lied" to
etc and now they are mad

I am thinking it is more they are mad that he is such an obvious dismal failure for everyone to see, undeniably , that they fear their whole progressive agenda just got put in peril.

They covered for him and as Tucker points out, got him elected, and he screwed this up so bad
they may not get their agenda passed now
and they are looking at disaster in '22 and '24.

Pelosi is bailing ahead of time.  Maybe more are jumping off the Titanic soon.

That said :

Republicans better NOT screw this up
Never let a disaster go to waste.........



Crafty_Dog

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VDH: Science they said
« Reply #2011 on: September 16, 2021, 02:01:26 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Michael Shellenberger, Why I am not a progressive
« Reply #2013 on: September 20, 2021, 05:38:33 PM »
https://michaelshellenberger.substack.com/p/why-i-am-not-a-progressive

For all of my adult life I have identified as a progressive. To me, being a progressive meant that I believed in empowerment. In 2002, when I co-founded a labor-environmental coalition to advocate for renewable energy, the symbol we chose to represent us was of Rosie the Riveter, an image of a woman factory worker during World War II flexing her muscle beneath the words, “We Can Do It!”. When President Barack Obama ran for office in 2008, it seemed fitting to me that he chose the slogan, “Yes we can!”

But now, on all the major issues of the day, the message from progressives is “No, you can’t.” No: poor nations like Bangladesh can’t adapt to climate change by becoming rich, insist progressives; rather, rich nations must become poor. No: we can’t prevent the staggering rise of drug deaths in the U.S., from 17,000 in 2000 to 93,000 in 2020, by helping people free themselves from addiction; rather, we must instead provide Safe Injection Sites and Safe Sleeping Sites, in downtown neighborhoods, where homeless addicts can use fentanyl, heroin, and meth safely.

Progressives insist they are offering hope. Many scientists and activists yesterday said that, while we have gone past the point of no return, when it comes to climate change, and that “No one is safe,” we can make the situation less bad by using solar panels, windmills, and electric cars, albeit at a very high cost to the economy. And in California, progressive leaders say that we just need to stick with the progressive agenda of Safe Injection Sites and Safe Sleeping Sites until we can build enough single unit apartments for the state’s 116,000 unsheltered homeless, most of whom are either addicted to hard drugs, suffering from untreated mental illness, or both.

But progressives are talking out of both sides of their mouth. Yesterday I debated a British climate scientist named Richard Betts on television. After I pointed out that he and his colleagues had contributed to one out of four British children having nightmares about climate change he insisted that he was all for optimism and that he agreed with me about nuclear power. But just hours earlier he had told the Guardian that we were “hopelessly unprepared” for extreme weather events, even though deaths from natural disasters are at an all time low and that, objectively speaking, humankind has never been more prepared than we are today.

And on the drug deaths crisis, the consensus view among Democrats in Sacramento is that “the problem is fundamentally unsolvable,” according to one of the Capitol’s leading lobbyists. Facing a recall that is growing in popularity, Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday tried to demonstrate that he believes he can solve the problem. He came to Berkeley California and cleaned up garbage created by an open air drug scene (“homeless encampment”) underneath a freeway underpass. A reporter for Politico posted a picture of Newsom who he said was “looking tired, sweaty and dirty.” But a commenter noted that the video was shot at 12:12 pm and by 12:25 pm Newsom was holding a press conference. The governor hadn’t even bothered changing out of his Hush Puppies into work boots. People close to the governor say that it is Newsom himself who believes homelessness is a problem that cannot be solved.

The reason progressives believe that “No one is safe,” when it comes to climate change, and that the drug death “homelessness” crisis is unsolvable, is because they are in the grip of a victim ideology characterized by safetyism, learned helplessness, and disempowerment. This isn’t really that new. Since the 1960s, the New Left has argued that we can’t solve any of our major problems until we overthrow our racist, sexist, and capitalistic system. But for most of my life, up through the election of Obama, there was still a New Deal, “Yes we can!,” and “We can do it!” optimism that sat side-by-side with the New Left’s fundamentally disempowering critique of the system.

That’s all gone. On climate change, drug deaths, and cultural issues like racism, the message from progressives is that we are doomed unless we dismantle the institutions responsible for our oppressive, racist system. Those of us in Generation X who were raised to believe that racism was something we could overcome have been told in no uncertain terms that we were wrong. Racism is baked into our cultural DNA. Even apparently positive progressive proposals are aimed at fundamentally dismantling institutions. The Democrats’ $1 trillion infrastructure bill, supported by many Republicans, and their $3.5 trillion budget proposal, contain measures that would finance the continuing degradation of our electrical grids by increasing reliance on unreliable, weather-dependent renewables, and establish racial incentives for industries including trucking, where there is already a shortage of drivers in large measure because not enough of them can pass drug tests. And does anyone really believe that, if those bills pass, progressives will abandon their dark vision of the future and return to Rosie the Riveter? 

Meanwhile, at the state and local level, progressive governments faced with worsening racial disparities in education and crime, are attempting to “solve” the problem by eliminating academic standards altogether, and advocating selective enforcement of laws based on who is committing them. Such measures are profoundly cynical. Progressives are effectively giving up on addressing racial disparities by ignoring them. But such is the logical outcome of victim ideology, which holds that we can divide the world into victims and oppressors, that victims are morally superior and even spiritual, and no change is possible until the system that produces victims and oppressors is overthrown.

To some extent none of this is new. After World War II, it was progressives, not conservatives, who led the charge to replace mental hospitals with community-based care. After the community-based care system fell apart, and severely mentally ill people ended up living on the street, addicted to drugs and alcohol, progressives blamed Reagan and Republicans for cutting the budget. But progressive California today spends more than any other state, per capita, on mental health, and yet the number of homeless, many of whom are mentally ill and suffering addiction, increased by 31% in California since 2010 even as they declined by 18 percent in the rest of the US.

Also after World War II, it was progressives, not conservatives, who insisted that the world was coming to an end because too many babies were being born, and because of nuclear energy. The “population bomb” meant that too many people would result in resource scarcity which would result in international conflicts and eventually nuclear war. We were helpless to prevent the situation through technological change and instead had to prevent people from having children and rid the world of nuclear weapons and energy. It took the end of the Cold War, and the overwhelming evidence that parents in poor nations chose to have fewer children, as parents in rich nations had before them, where they no longer needed them to work on the farm, for the discourse to finally fade.

But the will-to-apocalypse only grew stronger. After it became clear that the planet was warming, not cooling, as many scientists had previously feared, opportunistic New Left progressives insisted that climate change would be world-ending. There was never much reason to believe this. A major report by the National Academies of Science in 1982 concluded that abundant natural gas, along with nuclear power, would substitute for coal, and prevent temperatures from rising high enough to threaten civilization. But progressives responded by demonizing the authors of the study and insisting that anybody who disagreed that climate change was apocalyptic was secretly on the take from the fossil fuel industry.

Where there have been relatively straightforward fixes to societal problems, progressives have opposed them. Progressives have opposed the expanded use of natural gas and nuclear energy since the 1970s even though it was those two technologies that caused emissions to peak and decline in Germany, Britain and France during that decade. Progressive climate activists over the last 15 years hotly opposed fracking even though it was the main reason emissions in the US declined 22 percent between 2005 and 2020, which is 5 percentage points more than President Obama proposed to reduce them as part of America’s Paris climate agreement.

The same was the case when it came to drug deaths, addiction, and homelessness. People are shocked when I explain to them that the reason California still lacks enough homeless shelters is because progressives have opposed building them. Indeed, it was Governor Newsom, when he was Mayor of San Francisco, who led the charge opposing the construction of sufficient homeless shelters in favor of instead building single unit apartments for anybody who said they wanted one. While there are financial motivations for such a policy, the main motivation was ideological. Newsom and other progressives believe that simply sheltering people is immoral. The good is the enemy of the perfect.

As a result, progressives have created the apocalypse they feared. In California, there are “homeless encampments,” open drug scenes, in the parks, along the highways, and on the sidewalks. But the problem is no longer limited to San Francisco. A few days ago somebody posted a video and photo on Twitter of people in Philadelphia, high on some drug, looking exactly like Hollywood zombies. The obvious solution is to provide people with shelter, require them to use it, and mandate drug and psychiatric treatment, for people who break laws against camping, public drug use, public defecation, and other laws. But progressives insist the better solution is Safe Sleeping Sites and Safe Injection Sites.

Should we be surprised that an ideology that believes American civilization is fundamentally evil has resulted in the breakdown of that civilization? Most American progressives don’t hold such an extreme ideology. Most progressives want police for their neighborhoods. Most progressives want their own children, when suffering mental illness and addiction, to be mandated care. And most progressives want reliable electrical and water management systems for their neighborhoods.

But most progressives are also voting for candidates who are cutting the number of police for poor neighborhoods, insisting that psychiatric and drug treatment be optional, and that trillions be spent making electricity more expensive so we can harmonize with nature through solar panels made by enslaved Muslims in China, and through industrial wind projects built in the habitat of critically endangered whale species.

Does pointing all of this out make me a conservative? There are certainly things I support that many progressives view as conservative, including nuclear power, a ban on public camping, and mandating drug and psychiatric treatment for people who break the law. But other things I support might be fairly viewed as rather liberal, or even progressive, including universal psychiatric care, shelter-for-all, and the reform of police departments with the aims of reducing homicides, police violence, and improving the treatment of people with behavioral health disorders, whether from addiction or mental illness.

And there is a kind of victim ideology on the Right just as there is on the Left. It says that America is too weak and poor, and that our resources are too scarce, to take on our big challenges. On climate change it suggests that nothing of consequence can be done and that all energy sources, from coal to nuclear to solar panels, are of equal or comparable value. On drug deaths and homelessness it argues that parents must simply do a better job raising their children to not be drug addicts, and that we should lock up people, even the mentally ill, for long sentences in prisons and hospitals, with little regard for rehabilitation. 

The two grassroots movements I have helped to create around energy and homelessness reject the dystopian victim ideologies of Right and Left. There are progressive and conservative members in both coalitions. But what unites us is our commitment to practical policies that are proven to work in the real world. We advocate for the maintenance and construction of nuclear plants that actually exist, or could soon exist, not futuristic reactors that likely never will. We advocate for Shelter First and Housing Earned, universal psychiatric care, and banning the open dealing of deadly drugs because those are the policies that have worked across the U.S. and around the world, and can be implemented right away.

If I had to find a word to describe the politics I am proposing it would be “heroic,” not liberal, conservative, or even moderate. We need a politics of heroism not a politics of victimhood. Yes, Bangladesh can develop and save itself from sea level rise, just as rich nations have; they are not doomed to hurricanes and flooding. Yes, people addicted to fentanyl and meth can recover from their addictions, with our help, and go on to live fulfilling and rewarding lives; they are not doomed to live in tents for the rest of their shortened lives. And yes, we can create an America where people who disagree on many things can nonetheless find common ground on the very issues that most seem to polarize us, including energy, the environment, crime, and drugs. 

On October 12 HarperCollins will publish my second book in two years, San Fransicko, focused on drugs, crime, and homelessnes. It and Apocalypse Never will constitute a comprehensive proposal for saving our civilization from those who would destroy it. What both books have in common is the theme of empowerment. We are not doomed to an apocalyptic future, whether from climate change or homelessness. We can achieve nature, peace, and prosperity for all people because humans are amazing. Our civilization is sacred; we must defend and extend it.

San Fransicko was inspired, in part, by the work of the late psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, who was made famous by a book where he described how he survived the Nazi concentration camps by fixating on a positive vision for his future. During the darkest moments of Covid last year I was struck by how much my mood had improved simply by listening to his 1960s lectures on YouTube. Why, I wondered, had progressives embraced Frankl’s empowering therapy in their personal lives but demonized it in their political lives? Why had progressives, who had done so much to popularize human potential and self-help, claimed that promoting self-help in policies and politics were a form of “blaming the victim?”

Few of my conclusions will surprise anyone, though the agenda, and philosophy, that I am proposing might. It truly is a mix of values, policies, and institutions that one might consider progressive and conservative, not because I set out to make it that way, but because it was that combination that has worked so often in the past. But beyond the policies and values I propose there is a spirit of overcoming, not succumbing; of empowerment, not disempowerment; and of heroism, not victimhood. That spirit comes before, and goes beyond, political ideology and partisan identity. It says, against those who believe that America, and perhaps Western Civilization itself, are doomed: no they’re not. And to those who think we can’t solve big challenges like climate change, drug deaths, and homelessness, it says yes we can.

Crafty_Dog

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Thomas Sowell
« Reply #2014 on: October 06, 2021, 03:41:21 PM »

DougMacG

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Re: Thomas Sowell
« Reply #2015 on: October 07, 2021, 03:21:32 AM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxEeYSusehc&t=286s

Smartest person currently living on Earth, on these issues, in my opinion.

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VDH: The Dying Citizen
« Reply #2016 on: October 08, 2021, 01:54:08 AM »
By Victor Davis Hanson

October 6, 2021
Only a little more than half of the current world’s 7 billion people are citizens of fully consensual governments.

That lucky 50 percent alone enjoys constitutionally protected freedoms. Most are also Western. Or at least they reside in nations that have become “Westernized.”

Migrants, regardless of their race, religion, or gender, almost always head for a Western nation. And most often their destination remains the United States. The more it is now fashionable for Americans to take for granted or even to ridicule the idea of their own country, the more the non-American global poor risk their lives to crash America’s borders.

Constitutional systems easily perish because they ask a lot of their citizens—to vote, to be informed about civic and political issues, and to hold elected officials accountable. That responsibility is perhaps why, of the world’s true republics and democracies, only about 22 have been in existence for a half-century or more. We are seldom told, then, that America is a rare, precious, and perhaps even fragile idea, both in the past and in the present.

American citizens are clearly also not the custom of the past. Unlike history’s more common peasants, citizens are not under the control of the rich who, in turn, seek undue influence in government through controlling them.

Instead, viable citizenship has always hinged on a broad, autonomous middle class. Those Americans in between lack both the dependence of the poor, and the insider influences of the elite. Suffocate the middle and we know that a binary feudalism will soon replace it. We are seeing just that medievalization in contemporary California.

Nor are American citizens mere migratory residents who drift across nonexistent borders in expectation of receiving more rights than meeting responsibilities. Forfeit a sacred national space, a place where common customs, language, and traditions can shelter and thrive, and a unique America disappears into a pre-civilizational migratory void like the fluid vastness of late imperial Rome.


Americans are quite different from tribal peoples, whose first loyalties are determined by mere appearance or innate blood ties. Take this nation back to pre-civilizational tribalism, and our future as the next Yugoslavia, Rwanda, or Iraq is assured.

Americans are not, then, premodern peasants, mere residents, and squabbling tribes—at least not quite yet.

But citizens also are equally suspicious and rightfully distrustful of the top-down subversion of citizenship by postmodern elites and the privileged. The latter often expect Americans to give up their ancient freedoms to a vast, unelected, and unaudited permanent administrative state, to be run by credentialed functionaries and sanctioned “experts.” That technocratic regimentation may now be the Chinese model, but it was never the vision of our founders.

Citizens object to “evolving” a 245-year-old republic into a radical socialist ochlocracy without checks and balances. That rebooting would mean scrapping ancient laws, long-held customs, and hallowed traditions—from the Electoral College and a nine-person Supreme Court to the Senate filibuster and 50-state union. Consensual societies usually implode when desperate factions resort to subverting hallowed rules for short-term partisan gain.

Some elites believe the founders’ Constitution is in dire need of radical deletions and alterations to fit their own utopian visions. So, they imagine an evolving Constitution to synchronize with supposedly a fluid, mutable—and always progressing—human nature. They are ignorant that the core of the Constitution does not change because our own natural, core sense of right and wrong does not either.


Nor do citizens hand over their first allegiances to an abstract worldwide commonwealth—as if half of its membership are not illiberal theocracies, autocracies, and monarchies. Such a tired “citizens of the world” dream dates to Socratic utopianism.

Yet neither the defunct League of Nations nor the United Nations has ever offered any credible blueprint for viable transnational governance. Today’s globalists at Davos may snicker at nationalist democracies like the United States and Israel, but in cowardly fashion they usually appease a totalitarian and brutal Communist China that allows no dissent.

Given our privileges, affluent and leisured Americans must always ask ourselves whether as citizens we have earned what those who died at Gettysburg or on Omaha Beach bequeathed at such costs.

Refusing to stand during the national anthem is not and should not be illegal. But such blanket rejection of American customs is admittedly now a collective narcissistic tic—and hardly sustainable for the nation’s privileged to sit in disgust for a flag that their betters raised under fire on Iwo Jima for others not yet born. Sometimes citizens can do as much harm to their commonwealth by violating customs and traditions as by breaking laws.

Instead, freedom requires constant reinvestment in and replenishment of a nation’s traditions and ideals. Self-criticism of one’s country is salutary to ensure needed changes, but only if Americans accept that an innately self-correcting United States does not have to be perfect to be good—and especially when, in a world of innately flawed humans and failed states, it remains far better than any of the alternatives abroad.

The present article summarizes arguments in Victor Davis Hanson’s new book The Dying Citizen that appears this week from Basic Books.


About Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.


Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman: Beyond Bed, Bath, and Beyond
« Reply #2017 on: October 08, 2021, 04:31:15 AM »
second post

   
Beyond Bed, Bath & Beyond’s Supply Chains
Thoughts in and around geopolitics.
By: George Friedman

Last week, Bed, Bath & Beyond stock was at $24 per share. It closed on Wednesday at $14. As an expert in markets, I know that this is bad. But before we consider why this happened, we need to consider why this retail chain has not only survived but flourished. I know of Bed, Bath & Beyond because when one of its coupons comes in the mail my wife’s eyes light up. Occasionally, this ends in a trip to a store, where I huddle by the registers with a small group of glum men who periodically dart into the aisles to intercept their wives, speaking firmly to them, then return to the forlorn group by the registers waiting for an uncertain future. We do not speak, shamed by our weakness to get the results we want.

This is Bed, Bath & Beyond’s business model: Sell things that are irresistible to women and unfathomable to men, and take advantage of female power and male submission. Still, I have trouble understanding how it has survived. Take pillows. The store has tons of them. When was the last time anyone bought a pillow? I still have one that has its origins in antiquity. I like that pillow. I won’t buy a new one, and it’s one thing my wife cannot take from me. It has comforted me through poker losses and drinking binges. Who among us has ever said, “I need a new pillow” unless an embarrassing accident had occurred? Basically, we all have pillows, and the number who replace them has to be less that 1 percent a year. Pillows are a mystery, but so are duvets, comforters with strange fabrics that cover the unknown. Even so, Bed, Bath & Beyond has flourished, holding on to a huge part of American society. So while part of me wants to applaud the shellacking it got last week, another part of me knows it will be back, and so will I. But more to the point, even Bed, Bath & Beyond, selling common objects of some utility, is trapped in the reality of our time: shortages of all things large and small.

Put simply, the reason its stock tanked is that it has not been able to get its goods delivered to it. In a phrase that has become common in our time, its supply chain broke. “Supply chains” began as concepts within corporations. One was just-in-time delivery, the idea that maximum efficiency in the delivery of components of a product would increase cost-effectiveness. The second was global sourcing for components and finished products. The ability to take advantage of price and wage differences around the globe, rather than being tied to local sources, increased the competitiveness of the final product. Agility in identifying sources globally and moving them through the production and sales process allowed for market dominance.

Over time, the competition for sources of production and precision transportation created a complex system that had to be managed on a quality and time basis. The supply chain feeding a company like Walmart is staggering. Thousands of products are being managed, including those of other companies such as Apple, so that the supply chain is a pyramid of supply chains the company does not own or control, which have to be integrated into a “just-in-time” system. Bed, Bath & Beyond, a large retail chain with a comparatively homogenized group of products, is dependent on its own supply chain and the supply chains of intermediate suppliers. Thus, when a map is drawn showing the global supply chain, it is always vastly incomplete. Globalization and ultra-efficiency have created a system of production that cannot be coherently mapped as a whole but has worked mostly as expected by merchant and customer, both of whom have no idea of the origins of the product. It’s far more complex than the “Made in …” marking would suggest.

The system is sensitive to cost and time, and the two are interchangeable. Therefore, the chain must be built to resist interruption and with redundancy. Both are expensive and neither can be perfect. Early in the pandemic, there were disruptions in supermarkets that were handled with some effort. This summer, episodic failures began to become commonplace, and the commonplace threatens to force a massive redefinition of the economic structure.

Gasoline has become scarce. Workers have become scarce. The fact that Bed, Bath & Beyond lost a large chunk of market value gives an indication of how common it is and how no product class is immune. We have not yet reached the stage of economic failure at which the basic needs of society become scarce or unattainable, and we might not ever. But we are reaching a point where the assumption of availability is a discarded concept among consumers.

The reason for this failure fathers many theories. There are not enough truck drivers. COVID-19 has created demands that make energy scarce. Coal in China is scarce because the financial system has weakened. All of these are likely partly true. But no one can account for all the failures, and no theory explains the simultaneity of failures in multiple supply chains.

The first-order explanation is that over time we have created a vast global supply chain that is so efficient that it breaks under moderate stress. There are plenty of instances of severe stress, such as war, in which failures also arise. It is incorrect to think of the pandemic as a war, since the physical plants aren’t destroyed. But it had enough weight to press on the supply chain and create failures, and then, as the system came back on line, it suffered more failures from ruptures that are just now emerging.

For now, this seems to me the most likely explanation. If I’m right, then the system was not constructed to withstand the stress that it encountered, and simply recreating the old system will cost money now and later. The concept of time as a cost to be avoided created a fragility – as a poorly built fan with a broom stuck in it might shatter. (I did that once.) A supply chain is a notional concept, not a real one. It needs to be treated as what it is: a series of producers providing products to assemblers and products delivered to stores. Mitigating friction between these is not enough. There has to be redundancy, which costs money and is likely only one of the things being considered now by businesses. The supply chain is something each business operates, and centralizing it would make it more vulnerable. Bed, Bath & Beyond will reconstruct its supply chain based on its unique knowledge of the industry.

It is frightening to hear that a random if experienced business selling non-critical products had its supply chain fail. It is the randomness of the failure and the likelihood of ad hoc solutions that are of concern. I was always concerned with what would come after COVID-19. But I am not sure that COVID-19 did more than give the first push.



Crafty_Dog

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #2020 on: October 23, 2021, 05:28:22 PM »
Do We Have Freedom of Speech, Really?
By ANDREW C. MCCARTHY
October 23, 2021 6:30 AM

Attorney General Merrick Garland departs after speaking during an event at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., June 15, 2021. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Garland’s memo serves a pernicious progressive crusade to render these rights little more than a parchment promise.


The Soviet constitution of 1936, Joseph Stalin’s constitution, explicitly guaranteed freedom of speech to all citizens of the USSR — in Article 125, which also vouchsafed the closely related freedoms of the press, of assembly, of mass meetings, and of street demonstrations. When Moscow revised the constitution in 1977, pains were again taken (in Article 50) to ensure — at least on paper — that “citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly, meetings, street processions and demonstrations.”

Were they in a position to do so, the tens of millions of men, women, and children immiserated, imprisoned, enslaved, and killed by the same totalitarian communist regime would have begged to differ.

“Rights” are not rights by virtue of being written down. They are not self-enforcing. Written “rights” are, instead, a reflection of what a body politic perceives to be fundamental. They are not an assurance that this perception will be actualized. Whether freedom of speech truly exists is a cultural question, not a legal one. It hinges on the society’s commitment to liberty as something that is lived, not merely spoken of.

To rely on the legal system to enforce a “right” that the culture, when it gets down to brass tacks, does not support, is to not have a vibrant guarantee. It is to have a parchment promise that is effectively worthless.

Increasingly, the latter is the state of play in the United States, and there are two reasons for this.

First, progressives, who call the tune in the bipartisan political establishment, do not believe in free speech. They may, like the Bolsheviks, nod to it as the tribute stealthy vice must pay to public virtue. But to the limited extent they are ideologically principled rather than just power-hungry, progressives believe that the good is arrived at through scientific study, by experts who, of course, are rigorously apolitical. In this way of thinking, it is not enough to dismiss robust discourse as folly; progressives see free speech as antithetical to human flourishing, an appeal to the passions and prejudices of the masses who are too benighted to sort matters out on their own. With due respect to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. there is no marketplace of ideas; there are the progressive establishment’s ideas, versus the remaining dangerous ideas.


Second, progressives do believe, deeply, in process. While we are in the midst of a period of radicalism, progressive strategy is generally (and in its most effective form) Fabian. Process is the way ascendant progressives advance their own ideas while eroding those of the bourgeois culture. It is the way dominant progressives strangle any emerging competition in the cradle.

The rule of law is a cultural phenomenon. Law enforcement, by contrast, is a process — one that can, perversely, abrade the rule of law it purports to undergird.

Case in point: Biden’s attorney general Merrick Garland’s memo directing federal investigations against dissenters — in the main, parents — who object to progressive indoctrination by school administrators.


As a short-term political objective, the Garland memo cynically paints these recalcitrant parents with the same brush that tars conservatives as “domestic terrorists,” on the rationale that Trump supporters who rioted at the Capitol self-identify as the patriotic political right and profess to share some conservative ideas. (Of course the rioters — whether they realized it or not — were undermining the very constitutional system that is essential to the conservative conception of liberty and thus were anti-conservative, but that is a story for another day.)

As for the long term, Garland’s memo serves the progressive crusade against free speech.

You may read our Constitution as a guarantee of free expression and open political debate. But it cannot be such a guarantee unless the government, which is privileged to use force to maintain order, regards order as necessarily including free expression and open political debate. Government’s incumbent ruling class will always prize stability over conflict. Consequently, for free speech to be meaningful, the dominant culture must be committed to free speech – even speech it finds repellent, as long as it does not intentionally incite violence — and the government must truly be accountable to that dominant culture. Otherwise, our written First Amendment assurance of free speech is nearly as worthless as was the Soviet guarantee.

Put more concretely, the Justice Department may acknowledge, as Garland’s memo grudgingly does, that the Constitution protects debate and dissent. But if the DOJ simultaneously warns, as Garland’s memo indignantly does, that the FBI is going to be investigating those who engage in debate and dissent against the progressive government’s favored class — school administrators who are executing the indoctrination mission — then in what authentic sense do we have free speech?

Sure, the outcome of the FBI’s investigative process is likely to be that no federal charges are filed. After all, if the Justice Department were foolish enough to go to the extreme of actually indicting dissenters, it would expose the fatal flaws that a) the First Amendment prevents courts from allowing speech to be the subject of a criminal conviction and b) the federal government lacks statutory jurisdiction to bring an incitement case unless the resulting violent acts would violate federal law (which is rare — threats of violence, when they occur, are overwhelmingly concerns of state and local law).

But it will never come to actual in-court prosecution. The abuse will be confined to the investigative process. Coupled with Garland’s saber-rattling, that is more than enough to suppress dissent. The citizen is warned that he is being scrutinized by the federal government in all its comparative might. For exercising his supposed right to protest, the citizen will be harmed in a hundred different ways by the fact of an FBI probe — the anxiety of potential prosecution, the often prohibitive expense of retaining counsel, the loss of business opportunities because of the specter of prosecution, the loss of social ties as friends and associates abandon the citizen lest Leviathan sees them as fellow conspirators.

If a putative safeguard were actually a right, one would need neither endure an investigative process nor go to court to vindicate the right. These processes are punitive; a right worthy of the name would protect us from them just as it protects us from criminal conviction. If the culture loses the will to compel an accountable government to presume the right — to respect it a priori — then there is no right.

What there is tends to be rationalization. The Soviet constitution said that free speech was guaranteed “in order to strengthen the socialist system.” While it paid lip service to freedom, the tyrannical regime implicitly empowered itself to suppress any speech it decided could weaken the socialist system.

Today’s progressives say you have free speech . . . as long as it is not incitement. But then they redefine incitement to entail not just violence the speaker intends but violence to which hypersensitive progressives are “triggered,” even if violence was the last thing the speaker wanted. They reduce “free speech” to a protection only against criminal conviction, not against the intimidating law-enforcement process. And as they marginalize dissent, they excuse, even lionize, the mob.

Free speech is still inscribed in America’s Constitution. That does not mean it is still quintessentially American. We need it to be.


ANDREW C. MCCARTHY is a senior fellow at National Review Institute, an NR contributing editor, and author of BALL OF COLLUSION: THE PLOT TO RIG AN ELECTION AND DESTROY A PRESIDENCY. @andrewcmccarthy
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G M

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Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
« Reply #2021 on: October 23, 2021, 06:14:58 PM »
Thanks. We already have political prisoners in custody for first amendment activities, courtesy of Deep State Andy’s friends at the DOJ.


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