The Power of Lies06-25-2017
The Power of Lies
"Putin lies as a display of power. Only powerful people can lie and get away with it. The more blatant the lie, the greater the show of power when your listener cannot or dare not contradict you. It’s easy to see why Stone puts up with being lied to. He needs Putin’s indulgence to make the series. The harder question is why Putin made so much time for Stone, given that Putin has a country to run. You have to assume that Putin enjoys Stone’s company, at least initially. Putin seems to have a thing for big old bruisers, given his history with Gerard Depardieu and Steven Seagal, perhaps because they are so much the antithesis of his trim, wiry, well-pressed self. And perhaps Putin was genuinely hoping to learn something from the process. The intelligent autocrat must always be open to new ideas for increasing his power and wealth. But Stone does not have much to offer, and Putin cannot help but run rings around him for three of the four interviews. In the final part, with no more access left to lose, Stone makes a show of badgering Putin about whether Russia hacked the 2016 US presidential election; and Putin obliges by seeming a bit ruffled. But no serious harm is done, and Putin gets equal time to argue that the US has interfered in Russian elections for many years by funding opposition movements. Putin is a persuasive speaker because his arguments are internally coherent once you accept his premise that Russia always means well. There is also Putin’s mastery of detail. He is probably the world’s best-informed person about Russia. Of course he is—he needs to know all the facts in order to depart from them."Form more information visit: http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/06/19/the-banality-of-putin/
All The President's Lies
[caption id="attachment_18977" align="alignright" width="300"] Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead[/caption] All politicians lie and truth, as Hannah Arendt reminds us, has never been considered a political virtue. And yet, when a politician lies with abandon it means that he simply feels unconstrained by reality; he imagines himself powerful enough to be free from the constraints of what is. Thus it is worth reading through the list of dozens upon dozens of lies Trump has told since being inaugurated. A list of the President's lies was published this week in the New York Times.
"President Trump’s political rise was built on a lie (about Barack Obama's birthplace). His lack of truthfulness has also become central to the Russia investigation, with James Comey, the former director of the F.B.I., testifying under oath about Trump's “lies, plain and simple.” There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths. Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president — of either party — has behaved as Trump is behaving. He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant. We have set a conservative standard here, leaving out many dubious statements (like the claim that his travel ban is “similar” to Obama administration policy). Some people may still take issue with this standard, arguing that the president wasn't speaking literally. But we believe his long pattern of using untruths to serve his purposes, as a businessman and politician, means that his statements are not simply careless errors. We are using the word “lie” deliberately. Not every falsehood is deliberate on Trump's part. But it would be the height of naïveté to imagine he is merely making honest mistakes. He is lying."Form more information visit: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html?_r=0
Welcoming The Critic
Adam Kirsch reminds us that openness to criticism is at the heart of political culture.
"But there is a danger when we see criticism as nothing but an expression of resentment. For in politics, as in art, the right to criticize is really the right to make an independent judgment of reality. Democracy relies on a citizenry informed and active enough to make such judgments; in a democracy, we are all critics. This pluralism is always frustrating to politicians, just as it is to artists, because both tend to believe so implicitly in their own sincerity and good will that they come to perceive opposition as mere obstinacy. In his Liberty University speech, Trump also said that “the system is broken. A small group of failed voices who think they know everything and understand everyone want to tell everybody else how to live and what to do and how to think.” Why not simply sweep those voices aside, the way every creator must silence inner and outer doubts? This is a standing temptation for democratic politics, and it was one of the chief appeals of fascism. A common theme of fascist propaganda was that parliaments were “talking-shops,” where speechmaking and idle criticism made effective action impossible. The promise of fascism was to replace plurality by unity — “one people, one state, one leader,” in the words of the Nazi slogan — thus making debate unnecessary. The problem, of course, is that plurality — the existence of profoundly different points of view on questions of morality and politics — can never simply disappear. It must be actively suppressed, which is why Communist and fascist states that emphasized the unity of the people’s will relied so heavily on secret police forces. How to live with criticism is perhaps the hardest lesson that a liberal democracy teaches its citizens. No one really welcomes it, neither the left nor the right. “If we are free to loathe Trump, we are free to loathe his most loyal voters,” wrote Frank Rich in New York magazine in March, a sentiment that would be heartily reciprocated by readers of Breitbart. But as soon as our critics become our enemies — voices to be silenced and dismissed, rather than listened to — we have left the realm of politics behind."Form more information visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/books/review/how-to-live-with-critics.html?_r=0