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Schwartz's argument reminds me of a Brazilian friend (Djalma) who once went to Russia to study music at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. When he came back, he was as red as they get. During a discussion, he told me that it was a lie that people were prohibited from leaving communist countries. Anyone could leave so long as they paid the state back for all the food, clothing, shelter, health care, etc., the state provided them from birth.

He was serious, too. I couldn't get him to see that there was something wrong with this argument. When I asked, where, pray tell, a person would get money since the state controlled all ways of making it, he said that was not the state's problem, but the problem of the person who wanted to leave. The state had already done its part by caring for the person and giving him employment.

Schwartz makes the same kind of case, but he implies, not states. He implies there were alternatives to situations when there were none--at least none that were not the equivalent of suicide for Snowden. For example, he condemns Snowden for seeking asylum in communist countries, but offers no viable alternative. Where else on earth, literally on earth, was there a haven with a military that could protect him against the USA military if not a country like the type he chose?

Also, Schwartz says, "The NSA has, in effect, been arbitrarily trespassing on your property." Then complains that, "Snowden stole over a million classified documents, the majority of which pertained to NSA spying, not on U.S. citizens but on legitimate targets abroad, from the Taliban to the Iranians."

So it seems it's not such a bad trespass after all. The NSA's bad is bad, but Snowden's bad is worse. Schwartz's rhetoric conveys that message.

There's a saying in Brazil, "Ladrão que rouba ladrão tem cem anos de perdão." (A thief who steals from a thief gains one hundred years of forgiveness.) I don't think Schwartz would understand that sentiment and why it resonates so strongly with the public, just like he does not understand why oodles of people oppose USA military involvement in countries that have not attacked the USA.

But more on point, Schwartz implies there were other means to obtain proof of the illicit activity from the NSA than stealing the illicit files. What were these means? Well that would be Snowden's problem, not his.

He also condemns Snowden for choosing Greenwald and harping only on Greenwald's leftist leanings as the reason. Once again, what does Schwartz do with the idea that Snowden might have gone that route because other means were not viable? For example, Greenwald was a foreign journalist with strong media contacts and was not disposed to back down from intimidation from the USA government. Nothing. He blanks it out. Something like that could never be the reason or part of it. The real reason had to be leftie comrade in arms and end of story.

It may well be that Snowden is a leftist, an anti-American and all the rest. But I have not heard him defend Marx, collectivism and so on. I have heard him praise the folks who are keeping him alive. And I have heard him speak very clearly about the right to privacy.

So how would Schwartz, after complaining about how the big bad NSA was abusing its power, get it to stop? No answer. The real answer is that people would just have to suck it up, like those who wanted to leave communist countries for my friend Djalma.

Essentially it is a defense of the moral rights of gigantic institutions that abuse power and a moral condemnation of those who oppose that abuse.

At least Schwartz is consistent with his previous works regarding who the real demon is, the one worse than all the others: Libertarianism.

Michael

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An unbelievably bad article by Peter Schwartz.

Snowden knew that others before him -- Thomas Drake, William Binney, Russell Tice for examples – had tried to expose the NSA through legal channels and got prosecuted and their careers destroyed for their efforts. He also knew that the publicity they generated, though it reached people who are interested in government corruption, never reached the proverbial man on the street. Snowden made a splash that no one could ignore. We owe him thanks.

As for Hong Kong and Russia, Snowden investigated freer countries and they would not simultaneously take him and guarantee his safety.

The degree of freedom in Russia and China is totaly irrelevant to whether Snowden was right to expose the NSA spy apparatus.

It’s true that Greenwald is a socialist. Ironically, in some respects -- the Iraq War, torture, and now the NSA -- some socialists are doing a better job of exposing government corruption than a lot of conservatives. Even a socialist can utter the truth sometimes. (Ayn Rand once quoted Chomsky for goodness’ sakes.) Schwartz can quote Greenwald saying any number of disagreeable things, he might still be right about the NSA.

Schwartz writes:

"Snowden stole over a million classified documents, the majority of which pertained to NSA spying, not on U.S. citizens but on legitimate targets abroad, from the Taliban to the Iranians."

I don't know if that's true but "from the Taliban to the Iranians" includes England, Germany and France, for instance. Why did Schwartz leave them out?

Snowden, a very young man, has said a lot in speeches and interviews. Schwartz fished to find questionable items and managed to find a couple but all in all Snowden is not only articulate, he’s right. Here’s a video of Tim Berners-Lee shaking his hand, virtually speaking:

http://www.ted.com/talks/edward_snowden_here_s_how_we_take_back_the_internet

 

 

 

 

 

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Here's the comment I posted to his blog a few hours ago:

Edward Snowden is a friend of freedom and individual rights. He did something outstandingly heroic in defense of the American government and its people. It's as simple as that.

And not incidentally, he seemingly ruined his whole life in the process. Mostly in the name of high principles and liberty. What could be more socially virtuous? That blog entry about him was poor and ridiculous.

Cultist monster and pseudo-Objectivist Peter Schwartz writes of Snowden's "motivations" and desires." But these are fairly trivial and hard to know. So too Snowden's "philosophy." What counts are Snowden's actions.

Based on moral outrage, and evidently in the cause of liberty, he exposed the NSA's wanton and egregious violations of the US constitution and law. He especially acted in defense of the Fourth Amendment and privacy rights. And he surrendered his high income, beautiful girlfriend, and wonderful lifestyle in Hawaii to do so. Now he's a hunted and beleaguered man -- unwelcome, and threatened with death, pretty much everywhere on earth.

Despite the article's smears, the evidence suggests that Snowden went to China and Russia because he had no choice. He doesn't look to be "cozying up" to tyranny. And he seems to vastly prefer living in a semi-free, Western state. But evidently none will give him sanctuary, due to US pressure. So he reasonably seeks out, and openly thanks, the only states which will publicly support him in his desperate hour of need -- however dubious their natures and motivations.

That question at the Putin t'v' press conference also seems to be legitimate, and even important -- not an act of sycophancy. As for Snowden "identif[ying] for Chinese officials which of their computers had been penetrated by the NSA," I never heard of this before, but even if true, maybe he was forced to do so.

As for Snowden "disclosing the methods" used by the NSA criminals, how else could he report on their behavior and actions? He had to reveal how they were doing it; that was the relevant point.

As for Snowden and his colleague Glenn Greenwald having a confused political and general philosophy, well that would also apply to over 99% of America and mankind, in our vast, irrational, illiberal, Dark Age time period. The fact that Snowden and Greenwald identify with, and support, Ron Paul and the libertarians, is a significant and remarkable good thing -- not bad. How does Schwartz not get this?

Peter Schwartz's whole article was tendentious, ignorant, foolish, hateful, and depraved. Just like his massive support for "Objectivist" religiosity, and his entire wretched, fatuous, malicious life.

My reply on www.PeterSchwartz.com is currently "awaiting moderation." Anyone care to guess whether or not he'll allow it and answer it? :laugh:

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Heh. I doubt that it would have been published at Schwartz's blog even without comments like "cultist monster and pseudo-Objectivist," and "his entire wretched, fatuous, malicious life."

J

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Schwartz's argument reminds me of a Brazilian friend (Djalma) who once went to Russia to study music at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. When he came back, he was as red as they get. During a discussion, he told me that it was a lie that people were prohibited from leaving communist countries. Anyone could leave so long as they paid the state back for all the food, clothing, shelter, health care, etc., the state provided them from birth.

Didn't the parents of the Russian citizen/slave provide all the food, clothing, shelter, health care, etc.? Or else the citizen/slave himself, when he turned 18 or so? And all this was done under very arduous, financially-crippling, Soviet-tyranny circumstances. In justice, the evil USSR state needed to pay the emigrant a king's ransom in compensation for all his suffering, as a parting gift.

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Heh. I doubt that it would have been published at Schwartz's blog even without comments like "cultist monster and pseudo-Objectivist," and "his entire wretched, fatuous, malicious life."

He could still answer the substance of my arguments. Then he could return the insults, if he cares. Of course -- he's no match for me on either account. :tongue:

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Heh. I doubt that it would have been published at Schwartz's blog even without comments like "cultist monster and pseudo-Objectivist," and "his entire wretched, fatuous, malicious life."

He could still answer the substance of my arguments. Then he could return the insults, if he cares. Of course -- he's no match for me on either account. :tongue:

Actually, I agree (no need for the smiley). The cloistered "leaders" and leader-wannabes of the O-movement are no match for anyone. They're incapable of dealing with substantive arguments, which is why they isolate and protect themselves from arguments.

J

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Well said Kyrel. You'll go down flying, LOL. I posted something too, taking the understatement approach. "Awaiting moderation" at this point:

Edward Snowden’s act made the NSA’s violations of the Fourth Amendment known to everyone, even people who don’t normally follow news about government corruption. His motivation for acting as he did is irrelevant to that good effect.

[Regarding Greenwald] Ayn Rand once quoted Chomsky in order to agree with what he said about B. F. Skinner. And she quoted Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr. a couple of times about World War I, again to agree with him. Sometimes leftists get it right.

The citizens of England, Germany, France, etc should be just as concerned about the NSA as U.S. citizens. I don’t think Snowden had a choice of choosing NSA documents that pertained only to spying on the U.S. That’s not the way the Internet works. [it's not called the World Wide Web for nothing.]

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Heh. I doubt that it would have been published at Schwartz's blog even without comments like "cultist monster and pseudo-Objectivist," and "his entire wretched, fatuous, malicious life."

He could still answer the substance of my arguments. Then he could return the insults, if he cares. Of course -- he's no match for me on either account. :tongue:

Actually, I agree (no need for the smiley). The cloistered "leaders" and leader-wannabes of the O-movement are no match for anyone. They're incapable of dealing with substantive arguments, which is why they isolate and protect themselves from arguments.

J

There is the matter of interest. If you want to research and write a book you're going to get cloistered at some point. Many people don't come to Internet forums for they are wrapped up in their work. There is a gigantic difference between a David Kelley and a Peter Schwartz.

--Brant

edit: having somewhat followed Kelley since the Peikoff fiasco, I must say he's never struck me as wanting leadership qua Objectivism or anything else; his orientation has been more to the academic and what is now called TAS reflected that from the beginning; not being all that academically oriented, I never got involved very much if at all with his alternate organization; ARI, on the other hand, never struck me as very well done for anything except self-pertetuation while making a disgracefull mess of Rand's papers--all Peikoff's (and Rand's) fault and merely represents the petering out of the top-down approach to her philosophy set up by the tremendous entreprenureal force of Branden feeding off Atlas Shrugged and the presence and non-fiction writing of Rand: having witnessed this and these folks in action in NYC before the break of '68, I'd say that break puffed Peikoff up all out of proportion to his true size viz what was left of the Objectivist movement, the worst part--the part that wanted and needed leadership, which sucked up.

Edited by Brant Gaede

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Heh. I doubt that it would have been published at Schwartz's blog even without comments like "cultist monster and pseudo-Objectivist," and "his entire wretched, fatuous, malicious life."

He could still answer the substance of my arguments. Then he could return the insults, if he cares. Of course -- he's no match for me on either account. :tongue:

I'm curious, Kyrel, after reading some of your self-descriptions here and at that other place: do you consider yourself an egoist or egotist (or if you see a difference), and if the latter if you've read about Rand's self-reported mistake in The Fountainhead in her use of it? I'm still wondering about the relationship between ego--of which you've got a hell of a lot--and self esteem (I assume you've got a lot of that too)--after the passage of 45 years since the publication of The Psychology of Self Esteem (50 years since Branden started publishing his articles on the subject). I wonder also if they are all the same or not. Branden himself has always celebrated big egos and high self esteem and it's not a left-arm right-arm thing but generally of the entire body--i.e., the person. If it's all a good thing could there be too much of it regardless? I myself know that whatever I've got, it's a long way from too much.

--Brant

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There is the matter of interest. If you want to research and write a book you're going to get cloistered at some point. Many people don't come to Internet forums for they are wrapped up in their work. There is a gigantic difference between a David Kelley and a Peter Schwartz.

Where are all of the books? Where are the alleged fruits of the cloistered alleged labor?

edit: having somewhat followed Kelley since the Peikoff fiasco, I must say he's never struck me as wanting leadership qua Objectivism or anything else;

I had that same impression until I read Kelley's irrational scolding of Irfan and Jerry.

J

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edit: having somewhat followed Kelley since the Peikoff fiasco, I must say he's never struck me as wanting leadership qua Objectivism or anything else;

I had that same impression until I read Kelley's irrational scolding of Irfan and Jerry.

J

A question about Irfan. I was under the impression that he was one of those who left IOS when Nathaniel Branden was invited to talk in 1996. If I'm right about that, this might account for some of David's irritation with Irfan.

Ellen

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There is the matter of interest. If you want to research and write a book you're going to get cloistered at some point. Many people don't come to Internet forums for they are wrapped up in their work. There is a gigantic difference between a David Kelley and a Peter Schwartz.

Where are all of the books? Where are the alleged fruits of the cloistered alleged labor?

edit: having somewhat followed Kelley since the Peikoff fiasco, I must say he's never struck me as wanting leadership qua Objectivism or anything else;

I had that same impression until I read Kelley's irrational scolding of Irfan and Jerry.

J

Briefly revisiting that, I'd have to give him he's a condescending control freak at least.

--Brant

I'd prefer wanna be a leader--straight (hold the water, hold the ice)

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So it seems it's not such a bad trespass after all. The NSA's bad is bad, but Snowden's bad is worse. Schwartz's rhetoric conveys that message.

It's explicit. Schwartz's article starts that way.

Apparently Harry Binswanger agrees with Schwartz. (The content under the below HBL link changes every few days. By the time you access it this excerpt may be gone.)

------------------------------------------------------------------------

HBL Excerpt of the Day

What the National Security Agency (NSA) has done in spying on Americans is reprehensible--and what Edward Snowden has done is _worse_.

— Peter Schwartz

For a full discussion of this issue, please see my latest blog at:

http://www.PeterSchwartz.com

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Mark: Here is a screenshot for corroboration:

Binswanger-Snowden.jpg

Michael

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Did anyone watch the Snowden interview last night? For one thing, he explicitly denied stealing millions of documents. He didn't give an exact number, but made it sound as if the number was in the thousands.

BTW, I think Snowden is a hero for exposing the rights violating activities of the NSA. I think some of the releases were ill advised such as the documents pertaining to Merkel, but the good certainly outweighs the bad. The jury is still out on whether the NSA will be forced to curtail its rights violating activities.

Darrell

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I don't think Snowden is a hero. Far from it.

He strikes me as a Millenial Weenie who has watched too many Jason Bourne movies.

He has likely cost some American lives with his actions, and certainly will in the future. That's not much of a hero to me.

The heros in this story are those who are still trying to protect our country, but doing so with one arm tied behind their back because of this guy's actions. That would include our military personnel, our intelligence personnel, and also those foreignors who have risked their lives to aid our military and intelligence personnel.

It is one thing to believe that the NSA has no right to be doing what is has done to Americans (others don't have congnizable "rights" to be violated), and to wonder how somebody should address such potential violations. For instance, would it have been more legitimate for Snowden to anonymously leak information about potential rights violations involving Americans? As opposed to the "document dump" this guy indiscriminately dropped? That, to me, is an interesting issue, with a fairly obvious (but debatable) answer.

But it is quite another thing to call somebody hiding out in one Vladimir Putin's extra villas a hero.

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While I don't know if Snowden has cost anyone's life, I never thought him heroic, but given the highly evolving nature of the technology in this too much information information age, the inevitable person. The heroes "trying to protect this country" need better direction, for they screw up or get screwed up on all the biggies decade after decade. As for Snowden, aside from who or what he can or could be described, he's done a lot of good blowing the lid off this NSA mess. What NSA has been doing is more symptomatic of a country going to hell than a country that needs protection from existential threats poorly or not understood by most who should--properly understood by an effectively powerless few.

--Brant

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When I find that Peter Schwartz and I have similar views on anything, alarm bells go off. (sigh) Nevertheless, I do not view Edward Snowden as a hero simply because he revealed that the NSA was spying on Americans. One good deed by Snowden does not absolve him of the responsibility of his other actions. First, he violated confidentialty oaths that he took when employed by the NSA (including, of course, its contractors). Sorry, but loyalty oaths mean something (such as honesty, integrity). When he betrayed that trust, he should be held accountable for hs actions. It was not just domestic wiretapping, but everything. That means this country's national defense (ICBM, nuclear submarine armaments, our Air Force and other military capabilities, etc.), if he gave that information to either the Red Chinese or more likely, the Russians, he has endangered the lives of every American. That is definiely treasonable.

Some on the Left have said (and still say) that the espionnage committed by the Rosenbergs and other spies and given to the Soviets (without which they could not have built their own nuclear arsenal) was actually "beneficial" because it allowed the Russians to achieve parity with the U.S. (So if a robber confronts you on the street, and you have a gun while he doesn't, - why you should give him another gun so that parity is achieved. He'll respect you and won't attempt to rob you. Right.). Similar arguments are being made in defense of Snowden's theft of secrets.

We don't know what exactly Snowden gave to Russia. The NSA has said that he got "everything." On the other hand, the Director of the NSA had no problem in lying to a Senate committee in an open hearing, about NSA domestic surveillance. Snowden denies giving any information that would endanger our national security, but on the other hand, he had no problem with violating his confidentiality oaths and stealing a lot of secret information. So, who to believe? Both sides have shown that honesty and integrity can be dispensed with. One thing for sure, Vladimir Putin did not just allow Snowden into Russia.just to reveal FSB/KGB espionage secrets in a magnanimous gesture to relieve Snowden's conscience (assuming he has one) and to acheive "parity."

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How do you know when an NSA spokesman is lying? Answer: His lips move.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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If Snowden compromised the security of any of our assets or revealed nuclear or other advanced weapons secrets to foreign powers, then I will withdraw the title of "hero." However, I haven't heard anything to indicate that he has released any such information. Among other things, the NSA shouldn't and probably doesn't have access to information about weapon designs. That is the province of the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. So, even if he revealed "everything," that wouldn't include information about weapon designs. It would include information about any operatives working for NSA and, by extension, agents of other agencies involved in any sort of joint operations. However, I haven't heard any reports that agents have been compromised --- unlike the recent, accidental compromise of the CIA Station Chief in Afghanistan.

I don't buy the argument that it is a good thing to arm our opponents and I deplore the needless revelations of information about spying on our allies in Europe, etc. Snowden is a hero for revealing the manner in which the NSA has been violating our rights at home from collecting email messages to cellphone meta-data and possibly recording calls. If you believe some of the reports, the NSA is actually recording the content of all telephone calls, but even if they're not, they're recording enough to know where and when you were when you placed every phone call you've ever made, who you called each time, and the duration of each call.

People tend to think, "Why should I care if I haven't done anything wrong?" The problem with that kind of thinking is that it ignores the nature of the people recording the information. The assumption is that the police or security agency employees are men in white hats that can do no wrong --- that they will only bother you or arrest you if you've done something wrong. However, that isn't necessarily the case. Agency personnel are human too and are just as likely to be criminals as members of the general public. Imagine a criminal having access to all kinds of information about you and your thinking begins to change. Various articles have been written about NSA employees stalking their love interests. Try googling LOVEINT.

Aside from individual criminal acts, there is also the potential for abuse of power. I'm not familiar with any cases involving the NSA, but we all know how the IRS, FBI, ATF, and FEC have been employed to harass Obama's political opponents. The problem is that there are so many laws, rules, and regulations and they are so complex that if you are involved in any sort of business, you're probably violating some of them or whether you are is open to interpretation or litigation and sometimes they even conflict with each other meaning that compliance with one regulation violates another. Fortunately, there aren't enough inspectors or enforcement officers to enforce compliance with all regulations all the time. However, constant collection of information in the absence of a warrant makes it much easier to harass people going forward.

We should demand that all of our communications be treated as private unless and until a warrant has been issued. Overseas surveillance is another issue, and I'm not arguing that it should be curtailed, but the rights of U.S. citizens should be respected.

Darrell

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Whether hero or not hero, Snowden showed two things to the world.

I would say these rise above the level of principle and are actual laws of human society.

1. When massive organizations get the power to act covertly on a widespread scale against enemies, sooner or later it will act covertly against the citizens of the country it belongs to and/or its members, irrespective of legality and/or morality. After that point, it's only a matter of time before serious abuse that power develops.

2. As these massive hermetic cultures are run by individual human beings acting in group, that is their Achilles Heel and they can be seriously damaged by one individual on a mission that is not theirs.

Both situations come with hope and both come with fear.

Neither are going away. Both can cause a humongous amount of damage. And both involve strong emotions. What could possibly go wrong in the future?

It might be a good idea to put some creative thinking in how to deal with these things.

Michael

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I'm curious, Kyrel, after reading some of your self-descriptions here and at that other place: do you consider yourself an egoist or egotist (or if you see a difference), and if the latter if you've read about Rand's self-reported mistake in The Fountainhead in her use of it? I'm still wondering about the relationship between ego--of which you've got a hell of a lot--and self esteem (I assume you've got a lot of that too)--after the passage of 45 years since the publication of The Psychology of Self Esteem (50 years since Branden started publishing his articles on the subject). I wonder also if they are all the same or not. Branden himself has always celebrated big egos and high self esteem and it's not a left-arm right-arm thing but generally of the entire body--i.e., the person. If it's all a good thing could there be too much of it regardless? I myself know that whatever I've got, it's a long way from too much.

--Brant

I consider myself to be an ethical egoist and individualist. I champion the Holy Individual and the Sacred Self. I very much disagree with the pre-modernist, right-wing conservatives who largely or mostly live for the sake of "god"; and the post-modernist, left-wing progressives who largely or mostly live for the sake of the collective. Neither supposedly high concept seems to really exist, since there's no actual evidence for "god," and the collective is best and most accurately seen as merely a group of individuals.

However, even if god and the collective do exist, they're virtually invulnerable, and thus no-one should really care about or protect them. Everyone, however, should care about and vigorously defend the special, unique, irreplaceable, invaluable One. The purpose of the individual joining up with a group, and creating society, is his own selfish and greedy betterment. All of society should be oriented toward benefiting the Holy Individual. (I explain this more carefully, and in far more detail, in my recent radical book.)

My guess is that Rand deliberately and provocatively used the term "egotist" in The Fountainhead at first because it was the stronger version of "egoist," even tho' it was technically a mistake, based on common dictionary definitions. Thus her explanation for the change afterward was slightly disingenuous. And, it's worth noting, she never did uplift herself enough to embrace the term "hedonism" (another discussion found in my book). But this is just a guess, and obviously people (especially AR!) get the benefit of the doubt and are innocent until proven guilty.

Thanks for saying I've got a lot of ego and self-esteem, Brant! Those are basically compliments. I enjoy bold, brash, outsize personalities in others. Even loud, obnoxious braggarts. The only caveat is that these charming egomaniacs have to be able to back up their words with deeds, somewhat. If they can't or don't, they're not nearly as much fun to observe and meet. But there's also nothing wrong with being modest and reserved, if that's your natural way. I'm mostly fiery in writing and intellectually debating issues -- not in person or personality.

I agree with virtually everything Nathaniel Branden says about self-esteem and psychology, that I'm aware of. I think he's more intellectually impressive and accomplished than Sigmund Freud and Carl Yung combined. In my view, Branden is an under-appreciated genius and the greatest psychologist that ever lived.

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