Friday, February 26, 2021

Most Political Debates, Summarized in Two Conversations

The majority of America's political debates can be summarized in just two short conversations:


A: "Look at this wide-ranging, comprehensive legislation that will change everything." 

B: "Have you actually read it? This legislation spans several volumes, much of it indecipherable. If it really replaces the existing paradigm, then you're looking at a bonanza for politically-connected players as they swoop in to provide what this legislation requires." 

A: "Under existing legislation, your side benefited because you passed it and your friends and lobbyists doled out contracts based on your understanding of the legislation you passed. Why it is a problem if we do the same thing?"

B: "Well, if it works, we're going to catch hell because it'll look like we didn't know what we were doing before, so I'm going to try to stop it. Then we'll copy the parts we think we can incorporate into our existing framework, take the credit, and let the judges resolve any poorly-worded sections." 

A: "Sounds like you've got a lot of faith in lawyers and litigation, but go ahead and try to stop us. We'll blame you for harming the poor, handicapped, [insert vulnerable group], and the country by not passing this." 

B: "How are you going to fund the legislation? More taxes? Good luck with that." 

A: "We will do exactly what you do--borrow money. We're the federal government. We can borrow as much as we want." 

B: "What's next? Are you going to promise voters a unicorn in every backyard?"

A: "If it wins us the election, why not?" 



A: "We've been getting complaints about [INSERT GOVERNMENT AGENCY]. They are too slow." 

B: "Well, we can centralize the work, but eventually we'll become a sprawling, intractable 
bureaucracy and lose all efficiency we gained pre-consolidation." 

A: "But right now, by spreading the work across different local and state agencies, we're creating unnecessary complexity." 

B: "Sure, but we're also reducing opportunities for centralized corruption and giving residents an easier time contacting local officials, who are more closely situated to the issues." 

A: "That may be true, but decentralization also potentially creates entrenched political fiefdoms because multiple agencies can slow down the work deliberately or claim they are not getting enough credit or recognition. Can't one entrenched city council hold up the entire process if it rejects accountability or if it tacks on additional requirements purely to justify its existence or expansion?" 

B: "Sort of. The more decentralized a government process, the more lawyers are required to navigate the system. In other words, more government complexity reduces personal agency, but also potentially improves the system as it adapts over time while keeping lawyers, judges, and legal associations in the loop." 

A: "So decentralization oftentimes means more lawyers, which either improves efficiency or reduces it based on finding the right lawyer; on the other hand, centralization might makes everything easier by creating a 'one-stop shop' but in doing so, reduces efficiency." 

B: "In theory, the smaller the country and the smaller the population, the better centralization works, whereas the larger the country and the more diverse the population, the better decentralization works. This, however, is only a theory. Many other factors are in play, such as inflation, social cohesion, etc." 


© Matthew Mehdi Rafat (February 2021)

Bonus: In the spirit of political cartoonist Tom Toles, I'll add the following sidebar to the first scene: "It's almost as if an independent third party could somehow help." 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Jocko Willink and the Fog of War

I've copied a Twitter thread below. With so many technological standards, a simple copy-and-paste across different platforms is no longer possible, but I've tried my best to clean up the content as much as possible. 


One day, when Americans are paying war crime reparations to Iraq, I want you to remember this 2018 @tferriss interview with John Gretton Willink aka @jockowillink, former @USNavy officer. 

[Photo at the link above is of Tim Ferriss, who did the interview. The photo below appears to be from Iraq and USA's 173rd Airborne Brigade, NOT #JockoWillink.]
ImageThe issue of mentioning prisons in the interview will soon become obvious... ImageWillink continues defending the military industrial complex. Does he realize General Eisenhower popularized the term as a warning? ImageYou don't have true freedom if your country and its citizens require debt to survive. From @nntaleb: "To the ancients, someone in debt was not free, he was in bondage." ImageAlso, re: freedom in USA, "As of July 2019, the United States had the highest number of incarcerated individuals worldwide, with about 2.12 million people in prison." ImageWars are often fought not only to capture another country's resources or to prevent a rival's territorial conquests, but to place the defeated country in debt. The debt is usually demarcated in the victor's own currency, thus strengthening liquidity of victor's currency and victor's ability to impose economic as well as legal terms. Image"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?" -- Mahatma Gandhi ImageCal Fussman: "I turned to the editorial page of a British newspaper. A cartoon depicted a giant Statue of Liberty wearing sunglasses & clutching a bayoneted machine gun towering over tiny Iraqis, who were throwing back stones. There were a lot of ways to feel about that cartoon." Harold Pinter: The crimes of USA have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. Almost forgot about Afghanistan: There was "'a reasonable basis to believe' that members of the Afghan National Security Forces, the US armed forces and the CIA had committed 'war crimes,' including torture and rape." I’ll end with a cautionary quote from Vietnam War veteran Paul Coates: “When you’re in the military, the only thing coming at you is military information. It’s just like being in America: You are totally brainwashed. Everything around me supported the war in Vietnam, so I bought into it.” And so it goes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Democratic National Convention was a Farce -- and So is the Impeachment

Hunter S. Thompson once said Democrats don't learn. Today, Congress apparently wrapped up Day 2 of an impeachment trial against a president no longer in office. I say "apparently," because no one sane is voluntarily watching the trial, nor does anyone believe enough votes exist to convict. Democrats seem unable to comprehend Republicans voting for a trial did so the same way an apiarist pretends to befriend bees in order to take their honey. (The analogy isn't perfect, because unlike the Democratic Party, professional apiarists understand danger and wear protection before walking into a hive.) In any case, the Democrats, having won Congress by less than a 1% margin and the presidency only because too many people voted for the Libertarian Party, are approaching a second impeachment as if Donald Trump is Richard Nixon reincarnated. An American history lesson is warranted, and we'll start from last year.

Not until after the 2020 Democratic Convention did I realize uninvited Representative Tulsi Gabbard was, like VP pick Kamala Harris, a mixed Desi. The popular media had hit us so many times with stories of Harris's ethnic background--visions of Obama and sugar plums surely dancing in their heads--they ignored the fact that the Democrats' messages of unity and diversity were contradicted by a single absent person. 

As an immigrant with an American passport--I no longer call myself American, preferring a more distended designation--everything indicates I stand to reach the upper echelons of political power only if I conform and agree with one of two sides. In elevating a mismatched duo of prosecutor and public defender to the top of the Democratic Party while literally shutting out anti-war dissenters, there is no longer any difference between the Democrats and the Republicans except on the issue of abortion. Decades of unchecked military spending since Archbishop Ngô Đình Thục and Catholic Joseph McCarthy dragged Americans into Vietnam have given the military-industrial complex a holy victory: total control of America's political structure with an obedient Catholic leading the way. 

Conventions were not always this way in America, that alleged land of the free. At the 1968 Democratic Convention, reporter Dan Rather was attacked by security personnel as he attempted to question a delegate being removed, and Senator Andrew Ribicoff dared go off-script, criticizing Mayor Daley's Gestapo-like tactics. (Catholic Richard Daley responded by insulting Ribicoff's Jewish background.)

Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself. Heir to a corrupt history, in which are mingled fallen revolutions, technology gone mad, dead gods, and worn-out ideologies, where mediocre powers can destroy all yet no longer know how to convince, where intelligence has debased itself to become the servant of hatred and oppression, this generation starting from its own negations has had to re-establish, both within and without, a little of that which constitutes the dignity of life and death. -- Albert Camus (1957)

The conflict's genesis? The Vietnam War aka the American War of Aggression. One faction of the Democratic Party, led by George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy (not to be confused with pro-war Joseph McCarthy), was anti-war, and another, led by Hubert Humphrey, favored continued military action with the objective of forcing a negotiated settlement. The unpopularity--and infeasibility--of the war was underscored by VP Humphrey in 1965, who wrote, "American wars have to be politically understandable by the American public."

American wars have to be politically understandable by the American public. There has to be a cogent, convincing case if we are to have sustained public support. In World Wars I and II we had this. In Korea we were moving under UN auspices to defend South Korea against dramatic, across-the-border conventional aggression. Yet even with those advantages, we could not sustain American political support for fighting the Chinese in Korea in 1952. Today in Vietnam we lack the very advantages we had in Korea. The public is worried and confused. -- VP Hubert Humphrey, in 1965, ten years before the last USA serviceman left Vietnam

As part of the generation that grew up under multiple Iraq invasions--not just for oil, but natural gas--Humphrey's words sound quaint. It was against this conflicted backdrop and a mandatory military draft that the 1968 Democratic National Convention occurred, ensuring a volatile event. Policemen beat anti-war protesters using batons, knowing they had the full support of Chicago's leadership. Consequently, for at least one day, Americans couldn't tell the difference between the Chicago mob and their own government. How did the Democratic Party go from being so concerned about anti-war sentiment that it was willing to beat protesters in broad daylight to barring anti-war politicians from their own Convention? The answer is gerrymandering, another name for political segregation. Put simply, if you divide enough factions into their own districts, you can easily govern any group not already in power by ensuring conflicting opinions never meet in a public forum, thus sputtering and stalling out. Post-WWII, though the prevailing framework internationally
and domestically has been more "divide and govern" than "divide and conquer," American students are taught Western democracies promote optimal communication between conflicting groups.

[G]errymanders will only get worse (or depending on your perspective, better) as time goes on—as data becomes ever more fine-grained and data analysis techniques continue to improve. What was possible with paper and pen—or even with Windows 95—doesn’t hold a candle (or an LED bulb?) to what will become possible with developments like machine learning. And someplace along this road, “we the people” become sovereign no longer. -- Justice Kagan, dissenting, Rucho v. Common Cause (2019) 

In 1992, when Americans lacked conflicting viewpoints about the supremacy of their political system, Francis Fukuyama talked about the end of history. A mere decade later, General Colin Powell would cheerlead America into Iraq, another Vietnam, proving history was very much alive and continued to repeat itself. From that debacle arose Abu Ghraib and the destruction of America's credibility, which included the Democratic Obama/Biden administration assassinating an American citizen without due process. "The dumb are never with us for long, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that Republicans learn faster than Democrats..." 

We now arrive at 2021, when the Democratic Party is impeaching a president already out of office, repeating the same highfalutin bullying that made Trump so popular in the first place. I've heard of security theater, in which the government takes actions that "make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security," so perhaps this impeachment falls under the category of "political theater." Why, then, does it seem so much more pernicious than any Shakespearean tragedy? 

© Matthew Mehdi Rafat (February 2021)

If it weren't for this constant struggle on the part of the few creative types to expand the sense of reality in man, the world would literally die out. We are not kept alive by legislators and militarists, that's fairly obvious. We are kept alive by men of faith, men of vision. They are like vital germs in the endless process of becoming. -- Arthur Miller (USA)

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

2021 Wall Street Quotations

In February 2021, I decided to start a collection of quotes from Wall Street executives and pundits. 

February 9, 2021: "Now there are, with very few exceptions, no sectors that are cheap. [Yet] I think the market will gradually grind up during the year. I don’t see a correction anytime soon, unless the situation changes dramatically." -- 
JP Morgan's co-president Daniel Pinto (source: CNBC) [Shiller P/E Ratio 35.62]

February 10, 2021: "If there is a bubble anywhere, it is not in the equity market, it is in the fixed-income market." -- Cathie Wood, chief executive of ARK Invest (source: CNBC) [Shiller P/E Ratio: 35.59]   

February 17, 2021: from Eddy Elfenbein's blog:

Mark Hulbert has an interesting column at MarketWatch. It’s about a trio of academics who have devised a bubble-spotting formula. 

"Applying the formula the researchers derive, I calculate there is an 80% chance that the Technology Hardware, Storage & Peripherals index will be 40% lower than today at some point in the next two years... Though no other industries satisfy the researchers’ definition of a bubble, two others come close. They are also in the technology arena: Semiconductors and Semiconductor Equipment, and Software. Why focus on an industry that may be in a bubble, rather than the market as a whole? Prof. Greenwood told Barron’s that he and his fellow researchers learned from their study of the history of bubbles that they 'rarely are marketwide' events. Far more common, he said, is for a bubble to manifest in certain pockets of the market even as other sectors remain undervalued."

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Guns and Butter

People who think power comes from the barrel of a gun are mistaken. Real power comes from controlling the conduits, both legal and technological, of the currency that buys the gun. The more power involved, the more entities can buy protection, whether domestic or international, fueling further expansion and thus influence. In short, guns are the result, not the cause of stability, which makes sense once you realize a village with nothing valuable has no need for advanced weaponry.

There is another component most people miss when discussing protection, and we can re-use the undeveloped village as an example. Such a village exists not only because of internal factors, but external ones. Its lack of development means it has not attracted foreign direct investment or cannot do so. Were it part of a larger economic unit, the larger economic unit would be interested in maintaining as little a gap as possible between its most developed areas and its least developed ones--assuming a cohesive system. (An empire merely makes the same mistake as a successful country, misapplying domestic lessons to international ones.) Though degrees vary, power is always connected somewhere so it can extend influence, the strong seeking out the weak. The absence of a need for a gun connotes not only a lack of influence but a lack of connectivity to neighbors and thus a failure to build sufficient conduits to exchange information. Now ask yourself: would you rather have a gun and a midnight sentry, or information that tells you when you will be attacked? 

I realized this morning though the United States has a strong military, it continues to fail by attempting to overuse its influence overseas. If I am a small village, and a superpower approaches to offer its technology, which of course requires me to use its currency, I may be flattered, especially if I do not understand debt and currency arbitrage. Yet, even a naive villager realizes the same superpower that approaches and demands a rider requiring the village not to use another country's technology--thus inhibiting more diverse development--is not a true superpower, no matter the quantity or quality of its guns. The villager may even, after some deliberation, realize such a superpower does not see his community as an opportunity to exchange information but a way to block competitors. Now ask yourself: if you had a choice, would you rather buy guns from someone demanding an exclusive contract, or someone allowing you to diversify your economic contacts? 

The path from kampong to city to respected state may be long, uncertain, and arduous--and Singapore, which took this path successfully, makes its own guns--but the road from superpower to failed state is straightforward: when credibility goes, so does your empire. One wonders if USA President Biden, who is promoting unity, comprehends he is looking too far ahead in the dictionary. 

© Matthew Mehdi Rafat (January 2021) 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Slavery, Democracy, and the Jesuits

Though JFK preceded him, Joseph Biden, Jr. is set to become a Catholic president in the United States during a time of unprecedented Catholic power. Remarkably, most Americans do not know the Catholic Church was banned in America's founding colonies, notably New York City:

For most of the colonial period Roman Catholic worship in New York City was clandestine or nonexistent, because the Protestant Dutch and then the English enforced laws prohibiting the organization and maintenance of Roman Catholic churches. (From Encyclopedia of New York City)

In 1816, Thomas Jefferson warned of the conflicts between Catholicism and republican governance: 

The first shade from this pure element, which, like that of pure vital air, cannot sustain life of itself, would be where the powers of the government, being divided, should be exercised each by representatives chosen either pro hac vice, or for such short terms as should render secure the duty of expressing the will of their constituents. This I should consider as the nearest approach to a pure republic, which is practicable on a large scale of country or population. And we have examples of it in some of our State constitutions, which, if not poisoned by priest-craft, would prove its excellence over all mixtures with other elements; and, with only equal doses of poison, would still be the best. [Emphasis mine] 

I must confess I did not know the "Republican" in Republican Party referred to republican governance, i.e., a republic, because my American teachers and professors glossed over Christian religious differences. Reading Jefferson's words, however, it is easier to see that a republic is opposed to a monarchy, and America's founders discriminated against the Catholic Church because they were anti-monarchy (aka anti-papist). Unlike American students today, our founders would have had no problem connecting the structure of the Catholic Church and its doctrine of papal supremacy with European monarchs and Catholic collusion. Once Catholic, monarchs regularly expelled non-Catholics, eventually inducing Germany's Protestant Reformation. Discrimination begets discrimination, and the history of America can be best understood as a country founded on discrimination and its discontents. 

In the most recent Christian Science Monitor Weekly publication, I came across the following tidbit: 

Q: How did the Jesuits, a Roman Catholic religious order, become involved in slavery? 

They began to buy, sell, and hold slaves in South America. When they came to Maryland to start missions in the 17th century, they quickly became slaveholders. Other churches came to be slaveholders, too, but the Jesuits were among the largest slaveholders in Maryland during this period. (William G. Thomas III, author of A Question of Freedom, January 4 & 11, 2021)

Were Catholics and Protestants in America able to set aside their differences by shifting their discrimination towards African slaves rather than against each other? If unity is the goal, perhaps it's time to discuss whether America's chattel slavery and the racism that followed resulted from a transference of religious antipathy into a different-colored bucket. Such historical interpretation aligns with our current political climate, where segregation is the norm and Catholics are considered Christians, even though all Christian offshoots, whether Christian Science or Seventh Day Adventist, exist because of splintering within the Protestant Church, which itself exists as a result of anti-Catholicism. 

Will President Biden assist his fellow citizens in reforming public history lessons so more Americans can heal from four years of division? I doubt it. The only way American Catholicism could have succeeded so spectacularly is if he himself, along with most Christians, lack an understanding of both European and American history. Unfortunately for us, Europeans do not suffer similar educational handicaps, meaning Biden's presidency may come to represent not unity, but the ascension of the EU. Such transference would continue the pattern of modern American political negligence, where leaders focused on the Soviet Union only to see increased Middle Eastern threats, then focused on the Middle East only to see increased Asian threats, and are now focusing on Asia. History, it seems, may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes

© Matthew Mehdi Rafat (January 2021)

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Book Review: William O. Douglas and The Anatomy of Liberty (1963)

While reading Supreme Court Justice William Douglas's The Anatomy of Liberty, I was struck by the little progress we've made since 1963. Sixty years later, American politicians, judges, and lawyers have made a liar out of Justice Douglas, who used this book to explain America's legal and political system to the rest of the world. 

I won't belabor you with exact quotes proven overly optimistic; it serves us better to understand differences between then and now. First and foremost, the spectre of nuclear extermination loomed larger for earlier generations. Students today read about WWII in history books, but Douglas lived Hiroshima and Nagasaki as real-time events. Like many of his peers, he realized nuclear proliferation meant every country in the world--including his own--was in danger. Regarding his generation's realization of foreseeable injury, Douglas wrote, "Whatever all the reasons may be, we walk the brink every hour of every day." (pp. 114)

Such fear--based on a reasonable assumption of ever-increasing risk--left politicians with no choice but to cooperate--at least so Douglas thought: "Now the sheer necessity to avoid the nuclear holocaust makes it necessary for us to build unity in common goals of an international character." (pp. 107) Douglas firmly believed technology's destructive potential would require greater cooperation, and he was not alone. One of Diego Rivera's most striking murals, "Man, Controller of the Universe," places the nuclear atom at the center with 
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov observing.

Mexico's Rivera believed scientific mastery of nature would lead to less drudgery for workers, creating a world without exploitation in which (socialist) governments would favor cooperation. Examples abound of intellectuals linking technology with greater collaboration out of necessity or natural progression; yet, as I sit in a Mexico City hotel in December 2020, it appears time has made fools of them all.

Douglas was a libertarian and Rivera a socialist, but despite contrasting political views, both men took it for granted that by 2020--if not earlier--cross-country cooperation would be optimized in favor of peace. By 1984, however, millions sang along to Alphaville's "Forever Young,"expressing a desire to stay childlike so as to avoid contemplating nuclear war. (In one performance, the lead singer salutes military-style during the lyrics, "Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?") If the Soviet-American conflict was caused by Western powers failing to include the also-WWII-victorious Russians within NATO, thus splitting the world into two spheres, by 1991, optimism emerged as the Soviet Union's economic fall produced a unipolar world. The very next year, Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama, an American-born Harvard political scientist, authored The End of History and the Last Man (1992), declaring Western values the endpoint of human cultural evolution.

Time humbles us all, and in 2020, no reasonable person believes Western values or Western politics are universally appealing or even workable. The only inevitability accepted is the rise of The People's Republic of China, which has been quietly promoting a post-colonization, de-Westernized world after its 1950 invasion of Tibet to secure freshwater reserves. And so, despite Douglas's and Rivera's exhortations, we are experiencing déjà vu, where the threat of nuclear extermination continues but with different players using international institutions to gain advantages within increasingly splintered financial, technological, and content-distribution systems. In the past, only two hostile superpowers were in contention, which allowed us to focus on specific problems emanating from their friction. Today, the rise of regional powers asserting themselves will either destroy the idea of universal values and thus prospects for consensus, or make us yearn again for the greater simplicity of a bipolar world. 

And what of global cooperation? Sadly, except for the decade between 1991 and 2001, the picture looks bleak. Our current COVID19 pandemic is producing vastly different domestic outcomes and thus increased inequality and potential conflict. Furthermore, as most individuals worldwide suffer from economic uncertainty and greater dependence on governmental action, entities with the most secure digital infrastructure have gained influence while exposing globalization's indigestion of multiple technological standards. The old adage,"He who has the gold (and the military to protect it) makes the rules," has seemingly morphed into "That which provides your digital experience (and the best online security) is crucial to economic dominance and therefore unregulatable." As for diplomacy, I remember studying South China Sea maritime issues at Singapore's National University in 2001. Two decades later, the same issues exist, meaning exporting countries have been unable to resolve something as straightforward as shipping routes. I suppose I do not need to tell you that more countries possess nuclear weapons than ever before.

Perhaps global cooperation was doomed once governments used digital backdoors to spy on allies and competitors while private corporations tracked consumer behavior in order to maximize profits. Human beings may be willing to sacrifice some privacy for greater security, but a paradigm in which governments and corporations conceal technological vulnerabilities in order to peddle propaganda and to gather data cannot succeed. As our earlier generation's worst fears are realized, their words might be heard asking for whom the bell tolls: 

[T]oday the young writer's characters must function not in individuality but in isolation, not to pursue in myriad company the anguishes and hopes of all human hearts in a world of a few simple, comprehensible truths and moral principles, but to exist alone inside a vacuum of facts which he did not choose and cannot cope with and cannot escape from like a fly inside an inverted tumbler. -- William Faulkner (1958)

A world lacking integrity or diplomacy necessarily reverts to "might makes right," which carries all the burrs and hooks one ought to expect. Listen to Douglas's prescient warning: 

So apart from the problems of nuclear war, disarmament is the world's number one concern... For it is only through disarmament that war can be prevented and adequate resources released for raising the world's standard of living. Prevention of war may be well-nigh impossible if the race to get bigger and better stockpiles of bombs continues... 

The vast gulfs that exist between various world cultures mean that the common ground will be narrow and selective... [and] only limited areas where a common ground can be found. Yet they are important, indeed critical, ones; and they will expand as the peoples of the world work with their newly emerging institutions and gain confidence in them... The problem of survival is to widen [currently limited] areas of consensus [aka the basis of law]. 

Pray tell, which institutions do the people of the world agree deserve our confidence? Can most people within a single country point to a single institution they wholly trust? Here I must quote Faulkner again: 

[There is a] belief that there is no place anymore where individual man can speak quietly to individual man of such simple things as honesty to oneself and responsibility toward others and protection for the weak and compassion and pity for all, because such individual things as honesty and pity and responsibility and compassion no longer exist, and man himself can hope to continue only by relinquishing and denying his individuality into a regimented group of his arbitrary, factional kind, arrayed against an opposite opposed arbitrary, factional, regimented group, both filling the same air at the same time with the same double-barreled abstractions of "peoples' democracy" and "minority rights" and "equal justice" and "social welfare"—all the synonyms which take all the shame out of irresponsibility by not merely inviting but even compelling everyone to participate in it.

That was 1958. Take a look at this sign in my hotel's restaurant: 

We don't need to know Spanish to know the intent of the sign-maker, nor the fact that it is easier to make a sign than to effectuate its lofty goals. I don't doubt this particular hotel sincerely believes in anti-discrimination, but it happens to be located in the most affluent district in the entire country, a country with vast income inequality, which is precisely why it is so confident signaling progressive values--and precisely why it shouldn't be. Rather than providing optimism based on greater understanding of each other, globalization's benefits have covered up cracks in the human dynamic, cracks most of us know are bound to swallow us whole unless seen and fixed. Are good intentions all we have to offer Donne, Faulkner, and Douglas? If so, then we have failed, and we don't deserve to survive and probably won't. 

© Matthew Mehdi Rafat (December 2020)

“The Constitution is paper. The bayonet is steel.” -- Haitian proverb

Bonus: "When will we and the Russians (not to mention the Chinese) awaken to the realization that each can no longer go it alone, that, like it or not, we are in the same fragile boat and desperately interdependent?" -- William O. Douglas (1963), pp. 123-4

"Today all humanity is tied irrevocably together in an effort to escape the nuclear holocaust, to survive, to make technology the servant." -- 
William O. Douglas (1963), pp. 167