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September 16, 2016

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Fallows has an excellent cover story on Clinton/Trump over at the Atlantic:
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/10/who-will-win/497561/

And his "Daily Trump" is often insightful, too:
http://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2016/09/trump-time-capsule-104-jimmy-fallon/500312/

I do wonder if the debates are going to matter this year like never before.

I posted this in the other thread, but I figured I'd post it here and elaborate a bit. This NJ school-funding proposal came to my attention this past Saturday night at a party where a group of my friends were praising the fairness of it. (I feel like a bit of a dope for having been unaware of it, because it's a big and sucky deal, IMO.)

If you follow the link, there is a link within the article to an opinion piece submitted by Chris Christie describing some of the raw facts behind his decision to fund schools based on an equal dollars-per-student figure with the exception of special-education students.

This proposal would immediately cut aid to some schools by two thirds. These would obviously be the schools receiving the most aid in the first place, but I don't see how this wouldn't result in calamity for those schools.

It's not that there isn't a problem of some sort. There are 31 districts out of damned near 600 statewide that receive more than half of state funding, and they have the poorest-performing schools in terms of graduation rates (and probably other metrics).

But suddenly taking the bulk of the funding from those schools isn't going to fix that. It's like a patient running a high fever for some as-yet undiagnosed reason whose doctor decides to stop treating the fever in the hope that it will just go away or that the cause will suddenly become clear.

My first thought on reading the figures regarding school districts was, "Why the hell are there almost 600 school districts?" Of course, there was an attempt several years ago to consolidate some of them, which sent parents in the better-off ones into orbit. And therein lies the rub.

In NJ, municipalities and counties collect taxes through property taxes, something I'm well aware of as someone who pays more than 10% of his total, pre-tax, household income in property tax. My property taxes are a bit higher than the state average, but my county's average tax bill is a bit lower than the state average, and my town's average is a bit lower than the county average. But none of those numbers are too far from the middle. In any case, my property taxes would almost certainly go down if this proposal went through.

Here's the thing: There are fairly many municipalities in NJ where the average annual property taxes exceed $10k. There are a few where they are over $15k. There is one town, Tavistock, which is basically an incorporated golf course and country club about 10 miles from where I live, with an average in excess of $25k. It doesn't have it's own school district, but is within that of a town with an average property tax of $13k.

Let's contrast that with one of the 31 school districts - the City of Camden's. The average property tax in Camden is about $1500. The average home value is about $55k.

Maybe the problem is that NJ's poorest people are largely clustered in those 31 districts. The mental experiment I came up with was to imagine what school funding and state-aid dollars per child would look like if household income, wealth, or some combination of the two were somehow equally distributed among all school districts, with the richest, the poorest and everyone in between going to the same schools throughout the state.

What I think would happen is that schools would all receive about the same dollars per student (the more obvious conclusion) and that the overall need for state aid would go down.

I think that kids with greater family resources would pull kids with fewer family resources up far more than kids with fewer family resources would pull kids with greater family resources down. People who know what it means to get an education and succeed aren't suddenly going to forget those things because their kids are in school with kids from poorer and less educated families. But kids who come from households with less financial wherewithal and less educational attainment would learn something from those who were better off, especially those kids with high academic aptitude.

I know I gained a good bit of insight from my friends' families - insight that wasn't available within my family. I was still a middle-class kid, but the first in my family to get a degree. But being in honors classes in high school put me among a lot of kids whose parents were better educated than mine. Two of my best friends had parents who taught at the nearly community college and had graduate degrees. They gave me advice that no one in my family could have.

I went to a small high school, but it was a school with a fairly broad and fairly even mix of family income and wealth. No one was what I would call rich, but there were people who were poor and there were people who were fairly well into the upper middle class (and throughout the range in between - among them, me).

Now imagine you're poor. Imagine just about everyone you know is poor. Imagine that the only people you know who went to college were your teachers. No one in your family. No one in any of your friends' families. You might be able to find your way through that situation, get a good education, including a degree, and pull yourself out of poverty. But you aren't sending your kids to the same school you went to if you do manage to do that. Your kids are going to a school with other kids whose parents, in general, have decent jobs and educations.

So my theory (and it is mine!) is that the problem isn't poverty, per se, but class segregation. Defunding schools filled with poor kids isn't going to fix that.

The biggest impact of our drought is that we will (finally!) stop growing water-intensive crops (rice, almonds, etc.) is what has always been basically a desert. If we get rid of those, and figure out that it's nuts to insist on the kinds of lawns that work in a climate like the East Coast but not here, we'll have plenty of water for the bulk of the crops we grow.

I know a lot of people have moved from California to Arizona over the last decade or two. Maybe they can provide tips on desert landscaping to those they left behind.

Oh, how to do desert landscaping isn't a mystery. The problem is that a big green lawn (the bigger the better) is a major status symbol.

So it's going to take a cultural change. Even draconian water rates for the highest users (already being tried in some places) will not, on the evidence so far, do the trick. They will just make the lawns an even better status symbol.

...stop growing water-intensive crops (rice, almonds, etc.)...

And alfalfa that is exported to China.

Well, at least Trump has formally stepped away from his birtherism:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joe admits that it was Clinton’s henchmen who first raised this issue, not Donald J. Trump.

In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.


Of course, his statement is shot thru with falshoods. Not to mention blythely ignoring the fact that he kept it up for years after Obama's birth certificat was obtained. But for him, even this much is a huuuuge step. (Always assuming it lasts....)

here's how CBSNews's website is handling that Trump conference:

Trump: "Obama was born in the United States. Period." [sub-head] After five years as chief promoter of the false idea that Obama wasn't born in the U.S., Trump reverses "birther" stance, claiming credit for putting issue to rest

is our press learning?

The media got really angry about it because he punked them: he claimed it was a presser with a Q&A session, then made a 30-second statement that led into a promo for a hotel.

Worse. He kept them hanging for 90 minutes (much of it filled with surrogates talking about other things) before he made his 3 sentence statement. It may have been the last straw for some of them, after letting him play them like a fiddle for the past year+.

he did the same thing back in the spring when he did the infomercial for his wines and steaks. they didn't learn then.

maybe this time...

If he's going to constantly bleat about how the media is against him, it might as well be true (and for good reason).

Under Texas "Robin Hood" plan, wealthier school districts were forced to share with poorer districts. Then the poorer districts built multi million dollar football stadiums.

At least they know what matters in Texas.

NJ's current state-aid formula dates back to 1990. No multi-million-dollar stadiums have yet to come from it.

Chris Christie says the aid allows the municipalities receiving the most to spend a greater percentage of their tax revenues on municipal services. He doesn't say what those revenues are per capita. Judging by average property taxes, they can be much, so a bigger percentage doesn't mean more money.

If he wants to crack down on truly bloated municipal governments, that's fine. I don't know why he wants to do it by punishing schools.

[...]
Only at the very end did he deliver on his promise of an announcement about his position on Obama's place of birth. During the 2008 campaign, he said, Hillary Clinton "started the birther controversy. I finished it." He now says he believes that "President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period."

Trump's claim that Clinton started birtherism is a telling and easily refutable lie. Some of Clinton's supporters during the 2008 primary campaign did indulge in birther conspiracies, but not the campaign itself. Trump, in contrast, spent years loudly questioning Obama's origins and eligibility for the presidency even after the matter was definitively settled...
[...]

Trump’s Latest Birther Press Conference Shows That He’s a Crony Capitalist Nightmare: The GOP candidate's event was a falsehood-filled advertisement for his new D.C. hotel.

If he wants to crack down on truly bloated municipal governments, that's fine. I don't know why he wants to do it by punishing schools.

I think he wants to reward upper class taxpayers with relatively high property tax bills, if I understand correctly, which justifies the consequences for poor school. Too bad, so sad, IOW.

New Jersey's school system is defiantly suffering from the lack of economics of scale. Texas and California each have only about twice as many school districts as NJ.

From my first comment:

My first thought on reading the figures regarding school districts was, "Why the hell are there almost 600 school districts?" Of course, there was an attempt several years ago to consolidate some of them, which sent parents in the better-off ones into orbit. And therein lies the rub.

I like Hsh's school districts comments, because, mostly: I like what I like.

How many school districts does Florida have? Anyone want to guess without checking Google first?

74.

OTOH, Texas has over 1200. It's maybe not all that predictable from political makeup or even size.

NJ has more school districts than does California. Only slightly more, but it's got rather a lot more population and geographical area to administer.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Alaska and Hawaii, with 56 and 1, respectively.

More overhead and less economic (and other) diversity is not a formula for success. It's not just schools, either. School districts don't map one-to-one with municipalities, but there are way too many municipalities in NJ. It's a long-standing problem.

I don't mean to imply that what I'm describing is somehow unique to NJ, BTW.

Smaller municipalities could reduce their expenditures by privatizing some services and/or contracting with larger municipalities and counties for police, fire and emergencies services.

The do that to some extent.

President Obama needs to send federal troops to Texas and other states that refuse to comply with Federal Court decisions to insure free and fair elections in November 2016:

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a48652/texas-voter-laws/

If the state and local officals, all the way to the Governors, persist in ignoring the law, arrest and prosecute them. Order the troops to oversee the election polling places to insure the law is followed.

Now, if these environs, with their longstanding habits and traditions of threatening armed insurrection against Federal enforcement want to go, let's go, by all means, as in overwhelming violence against them.

If Republicans and Donald Trump, and Gary Johnson for that matter, incite insurrection and violence among their followers against those who are trying to exercise their voting franchise or against law enforcement officials and troops assigned to enforce that franchise, arrest them.

If they resist with force, kill them.

Let's get the overwhelming violence that is coming regardless of who wins this election cooking right now.

I don't want to wait until after the election.

Civil Wars that start in the winter months tend to be long drawn-out affairs. Better sudden enormous body counts before the graveyards turn to mud.

The school/property-tax situation in NJ is a constant problem.

But there IS an upside to it: when a GOP plan to screw the schools hit court, a decade or so ago, it resulted in an epic ruling from the bench, reaffirming the NJ constitutional mandate to fund education:

"We meant what we said and we said what we meant: the schools must be funded, one hundred percent."

Connections with an awful dictatorship--

http://www.worldpolicy.org/blog/2016/09/16/talking-policy-medea-benjamin-saudi-arabia

CIA coverup on torture. ( Democrats were split on this. Michael Morell, a recent Clinton endorser, plays a role in this.)

https://consortiumnews.com/2016/09/16/us-media-ignores-cia-cover-up-on-torture/

There's a link to a series of Guardiian articles by Spencer Ackerman in the link. Valerie Plame is one of the signers of the letter in the consortium link.

And a piece saying the Kerry ceasefire should be supported as Syria's best hope, but is likely to fail --

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-ceasefire-isis-nusra-russia-turkey-this-is-what-must-happen-a7311591.html

I can't stand any of this stuff. Other than seding donations, my head is in the sand and is going to stay thre.

i'm kind of where wonkie is.

basically i think we're rogered. the nation lacks any sense of common purpose.

why not trump? who gives a sh*t?

the why not trump, who gives a sh*t agenda has a reasonable shot at winning the day. nuff said.

our new national motto - anything for a laugh.

and f'em if they can't take a joke.

too cynical? we'll find out.

too cynical? we'll find out.

I think the cynicism is a huge part of the cause of all of this. Snap out of it. Please.

Once upon a time, George Will had sensible things to say beyond his first love: baseball. Conservative, sure. But sensible nonetheless.

But his column in the current Washington Post suggests that those days are behind us. He says of Katie McGinty, the Democrat running against Sen Patrick Toomey in Pennsylvania: she "probably would be a reliable member of an unleashed, and perhaps unhinged, Democratic majority". "Unhinged"? Really? As opposed, presumably, to the current "well hinged" Republican majority.

The mind boggles.

Mind I have no brief for McGinty; don't know anything about her. It's possible I would dislike her views as much as I do those of my own (departing, happily) Senator Boxer. But the suggestion that a potential Democratic majority would be more unhinged than the current Republican one? Possible, I suppose, but difficult to credit.

A fair point.

I just don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this.

I mean, Nixon was a crook, and Reagan was an actor, but they both actually had experience in positions of public responsibility.

Even Silvio Berlusconi had held elected office before becoming Prime Minister.

To me, Trump's candidacy makes a mockery of public life. There's always a sideshow aspect to national politics (and less-than-national politics), but this year it's all sideshow.

There is no doubt some entertainment value there, but it's kind of like the fascination of watching a train wreck.

Regardless of who wins in November, the folks who support Trump now will still be around. I have no idea where we go from here.

Not really being cynical when I say that, I'm just at a loss.

Shorter me:

Trump is the nominee because a lot of people voted for him. To a whole lot of people, he's the best available person to be POTUS.

That's what I find concerning.

Regardless of who wins in November, the folks who support Trump now will still be around. I have no idea where we go from here.

That's true, and very depressing. I don't claim to be optimistic about the people you're talking about. However, they've always been with us (many literally). Many of them have been voting since the Nixon election. Although Trump is truly a new kind of threat because he doesn't even arguably have United States interests as his foremost concern, his supporters are not a new phenomenon.

I still have a hope that demographics will gradually prevail. In the meantime, my greatest disappointment is with the press, whose coverage of this election has been rank. The Washington Post is an exception, and Newsweek has a good article about Trump conflicts of interests, which should have been discussed on Page 1 of every newspaper from the beginning of his candidacy.

Trump is cancer, but he isn't the carcinogen. Our rotten politics, in both parties ( yes I think Republicans are much worse) is why a freak like him can have a shot at the WH.

Now another link, again about the British report on the Libyan intervention.

http://www.salon.com/2016/09/16/u-k-parliament-report-details-how-natos-2011-war-in-libya-was-based-on-lies/

I can't imagine anything this honest getting much traction in the US. We don't have honest discussions about our policies, for the most part, not in our elections and our election seasons drag on forever, especially with midterms filling the gap.

I still have a hope that demographics will gradually prevail.
I think there's a substantial probability that our non-white citizens will all either be disenfranchised, deported or simply killed before that happens. Demographics can be changed; Hitler managed it, and the white South Africans worked around it.

honesty?

the first bullet point of that page is "Qaddafi was not planning to massacre civilians".

that will come as a big surprise to the civilians (and rebels) he massacred!

"Demographics can be changed; Hitler managed it, and the white South Africans worked around it."

Yes, but the Jews are gonna love Trump's new dental plan, the blacks are gonna adore his shoot and release hunting parties on newly privatized public lands with them as prey, and his one-man taco window in the Wall, just for his very own drive-up opportunity, will put the wetbacks in his back pocket.

I see fear, bemusement, cynicism, hope, and desperation in the last comments. All irrelevant.

What this country needs to counter the very real mortal, internal threat that Trump's Republican Party holds for the rest of us, is a couple/three million patriotic Americans willing to do the things to these filth that will get us sent to Guantanamo.

Look at it as retirement community.

I think there's a substantial probability that our non-white citizens will all either be disenfranchised, deported or simply killed before that happens.

I hope we can gain some ground in November against this probability.

"my greatest disappointment is with the press"

same here.

Trump is a more entertaining character than HRC, so he gets a pass.

that's the only sense I can make of it.

it's pitiful.

"I think there's a substantial probability that our non-white citizens will all either be disenfranchised, deported or simply killed before that happens"

I don't see that happening.

If for no other reason than brown people can shoot, too.

Let's hope it doesn't anywhere close to that point.

Just like Putin, arresting and detaining the Fourth Estate, which by the way, I'm with sapient, is of little use anyway, given their buy-in with Trump and the right wing that news and journalism are little more than reality-show fluffing for the millions of armed, crazy assholes who populate this disgrace of a society.

The right wing wanted to destroy the Fourth Estate, set out to do just that, and succeeded.

So, what's left of its irrelevant carcass should drag itself out of the way so it doesn't get hit by flying lead.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/vice-news-reporter-arrested-trump

This too:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-clinton-unarmed-body-guards

Well, it's obvious that she would be gunned down in a hot minute if she gave up the bodyguards, because that's how the country rolls, always has. The Republican Governor of West Virginia, Matt Bevin, is exhorting his cadres to do just that if she wins this election, and we have going on thirty years of Republican death threats against the OTHER in this country as well.

Instead, let's do this. Hundreds, no, thousands of anti-Trump, anti-Republican patriotic, tax-paying Americans need to show up armed, heavily, like the Libertarian/Republican dudes in Oregon, to the teeth at the former's political events and force entry.

We'll see if Trump's armed bodyguards and his violent, abusive supporters want to fuck with us.

I think they will. And then we can start solving some problems, permanently.

Pick a state, let them have it, and call it a day.

The short list is probably NV, ID, TX, or SC. That seems to be where folks who want to go to war with all of the rest of us congregate.

Let them pick one, or even two. Hell, take 'em all.

Or just simplify life, and give them AK.

They can secede and call themselves the REAL United States of America. Or maybe United State of America. Or LibertyLand. Whatever floats their boat. And we'll all carry on from there.

Farewell and good riddance.

That's my suggestion.

When America sends its people to Trump rallies, it doesn't send its best ... They are racists, they are dupes, and some, I assume, are good people.

I've encountered 3 or 4 Trump supporters at work who are good people, as far as I know. This is at a medical robotics company in the suburbs of Boston. These people are engineers of reasonable competence and substantial experience; they are all male of course. I have heard one of them in particular recite some of the silliest of the RWNJ talking points to the fourth guy (the one I'm not sure of) in the lunch room.

As a contractor who bills by the hour, I have been too conscientious to join in such conversations. Or if you prefer, too lazy to keep close enough track of my time on-site to account for the odd quarter hour involved. An occasional snide comment as I wait for the Keurig to dispense my coffee is as far as I've been willing to go.

Then of course there is the general atmosphere of the "high-tech" workplace: the above-it-all, we-have-more-important-things-to-do attitude that looks down its nose at politics. You don't even see political bumper stickers on the cars in the parking lot.

Things may be different in other types of workplaces -- places where people spend more time doing stuff than attending meetings with PowerPoint slides. I wouldn't know; my career has been limited in that respect. But I have always felt that "politics" is too-little discussed in the environment where most people spend most of their waking time.

Maybe some more-overt politicking in the workplace would be healthy for the nation. Or maybe it would hasten The Count's long-predicted showdown between the (r)epublican and (c)onfederate factions now living and working intermingled in the US like Hutu and Tutsi or Catholics and Huguenots.

That last bit is the real rub, I think. Like "illegal immigrants", devotees of He, Trump live among us and are hard to tell apart from sane people in everyday life.

--TP

Douchebag Gulch has a nice ring to it. If there is more than one state, they could federate into the United States of Pistol-Whipped Assholes.

The remaining forty-some states could pipe all of their untreated heavy metal, nuclear, agricultural, chemical, fracking, and human waste and pollution into their state, since they seem to feed off the stuff.

Since these idiots were probably the libertarian/conservatives back in the day who whined about politically correct, freedom-sucking littering laws, we could airlift our litter over them and drop it on their heads.

One transport plane per day filled entirely with cigarette butts compliments of the science departments at tobacco companies.

Walls, barbed wire.

A taco-less wonderland of overcooked suet.

"The short list is probably NV, ID, TX, or SC. That seems to be where folks who want to go to war with all of the rest of us congregate."

SC: first in secession.

Plus, being on the east coast, prevailing winds will take the fallout out to sea.

The future of the Alt-Right will be so bright that they have to wear shades. Or welding goggles.

The entire Republican Party requires, as Donald Trump calls the violence at his rallies, a frisson of excitement:

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/09/17/open-thread-all-the-worst-people-stand-up-for-their-donald/

SC: first in secession.

Plus, being on the east coast, prevailing winds will take the fallout out to sea.

Just make sure that approximately 30% or more of the population has the option of being humanely resettled.

...probably would be a reliable member of an unleashed, and perhaps unhinged, Democratic majority...

Because they would do away with the modern form of the filibuster: "Senate Democrats, who are situational ethicists regarding Senate rules, might further dilute the ability of the minority to require a 60-vote majority for, among many other things, confirmation of Supreme Court justices." My suspicion would be that if the Republicans in turn gain a Senator majority in 2018, George will be on the side of giving things a simple majority vote on the floor...

"Just make sure that approximately 30% or more of the population has the option of being humanely resettled."

i guess my thought was not so much making anybody do anything, as much as it was just giving all the folks who seem intent on mayhem violence and anarchy someplace they could all just go.

let your freak flag fly!! but, over there, if you don't mind.

so yeah, people can settle or resettle anywhere they like.

voluntary segregation by social and political druthers, as opposed to shooting at each other.

it's an option, or ought to be.

voluntary segregation by social and political druthers, as opposed to shooting at each other.

As long as it is "voluntary segregation". But that kind of solution usually looks more like "ethnic cleansing". Let's just be sure it's not that.

America is somewhat beyond ethnic, racial, gender and religious cleansing.

It's now a war between the total assholes and everyone else, because we're now so post-exceptional.

Anyone can grow up in America to be an asshole and so many from so many walks of life are now fulfilling that dream.

It is true that early in our history only certain individuals of a specific race and ethnicity could aspire to be total assholes, like Aaron Burr, Andrew Jackson, and John C. Calhoun, although the latter was open minded enough to permit his wife full latitude to indulge her inner asshole alongside him.

It is said Calhoun, try though he might, could not write a love poem, because every line started with "whereas".

Didn't de Tocqueville warn of an American democratically-induced descent into an irreversible, gamey buttheadedness if we didn't watch out.

And we didn't, did we?

A tweet from someone:

Trump: “Someone please kill my opponent!”
Clinton: “What the hell!”
Media: “Hillary, stop swearing!”

Fuck off, assholes.

voluntary segregation by social and political druthers, as opposed to shooting at each other.

The problem here is that you appear to have the federal government telling folks, "Look, we're just not going to enforce sh*t like the Civil Rights Act or gun control or any of that in South Carolina, nor will the state be required/allowed to. All you nut jobs should feel free to move there."

The problem is that you're implicitly telling some minority groups in South Carolina (or wherever), "Sorry that you're a fifth generation South Carolinian, with an established business and such; you're just screwed."

Speaking as someone whose retirement hobby is plotting a US partition along a completely different policy split, you'll never make that one work.

Trump's hit men when Clinton gives up her bodyguards:

See this guy:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/guns-and-sodas/2016/09/17/805e0db4-79e9-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_opencarry-8pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

See this guy:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/daily-show-exposes-pro-gun-activist-to.html

We're not going to live like this. My son is not going to live like this. I see either of these fucks anywhere near me or anyone near my son on a college campus and I will kill them.

Those subhuman sick fucks are Republicans. I own Hillary's lying. All Republicans own those fuckers. Gary Johnson owns those fuckers, because he's fully in favor of Americans walking around like off duty third world government assassins.

I'm pretty sure they'll kill me first in any confrontation because fists won't stand a chance.


I'm dying to hear the details of Michael Cain's partition plan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX0F3kY3uxU

Speaking as someone whose retirement hobby is plotting a US partition along a completely different policy split, you'll never make that one work.

Michael Cain, what policy split would that be?

MC: the toxic waste dump has to go SOMEWHERE. South "first in treason!" Carolina has earned it. When Obama, as his last executive action, delegates to ObWi commenters the power to make the partition happen, then we can talk about the details.

For now, I suggest that the minority communities in any possible "secession zone" arm up and stand their ground against the alt-right invader scum.


Mike Pence releases his health records and he's in tip top shape:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/mike-pence-releases-medical-records

That IS the bad news.

I simply must dissent. Unfortunately, as we are seeing this year, South Carolina is just no way going to be big enough to fit in those who would want to go. We're going to have to go with Texas.

That really shouldn't be a problem. (Well except for the folks in South Carolina who treasure their position as first in treason.) The Texans are forever going on about how they were a seperate country once, and would be better off if they were again. All we need to say is Vaya con Dios. ;-)

Yes, I suppose I was being unfair to Texas, since they really do have a very good claim on "first in treason (in defense of slavery)": first seceding from Mexico (for slavery), and then from the US (for slavery).

But I don't think SC is "too small"; the population density in the US is really rather low, so I'm pretty sure you could pack ALL the Alt-Right wingnuts in SC before you make a critical mass.

The problem here is that you appear to have the federal government telling folks

I guess what I was going for was not the feds telling anybody anything.

What I had was more along the lines of the Czech/Slovak split.

We're not getting along all that well, maybe it's time to divide up the furniture and record albums and call it a day.

I kind of bring this up as a joke, but I also think there's a reasonable case to be made that the US is not naturally a single nation. Even the original 13 states started out as entities created by fiat, by a bunch of people living someplace else, for different purposes.

We've always had significantly different cultures.

I've often asked the question "what exactly are our common values". I don't think I've ever heard are clear reply. Even if you can point to language that everyone could agree on, I don't think it would mean the same thing to different people.

We're a political entity that comprises several nations. It's hard to make that work.

Mostly I'm tired of listening to people talk about how they're going to start shooting other people if they don't get their way. I don't keep friends who threaten me or people like me, I'm not sure why I should go very far out of my way to share a political identity with them.

If it's come to that let's just call it a day.

If it wasn't for the issue of slavery and blatant expansionist doctrine of de jure white supremacy, I'd say we should have just parted ways back in the mid-18th C.

I don't think those are the issues now. White supremacism (or pick whatever color you like) is still floating around out there, but I think the issues are more along the lines of what the purpose of a polity fundamentally is.

Here is John Adam's definition of the purpose of a polity, as expressed in the MA Constitution:

The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals: it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.

I think in most of the country that would sound like addle-brained European socialist claptrap.

Covenant? WTF is that? What is this "all for one and one for all" bulls*t?

Vermont likewise has a political tradition, preceding the existence of the US as a nation, based on the idea of Liberty and Union.

Not one or the other, but both, in a kind of dynamic balance.

That's also the title of a speech by Daniel Webster, in which he counters the idea of nullification by asserting that the US is a nation comprised of people, not of states.

Those are traditions that sound like utter nonsense to a lot of folks in this country. As far as I can tell, anyway.

As a nation, we've always been at odds with each other. Usually it works out, but periodically it really doesn't. This is one of those times, I think, and IMO we need to consider what we're about, and whether we all agree on what we're about, and if not, what to do about that.

Just my random Sunday afternoon thoughts.

I know Michael Cain has similar thoughts that hinge more on the West/ East divide, which is certainly another relevant dimension.

I wouldn't look forward to splitting up the country, nor would I be willing to go to war to prevent it. Not this time around. If folks can't agree, sometimes it's best to let it be and go separate ways.

And what I really want to emphasize is that I'm not calling anybody names or looking down on anybody. Different people want different things. If we can't find sufficient agreement to keep the wheels on, maybe it's time to let it go.

It won't be the end of the world.

Cleek, here is the Libya report,

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmfaff/119/11905.htm#_idTextAnchor020

The point is not that there weren't atrocities, but that there was no evidence of the scale of atrocities people were predicting. Gaddafi had already retaken towns. No massacres of tens of thousands. As I said in some earlier thread on this, there were comparable or more killings of civilians when the Egyptian military overthrew Morsi in Egypt a few years ago.

There is an unwritten rule in our stupid country which says that you can make any exaggerated claim you want about an official bad guy--ie, someone we want to bomb as opposed to someone we help bomb others--and nobody dares to correct it because if you do you will be accused of being an apologist.

On a different computer since I have trouble copying things on my iPad. Here is the relevant portion of the report--

"The evidence base: our assessment

32.Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence. The Gaddafi regime had retaken towns from the rebels without attacking civilians in early February 2011.72 During fighting in Misrata, the hospital recorded 257 people killed and 949 people wounded in February and March 2011. Those casualties included 22 women and eight children.73 Libyan doctors told United Nations investigators that Tripoli’s morgues contained more than 200 corpses following fighting in late February 2011, of whom two were female.74 The disparity between male and female casualties suggested that Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians. More widely, Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year record of appalling human rights abuses did not include large-scale attacks on Libyan civilians.75

33.On 17 March 2011, Muammar Gaddafi announced to the rebels in Benghazi, “Throw away your weapons, exactly like your brothers in Ajdabiya and other places did. They laid down their arms and they are safe. We never pursued them at all.”76 Subsequent investigation revealed that when Gaddafi regime forces retook Ajdabiya in February 2011, they did not attack civilians.77 Muammar Gaddafi also attempted to appease protesters in Benghazi with an offer of development aid before finally deploying troops.78

34.Professor Joffé told us that

the rhetoric that was used was quite blood-curdling, but again there were past examples of the way in which Gaddafi would actually behave. If you go back to the American bombings in the 1980s of Benghazi and Tripoli, rather than trying to remove threats to the regime in the east, in Cyrenaica, Gaddafi spent six months trying to pacify the tribes that were located there. The evidence is that he was well aware of the insecurity of parts of the country and of the unlikelihood that he could control them through sheer violence. Therefore, he would have been very careful in the actual response…the fear of the massacre of civilians was vastly overstated.79

Alison Pargeter concurred with Professor Joffé’s judgment on Muammar Gaddafi’s likely course of action in February 2011. She concluded that there was no “real evidence at that time that Gaddafi was preparing to launch a massacre against his own civilians.”80

35.We were told that émigrés opposed to Muammar Gaddafi exploited unrest in Libya by overstating the threat to civilians and encouraging Western powers to intervene.81 In the course of his 40-year dictatorship Muammar Gaddafi had acquired many enemies in the Middle East and North Africa, who were similarly prepared to exaggerate the threat to civilians. Alison Pargeter told us that

the issue of mercenaries was amplified. I was told by Libyans here, “The Africans are coming. They’re going to massacre us. Gaddafi’s sending Africans into the streets. They’re killing our families.” I think that that was very much amplified. But I also think the Arab media played a very important role here. Al-Jazeera in particular, but also al-Arabiya, were reporting that Gaddafi was using air strikes against people in Benghazi and, I think, were really hamming everything up, and it turned out not to be true.82

36.An Amnesty International investigation in June 2011 could not corroborate allegations of mass human rights violations by Gaddafi regime troops. However, it uncovered evidence that rebels in Benghazi made false claims and manufactured evidence. The investigation concluded that

much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge.83

37.Many Western policymakers genuinely believed that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered his troops to massacre civilians in Benghazi, if those forces had been able to enter the city. However, while Muammar Gaddafi certainly threatened violence against those who took up arms against his rule, this did not necessarily translate into a threat to everyone in Benghazi. In short, the scale of the threat to civilians was presented with unjustified certainty. US intelligence officials reportedly described the intervention as “an intelligence-light decision”.84

38.We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. It may be that the UK Government was unable to analyse the nature of the rebellion in Libya due to incomplete intelligence and insufficient institutional insight and that it was caught up in events as they developed. It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the militant Islamist extremist element in the rebellion. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence."

And what I really want to emphasize is that I'm not calling anybody names or looking down on anybody.

I am. I don't want to partition the country. I want to win it against the racists.

Back to Yemen--I am happy to report that the British government is a bigger bunch of liars than ours, though they did backtrack.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/27/after-thousands-dead-uk-foreign-office-steps-back-its-denial-yemen-war-crimes

So yeah, the plague of dishonesty in the US and apparently Britain goes a bit deeper than just what you can blame on the orange haired freak with a shot at the presidency. We have the internet now, it's a lot harder to cover up the blatant and monstrous hypocrisy of what our governments do, and yet it still isn't much of an issue, though to their credit a few congresspeople in both parties are starting to object.

On splitting the country, we'd just create a brand new set of official enemies, right next door. Would conservatives and liberals trust each other any more if they were in separate but adjacent countries?

"On splitting the country, we'd just create a brand new set of official enemies, right next door."

Depends on how energetic the whole "fission" thing is.

The disparity between male and female casualties suggested that Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians.

Or, the disparity suggests that people living in besieged areas attempted to protect women and children, and that males (including civilians) were attacked at a far greater rate, much like what happened in the former Yugoslavia, when mass murders of men were conducted (and women were more likely "merely" raped).

My guess is that your standards for drone casualties would be different, Donald.

I want to win it against the racists.

I just don't think it's a simple as a conflict between the racists and the non-racists.

Not saying that isn't an issue, just saying it's not (at least IMO) the crux, or the main crux, of the matter.

Everything I've said about this here in this thread is actually kind of separate from this year's election. In terms of this November, the outcome I'm looking for is to defeat Trump by an embarrassing margin.

That would be, I hope, in no small measure a public repudiation of the bigoted simplistic nationalistic tripe that he is selling, and to the degree that it demonstrated that bigotry once again (or, maybe, finally) needs to go hide under a rock, I'm all for it.

I don't actually expect the above, but I'd be glad to see it, and will be putting whatever minor efforts I can muster toward making it happen.

You're inspiring me to get back up off my @ss, so thanks.

I just don't think it's a simple as a conflict between the racists and the non-racists.

I think it's the main issue that hurts us, as a country. There is no such thing as a country of likeminded people. Our country's common theme is the Constitution. Obviously, people value various pieces of it in different ways, and its interpretation is subject to the courts and historical forces.

A country can encompass differences, but not so easily intolerance of differences. Most people in this country (I believe) are willing to work to accommodate pluralism. The ones who aren't willing to do that are the problem. I wish to make them as powerless as possible. I will listen to their socio-economic complaints when they get with the program on pluralism.

"A country can encompass differences, but not so easily intolerance of differences."

this is right on the money.

I hadn't thought about in quite those words, IMO this is exactly right, and gets to the heart of where we are at.

Thanks sapient.

Thank you, russell. It's nice to be on the same page with you (which I usually am, but for some reason find it more of a thrill to argue when we don't agree).

I want to win it against the racists.

Win. A word liberals don't use often enough. We need to mount the resolve to work for the utter defeat of white supremacy, revanchist conservatism, unfettered free-market idolatry, and the siren song of international empire....right up, but not quite to the point of hearing this.

Because, rest assured, that is how modern day conservatism sees things...liberals, as the enemy, an enemy to be either totally dominated or eliminated.

The trouble with a philosophy of total domination (or elimination) is that, if you lose, you have set yourself up for total defeat. Which is why it's a dumb approach . . . except for the terminally self-righteous.

Another one of comments got stuck somewhere, I think, and I believe it's because when I spell out the epitath with which conservatives refer to Hillary Clinton, you know the "c" word without the asterisk, the politically correct OBWI filters send it to spam.

That's just the political correctness that conservatives expect us to enforce.

Big mistake.

"political correctness" = simple good manners

It may be tempting. Indeed, I know it is. But we really don't need to descend to their level.

How's that working so far?

Get beneath them. America right now is a Limbo dance. It's their choice.

Get low, and win.

But, I agree, it's simple good manners.

They don't get dessert.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/watch-this-video--2

You see how he indicts all conservatives. Own it.

He's your leader.

Or, get the fuck out of the way.

Hillary Clinton lies.

Trump's political organ today on the newstand, The National Enquirer, the new Congressional Record after January 2017, the one where pigfucking Republicans will read the cliff notes texts of Trump's SOTU, along with on Brietbart, reports that Bill Clinton has his dick out on the campaign trail, his fly open.

Go get it. Marty. What, Gary Johnson has something against dick being aired out in public?

Here's what I really think:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3TRns_zssM

3% of US adults (sic) own an average of 17 guns each...
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/19/us-gun-ownership-survey

I don't think we're getting rid of racism anytime soon. It's just as much of a stubborn cling to mindset as is 9-11 trutherism.

It's part of who we are as a country. Othering it doesn't work, because they don't want to be included. They want to be isolated in like-minded communities of racial homogeneity. The most cruel thing you could do is include them.

Hey, there's an idea.

My other thinking is that divisiveness comes from too much attention on political victory, so I have deliberately disengaged myself (partially failing) from political discussion. I have disagreements with others. I'm not doing a good job changing their thinking, nor are they doing a good job changing mine. Time to move on.

I know that's anathema to political blogs, but that's where I am coming from at present.

Your response makes no sense, sapient. The death toll in Libya was vastly lower than at Srebrenica. And mass rapes are another myth about Libya.

If you pay no attention to facts you can imagine the situation was whatever is convenient.

I didn't see this until this morning, but others are noticing how fact free our foreign policy discussions are in the US --

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/trump-clinton-iraq-libya/499238/

"It's part of who we are as a country."

I think this is exactly right. I might even say, it's part of who we are as a species, but that's perhaps out of scope for this thread.

I actually am interested in political victory this fall, because IMO a Trump presidency would be profoundly bad. Not because he's (R), but because he's Trump. This year isn't like every other year.

The other thing I want to make clear is that, if I talk about folks going their own way, I'm not talking about racism. Not least because there are plenty of folks who 'think like me' who are, basically, racist, even if they feel obliged to be polite about it. I'm talking about what seem to me to be profound differences in basic political and cultural outlook.

And to be honest, I don't really have a big problem with people who think differently from me, I just don't know how to have a conversation with them, let alone 'include' them, when '2nd A solutions' are part of the agenda.

That's not a conversation, it's a hostage negotiation. There is no place for it a coherent polity.

I sometimes think that if the founders could see what the US has become, their reactions would be mixed. Hamilton would think it was great, Adams would probably be OK with it, although he might think it had gotten a bit too large for practical purposes, Jefferson would probably want to burn it down and start over.

But yeah. I'm pretty much against Trump being POTUS.

The death toll in Libya was vastly lower than at Srebrenica.

You think intervention is justified only after everyone is already dead, perhaps? The intervention was meant to minimize massive casualties that Gaddafi threatened to inflict, and he had a role model in Assad.

Yes, there is still strife in Libya, but ISIL has been largely destroyed there, and the country has a few factions vying for power. It may take awhile, but the prospects are more positive than in Syria. The United States didn't commit to helping Libya find its future. It merely assisted an international coalition to strip Gaddafi of his air power, and that led to his ouster.

If you oppose intervention by the international community, which is a result of a true international consensus, supported by a UN Security Council vote, you will never support anything. It would have been just fine with you if Gaddafi had bombed his own people - just as long as the US stayed out.

By the way, much as I sometimes admire the Brits, their current isolationism isn't their finest moment. Also, Cameron's actual leadership role in the intervention had a lot to be desired. Our decision to participate was not the mistake.

Michael Cain, what policy split would that be?

Energy, and electricity in particular. As russell noted, it's an east-west thing. 20 years from now, how to keep the lights on will be an issue. The states of the US Western Interconnect are in the process of committing themselves to a renewable electricity future, which will eventually put them at odds with much of the rest of the country, the non-West lacking the level of rich renewable resources the West has.

As a mental exercise, a partition plan has to focus on differences. The 11-state West I talk about, largely through its almost universal veto-proof ballot-initiative "parallel" legislatures, is becoming a pot-smoking, vote by mail, independent redistricting region. Don't know what the next wave of hot initiative topics will be, but can guarantee there will be one, and the initiative states will look less like the non-initiative states as a result [1]. Fire and water are political in a way that they aren't in the non-West. Large federal land holdings are a serious topic for the political class, and not in the Bundy Ranch or Malheur Refuge sense. The ongoing depopulation of the Great Plains is creating a 500-mile wide physical buffer between the West and the rest of the country.

[1] Side note. In Colorado, where I live, we're already into the important run-up period because vote-by-mail ballots will start being delivered in less than four weeks. TV ads for candidates are currently few and far between. There are far more ads for/against some of the ballot initiatives.

Rather than many here being tasked with constantly explaining our support for Hillary Clinton, I'd like to know what conservatives here are going to do about the fact that your Trump/Conway/Priebus vermin Republican Party is coming after you and wants you gone:

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/09/19/late-night-open-thread-kasich-escapes-the-compound/

Yes, Trump knew because his people planted the bombs, the murderers.

Radical Islamic terrorism and radical Republican terrorism have merged operations against the rest of us.

We're going to have to kill all of them.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/donald-trump-claims-credit-calling-nyc-bombing

Instructions on how to profile radical Republican terrorists and their leaders coming soon.

It's mostly about the hair.

Mike Pence is Dick Cheney:

http://juanitajean.com/not-who-i-would-have-picked/

Wait, I take a ten minute nap and instead of moving to Canada, now you all want to divide the country?

It took you that long to figure out Mark Steyn was Canadian?

I don't think we're getting rid of racism anytime soon.

OK. So what public policies logically follow from this assessment?

They want to be isolated in like-minded communities of racial homogeneity.

Who are "they"? Same question as above.

He just couldn't resist letting us knew that he know about the bombings before they happened, could he?

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-deletes-tweet-obama-clinton-nyc-nj-blasts

How did he know?

Because he ordered the terrorist bombings and his Republican thug operatives carried them out to panic the electorate and hand him the White House.

It's a very Putin-like move. Classic.

What he knowed, he don't knew.

Wait, I take a ten minute nap and instead of moving to Canada, now you all want to divide the country?

Rats, Mom woke up.

"I don't think we're getting rid of racism anytime soon."

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/racist-nationalism-rise-all-over-world

The full article:

http://www.vox.com/2016/9/19/12933072/far-right-white-riot-trump-brexit

Sometime in the early 1930s, German pundits surveyed current events, shrugged, and said "I don't think we're getting rid of anti-semitism anytime soon.

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