Creative Capital

Debating IQ

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. As Dr. Michael Solomon knocked cautiously on the door of Grace’s apartment, he was well aware that Grace was furious with him. Sure enough, when Grace’s face showed in the door window, she …

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Drinking Scotch and Talking Democracy

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. One evening at the faculty club, with Grace Atkinson and Michael Solomon deep into The Macallan, the conversation turned to Grace’s evolving views of the American Constitution. As noted earlier, Grace believed that, …

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Solomon’s Story

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. While the leaders of the Georgetown Convention are consolidating their hold on the U.S. government, we need to introduce Dr. Michael Solomon, an eminent professor of psychology and long-time friend and colleague of …

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Seizing LBJ

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. Gen. Green was startled. “Hold it, folks” he said. “I’m a desk jockey now, I haven’t commanded troops in the field since my last tour in Vietnam, back in ’64.” “But, Willy,” George …

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The Russkies, Vietnam and a Possible Coup

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. In the novel, written so many years ago, many chapters were devoted to the back-channel negotiations that went on between the Johnson Administration (in the person of Walter Rostow) and the Soviet Union …

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The Power of the Press?

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. With Plans A and B dead, the Approvals Panel began to discuss a fallback plan. One way to expose the Black Hole plot would be for George—or someone—to simply make it public. Call …

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The Ways of LBJ

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional account written almost 40 years ago. As the ambulance pulled up to the farmhouse on the eastern shore of Maryland, George Leader was watching out the living room window. What he saw shocked him. An elderly, gray-haired woman was …

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A Great Mind Ponders Grim Alternatives

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. When George suggested that Grace Atkinson be summoned to the deliberations on the Eastern Shore, not everyone was enthusiastic. For one thing, Grace was recovering from a stroke. Moreover, as one Panel member …

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The Plan That Would Have Changed the World

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost 40 years ago. Gen. Willy Green sat staring at the file on his desk, still not quite believing what it contained. The second document in the file—the one right after the red-outlined official form that told …

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The Top Secret File

For readers who missed part 1 of this series of posts, I am summarizing a fictional novel written almost forty years ago. When we left George and Jenny Leader’s soiree last week, the 13 people at the dinner table were locked in intense discussions about what sort of government could have elected (that is, reelected) …

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America 2.0: An Old Novel Idea

When I was serving in the U.S. Army in the early 1970s, I spent a lot of time patrolling in my Military Police Jeep and boring myself silly. Being a cop is a bit like being an airline pilot: hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. To relieve the boredom, I wrote a …

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Race, Global Warming and the Experts

Last week we considered the possibility that, precisely to the extent that human equality is the most important issue facing the world, to that extent liberal democracy can claim little legitimacy. It is certainly true that liberal democracies have produced greater equality and have more successfully combated racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry than …

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The Rawls Dilemma

John Rawls, the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century, was born into a prosperous middle class family in Baltimore in 1921. He attended a private school in Connecticut and went on to Princeton. Rawls’ internal life replicated the moral trajectory of many thoughtful people in the Western world, beginning with a deep interest …

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The Stumbling March of Reason

“When the theological content of the idea [of human rights] was abandoned, nothing was put in its place.” —James Griffin, “On Human Rights” Earlier in this series of posts we revisited the Age of Enlightenment, examining the back story of the ideas that led to the creation of liberal democracy. That’s also a good place …

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How Equality Came to Challenge Freedom

“[Liberal democracy] celebrates certain values: reasonableness, conversation, compassion, tolerance, intellectual humility and optimism.” —David Brooks “Nice guys finish last.” —Leo Durocher As I noted last week, the American governmental system in particular, and most modern liberal democracies in general, were well-designed to manage the tension between the two most fundamental rights we have as citizens: …

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The Trouble With Rousseau

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” —The first line of Rousseau’s “The Social Contract” Even by the loose standards of his era, Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived a bizarre life. Rousseau’s mother died giving birth to him and he was mostly raised until his teen years by an uncle. At that point, his …

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The Practical View

“In the beginning all the world was America.” —John Locke The most important thing to understand about the Age of Enlightenment is that it contained both a practical cast of thought and a utopian cast of thought. The practical strain is associated mainly with Anglo-Saxon thinkers such as Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Mill and others. The …

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Has Liberal Democracy Passed Its Expiration Date?

“Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” —Winston …

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Viral Investing, Part II: What Should I Do Now?

“Profit from folly rather than participating in it. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful. I prefer buying things. Otherwise, it’s a little like saving sex for your old age.” —Warren Buffett   “The true contrarian only buys when it makes him feel physically sick to press the buy key.” …

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Viral Investing

“You make most of your money in a bear market, you just don’t realize it at the time.” —Shelby Cullom Davis Given the recent market volatility driven primarily by the outbreak of COVID-19, I thought I would share my current views. But first, a word about terminology. COVID-19 (coined, for reasons best known to them, …

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A Remarkable Life

One morning, I received a call from my Zurich lawyer, Dr. Andreas Froriep, who informed me that someone was trying to find out who was behind Arran Isle Improvement Association AG. I burst out laughing. It’s true, I suppose, that the Arran miscreants and their shyster lawyers could litigate in Switzerland for a decade or …

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Ending the Abuse of the Aristocrats

The history of tenant abuse by aristocratic landlords goes back in the UK for a thousand years. But the twentieth century turned out to be the Revenge of the Downtrodden. Beginning immediately after World War I, which decimated Britain’s male aristocrats, the Brits determined to destroy their aristocracy, and destroy it they did. Certainly the …

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