gideon.rachman@ft.com call to Action. 2003 redux? Almost Marx comments.

Headline: Belarus kidnapping sets a dangerous global precedent

Sub-headline: Europe and the US must arrest the slide into international lawlessness

Where was Mr. Rachman when America invaded Afghanistan, decaled ‘War’: Blitzkrieg on Iraq: the demonstrably incompetent Paul Bremer disbanded the vital political infrastructures of the Iraqi military and Baath Party. Abu Ghraib, ‘CIA Black Sites’, ‘Guantanamo’, the bribery program of ‘The Surge’ etc., etc.?  Mr. Rachman lampoons, in his maladroit way, the cliché “rules-based international order” the ‘ready made’ that excuses/ frames The American Empire’s bloody, unapologetic Imperialism.

The villians in this political melodrama are predictable, a troika of bad actors in The New Cold War, identified as the patient reader, makes her way through this essay ,for want of a better term, ‘Bill of attainder’ , in sum Mr. Rachman’s acting as a one man legislator!

Nobody reasonable should accept the Belarusian (or Chinese or Russian) equation of peaceful dissent with terrorism. But America has encouraged the idea that powerful countries can reach out beyond their borders and grab people.

That this is succeed by this call to action? should not surprise!

The action taken by Belarus represents a flagrant escalation of this trend. But this dangerous moment also represents an opportunity to arrest the slide into international lawlessness.    

Almost Marx

https://www.ft.com/content/02c0004a-7dfa-46b9-80ef-a88e4ef35d9a

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On George Scialabba’s ‘ ‘Free and Worldly’. Would-Be Critic comments.

I read the first two chapters of ‘The Metaphysical Club’ that features Oliver Wendell Holmes. And because I had purchased ‘Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: Law And The Inner Self’ from an Oxford University Press book sale: also because I found in Menand’s chapters, an heroic figure in Holmes, three time wounded in The Civil War, I read with interest Prof. White’s biography.
White’s book followed the bourgeoise party line on Holmes. He even wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court’, more of the same bourgeoise hagiography. But Buck v. Bell’ was a negative revelation. Women identified as ‘imbeciles’ that were institutionalised were sterilized. ‘Establishing the constitutionality of a law permitting the sterilization of of imbeciles … gave me pleasure’, a Holmes  quote from page 408 of White’s biography.
I followed that book with ‘Law Without Values: The Life, Work and Legacy of Justice Holmes’ by Albert W. Alschuler. Another negative revelation. This book managed to garner a good review from The Economist, titled ‘Flawed Hero’ of the February 24, 2001 edition of the magazine. I saved the page from the magazine, and use it as a bookmark, for Alschuler’s book.   

George Scialabba’s praise for the ‘masterpiece’ of ‘The Metaphysical Club’: from my limited reading of it’s Holmes chapters, was steeped in the unearned reverence for the toxic, not to speak of the cruel misogyny of Holmes. Should this give pause to the readers of Mr. Scialabba’s judgement, on a book lauded as a ‘masterpiece’, or any other book under his review? What about any book, by the same author, whose writings reflect the values of History and Biography Made To Measure?    

Would-Be Critic 

https://thebaffler.com/salvos/free-and-worldly-scialabba

      

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edward.luce@ft.com on Joe Biden’s troubled political future! Almost Marx comments.

As former speech writer for Larry Summers, and his soon-to-be Boswell, Luce is to put it mildly, as obtuse as Larry, two utterly clueless white males! The headline writers of his newspaper use the notion of ‘urban crime wave‘, can this be more freighted with racial negativity, or does honesty demand the descriptor animus?

Further is his essay Luce add this to his essay :


Biden wants to pass a bill to dilute the “qualified immunity” that makes it so hard to prosecute offending officers, except in extreme cases such as that of Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last month of murdering George Floyd. Although it is extremely rare to convict a police officer, the bill is unlikely to get anywhere.



Here is Joe in 1993 on ‘predators’ 

The fiction is that Joe has ‘evolved’: this ‘a bill to dilute the “qualified immunity’ demonstrates that Joe’s racism, now enjoys sub rosa status.

As an example Mr. Luce ponders the question of rising crime in New York City, and its effect on the Mayoral contest, taking shape:

It is notable that the two New York mayoral candidates who are leading the pack — Andrew Yang and Eric Adams — have been clearest in condemning “defund the police”. Dianne Morales, the candidate who has embraced it most openly, is polling at just 5 per cent. According to Gallup, only a fifth of African-Americans want fewer police on the streets. The evidence supports them. Where police are more visible, crime usually falls.

https://www.ft.com/content/221c9a51-6899-4535-8663-451153805f10

As Mr. Luce ponders a possible negative future for Biden, in the political context of the New York City mayoral race, should the reader look for a return of ‘Broken Windows Policing’ of The Manhattan Institute, that became the failed ‘Stop and Frisk’? In a Post-Pandemic context, checking for proof of Vaccination will or could be the rationale for these ‘Stops’, or something tied to the issue of Public Safety? While a willful forgetting of Mayor Bloomberg’s political/jurisprudential machinations in this case still hold?

Almost Marx

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@FT on the Blinken, Lavrov Reykjavik meeting. Political Observer comments.

Headline: US targets ‘stable, predictable’ ties with Russia

Sub-headline: Blinken and Lavrov hold first face-to-face talks of Biden presidency in Reykjavik

The untenable political fiction of ‘Russian Interference’ in the 2016 election, led Blinken and Joe to engage in dull-witted provocation against Russia. It was like Anti-Communists T.V. of the 1950’s, the small black & white screen of the era, in the Age of the Internet, looked like what it was shopworn, not to speak of its resemblance to a wobbly antique.

Why should this surprise? given Joe’s cadre of war mongers: Neo-Con Ghoul Nuland, R2P zealot Power, Susan Rice and Hillary advisor Jake Sullivan. The very signature of catastrophe!

It almost makes me long for the days of Lippmann and Kennan. But what ‘we’ have is the Alsop Brothers?

StephenKMackSD

https://www.ft.com/content/6d90194e-c8aa-4eb6-aedb-40b595f56cc3#comments-anchor

 

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On The Bespoke Suited Victimologists, Episode XLII: Thomas Friedman defends The Zionist Fascist State, as if it were a Comedy! By Political Skeptic.

The first paragraph of Mr. Freidman’s May 11, 2021 column is demonstrative of a trivialization of the wholesale murder of Palestinians, by The Zionist Fascists State!   

Let’s see, what happens when TikTok meets Palestinian grievances about right-wing Israeli land grabs in Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem? And then you add the holiest Muslim night of prayer in Jerusalem into the mix? Then toss in the most emotional Israeli holiday in Jerusalem? And a power play by Hamas to assume leadership of the Palestinian cause? And, finally, a political vacuum in which the Palestinian Authority is incapable of holding new elections and Israel is so divided it can’t stop having elections?

What happens is the explosion of violence around Jerusalem on Monday that quickly spread to the Gaza front, and has people asking: Is this the big one? Is this the start of the next Palestinian uprising?

I stopped reading this overstuffed capon in the days when he praised anything remotely close to the ‘Free Market Ideology’, as significant. He like his fellow apologists have managed to play the simultaneous roles of both fool and knave! Its the alchemy practiced by the Zionists Apologist, whose contempt for its readers, listeners, viewers, to exercise the most elementary kind of critical thinking.

Mr. Freidman’s 1,350 word History Made to Measure is a polemic that never deserts its trivialization of the mass murder, still being committed against the Palestinian People, as I write this on May 16, 2021. Gideon Levy in Haaretz offers a well deserved rebuke to ‘Those Who Thirst for Blood’ in the May 13, edition!

Political Skeptic

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On The Bespoke Suited Victimologists, Episode XL: Martin Indyk on Joe Biden’s ‘pivot’. Political Observer scoffs!

The Financial Times obligingly presents a capsule version of a possible CV for Mr. Indyk:

The writer is a former US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the forthcoming book “Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy.”

It’s as if the reader is unable to make a connection, by just the title of Indyk’s new book, in praise war criminal *Kissinger, his stance toward the  ‘Gaza-Israel conflict’ ? There is no ‘conflict’ but the bombing of a civilian population by the Zionist Fascist State! Mr. Indyk is an integral part of a branch of ‘American diplomacy’ that continually worked to realize the ‘Two State Solution’. That came to nothing, but an opportunity for an increasingly reactionary politics, that expressed itself in the Settler Movement, that over time made the Two State Solution impossible. Didn’t Krauthammer describe this theft as ‘grandma needed to put an extension on her kitchen’ ? Mr. Indyk and his successors like Aaron David Miller were the sub rosa assistants to realize the Zionist State’s adoption of Lebensraum. Is this invidious ?

Mr. Indyk jejune exploration of the evolving Foreign Policy of Joe Biden, expressed by means of carefully cultivated, highfaluting bourgeoise political cliché: the imperatives of the American Empire, are the province of the ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ who fail to see the wider vistas of the well paid Court Historian/Propagandist? The Foreign Policy Technocrat, and her home in the infrastructure of Think Tanks , of every hue- the ‘expert’ celebrated by Lippmann as a ‘check’ against ‘too much democracy’ has been realized by the alliance between that Technocracy, Corporate Media and Government.

Here is an example of Mr. Indyk’s chatter:

Because Biden’s team was not paying sufficient attention, he was slow to pick up the signals that Israel had crossed the guard rails. His advisers did eventually intervene with Netanyahu, persuading him to suspend the Palestinian evictions in East Jerusalem, curb police excesses at al-Aqsa mosque, and reroute a provocative march away from the Old City. But it was too little too late. Hamas seized the opportunity to become “the sword of Jerusalem” by launching rockets towards the Holy City.

https://www.ft.com/content/857a6617-d87f-41f3-82ce-5decbc99d348

What can the reader make of this that Israel had crossed the guard rails‘ ? Mr. Indyk is a partisan speaking the language of political equivocation, the lingua franca of the Technocracy! That partisanship is demonstrated by the very next paragraph:

Biden is now depending on Netanyahu to bring the war to a quick conclusion. Despite the braggadocio, the prime minister’s objectives appear limited to setting back Hamas’s war-making capabilities and re-establishing Israel’s deterrent power. He has long since abandoned any notion of ending Hamas rule in Gaza.

Skip to the last two paragraphs of Mr. Indyk’s political intervention, where he demonstrates his ability the be both a fool and a knave: the Zionist apologists have perfected this alchemy!

If a ceasefire can take hold, Biden will have barely had to lift a finger. But if he is to stay focused on his priorities elsewhere, he will still have to resist the siren song of Israeli-Palestinian peace, a hopeless challenge with the current leaderships. He will also be dependent on Netanyahu to avoid provocations. And his aides will have to help restore Palestinian hope in the two-state solution Biden espouses. But he can do that in small, incremental steps.

Biden’s pivot appears to have survived its first Middle Eastern test. But the volatility of the place ensures there will be more to come. Hopefully by then his local partners will have come to understand their roles in an America-supported, rather than American-led, regional order and that will make it easier for Biden to avoid being sucked back into the Middle East morass.

. Political Observer

*Here is a link to Edward Luce’s interview with Kissinger of July 20, 2018 in The Financial Times. Mr. Luce attempt to snare Kissinger, its almost comic, if it weren’t so utterly pathetic! 

https://www.ft.com/content/926a66b0-8b49-11e8-bf9e-8771d5404543

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Andy Divine rewrites himself. With guest star Liz Cheney. Political Skeptic comments

Headline: The GOP’s Massive Missed Opportunity

Sub-headline: It’s called Trumpism Without Trump. But they can’t get there, and he won’t let them.

Here are the first three sentences, of the first paragraph of Andy Divine’s latest essay:

A long, long time ago, I can still remember when Liz Cheney and I were friendly, fellow young conservatives. Ah, the 1990s. It all came crashing down during the Iraq War when I just couldn’t get past her defense of her father’s decision to commit war crimes in the defense of civilization.

Here is a link to his mea culpa on the Iraq War:

I Was Wrong: A Real-Time Chronicle Of The Iraq War

Please note that each entry is time and date stamped. Yet there is no way to check where these comments were published, no footnotes appear, that would enable the reader to check for Andy’s veracity. He was educated at Oxford, and holds a PhD from Harvard. Surly he wrote a Thesis? These entries read like carefully manicured condensations of his essays. Again no means of verification!

Note the chapter headings : Trauma, Doubt, Regret. Political Melodrama is Andy’s métier.

Following the above quoted sentences:

I still disagree with her a lot, specifically on marriage equality, and I understand entirely why many on the left can’t get past her past, and why many in the Trump Party believe it’s sub-optimal to have a party leader at war with its one and only principle: sucking up to the deranged, unstable cult-figure who decisively lost the House, Senate and presidency last November. 

But she’s still right. Right that the last election was not rigged, right that it wasn’t even that close, right that a liberal democracy cannot survive if one party denies electoral integrity solely to protect the vanity of the loser, and more than right that a president who encourages violence to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power is a threat to the Constitution itself. She’s right that if conservatism doesn’t mean defending the rule of law, the norms and procedures of liberal democracy, and reverence for our democratic institutions, it is nothing worthy of the name.

https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/the-gops-massive-missed-opportunity?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjo1MzQ5NjEsInBvc3RfaWQiOjM2MjYyNDg1LCJfIjoiTFlyeU8iLCJpYXQiOjE2MjExMTA4MTUsImV4cCI6MTYyMTExNDQxNSwiaXNzIjoicHViLTYxMzcxIiwic3ViIjoicG9zdC1yZWFjdGlvbiJ9.BjjKQaahx7i-esPlWwT0T9MHSZJ7fTJS86My2qh6XOs

Liz Cheney is and remains a War Mongering Neo-Conservative, with no concern for The Rule of Law, nor the niceties of respectable bourgeoise politics. She is her fathers daughter. Liz and Andy are kindred spirits, defined by political opportunism, and exploiting moments offered by an everchanging political landscape.

Political Skeptic

 

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@CoreyRobin

Does this describe the ‘propinquity’ between Arendt & Roth?

Arendt: Born in conflict, Israel will degenerate into Sparta, and American Jews will need to back away
https://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/arendt-born-in-conflict-israel-will-degenerate-into-sparta-and-american-jews-will-need-to-back-away/

Or Roth’s ‘Plot against America’, retrograde Anti-Semitic paranoia, under the historical tutelage of Arthur Schlesinger Jr.!  And rewritten by Simon & Burns for television, under the guidance of Roth, that passed for an Anti-Trump polemic, in extremis?  

StephenKMackSD 

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Niall Ferguson in three keys. Political Skeptic reads the irrepressible ‘expert’ !

In the May 7, 2021 edition of the the TLS, Charles King’s reviews Niall Ferguson’s new book ‘Doom: The politics of catastrophe’. Some revelatory excerpts: 

At its best, Doom is a vade mecum to misery. Whatever readers are facing in their own lives, they will soon be convinced that many others have had it worse and that, for now at least, civilization will probably endure. A volcanic eruption? Try the one at Mount Samalas in Indonesia, which in 1257 pumped 250 million tonnes of sulphate aerosol into the atmosphere, exerting a global effect on climate. A bloody revolt? Most of them pale before the An Lushan Rebellion of eighth-century China, which may have cost over 30 million lives. A modern international war? One sometimes forgets Paraguay, which during the War of the Triple Alliance in 1864–70 probably lost proportionally more of its population than any country has before or since. The Tōhoku earthquake of 2011, which triggered a tsunami, in turn triggering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, may have been the costliest natural disaster in history, but the Wei River Valley earthquake of 1556 claimed fifty times as many lives. Disease, political turmoil and social disorder? Try competing with the Black Death.

Doom is savvy and endlessly entertaining, and if it reads more like a compendium than a treatise, this is because the book follows the rules of Olympian history-writing. The formula involves asserting a claim, or positing a framework of analysis – the “six killer apps” of the West in Ferguson’s Civilization, for example, or the six elements of networks in The Square and the Tower (2017) – and then offering not an argument but a stream of examples. The approach is to use history without actually being it – that is, to avoid offering propositions amenable to scrutiny, contradiction and falsification. As a school, it is not Whiggish, Marxist, or liberal but mesmerist. Historians do other things besides make arguments, of course. They evoke, compare and bear witness. But when the object is to persuade, one wants to know which way the data actually point.

From the ashes

Prof. King offers not just insights, but an alternative position to Mr. Ferguson’s disenchantment with the dismal present, a welcome reward for the reader. Can the reader expect Ferguson to experience a Damascene Moment as the final stop, in his idiosyncratic version of the Politics of Cultural Despair, to borrow from Fritz Stern’s book title.

***********************************

This Ferguson essay was published on May 8,2021 an essay in The Spectator, titled ‘The China model: why is the West imitating Beijing?’ Mr. Ferguson’s habit is to use literary references to dress-up his political interventions. On this occasion it is a quotation from Norman Mailer’s ‘The Naked and The Dead’ :  ‘We might easily go fascist after we win.’and a reference to George Orwell, who coined the ‘Cold War’ and wrote ‘1984‘.

This the frame that devolves into an attack on Biden, Blinken and ‘Bidenomics’, by way of ‘The New Industrial State’ by John Kenneth Galbraith. (Recall that Mr. Galbraith was the object of the animus of the Neo-Liberal Milton Friedman!) Ferguson then charges the amorphous ‘far left’ with the crime of ‘fellow traveling’. Alan Ryan in his essay ‘The Planners and the Planned’, in the 2013 Critical Review ,Volume 25,Numbers 3-4 titled Hayek: The Good,The Bad, The Ugly, made this vital critical distinction between Planning and Planned! Now available under the title ‘Hayek’s Political Theory, Epistemology, and Economics’

In The New Industrial State, John Kenneth Galbraith argued that planning was inexorably replacing the market in the United States, just as it had in the Soviet Union, because of the demands of ‘modern large-scale production’. The more radical left went much further, insisting that the United States was in fact the aggressor in the Cold War — which was of course exactly the central leitmotif of Soviet propaganda.

Mr. Ferguson lectures the reader on the costs of Bidenomics via its critics Larry Summers and Steve Rattner, strategically attached to Biden’s advocacy for an American version of China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

Jiang Shi-gong ,Chinese political theorist, becomes the focus of Mr. Ferguson’s polemic:

In a revealing essay published last year, the Chinese political theorist Jiang Shi-gong, a professor at Peking University Law School, spelled out the corollary of American decline. ‘The history of humanity is surely the history of competition for imperial hegemony,’ Jiang wrote, ‘which has gradually propelled the form of empires from their original local nature toward the current tendency toward global empires, and finally toward a single world empire.’ The globalisation of our time, according to Jiang, is the ‘“single world empire” 1.0, the model of world empire established by England and the United States’. But that Anglo-American empire is ‘unravelling’ internally, because of ‘three great unsolvable problems: the ever-increasing inequality created by the liberal economy… ineffective governance caused by political liberalism, and decadence and nihilism created by cultural liberalism’. Moreover, the western empire is under external attack from ‘Russian resistance and Chinese competition’. This is not a bid to create an alternative Eurasian empire, but ‘a struggle to become the heart of the world empire’.

Moving forward in Mr. Ferguson’s attacks on fellow travelers and ‘dupes’ via conjecture, and the political caricatures of 1952.

Might they be right? In a moment of despondency this week, the conservative writer and editor Sohrab Ahmari tweeted: ‘I’m at peace with a Chinese-led 21st century. Late-liberal America is too dumb and decadent to last as a superpower. Chinese civilisation, especially if it recovers more of its Confucian roots, will possess a great deal of natural virtue.’ He deleted the tweet, but it is telling that the thought even crossed his mind. Ahmari is the author of The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos. He is not the only conservative thinker to feel the pull of cultural despair as American institutions increasingly succumb to the plague of ‘wokeism’ — an illiberal ideology that originated on elite campuses but is now prevalent everywhere from Californian public schools to the Central Intelligence Agency.

I am not so gloomy, because I believe that woke ideas are profoundly unpopular with the electorate as a whole and that the Democrats’ adoption of slogans such as ‘anti-racism’ and ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ will ultimately backfire when it becomes clear to more people what they mean in practice. Nevertheless, I begin to understand better how convergence theories gain traction at times of superpower conflict.

Preceding Mr. Ferguson’s comment on Sohrab Ahmari, but that still resonates in the reader’s mind as the she continues :

It is one thing to compete with China. I firmly believe we need to do that in every domain, from artificial intelligence to Covid vaccines. But the minute we start copying China, we are on the path to perdition

Mr. Ferguson ends this essay in the guise of a modern day Cassandra:

There is a kind of low-level totalitarianism detectable in many institutions today — from elite universities to newspapers, publishers and technology companies — which reveals that practices such as informing, denunciation and defamation can all flourish even in the absence of a one-party dictatorship. And it turns out you don’t need a Communist party in charge to have censorship of the internet: just leave it to the big tech companies, which now have the power to cancel the President of the United States if they so choose.

There is indeed an osmosis of war, as Mailer noted. But there seems also to be an osmosis of peace. And if China ends up winning the Second Cold War, historians — if any real ones are left — may well conclude that its victory began when Americans decided to imitate not just OBOR and CBDC but the Cultural Revolution itself.

***************************************

Consider next this May 9, 2021 essay from Bloomberg by Mr. Ferguson:

Headline: The Next Global Disaster Is on Its Way, and We Aren’t Ready 

Sub-headline: A major lesson of Covid-19 is that there is no distinction between natural and man-made catastrophes. 

The Covid-19 pandemic is not over, but it is already clear that Lord Rees, Britain’s astronomer royal, has won his 2017 bet with the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker that “bioterror or bioerror will lead to one million casualties in a single event within a six-month period starting no later than Dec. 31, 2020.” 

Last year, according to Johns Hopkins University, the SARS-CoV-2 virus claimed the lives of 1.8 million people. The global death toll could exceed 5 million by Aug. 1 — or 9 million, if one accepts the drastic new upward revision by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. It could have been worse, of course. In  March 2020, some epidemiologists argued that, without drastic social distancing and economic lockdowns, the ultimate death toll could be between 30 and 40 million. Yet the cost of such nonpharmaceutical interventions has been enormous — for the U.S. alone, an estimated 90% of GDP

Lord Rees’s was only one of many warnings before 2020 that humanity’s most clear and present danger was a new pathogen and the global pandemic it could cause. Yet somehow these warnings did not translate into swift, effective action in most countries when a pandemic struck. Why did so many democracies handle this crisis so badly? 

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-05-09/niall-ferguson-the-next-global-disaster-is-already-on-its-way?sref=ojq9DljU 

 

Note the framing: a bet between Lord Rees and Steven Pinker! An amalgam of cynicism and farce? My commentary is not in any way meant to be definitive, that would take more time and space, and would exhaust the patience of the reader. But ‘Doom’ is the dominant theme of this latest Ferguson political intervention. Should it surprise that ‘The Great Degeneration’ was followed by ‘Doom’, from which there is no hope of rescue? The reader just might again look at Ferguson’s political development, as a ripening idiosyncratic riff on The Politics of Cultural Despair?

Consider the techno-intellectual actors, stand-alone phrases and ideas ,in Ferguson’s Political Melodrama, that provide him with his evocative ready-mades : a pastiche of thought? Or just ready to hand descriptors?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s word) “antifragile” 

Marc Bloch’s “Strange Defeat”

Michele Wucker’s “gray rhinos” 

Taleb’s “black swans”

Didier Sornette calls “dragon kings,” 

nonlinear relationships and “fat-tailed” distributions.

Philip Tetlock’s superforecasters,

Norman Dixon : The psychology of military incompetence

A few example of Ferguson’s Ideas:


power laws, normal probabilities, Bell Curve,The Mean ,Logarithmic scales,Disater preparedness and mitigation

Mr. Ferguson, an Economic Historian, then defines five categories of political malpractice:

Failure to learn from history

Failure of imagination

Tendency to fight the last war or crisis

Threat underestimation

Procrastination ,or waiting for a certainty that never comes

Let me end my comments on Mr. Ferguson’s collection of political interventions, and Charles King’s insightful review of ‘Doom’ here, as the preamble to his prescriptive interventions presented as ‘I have five suggestions.‘ Mr. Ferguson’s expertise is capacious, inexhaustible and a never ending revelation to the reader.

Even in the 17th century, the nascent popular press could sow confusion in people’s minds, as Daniel Defoe found when he researched the plague of 1665 in London. The advent of the internet has greatly magnified the potential for misinformation and disinformation to spread, to the extent that we may speak of twin plagues in 2020: One caused by a biological virus, the other by even more contagious viral misconceptions and falsehoods. This problem might have been less serious in 2020 had meaningful reforms of the laws and regulations governing the big technology companies been implemented beforehand. However, despite abundant evidence during the 2016 election that the status quo was untenable, almost nothing was done.

All disasters, in other words, are to some extent politically constructed, even if we think of some as natural and some as man-made. What should we do ahead of the next one? I have five suggestions.

Political Skeptic

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Robert Merry inveighs against Biden’s ‘Almost New Dealism’, under the rubric of ‘Big Government’. Political Reporter comments.

Mr. Merry has been a ‘longtime Washington journalist‘ and the author of a duel biography of the Alsop brothers, that was reviewed at the New York Times under the title of ‘Aesop’s’ Fables’ by David Kennedy, in 1996. Some revelatory quotation:

IT is the fate of most journalists to write not for the ages but for their day alone — and to see their toilsome scrivening unceremoniously chucked out with the daily trash. So it is to be expected that few Americans under the age of 40 have even heard of Joseph and , let alone read their copy. Yet in the Alsops’ heyday, during the three decades following World War II, millions of Americans regularly ingested Alsop prose by the wholesale lot. Their jointly written column, Matter of Fact, widely syndicated by the now defunct New York Herald Tribune, appeared four times a week for nearly a dozen years. And pieces in mass-circulation periodicals like The Saturday Evening Post and Newsweek reached millions of additional readers. The Alsops enjoyed matchless access to the most highly placed sources in Washington and in many of the world’s other capitals as well. They wrote with lapidary authority about the issues that convulsed their era, especially cold war foreign policy. To a degree equaled by few of their peers, and rarely exceeded in the history of their craft, Joseph and Stewart Alsop reigned in their time as the very highest panjandrums of American journalism.

.

David M. Kennedy’s beautifully executed review/polemic, that takes on the Alsop Brothers apologist Mr. Merry. The review is not about a collection of insults, disguised as evaluation but about what matters.

In this rich and fascinating book, Robert W. Merry, himself a professional journalist and currently executive editor of Congressional Quarterly Inc., offers a literary triptych. “Taking On the World” is at once a dual biography of two intriguing personalities and a revealing analysis of the practical workings of the journalistic guild. Most consequentially, it is also a probing examination of the severely attenuated “American Century” — the 30 years of unequaled prosperity and extraordinary national self-confidence from World War II until Vietnam — as seen through the eyes of two men who both chronicled and shaped the great events of their era.

Another less ensorcelled contribution on Joseph Alsop see ‘Joe Alsop’s Cold War: A Study of Journalistic Influence and Intrigue’ By Edwin M. Yoder Jr.

See also The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington by Gregg Herken where Joseph Alsop plays a prominent part. Not ignoring the appearances of many prominent political actors of the time.

Two interviews with Joseph Alsop, on C-SPAN, provide a look at the man, who along with J.Edgar Hoover, were perhaps the most two most prominent closeted political actors, next to Philby and Maclean?

https://www.c-span.org/video/?124869-1/washington-politics

https://www.c-span.org/video/?124890-1/joseph-alsop-books

 

What might the above have to do with Mr. Merry’s essay on highlighting the ‘misbegotten’ political interventions of Joe Biden? The last three paragraphs of his essay demonstrates what? Biden’s program doesn’t include a $15 minimum wage, nor Medicare for all! Just steps to far for Biden’s Neo-Liberalism? Mr. Merry, as apologists for Cold Warriors Joseph and Stewart Alsop, is unable to fathom that Bidens truncated, but toxic, ‘New Dealism’ might just be a cover for waging a New Cold War. Against both Russia and China, in the hands of Blinken, Neo-Con Nuland and R2P zealot Power. That New Cold War wedded to a toxic pastiche of FDR’s actual reforms?

The president projects some $6 trillion of new spending atop an annual budget of only around $4 trillion. Among the spending targets are clean-energy subsidies, electronic-vehicle charging stations, free child care, free pre-kindergarten education, free community college education, free family and medical leave, and the underwriting of incomes in a host of ways, most of which don’t require any work. Biden also would employ the regulatory state to thwart banks from investing in old energy projects and toward greater diversity. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, Biden “seeks to insinuate government cash and the rules that go with it into all the major decisions of family life.” He wants to “make Americans rely on government and the political class for everything they don’t already provide.”

Note the words “the political class.” This is essentially an elitist agenda, bolstering the power and influence of the country’s meritocratic elite, which will administer all this and derive ever greater power and wealth in the process. And, because Biden enjoys no mandate of the kind that fueled the FDR and Reagan programs, he’s fixing to attack fundamental institutions in ways designed—like Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme—to tilt the playing field in favor of the elite agenda. That’s the significance of the budding initiatives to kill the Senate filibuster, pack the court, and give statehood to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

The history of America since Roosevelt’s first term provides little evidence that the American people have hungered for this kind of grand governmental aggrandizement and intrusiveness. Indeed, that history suggests the American people have always been wary of going that far. And nothing in the country’s recent political expression indicates anything approaching a serious groundswell now for the Biden vision. The president was elected leader of a nation roiled by passionate discord and disruption, reaching almost frightening intensity. He has unleashed upon his constituency a program that can only make it worse.

A Century of Big Government

Political Reporter

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