April 2, 2017

2017

Free Market of Ideas





June

Posts Douglas Murray: Is Islam killing Europe?
John Howard: A Generous Open-Hearted People
Franklin Roosevelt: Economic Slavery
Herbert Spencer: The Survival of the Fittest
Mark Blyth: Milton's Great Vacation
Donald Trump: The Most Powerful Man in the Universe
Greg Bear: All Flesh is Grass
Robert Manne: Culture War — Historical Denialism and the Stolen Generations
Vannevar Bush: As We May Think
Links Brahma Challaney: Saudi Arabia — State Sponsor of Terrorism
Jane Mayer: In the Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the Koch Brothers’ Campaign Becomes Overt
Peter Singer: How Can We Be More Effective Altruists?
Abigail Marsh: Are We Wired To Be Altruistic?
Joseph Carens: The moral maze of refugees and migration
Alain de Botton: What's A Kinder Way To Frame Success?

May

Posts Yuval Harari: Homo Deus — Divine Man
Yuval Harari: Homo Sapiens — Wise Man
Michel de Montaigne: My local witches
Michel de Montaigne: On being
Michel de Montaigne: Death is a scene with one character
Les Murray: An Ode to Pauline Hanson
Simon Marginson: The New Gilded Age
Rear Vision: Perfecting the White Race
Links David Marr: Making Australia White Again
Robert Manne: Breeding out the colour
Matt Bevan: Trump gives himself an 80% tax cut
Matt Bevan: Trump and Putin
Science Friction: The Global War on Science
The Money: Populate and Perish
Yuval Harari: Why Did Humans Become The Most Successful Species On Earth?
Elizabeth Lesser: Why Is It So Hard To Ask For — And Offer — Forgiveness?
Anne Manne: Rape among the lamingtons
Nick Hanauer: Beyond the dreams of avarice

April

Posts Milton Friedman: My God is Freedom
Ronald Reagan: Creeping Socialism
Edward Gibbon: Of Jews and Christians
John Galbraith: The Next Bubble
Cultural Total War: The Global War on Political Correctness
Waleed Aly: The Enemy Within
PBS American Experience: Human Capital
Rosalie Crestani: Rise Up Australia!
James McPhersen: Freedom is not possible without slavery
Peace and Long Life: Cosmological Fine Tuning
High Mackay: The state of the nation starts in your street
Cosmos: Carbon Capture and Storage
Four Corners: Please Explain
John van Tiggelen: After Sorry
Links Bob Inglis: Political climate changing?
Ann Pettifor: How to Break the Power of the Banks
Svend Brinkmann: How to Resist the Self-Improvement Craze
Rutger Bregman: Utopia for Realists

March

Posts John Rasko: Trump's Pharmaceutical Plan
Love is a Warm Gun: Sandy Hook
Malcolm Turnbull: Coal is King
Thomas Piketty: A Recipe for Right Wing Revolt
Thomas Piketty: How Much Does the Richest Woman in History Pay in Taxes?
William Gibson: Idoru
Dylan Thomas: Under Milkwood
Michel de Montaigne: On fleeing from pleasures at the cost of one's life
Bertrand Russell: Contempt for Happiness
Four Corners: Alternative Medicine
Peace and Long Life: Freedom (of Action) Without (Freedom of) Will
Live Long and Prosper: Society Versus Community
Links Naomi Oreskes: Why Should We Believe In Science?
Maz Jobrani: Can Comedy Break Stereotypes?
Paul Bloom: Why Do We Create Stereotypes?
Satyajit Das: Consuming our future
Tim Berners-Lee: How Did The World Wide Web Start?
Clay Shirky: Can Open Source Be Traced To The 17th-Century?
Clay Shirky: How cognitive surplus will change the world

February

Posts Alistair Cooke: Saving Capitalism
Martin King: Free at Last
John Quiggin: An Epidemic of Laziness
George Orwell: The Lion and the Unicorn
David Biello: China leads the way on climate change
Tom Switzer: Against Public Broadcasting
Links Dorothy Roberts: What's Race Got to Do with Medicine?
Laurence Cockroft & Anne-Christine Wegener: On Corruption
Mark Blyth: Global Trumpism
Thomas Frank: Why Hillary Lost
William Perry: Nuclear Insecurity in the 21st Century
BBC World Service: Eugenics in America

January

Posts Tom Switzer: The Wrong Side of History
John Kennedy: The Common Enemies of Mankind
Martin Luther: On the Jews and Their Lies
Donald Trump: Ignorance is Strength
Links Scientific American: Trump's 5 Most “Anti-Science” Moves
Discovery: The Future of the Paris Climate Deal under Donald Trump
Suzanne Barakat: After A Horrible Hate Crime, How Do You Not Hate Back?
Earshot: The Seven Ages of Woman
Andrew Solomon: Is There A Healthy Way To Think About Depression?

Donald Trump

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

Truth for us nowadays is not what is, but what others can be brought to accept …
[Dissimulation has become] one of the most striking characteristics of our age. …
Our understanding is conducted solely by means of the word: anyone who falsifies it betrays public society.
It is the only tool by which we communicate our wishes and our thoughts; it is our soul's interpreter: if we lack that, we can no longer hold together; we can no longer know each other.
When words deceive us, it breaks all intercourse and loosens the bonds of our polity.


(On giving the lie, The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, 1580, M A Screech, Translator, Penguin, 1991, p 256-7, emphasis added)


George Orwell (1903 – 1950):
Totalitarianism has abolished freedom of thought to an extent unheard of in any previous age. …
The totalitarian state tries to control the thoughts and emotions of its subjects at least as completely as it controls their actions. …
It sets up unquestionable dogmas, and it alters them from day to day.
It needs the dogmas, because it needs absolute obedience from its subjects, but it cannot avoid changes, which are dictated by the needs of power politics.
It declares itself infallible, and at the same time it attacks the very concept of objective truth.
(Listener, 19 June 1941)

The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions —
  • racial pride,
  • leader-worship,
  • religious belief,
  • love of war
— which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronism, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action.
(Wells, Hitler and the World State, Horizon, August 1941)

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865):
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new Nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. …
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us,
  • that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,
  • that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,
  • that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and
  • that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
(Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 19 November 1863)






(Michael Kirk, Trump's Divided States of America, PBS Frontline, Episode 2, WGBH, 2017)


Richard Nixon (1913 – 1994), 8 August 1971:
[As] president, I must put the interests of America first.
Therefore, I shall resign the presidency, effective noon tomorrow.
(The United States Vs Nixon, The Seventies, Episode 2, 2015)




Michael Kirk:
[The Taj Mahal casino was] the biggest deal of his lifetime …
[Trump] spent a billion dollars on the Taj. …
Burdened by debt, [it] would not turn a profit [and closed in October 2016.]
The Plaza Hotel — a financial disaster; the airline, Trump Shuttle, was bleeding money. …
Trump and his companies owed more the $3 billion, much of it to the banks …
[But as the bankers] stared into the Trump Organization's abyss, [they] came to believe that Trump's assets … were worth more with his name on them than in foreclosure. …
They sold the yacht and the airline; and they put Trump on a $450,000 allowance.
In exchange he would continue to promote the business.

Donald Trump had survived but his casinos were deeply in debt.
He was looking for a way out.
He found one: Wall Street. …
Trump paid himself $44 million for services … even as the stock price began to fall.
The company filed for bankruptcy 3 times, investors lost billions. …
Trump characteristically described his time in Atlantic City as a success.

For Trump — real estate was increasingly a side business — marketing his name, a full time job. …
For 14 seasons [of The Apprentice,] millions of Americans watched a carefully crafted Donald Trump. …
And for his political guru … the TV audience could become Trump voters.
Roger Stone (1952):
Now, I understand that the elites say:
Oh that's reality TV!
Voters don't see it that way.
Television news and television entertainment — it's all television.
Now he saw an issue he could turn into headlines … the birther issue …
(Michael Kirk, President Trump, PBS Frontline, WGBH, 2017)




Omarosa Manigault (1974) [Director of Communications for Donald Trump, September 2016]:
[If he wins, every] critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump.
[Everyone] who's ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him.
It [would be] the ultimate revenge [for him] to become the most powerful man in the universe.
(Michael Kirk, President Trump, PBS Frontline, WGBH, 2017)

Donald Trump (1946):
I am your voice!

Nicolas de Caritat (1743–1794) [Marquis de Condorcet]:
If we cannot find voters who are sufficiently enlightened, we must avoid making a bad choice by accepting as candidates, only those men in whose competence we can trust.
(1785)

William King (1874 – 1950) [Prime Minister of Canada, 1921-26, 1926-30, 1935-48):
The extreme man is always more or less dangerous, but nowhere more so than in politics.
(Margaret MacMillan, History's People, Text, 2015, p 51)

Don Watson:
Noble and creative as it has often been, provider of an essential thread in the best of the American ideal and source of a rare grace one encounters only in the United States, American Christianity also disguises fear and feeds ignorance, paranoia and prejudice, along with a readiness to smite enemies with weapons of unspeakable destructive force.
(Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump, Quarterly Essay, Issue 63, 2016, p 23)

Alice Miranda Ollstein [Political Reporter]:
According to a book written by [Argentinian President] Macri’s father Franco, Trump threw a tantrum after losing a round of golf to Mauricio Macri and broke his friend’s golf clubs — one by one.
(There is a lot more to the Trump Argentina story, ThinkProgress, 23 November 2016)

Ying Ma [Deputy Director of a Trump Super PAC, The Committee for American Sovereignty]:
[We] know that in state-craft, every now and then, to be unpredictable is not such a bad thing in negotiations. …
One of the reasons Donald Trump won is that … he is able to simplify a lot of issues that the GOP have not been able to simplify for voters …
(The Trump victory, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 10 November 2016)

John Ashton (1956):
Our mainstream politics is less connected to the base of society than [it has been] for generations.
Into that gap scurry opportunists, attention-seekers, populists, pied pipers and demagogues, always good entertainers, peddling the illusion of simple solutions in a complex world.
We don’t feel close to our politicians, or trust them. …
We yearn for a real conversation about who were are and where we are going as a country, a vision for the future.
(Lifting the Lid on the Politics of Climate Change, RSA, 16 May 2013)

Franklin Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)


Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital — all undreamed of by the [founding] fathers — the whole structure of modern life [has been] impressed into [a new royal servitude. …]
It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, [should reach] out for control over Government itself.
They [have] created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. …
Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. …

The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the Government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business.
They granted that the Government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the Government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.
Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair.
If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place. …

Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales.
Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.

(Acceptance Speech for the Renomination for the Presidency, Democratic Convention, Philadelphia, 27 June 1936)


Kim Robinson (1952)


A presidential transition [is] a major thing, and there were famous cases of failed transitions [and] the dire consequences that ineptitude in this area could have on the subsequent fates of the presidents involved.
It was important to make a good running start, to craft the kind of "first hundred days" that had energized the incoming administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, setting the model for that most presidents since to try to emulate.
Critical appointments had to be made, bold new programs turned into law.
(p 29)

[After the assassination attempt, President Chase] started sending to Congress a new volley of legislation …
[He] was already getting a lot of things through: …
  • Fuel-mileage efficiency standards of seventy and eighty miles a gallon.
  • A doubling of the gas tax.
  • A return to progressive tax rates.
  • An end to all corporate loopholes and offshoring of profits.
  • Heavy financial support for the World Health Organization's population stabilization efforts.
  • AIDS and malaria eradication funds.
  • Gun control legislation to give the NRA nightmares. …
It became clear that his team had taken over the tactic called, ironically enough, flooding, which had been used to such effect by the criminals who had hijacked the presidency at the start of the century.
It was like a flurry in boxing, the hits just kept on coming, at a pace of three or four a week, so that in the scramble the opposition could not react adequately, not to any individual slaps nor to the general deluge.
Right-wing pundits were wondering if [he] had arranged to get shot to gain this advantage:
[Why] had the gunman [only] used a twenty-two?
[Where] was the evidence he had actually been shot anyway?
[Could] they stick a minicam down the hole?
No?
Wasn't that suspicious?
(p 347)

(Sixty Days and Counting, Bantam, 2007)


Populism in America


Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859)

General Jackson, whom the Americans have twice elected to the head of their Government, is a man of a violent temper and mediocre talents; no one circumstance in the whole course of his career ever proved that he is qualified to govern a free people, and indeed the majority of the enlightened classes of the Union has always been opposed to him. …
(p 335)

We have been told that … he is an energetic man, prone by nature and by habit to the use of force, covetous of power, and a despot by taste.
(p 479)

It is by perpetually flattering [the passions of the people] that he maintains his station and his popularity.
General Jackson is the slave of the majority:
  • he yields to its wishes, its propensities, and its demands;
  • say rather, that he anticipates and forestalls them. …

General Jackson stoops to gain the favor of the majority, but when he feels that his popularity is secure, he overthrows all obstacles in the pursuit
  • of the objects which the community approves, or
  • of those which it does not look upon with a jealous eye.
(p 480)

He is supported by a power with which his predecessors were unacquainted; and he tramples on his personal enemies whenever they cross his path with a facility which no former President [has] ever enjoyed …
(p 481)

(Democracy in America, Vol I, 1835, Bantam, 2011)