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March 07, 2019

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The article links to a Huff post blog entry saying

They “conform in their nonconformity,”
But that "non-conformists" conform to each other was a commonplace when I was young (late '60s). And probably long before that. It appears that people only pick among styles to conform to.

Wow. Just wow

It seems that, according to the judge, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in “bad faith,” broke several laws and violated the constitution when he added the citizenship question to the census. (Not to mention lying to Congress about the whole thing.) A trifecta and more.

I recall John Lydon (aka "Johnny Rotten") of Sex Pistols fame discussing the early days of punk, when the people came to their shows in all manner of whacky, DYI fashion, but that everyone fairly quickly thereafter converged onto a standard punk look. They all conformed, just to something other than what non-punk conformists conformed to.

Kinda-sorta related:

In my younger days, I experienced a phenomenon whereby certain places would be under the radar and frequented by "weird" people. Word would start to get out that there was a cool scene in such a place, and other less-weird people would start going there. Once that word spread too far, the scene wouldn't be cool anymore, and the "weird" people would have moved on to some other relatively unknown place. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I've never understood the wearing of stocking caps unless outdoors in below-freezing temperatures. I'd overheat in about 20 seconds.

I just saw Jacques Loussier died.
Somewhere I still have some of his vinyls, and listen to his Goldberg Variations fairly often.
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/mar/07/jacques-loussier-obituary

Once that word spread too far, the scene wouldn't be cool anymore

I remember how despondent a piano playing high school buddy of mine was when the jocks all started smoking weed.

Stocking caps: I wear them a lot in winter, indoors and out, including to bed. It's in lieu of hair.

@hsh--

There's been a couple of times in my life I happened to have been one of those people frequenting such places early on, owing to some more adventurous friends that discovered them and brought me along. I generally would stop going later just because they would become too crowded once word got out enough.

@russell--

A couple of friends of mine, contemplating the factoid that you lose 80% of your body heat through your head, conjectured that therefore you could walk naked around in winter and stay comfortably warm as long as you had boots and a woolen cap on. I am pretty sure that neither of them ever empirically verified it though.

Depressing, but probably true—

http://bruegel.org/2019/03/the-case-for-green-realism/

"conjectured that therefore you could walk naked around in winter and stay comfortably warm as long as you had boots and a woolen cap on. I am pretty sure that neither of them ever empirically verified it though."

I have heard, from multiple first-hand sources, that one of the rites of passage at South Pole Station is to run outside, around the 'pole' and back inside, wearing only boots.

Although I bet you can leave your hat on.

I like to wear a big bowl of blueberries on my head, so I can snack on a whim - and possibly entice small woodland creatures.

And a lot of persuasion to do on decarbonisation - just around 5% of those polled see it as the most important issue...
https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000169-58fa-d09a-a579-fffa938a0000

Interesting poll all around.

And downright astonishing that slightly more voters still think the Republicans in Congress are better than the Democrats on national security..

I'm not sure thats astonishing, except the fact that its close.

https://www.newsweek.com/unvaccinated-oregon-boy-contracts-tetanus-spends-two-months-hospital-over-1356077

His family racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical treatment to save his life.

The report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this was the first pediatric tetanus case in the state in almost 30 years.

Is it wrong to say these people are stupid?

From Donald's link:

The transition to a carbon-neutral economy is bound to make us worse off before it makes us better off, and the most vulnerable segments of society will be hit especially hard.
I'm not sure that first part is really true, at least overall. The way green technology is developing, even a modicum of government support should keep the net economic disruption relatively small.

The second part is a concern. But the measures required to mitigate the impact are largely those we already should be (should have been?) taking to deal with the impact of the massive technological changes of the last few decades: education/retraining, relocation support, etc. (At least we've already started to address the need for health insurance outside employer-based one.)

It's true that most people would probably prefer life to go on unchanged. But at this point, even if climate change wasn't happening that train has long since left the station.

Is it wrong to say these people are stupid?

I would put at least the same level of stupidity on the legislators who wrote sure easy opt-out into the law. Just make the vaccinations mandatory. The same way that, for example, auto insurance is for drivers. It is, after all, a matter of protecting others from the possible results of your decisions.

Humanity, individually and collectively, has always been at war with pathogens.

And when we die, they eat us.

No pity for anti-vaxx species-traitors.

Every candidate, Democrat or Republican, for President or any other office, should crib this line from Hickenlooper's kickoff speech:

“We broadcast America’s values by celebrating those who may not have been born in America — but America was born in them.
"America was born in them." How can you not love that phrase?

Of course, there are those who will disagree with the sentiment. But they should be seen for what they are: unAmerican. And at odds with the reality of what has made America great.

Interesting poll all around.

What I take away from the poll: we hate Congress, consider them about as trustworthy as a fox in a hen house, and would prefer that they not do anything, about anything.

At least those sentiments appear to be bi-partisan.

“I'm not sure that first part is really true, at least overall. The way green technology is developing, even a modicum of government support should keep the net economic disruption relatively small.”

I hope it is not true, because if it is we will probably dither around and let things get much much worse.

I'll make a prediction about the climate change thing:

There will be no co-ordinated public effort to address it in any effective way. Not in this country, anyway. There are two reasons for this:

1. The fossil fuels still in the ground represent too much of the book value of very large companies
2. Nobody wants to make the basic changes in public infrastructure and lifestyle that would be required to really make a dent in the issue

So it ain't gonna happen. Not in my lifetime, probably not in my step-son's lifetime. And if it doesn't happen in that kind of time-frame, then some fairly serious consequences are baked in. For centuries.

We'll respond to those in one half-assed reactive way or other until enough of the current crop of decision makers die off, and things get bad enough that doing something is actually less painful than not doing something.

Mostly I think everyone will just adapt to whatever reality looks like in a +2C world. Whatever that turns out to be.

Mostly I think everyone will just adapt to whatever reality looks like in a +2C world. Whatever that turns out to be.

I probably don't need to tell anyone here this, but that reality will hit the most vulnerable the hardest. I'd guess a lot harder than would the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, as mentioned in Donald's link.

@JakeB,

In my alma mater, there was a tradition of running naked about a two kilometers long route around the university during parties in the student union sauna. People did it usually with shoes and a hat. And at least, if you kept up a good speed, a slightly freezing weather was not an obstacle. Although after a such a run, a man would probably not be an amazing sight to the ladies present. (For ladies, the cold and exercise do not do similar disservice. On the contrary, their skin is freshly red.)

And I would like to note that this was not a hazing ritual for freshmen. People of all year courses did it, when the fancy struck them.

Ah, that's Scandinavia/Finland for you. No wonder those upright folks of the GOP talk about it as if it's little better than a gateway to hell...

I probably don't need to tell anyone here this, but that reality will hit the most vulnerable the hardest. I'd guess a lot harder than would the transition to a carbon-neutral economy

Is it excessively cynical of me to predict that the pain of the poor in America will be mitigated by the knowledge that others (e.g. in Bangladesh) are being hit far, far harder? Just like certain cynical politicians here knew that, as long as blacks were worse off, the white poor (in the South, and perhaps elsewhere) would be less upset about their own poverty.

I'm not sure that first part is really true, at least overall. The way green technology is developing, even a modicum of government support should keep the net economic disruption relatively small.

I don’t think that’s right.
Housing (insulation/heating) is going to be very expensive to fix quickly. Transport could be left to the market... if we had a couple of decades or so too let it play out; similarly with power generation. We don’t.

2% of GDP is an awful lot of money to allocate to a program that half the electorate doesn’t believe in, but it is needed. And affordable.

Any goal to reduce CO2 emissions by the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, etc. is going to be swamped by what China, India and other developing economies do. India plans to double its coal power production in the next couple of decades.

well then, we're f***ed, aren't we?

the mind-boggling thing about it is that we know we are, we see it coming, and are unable to do anything more than wring our hands and talk about it.

the vulnerable who are hit hardest are unlikely to sit idly by and bemoan their fates. when folks can't survive where they are, they move.

Even though I saw the claim recently that India's coal power production would double in twenty years, it may be based on out of date Indian government projections. Or, perhaps, what I saw was that power from all sources would double.

"NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s demand for electricity is expected to double in the next two decades, and coal has been long forecast to be the fuel of choice for power generation. But this may no longer be the case.

It’s not that India doesn’t have plentiful reserves of coal. It does, and it is the world’s second-largest producer and importer, following China."
Coal going from winner to loser in India's energy future

One has to wonder if the corollary of "as long as the X has it worse than me" isn't "well if Mr. High-and-Mighty doesn't care if I'm screwed, why should I make any effort to make it more pleasant for him, since I'm screwed no matter what?"

Nous, but far too many believe that they will become part of the high and mighty and don't want to spoil the experience by voting in inconvenient things for them. I read a poll only recently where 'I am going to be a millionaire, so I don't want millionaires taxed' was an extremly common sentiment.

Adapting to a planet that is a little hotter means famine; mass movement of peoples, likely triggering authoritarian take-over in the receiving countries; war; the death of what is left of the natural world; severe economic dislocations within countries resulting in internal migrations; and the wealthy benefitting from all this at the expense of everyone else.

I am not planning on living long enough to see this play out.

If "we" are "f***ed", it's our own damn fault.

It's our fault for mollycoddling the sort of god-botherers who believe that either Jesus will rapture them or Jesus's dad will make CO2 go away, so what's the problem?

It's our fault for tolerating the kind of libertarians who are so into individualism that they could say "Ha, ha, your end of the lifeboat is sinking" with a straight face.

It's our fault for letting people like that get away with a snowflake victim act based on the proposition that stupid ideas deserve respect.

The American right wing has been allowed, by "us", to believe that they have a god-given right to determine the fate of the world -- because we must not call them stupid and shun them in real life, don't you know.

And "we" have allowed all this because Very Serious People assure us that there is a meaningful cohort of "independents" out there who will vote Republican unless we mollycoddle them by pretending that the RWNJs must be compromised with.

Which may be true, but it's another reason why "we're f***ed".

--TP

It's confusing which thread is which. My last comment answered Charles WT elsewhere.

Anyway, since this is an open thread, remember when everyone here gave a flying f*** about the atrocity of drone warfare? Oh, but that was when Obama, the "flawed" Democrat, was President.

This is now.

Honestly, this pisses me off all over again, even though I love y'all. Family fight that won't ever go away. Sorry, folks.

Sapient, in the old days I’d be more than happy to accommodate you if you wanted a fight on our war crimes. Suffice it to say my views haven’t changed. For Yemen alone Trump and Obama should rot in jail for the rest of their lives.

On your link, it’s not a big shock. Under Trump’s watch thousands of civilians died at Mosul and Raqqa under US bombs. Trump relaxed some of the restrictions on bombing. I would be thrilled if people denounced him as a blood soaked butcher rather than for this trivial Russiagate [email protected]@t.

All I will say.

I'm not going to answer Donald (who was super quick to answer me - what's up with that), other than to say that the subject doesn't seem to be something that he randomly brings up anymore. He's also not appearing with semiweekly Yemen news. Wonder why it's no longer his main focus.

Actually, I don't wonder.

But he's not the only one who was obsessed with Obama's drone war, and for the last two years - not a stated concern.

By the way, people are still starving in Yemen.

No update from Donald though.

Donald,

"... this trivial Russiagate [email protected]@t" is a pooh-poohing of Putin's purchase of the White House that I cannot allow to go un-pooped-upon.

You are a decent, kindly humanitarian AFAICT, but if you really harbor some delusion that Yemenis would be better off if Americans shrugged their shoulders at the Putin-Trump alliance then I don't know what to say to you.

--TP

TP—

Not going to argue about it, but I have always thought people’s priorities on American politics are screwed up regarding what should count as a scandal.

But if I keep posting I will be arguing, so that is the end of that.

Sapient, I stopped posting on Yemen here because people here got sick of it and I got angry. I posted elsewhere, got a letter in the NYT, ranted and raved in various places. I still do, but elsewhere, but at least now it is widely acknowledged as an American disgrace so I feel less driven. The Khashoggi murder was the turning point with Yemen, when the humanitarian catastrophe was recognized as front page news for a few months but of course Trump and most of the Republicans with a few exceptions still want to keep the war going. It should still be front page news, but isn’t. I sense the two of us are falling back into an old pattern. I lurk here a lot, usually don’t post even when I see you saying things that I find irritating, but it was a mistake to respond.

I found the article that was referenced by the article I remembered as saying India's coal power use would double in the next twenty years.

The article makes an unsourced assertion that it will almost double. And an unlinked source that it will increase by 120% which is more than double. Though that may include uses for coal besides power generation.

"Yet, even as the Modi government strives to ensure universal electricity access by the early 2020s, India’s power system will need to almost quadruple its size by 2040, and investments up to US$2 trillion will be required to keep pace with increasing demand.

Large-scale power generation will be at the heart of India’s strategy to electrification, with coal-fired power output forecast to almost double by 2040. This means that while solar will support energy access in rural communities, coal will power up the growing cities, industries and businesses that are key to India’s economic growth.
...
Looking ahead, with coal demand in the country predicted to rise by 120% through to 2040 (IEA), it is clear that it will remain a crucial part of India’s future energy system, as well as acting as a critical enabler for electrification."

The role of coal in India’s energy ambitions: India is the world’s second most populous country and figures among the world’s most rapidly growing economies, reports the World Coal Association.

I stopped posting on Yemen here because people here got sick of it

I among them, and I was kind of a dick about it. I've offered apologies privately, please allow me to do so publicly.

You were right, I was wrong.

what laura said.

While I've always thought Donald's stance on Yemen was perfectly sound, and am always extremely happy to see him here, on the Russian stuff I'm with Tony P @ 10.34.

Still she persisted - absolutely magnificent tirade by Arkansas State Senator Stephanie Flowers:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stpehanie-flowers-stand-your-ground-arkansas_n_5c831a1ae4b0d93616283236

I’ve never thought very highly of David ‘conventional wisdom’ Brooks, so this came as something of a .... surprise:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/opinion/case-for-reparations.html

Russell there was no need to apologize again. You are generally the wisest person around here and the most mature. Not saying I always agree with your political views, though generally we overlap, but just that you are sort of the gold standard for blog comment writers.

Gftnc—

I am in the distinct minority here. Not everywhere. Take a different example— Nixon and Watergate. I am not being original in saying that it would be better for our country and the world if he had been impeached and driven out of office for Chile and the bombing of Cambodia. There was also the apparent conspiracy to keep the war going in 68 by undermining negotiations, but I don’t know the details. That wasn’t known at the time. But anyway, the most serious scandals should be the ones that would be called war crimes or aggression, where people are killed in large numbers and which are treated as monstrous crimes when one of our enemies ( or a former friend) commits them.

On Trump, I can’t keep up with the things he does, though the attitude towards climate change is what, long term, I am guessing will make him most despised by future generations. But on that one he represents a great many people unfortunately.

Donald: ... it would be better for our country and the world if he had been impeached and driven out of office for Chile and the bombing of Cambodia. There was also the apparent conspiracy to keep the war going in 68 by undermining negotiations ...

The following are meditations on Donald's text, not arguments against it.

Would it have been better for the US and the world if Nixon had lost to Humphrey in 1968? Who knows? Humphrey might have bombed Cambodia and overthrown Allende like Nixon did, although I'm fairly sure Humphrey would not have foisted the execrable Henry Kissinger on the world.

Would Humphrey have won if LBJ had gone public with his knowledge of Nixon's collusion with the Saigon regime through Anna Chennault to scupper the Paris peace talks? Again: who knows? Many Americans might have shrugged their shoulders at the collusion, or even grudgingly admired it as a stratagem to defeat the heir of LBJ's warmongering and civil rights and Medicare and such.

Would American politics have been degraded and polluted by LBJ revealing "intelligence" about Nixon's collusion for "partisan" purposes? Maybe. So, let us be thankful that our politics has remained on a higher, principled plane; let us be grateful that public servants like CIA officers, generals, prosecutors, and such keep important secrets safe from the public because "rules". Or not.

In 1968, Nixon had not (yet) ordered the killing of masses of people, but LBJ had. That's what Americans should have been outraged about, instead of the collusion thing. Of course, Americans were simple-minded enough to re-elect Nixon by a landslide in 1972, and chances are they'd have done it even if Nixon's collusion had already been widely publicized. It was old news by then, after all.

Musing on what might have been, had Americans been outraged about different things at various points in the past, is of course mere intellectual wankery. History can't be changed. The future is a bit more malleable, but only a bit.

--TP

you are sort of the gold standard for blog comment writers

I imagine this is an opinion shared by everybody who ever reads this blog, with the probable exception of russell.

Donald, I believe your opinions are always worth giving serious attention to, even if one starts (or ends) by disagreeing with them. But prioritising concern over e.g. war crimes (also always worth highly prioritising) over concern about a foreign takeover of the administration is, I believe, a category confusion. Once there is a legitimately elected administration, one is justified in holding it accountable for its acts, illegal or immoral. But if an administration is not legitimately elected (because of e.g. traitors selling the country out to a foreign power, or e.g. significant voter suppression or gerrymandering), then dealing with that illegitimacy seems to me to be the necessary first step before you can deal with its consequences.

I expect that this is old news to the UK folks
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/the-more-we-learn-about-brexit-the-more-crooked-it-looks/2019/03/08/b011517c-411c-11e9-922c-64d6b7840b82_story.html

It rather looks like Putin had a bigger impact on the Brexit vote than on the US Presidential election. And succeeded in doing more long term damage as well.

Gftnc—

I get the impression most people here are good at math—I think that included you, but am not sure.

Anyway, math analogy— if you plot the moral seriousness of a scandal on the X axis and the attention it receives on the y axis and start plotting points, I think you would get an upside down U shaped curve— that is, small evils get small attention, big evils get big attention and gigantic evils get small attention. It’s generally that way. A sufficiently large crime is a policy. Question the really giant crimes and it is actually a bit scary— do people want to see Presidents true as war criminals? Does it destabilize our system, call its legitimacy in question? I am guessing for most people in DC the whole idea is unthinkable.

I also don’t think Trump is in Putin’s pocket. The attempt at overthrowing Maduro is the latest example. Not what Putin wants. There are others. In 2016 emails were stolen and released to embarrass Clinton, with or without Trump’s collusion. Too soon to tell, afaik.

"Treason doth neuer prosper? What's the Reason? For if it prosper none dare call it treason." —Sir John Harington

wj: Brexit is a major success for Putin. Destroying or weakening the EU has been a primary motivation for him.

Donald: In fact, I'm not a maths person, but I still get your graph image. You may be right, and about the attitudes of most people, but speaking for myself (and I'm guessing many people here) I'm perfectly prepared to consider our leaders perpetrators of war crimes if I believe they are (Tony Blair and George W spring to mind immediately). I disagree with you about Putin and Trump in any case, but I think my point still holds about the order in which one has to deal with issues of legitimacy and subsequent crimes.

The attempt at overthrowing Maduro is the latest example. Not what Putin wants.

The reality is more nuanced, and the public positions of Putin and Trump don't necessarily reflect their private agreements.

There's no question that there was coordination between Assange as the conduit between Russian intelligence and Trump's campaign. The previous "collusion" thread is where russell stated the case (at least some of it) quite clearly.

On Trump, I can’t keep up with the things he does versus I also don’t think Trump is in Putin’s pocket.

I'm wondering whether if you kept up with more of what Trump does, you would agree that Trump is doing work for Putin. And not just Trump, but the Republican Party, including McConnell and the NRA. It's hard for me to keep up with climate science, but I don't deny climate change.

Treason doth neuer prosper? Well, it seems to be bringing prosperity to the Trump family, so they certainly won't dare call it treason. The rest of us are not so constrained.

Also, I agree with GftNC in her assessment that we will have no success in promoting humane policies if we don't make some inroads in supporting the legitimacy and functionality of our democratic system.

The NYT piece is not supportive of private agreement between Trump and Putin. It shows Russia hedging its bets if Trump succeeds, but it is crazy to imagine they would spend so much time supporting Chávez and then Maduro and then decide to risk it all with a bunch of unknowns. But hedging their bets is what any government operating on the basis of realpokitk (sp?) would do. Btw, I get a kick out of the mainstream press in the US on foreign affairs— if we had a government run operation there often wouldn’t be much difference.

Trump’s foreign policy is to a large extent in the hands of people who want to pressure Iran ( ending the nuclear deal was not Putin and the war in Yemen is part of the anti- Iranian policy) and in the Western Hemisphere they are back in Cold War Cuba Lobby mode. If Marco Rubio were President we’d be doing the same thing, as in fact Rubio and Abrams seem to be the brains ( loosely speaking) behind the operation. Trump strikes me and probably most people as someone who can be easily manipulated by people who know how to flatter him.

Hmm. We are arguing again, sapient. This never ends well. You get the last word if you want, even if I strongly disagree.

The NYT piece is not supportive of private agreement.

The evidence of a private agreement is that they keep meeting in private.

I don't believe there's any explicit agreement between Trump and Putin - Putin isn't foolish enough to trust Trump to keep to an agreement, or to keep an agreement confidential.

Obviously, Putin wanted Trump to be president - it's in Russia's interest to have a greedy fool as president of the USA. And obviously, it's unwise of the US to let Russia choose its president.

Meanwhile, the US electorate is largely indifferent to its government murdering and torturing overseas. It used to care about gross criminality at home. Apparently republican voters no longer do.


Russell there was no need to apologize again

Thank you, that is very generous of you.

Thank you, and GFTNC, for your additional kind words. To be honest, I hardly know what to say about anything anymore. Every day us is like a fresh new adventure in the land of WTF.

Better days.

There has been a pause in the Force thread.

As an unhinged left winger in the thrall of the fantasy economics of MMT (Make Money Tendentious) the fact that Strumpf and Phewtin have talked privately in not evidence of, well, much of anything beyond a bit of (I would wholeheartedly agree) worrisome speculation. We'll see what comes of this.
2. Putting the screws to Iran is contrary to Russian interests in the ME. Full stop. This obviously makes Strumpf a lackey to Phewtin? I don't get that. To me, it just shows Strumpf to be an idiot.
3. Russian policy viz Venezuela is more of a jab a stick in the eye of the US than an important part of any Russian assessment of their vital national interests. Bottom line: It is not anything to be taken with any great level of seriousness or concern. The US policy to intervene in that nation's affairs is.
4. Strump's NATO peregrinations more closely align with Phewtin major policy goals. I should think this is where Russian national interests are highest. Worrisome level: High.
5. I, for one, continue to be outraged by US support (Jaredskyism) for the Saudis and their genocide in Yemen. Also contrary to Russian interests. Interest level? Salaciously tantalizing. Phewtin lackeyism? I don't get that.
6. It is remarkable that sapient defended the Obama drone policy but now chastises the left for not condemning the remarkably similar Strumft drone civilian remote civilian execution policy. The technical term for this is bullshit. PS: I FOR ONE UNCONDITIONALLY CONDEMN THIS POLICY. Just sayin'.

On the whole? Strumpf haz to go. He is a fascist thug. On this, sapient and I agree wholeheartedly.

It used to care about gross criminality at home.

Well, sometimes. Like most other places, we are willing to put up with a good deal of such behavior as long as "our side" gets the goodies.

Nobody is wholly innocent.

it is crazy to imagine they would spend so much time supporting Chávez and then Maduro and then decide to risk it all with a bunch of unknowns

It's not that crazy, once you consider the loss (Chavez, Maduro, etc.) compared to the gain (Trump and the havoc he is creating). Losing Venezuela is a small, tiny even, price to pay to maybe give Trump a "win" that might get him reelected.

I don't believe there's any explicit agreement between Trump and Putin - Putin isn't foolish enough to trust Trump to keep to an agreement, or to keep an agreement confidential.

Depends on the kind of "agreement." If it's a "Do X and in return I won't reveal Y and destroy you" type agreement, Trump would keep it and keep it confidential. Because that's the kind of mob-based deal he knows he can't stiff the other party over.

2. Putting the screws to Iran is contrary to Russian interests in the ME. Full stop. This obviously makes Strumpf a lackey to Phewtin? I don't get that. To me, it just shows Strumpf to be an idiot.

Say rather that Trump isn't solely in Putin's pocket. Putin can get him to do some things, but not everything; so he saves his leverage for big stuff (e.g. sanctions relief, avoiding US support for Ukraine, etc.). But the biggest win for Putin is damaging the US, especially its alliances. And going nuts over Iran does more good in that line than the loss that might be suffered in the ME. It's about priorities.

No question Trump is an idiot. And a massively uninformed one. But for Putin, he's a useful idiot.

6. It is remarkable that sapient defended the Obama drone policy but now chastises the left for not condemning the remarkably similar Strumft drone civilian remote civilian execution policy. The technical term for this is bullshit. PS: I FOR ONE UNCONDITIONALLY CONDEMN THIS POLICY. Just sayin'.


That's nice, bobbyp. Did you look at the article I linked to earlier? This one? It's heartening to learn that you have some kind of consistency in your objection to drones, but why isn't anyone talking about it anymore when it was a daily obsession during the Obama administration, and when , now, Trump has decided to hide the civilian casualty rate?

Same same, I guess, with no consideration at all to what the rationale was offered. Yes, I did support Obama, and his drone war. I supported his attempt to regulate procedures and practices. We were trying to (in the aftermath of the Bush tragedy) avoid leaving vulnerable places in complete turmoil.

Obama inherited three wars. He dealt with that admirably.

Strumpf haz to go. He is a fascist thug. On this, sapient and I agree wholeheartedly.

Yes, and my argument here with anyone who is with us on that is an exercise.

The pipeline from Russia to Germany is an example of where Trump is on the side of the Ukraine and against Russia.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/25/nord-stream-2-russian-gas-pipeline-likely-to-go-ahead-after-eu-deal

As for Putin losing Venezuela to give Trump a win, I think that is unlikely. If Venezuela collapses into civil war or we intervene, it’s not a win for Trump. It is only a win if he gets his regime change without a civil war or mass starvation.

On the Ukraine, Trump supplied them with anti tank missiles.

It’s pretty clear who Trump does collude with— the Saudis. Flynn also met with the Russian ambassador while Obama was in office, but on behalf of Israel. They wanted Russia to side with Israel in opposition to Obama’s abstention on a vote condemning settlements. Russia didn’t play along.

I do think Trump’s chaotic policies do weaken the US and so long as things don’t get too far out of control Putin might see this as a positive, but I doubt he appreciates Trump’s policies on the pipeline or his giving weapons to the Ukrainians or the push to topple Maduro or the pressure on Iran. Personally I don’t care whether Putin sees our stupid wars and interventions as positive or negative. It’s probably hard for Putin to know in some cases whether Trump’s actions help or hurt him.

I also think much of the foreign policy establishment opposition to Trump comes from people who want a better more competent warmonger in charge.

If Venezuela collapses into civil war or we intervene, it’s not a win for Trump. It is only a win if he gets his regime change without a civil war or mass starvation.

No, that's what you would see as a win. But a lot of Trump supporters would see any regime change as a win. No matter how ugly; no matter how much avoidable collateral damage.

Putin doesn’t give much of a damn about Venezuela.
His overriding objective is his own personal survival, and dealing with any threats to it. In that context, preventing Ukraine from joining the EU at some point in the future is of far more importance.

Russia, with the GDP of a middling European nation, has nowhere near the economic resources to compete with either the US, China or the EU in anything constructive. Disruption is much cheaper.

And I don’t think he expected Trump to win any more than Trump did. The original intent behind any interference was to weaken a President Clinton.

American exceptionalism in action. Here, this would instantly be denounced as "socialism". Although a place less like Venezuela economically is hard to find.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/05/luxembourg-to-become-first-country-to-make-all-public-transport-free

Interesting that, there, this is far less controversial than marijuana legalization. Hmmmm....

Yes, but look at the population, area and per capita GDP of Luxembourg.

It is not a realistic model for very many other countries.

Yes, but look at the population, area and per capita GDP of Luxembourg.

Yes, instead we have 50,000 miles of highway. Generally free to all (for 'generally', I'm looking at you, Mass Pike).

What we don't have anymore is a critical mass of belief in shared public effort for the common good.

This obviously makes Strumpf a lackey to Phewtin? I don't get that.

People who are looking for video of Trump and Putin discussing quid pro quo in a back room somewhere watch too much TV. For one thing, Trump might be naive enough to entangle himself in something that obvious, Putin is not.

The points of contact between principals of Trump's campaign and people in Putin's circles of intelligence and kleptocracy is remarkable for its number and variety. The points of contact between Trump's private business affairs and Russian criminals and criminal money, even more so. The range of opportunities for Russian influence on Trump, both governmental and criminal, is quite broad.

All of that is just the Russian side of things.

Trump is corrupt. He's not corrupt because of being POTUS, he was corrupt long before then. Corruption and self-dealing is just an approach, and a life-long habit, that he brings to the office.

There isn't going to be a transcript of Putin offering Trump a hotel in Moscow in exchange for the Ukraine, or relief from Magnitzky, or even a good deal on some nice Manhattan condos. Putin is not going to incur that kind of personal exposure.

He runs Russia like a criminal enterprise, with endless opportunities for graft, theft, and corruption. That's like catnip to Trump. And not just to Trump, but to the bizarre parade of crooks that he surrounds himself with. Putin, personally, doesn't have to do a freaking thing but stand back and watch.

I have no idea what Putin wants as regards Iran. I know he hates NATO. And all he's had to do to encourage the US to weaken its support for NATO is tell Trump how the NATO countries are playing us for chumps.

I have no idea if Trump is stupid or not. I don't know what he has by way of cognitive equipment. What is plainly obvious is that he is sufficiently vain and fragile that he can be played like a fucking violin.

Putin doesn't have to give him anything. He just has to tell him what a misunderstood genius he is, and Trump will do the rest on his own. He'll even think it was his own idea.

The pipeline from Russia to Germany is an example of where Trump is on the side of the Ukraine and against Russia.

I don't believe that Trump's opinion on that is authentic. It is a way that he could say to Angela Merkel, "You're the puppet!"

Putin doesn’t give much of a damn about Venezuela.

That's my impression as well. More on that.

It’s pretty clear who Trump does collude with— the Saudis.

Sure. Trump loves abominable dictators. He doesn't just work with them because of historical alliances - he loves them.

“I have no idea what Putin wants as regards Iran. I know he hates NATO. And all he's had to do to encourage the US to weaken its support for NATO is tell Trump how the NATO countries are playing us for chumps.”

Now that I agree with. That is how Trump thinks and everyone knows it,
More later maybe.

Emptywheel has thoughtfully provided so,e thoughts on the issue:
https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/03/09/art-of-the-get-screwed-in-your-russian-quid-pro-quo-deal/

Putin, personally, doesn't have to do a freaking thing but stand back and watch.

Yup.

Elaborating slightly—

Practically everything Trump does can be explained by his focus on money and the desire to be seen as a winner who shafts the losers. Anyone who understands this can probably manipulate him. Trump doesn’t understand the concept of being a good ally to others, only that others should help him.

In the campaign Trump said he was a critic of our Mideast wars, but he also said we should take their oil. One of his team, I think Bolton, explicitly mentioned oil as a motive for intervening in Venezuela— the idea that Trump or his team gives a crap about humanitarian situations is a joke. He supports the war in Yemen in part because he thinks we are making tons of money selling the Saudis weapons. He wants NATO countries to pay more so we pay less and probably just sees NATO as a financial burden. And he hates being thought of as a sucker.

I think Putin along with the rest of the planet knows this about him and yes, obviously if Putin has him alone he would probably try to take advantage of this.

My theory anyway. I don’t think Putin is controlling Trump like a puppet. There is no strong reason to think that. You can assume it anyway, take cases where he does what Putin likes as proof and dismiss the opposing cases as Trump just pretending,but I doubt Trump is that subtle.

And I know a few here don’t like Glenn, but he is right— I read alternative reporters who beat the NYT to this story weeks ago.

https://theintercept.com/2019/03/10/nyts-expose-on-the-lies-about-burning-humanitarian-trucks-in-venezuela-shows-how-us-govt-and-media-spread-fake-news/

The NYT is a weird paper. You never know if you are going to get the truth there in three hours, three weeks, or forty years.

“But a lot of Trump supporters would see any regime change as a win. No matter how ugly; no matter how much avoidable collateral damage.”

Forgot to reply, but I don’t think this is necessarily correct. For one thing if Venezuela becomes Syria then we have ten million refugees, some of them heading this way. There is a good chance we intervene. Even Republicans started to see Iraq as a mess after a few years and Trump ran ( dishonestly) as someone who criticized the other Republicans for getting into stupid wars.
And I just don’t see Putin encouraging the overthrow of an ally merely for some hypothetical Trump victory that might or might not help in in 2020,

People are way too inclined to concoct complicated conspiracies about Putin and Trump. If Putin thought he could nudge Trump into weakening NATO, I think it is likely he would have done so in those private talks. Venezuela and Iran are Putin’s allies, so no, I don’t think Putin wants to push Trump against them. There are other people around Trump who want to push him in those directions.

Venezuela is not, and will not be Syria, civil war or not.

And there are already over three million refugees.

Yes there are, in part because of Maduro and in part because of sanctions.

I am not sure where your confidence that Venezuela could not become Syria comes from, unless you mean plate tectonics doesn’t work fast enough to move places several thousand miles in a human lifetime. Could there be a bloody civil war in Latin America? Um, yeah. Could the US pour massive amounts of weapons into Venezuela the way we did in Syria? You betcha, though I think the Democrats will not let it go that far.

By the way, one drawback in the time people spend criticizing Trump as a nitwit is that it takes away time that could be spent criticizing Marco Rubio as a nitwit and psychopath.

https://mobile.twitter.com/adamjohnsonNYC/status/1104862268305690628

That’s the nitwit part. The psychopath part is when he put up photos on his Twitter account of a captured bloodied Gaddafi as a warning to Maduro

Trump loves abominable dictators. He doesn't just work with them because of historical alliances - he loves them.

Well like attracts like. They run their countries the way he always ran his businesses -- like a criminal enterprise. And he's seriously frustrated these days because people keep stopping him when he tries to run the US government the same way. (After all, it always worked out good for him before -- for him, and nothing else matters.) It also makes him a sucker for sympathy from them about people getting in his way.

Though no, I don’t think Venezuela will fall into full scale civil war of the sort Elliot Abrams was involved in during the 80’s.

Sorry about the sarcasm, Nigel. I am giving myself a time out. I am usually happier lurking anyway.

I'm feeling like an idiot for not realizing that, to someone as obsessed by oil as Trump ("We should just take their oil" regarding the Middle East), what would matter in Venezuela would be the oil. For that, getting rid of the current regime would be a win, no matter what else happened.

Over at Balloon Juice, Betty Cracker weighs in with her usual wisdom. Seems appropriate, somehow, to this conversation.

The BJ Betty Cracker piece that sapient links to quotes George Galloway, liberal MP, as follows:

"I want Britain post-Brexit to be what it was in the Swinging 60s, when we were the cultural capital of the world. When we had a steel industry, when we had a coal industry - when we were something!"

This kind of nostalgia is something I think about from time to time. I live in New England. Once we were more or less agriculturally self-sufficient. Then we werent, because the north-west territory opened up and all the farmers left, because the land was better and the growing season was longer.

Once we were the home of the American industrial revolution. Then, manufacturing left, to be close to resources or cheap labor. When I moved to Salem MA in 1983, I lived down the street from what had been mill buildings, and which were at that point kind of semi-derelict.

To be honest, the area I live in was kind of run down. The tech industry hadn't really taken off at the scale it is now, and things weren't that great.

All the factory jobs, in particular, had gone "offshore" to the South. THanks for nothing, you guys.

It's much better now. Not perfect, just better. It took thought, and investment, and time, and work. Lots of each of those things.

You know what didn't work? Wishing that the mills, or the shoe makers,or manufacturing, or whatever, would magically return and whisk us back to when we were whatever the heck we were in 1800, or 1850, or 1900, or 1950.

Things change. You have to adapt or die. It's the iron law of life on earth, just ask Darwin.

People who dream of life returning to what it was when they were kids, or their parents or grandparents were kids, are not going to get their wish. People who put their faith in people who promise stuff like that are headed for disappointment.

We are presently living in the best period in human history regardless of the short term ups and downs.

We are presently living in the best period in human history regardless of the short term ups and downs.

I would be willing to go along with that (as a general statement), but I value the environment and other species, and they aren't doing so well. And if we look beyond our own material comfort, we won't be doing well either if we can't find sustenance, solace and beauty in the natural world. I'm not as pessimistic as some who think that we can't turn things around, but we don't have much time.

You know what didn't work? Wishing that the mills, or the shoe makers,or manufacturing, or whatever, would magically return and whisk us back to when we were whatever the heck we were in 1800, or 1850, or 1900, or 1950.

What is seriously stupid is nostalgia for buggy whip manufacturing. While having no willingness to abandon the automobiles which drove them out of business. But that's the level of reality that we keep seeing.

Hey, there is always demand for whips! ;-)

Galloway is not a liberal.

(And, FWIW, he was expelled from the Labour party some time ago.)

Nor is he currently an MP.

Sorry about the sarcasm, Nigel. I am giving myself a time out

No need to apologise, Donald. Sarcasm is entirely fair game if not overdone.

Venezuela, civil war or not, will not become Syria as they don't have any equivalent of IS; they are not going to see intensive bombing campaigns by their, the US , or the Russian airforce; and one of the two sides will win the conflict, rather than the several sides in Syria, which have all lost.

And the refugees are also there because of Chavez. Of whom Maduro is merely a far less charismatic shadow.

Galloway is not a liberal.

I'm happy to defer to you that point. My point is that the kind of nostalgic looking back to "when we were something" has never and will never result in once again "being something".

"Being something", in the terms that Galloway invokes - confidence, a sense of being successful and of being a deservedly consequential presence in the world - requires actual achievement.

That thing your parents and grand-parents did 50 or 60 years ago (or 70, or 100) is not your achievement.

The conditions for the kind of "being something" Galloway remembers - we call it "being great" over here - don't exist anymore. Nobody is going to be "great again" in the sense of re-creating successes of an earlier generation. We need to address the conditions we live in now.

And, probably worry less about "being something" or "being great again", and more about being effective, and realistic, and good.

We are presently living in the best period in human history

Tell it to somebody who's living on less than $2.50 a day. That's about 3 billion people.

Not everyone is living in first world nirvana.

Tell it to somebody who's living on less than $2.50 a day. That's about 3 billion people.

Human poverty certainly isn't solved. But it has been reduced significantly compared to the rest of human history, as have casualties of war. I would never suggest that we should abandon efforts towards alleviating poverty or pursuing peaceful means to resolve disputes, but we know how to do those things as shown by our significant progress.

Whereas we are losing ground on the environment, and need to reverse that trend.

What sapient said.

It's all too easy to see what lots of people don't have today. And forget just how much worse it was in the past. Even for the relatively prosperous.

It's like the reason that people in 3rd world countries willingly work in sweat shops. And it is willingly. Sure, the conditions are miserable, and the pay looks tiny. To us. But to someone just off the (subsistence) farm, the conditions aren't especially bad and the pay is darned good -- compared to what they are coming from.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to get it improved. Just that it doesn't mean that they are being exploited compared to what they have to compare it with.

But it has been reduced significantly compared to the rest of human history, as have casualties of war.

Neither of these statements seem obviously true, to me.

"The rest of human history" covers a lot of ground, and a lot of places. Blanket statements like "things are better now then they ever have been" depend, quite a lot, on the particular circumstances you're talking about.

We probably have the best antibiotics that humans have ever had, I'll grant you that. If you live in a first world country, or if you have a lot of money no matter where you live, you're living a pretty good life, historically or otherwise.

I'm not persuaded by the rest of it.

If you live in a first world country, or if you have a lot of money no matter where you live, you're living a pretty good life, historically or otherwise.

I'm not persuaded by the rest of it.

There may be a few places where civilization has collapsed for the moment. Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia. But in general, people today are doing better than people in the same places were doing a century ago. Even the quite poor ones are doing no worse. They may be doing worse than we are. Worse, even, than we were a century or two ago. But still, better than they were then.

If anyone has counterexamples (excepting places temporarily, as in less than a couple of decades worth, impacted by wars), I'd be interested to know what they are and how they ate worse.

I'm not persuaded by the rest of it.

My thinking is this: Assuming the human race is generally better off than it has ever been, what then? How do I apply that information?

Don't worry? Be happy? Big TVs are super-cheap!

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