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November 14, 2019

Comments

sic transit gloria mundi.

LL&P, JDT.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Amen.

A bit has been made here of rightwing violence and threatened violence. But where does Antifa fit into the political scheme of things? They're described as being leftwing. Are they a counterpart of violent rightwing groups that most on the right disown.

fnck Antifa

Some Antifa are probably a counterpart to the (much larger) alt-right, seeking redemptive violence, and are thus a corrosive force to be suppressed.

But the bulk of Antifa exist only as an irregular group of volunteers that assemble while there are actual fascists showing up to march on the street with arms and disband when the fascists crawl back into their safe spaces. I'm not disowning or discouraging any of them.

DJT. You will be missed.
Stop by and say Hi now and then.

from the No Shit, Sherlock files:

A confidential White House review of the President Trump’s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal, according to three people familiar with the records.

Antifa

Antifa are anti-fascist. nous' description is seems accurate, to me.

My biggest beef with antifa is that they give right-wingers somebody to point to to justify the "both sides" thing. They also can be unnecessarily provocative. They can be somewhat self-righteous and self-justifying. The anarchist / anti-capitalist wing of antifa is prone to breaking and burning stuff with no particular constructive purpose that I can see.

So, I have my issues with them.

All of that said, I recognize a distinction - a moral distinction - between Nazis and people who are willing to physically fight Nazis. And if things keep going in the direction they're going, it may turn out that antifa was prescient.

FWIW, they probably saved some lives, or at a minimum saved some people from serious physical harm, in Charlottesville. Probably other places as well.

Quiet. That's quite a thought. Thanks for everything, JDT.

JDT—

Yes, I highly recommend lurking. Though you should also abstain altogether when needed.

My political views are somewhat different. I read a fair number of blogs across the spectrum and am mostly far left ( to the extent some comfortable bourgeois American can say this without it being a complete joke) and do it partly to understand where other people are coming from. If you start arguing with them it can consume your life. And for very little good.

Nowadays if I expressed my real views everywhere I lurked I would quickly find myself in figurative screaming matches on virtually every blog I read, including this one. ( On this one, I can support the impeachment of Trump for using foreign policy for his personal political benefit without feeling the slightest inclination to support our policies in the Ukraine or lionize Foreign Service members with Cold War views.). But I think one should mostly avoid screaming matches.

Good work at your dinner party. I think you handled that one perfectly. As someone who hangs out at Dreher’s blog, you have probably seen him echoing Haidt’s claim that conservatives understand liberals, but not vice versa. I am willing to concede that many lefties and liberals don’t understand righties. I don’t think we necessarily even understand each other. But I have been around rightwingers ( as we all have, presumably) and there is no way that rightwingers as a group understand lefties. Are there individual exceptions? Sure. But generally, no, or not in my experience, and certainly not people like your gun- toting rightwing friend. I think you probably embarrassed her and if so, you did her a big favor.

my little town recently went through months of protests over a confederate statue (which was removed in the middle of the night, Wednesday). for months, Confederacy supporters would come to our town, because they believed Antifa would be there, and they wanted to fight what they think are the liberal vanguard. many arrests. barricades. businesses suffered because people were staying away.

but Antifa isn't liberal. they aren't on my side, or on the side of anyone i know. they're on their own side, and probably consider me an enemy.

they come to protests to fight. which obliterates any message anyone else is trying to send. they hurt innocent people because it's fun to throw rocks through windows.

it's selfish attention-seeking nihilism.

i don't want them even pretending to be associated with anything i want.

also, they get on my lawn sometimes.

John Thullen -- Silence is golden. See you there.

Good morning America, how are you?

it's pretty amazing that Miller's behavior was news for only like 30 minutes, maybe.

Miller, the Lev tapes, the navy stuff, the Mulvaney ex post facto-justification emails, tangentially the Nunes-Ukraine connection. Will any of it matter?

But tan suit.

I think there's a meme to be found here. There was so much talk about what was going to be "Obama's Katrina" when he was in office. Now we can talk about what will be "Trump's Tan Suit."

Good morning, America, how are you?

Say don't you know me? I'm your native son...

From bobbyp's link:

As a practical matter, Miller views nonwhite people as his enemies.
Given his oft-stated views, they would have to be damn fools not to be. On the other hand, lots of us with Scandinavian ancestry are his enemies, too. It's not like it's exclusively a race thing.

Assholedom also knows no ethnic boundaries.

Max Boot:

Republicans have turned their back on conservative principles to become a cult of personality for an aspiring authoritarian. All voters with a conscience should now turn their back on the Republican Party. For aiding and abetting the president’s egregious abuses of power, the Republican Party deserves to be destroyed from top to bottom. We need a center-right party in this country. What we have instead is a party with no fixed principles that is willing to do anything — no matter how vile — to serve its maximum leader, a.k.a. “the chosen one.”

"All voters with a conscience"

whelp.

Speaking of assholedom, we have this:
CDC recommended that migrants receive flu vaccine, but CBP rejected the idea

It appears that a complete purge (and I use the word deliberately) and restaffing at Customs and Border Patrol may be required of the next administration.

Zinger of the day:

a Republican administration and party determined to end, not with a bang, but a simper.

We need a center-right party in this country

See also: any (D) endorsed by the DNC.

And I'm not hating on the (D)'s, I'm calling attention to the fact that mainstream D's are, by any reasonable standard, middle of the road conservative.

E.g, Obama or either Clinton.

by any reasonable standard, middle of the road conservative.

E.g, Obama or either Clinton.

Carter wasn't exactly a flaming liberal either.

Indeed you could make a fair case that the past half century's Democratic Presidents were notably less liberal than the various Democratic presidential nominees who were not elected. Hmmm....

Nixon/Ford/Carter was a transitional period in US politics marking the end of the economic expansion of the postwar period. Reagan was the paradigm change that set the way Americans think and talk about politics since then until Bush/Obama when 9/11, the financial crisis, and globalism upended Reaganomics.

We are in another transitional period marked by the breakdown of protocol and open culture war. How that will play out in party politics remains to be written, but I would not count on centrism while the center is falling away under us like a sinkhole.

I would not count on centrism while the center is falling away under us like a sinkhole

The center is falling away in the conversation of the political class. And in the conversations of those who follow politics.

Whether it is falling away among the population at large is far less clear. My sense is that those in the center find themselves faced with two political parties, both of which seem inclined to go for ideological purity around views which are far more extreme that they would like. Leaving them with a choice of "less bad" -- a choice which is always far more fraught than being able to choose someone who is at least some approximation of what they (the center) believe.

I also think those in the center find it difficult to wrap our heads around just how bad someone from outside the center (e.g. Trump) might actually be. And thus, unfortunately, have trouble believing the (totally accurate) descriptions of what he has been doing.

In the rest of the developed world, universal healthcare, gun control, and fair elections are not partisan issues.

Whether it is falling away among the population at large is far less clear.

46% of the people who bothered to vote in 2016 voted for Donald J Trump.

I think the evidence is against you.

TBH, I think the country is broken.

rather than build UHS, we should de-build the "conservative" mis-information industry.

i kid. i kid.

it would be very wrong of us to be less stupid overall.

those in the center find themselves faced with two political parties, both of which seem inclined to go for ideological purity around views which are far more extreme that they would like.

It's also worth noting that the "ideological purists" on the "left" are calling for things that would have been, and were, endorsed by such radical firebrands as Truman and Eisenhower.

I think nous' analysis is as right on as anything else I've read, basically anywhere.

Things are broken. They won't be fixed until people in very large numbers decide to give a crap about it all again. I don't know how or when that happens.

They won't be fixed until people in very large numbers decide to give a crap about it all again.

absolutely

i can't see anything positive happening as long as we're allowing Russia to participate in our elections. because their long term goal is not about Trump; they really want to weaken the country by destroying people's trust in government and elections. Trump is just a useful idiot - he's happy to play along because he's too greedy and vain and stupid to know what he's being used for.

but the GOP, for the same reason it still supports him, can't allow itself to admit this. they don't want to admit that they backed a loser and that the left was right about something. they'll let the ship crash and sink before they admit the liberal lookout was right about those rocks.

they don't want to admit that they backed a loser and that the left was right about something.

I don't think that's it, really.

It's working for them, so they're fine with it. Tax cuts, judges, de-regulation. If the Russians are helping to make that happen, then they're welcome to do so. Even if the means by which they help make it happen is to fill people's heads with malicious bullshit.

If you ask 100 Trump supporters if they are concerned about Russian interference, 40 will say it never happened, another 40 will say they don't give a crap as long as Donald beat Hilary, and 15 of the remaining 20 will say they hope they do it again in 2020. Or maybe it's 15 that don't care, and 40 that hope they do it again.

3 of the remaining 5 will not understand the question. 2 will be concerned but it won't change their support for Trump.

On the very small bright side, polling as reported on FiveThirtyEight jumped sharply over the last few days in favor of impeachment. I don't know if that's simply a matter of normal lag in polls being conducted, data being compiled, and FiveThirtyEight collecting and aggregating it, or if it took time for people to absorb what they were seeing, hearing, and reading. Perhaps both.

I still think another shoe will drop. These guys are too clownish not to have slipped up somewhere.

Rudy G going to jail [fingers crossed] probably won't help Trump much.

tee hee.

i can't see anything positive happening as long as we're allowing Russia to participate in our elections. because their long term goal is not about Trump; they really want to weaken the country by destroying people's trust in government and elections. Trump is just a useful idiot - he's happy to play along because he's too greedy and vain and stupid to know what he's being used for.

A perfect analysis. As for the slight disagreement between cleek and russell on what the GOP's motivation is, I think you're both right (they're not mutually exclusive). I also particularly like russell's theoretical focus-grouping of 100 Trump supporters, which I think is pretty exactly right.

Bombshell!

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/rudy-giuliani-claims-he-has-evidence-linking-joe-biden-to-barack-obama

wj - when you write about the center you are writing about people of good faith who hold moderate views. When I was writing about the center, I was talking about a set of values and policy choices around which voters sort themselves. I have no doubt that there are still moderates in the world, nor that they are gazing on all this partisanship with bewildered disgust. I just don't currently see any combination of political philosophy and policy choices that can be used to pull enough support away from the poles to make centrism viable under our election rules.

By the way, there is an article in today's NYT on Marianna Mazzucato, an eminent and rather innovative economist very well-thought of by lefties of my acquaintance. As I have often made clear, I know nothing about economics, but anyone curious about current lefty European thinking on it who doesn't already know her work might be interested to take a look, particularly in view of some of the claims e.g. McKinney has made in the past about the origins of wealth. An extract:

Dr. Mazzucato, an economist based at University College London, is trying to change something fundamental: the way society thinks about economic value. While many of her colleagues have been scolding capitalism lately, she has been reimagining its basic premises. Where does growth come from? What is the source of innovation? How can the state and private sector work together to create the dynamic economies we want? She asks questions about capitalism we long ago stopped asking. Her answers might rise to the most difficult challenges of our time.

In two books of modern political economic theory — “The Entrepreneurial State” (2013) and “The Value of Everything” (2018) — Dr. Mazzucato argues against the long-accepted binary of an agile private sector and a lumbering, inefficient state. Citing markets and technologies like the internet, the iPhone and clean energy — all of which were funded at crucial stages by public dollars — she says the state has been an underappreciated driver of growth and innovation. “Personally, I think the left is losing around the world,” she said in an interview, “because they focus too much on redistribution and not enough on the creation of wealth.”

It's working for them, so they're fine with it.

Trump's people are all about being Trump's people, people who can get away with things.

That's how mafia-style government gets a grip. Sad that there are so many willing buyers.

[Clickbait] is just a useful idiot - he's happy to play along because he's too greedy and vain and stupid to know what he's being used for.

Well, he's greedy and vain and stupid (and cruel and vicious and racist), but I think he's pretty much on board with most of what he's being used for, if he weren't too stupid to understand half of it.

I mean....

“I’m curious why wasn’t it done a long time ago? And also, I guess the answer to that is because now I’m president, we get things done.”

President Trump signs the Woman’s Suffrage Centennial Coin Act. pic.twitter.com/jkcOCzQyNa

— The Hill (@thehill) November 26, 2019

(Courtesy of Betty Cracker at BJ.)

I mean hmmmmmmm, why again wasn't the centennial coin minted on some other, less brilliant, lazier president's watch?

LOL

By the way, on Marianna Mazzucato, I didn't know til I read the piece that she has been consulted so widely by e.g. Elizabeth Warren, or that certain Republicans have spoken fairly positively about her!

LOL

By the way, on Marianna Mazzucato, I didn't know til I read the piece that she has been consulted so widely by e.g. Elizabeth Warren, or that certain Republicans have spoken fairly positively about her!

here's one way out of this mess:

A new public health study released by University of Toronto researchers found that rising mortality in white Americans is partly due to perceptions that they are losing social status.

The paper, titled "Growing sense of social status threat and concomitant deaths of despair among whites," highlights this population health phenomenon that has been unfolding for the past two decades.

Mortality rates seldom rise unless a society is subjected to something disastrous, like a major economic crisis, an infectious disease epidemic or war. But there has been an increase in working-age mortality rates for just one group in the United States since 1999, and that's non-Hispanic whites.

the fear-based demographic can just worry themselves to death.

look over there! an immigrant! eeeek!

“Personally, I think the left is losing around the world,” she said in an interview, “because they focus too much on redistribution and not enough on the creation of wealth.”

This.

And I would extend this. Not just the creation of wealth, but the distribution (not re-distribution) of wealth.

Two more that I found to work through WRT Mazzucato:

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/mariana-mazzucato

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urLFQ4Ov_7U

I'd take it a step further to ask what wealth is, or maybe, more accurately, what value is. Can we be happier and healthier with a shrinking economy? Do we really need all this stuff? (Or, at least, do we need new stuff quite as often?)

Can we conserve energy and raw materials while better maintaining the finished goods already in existence without leaving people to live in poverty without the income they would otherwise get producing new goods?

And just like that, hsh takes the conversation here straight into the sort of discussions that get things clicking in my science fiction class.

Can we be happier and healthier with a shrinking economy?

some of we can. some of we will be lost without the happiness of watching the dollars pile up.

right now, the only reason i'm working is because i want to live a lot longer and want to pile up as many dollars as i can before people decide to stop paying me.

Technological progress is all about conserve energy and raw materials.

Remember when you had to remember to keep your back straight and lift with your knees when lifting a 21-inch computer monitor? Now you can lift one with thumb and forefinger. And a smart phone replaces a hold pickup truck load of individual devices.

The entire tech industry owes its current shape to the early and massive (by the standards of the time) funding of integrated circuit development for the Apollo program.
Nor would VLSI development have happened in the manner it did without the direction and considerable funding of DARPA.

The US government has shaped the computing industry from its outset:
https://www.nap.edu/read/6323/chapter/6#94

What appears to make the difference is nothing to do with public/private sector distinctions (either or which has at times been more bureaucratic than the other), but enabling talented individuals and groups to pursue their ideas without too much oversight,

And whole books could be written on how governments obstruct and retard innovation. The government maintained the AT&T monopoly for many decades after it shouldn't have been created in the first place. Except for a few stations that were shut down by the government, FM radio stations weren't allowed to exist for three decades after the technology was available. The technology for cell phones was around for a couple of decades before they were allowed. The government contributed to the early development of the Internet and then retarded its further development for years by disallowing commercial use of it.

On the whole, a mixed bag. And that doesn't consider the possible opportunity costs of resources unavailable to the private sector because government used them.

as always: the Government Is Us.

The government maintained the AT&T monopoly for many decades after it shouldn't have been created in the first place.

The most capable engineer I ever knew (MIT dorm-mate) mourned when AT&T was about to be broken up because, as he framed it, they plowed a lot of the fruits of their monopoly back into good equipment, and he figured we'd never have a well-engineered telephone again.

Possibly related, I remember a huge billboard where Route 128 split off from I-95 (north to Maine) -- must have been in the early 90s-ish. It was an ad from a cell carrier, and the big brag, in huge letters, was "FEWEST DROPPED CALLS!!!!"

Um, huh?

My friend, of course, had not been talking about mobile phones. I haven't seen him in years so I don't know what he'd say about high-end modern cell phones. Certainly every landline phone I had for the last 20 or so years I had one was crap. But then, I'm a cheapskate, so maybe it was my own fault.

And whole books could be written on how governments obstruct and retard innovation.

Perhaps it would be helpful to differentiate between government-sponsored research and government regulation. (Just for this. We can argue the merits of regulation in general later.)

In general, the government sponsors (or does itself) research which otherwise would not happen. That is, there isn't an obvious commercial application at the time that the research is being done.** Or the application is obvious, but the chances of success are small enough that the private sector is unwilling to take the risk.

** There may well be lots of applications later. Just not when the research was being done. See ARPANet and the Internet, for just one example. No doubt others can come up with lots of others without half trying.

Good stuff on Mazzucato, nous, thank you.

I'm just now finishing up Robert Reich's Supercapitalism, a short but interesting read. A bit dated perhaps (2007), he argues that what we observe is an abundance of (not only US, but worldwide) firm/market competition that has led to great things for consumers (lots of stuff at low low prices) and investors (more money for them, but not for you).

These developments have accelerated and have now largely replaced the post WWII system with its market regulation, unionization, oligopoly, and the idea of CEO's as stewards, not financial gunslingers.

cf CharlesWT above.

This has also led to environmental degradation, alienation, economic maldistribution and its associated political power imbalances, big box stores, loss of community, job disruption, etc.

So..trade-offs. Rending the social fabric so we can have cheap stuff is not my idea of a healthy society.

Not just the creation of wealth, but the distribution (not re-distribution) of wealth.

See Dean Baker's Rigged. It's all about the rules we adopt. The extremes of wealth we see are not something handed down by God. We assembled a set of social and economic rules that virtually guarantee that outcome.

The extremes of wealth we see are not something handed down by God. We assembled a set of social and economic rules that virtually guarantee that outcome.

We also have a significant amount of selective blindness on this score. That is, those on the receiving end of a bunch of government policy preferences honestly do not realize that any part of their success is due to that. Not just to their personal merits and hard work.

Not that they necessarily are without merit. Not that they haven't worked hard, as many have. But others who have worked equally hard, but not benefited from government preferences, have done less well.

Get those blinders off (no, I have no idea how to make that happen) and a lot of bad policies would get changed.

Many of them are quite aware of the breaks they get from government.

Why else do they return the favour ... ?
https://www.politico.eu/article/jimmy-wales-twitter-should-ban-trump/

The extremes of wealth we see are not something handed down by God.

True, but, no matter what you do, the Pareto principle will try to assert itself at every turn.

The government maintained the AT&T monopoly for many decades after it shouldn't have been created in the first place.

It's not that simple.

The 1930s were the decade of the big industrial labs: AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories, RCA's Sarnoff Labs, etc, etc. Most were either protected monopolies (AT&T) or trusts that kept new companies out by way of a shared patent pool. This arrangement served the federal government extraordinarily well during WWII and well into the Cold War. These were the kinds of resources that the military could tell, "Make the radar work," or "Run this national lab that's working on critical weapons technology," and then leave them alone. They also routinely generated Nobel prizes and spun off tech that turned out to be critical later: eg, transistors at Bell Labs, CMOS and thin-film fabrication at Sarnoff.

In the 1960s and especially the 1970s the whole model fell apart. Not least because so much of new tech was being done in California, using a model with employees jumping from this company to that when they couldn't sell a new idea to management. The big industrial labs were a place where an engineer spent their entire career, and were very much East Coast things.

That’s not a complete account, either.

It glosses over the central role of government in the early development of computing. From the beginning of the chapter 8n the link I posted upthread:

In computing, the technical cutting edge, however, was usually pushed forward in government facilities, at government-funded research centers, or at private contractors doing government work. Government funding accounted for roughly three-quarters of the total computer field.

A survey performed by the Army Ballistics Research Laboratory in 1957, 1959, and 1961 lists every electronic stored-program computer in use in the country (the very possibility of compiling such a list says a great deal about the community of computing at the time). The surveys reveal the large proportion of machines in use for government purposes, either by federal contractors or in government facilities...

Of course in recent years, big tech and venture capital have taken over a large part of that role.
Not necessarily for the better.

"It's not that simple."

LOL...only when you are behind the veil of the Pareto principle!

But yes, even a rudimentary reading of the history of AT&T shows it to be a situation much more complex than your typical glibertarian ideologue would have you believe.

the Pareto principle will try to assert itself at every turn.

So does the weather. But if it looks like rain, I take an umbrella.

Of course in recent years, big tech and venture capital have taken over a large part of that role.... Not necessarily for the better.

As I was known to observe back in the 1990s, "The Bell Labs model was 'We have smart people and will figure out a solution.' The Cisco model was 'We will let a dozen little start-ups try different solutions, then buy the one that looks best, and the others are just screwed.'" During that same period, the most important question the VC people asked little software outfits was "What is your strategy for getting acquired by Microsoft?"

Tangentially, I think people's concerns about the number of EE and CS people China is graduating is the wrong thing to worry about. Worry that China is finding EE and CS jobs for those graduates. Not having a bunch of them working on making Wall Street trading algorithms a millisecond faster, or getting kicked out of tech at age 45 as part of an acquisition.

(Full disclosure: I was 49, but had managed to extract enough money from the giant corporations that I could do something entirely different.)

Sometimes, all the things you hate about corporate heads screwing the organization with their pay and perks actually works out for the best:
Pay for NRA executives surges as gun rights group cuts key program funds

And maybe some NRA members will decide to take their dollars elsewhere. The right deed, even if for the wrong reason.

Max Boot is on board.

Will wonders never cease.

Max Boot has been disgusted with Trump, and the Republicans who worship him, for a long time.

This was an interesting, Clinton voters now for Trump. Also people who vote Dem down ticket but support Trump. I think it points out how diverse the political thought is, it must make polling a challenge.


https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/elections-2020/they-voted-democratic-now-they-support-trump/ar-BBXnsto

"Quiet little Christian women for Trump" is a phrase that packs a world of cognitive dissonance in six little words.

But, whatever. A lot of people are gonna vote for Trump, for whatever reason. Humans have complicated thought processes.

It will turn out however it turns out, and we'll all deal with that.

Worry that China is finding EE and CS jobs for those graduates...

They are doing something similar to what the US did four or five decades back.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-29/china-to-funnel-29-billion-towards-its-chip-ambitions

Deep State links.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/when-the-deep-state-bullied-reagans-foreign-policy-chief/


The writer is from the Cato Institute, so as libertarians I dislike their economics but like their foreign policy. I remember Renamo and how even the ReaganAdministration refused to support them, but other Republicans, including Bob Dole, did.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/11/alexander-vindman-testimony-impeachment-hearing-ukraine-policy-deep-state.html

I forget if I linked the above article before. It’s where I stand. Trump is guilty but don’t turn opposition to Trump into an endorsement for Cold War interventionism. About three years late on that, however.

On the first piece though, I never understood why Schultz would support Savimbi’s UNITA but not Renamo. They really weren’t that different, atrocity wise.

Gone for a few days.

Cold War interventionism

helping allies not be ingested into Russia is the opposite of interventionism.

“ helping allies not be ingested into Russia is the opposite of interventionism.”

Sure. It’s always pure nobility on our side this time.

Anyway, I’m offline as of now.

Trump Already Knew of the Whistleblower Complaint when he Released Aid to Ukraine

Headline in the NYT. But why not "and when he said I want nothing, no quid pro quo?? That's at least as (if not more) important...

RIP Jonathan Miller.

Maybe best known to ObWi as a quarter of Beyond the Fringe, but a man of many and varied talents.

But why not "and when he said I want nothing, no quid pro quo?? That's at least as (if not more) important

This is implied later on in the article, but they are using pretty fancy footwork to dance around the dates, because first they say

There are discrepancies about whether Mr. Sondland spoke to the president on Sept. 7 or 9

but later on they say

Both Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Eisenberg, who briefed Mr. Trump in late August about the whistle-blower complaint, had been following up on other complaints by administration officials about the Ukraine matter since early July.

So if he spoke to Sondland on Sept 7 or 9, and said "I want nothing, no quid pro quo, nothing", but he was briefed by Mr Eisenberg about the whistleblower complaint in late August, why the timidity? What am I missing?

Sure. It’s always pure nobility on our side this time.

yeah, fnck em. allies are for assholes.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the US promised Russia that it wouldn't extend NATO to any of the former Eastern Block countries. And then it did. So, it's assholes all around.

Russia persists in invading its neighbors (Georgia, Ukraine). And in proclaiming its right to do so whenever an ethnic Russian minority in a neighboring country asked it to -- and most of them have one. If it didn't do that, there would be fewer of those countries begging to join NATO.

What am I missing?

Nothing.

Trump wanted two things from the Ukrainians:

1. Some kind of support for the idea that they, not the Russians, messed with the 2016 election, preferably in co-ordination with the (D)'s.
2. A public claim that they were investigating the Bidens for possible corruption

In exchange for this, Trump offered a WH meeting, which would give Zelensky needed credibility, and the release of military aid.

All of this appears, to me, to be fairly obvious. Based on what is plainly in the public record, you'd have to bend your mind into 10-dimensional pretzel shapes to think otherwise. IMVHO.

Whether we, as a country, give enough of a crap about it to do something about it is a different story. The (D)'s in the House are going to be able to bring articles of impeachment, and then the scope of their authority ends.

If a lot of people decide they want Trump removed from office, they'll make that clear to their Senators, and he'll go. If not, not.

If he isn't removed from office, he'll either be returned to office in 2020, or he won't. That's up to whoever decides it's worth their while to actually show up and vote.

As you can see in the piece Marty links to, there are lots of people whose interests and priorities are either well served by POTUS Trump, or at least aren't in conflict with POTUS Trump, or who are sick of the whole thing and wish the (D)'s would shut up already. Or, who are generally doing OK and just don't care that much either way.

So, it could go either way.

But no, you're not missing anything.

the US promised Russia that it wouldn't extend NATO to any of the former Eastern Block countries

Aren't "promises" like that usually contained in things called "treaties"?

More trouble for the GOP going forward:
A report from the AMA says that
a) after increasing from 1959 to 2014, life expectancy in the United States decreased for the next 3 years (i.e. until the end of the study). Major causes are increased suicides drug overdoses, and alcohol abuse.
b) The increase in mortality rates was highest among non-college, non-Hispanic men. (Although the trend was seen across all demographic groups.)

In short, in addition to all the other factors in demographic change, the folks most likely to support Trump are dying off faster than everybody else.

Don't be surprised, if millions of them still vote for His re-election. It's not them that'll get purged from the voter rolls in myny places.
Afaict the constitution does not explicitly forbid dead citizens to vote provided they are 18 years of age or older. Which raises the question, whether people that died underage can vote once they are dead long enough to pass the threshold.
Cue calls to allow aborted fetuses to vote (or at least their pro-life defenders in their name).

Goddamit, Clive James gone too. I don't know how well known he was in the US, but he was another renaissance man, perhaps best known here for his brilliant TV reviews in the 70s (he memorably described Arnold Shwarzenegger as looking "like a condom stuffed with walnuts"). So sorry for any offense but it made me think of that W H Auden limerick (it's the "screamingly funny" bit which applies both to Jonathan Miller and Clive James, although the final line may have been of more interest to Auden):

As the poets have mournfully sung,
Death takes the innocent young,
The rolling-in-money,
The screamingly-funny,
And those who are very well hung.

So, it's assholes all around.

one of these statements is true:

1. the US invaded and annexed part of Ukraine
2. Russia invaded and annexed part of Ukraine
3. only the US deserves anyone's ire.


I'm just watching an old piece of Clive James interviewing Jonathan Miller on Saturday Night Clive, and Miller, who was after all originally a doctor, (talking about the American/Californian cult of youth and beauty) has just said "I see people pounding down the green lawn in the centre of San Vicente, and I always imagine, 3 paces behind them, death following saying it's all right, baby, I can keep up." There was a great deal more to him than Beyond the Fringe, brilliant though that was - for example, apparently he was the first person to show Oliver Sacks's writing to a publisher (they were very old friends). How weird to think, since Peter Cook and Dudley Moore are already dead, that the only one left is Alan Bennett.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/27/opinion/barr-liberals-family.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/27/opinion/barr-liberals-family.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

A very good and happy thanksgiving to you all.

So, it could go either way.

Are we on the cusp of the third American revolution?

So, it could go either way.

Are we on the cusp of the third American revolution?

Really good piece on Clive James in the NYT, for anybody who's interested. It gives a feel for his extraordinary multi-facetedness.

The best obits are short.
This is a fine tribute:
https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/nov/27/clive-james-wisecracking-literary-phenomenon-robert-mccrum

The second was never completed.
The gutting of the Fourteenth Amendment was a symptom of the counterrevolution, and the struggle continues.

A timeline of the Turkey graft:
https://thebulwark.com/trumps-turkey-corruption-is-way-worse-than-you-realize/

Nigel: well, well.

According to a report by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, Bolton said that he believes there is a “personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey.”

And, for anyone who, like me, has limited bandwidth for all the details at the moment:

For those who don’t want to wade into this particular Trumpian Black Sea, the tl;dr is:

Trump enabled a despot who has significant leverage over his business in a brutal ethnic cleansing of our ally, cutting an opaque sweetheart deal negotiated by the sons-in-law of Erdogan, Trump, and Trump’s business partner.

Meanwhile, Erdogan has empowered Trump’s business partner, making him Turkey’s key man in Washington, which gives him inordinate influence on the administration and ensures that the financial interests of all involved are maintained.

Since I see that The Bulwark is a conservative organisation, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the rest of the media.

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