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September 16, 2016

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dr. ngo:

Yes, the Candide allusion was intended.

Batshit assholes, the perfect embodiment of what conservative America has become:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/omarosa-manigault-trump-critics-will-bow-down

Bow down?

No.

Violence now, violence tomorrow, violence forever.


Is it legal for private American citizens to aid foreign militaries engaged in human rights violations?

That's actually two seperate questions. Is it legal for private American citizens (or anybody else) to engage in war crimes? No. Is it legal for private American citizens to aid foreign militaries (i.e. become mercenaries as a career choice)? As far as I know, the answer is yes. But perhaps one of the lawyers can weigh in on what impact, if any, such service would be held to have on their citizenship. That is, does such service constitute a renunciation of citizenship? (My guess is that it is not, in itself, sufficient.)


Also, it is bizarre to read these cost benefit analyses in cases where we are assisting a foreign country in committing war crimes. . . .

I have seen this argument made before and it genuinely baffles me.

There are two major approaches to conducting foreign policy. Call them the pragmatic and the idealistic. We have tried both, from time to time. In general, the idealistic/moral approach has gotten us into far worse problems, and resulted in worse outcomes for everyone involved, than the pragmatic/amoral/self-interested approach.

No that we haven't, even at our most prgamatic, done things just because we thought they were "right." But when we have undertaken broad moral efforts, we have ended up blundering into numerous situations which we did not understand, and where there turned out to be no "good guys" available to work with. Not to mention having done harm to the national interest in the long run.

Case in point: Vietnam. During WW II, Ho Chi Minh had worked with the OSS against the Japanese and Vichy French. After the war, he appealed repeatedly to the US for support. But he was a communist, so we refused -- even though his primary reason was that he did not want to work with the Chinese Communists. Had we made a less moralistic choice, the history of South East Asia would have been seriously different. And my generation would have left a lot fewer bodies there.

So that's where the cost/benefit analysis comes from. It's part of the pragmatic approach to foreign policy.

But it also seems to me that it ought to have a place in the idealistic approach as well. Because no matter how lofty your intentiuons, should you not at least consider the effects of your actions? There might, after all, be moral downsides to the effects of even the best-intentioned actions. Especially if those actions are ineffective, that might make a moral difference.

In reading about the Saudis, there is a serious discussion of the House of Saud's imminent collapse because of fallen oil prices, among other stress, with the result that the governing entity will be straight up al Qaida. I imagine that the powder keg that is Saudi Arabia also worries people.

That's certainly one possible outcome of a collapse of the House of Saud. But not the only one, and I rather doubt that it is the most likely one.

Even if the government collapses, there's nobody ready and willing to disband the Saudi army the way we (foolishly) did the iraqi one. I think it far more likely that we would see a military regime (ala Egypt) than the kind of straight-up chaos and power vacuum that would lead straight to an al Qaeda/ISIS regime.

Yes, there could be a lot of young men with no modern skills who would find themselves without the sinecures they have currently. But unlike the places where Wahabist clerics have been preaching the glories of an Islamist regime, the Saudis have been living with one. Not one as bad as ISIS, but still enough to give them a clear idea of what an even less secular regime would be like.

(This, again, indicates that I have a bit some confidence in the people I elected not to be immoral, callous war criminals, in that I attribute some belief on their part to the possibility that they are making the best set of decisions in a complicated situation that they can.)

Did you extend this same presumption of good will, to be retained even when faced with evidence drawing it into question, to the Bush administration's foreign policy? Did you extend it to their domestic policy? Would you extend it to a hypothetical Trump administration? In all those cases, if not, why not?

to be retained even when faced with evidence drawing it into question,

I don't see the evidence drawing into question the good faith of the current administration.

Did you extend this same presumption of good will, to be retained even when faced with evidence drawing it into question, to the Bush administration's foreign policy? Did you extend it to their domestic policy? Would you extend it to a hypothetical Trump administration? In all those cases, if not, why not?

No. It was evident that their policies were wrong, and that their good faith was questionable even during the electoral process. Therefore, I didn't vote for them. SASQ.

I find this, and other threads, interesting in that sapient is a pure and unapologetic partisan. Having chosen a side, Democrats, all trust and confidence is unshakeable, no amount of evidence will create doubt or regret, motives are more important than action and motives are pure by definition

I only marvel at the absoluteness of it. As partisan as I can be, very, I could never accomplish that level of certainty.

I am not criticizing, it is great to watch. It is the optimistic mirror to the Count.

I think our bouts of idealism usually weren't as idealistic as portrayed, but at any rate, if we take our professions of good intentions at face value, it's our wars that have been catastrophic. It's part of just war tradition that you don't enter a war without trying to determine whether it will do more good than harm, but our liberal hawks usually cook the books on that one. Realism is a necessary part of just war decision making.

On your example of Ho Chi Minh, that is a different sort of moralism and has less to do with not killing civilians and more to do with ideology. . We didn't have to actively support Ho Chi Minh if he had then gone on to use our support to kill his political opponents. But we did support other people who killed their political opponents. And then we jumped into Vietnam on ostensibly moralistic motives. The distinction between idealism and realism obfuscates more than it helps, in part because the so called idealists usually had moral blinders on. Also, even realists have some sort of moral justification underlying their choices. They think their definition of whatever the national interest is is morally justifiable. In extreme cases it's hard for me to see any morality in " realism" -- I am thinking of Kissinger-- but in recent years I think the so called realists would generally have made better moral choices than the people who claim to be fighting evil.

I don't think there is a strong realist case to be made for helping the Saudis kill civilians.

But even our support for the Saudis in Yemen is portrayed as noble-- we are standing by our allies. The negative costs have been largely ignored for months, which shows bad faith both in the government and to some extent in the press. The long term costs are unpredictable, but one would expect a straightforward unambiguous case where the US supported the Saudis as they kill civilians might inspire future acts terrorism. The links will be ignored except in the antiwar fringes. The more suspicious portions of the antiwar left ( and antiwar right) would see that as a feature, not a bug. Endless acts of terror give endless justifications for a bigger national security state and more war.

Donald, I think I actually agree with you. At least as you explain in your last paragraph.

I don't think that the realistic calculus actually would lead us to supporting the Saudis. What bothers me is the lack of that calculation (at least as far as I have seen) from most of those complaining about it. I think that they could lay out the pluses and minuses, and make a solid case for their position. But what I mostly read (including, no offense, in your earlier posts) tends not to do so -- it just denounces their behavior and demands (usually in non-specific terms) change in our policy.

That said, the justifications that I most often read aren't particularly impressive either. I haven't come across anything where "our support for the Saudis in Yemen is portrayed as noble". Pragmatic, i.e. standing by our available ally in the region, sure, but not noble. But those justifying our position don't seem to offer much in the way of "these are the costs and benefits of our position" either.

No. It was evident that their policies were wrong, and that their good faith was questionable even during the electoral process. Therefore, I didn't vote for them. SASQ.

...yet your pre-judgement on the basis of hypotheticals and assumptions was not prejudice, while my post-jugdement based on actual policy decisions is prejudice.

Marty's comment sums up my reaction to this better - and more politely - than I could myself.

But even our support for the Saudis in Yemen is portrayed as noble-- we are standing by our allies.

This is disingenuity of the worst kind. Nobody is saying that support for Saudis in Yemen is "noble". Where has anyone said that? Some people believe that there are policy reasons why we support the Saudis despite their not being an ideal partner in any way. I certainly don't believe that our support for the Saudis or for Israel is "noble". Foreign policy is not based on being "noble". It's an effort to mitigate a complicated web of bad situations using the influence and tools that we have.

"It is the optimistic mirror to the Count."

Perhaps.

The difference would be that, despite my hatred of all things Republican (a deliberate mirror to their hatred of all things me), I don't have much confidence in Clinton or any other Democrat on the horizon not f#cking things up, particularly on the foreign policy front, for many reasons, not the least of which is that the world is so eminently f*ckupable in so many new way and unforeseen ways, by so many actors, since American foreign policy mavens decided that ending the Cold War, wherein the world was pretty much f*ckupable in basically only one big way, was the success story to end all success stories.

Also, if you place an aerial photograph of a colossal pile of dead innocent humans in other countries killed by American policy makers with the best of intentions and in support of the pinnacles of benign, exemplary, angelic values, that pile looks pretty much the same as the aerial photographs of the colossal piles of dead humans, many of whom may have deserved it, killed by absolutely malign crazy Americans who f*cking enjoy the killing and who we sometimes allow to assume the reins of political and military power.

The parades here at home to celebrate both piles look equally festive and are festooned with identical flags, previously noted.

I'm saying we don't know what the fuck we're doing, but I'm also aware that I'm playing fantasy baseball when I say it.

It's difficult. I have no answers except less is more when it comes to solving other countries problems, particularly as the American people tilt nationalistically toward regarding all people in foreign lands as the Other and really don't give a crap about distinguishing the good actors from the bad ones.

Wj-- It's because I think really basic moral principles. -- don't help governments murder civilians-- need no other justification, but also, on issues this black and white the moral thing to do is also the realist thing to do. Torture is the same. One can imagine extreme cases where one might argue that torture or active assistance in war crimes might lead to less evil than other options, but this requires a very heavy burden of proof on the pro war crimes side. In practice people just tend to phone it in.

LJ --Saudi assistance to Syria probably plays some sort of role, but I think that's a bad policy too and in the case of the Saudis they support some really nasty people. A victory by the people they have supported would be catastrophic.

http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-syria-fuah-siege-20160922-snap-story.html

The link there is not directly related to the Saudis, but notice what the pro - rebel guy is saying should be done to Shia villages.

I was thinking of this Larison piece on McCain and Graham and McCain's portrayal of the Saudis when I made the noble comment. I think I have also read other articles about defenses of our Yemen policy that were based on the need to be loyal to our allies, but I won't track them down because sapient misinterprets a comment.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/mccain-and-grahams-despicable-defense-of-the-war-on-yemen/

Incidentally, sapient, JD Vance does not champion the bigoted views of poor or working class whites in any piece by him that I have read. Quite the opposite. He merely tries to argue they shouldn't be demonized. I just glanced back at his interview with Rod Drher in July and at his NYT piece a few days ago.

It's also worth noting that "noble" is verbiage that only crops up on the idealistic side of the house. The pragmatic side would probably be concerned with credibility in rough the same places and at the same level of ambiguity as an idealistic invocation of nobility... and also with the same amount of careful avoidance of how the rest of the world views our selective adherence to that principle.

"He merely tries to argue they shouldn't be demonized."

From what I've of and by Vance, I expect that is true. If I was in the habit of demonizing individuals (public figures are a different story) for their racial attitudes, I would have disowned most of my family and a bunch of friends a long time ago.

Them I can buttonhole on my own, which I did numerous times to my maternal grandfather when I was 14.

However, when those individuals commit themselves to a political movement that seeks to extend those racial attitudes into the public sphere and enact policies to carry them out, not to mention backing a candidate speaking as Donald Trump and too many Republicans do in their, malignant, insulting, disgusting manner about minorities and women, they have commenced the demonization, and I will make it my life's work to be better at it than they are.

All gloves off. In kind. Which mostly consists of yelling at you guys at OBWI.

Need I add that I despise Al Sharpton, Farrakhan and the Jesse Jackson who felt compelled to use the word "Hymietown".

He merely tries to argue they shouldn't be demonized.

The attitudes of bigots should be demonized. They, of course, are entitled to any social progress that ekes through despite their egregious, deplorable political inclinations.

"it is great to watch."

Yes, it is. It's as if there never was throwing our support to the French to retain their colonial empire after WWII (Democrats), the GOP about face on isolationism (same time), the Truman's Doctrine, the staggering institutional power of the Dept. of Defense on our politics, and all the other deeply bi-partisan paraphernalia that has got us to where we are today wrt foreign policy.

It's pretty much been a joint effort all the way down the line.

Nobody is saying that support for Saudis in Yemen is "noble".

You must have not read Donald's link re senators McCain and Graham.

But they're just lying Republicans.

It's as if there never was throwing our support to the French to retain their colonial empire after WWII (Democrats), the GOP about face on isolationism (same time), the Truman's Doctrine, the staggering institutional power of the Dept. of Defense on our politics, and all the other deeply bi-partisan paraphernalia that has got us to where we are today wrt foreign policy.

It's true that in the aftermath of WWII, people weren't predicting clearly which national movements were going to foster stability and healing. I give people a pass until the lessons that the Vietnam war began teaching during the Johnson administration.

And it's true that I'm a partisan. Proudly so. I just hope that my fellow partisans don't have to do the kind of dirty work to get rid of Trump that the French did under the Vichy.

I give people a pass until the lessons that the Vietnam war began teaching during the Johnson administration.

I don't. And hey now! Wasn't Johnson a Democrat?

Were his motives noble? Well, then all is forgiven.


I don't.

I do.


Were his motives noble? Well, then all is forgiven.

No, they weren't noble (see "nobility" discussion above). He certainly wasn't forgiven - even though he was close to a peace accord, he knew he couldn't run as the Democratic nominee again, Unfortunately, our idiot electorate bought into Tricky Dick, who skuttled the imminent peace to win the election, and then caused hundreds of thousands more deaths (counting both US, and Southeast Asians). I will take LBJ over Tricky Dick any day of the week.

And, since we're going back to look at all of that, I'll take any Democratic Presidential nominee over any corresponding Republican Presidential nominee since FDR. I am a partisan.

JD Vance has a point of view. I'm going to read his book too.

I read Vance's book. It was pretty good. I'm just not sure what I was supposed to take away from it.

His background is among rural Ohio valley poor white people. There are good things about that culture, and profoundly self-defeating things about that culture.

This isn't news.

What neither the good things, nor the self-defeating things, confer upon folks is the privilege of being bigots.

I'm delighted if Vance emerges as a public voice for a community of people who have, historically, basically been ridden hard and put up wet.

How that makes the complaints of black and brown people in this country any more or less legitimate is beyond me.

I haven't read his book, just interviews and a couple of pieces by him and a New Yorker review and in none of them did I see a claim that brown or black people don't have legitimate complaints. The claim was that poor white people have both legitimate complaints and self defeating behavior and some urban elites look down on them.

It's not original, What I appreciated about him are the qualities of tone and nuance, something largely lacking in politics today with a great many pundits having their favorite categories of people to bash. He comes across as a conservative who can speak to both sides.

The claim was that poor white people have both legitimate complaints and self defeating behavior and some urban elites look down on them.

I haven't read the book, but have read a bunch of articles. I take it from his claim that he is a "conservative" that he rejects liberal social programs in politics.

I have had friends and family who have various types of mental illness, and I become very frustrated with some of them, even though I feel bad for them. The people I know "have both legitimate complaints and self defeating behavior". It often seems to me that the self-defeating behavior overrides the legitimate complaints, because almost everyone has "legitimate complaints" but some people figure out how to accept help.

"Looking down" on people is not a good thing, obviously, but when people are rude and destructive, and work to make other people's lives miserable with bigotry and hate, it's not too surprising that other people look down on them. Cause and effect, maybe?

I agree with russell, asking the question, "What do I take away from this?" Unfortunately, I will look down on people who do that truck smoke thing. And I will look down on bigotry. I am never rude to people just because they might come from a culture which engages in some of that behavior, but when I find out that they do, I don't want to be their friend. I'm happy though for them to get government benefits to make their lives better even though they don't tend to vote for the people who support those policies that would make their lives (and everyone else's) better. Frustrating.

Another lovely redneck pastime.

The Pautuxent River is in Maryland, so I'm not sure if the appellation of 'redneck' applies. My own definition is that it is limited by geography. While MD is south according to the Mason Dixon line, I don't think it is really southern.

Would you say the same thing about poor people from minority communities who engage in some form of deplorable behavior? Remember the Clinton super predator remark, back in the days when the Clintons tried to win some of the white deplorable vote? Because it seems like there is a role reversal going on. It's the conservatives who traditionally say that your background or discrimination or contempt shown to your group or whatever are not an excuse for poor personal choices or violence or criminal activity or hatred. It's the liberals who say you can be in favor of personal responsibility and deplore crime and violence and self destructive behavior without making these big sweeping derogatory generalizations about group X and also recognize that society helps create the sorts of bad behaviors we see.

I am not saying that the plight of poor whites is the same as the plight of poor blacks, but why should it have to be the same? Condemn bad behavior, but don't use it as a reason to sneer at categories of people.

Maybe I should feel compassion for politicians who support war crimes. It's not a change of subject-- there are undoubtedly pressures on such people, and self images to preserve, but I have trouble caring.

Now a recommendation. Without endorsing Rod Dreher's own views ( some posts I like and others make me want to toss a brick through the screen), he's got a really interesting comment section, , because you have such a wide variety of people posting, from far right to far left, with everything in between. It is sort of what OBiWi aspired to long ago. There's a current thread on race relations. Here is a good comment.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/race-media-reality/comment-page-1/#comment-8055326

There are others. There are also less good comments and an amazingly bigoted one which I won't link, but those comments are interesting in their own way.

I don't think it is really southern.

I disagree. I grew up in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, lived in Maryland briefly, and lived in Virginia most of my life. I now live in "real" Virginia, but Maryland, especially the Eastern Shore, is most definitely a place where the term "redneck" is used frequently.

Vance's people hail from Ohio.

Would you say the same thing about poor people from minority communities who engage in some form of deplorable behavior?

Yes.

Remember the Clinton super predator remark, back in the days when the Clintons tried to win some of the white deplorable vote?

That wasn't a ploy to win the white deplorable vote. It was a ploy to win the vote of people concerned about drug crime, largely in the African-American community. It's only the 2016 Bernie revolution that turned that statement into a racist one. She was referring to organized criminal gangs who recruited kids, and killed people in mostly their own community. I realize that now we are all shocked, just really shocked, that the term was used to refer to a phenomenon that people were worried about.

Condemn bad behavior, but don't use it as a reason to sneer at categories of people.

I'm happy to sneer at categories of people who engage in bad behavior, and behavior is how I determine those categories, not by income.

Maybe I should feel compassion for politicians who support war crimes. It's not a change of subject-- there are undoubtedly pressures on such people, and self images to preserve, but I have trouble caring.

You should feel whatever you feel about politicians who "support" war crimes. You certainly make your feelings known. I do not feel the same way that you do because often I think you're incorrect that they "support" war crimes, and I make my feelings known to you. It's an exchange of ideas.

Now a recommendation.

I like reading comment sections, so I might do that. I read the comment you linked to. My community is very mixed, and I know many people who hold similar views as the people who Vance describes. I grew up with them, and I've worked with them, and I see them regularly in various situations. They have value as human beings, no question. Sometimes, if people force them to get to know Hispanics or African-Americans, they can accept and even love them.

But I don't want to have any part of their "culture" to the extent that their "culture" means bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, voting for hate, beating up wildlife, trashing the environment, etc. No, thank you. I don't want any part of that "culture". I also don't want any part of urban gang culture, if that makes you feel any better.

It's only the 2016 Bernie revolution that turned that statement into a racist one. She was referring to organized criminal gangs who recruited kids, and killed people in mostly their own community.

Yet still more historical revisionism in the service of unquestioning, uncritical partisanship. You're blithely and blatantly wrong on the first count; you're narrowly, carefully wrong on the second. But you're still wrong on both. E. g.

But you're still wrong on both

Nice opinion pieces.

I lived in a high crime city in the 1990's. I wasn't particularly freaked out by crime because, after all, I'm a Democrat, and was committed to urban renewal. At that time, I lived in the neighborhood that Tim Kaine still lives in. My particular street was adjacent to a drug gang street. A neighbor of mine (stay at home mom) had a knock on the door. She answered it and a bloody person was there asking for her to call 911. A drug casualty had just happened. This was commonplace and rampant.

Which was fine. People in my neighborhood still let kids ride their bikes and such, because we are white, and we knew that the violence was mostly on the street next to ours. If you haven't watched The Wire, maybe you should.

You might also consider that Bill Clinton wouldn't have won the election were it not for Ross Perot taking votes from GHW Bush (who was running one of the most racist ads in history). His Congress, beginning in 1994 was Newt Gingrich's. A lovely man.

Your "post-judgments" have lost quite a bit of historical context, including the fact that your Bernie voted for the evil "crime bill".

I remember the 90's, sapient. The Clintons at that time were famous for their attempt to move the Democrst past their liberal image. They were tough on crime, friendly to markets, in favor of welfare reform,. This was the period when Tom Friedman was treated as a journalistic oracle. This was all considered good, the necessary path forward for the Democrats after the long years of Reagan and Bush I when they held the White House and centrist Democrsts felt they had to run from the liberal label. We saw that starting with the Sister Souljah incident in the 92 campaign.

Sanders isn't perfect. I vaguely recall some sort of explanation for why he voted in certain ways, but it doesn't matter much to me. I supported him, but never was wrapped up in a belief system where I had to believe he couldn't be wrong. Politics shouldn't be some weird kind of religion where politicians are treated as demigods. That's very unhealthy.

Incidentally, I also prefer every Democrat to every Republican nominee for President since FDR. I don't think I am partisan in quite the same sense you are.

I am friends with people in real life who have some beliefs I think are deplorable. It cuts both ways, no doubt. People are complicated--maybe I am horribly wrong about some issues without knowing it. I don't get the need for the beliefs some people have, but we all have to get along both in our private lives and as a country. So it is probably better to condemn the beliefs, but dial back the rhetoric about people.

I remember the 90's, sapient. The Clintons at that time were famous for their attempt to move the Democrst past their liberal image.

Ummm, yeah, to get elected, finally. And, in fact, they did. Thank Jesus. I mean c'mon. If we're going to make change through the political system we have to get elected, right? The thought of it ... so corrupt!

Incidentally, I also prefer every Democrat to every Republican nominee for President since FDR.

Thank you. Perhaps this is, politically, the bottom line.

I am friends with people in real life who have some beliefs I think are deplorable.

I certainly am in a friendly relationship with people like that too. It's the case that I don't see completely eye to eye with anyone - there's always nit picking to do.

I think we're really close to electing a Nazi-like character in Trump. Not that he is well organized enough to be that, but some of the people who support him might be. I think it's time to call it out as a collective wrong in our country. The term "redneck" is ugly, but it does fit some behaviors. At the Republican convention, some people were wearing that term proudly. That's dangerous because everyone knows what that word means.

It can be corrupt, yes. Or cynical might be a better word.

Trump scares me more and is worse on practically everything, but I don't trust Clinton's judgment. I think she wants to demonstrate her toughness in foreign policy and is considerably more hawkish than Obama. I want Clinton to win and then I want people to do what they can to rein her in on foreign policy. Trump-- well, I don't have the slightest notion what to expect if he gets in. Someone like that is unprecedented.

I want to, purely for anal retentive motives, clarify one thing about my argument on Yemen. Radical Sunni terrorists presumably hate the people getting killed by American made weapons there since the Houthis are Shia. But individuals in the West who are self radicalized sometimes seem a bit confused about the details of the ideology and the fact that we are helping to kill children in a Muslim country might be the thing that registers. And one might expect some of the people being bombed to want revenge even if they can't join the currently fashionable terrorist groups. Anal retentive honor being satisfied, I'm going to bed.

A surprising (or perhaps not) number of ISIS recruits from the West are clueless enough to need to buy Islam for Dummies. So expecting them to even be aware of, let alone understand, the Sunni/Shia split is a bit much. As you say, at most they might know Muslims are being killed by someone.

For that matter many neo-nazis have no real idea what Jews actually are. It starts in kindergarten where the kids know that 'Jew' is among the worst insults there are but, when asked, cannot in the slightest explain what the word means.

Another book about the pain and racism of poor whites, this time by an empathic liberal who has been working on this book for quite awhile.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/books/review/strangers-in-their-own-land-arlie-russell-hochschild.html?_r=0

Yemen is in the NYT today, on page 6 as usual. More about civilian casualties and how the US and Britain are finding it harder to ignore. The Houthis are also guilty, but on a smaller scale.

Thanks for the book review, Donald, but I don't see much to admire in the attitudes of the people described there. It looks like racism and ignorance, pure and simple, to me. The article says this:

"Their economic problems lie elsewhere, [the author] argues, in unchecked corporate power and technological transformation. Still there’s no denying that demographic and cultural change have robbed white men of the status they once enjoyed."

The racist attitudes long predate the supposed loss of status endured by these white men. Their rage at a black president has just made their racism uglier. I'm getting tired of trying to empathize with people who have had a long history of racial resentment.

We've recently had the best economic news in decades. These people want to ruin this and everything else for themselves and the rest of us.

"Trump, well -- I don't have the slightest notion what to expect if he gets in."

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/09/26/president-trumps-first-term


Ummm, yeah, to get elected, finally. And, in fact, they did. Thank Jesus. I mean c'mon. If we're going to make change through the political system we have to get elected, right? The thought of it ... so corrupt!

No, to demonstrate that "third way" cenerist triangulation was the way Democrats would beat Republicans, and to advance the influence of their faction w/in the party accordingly. Your revisionism would work better on a younger audience whose understandings of that period are based on third-hand explanations and reminiscences rather than having lived through them.

You keep trying very hard to make this binary with the tu quoque comments and attempts to rebuff attacks on your favorite by attacking their political rivals. It's informative about your conception of politics, and speaks deeply to a conviction that everyone views the political process in the same rigid "my team, right or wrong" manner whereby your political views are indistinguishable from those of politicians you vote for. However, it's not persuasive. Not even a little. Your manner of viewing politics requires politicians be morally faultless because you're unwilling to view their actions through a critical - or even objective - lens. Politics are thus approached wearing the mantle of apologist rather than observer; the goal is not to discern what the politician is doing or why, but rather to determine how to explain why the politician's acts show them to be doing what your ideology mandates that they will do, and how their acts fit into your ideology's orthodoxy.

I'm rambling at length about the perversity of your political perspective not to mock it, but in feeble hope that you can be dissuaded from your endless denunciations of everyone who does not agree with you by recourse to the bizarre assumptions your partisan cultist outlook demands. It may feel like you're scoring a point by making claims about "[my] Bernie" as you did above, but it's meaningless to me and indeed, probably to all of us. Sanders is not "[my] Bernie"; I have no special attachment to him nor to his politics. As the establishment centerists of a less cultish bent perennially chide the leftists to do, I supported Sanders not because I decided he was a moral actor who I could trust to do no wrong, but rather because I looked at his positions and policies and found them to be closest to my own w/o crossing any bright moral lines. Is he faultless? Ofc not. Indeed, you correctly point to a fault. Outside of a perverse political outlook such as yours this is not a problem, as unlike you I'm willing to criticize the actions of those I vote for, and I don't think for a moment that they will do everything right at all times under all circumstances. Further, as you endlessly point out, Sanders lost the primary, so it's irrelevant to point to him as you continuously do. I had my personal political beliefs before he announced his candidacy and I chose to vote for him, and I retained them after he left the field. My political philosophy does not require that I assume the outlook of a politician as my own in order to support them, nor do I, as a political minority, have the luxury of picking and choosing candidates who will perfectly (or even closely) adhere to my political wants and needs. In that rather concrete sense, an outlook such as mine embodies far more pragmatism than the idealism yours exhibits...

No, to demonstrate that "third way" cenerist triangulation was the way Democrats would beat Republicans, and to advance the influence of their faction w/in the party accordingly.

So, you're saying that they didn't really want to get elected, they just wanted to prove a point to less liberal Democrats? What are you smoking?

I'm rambling at length

Yes, and you make little sense.

Yep, the best economic news in decades. We've permanently reduced the workforce by 6%, and growing, by reducing the economy to a permanent zero growth. So "middle class" incomes go up, because we don't count zero income.

From Donald's NYT article:

Income is flowing up, but the anger points down.

I think that's about right.

I am, by any marker you care to choose, a coastal liberal elite. I eat artisanal cheeses from foreign lands. My wife drives a hybrid car. Wine, not beer, thanks very much, and a nice Campari and soda (with a twist, please, not an orange slice) as an aperitif.

Who gives a crap?

I don't have any animus toward southern culture, or rural culture.

There are two things that seem to, somehow, get entangled with southern and/or rural American cultural identity that I have a really hard time with.

One is the embrace of plain old garden variety ignorance as some kind of virtue.

The other is responding to being generally pissed on by society by finding somebody else to piss on in return.

I think that there are a ton of white people in this country - millions and millions of them - who have basically been screwed by events over the last 40 or so years. They have a legitimate complaint.

I also know that a hell of a lot of people like me think that a lot of those folks are a bunch of ignorant racist redneck dumb-asses. Or, probably worse, think of them as some curious and bizarre socio-economic life form that needs to be examined and discussed at length - sympathetically of course!! - in the pages of the NYT or the Atlantic.

They - the people being looked down on, or condescended to - have a legitimate complaint there as well.

What that does not entitle them to do is point to blacks, or Mexicans, or Muslims, or whoever, as the source and cause of their problems.

My wife and I were recently driving up I-93 to New Hampshire to visit my sister. We were in my wife's Honda Insight, a hybrid car. We were behind some guy in a big-ass F-150 which sported the following bumper sticker:

"My truck is burning all the gas your hybrid saves"

My wife thought this was rude and ignorant and it pissed her off. So, plus-one for the guy in the truck, he pissed off a hybrid-owning liberal.

I just thought, best of luck to you buddy, spending three hours a day in your freaking $30K or $40K truck that you probably have a 5 or 6 year note on and are never gonna pay off, driving back and forth to NH every day because it's too expensive for you to buy a house in MA, where you probably grew up and where most of your work is, on a tradesman's wages.

But yeah, it's gonna solve all your problems to put a bumper sticker on your car so you can piss off my wife. Or, it's gonna solve all your problems to bitch about the lazy blacks or the Mexicans (or, in our neck of the woods, Dominicans) who are stealing all your jobs.

I'm definitely sympathetic to the very real issues of how freaking hard it is to make a damned living if you aren't some kind of white collar professional.

But it's true, I'm not really sympathetic to self-pity and resentment as a cultural identity, or to the embrace of ignorance as some kind of point of pride, or to pissing on black and brown people.

Vance is a good writer, and he sounds like a thoughtful guy. I appreciate the strong sense of familial and geographic roots and loyalty that he expresses in his work. I think the patterns of self-defeating behaviors that he describes - alcohol and drug abuse, belligerence and violence, an inability to accept the basic responsibilities of work and family - are just not something to celebrate or embrace.

They only hold his people back.

by reducing the economy to a permanent zero growth.

by allowing people to get old

You aren't supposed to read these pieces and empathize with racism or defend noxious and sometimes self destructive views. You should condemn those. You should vote against the people they support. If I were black I would keep my distance from these people, though sometimes people like this are decent with individuals they know while ugly in the abstract, but I wouldn't trust them. I grew up around virulent middle class white racists. They were open about it when blacks weren't around. Not everyone, but maybe half or more. It was weird seeing how they behaved and how they rationalized things. One was friends with a black kid, but in general racist as hell. His father was a doctor and a Lt Commander in the navy during WWII. ( This kid made fun of my father for only being a petty officer in the war, which was so startlingly idiotic it didn't bother me.) Racists as I knew them were a mass of contradictions. Their motives weren't economic-- it was just how they were brought up. That sort of thing can gradually change with time, in prosperous times. That's obviously true-- bigotry in the US used to extend to white ethnics and now if someone hates Irish we would just think they stepped out of a time machine. But if people feel threatened they go back to their vomit.

If the people discussed in this book were doing well some of the racism would still be there, but it would be less common and less likely to have an effect in political campaigns. People don't experience average economic statistics-- they experience what happens to them and their local community.

Not that he is well organized enough to be that

For whatever reason, I've done some reading about the early Nazi period over the last couple of months. Mostly Timothy Snyder's stuff, some others.

One thing that struck me was the degree to which the Nazi program was *not* well thought out. It seemed like they made a lot of it up as they went along.

The other thing that struck me was the degree to which many of the main players were not particularly ideologically in line with Nazi-ism, as an -ism.

Hitler was a guy on the make, they just hitched their wagon to his star.

by allowing people to get old

freaking boomers.

when are they just gonna die off and get out of the way!

We've permanently reduced the workforce by 6%, and growing, by reducing the economy to a permanent zero growth

It sure as hell beats "The bankers thought they found a magical equation that would make all the risk go away, but they were wrong, so now we have to give them a few trillion dollars so they don't blow up the entire global economy".

In context, I can live with slow growth and a reduced workforce.

And yes, I take your point, but seriously, as far as I can tell it's a freaking miracle the lights are still on at all, after the clown show of '07-08.

Jump, you fuckers.

Oops, sorry, I was being unkind there for a moment.

Hitler was a guy on the make, they just hitched their wagon to his star.

Even scarier for us.

I've been trying to find a Walker Percy quote from one of his essays ... he was a white, Catholic conservative from the parishes of Louisiana with little patience for Northern liberals, but, for his time and place, he had no patience with racism either ... with no luck.

He was talking about his good ole boy fellows and wrote about one, and I paraphrase, "Yes, he's decent sort, not a bad fellow, salt of the earth ... for a cracker, racist peckerwood, that is."

Again, not an exact quote by any means, but it captures the gist.

That's a whole lot different than millions of them, decent sorts, worthy of empathy on an individual basis, now galvanized into a resentful, angry political movement.

If Trump told them to gas the Jews, they would.

The retiree argument is crap, unless you count early retirement due to ageism. But the workforce has been reduced at both ends of the age spectrum, and job growth doesn't keep up with population growth. It's just lies.

I suppose you can live with it russell, since you are one of the ones with a job. Funny how obvious that correlation is.

Workforce participation:

https://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/econrev/pdf/12q1VanZandweghe.pdf

There's a Philly Fed link too to be had.

I noticed some Fed Governors the other day who dissented from the decision to not raise interest rates remaking that wages are rising and we need to nip that in the bud.

So, the schmucks finally start returning to the workforce and the ones already in it finally start to see their wages rise, after years of stagnation, and we just can't have that, can we?

If Americans want to keep labor force participation at high levels, then stop firing and laying Americans off every time things go downhill, or start to get better for those at the bottom.

And if anyone thinks they are going to "incent" me to return to the labor force by removing my access to affordable healthcare insurance, just signed up for Medicare, go fuck yourselves.

Under current law, I have easy access to military grade weaponry too, and that doesn't look like it's going to go away any time soon, so be careful what you do.

The Bundy boys and collaborators, including the various murderous militias with expensive welfare military grade weaponry in their possession knocking around, seem to be well-off enough to take considerable time away from their jobs to fuck with the rest of us.

And by the way, how come those guys pointing guns at law enforcement on the highway bridge in Utah a couple of years ago are still among the living while unarmed black men with their hands raised in the air are slaughtered?

Riddle me that. Obama's fucking fault?

How do they do it? What's the sociopathy of it? Too much money leads to time on one's hands?

Vance, of course, doesn't celebrate the noxious cultural traits of poor white people. He is critical of them. He compares them to self destructive and sometimes criminal behavior that conservatives usually blame for the plight of poor black neighborhoods or that's the impression I get from articles, not having read the book.

Back in the 90's and the esrly 0's the DLC types wanted Democrats to appeal to white voters more. They didn't usually put it that way-- they would say Middle America. Lots of talk about real America, the heartland, etc.. It all meant white people in flyover country.Liberals and lefties objected ( quite rightly IMO) to this as it seemed to involve psupporting bad policy. ( Some of it was also aimed at making Walll Street happy, but that's a different issue.)

So there was a backlash against that whole " let's appeal to Middle America " ( white people) theme, especially when Democrats realized demographic changes meant the votes of Real America" ( white people) weren't quite so crucial anymore. But maybe the backlash has gone too far if some liberals focus too much on the moral failings of poor whites and so the Vance and Hoschild books as a kind of corrective

Incidentally, on the right there was that Kevin Williamson quote that attacked poor whites-- he was furious that Republicans weren't voting for the usual Republican cox men, but this new model the establishment couldn't control. Trump even bashed Bush and the Iraq War. So obviously poor whites who voted for him needed to be put in their place.

Sapient, you do treat politics as theology. You wish to justify the ways of Democrats and solve the problem of evil-- that is, if a Democrat does something which appears morally questionable you react like a Calvinist defending God against the charge that He is responsible for human suffering. The Democrat is good and if there is suffering, the blame always lies elsewhere. It's a crucial bone of contention between theists and atheists and hotly debated even within religious circles, but when the subject is the Democratic Party it looks a little silly. Imagine the Book of Job rewritten with Obama as the voice speaking from a Predator drone.

Vance, of course, doesn't celebrate the noxious cultural traits of poor white people. He is critical of them.

Yes, I get that. I don't really have any bone to pick with Vance, and I appreciate that he's trying to articulate the point of view of the people he grew up with.

I suppose you can live with it russell, since you are one of the ones with a job.

Yeah, lucky me.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2014/09/05/obama-outperforms-reagan-on-jobs-growth-and-investing/#7005feea20bc

"unless you count early retirement due to ageism."

We're not allowed to count it. You know, the freedom to discriminate. Your major organs, Marty, and mine, might give out while we're on the employers' health plan and that would raise costs.

We might come down with walking pneumonia and the whisper campaign would start that we codgers are actually suffering from incipient cancer, dementia, and multiple everything, and we'd be judged not up to the job.

"Imagine the Book of Job rewritten with Obama as the voice speaking from a Predator drone."

Good image, good point. Bill Cosby's no longer available for that overvoice. Morgan Freeman or James Earle Jones maybe.

I appreciate Vance's point of view as well. Those folks good use some job-training programs, but we're not allowed to have those any longer.

Here's what I know from personal experience. Their racial attitudes, from two generations ago, seem to have changed little in Middletown, Ohio from when they were gainfully employed at Armco Steel in good-paying jobs and firmly ensconced in at least the lower middle class.

It was all the blacks fault then too.

Back in the 90's and the esrly 0's the DLC types wanted Democrats to appeal to white voters more. They didn't usually put it that way-- they would say Middle America. Lots of talk about real America, the heartland, etc.. It all meant white people in flyover country.Liberals and lefties objected ( quite rightly IMO) to this as it seemed to involve psupporting bad policy.

Let's not forget either that Bill Clinton was a hillbilly, just as much as Vance, except that he left behind the racism and tried to thread the needle not just to "empathize" with the people he grew up with, but also to figure out solutions.

So "lefties" excoriate him for being a third way triangulator, while insisting on "empathy" and "concern" for the same people. Well, I hate to bear bad news, but "empathy" is worthless without action.

I decided to make my previous comment aimed at sapient more constructive. You can consistently support the Democrats over the Republicans and you can do it without approaching every issue as if how it makes the Democrat look is the most important thing to determine. It doesn't mean you have to be as disgusted with them as I tend to be. That's what I think NV was saying as well, or close to it.

The Democrat is good and if there is suffering, the blame always lies elsewhere.

I'm more the type of person who tries to find reasons for things, rather than blame for things. I blame people when reason doesn't seem to be a factor.

There are two things that seem to, somehow, get entangled with southern and/or rural American cultural identity that I have a really hard time with.

One is the embrace of plain old garden variety ignorance as some kind of virtue.

as i sit here on the lovely NC coast, i must pause from my Bud Lites and point out that celebrated ignorance is embraced with much gusto everywhere, even in the NE. take a trip into rural PA or NY sometime. you can find ignorance, Confederate flags, jingoism, and all of Clinton's deplorables - pretty much anywhere in the country.

kids in Boston know that the Harvard snobs are all snobby douchebag know-it-alls, after all,

I blame people when reason doesn't seem to be a factor

Do you notice that you are conflating "reason" in the sense of logically thought out with "reason" in the sense of being the cause for? There can be, and often are, reasons for irrational behavior.

celebrated ignorance is embraced with much gusto everywhere, even in the NE

true dat

So, you're saying that they didn't really want to get elected, they just wanted to prove a point to less liberal Democrats? What are you smoking?

The same thing that you were smoking when you made the risable claim that the Clintons were unprincipled, duplicitous frauds who only advocated triangulation as a ploy to get elected, with no intention to govern as third-way liberals.

Donald, yes. And the last paragraph of your 10:39 squarely hits the point I apparently could have made better earlier.

Sapient, your quest for reasons is transparently a quest to justify whatever policy a Democratic president adopts. It's not rational at all, because for one thing one can identify the reasons and still say the policy is wrong, but one knows you won't do that. The Democrats are a stand in for God and your search for reasons are a form of theodicy.


On bigotry, my sister used to live near Gettysburg. She and her husband at the time told me that it was a very bigoted region and the KKK was active around there.

also, FWIW, I think I would probably have gone with Ike over Stevenson. Even with the anti-Commie baggage.

And yes, I know, Nixon, but Stevenson's VP was an explicit segregationist, so there's that.

All hypothetical, of course, but there it is.

when you made the risable claim that the Clintons were unprincipled, duplicitous frauds who only advocated triangulation as a ploy to get elected, with no intention to govern as third-way liberals.

Although I'm glad I make you laugh, please offer a quote. Your "interpretation" of my comments is incorrect.

The Democrats are a stand in for God and your search for reasons are a form of theodicy.

Psychoanalysis? Or evangelism?

Ike over Stevenson. Even with the anti-Commie baggage.

Ike?

My comment got half eaten. I meant to say:

Ike? Hmmm.

Ike gets a pass, though, because post WWII, people were perplexed. That pass lasts until 1968.

Relative to Stevenson, yes. And not so much Ike personally, but it was baked into (R) dogma of the time.

What do you have against Stevenson, russell? Just curious, not trying to adopt a sour tone.

Just the VP choice? (Sorry, lj, for the running comments - I'll stop after this.)

After Brown, do you think that Stevenson wouldn't have enforced integration?

That said, I like Ike fine.

What do you have against Stevenson, russell?

Nothing against him, really. Based on my limited knowledge of both men, Eisenhower strikes me as a more capable executive. That's about it.

Mostly I was just following the "no (R) since FDR" line of thought and it occurred to me that, had I been of voting age at the time, I may have voted for Ike.

The days of (R)'s like Eisenhower seem to be long gone.

The days of (R)s like Reagan are long gone as well. The GOP just ain't as grand as it once was.

Sparkman as running mate in 1952 was the Democrats' Southern Strategy, as that effort to appease the fucking South has always been called. Look up what states Stevenson won.

Kefauver, from Tennessee, wasn't nearly as bad on the racial front, for the time, but was pretty much a Progressive in the Roosevelt mode otherwise, from the little I know from perusing the New York Times in kindergarten.

Eisenhower was a decent man.

Nixon was reactionary dirt from the get-go.

Somehow, all of them seem like serious people compared to Trump.

Little story. My family moved from Long Island to Pittsburgh in April of 1960. On Long Island, most of my friends were Jewish, and whether that translated into their families being Democrats I was too young to even think to suss out. All I know, is the girls were cute. As were the Catholic girls across the street and next door.

I did more platonic necking, at the girls' instigation, in the second and early third grade than I was able to accomplish thru my entire junior high school and early high school years somehow, shyness having overtaken me by then.

Not only that, but my Yankees won the AL pennant and played my newly adopted team the Pirates in the World Series, so I was one conflicted kid.

Always Republicans, we lived amongst them completely once in Pittsburgh. So, I was in the fourth grade that Fall when Kennedy beat Nixon.

I of course was more concerned with what pitch Ralph Terry had thrown to Mazeroski to make my hero Mickey Mantle break down a cry like a baby in the clubhouse, but never mind. Politics wasn't my thing.

The day after the election, as we filed into Miss Schneider's class, I sat at my desk for a few minutes and noticed every single boy lined up leaning against the windows, all in deep, serious thought like their adult Republican counterparts were probably going to be lined up at the bar after work that evening after work having a quick drink trying to make sense of what had just hit them.

Well, I had to see what this was all about so I sauntered over to the windows too, placed my chin in my hand and my elbow on the shelf along the windows, mimicking the others (maybe 15 of them) by gazing out the window with brow furrowed in deep distress over the future of the country. After a moment, the nine-year old next to me caught my eye, shook his head mournfully, and uttered the dreaded name "Kennedy .." and then his voice trailed off, like his dog had died.

I nodded in completely ignorant solidarity and probably made some non-committal sound with my mouth just to be one of the guys.

It was as if we were the Republican leadership in the Senate cloak room the day after Nixon lost.

Then, history somehow quickened and began happening in great crashing, successive moments and has continued ever since.

By the way, about a dozen years ago, a friend and I wangled our way into a celebrity sports event in Denver. There sat Ralph Terry who waxed philosophical about his pitching career.

That pitch to Mazeroski was a breaking ball that forgot to break.

In the clubhouse after that game 7, Ralph Terry, his pants down around his ankles, apologized to manager Casey Stengel for what had just transpired. Casey, said, "Ralph, just come back next year and have a great season."

Which he did.

Precise analogy, sapient. You defend Democratic Presidents with a fervor that suggest you practically worship them. Or if you prefer, the way people used to speak of their kings. If I had read rightwing blogs in the early years of Dubya or anything they might say about Reagan now it would probably sound similar. It's not rational.

ha! another member of the Long Island diaspora!

I'm going to unsurprisingly concur with DJ here, though I will underscore that the theodicy analogy is the single most spot-on description for this particular sort of political outlook I've ever encountered. The unshakable Panglossian conviction that the political icon's every action is the best of all possible actions, the unwavering assertion that opposing the icon is essentially proof of ill intent, the unwillingness to so much as consider the possibility that the icon can act in a reckless, selfish, or short-sighted manner... and in its most extreme form, the entirely faith-based refusal to so much as entertain the notion that you might not, in fact, have perfect insight and judgement as to the precise personal and moral character of the icon...

Donald, considering you're on record as "loathing" Hillary Clinton, even though you're doing us all the favor of voting for her so as to not help Trump win, and NV, since I'm not even sure that you're doing that, somehow I'm not all that offended by your claims that I'm a worshiper of Democrats.

I'm comfortable with being a Democrat, and find that the party generally reflects my values. You two are really the ones who expect miraculous heroism and purity. I just expect my party's candidate to try to figure out a path towards sanity, and follow it. For the most part, Democrats do that. Obama has, and I think Hillary will, and I have their back. I'm not sure how that translates into worship.

But I'm not too worried about your beliefs about my fervor. In fact, I'm entertained by it. Mostly, I really, deeply and truly don't want Trump to win.

I don't think my emotions are entirely rational sapient. But I do loathe politicians who are often hypocritical on human rights issues and she is on the list. I despise her justifications for Israeli behavior in the Gaza War and her militarism in general. Her claim that the BDS movement is part of the rise of global antisemitism was pandering to bigotry. My response isn't ObiWi suitable. She used the same arguments for the Iraq War that Bush used,refused to read the classified version of the NIE when told she should by fellow Democratic senators. She blathers on about Trump's closeness to Putin while the US is helping the Saudis in Yemen. I don't have to respect this jerk. I just have to vote for her, given the alternative.

You say you are entertained. That's just posturing. Obviously you have often been offended and both of us get angry at each other. I won't pretend I am entertained by you except in my more resigned moments. One person on a blog is not important, but partisan hackery is part of why discussions of issues in the US are often so dishonest or nonexistent. It's why Yemen is still just page 6. There is a direct connection between partisan hypocrisy and American allies blowing up hospitals with hardly any discussion in the public sphere. Trump took political dishonesty to a new level, but as I say this how much higher is it except that he just lies about more things and does it constantly? The principle that people should look away from the crimes we help commit while waxing indignant about the crimes of others is already very high on the Orwellian scale.

It's why Yemen is still just page 6. There is a direct connection between partisan hypocrisy and American allies blowing up hospitals with hardly any discussion in the public sphere.

I don't buy the print version of the New York Times, but I read the online version daily, and they've reported on Yemen, and have even published a prominent editorial (in August) condemning our assistance to the Saudis.

I'm glad that you're so confident in your knowledge and information that you can call people out as hypocrites. I'm sure that our ObWi Shadow State Department / Peanut Gallery comes up with all the diplomatic and national security information we need to navigate the intricacies of foreign policy. That's not to say that we don't have a responsibility to be informed and to ask questions, but assuming bad faith is not something I'm willing to do on the meager information I have.

You say you are entertained. That's just posturing. Obviously you have often been offended and both of us get angry at each other.

I often get very angry at your moral certitude, but the way you and NV have turned my fairly run-of-the-mill political loyalties into some kind of religious psychodrama is something I find very funny.

Great story, Count.
(Though I confess much of the baseball is pitched way over my head...)

I just have to vote for her, given the alternative.

There are ways around this. I found a right-wing family member who's appalled by Trump but also appalled by the sort of jurists Clinton would appoint. Vote-swapping means neither candidate gets our votes, the relative tally remains the same as if we had both held our noses, and third-parties get support.

I often get very angry at your moral certitude, but the way you and NV have turned my fairly run-of-the-mill political loyalties into some kind of religious psychodrama is something I find very funny.

1) Your unshakeable certainty is not run-of-the-mill, or at a minimum, is not run of the mill when coupled with the capacity for analysis and introspection that you have demonstrated on other subjects. Your level of loyalty seems normal when paired with the cliche angry relative on Facebook ranting about the other party as though they were a rival sports team, not coming from someone who has shown themself to be very capable of objective analysis of situations that don't have direct partisan implications.

2) The invocation of theodicy directly follows from the above. It's entirely possible that you have no exposure to theodicy; DJ's invocation of it suggests they do, and I myself have been interested in formal study of the Problem of Evil since I was a teen, so we may well be seeing things in the analogy that you're not simply because you've never seen theodicy in action. Having said that, it's a good analogy, and it doesn't even need extended as far as it has been, as I'd say it's your methods and approach that reflect it as much or even moreso than your attitude towards the politicians under scrutiny.

"...religious psychodrama I find very funny."

Okay, I believe that you find it funny. You think you are rational. But quite a few people have ideological commitments which make them as irrational as some religious believers. My favorite essay on this-- ideology as a form of fanaticism which blinds people to facts they don't want to acknowledge-- is Orwell's " Notes on Nationalism". It's easily found online. Orwell is hardest on his fellow lefties in that piece, but it's clear he is talking about ideologues of all types. Orwell's attitude in that essay is something everyone should aspire to-- don't let your beliefs get in the way of facts. By implication he is aso saying everyone will find the world doesn't conform to their ideology, whatever it happens to be, but there will be a strong temptation to make the facts fit. In my case my temptation is to think that Western interventions are always failures, but of course that isn't true. Mostly it is, but not always. Some far lefties make the mistake of thinking that because the US government lies so much, anyone they condemn must actually be good, which I find infuriatingly stupid. I suppose that's just my moral certainty again.

The world is a complex place, but you want to simplify it. Your instant assumption when a Democratic President is criticized is to circle the wagons. Your ideology fails on its own terms, since many Democrats also question Democratic Presidents on issues, in this case including Yemen.

I am aware that the NYT criticized our policy in Yemen. But it is not a priority with them. The issue is not on page 1 and given that we have reached the predicted point where children are dying of starvation, it is extraordinary that people treat it so lightly. It was not on the list of questions they asked their readers to vote on when they question the candidates. It's been 15 years since 9/11, and 12 since AbuGhraib and after all the sermons about the evils of terrorism and war crimes and in an age where the MSM in the US can be bypassed by anyone with an Internet connection, here we are, supporting something which is close to a crime against humanity.

NV, I have read about vote swapping. I don't have close friends I could do that with. Also, the polls have gotten so close I don't feel at the moment like protest voting is a good idea. In my state ( NY) Clinton is a sure thing -- if she loses here she loses everywhere. But if the popular vote is close I want Trump to be the clear loser even if Clinton gets the electoral college. He needs to be firmly repudiated. Assuming Clinton wins, my ideal would be she wins with a shockingly low total, but since I want Trump to be thoroughly crushed, that can't happen unless she gets a lot of votes. My preferences conflict, but crushing Trump is higher on my priorities.

But I sure don't look forward to her foreign policy. People who like to show their toughness should have their own kids on the battlefield at the very least.

NV-- I'm a Christian, so I've read about theodicy. The problem of evil is the best argument for atheism and none of the purely logical theist attempts at refuting them are very convincing, but maybe I just have an emotional reaction to them. I have Plantinga's " The Nature of Necessity" and tried to follow or understand what the heck modal logic is, because it is part of the structure of his argument, but analytic philosophy tends to put me to sleep if I try to get into it. Nobody actually suffering would probably bother with it. The author of the Book of Job has God give the response that you don't know enough. People question this, but coming from God it is enough to shut Job up. But it reminds me of sapient whenever a Democratic president or potential president is criticized. Where were you when I established the membership of my national security team, I could imagine Obama saying. The only possible response would be to repent in sackcloth and ashes.

Sheesh. If you guys want a religion based on sound scientific principles, Loki's got the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics on his side. What does your guy have? A bunch of modern bafflegab and neolithic myth that adds up to not much.

dS = T dQ. It works whether you believe in it or not.

In my home, , we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc-m9dumEaw

I made the theodicy analogy and NV guessed I had some interest in it, so I explained. But it's been many years since I had a discussion about God's existence on the Internet and I intend to maintain that streak for many years more. Consider the previous post of mine a meta discussion about it and even that was close to breaking my self - imposed rule.

Incidentally, you got the Second Law wrong. Was that a typo or is science something you just wave around like a magic wand?

This does remind me of the days back in the 90's when I would participate in creation evolution debates as a Christian evolutionist on some location on Compuserve or aol or someplace. I mentioned how Fisher and Haldane and/ or Wright had shown that the probability of a beneficial mutation that bestowed a selective advantage s had a chance of 2 s being established. In other words, most mutations of slight beneficial effect were lost.

The ID guy in the conversation was pleased. He thought that this showed population genetics was on his side. A defender of evolution was displeased and thought I was making it up for the same reason.

The point being that neither person had any real interest in science. People who use science to overawe the followers of Neolithic goat herders are often as ignorant as the creationists they attack. Which is one reason among others I just avoid participating in such discussions online.

I, too, am a veteran of '90s Usenet (I assume that's what you mean, though you may not have been so, uh, blessed) theology debates, and that's largely why I've tried to avoid such discussions as well. I also try not to let old Usenet debate habits infect my online interactions, but I'm afraid I may not always succeed on that score...

But I sure don't look forward to her foreign policy. People who like to show their toughness should have their own kids on the battlefield at the very least.

That touches on what strikes me as the most troubling thing about the liberal hawk position in this discussion; the demographics which are being broadly dismissed as "deplorables" include the demographics which most reliably provide enlistees for the military. So we have the pitch-perfect caricature image of liberals looking down on "backwards provincials" who they none-the-less expect to offer up their children's lives and limbs in order to achieve their assorted foreign policy preferences, while the liberals' own children almost universally wouldn't dream of serving - and even less so in the enlisted ranks and/or an infantry branch. It gives the whole matter a thoroughly unseemly appearance.

the demographics which are being broadly dismissed as "deplorables" include the demographics which most reliably provide enlistees for the military.

Neither you nor Donald, in your praise for Vance has addressed my previous observation that Bill Clinton was in fact from the demographic you speak of, one that has traditionally also supported military action (but mostly just when white Republican men are in charge).

Except unlike Vance, who valorizes "hillbilly culture," without really coming up with a way to address the struggles of the people he describes, Bill Clinton did attempt to address their concerns (in a way that you condemn, of course). And, in fact, he delivered. And the economic news under Obama is excellent. And military deaths have been fewer under Democratic presidents than Republican presidents since 1980.

So I guess the lesson (again) is to vote Democratic.

Typo. Probably should have also put it in terms of đS=đQ/T to indicate the path-dependence of the differentials, but that's a relatively minor theological point.

Even with a typo, makes more sense than the "3=1" of christanism.

Christianism, also, too.

Hey LJ! Want to avoid multiple rapid fire comments? Add an edit button.

the demographics which are being broadly dismissed as "deplorables" include the demographics which most reliably provide enlistees for the military.

Can you be a little more specific about what you mean here?

What demographics are you talking about?

There are regional differences in military enlistment - people from the south-east enlist at a higher rate than people from the north-east - but I'm not sure if that's what you mean here.

I thought it might be a typo, but wasn't sure.

Rapid fire comments are almost inevitable IMO. I think of something else a few minutes after hitting the send button.

Sapient, I didn't see anything important about Bill's background. You can make whatever points you want with it without much attempted rebuttal from me.

NV-- I was on Usenet too sometimes, but Compuserve ( I think) had its own part of the net carved off and there were areas reserved for discussion of all sorts of things. They were moderated, so it wasn't as wild as Usenet. Aside from Creation evolution I would also argue politics. There was some cheerful libertarian guy, kind of a nicer version of Ayn Rand, who thought taxation was theft. Nowadays there would be lots of liberals and leftists willing to take him on, but to my surprise I was the only one doing it there.

On Usenet there were also creation evolution threads and some really nasty libertarian types, more like Rand would be if she had still been around.

the demographics which are being broadly dismissed as "deplorables" include the demographics which most reliably provide enlistees for the military.

she wasn't calling out prospective military members. she wasn't standing there like the antagonists in Sabbath's War Pigs or Dylan's Masters Of War, rubbing her 1% hands together while lustfully pushing piles of poor people into the meat grinder.

she explicitly, specifically, deliberately called out racists, sexists, homophobics, xenophobics and Islamaphobics. those are, in fact, deplorable things. stamping them out is supposed to be a big part of what the left is all about.

did she offend racists, sexists, homophobics, xenophobics and Islamaphobics? i sure as hell hope so. WTF else was she supposed to do - praise their ignorance and paranoia?

know what else is unseemly? reflexive Democrat bashing is unseemly.

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