Free Forever Through Stoicism

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“Some things we can control, some we can’t. We can control our attitudes, opinions, goals and desires – choices of our own. We can’t control health, wealth, fame or power – things we can’t have by choosing them.” —Epictetus

Freedom begins with understanding what we control and we do not. Yet very few people even begin to consider this essential dichotomy.

Even in the complete absence of “administration” as Tocqueville observed in early 19th century America, no one was free who failed to understand Epictetus’s control dichotomy: some things are under our control, some are not.

Conversely, Viktor Frankl never lost his essential freedom even when a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. He never lost his freedom to choose his response. Frankl, and most of the survivors, clearly understood what was in their control and what was not.

Likewise, Admiral James Stockdale understood the dichotomy. He credits Stoicism with helping him survive seven and a half years in Hanoi Hilton. As he drifted to earth after ejecting from his jet, he said to himself, “I am leaving the modern world for Epictetus’s world.”

My dogs are upset.

Some neighbor had the temerity to walk down the street. The dogs don’t like that. My dogs haven’t come to grips with the things they can and cannot control. They want the world to work one way. It works another way before their eyes. So they yell at it.

How different are we from dogs?

Look at me. Page through this blog. How many times every week do I yell at the world for being different than the way I wish it to be?

Yesterday, I wrote a LinkedIn article on the subject of stoic persuasion. It asserts that understanding this dichotomy is the basis of influencing others. We cannot influence people when we’re trying to control them. The less we seek control over others, the more likely they are to follow.

It’s a paradox within a dichotomy.

You might not agree with Epictetus and me. You might have a formula for ethically controlling other people to do your bidding. You might have a super power that lets you control others’ minds and manipulate their wills.

It took me a while, but I finally realized have no such power. I cannot control those things that are not in my control.

And the only things in my control are my actions, my beliefs, my likes and dislikes.

One of those beliefs is that influence begins with understanding what we control and what we don’t.

So I’m going to try to practice that belief. Practice my belief so I can stop being a hypocrite. Maybe this is the path to true freedom.

I’m also adding a new category: Stoicism. More to follow, Deo volente.

Senator Rock: Who’s the Joke? (offensive) VIDEO

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My serious Republican friends (think of people like Chris Wallace and Charles Krauthammer) worry.

They worry about this trend toward “unserious” politicians getting elected.

They worry about “what it says about voters” who elect Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and (very soon) Kid Rock.

These serious Republicans long for the days of serious men and serious matters. Of gray flannel suits beneath salt-and-pepper hair belonging to Yale grads and Harvard Law professors who can, on occasion, in the right circumstances, with just the right audience, shock the world with an (are you ready for this?) off-color joke!

The joke’s the thing.

The joke.

These serious Republicans decry the “joke” candidates. The joke president. The joke governor of Alaska.

But the joke’s on them.

And it ain’t very funny.

If you went to Yale like your great grandfather and you have a place in the Hamptons and your help drives a hybrid, Kid Rock looks like a novelty.

But if you drive a truck or operate a forklift in a steel plant, Kid Rock is real and Paul Ryan’s the (lame) joke.

To the 90% who make America run, who fight our wars and splurge by taking the family to Applebee’s, Kid Rock is real. Mitch McConnell’s the (lame) joke.

Once upon a time, those serious Yale alums with gray hair and gray suits got the job done. They stood up to the Soviet Union. They attended VFW meetings. They took their duty more seriously than they took themselves.

But that Ivy League gentry-entrenched establishment class of the Cold War era gave birth to a pussy generation of narcissists who take nothing seriously but their own selfies. And they take those selfies damn serious.

Chris Wallace thinks Kid Rock’s a novelty candidate. But tens of millions of us laugh at Chris Wallace. When he’s trying to be serious.

These divergent views of American politics won’t be reconciled. One will beat the other into submission. It’ll take a generation or two before the losers are bred out of the culture. But they the losers will be bred out. Like Neanderthals.

I’m betting on the Kid Rock side to win. The joke is the GOP leadership who were handed a mandate and used it for toilet paper. They can be bred out of existence in a generation.

Sorry If Governor Greitens Hurts Your Feelings

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Kudos to Governor Greitens and the Missouri legislature. They killed a minimum wage law in St. Louis. The law  was designed to make city politicians feel better about themselves. It’s certain result would have been fewer jobs for the people who need jobs the most.

Why are you complaining about Governor Greitens’ first term? Did you not read his books?

Like Donald Trump, Eric Greitens called his plays at the line of scrimmage. He told you how he would govern. In his book Resilience: Hard-won Wisdom for Living a Better LifeGov. Greitens introduces us to Stoicism, the ancient philosophy that focuses on how to live with purpose, character, dignity, and honor.

In his prior book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, the governor introduces us to the seemingly novel idea that the results of one’s actions, not the feelings of the actor, are what matter most in policy and in life.

Now, as governor of Missouri, Greitens is taking flak for supporting a state law that prevents cities like St. Louis from enacting a minimum wage law that would kill jobs for the poor while making the board of aldermen feel better about themselves.

In case you missed it, last year St. Louis raised the minimum wage. Just like Seattle. The so-called “living wage” movement was all the rage among the left.

But the “living wage” hurts the poor. It only makes politicians and leftist professors feel good about themselves. We know this. Seattle’s $15 minimum wage is killing the poor.

From the Washington Post story, A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals:

The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city.

People who make $400 a month can’t afford to lose a penny. Yet laws like the one St. Louis politicians enacted cost the working poor $125 a month in Seattle.

From the Washington Post story, A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals:

On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum.

Governor Greitens wrote about the UN’s failed attempts to protect orphans in Bosnia in The Heart and the Fist. Greitens witnessed the failed “do-gooderism” first hand:

Later, when I thought about the UN workers in Gasinci writing their letter, when I read about what had happened at Srebrenica, I realized that there was a great dividing line between all of the speeches, protests, feelings, empathy, good wishes, and words in the world, and the one thing that mattered most: protecting people through the use of force or threat of force. In situations like this, good intentions and heartfelt wishes were not enough. The great dividing line between words and results was courageous action.

Greitens, Eric. The Heart and the Fist: The education of a humanitarian, the making of a Navy SEAL (p. 58). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Good intentions and heartfelt wishes by the UN experts resulted in the orphans getting raped and killed in, what amounted to, UN concentration camps. These camps became playgrounds for pederasts.

Good intentions can kill.

Courageous action sometimes requires that leaders say “no” to the do-gooders. Do-gooders like the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. Do-gooders who would steal 30% of a poor woman’s income in order to feel better about themselves.

I applaud Governor Greitens and Missouri’s legislature for having the courage to kill a St. Louis law that hurt the poor. And I’m proud I have my Greitens for Governor Day One team shirt.

Missouri chose well when we chose Eric Greitens for Governor.

First 13er President: A Gen X Independence Day

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“As they reach their turn for national leadership, 13ers will produce no-nonsense winners who will excel at cunning, flexibility, and deft timing.”

—Neil Howe and William Strauss, 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?

I’ve written before that 2016 was the first Gen X Election. And that Donald Trump would be the first Gen X president. Not because he’s an Xer, but because he personifies our coming-of-age view of the world.

Note:  I use 13ers and Gen Xers interchangeably. Historians Howe and Strauss called the generation born from 1961 to 1981 “13ers” before Douglas Coupland coined the term “Generation X.” Howe and Strauss were referring to the fact that we were the 13th generation born in America.

Donald J. Trump symbolizes the 80s and 90s. The 80s and 90s symbolize Gen X.

As I wrote last February in This Is the Gen X Election:

I’m not saying all Gen Xers will vote for Trump. I am saying the Gen X attitude that formed in the 1980s and 1990s has finally pervaded the generations on all sides. Just as the Boomer attitude, hatched in the 60s and 70s, didn’t really seize full power until the  Clinton administration.

Howe and Strauss had more to say about Gen X leadership in 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?:

If 13ers turn out like every earlier generation of their type—Lost, Gilded, Liberty, and Cavalier—they will ultimately become a stellar generation of get-it-done warriors, able to take charge of whatever raging conflicts are initiated by their elders and bring them to successful conclusions. In the tradition of George Washington, Ulysses Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower, the most memorable 13er Presidents may themselves be ex-generals. Military or not—and regardless of sex—13er leaders will be cagey, jockish, unpretentious, inelegant with words, more inclined to deal than to argue, and more admired for their personality than for their vision of learning. As they come to power around the year 2020, younger voters will view them as a welcome change from the ponderous, principles-first Boomer style. In public, they’ll come across a bit shallow. But, as any 13er already knows, low expectations can be a game you can use to your advantage—in a poker game or in the White House.

Trump is probably 4 years ahead of his time if Howe and Strauss’s calendar was correct. It’s possible that conflict between the Washington establishment and the Trump administration owes to Gen X’s early arrival in power.

But it’s also possible that whenever one of these generations of Nomads reaches power (“Nomads” is the Howe and Strauss name for Gen X’s archetype throughout history), conflict ensues. Nomad generations reach power at the end of Crisis eras, usually just before the climax. Previous climaxes were:

  • The Revolutionary War
  • The Civil War
  • World War II

Why should our Nomads get off any easier than those generations of Nomads?

It’s also worth noting that the national leaders of those eras were, like Trump, members of the Prophet generations that precede Nomads in birth order. Most of the presidents of the Continental Congress during the Revolution were, like Peyton Randolph, born before 1724, the start of the Liberty generation. Lincoln was born in 1809, 13 years before the first Gilded was born. FDR was born in 1882, but the first Lost was born in 1883. So, Trump’s timing is historically perfect.

The biggest difference between Gen X and Boomers: pragmatism over principles.

Boomers will blow up the world to prove a point. Gen Xers will find a way to survive.

Think about that. Think about the Boomers begging Trump to “do something” about Russia. The Boomers seem okay with nuclear war now. Ready to end civilization in a series of mushroom clouds. The generation that once donned bumper stickers reading “You can’t hug your kids with nuclear arms” is ready to push the red button and end it all. Maybe that name “Boomer” has gone to their heads.

Fighting for human survival is the generation of slackers. It’s not that we’re unprincipled. It’s that we think principles are evil if they require the destruction of our culture, our civilization, or our species. Or maybe we think principles apply to personal conduct, not to public policy. Either way, survival comes first.

And this gets us to the point of why we Trump supporters are so hell-bent on seeing our mission through. This is why we will tolerate, even applaud, our president’s most outlandish and most “modern day presidential” acts.

It is our mission. Howe and Strauss gave it to us in 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?, published when we were kids in 1993.

Yes, 13ers do have a mission. Theirs is the American generation that history has charged with the task of cleaning up after everybody else’s mess . . . So too is theirs the generation charged with showing others how, in this millennial era, Americans can still enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” without letting the world fly to pieces, without bankrupting the nation, and without squandering scarce global resources.

Do the dirty work, have a little fun, help the kids behind them. Not bad. Let other call 13ers “underachievers.” They can take it. We, their elders, will never live to see how their story turns out. They will. The rest of us can only imagine how, when their job’s done, they’ll look history in the eye, give a little smile, and move.

It’s pretty clear Donald Trump has adopted our generation’s mission as his own. I call on the “principled” Boomers and the other generations to shut up, get out of the way, and let us get on with the job of cleaning up your messes.

And we’re getting too damn old to argue about it. As I warned last February:

The Buchanan Brigades are running the show, now. While the establishment could still produce the next president, he or she will be unable to govern, I’m afraid. The divisions are too many, the chasms too wide, the trust too broken, the economy too leveraged.

We’ve been warning the establishment for decades that we’re not gonna take it. They didn’t listen.

But something tells me they’re listening now.

It’s Gen X Independence Day. Get out of our way. This isn’t about unity. It’s about survival. There’s a difference.

BONUS: A great primer on generational history.

 

Greatest 4th of July! WrestlemaniaCNNTakeDown! (Video)

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President Trump makes everything better. Everything. And this video, which he just tweeted, made this 4th of the July the best since 1776. (Click twice to get play this video)

The left and CNN will, of course, be outraged. They don’t have a sense of humor.

President Trump has a fine sense of humor. I can see the grin on his face as he tapped out “#FraudNewsCNN” and hit the send button.

I know this is very un-Christian of me, but I have to admit something. It makes me happy to know that Trump’s wrestling video will ruin the holiday for hundreds of reporters, editors, producers, Hollywood outrage pornographers, and Never Trumpers. Ruin their holiday. I can see Jim Acosta screaming at his wife across the kitchen table now. “Why no corn-on-the-cob? Why no corn-on-the-cob? Why no corn-on-the-cob?” He might even get a drink thrown in his face.

Some will say that a video like this one is beneath the president. Sanctimonious puffery. Bill Clinton sort of blew those standards of decorum.

Besides, everybody who ever said they wanted new blood and fresh faces in politics? This is what non-political outsiders look like. They don’t play by your old rules because those rules were meant to preserve the elites. The rules of decorum you worry about were designed to keep Tea Partiers barefoot and parading, not winning elections. Those old rules from the 19th century were written to keep the common rabble (rabble like you, me, and Trump) away from politics.

When we stormed the steps of the Arch in 2009, we became the battering ram striking the first blow into the gates of the palace. When Donald J. Trump took the oath of office in January 2017, those palace gates swung open. Just as the American army of rabble and peasants humiliated the great British Empire at Yorktown 236 years ago.

Cornwallis’s words in The Patriot are Jeff Zucker’s words today. (Click anywhere on the video to play)

Everything has changed. Everything except the elite’s contempt for the people who make America great.

Keep tweeting, Mr. President. Your enemies deserve it.

UPDATE:

  1. The Gateway Pundit reacts.
  2. CNN reacts like Cornwallis
  3. Scott Adams perfectly explains the entire matter in few words:

 

When the Russian Narrative Broke

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When did the narrative break?

Was it the assassination attempt on GOP Congressmen?

Was it Comey’s admission that Trump was never under investigation?

Was it Kathy Griffin’s grim ISIS imitation?

Was it Trump’s 5-0 winning streak in special elections?

Like the ageless question of how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop, the world may never know. Never know just when the Russian narrative broke.

But the narrative broke. Bigly.

Just a few, short months ago, celebrities and journalists could incite violence against Trump and his supporters with impunity. Now, teachers and journalists are getting fired. Celebrities are losing gigs for going over the top.

Yesterday, three fake news journalists were forced to resign from very fake news CNN. They published a false Russian story. CNN had to post a shameful, humiliating retraction. Today, a CNN producer was caught in a Project Veritas sting admitting the Russian story was fake news from day one.

And CNN’s Jim Acosta has become so unhinged his friends are asking him to take a leave of absence and get some help.

The anti-Trump forces put all their eggs in the Russian basket. But the basket broke. The narrative broke. And those anti-Trumps have nothing to turn to. They have no repertoire of tactics. Only one: Russia, Russia, Russia.

And the Russian narrative broke. Like Humpty Dumpty, all the Deep State’s horses and all the Deep State’s men can’t put the Russian narrative together again.

With their only narrative out of the way, with a huge win in the Supreme Court, expect Trump to run up the score for the rest of the summer. Happy days are here again.

By October, we’ll be talking about which loser the Democrats might offer up as cannon fodder in 2020.