STEVE ALMOND—In a 1906 address at Carnegie Hall entitled “Taxes and Morals,” Mark Twain lambasted plutocrats who advertised their piety while lying about their incomes. “I know all those people,” Twain noted. “I have friendly, social, and criminal relations with the whole lot of them.” He said that word—criminal—knowing that many of these folks were seated in the gallery before him. Twain had this to say about the patriotism of his day: “The Patriot did not know just how or when or where he got his opinions, neither did he care, so long as he was with what seemed the majority—which was the main thing, the safe thing, the comfortable thing.”
CULTURE & CRITICISM
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GAITHER STEWART—I read German writing and the archives of STASI, State Security, or Staatssicherheit about Field-Marshal Paulus. And I pondered the act of crossover from one ideology to another. Crossover for him would have meant changing from everything he had yet experienced in his military and family life to a new morality. Crossover points unwaveringly at transformation. Transformation is more than mere change, a different matter altogether. Though change makes us uneasy and anxious, we are still capable of returning to our original state. Even the change from a familiar place to another may make us feel uneasy. For we have lost a point of reference, a sense of belonging. That sensation of loss triggers our nostalgias. That loss can become a black hole in our existence. So though I feel sorry for the Field-Marshal, I still have not decided what I believe moved Friedrich Paulus.
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JIMMIE MOGLIA—Today, the same symbiotic relationship of old seems to bind the American Congress with the neo-cons and their own current-day version of Classical Judaism. Which goes some way to explain the fathomless hypocrisy inspiring the present (nominally American) foreign policy. Including ignoring the ongoing murders of Palestinians, waging disastrous wars in the Middle East for the benefit of Israel, declaring unending friendship with the retrograde state of Saudi Arabia, (with Trump literally dancing with the Saudis,) piling beyond-ridiculous accusations and threats against Russia, subjecting to racketeering, via the international payment system, countries that do not pay homage to Israel, and so on.
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GQ correctly points out that billionaires are the leading cause of climate change; pisses off libertarians
LUKE DARBY—But the scope goes far beyond merely sowing dissent and skepticism. While billionaires and the companies they run have spent years insisting that climate change either doesn’t exist or is overblown, they’ve known the reality of the situation for a long time. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, for example, used to donate to the Seasteading Institute, which aimed to build floating cities in order to counteract rising sea levels. And Exxon Mobil allegedly knew about climate change in 1977, back when it was still just Exxon and about 11 years before climate change became widely talked about. Instead of acting on it, they started a decades-long misinformation campaign.
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MICHAEL HOWARD—A few polemics were attempted. Asked by a CNN colleague for his personal reaction, everyone’s favorite talking head, the venerable Don Lemon, had this to say: “An animal who gets eaten doesn’t get eaten because of their gender.” True enough: they get eaten because of their species, hence the term everyone is having so much difficulty with.