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July 15, 2016

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Hey, at least it's Mr No Longer Third In Line for the Presidency. And with luck, never again even that close.

My understanding is that Sharia, as broadly defined, is unavoidable if one is to consider oneself remotely devout as Muslim. Maybe Newt (will he get better?) is thinking about it as requiring a global Caliphate which will supplant all laws by all governments with some extreme version of Sharia, or something equally weird.

I think you may find that, just as with devout Orthodox Jews, devout Muslims can obey the tenets of their own laws without requiring those around them to do so as well.

And it may be worth noting that the Koran is absolutely explicit on Muslims giving respect to other "Peoples of the Book" -- i.e. Jews and Christians. So nothing like the hysterical imaginings of our own bigots.

Some days, you get a blessing. In today's mail came a solicitation from the "Trump Make America Great Again Committee." Complete with a nifty questionnaire, touting Trump's positions on a dozen issues and comparing them to what he claims (sometimes correctly) are Clinton's positions. Definitely clarified, if I had had any doubts, that Trump is not my guy.

But the best part was that it included a postage-paid return envelope. Guess in Trump's universe it is inconceivable that someone would disagree with him enough to fill out the questionnaire and send it back without money -- i.e. add to his cash shortage. Gotta love it.

Get a grip. It is more important to fly the flag of the southern traitors in our national cemeteries than it is to allocate resources to fight disease.

wj, hopefully you and all other good persons and true will send these questionnaires back without money. Every penny taken away from his campaign is a penny well spent, and if I understand correctly, he has still not filed the documentation needed to formally (i.e. in the real world) forgive his debt.

wj, hopefully you and all other good persons and true will send these questionnaires back without money.....taped to a brick.

The USPO has caught on to the "taped to a brick" thing.
So make sure that whatever you send can fit in the envelope; the cost is higher than 1st class mail, and goes up with the weight.

I just *knew* there was a good reason to keep those business-envelope-size pieces of iron plate.

Added: unfortunately I (a) haven't gotten a Trump mailer, and (b) disposed of my Icelandic small change. Otherwise it would be great to mail Trump a 1 króna coin, courtesy of his Icelandic spam-targets.

Drat! I missed the opportunity to include a couple of Saudi coins I have kicking around. :-(

finally, a use for all that osmium i have lying around!

The most recent example I've encountered of Sharia Law creeping into American society and governance is the political platform of the Republican Party, which in addition is a call for Jihad.

I think creep Donald Trump's choice of creep Mike Pence is a bow to conservative Republican Sharia.

I read recently that Pence is so against alcohol that he if he's going somewhere where it's being served, he brings his wife with him .... however that follows is beyond me.

Maybe it means she drinks his share too and she'll be spending the entire Convention in Cleveland in the drunk tank with all of the other hookers that are going to be living large that week on Republican moral majority money.

"Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be ..."

The typical Gingrich "it's very simple" bullshit, demagogic formulation.

Let ME be as blunt and direct as I can be.

Like hard, right-wing conservatives everywhere on Earth, from Putin to ISIS, and every conservative Christian, Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, and Buddhist ... Gingrich, Trump and company like their women to have big tits and ample pelvic capacity, but otherwise they should be obscene and not heard, unless they suffer from right-wing vomit megaphone mouth like Sarah Death Palin and Michelle Sharia Bachmann.

Anything more than that and females disgust them.

Every country on Earth should frankly test all of their conservatives and if the hard-right conservative antibodies are present in their bloodstreams, they should be deported to a land mass set aside especially for them -- Texas might be available if Hillary Clinton wins -- where they can get after the hard work of monitoring their respective bathrooms and killing each other, to save us the trouble and expense.

The hard right wing conservative scourge sweeping the world is incompatible with civilization.

Newt Gingrich is one of the worst, phoniest intellectuals and preening demagogues to ever prey upon American civilization and he should be deported .. in pieces.

He's a cop-killer bullet and if I ever meet him face-to-face, I'm going to beat his fat, pasty white ass into plowshares.

Hey, the week ain't over:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-midnight-calls-pence-change-mind

Maybe he learned at the last moment that Pence isn't a big enough f*cking asshole.

Trump exchanges prostate massages with the aptly-named Michael Savage:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/07/trump-visits-with-fellow-demagogue.html

I thought Savage died in a car bomb mishap years ago.

Compared to some future weeks, this week ain't too bad:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/14/the-most-singular-of-all-the-things-that-we-have-found-clouds-study-alarms-top-scientist/

Eschaton introduced this study tongue-in-cheek as "more fraud from scientists".

Maybe all of the weapons in the hands of Americans could be made sunlight reflective and thereby delay the onset of all of those drowned conservatives.

Re: "It's been a really really messed up week..."

ObWi is strong this week for the déjà by all over again. First it was Snarki's comment just preceding the events in Dallas. And now it's Ugh's post right before a coup gets underway in Turkey.

Turkee haz coupe? 2-door or 4?

I have friends in Ankara; while I've selfishly reassured myself of their safety w/in the last hour, I must say this should do a fine job of making me vaguely sick with worry all weekend. Good times, good times...

And by the way, some of you may know that our new Foreign Secretary, our head diplomat, won first prize in May in a competition for the most insulting poem about Erdogan, see here
I know many foreigners are saying his appointment is proof of our wonderful sense of humour, but for God's sake....

(I was posting before and it seemed to disappear, so here's hoping it's not a double post)

I don't mean to do a Trump, and make this all about us, but our new Foreign Secretary won first prize in a "Worst poem about President Erdogan" competition a mere two months ago:
see here

I know lots of foreigners are saying that Boris Johnson's appointment proves what a great sense of humour the Brits have, but for God's sake....

My posts seem to keep vanishing, but in case they surface, please don't take my link to the National Review story re Boris Johnson's rude limerick about Erdogan as meaning anything except that it was the first piece I found that actually quoted the whole limerick!

As limericks go, it's mediocre but mildly amusing.

But for someone who aspired to become PM, publishing it was exceptionally stupid. Folly rivaled only by Mrs May appointing the author of something like this as her nation's chief diplomat.

You can say "British sense of humor", but to my mind the right word is "daft."

In case it wasn't clear, I completely agree of course. Theresa May's appointment of him makes sense for internal-political reasons (shoots the fox of the Brexiteers who claim that because she was a Remainer she will betray Brexit, keeps him in the tent pissing out instead of vice versa, possibly gives him enough rope to hang himself etc etc), but when you balance this with the harm he may (or certainly will) do us in our relations with the international community, it seems a very, very risky proposition. He is (appearances notwithstanding) extremely clever, but ill-disciplined and with several fatal flaws.

GftNC, I released the two comments, and I'll try and keep an eye on the spam folder.

Thanks lj. And so to bed.

Funny to be rooting for a military coup to overthrow a more-or-less democratically elected leader("Why hello Mr Yukoshenko") but since its Turkey and its Erdogan then its both expected and indeed overdue. If the Colonels don't take care of Erdogan and his whole crime cartel family, it would have come to Reapers and Hellfires to be rid of him. Putin wanted him gone, the US wanted him gone and most of his people wanted him gone. Eventually, that means he's gone. That's going to upset a few apple-carts in Syria with the Turkish position regarding the various other actors changing, sometimes radically.

Also, Trump chose Pence for the same reason GHW Bush chose Dan Quayle. Life insurance from Hoosier halfwits.

My theory, which is mine, is that the nonsense we're in the midst of now is the result of Global Warming.

Heat things up, and the animals go crazy. Including humans, and Cruz also, too.

Either that, or Loki is having SO much fun running the GOP that he's getting a bit manic. Hope not, global warming thermal runaway is less destructive.

Does Erdogan deserve to be overthrown by force of arms? Did Morsi? What about the criminals currently running Hungary? What about the Republicans and their gerrymandering of the House, voter curtailment, and Shelby County?. Have we arrived at a Dredd Scott moment?

Well, most likely not wrt current US politics.

Under what circumstances is force of arms against the sovereign justified? This is a question that has always held my interest since my SDS days back in the late 60's and my reading (back in the day) of Crane Brinton's The Anatomy of Revolution and Camus' The Rebel.

Those more familiar with Turkish history should weigh in here.

Thanks.

these interesting times are wearing me down

these interesting times are wearing me down

Yeah, not much to do but mourn, and then keep going. But keeping going is doing something.

I certainly won't be sorry about the fact of Erdogan's departure (if it happens). But the means, the circumstances, of his departure? Definitely a different matter.

As for "most of his people" wanting him gone, I think that may be arguable. He has, after all, gotten reelected several times. It's not impossible that he has worn out his welcome since the last election. But enough to warrant a removal by coup? I'd want to see some serious evidence to back up such an assertion.

"But keeping going is doing something."

members, don't get weary.

thanks, sapient.

The coup seems to have failed, in any event. Which means Erdogan is now going to crack down hard.

You mean expanding executive power within a western democracy is a bad thing? Who knew? I think that over 80% of the people in Turkey voted in the last election. There is no way in a western European democracy, and NATO member, that we should consider a coup a good thing. Our arrogance is simply unbounded.

It's a common intellectual failing in the liberal democratic west to view democracy abroad as a conditionally good thing, and to dismiss it as failing when it doesn't turn out how we think it should. This can be a bit of a credibility issue for us, although we don't as a rule collectively deign to notice it.

(To be clear, when I say liberal democratic I mean liberal democratic - this isn't a right/left thing, this is a western capitalist democracy thing. All sides of our establishment tend to be fair-weather friends of democracy overseas...)

Just for curiosity: has the US undermined or overthrown any democratically-elected right-wing governments during its sordid history of undermining and overthrowing democratically-elected left-wing governments?

--TP

Tony P, does Saddam Hussein count? Slobodan Milošević? Gaddafi?

Saddam don't count. He was a Socialist and we took him out to turn Iraq on to the benefits of global market capitalism. Unfortunately we were reluctant to ask Germany for help or advice.
At least that was my recollection .

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/07/dumpster-fire-schadenfreude-trump-spokeman-says-mike-pence-did-nothing-wrong-100-compliant-with-the-law.html

I don't think Hussein or Gaddafi were democratically elected. Would have to check on Milosevic.

Can anyone explain to me why there was an attempted coup? The news articles I've seen say there was one of course but not why. My one Muslim FB friend (lives in England) thinks it is all an Isreali plot. My limited knowledge of Turkey comes from reading Barbara Nagel novels.

My question is not so much why was there a coup attempt. Erdogan's attacks on the military (not to mention repeated purges of the officer corps) would offer plenty of reasons for officers to be unhappy with him.

Instead my question would be Why now? Usually, I would expect there to be some kind of trigger event which set things in motion. So far, I'm at a loss for what that might be in this case.

I think you could count "Hitler" as being democratically elected (or whatever passed for it, back in 1930's Germany). Not sure about examples after that.


wonkie, I don't really know, but this is what I think, and better Turkey scholars should surely correct what is wrong about the following. Also, whatever elements in the military were behind this coup, who knows whether that has anything to do with the following:

Erdogan subscribes to fundamentalist Islam, and the military has a tradition of secularism. Attaturk is the founder of Turkey's secular state, and his vision for Turkey is probably why Turkey is a NATO country. Attaturk was a military guy. Not a right-wing person - a real progressive in terms of Turkish history. And Turkish secularism is really worth studying because it informs a view of French secularism that maybe isn't completely what I, as a liberal Democrat in the US, might have otherwise thought. I mean, Turkey is a Muslim country, but headscarves, and the accoutrements of fundamentalist Islam, are very controversial there. People (Muslims) judge each other's political bent based on their uniform. At least that was what I learned when I visited. (Obviously, this is totally anecdotal and based on someone who hasn't spent a lifetime as a scholar on modern Turkey).

I'm glad the coup failed, but it's a lot more complicated than it looks to people who are "pro-Democracy" versus "anti-Democracy". Erdogan is wannabe autocrat. Even though I think that it's right that the coup failed, I am with the secularists.

I think you could count "Hitler" as being democratically elected

Yeah, I was going to mention that too - thanks, Snarki. But I thought maybe that would have been too ancient history for the conversation. And Mussolini, etc.

Thank you Sapient. I was aware when I first heard of the coup that Turkey's history of military coups is unusual (not rightest, necessarily). I read about Attaturk in an excellent history (The Fall of the Dynasties) but it was a long time ago and I don;t remember more than the vague outlines. Barbara Nagel's novels portray the tension between serious understandings of Islam in Turkey and how that relates to clothing as sell as an urban/rural cultural divide. One of the stranger things I have read about this coup is the claim that some of the plotting was done in Pennsylvania. That seems odd to me. I would expect anti-government plotters in Pennsylvanian to be more the white militia types. Seems like a long way from Turkey to be plotting a coup.

Can anyone explain to me why there was an attempted coup?

I'm not an expert, but because the AKP is clearly headed down the road to convert Turkey into an Islamic republic. The AKP has almost enough votes in parliament to refer a new constitution to the voters, and they seem to get about 60% support for constitutional changes (enough for the referendum to pass). The new constitution may not say "Islam", but will almost certainly drop the secular requirement.

More interesting is why this coup failed when the other three since WWII succeeded. Starting several years ago, the AKP has been successful at stripping the military of some of its special status, and partially decapitating its leadership. They'll finish that job after this -- "now" appears to have been too late.

All the evidence I've seen is that 60% of the voters -- most of the country away from the coast and a couple of interior cities -- wants an Islamic republic to some degree. In that situation you can be an Islamic republic, or you can be some sort of dictatorship, but there's not any room in the middle.

As I understand it, having just watched a quite analytical news broadcast, Erdogan is increasingly authoritarian and certainly subscribes to and is starting to try to enforce a traditional and rather conservative notion of Islam (headscarves, women to be "modest" - one of his pols said not that long ago that women shouldn't laugh in public) although not nearly as extreme as what I think is usually referred to as fundamentalist (amputations, stonings etc). Whereas, and Sapient is right, the military is traditionally secular. However, most of the population, according to the analysts on the program, are supporting Erdogan despite many of them being wary of or outright opposing his agenda, because they value their democracy and fear what would happen to the future stability of the country in the wake of a military coup. Other than this additional gloss, I completely agree with Sapient's final paragraph, especially Even though I think that it's right that the coup failed, I am with the secularists.

It's a common intellectual failing in the liberal democratic west to view democracy abroad as a conditionally good thing...

It's another common failing in the liberal democratic west to not realize that a large majority of the global population simply doesn't buy into contemporary western liberal values. Add democracy to that mix and the results should be unsurprising...

I grow increasingly depressed and parochial as the years go by. I think it's going to be hard enough to maintain contemporary western liberal values in part of the US. "Fixing" the Middle East or Africa or much of Asia will be the locals' problem.

Just looked it up out of curiosity - the guy who in 2014 said women shouldn't laugh in public was the deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Arinc!

Horrible as it may seem to those posting here, that's why I'm an American exceptionalist (at least for now, pre-Trump).

It's kind of crazy that we've worked on a reasonably open-minded view of the "other". And I get it that we're not perfect in any possible way. But I've visited a lot of places, and studied a lot of other folks. Honestly, we need to work hard on who we are, and keep our founding principals in mind. And we need to have faith. Because we have the institutions to make justice work. I just believe that. Obama has been my personal President. We need to keep working for justice, but we have a grip on it.

Crikey Sapient. I just looked up American Exceptionalism on Wikipedia, to be really sure what it means, and apart from the nation having emerged and then been populated in a pretty unusual way, do you really believe that the US has a unique mission to tranform the world, and that this history and mission give the nation a superiority over other nations? I grant you a superiority over some other nations, in some ways, but really? And I ask this not in a particularly critical-of-America way, and I too think Obama has been a good President in many ways....

wonkie, to answer your question, Mr Fethullah Galen is a Turkish preacher of a moderate form of Islam. He is currently in self-imposed exile from Turkey and living in Pennsylvania.

There is a significant level of support in Turkey for Mr Gulen's views. He was once an ally of Mr Erdogan, but these days he is near (or at) the top of the enemies list. (To the point of having the Gulen Movement formally declared to be a terrorist organization -- which, from what I can see, it is not.) Hence it is entirely expectable that he would get blamed for the coup attempt, regardless of whether he, or anyone who follows him, actually had anything to do with it.

Crikey Sapient

Sorry, GftNC. I didn't check out the Wikipedia definition of the term 'American exceptionalism" before I posted, and I didn't realize that Wikipedia was the be all and end all of authority for all things.

I took a quick look at the Wikipedia entry, and will have to spend hours reviewing or refuting it in full. I will say though, that America is unique in its history. It is mostly a European colonialist enterprise that [did horrible displacement of native Americans] formed a political enterprise based on [some of] the people making the law. And as immigrants came over, they were assimilated and [although not really welcomed] became part of the story. And religion wasn't really a thing.

Religion was a big problem in most other nations' histories. It's been a subtext in our history, but pluralism is a pretty unique thing here. Not perfect, but pretty uniquely free of trouble.

The more I read about the way in which this attempted coup was executed (i.e. enormously ineptly) the more it reminds me of the Reichstag fire.

It's sure giving Erdogan a great excuse to conduct purges at home. Not to mention demanding that the US extradite Mr Gulen.

Wikipedia's definitely not the be all and end all, (I hear your sarcasm), so no reviewing or refuting could possibly be necessary. It was just a quick way to check an expression I keep hearing but wanted to make sure I roughly understood. I'm an admirer of many aspects of America, but I remember, for example, many years ago being struck in a series called something like Race in America on NPR, by a black South African student at an American university (before the end of the apartheid regime) saying that in many ways he felt the relationship between the races was worse in the US than in South Africa. I know from past discussions I've seen you have that you're kind of an optimist about the American system, and your post upthread was an expression of that which I found simultaneously moving and unrealistic. I guess I'm just feeling pretty pessimistic about the world, and that includes the US, for all the obvious reasons.

A US-based Turkish cleric accused of plotting a coup to overthrow the Ankara government has claimed President Recep Erdogan staged the rebellion himself to justify a major clampdown on opposition forces.

Fethullah Gulen, who was a former key ally of Erdogan has been blamed by the politician of using his contacts to develop a 'parallel structure' to overthrow the state.

Erdogan has called on US President Barack Obama to extradite Gulen, who is based in Pennsylvania.
[...]

Did Erdogan STAGE the coup?: US-based Turkish cleric facing extradition over botched rebellion claims president orchestrated plot to justify a clampdown on civil rights

Girl from the North Country, thanks for your charitable response. Yes, I'm an optimist. These days, being the opposite is not sustainable.

has the US undermined or overthrown any democratically-elected right-wing governments during its sordid history of undermining and overthrowing democratically-elected left-wing governments?

I suppose one could count Ngo Dinh Diem and Marcos as right wing governments we overthrew, maybe even Syngman Rhee, though in all those cases, it was more standing aside rather than actually doing anything.

Two views of American exceptionalism:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML3qYHWRIZk

http://joemiller.us/2012/07/why-the-most-honest-3-minutes-on-tv-ever-is-a-lie-video/

Not really so positive.

I'm no expert, but I recall that previous rule by the secular military involved quite a lot of torture. Secular Turkish nationalism is also very intolerant of rival nationalisms, such as those of the Kurds which is why the civil war was so brutal. ( The US supplied arms to Turkey which HRW said were used to bomb villages)

Attaturk ihas been accused by some of having involvement in the Armenian genocide. I think that's controversial, but the secular Turkish governments of the past were genocide deniers.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/sep/22/turkey

I would prefer to live under a secular as opposed to even a ( comparatively) mild Islamist regime, but secularists in the 20th century ( and actually going back to the French Revokution) can be murderous bastards.

Incidentally, Assad in neighboring Syria is a secular nationalist. A different breed of secular nationalist expelled 700,000 Palestinians. Nationalism in general has been a great excuse for massive huma rights crimes, even if it is also the motivation for various " liberation" struggles.

I think you could count "Hitler" as being democratically elected (or whatever passed for it, back in 1930's Germany). Not sure about examples after that.

Nope, Hitler never won a majority and had even suffered a not insignificant loss in the last election before he was chosen to become Reichskanzler. As usual for a parlamentarian democracy the chancellor was (and is) not elected by the people. In the Weimar republic he served at the pleasure of the Reichspräsident (head of state), although he would formally need the confidence of the Reichstag (parliament). In the final days of the republic even the latter part got dropped (von Papen stayed in office even after a massive vote of non-confidence). The only office Hitler actually ran for was Reichspräsident and he lost to Hindenburg (who as an aristocratic Prussian field marshal despised the lowly Austrian petit-bourgeois corporal btw). It took massive persuasion of the senile* old fart by his entourage to opt for Hitler as the final attempt to keep control of the Reichstag. And that was under the assumption that this 'plebeian' would dance to the tune of his aristocratic overlords ('cabinet of barons').
Hitler did not have a majority and needed persuasion and intimidation to get the decisive vote on the Law of Enablement. He won that with the votes of the Catholic Center Party** which, as a reward, got dissolved last of the non-Nazi parties.
After that elections were still conducted but as a farce along the same model as in most communist states (= a simple yes or no to a list of candidates of the single legal party usually with the 'No' in very small print next to a huge 'YES'). Lots of jokes about that too (e.g. "Elections get postponed. Someone stole the results from Goebbels' desk" or "The Reichstag is the best paid German singing club. They meet once every four years, sing the national anthem and adjourn until after the next election").
Hitler formally ruled based only on this law and §48 of the constitution (emergency edicts) by illegally combining the office of chancellor and president.
Mussolini was far more legitimate (in a pure formal sense) by comparision and seems to have been the only fascist leader to have been removed from office by formally legal means too (impeached by the Fascist Grand Council).

The post WW2 West German constitution (which avoided to name itself that because it was considered a stop-gap measure to be replaced after reunification) took great care to block all the ways Hitler used and abused. The president is not elected by the people (and not just by parliament either) and cannot dissolve the parliament by himself. The chancellor is elected by parliament and cannot be removed except by electing a successor. No emergency edicts. Even the controversial later addition of emergency articles leave the power with the elected representatives. Plus there are a few rather unique features that ban democracy form abandoning itself democratically, i.e. key features of the constitution cannot be legally changed unless a full new constitution is adopted by popular vote.

*there were tons of jokes about that at the time
**not centrist but religious conservative and officially run by Roman Catholic clerics

As a historian of Asia, I have most often encountered "American exceptionalism" in the argument that the US never had colonies, and never would (because we had once been a colony and knew that was a bad thing), and thus could not possibly be guilty of "imperialism," which was a phenomenon of Europe and Asia and other "Old World" powers which lacked our redemptive (and redeemed) qualities. This I understood to be a small sector of the larger framework of "exceptionalism," which basically took the view that we could not - from our origins, and almost by definition - be judged by the same standards as European and other foreign states, because we were Unique. Many attributed this directly to God's Grace (note the "City on a Hill" as cited by Reagan, among others); others simply took it as a historical fact.

Now it is true that the US never officially had colonies, and the colonies that we actually had - the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Guam, etc. - were mostly and very conveniently islands, so that instead of a Colonial Office we ran these through a Bureau of Insular Affairs. (I believe that the BIA also had some jurisdiction over the Panama Canal Zone, which of course is NOT an island, but I may be wrong about that.)

But the general concept was, and is, nonsense. The USA is unique, as every country is, but it is no more immune from the "evils" of power - whatever one imagines them to be - than any other society, and tying ourselves into knots to prove that the criteria by which we judge other countries cannot be applied to us because EXCEPTIONAL just doesn't work, and makes us look silly.

Perhaps not as silly as Japan, which fetishizes its "exceptionalism" even more than we do (!), but silly, nevertheless.

Whenever I hear someone cite "American exceptionalism" I reach for my Aspirin. (Which is, of course, a German invention)

PS: This comment was written without reference to Wikipedia. Possibly the worse for it, but I'm old and it's late.

GftNC, Wikipedia's portrayal of less positive consequences of American exceptionalism's more stirring and uplifting premises are generally fairly well accepted outside the ranks of American exceptionalists. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect them when faced with an undefined invocation of AE, though at the same time I doubt you'll have much luck getting most AE advocates to agree that these have any widespread basis in fact.

Loathe as I am to quote GWB, his pithy platitude last week in Dallas is painfully apropos here:

Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.

Also, WDNS.

Perhaps not as silly as Japan, which fetishizes its "exceptionalism" even more than we do (!), but silly, nevertheless.

For those of you who want to find out more about that, I recommend the wikipedia article on Nihonjinron as a starting point.

"Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions."

Well, yes, but haven't we had it bludgeoned into our heads that any attempt to do the opposite is the worst sort of political correctness?

In fact, the worst blighters among the exceptional (the exceptionally full-of-sh*t is what they are) self-designate themselves to deliver this message to us, even going so far as to run for the highest political office in the land on a platform of vanquishing any attempts to be a little more careful in our daily interaction, if not the law, about our generalizations from the particular.

Judging by generalizing from the worst particular and individual examples among the Other is an indispensable element of maintaining the judging group's exceptionalism, yet the worst "we" (whomever we happens to be) have to offer are claimed to be exceptions to the rule of our exceptionalism.

General Custer has nothing to do with us. He's an aberration. He might have communicated that the only good Indian is a dead Indian, but really, one of two of you might be worth saving if you'd only start behaving like we do over here.

When this is pointed out to the exceptional, the inevitable comeback is "yes, but all sides do it, you hypocrites", apparently now claiming to NOT be exceptional in that one type of behavior and blinding themselves to their evident exceptionalism in the doing of it, because that is the one single thing the exceptionalists are in fact good at, generalizing from the particular.

You no never mind. Keep your eye and your scatter-shot shotgun trained on that group over there.

"What has the universe got to do with it? You're here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding!"

Bring it on:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/wv-goper-clinton-must-be-executed

I recently read Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands", as well as his "Black Earth". I was somewhat chastened by his account of Hitler's view of the US as a model for national aggression and territorial ambition.

Want a continent? Take it. Someone already there? Kill or otherwise dispossess them. Need labor? Find someone to enslave.

Hitler was apparently fearful of the US as a rival and potential opponent, but an admirer and would-be emulator of of our approach to solving our own need for Lebensraum.

It was an interesting perspective on US history, and one that was hard to dispute from the plain facts. It was, frankly, sobering.

It's always interesting to see yourself in a different mirror.

On it goes. WTF?

So, my son, who is moving to New York City in a week to compete his doctorate in Chemistry at Columbia University, showed me this video last night, which is bizarre:

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/07/15/pokemon-go-rare-catch-central-park

Then, I read that this happened:

http://b95radio.iheart.com/articles/weird-news-104673/woman-hunting-pokemon-finds-dead-body-14891718/

.... and it's not the first time:

http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/345212/pok%c3%a9mon-go-game-leads-to-body-s-discovery-behind-new-hampshire-holocaust-m/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Main

Then, while I was reading about these incidents, one of the pages reported this:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/17/us/baton-route-police-shooting/index.html

Reality is taking on a dark, otherworldly, nightmarish cast. I expect to wake up soon, perhaps as a kid playing in the sunlight with my siblings on the slip and slide on the backyard lawn, or playing with my son when he was a toddler, when things seemed normal.

I've lately been having long vivid dreams, incredibly romantic and passionate in content (in the style of Wuthering Heights, lots of intense kissing on windswept heaths and on beaches with the surf crashing nearby) about the women in my past -- I wake up absolutely shattered --- and other great friends who I haven't seen or heard from for decades pass through these dreams as well, looking older as I imagine might they would be right now.

My mother, who died last December, was in one of them, sitting calmly at her kitchen table, while I looked through her kitchen cabinets for the bottle of bourbon she kept on hand for the occasional tipple.

We both needed a drink.

Everything Explained

My son is "completing" that Doctorate, while competing.

Tarentino, maybe.

The reality part, yes.

My dreams have been Fellini's "8 1/2", with me in Mastroianni's role as Guido, as my past rears up.

Ah, to hear a woman's voice call out "Guido!" in my direction (with a handsome guy named Guido standing behind me, natch) as I walk through the grocery store parking lot.

NV's, Dr Ngo's and (natch) the Count's comments on American Exceptionalism chime much more with what I have always understood, and thought about it. Even Snyder's account of Hitler's view (as recounted by Russell) makes a horrible kind of sense. It's not that there's nothing wonderful and quite exceptional about the founders' and others' aspirations for America, but real life and the often venal or vicious characteristics of real people have intervened, and made America a country which has to fight for justice and decency like many others, and fail much (or even maybe most) of the time. And unfortunately, for its critics its insistence on its own exceptionalism is an easy stick with which to beat it.

I would say that American Exceptionalism is, today, basically a tradition. When the country was first established, it was different from the (major) European countries (nobody else was relevant, of course) in that it was not a monarchy. Over time, that changed. But our world view did not.

The view of ourselves was exceptional was only enhanced by the 20th century. WW I only ended once we got involved. (From our perspection, correlation equalled causation.) In WW II, we were the difference -- objectively, as well as in our own mind. And after WW II, we were the major military power, in addition to being the only major country which was not a wreck. So . . . exceptional.

It was never true in all ways. And is true in fewer today, although there are still a number of areas where we have few peers. But traditions get locked in. I would have said that nobody in the US has any incentive to argue otherwise. But then Trump has come along to show that a candidate can stand up and say that we are not exceptionally good, but rather exceptionally bad, and get away with it.

"I just *knew* there was a good reason to keep those business-envelope-size pieces of iron plate."

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki

Noooooooob!

I use collapsed matter, personally :)

We have few peers in gun ownership, incarceration, and (among major industrial democracies) religiosity. We have many peers in chauvinism.

The US was built at least partly on stolen Indian lands and stolen African lives. That's sort of exceptional, although few modern countries are in the hands of their ancestral inhabitants and slavery in various forms has been a popular pastime for other nations too.

Even as a "nation of immigrants", the US is not unique. Canada and Australia can surely brand themselves that way. But among the major world powers in recent history, the US can reasonably call itself "exceptional" on that score.

Of course, the likes of He, Trump and his acolytes don't exactly celebrate the "nation of immigrants" version of American Exceptionalism. That's because they think they're "exceptional", while the most charitable way to characterize them is "special".

--TP

The term "American exceptionalism" as I meant it is a symbol of our potential. It is aspirational. You don't need to whitewash our history or our current culture to believe that our country has the capacity to offer liberty and justice for all, and that we should continue to try to do so.

It is possible for us to build that kind of society because despite our many betrayals of our founding principals, they are the values that most people subscribe to, even if people disagree in various ways about the particulars. It's much more constructive (for me) to have an attitude of optimism about our system and our potential than to be convinced that I live in an irredeemable, s#itty place.

Again, just my preference.

Yeah, mine too.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/07/which-side-are-you-on-johnny.html

Following Trump's line of bullshit in the link regarding the need for strong leadership, I thought to myself could Obama temporarily declare martial law in Cleveland, stepping in where Kasich refuses to act, to prevent whatever mayhem is going to happen and to save the lives of Republicans, against their dumbass will, natch, and to protect the Ohio police and those lawfully protesting this week, so I looked it up and here's the page that came up:

https://www.google.com
/search?q=can+obama+declare+martial+law+in+specific+parts+of+the+country&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

It looks like from the cites that much of right-wing America already believes Obama declared martial law in America some time ago.

I'm optimistic about our system too, but first the irredeemably sh*tty right-wing filth who live around me need to be dealt with.

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/07/17/stupidevil-venn-diagram/

As for Ann Coulter, National Guard troops, the same ones who murdered innocents at Kent State need to be quartered in her mouth to monitor the coming and goings of her First Amendment privileges.

STFU, Ann, and try not to get your skinny ass shot off this week.

Besides, early reports from Baton Rouge indicate the killer and his accomplices may be Ann's people.

"Suspect Killed Was Affiliated With New Freedom Group, an Anti-Government Group, According to Person Briefed on Investigation

-"Two Others Involved in the Shooting Were Captured Across the Mississippi River From Baton Rouge."

That second link should be:

https://www.google.com/search?q=can+obama+declare+martial+law+in+specific+parts+of+the+country&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

...[did horrible displacement of native Americans]...

Why do Native Americans hate snow? It's white and all over their land.

Word has it that Ann Coulter will M.C. a bukkake gangbang, albeit following Christian principles, for the protectors of Trump:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/07/it-worked-out-great-at-altamont.html

Then, some cage-fighting.

"House Speaker Paul D. Ryan predicted that the aftermath of the election would bring “a fight for the soul of our party,” and said Republicans would have to reject the politics of racial resentment, which he called “a loser.”

Then the House photographer stepped in, drank some bleach, and used the wrong filter on his camera lens:

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/07/17/donald-racially-divisive-trump-oh-look-there-is-an-elephant-in-the-room/

The short hobbits in the back are sitting on booster copies of "Atlas Shrugged".

This looks exactly like a pep rally at my high school I attended on the day Keith Irving and Clark McDonald stayed home with the flu.

Sapient: I have no quarrel with your views on American idealism, an "aspiration" to which we often fall short, and if you can manage to be optimistic nowadays, so much the better for you.

But you really should avoid calling this "American exceptionalism," because it has a customary meaning, and unless you're Humpty-Dumpty (“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.”) it is better to use words that will be understood by your readers or listeners.

Actually, even American aspirations are not entirely "exceptional." The French Revolution, which followed closely upon ours, also came up with aspirations - liberte, egalite, fraternite - that, like ours, would have made the world a better place had they been realized. In that case the collapse of the ideals was more rapid than in America (if you don't count slavery as an inherent denial of our ideals, which of course we don't), but it's a mistake to think that ours is the only country with noble aspirations.

We are indeed unique. We're just not that unique.

My mistake, it was a selfie.

Selfie: America's middle name.

American Exceptionalism - when I was young, I thought it referred to the fact that the US was a country founded on a set of ideas, rather than on nationality/bloodline/lineage, and was the first in history to do so.

All this stuff about AE meaning that ordinary standards of right and wrong don't apply to us, or meaning that we have an inherent right to boss around other countries... I never even heard it defined that way until Reagan.

I always thought "American exceptionalism" was a pejorative term, referring to the delusion that the US was somehow immune to the regular forces of history. Hearing it as a thing people are obligated to possess sounds very strange to me, as if people somehow suddenly started praising "the American hallucination".

Whether "American exceptionalism" is pejorative or not depends entirely on who is saying it. If you think of us as uniquely good, then it's triumphant and positive. If you see us as having both good and bad points, then it's pejorative . . . towards those who claim we are uniquely good.

everybody thinks they're special

Or, more likely, as John Lennon (himself a very flawed individual) said, Jesus was fine, but his followers were (are) thick and ordinary.

Ben Franklin preceded Lennon and others in this sentiment when he answered the woman's query "What have you wrought?" with "A Republic, if you can keep it, you ninny! Now, gangway, my dear woman and to the pub, gentleman, before she figures out that she'll not be having any say in it one way or t'other, our founding principles being f*cking exclusive."

Most of mankind's great founding religious and political principles and ideas look good on paper, among them our own are somewhere near the top for their influence and efficacy, but then a guy like John Calhoun, and now his ridiculous, dangerous offspring, comes along and decides his daft interpretation of the aforesaid principles is more special than everyone else's, so now blood must be spilled to prove it, with Calhoun designating in stentorian tones who is special and who is not.

Pretty soon you have the most conservative elements among the Shiites and Sunnis appointing themselves to come to vastly different conclusions regarding specialness and gathering at holy sites in Cleveland to make their statements, holding aloft automatic weaponry as the most special Godly specialness of all.

Then Barney the Purple Dinosaur steps up to remind everyone that everyone is special and the next thing you know Ann Coulter's knobby knees are sticking our from under Barney's car, like the Wicked Witch of the East's out from under Dorothy's house, except that Coulter if affixing a car bomb to Barney's steering column.

Or, more likely, as John Lennon (himself a very flawed individual) said, Jesus was fine, but his followers were (are) thick and ordinary.

Ben Franklin preceded Lennon and others in this sentiment when he answered the woman's query "What have you wrought?" with "A Republic, if you can keep it, you ninny! Now, gangway, my dear woman and to the pub, gentleman, before she figures out that she'll not be having any say in it one way or t'other, our founding principles being f*cking exclusive."

Most of mankind's great founding religious and political principles and ideas look good on paper, among them our own are somewhere near the top for their influence and efficacy, but then a guy like John Calhoun, and now his ridiculous, dangerous offspring, comes along and decides his daft interpretation of the aforesaid principles is more special than everyone else's, so now blood must be spilled to prove it, with Calhoun designating in stentorian tones who is special and who is not.

Pretty soon you have the most conservative elements among the Shiites and Sunnis appointing themselves to come to vastly different conclusions regarding specialness and gathering at holy sites in Cleveland to make their statements, holding aloft automatic weaponry as the most special Godly specialness of all.

Then Barney the Purple Dinosaur steps up to remind everyone that everyone is special and the next thing you know Ann Coulter's knobby knees are sticking our from under Barney's car, like the Wicked Witch of the East's out from under Dorothy's house, except that Coulter if affixing a car bomb to Barney's steering column.

While I don't much like him, I suspect Johnson will be fine as Foreign Secretary. He'll be kept on a very tight leash (note the appointment of May crony Alan Duncan as his deputy); many of the FS responsibilities have been parcelled out to fellow cabinet members Davis and Fox - and May is a notorious control freak, so any serious negotiations are likely to involve her anyway.

In any event, he's far from the worst we've had, as this anecdote, recently revived in the media, might suggest (that it's unsubstantiated is beside the point; that it is still associated with him rather more so):

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Brown,_Baron_George-Brown

Brown was said to have lumbered over to a tall, elegant vision in red, and requested the honour of the next dance, to be told, "I will not dance with you for three reasons. The first is that you are drunk. The second is that the band is not playing a waltz, but the Peruvian national anthem. The final reason is that I am the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima." The story is unsubstantiated...

ALL nations come up with ideas, some good, some insane and dangerous.

How is the USA exceptional? MARKETING.

Regarding specialness, I'm reading "White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide."

By Carol Anderson, it's a cranking survey of the constant, unending, double crossing, foot-dragging saboteurs of equal rights by the angry white race right up until this very moment and to be continued ad infinitum from the looks of Cleveland since forever, but especially since the last shots were fired in the Civil War.

It never f*cking ends.

I've said this before, but if the United States is indeed blessed, it is by the herculean forbearance of our black citizenry, who have witnessed and waited and struggled, mostly peacefully, decade after decade for 240 years, 150 since the Civil War, as the fonts of self-appointed special specialness with special sauce have tried to throw a murderous Spaniard into every good Civil Rights work moved forward, especially at the local government level, the government closet to us being the most special of all.

In any other society on Earth, at any important juncture since 1865, the black race would have been within their rights to hack all of us to pieces with machetes as we slept in our special beds for the utter crap they have put up with.

Now, look at us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GBAsFwPglw

May the first machete fall on Paul Weyrich's throat, even though we're going to have to dig him up to do so, as his living thick and ordinary operatives work overtime in Cleveland to carry out his special ideas of our founding.

Marketing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlIUXvAdpcw

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmc72fCJivA

The best of all possible ...

https://twitter.com/AlexanderTrow/status/754720478959378432?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Yeah, there is something going on, alright:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-obama-something-going-on-police-shootings

Cool, I agree that semi-automatic weapon- toting, Bellmorian dingleberries ought to be protected from hippies and swarthy people threatening the former with life-threatening weapons of war -- toothpicks, tennis balls, squirt guns, propeller hats, chopsticks, umbrellas, and magic markers:

"The city has built in extra buffer times to keep legally armed protesters separated from hippies prohibited from carrying toy guns, umbrellas with sharp tips, tennis balls and canned goods. So, it's all good."

Even the Cleveland police are leaving their heavy weaponry back at the station (it should be taken away from them altogether).

To illustrate our special place in God's creation, I was going to post a link to the old SNL skit of Chevy Chase and Belushi officiously searching passenger luggage at the airport for contraband while great clouds of cocaine waft around them, but the law won't let me do THAT.

Don't you be hunting Pokemon in Cleveland, this week, people.

Right-wing vermin will kill you.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36818384?yptr=yahoo

Now, my habit is to carry two cans of unlabeled cling peaches in heavy syrup to areas of the country where I might have to brain a right-wing sh*thead.

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