Kevin D. Williamson writes: Applause was a serious business in the Soviet Union, as it is in Cuba, as it is in Venezuela, as it is in all unfree societies and at our own State of the Union address, which is modeled on the ex cathedra speeches of unfree societies. The less free you are, the more you are obliged to applaud. Joseph Stalin’s pronouncements were greeted with perfervid applause, which would continue, rapturously — no one dared stop — until Stalin himself would order its cessation.
“The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior.”
But what to do when Stalin was not there? The mere mention of his name, even in his absence, would trigger fanatical applause, and nobody wanted to be the first to stop. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn related one famous story:
The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter.
Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.
That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them.
That same night the factory director was arrested.
Stalin is long gone, and the Soviet Union, too, having been deposited, as Ronald Reagan predicted, onto the “ash heap of history.” But the craven instinct on display in the scene Solzhenitsyn described remains.
The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior. There is something atavistic in us that is older than the human part — the inner chimp — that makes those who listen to its voice keenly aware of their places in the social hierarchy. Even a predator instinctively recognizes a predator higher up the food chain.
“The language there is interesting: She did not write that Price ‘did not applaud,’ ‘refrained from applauding’, or even ‘failed to applaud,” but that he refused to applaud, a formulation that converts passivity into a positive act, one from which we are to derive something of significance about his fitness for the role of secretary of health and human services.”
Which is not to say that National Public Radio’s Marilyn Geewax is a Stalinist, but rather that they were what she is, representatives of the same species.
Geewax, who is a senior business editor for NPR, is very interested in applause. This week, she expressed some concern that Representative Tom Price has been nominated to serve as the next secretary of health and human services. Read the rest of this entry »
Under President Obama, the military sought to integrate transgender persons into the ranks, allow women into special operations forces and purge the nomenclature of gender-specific words, adopting what some critics say was a “politically correct” liberal agenda. That’s a contrast to the traditional U.S. military approach.
“It has struck this building in a big way and we need to get away from that. Our focus is defending this country, and we should not spend so much time on social engineering.”
In addition, some Navy ships have been named for civil rights activists. And while the Obama administration has taken an inclusive approach on some issues, it has also worked to minimize expressions of Christianity in the ranks. For example, several officers have been disciplined for displaying Bibles or gospel verses in their quarters.
Veterans and military experts told FoxNews.com that, while some of Obama’s civil rights advancements may be locked in, neither Trump nor his choice for secretary of defense, Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, are likely to make social experimentation a priority.
“You need to be known as a good soldier or Marine and not by your sexuality, your gender or your particular faith. We need everyone to pull in the same direction and not espouse a particular personal agenda that doesn’t fit into the nation’s best long-term interest.”
“Here in [the Pentagon], we don’t say merry Christmas, and I think we have been misguided when it comes to our history and who we are as a nation, and political correctness is indicative of that,” Department of Defense contractor and retired Army Col. Robert Maginnis told FoxNews.com.
“It has struck this building in a big way and we need to get away from that. Our focus is defending this country, and we should not spend so much time on social engineering.”
Mattis, who on Thursday goes before the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of his confirmation process, will likely “bring the warrior ethos back to the Pentagon,” Maginnis said.
That mentality was “drained by the Obama administration,” he said. “You need to be known as a good soldier or Marine and not by your sexuality, your gender or your particular faith. We need everyone to pull in the same direction and not espouse a particular personal agenda that doesn’t fit into the nation’s best long-term interest.” Read the rest of this entry »
Why do people talk to themselves, and when does it become a problem?
Jerome Groopman writes: “Talking to your yogurt again,” my wife, Pam, said. “And what does the yogurt say?”
She had caught me silently talking to myself as we ate breakfast. A conversation was playing in my mind, with a research colleague who questioned whether we had sufficient data to go ahead and publish. Did the experiments in the second graph need to be repeated? The results were already solid, I answered. But then, on reflection, I agreed that repetition could make the statistics more compelling.
“Fernyhough concludes that ‘dialogic inner speech must therefore involve some capacity to represent the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of the people with whom we share our world.’ This raises the fascinating possibility that when we talk to ourselves a kind of split takes place, and we become in some sense multiple: it’s not a monologue but a real dialogue.”
I often have discussions with myself—tilting my head, raising my eyebrows, pursing my lips—and not only about my work. I converse with friends and family members, tell myself jokes, replay dialogue from the past. I’ve never considered why I talk to myself, and I’ve never mentioned it to anyone, except Pam. She very rarely has inner conversations; the one instance is when she reminds herself to do something, like change her e-mail password. She deliberately translates the thought into an external command, saying out loud, “Remember, change your password today.”
Verbal rehearsal of material—the shopping list you recite as you walk the aisles of a supermarket—is part of our working memory system. But for some of us talking to ourselves goes much further: it’s an essential part of the way we think. Others experience auditory hallucinations, verbal promptings from voices that are not theirs but those of loved ones, long-departed mentors, unidentified influencers, their conscience, or even God.
“Verbal rehearsal of material—the shopping list you recite as you walk the aisles of a supermarket—is part of our working memory system. But for some of us talking to ourselves goes much further: it’s an essential part of the way we think.”
Charles Fernyhough, a British professor of psychology at Durham University, in England, studies such “inner speech.” At the start of “The Voices Within” (Basic), he also identifies himself as a voluble self-speaker, relating an incident where, in a crowded train on the London Underground, he suddenly became self-conscious at having just laughed out loud at a nonsensical sentence that was playing in his mind. He goes through life hearing a wide variety of voices: “My ‘voices’ often have accent and pitch; they are private and only audible to me, and yet they frequently sound like real people.”
Fernyhough has based his research on the hunch that talking to ourselves and hearing voices—phenomena that he sees as related—are not mere quirks, and that they have a deeper function. His book offers a chatty, somewhat inconclusive tour of the subject, making a case for the role of inner speech in memory, sports performance, religious revelation, psychotherapy, and literary fiction. He even coins a term, “dialogic thinking,” to describe his belief that thought itself may be considered “a voice, or voices, in the head.”
Discussing experimental work on voice-hearing, Fernyhough describes a protocol devised by Russell Hurlburt, a psychologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A subject wears an earpiece and a beeper sounds at random intervals. As soon as the person hears the beep, she jots notes about what was in her mind at that moment. People in a variety of studies have reported a range of perceptions: many have experienced “inner speech,” though Fernyhough doesn’t specify what proportion. For some, it was a full back-and-forth conversation, for others a more condensed script of short phrases or keywords. The results of another study suggest that, on average, about twenty to twenty-five per cent of the waking day is spent in self-talk. But some people never experienced inner speech at all.
“People in a variety of studies have reported a range of perceptions: many have experienced ‘inner speech,’ though Fernyhough doesn’t specify what proportion. For some, it was a full back-and-forth conversation, for others a more condensed script of short phrases or keywords. The results of another study suggest that, on average, about twenty to twenty-five per cent of the waking day is spent in self-talk. But some people never experienced inner speech at all.”
In his work at Durham, Fernyhough participated in an experiment in which he had an inner conversation with an old teacher of his while his brain was imaged by fMRI scanning. Naturally, the scan showed activity in parts of the left hemisphere associated with language. Among the other brain regions that were activated, however, were some associated with our interactions with other people. Fernyhough concludes that “dialogic inner speech must therefore involve some capacity to represent the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of the people with whom we share our world.” This raises the fascinating possibility that when we talk to ourselves a kind of split takes place, and we become in some sense multiple: it’s not a monologue but a real dialogue.
Early in Fernyhough’s career, his mentors told him that studying inner speech would be fruitless. Experimental psychology focusses on things that can be studied in laboratory situations and can yield clear, reproducible results. Our perceptions of what goes on in our heads are too subjective to quantify, and experimental psychologists tend to steer clear of the area.
Fernyhough’s protocols go some way toward working around this difficulty, though the results can’t be considered dispositive. Being prompted to enter into an inner dialogue in an fMRI machine is not the same as spontaneously debating with oneself at the kitchen table. Read the rest of this entry »
Nick Gillespie: Thanks, Liberals! You Applauded Obama’s Imperial Presidency, and Now We’ve Got Trump RexPosted: January 9, 2017
If Trump makes good on his promise to ‘bomb the shit out’ of ISIS without even token approval from Congress, we’ll know where he got the idea.
Nick Gillespie writes: On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. Along with the nation’s nuclear codes, he will be gifted presidential powers that have been vastly increased by Barack Obama.
Thanks a lot, liberals. It’s all well and good that Joe Biden is now lecturing us that “the worst sin of all is the abuse of power,” but where the hell was he—and where were you—for the past eight years, when the president was starting wars without Congressional authorization, passing major legislation with zero votes from the opposing party, and ruling almost exclusively through executive orders and actions?
“Hell, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman held up China’s ‘one-party autocracy’ as the model to emulate.”
Mostly exhorting Obama to act “unilaterally” and “without Congress” on terrorism, immigration, guns, and whatever because you couldn’t dream of a day when an unrestrained billionaire reality-TV celebrity would wield those same powers toward very different ends. Hell, in the early months of Obama’s presidency, The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman held up China’s “one-party autocracy” as the model to emulate.
“Faced with recalcitrant Republicans and flagging public support, champions of Obama’s policy agenda voiced few qualms about a power grab that created an imperial presidency on steroids.”
There’s an old libertarian saw that holds “any government powerful enough to give you everything is also powerful enough to take everything away.” The same is even more true for the president, the single most-powerful actor in the government. Faced with recalcitrant Republicans and flagging public support, champions of Obama’s policy agenda voiced few qualms about a power grab that created an imperial presidency on steroids. “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation,” Obama crowed in 2014, proclaiming a “year of action.” “I’ve got a pen… and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions.”
Consider his willingness to wage war. As The Cato Institute’s Gene Healy writes in the latest issue of Reason, Obama didn’t just commit the U.S. military to action in Libya without any sort of Congressional authorization, he did so after campaigning on the statement that “the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” But when it came time under the War Powers Act to either seek retroactive buy-in from Congress or pull out, Obama simply asked around the executive branch until he found a State Department lawyer who, unlike his attorney general and others, said dropping bombs on Libya didn’t require authorization.
If and when Donald Trump makes good on his promise to “bomb the shit out” of ISIS—and god knows who else—without even getting token approval from Congress, we’ll know where he got the idea. Ditto for “secret kill lists” and drone strikes in countries with whom we’re not at war.
And still, Obama has the temerity to counsel the president-elect not to overdo it with executive orders and actions, telling NPR recently that “going through the legislative process is always better in part because it’s harder to undo.” Unless, of course, actually working to build consensus keeps you from getting what you want. In fact, it is vastly easier to undo unilateral action, as Obama himself could tell you. Read the rest of this entry »
Paris (AFP) – The Moon, our planet’s constant companion for some 4.5 billion years, may have been forged by a rash of smaller bodies smashing into an embryonic Earth, researchers said Monday.
Such a bombardment birth would explain a major inconsistency in the prevailing hypothesis that the Moon splintered off in a single, giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized celestial body.
“The multiple impact scenario is a more ‘natural’ way of explaining the formation of the Moon.”
In such a scenario, scientists expect that about a fifth of the Moon’s material would have come from Earth and the rest from the impacting body.
Yet, the makeup of the Earth and the Moon are near identical — an improbability that has long perplexed backers of the single-impact hypothesis.
“In the early stages of the Solar System, impacts were very abundant, therefore it is more natural that several common impactors formed the Moon rather than one special one.”
“The multiple impact scenario is a more ‘natural’ way of explaining the formation of the Moon,” said Raluca Rufu of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, who co-authored the new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Such multiple hits would have excavated more Earth material than a single one, which means the moonlets would more closely resemble our planet’s composition, said the study authors. Read the rest of this entry »
The social critic and academic blames 1960s disruptions of gender roles (and not the entertainment industry) for Madonna’s and J. Lo’s difficulty letting go of their youth as she chastises them to “stop cannibalizing the young.”
Camille Paglia writes: In December, at the Billboard Women in Music Awards in New York City, Madonna was given the trophy for Woman of the Year. In a rambling, tearful acceptance speech that ran more than 16 minutes, she claimed to be a victim of “blatant misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse.”
It was a startling appropriation of stereotypical feminist rhetoric by a superstar whose major achievement in cultural history was to overthrow the puritanical old guard of second-wave feminism and to liberate the long-silenced pro-sex, pro-beauty wing of feminism, which (thanks to her) swept to victory in the 1990s.
Madonna’s opening line at the awards gala was edited out of the shortened official video: “I stand before you as a doormat — oh, I mean a female entertainer.” Merciful Minerva! Can there be any woman on Earth less like a doormat than Madonna Louise Ciccone? Madonna sped on with shaky assertions (“There are no rules if you’re a boy”) and bafflingly portrayed the huge commercial success of her 1992 book, Sex, as a chapter of the Spanish Inquisition, in which she was persecuted as “a whore and a witch.”
I was singled out by name as having accused her of “objectifying” herself sexually (prudish feminist jargon that I always have rejected), when in fact I was Madonna’s first major defender, celebrating her revival of pagan eroticism and prophesying in a highly controversial 1990 New York Times op-ed that she was “the future of feminism.”
Crawford exhibits “crazed willpower and misery in her facial muscles,” says Paglia. Getty Images
But I want to focus here on the charge of ageism that Madonna, now 58, leveled against the entertainment industry and that received heavy, sympathetic coverage in the mainstream media. Her grievances about the treatment of women performers climaxed with this: “And finally, do not age, because to age is a sin. You will be criticized, you will be vilified and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”
First of all, lack of radio airplay may indeed hamper new or indie groups, but in this digital age, when songs go viral in a flash, rich and famous performers of Madonna’s level fail to get airplay not because of their age, but because their current music no longer is attracting a broad audience. When was the last time Madonna released hit songs of the brilliant quality of her golden era of the 1980s and ’90s? Lavish, lucrative touring rather than sustained creative work in the studio has been her priority for decades. Read the rest of this entry »
Ever since the election, many Democrats have been desperately wondering how to slam the brakes on the Trump train. Well, one good way to start is by getting to know the conservatives who will be allies in that fight.
Here’s a list of five longtime Republicans liberals may grow to love in the Trump Era.
While Americans embrace their reinstated confidence in both economics and international affairs, China seems to be going the opposite direction.
Deng probably hoped future Chinese leaders would be humble and restrained, keep a low profile, and instead of broadcasting China’s ambitions or showing off China’s economic or military muscles, quietly focus on overcoming China’s weaknesses, such as economic development. In international affairs, Deng probably would have liked to see China avoid acting like an aggressor. Instead, he would have preferred China shun either causing any international conflict or serving as a leader of any faction within an international conflict.
When Deng passed away in 1997, China was still in its first decade of economic reform and its per-capita gross domestic product was less than $800, so the kind of restrained policy approach he advocated made perfect sense. No one knows how long Deng intended for this policy guidance to last. But Deng’s successors, from Hu Yaobang to Hu Jingtao (they aren’t related), pretty much followed Deng’s policy guidelines until President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012.
No More Humility and Restraint
It seems President Xi has abandoned Deng’s strategic policy guidelines. On the domestic front, he focused on ensuring his power by purging many political rivals through the anti-graft movement. In October, he was declared the “core” leader of the Chinese Communist Party, a title last used by Chairman Mao.
He coined the term “China dream” to counter “American dream.” While “American dream” is about any hard-working individual living to his or her full capacity in a free society, “China dream” means Chinese people can only live a better life by subjecting themselves to the Communist Party’s absolute rule. Under President Xi, the Chinese government has ruthlessly cracked down on dissidents, including Chinese nationals and foreigners, and China has become a much less friendly place to foreign investors and companies.
On the foreign policy front, China doesn’t lay low any longer. President Xi has been very vocal about China’s ambitions. He seems to believe that China’s rise to replace the United States as the next superpower is unstoppable and the time is now.
He sees at least two trends in his favor. First, there’s a consensus within the Chinese leadership and public opinion that the 2008 economic crisis has produced long-lasting devastating effects to the West: most countries in Europe are still struggling economically while the United States has experienced a very timid recovery. Since China emerged from the 2008 economic crisis relatively unscathed, many people, including Xi, believed that free market economics have reached their end and it’s time to adopt the Chinese-style authoritarian mercantile economic model. Thus, China should replace the United States to set a new economic order.
Second, based on a misguided belief that the world is a better place when the United States gives up its power and authority in a global system established since World War II, President Obama has been ready and willing to acquiesce America’s leadership in international affairs in the last eight years. President Xi quickly sized up president Obama as a weak leader, and sought to expand China’s influence and challenge America wherever opportunities rise. Read the rest of this entry »
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
“If this occurs, if the North Koreans test an intercontinental ballistic missile, that means they could wipe out Los Angeles tomorrow, if they can mount a warhead on it. That would be the single most important and threatening action that one can imagine for 2017. When Trump says “It’s not going to happen,” I don’t know what he quite means. But if he means a preemptive attack by the United States or something of that sort, we are looking at a crisis of the ultimate proportions.”
“…he’s aware of the fact that we are looking at what could be a strategic hinge point in history. That would be really serious. This is an insane regime with the ability to push a button and wipe out a U.S. city. That has never happened. We have had the Chinese, the Russians, but they are not insane. That’s quite different. I think he is recognizing we have an issue. I think he ought to be asked in the next press conference, ‘What exactly do you mean by ‘It ain’t gonna happen’?”
Source: National Review
Peter Hasson reports: WikiLeaks’ publication of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta revealed the close ties between prominent journalists and the Clinton campaign. Many of those same journalists will now be covering the Trump White House.
Harwood told Podesta to “watch out” for Dr. Ben Carson during the Republican primary. “Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general,” Harwood warned, including video clips of Carson’s political positions.
In a December 2015 email to Podesta, Harwood claimed the Republican Party was “veering off the rails” and bragged about provoking Trump during a Republican presidential debate, where he asked Trump if he was running “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.”
“I imagine…” Harwood titled the email, continuing in the body: “…that Obama feels some (sad) vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails.”
“I certainly am feeling that way with respect to how I questioned Trump at our debate.”
As CNBC’s chief political correspondent, Harwood will play a central role in the network’s coverage of the Trump administration. Harwood has yet to respond to repeated requests from TheDC regarding his email exchanges with the Clinton campaign. Read the rest of this entry »
The intelligence community’s response: Fuhgeddaboudit.
Byron York writes: President-elect Trump stirred yet more controversy Saturday night when, as he entered his New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago, he said he is not convinced the intelligence community is sure about allegations Russian hackers sought to influence the election.
“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge,” Trump told reporters, “and I want them to be sure.”
The next morning, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, scoffed at Trump’s statement. “This is the overwhelming judgment of the intelligence community and, frankly, all of the members of the intelligence committees in Congress, Democrats and Republicans,” Schiff said on ABC Sunday. “None of us have any question about this. The only one who does apparently is Donald Trump.”
That is not the case. There are, in fact, members of the intelligence committees who do have questions about this. Yes, many Republicans believe Russian hackers tried to mess with the U.S. presidential campaign in some way, mostly because they believe Russian hackers are always trying to mess with U.S. systems and institutions. But when it comes to solid information on precisely what was done, and on evidence of motives, many Hill Republicans are mostly in the dark — because the intelligence community has kept them there.
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Remember that before Christmas the intelligence community refused to brief the House Intelligence Committee, telling lawmakers they can wait until intel officials finish the investigation ordered by President Obama. In response, House committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes argued that the Director of National Intelligence was “obligated to comply” with a House request, and that the committee was “deeply concerned” by the DNI’s “intransigence.”
The intelligence community’s response: Fuhgeddaboudit.
So the wait to learn more goes on. Meanwhile, a number of Democrats are arguing that the evidence is so overwhelming that Congress must establish a special investigating committee, even though there will already be multiple investigations of the Russia matter in the standing committees of Congress. Read the rest of this entry »