Archives for category: arrogance

We need to go forward.

Going back is not an option. If back were good enough, we wouldn’t have left it in the first place.

Many people believe we’re reliving the fall of Rome.
Contemporary with that fall was the advent of Christ’s teachings. The fact that, eventually, Christianity has altered his teachings to fit the needs of the christian hierarchy doesn’t demean any of what he taught us.

That people who treat each-other respectfully fare a lot better than those who allow the exploitation of the weak.

That people who live ‘together’ fare a lot better than those who keep forgetting that ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ are both relative and temporary.

That people who are convinced that ‘survival belongs to the fittest’ will eventually make place for those who understand that evolution is solely about the demise of the unfit.

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

How many times have these words been invoked? By people who use them to divide? To carve a follow-ship? A follow-ship for them to lead…

How many times have these words been invoked? By individuals cocky enough to pretend they are speaking for Christ? Cocky enough to pretend they are able to fill Christ’s shoes…

For the outsiders, it seems like Gorbachev ‘made’ Putin.
Gorbachev had destroyed the Soviet Union and, thus, had set the scene for Putin to take over.

I’m afraid things are a little more complicated than that.

Gorbachev – at that time, the best informed decision maker in the whole USSR – had been smart enough to understand that no matter what he might had tried to do, the corpse was already rotten.
That everything but a major ‘upheaval’ could not accomplish anything more than prolong the agony. What he had done was nothing more than allowed the things to happen according to their nature.

I’ll make a short break here and remind you that all ‘imperium’ had eventually ended in failure. The tighter the control exercised by the ruler, the more abject the eventual failure. Check your history book.

So. Gorbachev had taken the appropriate steps. What he had done was in step with the natural flow of history.

Eltsin and Putin, on the other hand, had done the exact opposite.
Eltsin had tried and Putin had succeeded in regaining the ‘reins’ of the government. The reins, the whip, ever stronger control over the barn where the whole stash of hay is deposited…

Why things had unfolded like this?
Because they – Eltsin and Putin, had chosen this venue and because nobody else had been able to do anything about it.

OK, Gorbachev, Eltsin and Putin had made their respective calls in basically the same social and political environments. The economic situations were ‘somewhat’ different but this doesn’t change what I want to stress out. Each of them had done what had crossed each of their individual minds.
Each had been able to do whatever each of them had wanted because…
Because that particular ‘social arrangement’ allows the ruler to make whatever decisions they may see fit.
Because that particular ‘social arrangement’ – dictatorship, no matter how much window-dressing had been slapped on it, allows the person who happens to clamber ‘on top’ to keep making mistakes until the whole ‘carriage’ disintegrates.

Until we learn this lesson…

Interesting enough.

And yes, what you think about me is more about you than about the real me.

Nevertheless, the point of this post is:

For me,

You are what I think you are!

2017

““How could you square that statement with legal abortion?” Durbin asked him. “Senator, as the book explains, the Supreme Court of the United States has held in Roe v. Wade that a fetus is not a person for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the book explains that,” Gorsuch replied.

“Do you accept that?” Durbin asked. “That’s the law of the land,” Gorsuch answered. “I accept the law of the land, senator, yes.””

2022

“In a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Sen. Collins expressed her dismay that Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh misrepresented their alleged respect for precedent and private conversations with her and in their confirmation hearings. “This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents,” she wrote.

Rolling Stone reported last month that Collins was deliberately manipulated by Trump officials into voting for Kavanaugh despite his judicial history indicating a liability to strike down Roe. The White House correctly predicted that as long as they “let the Susan Collins-es of the world think what they needed to think and hear what they needed to hear,” as one ex-official put it, the fence-sitters would fall in line and vote to confirm Trump’s nominee.”

2016

“My people are so smart — and you know what else they say about my people? The polls?” Trump asked a crowd at a Sioux Center, Iowa, rally Saturday. “I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that?”

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said, referring to the major street in New York City that cuts through Manhattan’s large commercial district. “It’s, like, incredible.”

2022

“In its first hearing, the Jan. 6 committee last week played a clip of former Attorney General Bill Barr testifying that he told former President Trump that claims the 2020 election was stolen were “bullshit.” In its second hearing, the committee on Monday played several additional minutes of Barr’s testimony, during which he described unsuccessful effort to convince Trump that the election was legitimate.”

“Barr met with Trump again on Dec. 14. “He went off on a monologue saying there was now definitive evidence of fraud through the Dominion machines,” Barr said of a Dec. 14 meeting with Trump, noting that he gave Barr a report he said proves that the election was stolen and that he would have a second term in office. Barr said the report looked “amateurish” with no real evidence to support its claims that voting machines were rigged. Barr said he was “demoralized” after looking at the report. “I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality,” Barr said.”

2022-06-24

“In voters, lack of expertise would be lamentable but perhaps not so worrisome if people had some sense of how imperfect their civic knowledge is. If they did, they could repair it. But the Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests something different. It suggests that some voters, especially those facing significant distress in their life, might like some of what they hear from Trump, but they do not know enough to hold him accountable for the serious gaffes he makes. They fail to recognize those gaffes as missteps.”

“Again, the key to the Dunning-Kruger Effect is not that unknowledgeable voters are uninformed; it is that they are often misinformed—their heads filled with false data, facts and theories that can lead to misguided conclusions held with tenacious confidence and extreme partisanship, perhaps some that make them nod in agreement with Trump at his rallies.”

“….. himself also exemplifies this exact pattern, showing how the Dunning-Kruger Effect can lead to what seems an indomitable sense of certainty. All it takes is not knowing the point at which the proper application of a sensible idea turns into malpractice.”

‘Most people confuse liberty and democracy. They are not the same.’

Liberty and democracy are not the same indeed.

Like my left hand is not the same with my right one.

But I need both in order to lead what I consider to be a normal life.

Most people – specially if they get help, can survive without a hand. Or without either liberty or democracy.

But without both… without both hands or without both liberty and democracy… I’d be at somebody else’s mercy!

‘What?!?
What kind of liberty is there under communist rule???’

You see, liberty has two ‘faces’. Two dimensions.
Three, actually, but I’ll be talking about only two of them in this post.

There is the ‘inner liberty’ and there is the ‘socially sanctioned liberty’.

Liberty itself is a human concept.
We have noticed something, wondered about it, named it and then attempted to understand it.
This was, and continues to be, a collective effort.

In some places ‘liberty’ had appeared ‘naturally’.
There was enough liberty naturally sloshing around, hence the circumstances were right for those who had happened to live there at the right time to notice it. Furthermore, the conditions had been right again for the entire community to be able to agree among themselves about the concept and about how to use it/put in practice their new intellectual achievement.

Other places have not been so lucky.
They had been close enough, geographically and socio-historically, to notice the ‘birth of liberty’ but their specific conditions were not ‘right enough’. Many people living there coveted liberty but the local conditions made it impossible for liberty to take hold.
In these places ‘inner liberty’ – individually assumed freedom, can be found a lo more easily than presumed by those unfamiliar with the local realities.

Yet other places had it even worse.
Initially on the path towards liberty – and democracy, they have somehow stumbled.
For whatever causes – internal and/or external, something went wrong. People became disappointed enough to give up not only democracy but also liberty. Including their own, individual inner freedom.

A somewhat intermediary situation constitutes the third abnormal quadrant.
The people involved have given up their liberty – partially, but those running the show continue to use (‘pretendingly’) democracy as a window dressing to hide their true intentions.

The last hundred years or so have been extremely relevant in this matter.
All communist regimes had fallen. Under their own weight.
Most fascist/nazi regimes are no longer with us. Had been so ‘arrogant’ – read self destructive, that their neighbors had to do something about them. Had created so much disruption around them that those whose very existence was endangered had been forced to spring into action.
‘Illiberal democracy’ is a rather new ‘development’. Would be fascist/nazi dictators don’t have all circumstances aligned to make their final move so they have to make do with what there is at their disposal. The local population is ‘despondent’ enough to pay attention to their arguments but not desperate enough to follow them into the ‘unknown’. Hence this oxymoronic abomination.

‘Illiberal democracy’…
On the other hand, the spin doctors promoting illiberal democracies hope to be able to reap the benefits of democracy – the population being ‘rather favorably disposed’ towards the government while having to pay less ‘lip service’ to individual human rights.
A balancing act, with no safety net, which is alluring to those reckless enough to attempt it but which will end up badly. Sooner rather than later.

But the most interesting ‘combination’ – for me, at least, is Anarchy.
In the sense that those who ‘swallow’ the lure are self delusional.
They have somehow convinced themselves that their, own, liberty somehow trumps the liberty of everybody else. They feel so strong, so immune to any outside influence, that they would willingly accept to live in a no rule environment. Without understanding that ‘no rule’ means ‘no holds barred’.
They actually don’t realize that unfettered liberty actually means ‘Each of us free against all others’.
This being the reason for which Anarchy, as a political arrangement, has never survived for long enough to be noticed. Except as a transitory phase.

After Putin ordered the Russian army to invade Ukraine, the rest of the world ‘took sides’.

Some sided with Putin, many extended a helping hand to Ukraine – for various reasons, and others felt their lives have been ‘disturbed’.

This morning I almost blew my top.
I was listening to the radio. A usually decent station. Usually decent and, like all of us, imperfect.

The news anchor was interviewing an ‘expert’. An Ivy League Professor of International Relations and other blah-blahs. I’m not giving their names because I want them forgotten, not even more famous than they already are.

‘Is there any chance for this conflict to end in a negotiated manner?’
‘Yes, if/when both sides will find a mutually acceptable solution.
For example, if the Ukrainian side would accept a referendum in Donbass – and in Crimea, and if the Russian side would accept UN inspectors to validate the process. This would be in line with the general accepted policy of self-determination and ….’

OK, and where’s the difference between what Putin keeps saying and what I’ve just heard?!?

Two non-Ukrainians telling Ukraine what to do…

I’m going to set aside, for now, what these two – wait, three! – people are saying.
That Ukraine, the Ukrainian People, should give up a piece of their land.
My immediate interest lies in ‘who these three guys think they are’?!?

OK, only those who don’t want to see haven’t yet found out that Putin is a dictator.
But for a renowned Ivy League Professor to elaborate a scenario according to which the UN would supervise a referendum where an occupied population would have the opportunity to vote whether they want ‘their’ aggressor to maintain its control over the already occupied territory….

Would that distinguished Professor be comfortable with a referendum – equally supervised by the UN, taking place in California? Which California had already been occupied by Mexico? For which referendum, the Californians were asked where they want to live? Whether Mexico should continue its occupation or should the Mexican army retreat behind the internationally recognized border?

No, I don’t think the Professor has been paid by Putin. Or ‘compensated’ in any other way by the ‘red Satan’.
I just consider he was not paying real attention to what he was saying.
He had just opened his mouth and verbalized what his mind was churning.
The current ‘events’ have disturbed his pleasant existence to such a degree that he really needs this ‘fly in the ointment’ to ‘fly away’.

He is so ‘driven’ by his ‘need’ that he is no longer ‘patient’. He just can’t ‘stop talking’ for long enough to realize how fast Putin’s propaganda machine will make ‘good’ use of his ‘verbalizations’…

‘See, the good Professor confirms what our Beloved Leader has already done.
It’s the Ukrainians who are not reasonable!
They should first change their leadership then come back into Mother Russia’s arms.’

When are we going to understand?

Don’t tell others what to do unless you are prepared to ‘take advice’ yourself…
And, for your own good, don’t trade your future freedom for your present comfort!

We have a fact and two conflicting interpretations.

Barrabas is mentioned in al four gospels.
Which has to mean something.

One interpretation posits that the whole story was made up.
That Barrabas himself was not a real person and that there was no such thing as a “custom whereby the Romans would release a condemned prisoner on the occasion of a holy day
OK, but for what reason?
to shift the blame for Jesus’ death away from the Roman authorities and onto the shoulders of the Jews
By the time the gospels had been written, most of the Christians were living under the Roman authority and outside Palestine. So a little benevolence curried from the Romans couldn’t hurt…
Except the Jews…
Historically, the release of Barabbas at the crowd’s behest, and their subsequent demands to crucify Jesus, have been used to justify anti-Semitism. Many have placed blame for Christ’s death on the Jews, commonly citing Matthew 27:25, in which the crowd shouts, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

Another interpretation takes the opposite view.
The whole episode is considered to be true as described and interprets Barrabas as “a flesh-and-blood symbol for you and for me. At this moment the Gospel story paints Barabbas as Everyone. The guilty go free, and the Holy One dies. Barabbas becomes the first one who can say, “Jesus died for me.”

Being an agnostic, somewhat simplifies things. For me.
At the emotional level, I prefer the second interpretation.
At the rational level, I appreciate the effort made by the first interpretation towards finding a logical explanation for the whole thing. Which explanation might actually be true. In the sense that the evangelists, all four of them, might have indeed tried to lessen the Roman responsibility for Christ’s death.

What bothers me is why so many of the readers have accepted the story as plausible?
A crowd to send a bandit to freedom and an innocent to death?
How likely is this?

But what if the crowd was biased?

Well, not the crowd, since the episode was most likely invented.
The individuals who had a message to convey to their readers. To us.

Let’s start with the beginning. The Old Testament.
According to this writing, the covenants were made between God and the people of Israel. Which gave the people of Israel a special place. They were His people. The chosen ones.
The New Testament changes all this. Jesus died for all of those who accept his sacrifice.
The Jews are no longer the only chosen ones.

The way I see it, the ordinary Jews have no problem with this.
I have no knowledge of Jews discriminating against Christians. Except for the claims made by the anti-Semites…
I’m not so sure though about the likes of Caiaphas… “a member of the council when he gave his opinion that Jesus should be put to death “for the people, and that the whole nation perish not”
After all, Caiaphas – and all those in the same position, were the only ones who had anything to lose as a consequence of Jesus’s teachings.
As a consequence of all people, not only those who followed the likes of Caiaphas, being able to consider themselves as being children of the same God.
Only the likes of Caiaphas had anything to lose from all followers of Christ considering themselves equal among themselves.

Not at all different from what had happened after Luther had nailed his famous theses to the door of the Wittenberg church.
The established hierarchy felt it’s throne was becoming wobbly and reacted forcefully…

What if the real meaning of the whole Barrabas story is for us, the readers of the Gospels, to be extra careful when we evaluate the ‘recommendations’ given to us by the ‘authorities’ of the moment?
Specially when those ‘authorities’ are about to loose their clout…

1. Sow doubt.
2. Drop a loud fact. Or two… This will simultaneously ‘water’ the previously planted seed and act as a ‘foot in the door’ for your next move.
3. ‘Miss-interpret’ another fact.
4. Mention an universal human emotion, inviting your audience to identify itself with the ‘victim’.
5. Squarely state what you want your audience to believe.

1. ‘The Soviet Union didn’t crumple under its own weight. It was dissolved by Yeltsin so that Gorbachev’s position would disappear.
Leaving Yeltsin as the top dog of the day. Even if at the helm of a little smaller empire…’

2. ‘After the Cold War had ended, the West should have treated the ‘defeated’ as Germany, Italy and Japan had been treated after WWII. The West should have helped the Soviet Union to overcome the transition hurdles by extending to it an equivalent of the Marshall Plan.
Instead of that, the Americans had come up with the Wolfowitz – later Bush, Doctrine.’

3. ‘Gorbatchev was told by James Baker that NATO will not move an inch eastward’

4. “…1998, Yeltsin, late Yeltsin: ‘you promised not to do this! So, how do we trust you, if you make a promise?’ “

5.1. Vladimir Putin has been created by the United States.
5.2. The so called free media in general – and New York Times in particular, cannot be trusted to provide honest information.

Pozner’s discourse is far more ‘byzantine’ than the ‘stream-lined’ version I used to illustrate what skillful propaganda looks like. Skillful maskirovka, more likely?

This post has become long enough. Let me wrap it up.

The main question here being ‘did he actually say it? Did Baker actually promised Gorbachev that “NATO will not move an inch eastward” ‘?

Having met with Genscher on his way into discussions with the Soviets, Baker repeated exactly the Genscher formulation in his meeting with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, (see Document 4); and even more importantly, face to face with Gorbachev.
Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker assured Gorbachev that “neither the President nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”

‘So he actually said it!’…

the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”

The Soviet Union is long gone, all the states which have been admitted into NATO are ‘in’ because they had asked themselves to join – and are now extremely glad to be protected by the famous 5th article – … while the only (frustrated) ‘agent’ who ever cried foul was Putin.
Not only cried foul but eventualy acted out his frustrations!

But Putin is not exactly alone…

Putin’s Munich speech was the first explicit warning of serious trouble if the West did not abandon its increasingly aggressive posture toward Russia; the Kremlin’s latest demands for security guarantees and a NATO military pullback from Russia’s borders may be the last warning. The United States and its allies are backing Russia into a corner, and that is profoundly unwise if the goal is to avoid war with a heavily armed great power.

Ted Galen Carpenter, Senior Fellow, Cato.org January 24, 2022

Trump: “How smart is that?”
Pompeo: “I have an enormous respect for him!”

Pozner seems to be somewhat right, after all.
His arguments don’t stand – as he had framed them – but he does have an inkling…

And yes, you can – and actually should, analyze my post following the steps I already mentioned.
Then please read this:

Manipulation: useful tool, mortal sin or what?!? April 27, 2015
‘Causing’ Circumstances March 1, 2022

This is a stub.

Basically, this post will reinterpret the arguments used in the previous one.

This is a stub.

‘This time is different’. https://www.economist.com/media/pdf/this-time-is-different-reinhart-e.pdf

History teaches us that each and every empire has collapsed. Usually under it’s own weight. Pareto has given us a valid explanation – each structure which doesn’t have to ‘refresh’ itself tends to become clogged with self serving individuals, near-sighted enough to ‘forget’ that none of them (none of us, actually) is able to survive ‘outside’. Yet each ’emperor’ allows themselves to believe that this time is different. I’m better than all my predecessors. And their followers allow this to happen, just as Pareto had taught us.

‘They is a rational operator hence they must have a reasonable objective’.
That’s how people raised/educated in a reasonable environment think/interpret the actions of other people.
This being the reason for democratically groomed leaders having such a hard time when they need to understand how dictators operate. This being the reason for democratically groomed political operators having such a hard time when it comes to identify skillful would be dictators.

https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/articles/russias-road-to-autocracy/

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