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January 16, 2023

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Perhaps we should stop portraying this sort of sociopathy as a virtue and this sort of sociopath as some sort of cultural hero?

This.

I mean, we've given up even the fig leaf of hypocrisy that pretended otherwise back in the dark ages when I was young.

I mean, we've given up even the fig leaf of hypocrisy that pretended otherwise back in the dark ages when I was young.

That is a very good article, JanieM. I am reminded of the famous "exchange" as between Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

The GOP worship of mamon goes back to their very beginnings as a political movement. Reaching full flower right after the Civil War, metastisizing into full bloom during the Gilded Age, and has been a reactionary movement aging in its own special vat of social resentment (all other classes are inferior to ours) ever since, reaching its apotheosis under Reagan and Bush and a nadir of narcissim with Trump.

The GOP worship of mamon goes back to their very beginnings as a political movement.

The Republican Party arose (peopled mostly from ex-Whigs) over the issue of slavery. But plantations dependent on slave labor produced cheap cotton, which made Northern (mostly Republican IIRC) factory owners rich. So how is opposing slavery a "worship of mamon"?

BTW, if you didn't already know, classified docs found in Pence's Indiana home.

I was reading something by a person who has been responsible for a considerable amount of classified information over years, who said that the President and Vice President's staffs are historically terrible about proper handling of classified documents. He seemed to believe that if you went through the boxes of documents that were carted out of those offices at the end of administrations, all of them have classified documents mixed in with the other things. Just because that's how the staffs roll.

So how is opposing slavery a "worship of mamon"?

wj,

Anti-slavery was not the only item on the early GOP's agenda.

Thanks for the reply.

A lot of documents that aren't very sensitive get classified. It's also a way of shielding documents from FOIA requests.

bobbyp,
Anti-slavery certainly wasn't the only item on the early GOP agenda. But it was the defining one. You could hold lots of positions on various subjects (e.g. you could be pro-business) and belong to either party. But if you were pro-slavery, the Republicans were not an option.

Also, I'm having a little difficulty reconciling (Theodore) Roosevelt' progressive reforms with the worship of mammon. Could it be that you are so irate at today's GOP, as any sane person would be, that you are projecting that onto the entire history of the GOP?

A lot of documents that aren't very sensitive get classified. It's also a way of shielding documents from FOIA requests.

Another of the things I have read is that the Prez and Veep tend to a "If it's not important enough to classify, why are you bothering me with it?" attitude. Just to cut down on the amount of decision-making that gets up to their level.

I would probably be a terrible President. My expectation for my Cabinet-level officials would be, "Take care of it. If you're uncertain about my opinion on a matter, come ask and then take care of it. Ask too often or cross me too often and I'll replace you. Keep in mind that I didn't hire you to implement your policies, I hired you to implement mine."

"Take care of it. If you're uncertain about my opinion on a matter, come ask and then take care of it. Ask too often or cross me too often and I'll replace you. Keep in mind that I didn't hire you to implement your policies, I hired you to implement mine."

The risk being that someone who takes you literally will be reluctant to come to you and say: "We tried your policy, but it just doesn't work in the real world." People telling the boss only what he wants to hear is a problem anyway. But it seems like this could make it worse.

wj, well Michael did write he'd make a terrible President. :-)

I am in the fortunate position of being able to work just as a senior technical consultant and give any management advice as mere "suggestions." I would hate having to be in charge.

I would hate having to be in charge.

Amen. As far as I can tell (and I have some first-hand experience to back me up), being in charge mainly means that you spend all your time in meetings, rather than doing anything interesting.** In theory, you can think about, and make, policy. But you've pretty much got to do that evenings, weekends, and any other bits of "your own time." That or outsource it, in which case you aren't really doing it, are you?

** I suppose there should be a caveat here to the effect that it assumes you have something resembling a sense of responsibility.

The risk being that someone who takes you literally will be reluctant to come to you and say: "We tried your policy, but it just doesn't work in the real world."

These are senior people, none of who's ego problem is that it's too small. I like to think that I can be more subtle in person that I can be in a blog comment. Sure, bring me the numbers. Just don't let me catch you having half-assed an attempt at doing it my way, then claiming it didn't work.

Biden is kinder than I am. Someone(s) military career(s) would have been over after the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Biden is kinder than I am. Someone(s) military career(s) would have been over after the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Given the short prep time the schedule gave them when announced, some ragged ends would be understandable. A withdrawal being rather more difficult to organize than an invasion. Still, having a withdrawal plan already in hand would have been sensible, since it was obvious that it would be happening at some point.

So yes, even allowing for the fact that it was a rush job, definitely not a shining moment for not only the guy in charge but also a couple of levels down. Plus, I would say, some serious career damage would be warranted for the guy(s) in intelligence who so badly misjudged how robust the Afghan government really was(n't).

He seemed to believe that if you went through the boxes of documents that were carted out of those offices at the end of administrations, all of them have classified documents mixed in with the other things. Just because that's how the staffs roll.

I absolutely believe this. So, in fact, the defining difference now should be between ex-Presidents etc who volunteer info about it, cooperate fully etc, and those who drag their feet, pretend they declassified them, and otherwise lie about it.

Still, having a withdrawal plan already in hand would have been sensible, since it was obvious that it would be happening at some point.

My understanding of what turned up after the fact was that the people who should have done the planning made the assumption that Biden would eventually break Trump's promise and bring more troops back because that's what the planners wanted to do. If I were in Biden's shoes, that would smack too much of the military believing the President should and will just do what she/he's told.

My own opinion is that Ukraine is turning out to be the same problem at the strategic rather than tactical level. The military has spent the last 30 years preparing -- at great expense -- for the wrong war, based on faulty intelligence and assumptions.

The military has spent the last 30 years preparing -- at great expense -- for the wrong war, based on faulty intelligence and assumptions.

"preparing for the wrong war" must be the cousin of "preparing for the last war" -- an adage that was probably invented sometime between the first war in human history and the next.

I get the point about Biden's agenda vs the military's, and I agree with it so far as it goes, but I also wonder if, horrifyingly enough, we might not still need the preparations for the "wrong" war in another part of the world.

*****

In the context of skimming several dKos articles about Ukraine every day plus Adam's updates at BJ, I can't remember where I got this link, which is to a Timothy Snyder lecture in Europe from several years ago. It's a deeply fascinating look at the history of the relationships amongst Germany, Ukraine, the USSR, and Russia, focusing on Hitler and WWII.

I know someone who studied WWII in college, and he's been listening to Snyder's lectures at Yale about Ukraine and says they're amazing. I'm not big on lectures and podcasts generally, I don't take in information very well out loud. But I'm halfway through my second time through the lecture at the link because there's so much to learn in it.

I meant to say that I might even have gotten the Snyder link here, and if so, apologies for the duplication. But even in that case it's worth reaffirming how good it is, and offering thanks to whoever posted it.

Thank you JanieM for that link to Timothy Snyder's lecture! From 2017!

"preparing for the last war" -- an adage that was probably invented sometime between the first war in human history and the next

It seems to have been first recorded in 1929 by J.L.Schley. But he doesn't say when he thinks the words were first uttered.

I do have one question regarding Janie's first link. Prof Snyder makes a big point about how the whole point of WW II for Hitler was to colonize Ukraine. How does that square with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact? Not to mention the invasion of France. Why not just slam through Poland to Ukraine?

wj, maybe his semester-long class has answers for you? (the other link in my comment) Maybe Hitler thought he could walk and chew gum at the same time.

Just a brief OT digression. Tonight is Burns Night, which makes me think of two things.

The first (which I may have told you before, but I love it so much I can't not tell you again) is the story Stephen Fry told about a friend who had gone to a Burns Night celebration in Germany, where the ceremony was conducted in German, and on the other side of the page was the translation into English from the German, rather than using the original. In the Address to the Haggis, Burns's words:

Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race

were translated as

Mighty fuhrer of the the sausage people

And the second thing I wanted to send your way, for anybody who loves Burns's poetry, or a beautiful voice, is this album by the wonderful Eddie Reader, with some of the poems set to beautiful music. This is the third track, a great tribute to a friend You're Welcome Willie Stewart, but there are lots of gems, some bawdy but in (to me) impenetrable dialect:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=or29Q_FUi3M&list=OLAK5uy_lxHIQIfnL2Z_2Cqj_fqnDpSbHypyO_A5U&index=3

Also, I can't resist, such a beautiful version of Ae Fond Kiss

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7fi6AZQUCQ&list=OLAK5uy_lxHIQIfnL2Z_2Cqj_fqnDpSbHypyO_A5U&index=4

wj, maybe his semester-long class has answers for you?

Working my way thru it now.

He has an amusing aside: Constitutional originalism is self contradictory. Because there is one thing that the Constitution does NOT say -- it does not say that is can only be understood/interpreted in the sense that it, and its words, were meant when it was written.

"He has an amusing aside: Constitutional originalism is self contradictory. Because there is one thing that the Constitution does NOT say -- it does not say that is can only be understood/interpreted in the sense that it, and its words, were meant when it was written."

I think Gödel might have a theorem that is applicable here.

I think Gödel might have a theorem that is applicable here.

I am but a humble applied mathematician. There may be true statements that are unprovable, but there are enough provable statements to be useful.

From a political and judicial perspective, I simply observe that pitchforks and torches, or the modern equivalents, provably exist.

Speaking of pitchforks and torches, Snyder's wiki page says this (I am actually starting to hope his later prophecies are not as spot on as his earlier ones):

In a May 2017 interview with Salon, he warned that the Trump administration would attempt to subvert democracy by declaring a state of emergency and take full control of the government, similar to Hitler's Reichstag fire: "it's pretty much inevitable that they will try."[39] According to Snyder, "Trump's campaign for president of the United States was basically a Russian operation." Snyder also warned that Trump's lies would lead to tyranny.[40]

In January 2021, Snyder published a New York Times essay on the future of the GOP in response to the siege of the United States Capitol, blaming Trump and his "enablers", Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, for the insurrection fueled by their claims of election fraud, writing that "the breakers have an even stronger reason to see Trump disappear: It is impossible to inherit from someone who is still around. Seizing Trump's big lie might appear to be a gesture of support. In fact it expresses a wish for his political death."[41]

For those who recall Fafblog,

I simply observe that pitchforks and torches, or the modern equivalents, provably exist.

According to your limited perception.

"For those who recall Fafblog"
..it was the BEST blog.

I simply observe that pitchforks and torches, or the modern equivalents, provably exist.

Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

Remember the days when you could say "I'm from Missouri. That means show me."? With the strong implicit implication that, if you did show him, he would believe. But, no more -- witness Sen Hawley.

I've been following this story for a while, and this latest wrinkle in the story seems like a very fraught one which I think Sturgeon is handling as well as she can.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/jan/26/trans-woman-isla-bryson-found-guilty-rape-not-be-held-in-womens-prison-sturgeon

I'd add as part of all this that I think there should probably be special facilities of some sort for criminals with a history of sexual violence, and that all carceral spaces should have safeguards in place to protect incarcerated people of any gender from sexual violence.

Doesn't seem like it should be treated primarily as a gender issue.

Also, I think that Sunak's decision to block the Scottish Parliament's gender recognition bill are going to create serious backlash and push Scotland further towards breaking away.

all carceral spaces should have safeguards in place to protect incarcerated people of any gender from sexual violence.

From what I have (casually!) come across, that's going to take some major reforms to implement. Rape, after all, isn't generally about sex so much as power and control. And prison populations are big on that.

Talk about a class act!
Arizona Republicans exempt lawmakers from the state’s open-records law

One can understand their motivation. Those emails from 2020, when they were jamming thru demands for a recount, were just too, too embarrassing.

From what I have (casually!) come across, that's going to take some major reforms to implement.

Agreed. Make it so.

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