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Thread: Inauguration Day, Inauguration Hooooooraaay!

  1. #2201
    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    Another consequence of economic divide and network effects when you have all the well-adjusted adults voting for one political party....
    You must be talking about the people who voted for Vermin Supreme.
    sniff

  2. #2202
    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrence H. Summers
    Details of President Trump’s first budget have now been released. Much can and will be said about the dire social consequences of what is in it and the ludicrously optimistic economic assumptions it embodies. My observation is that there appears to be a logical error of the kind that would justify failing a student in an introductory economics course.

    Apparently, the budget forecasts that U.S. economic growth will rise to 3.0 percent because of the administration’s policies — largely its tax cuts and perhaps also its regulatory policies. Fair enough if you believe in tooth fairies and ludicrous supply-side economics.

    Then the administration asserts that it will propose revenue neutral tax cuts with the revenue neutrality coming in part because the tax cuts stimulate growth! This is an elementary double count. You can’t use the growth benefits of tax cuts once to justify an optimistic baseline and then again to claim that the tax cuts do not cost revenue. At least you cannot do so in a world of logic.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...ply-ludicrous/

    I am not sure which would be worse: that this was a horrendous mistake, or a really pathetic attempt at cheating.
    Last edited by Reverend Jones; 05-23-2017 at 09:34 PM.

  3. #2203
    This thread does not deliver.

  4. #2204
    ^^vv<><>BASTART
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    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...=facebook-post

    Do you hear that? That's the sound of Trump permanently wrecking diplomatic relations with the world.

  5. #2205
    America First!

  6. #2206
    This Russia thing is exhausting I'm looking forward to it being over.

    The recent debacle with Jared Kushner really hits home just how futile speculation is, and how difficult it is to evaluate precisely how worrisome the day-to-day operations of the administration are. It seems that Washington Post and New York Times have gotten people accustomed to a bombshell story every other day or so. But this Kushner disclosure doesn't really fit the bill; it doesn't push the needle. All it does is stir up a frenzy of speculation and predictions about palace intrigue that really doesn't matter because it's all based on gossip from anonymous sources.
    Last edited by Eversor; 05-28-2017 at 03:55 PM.

  7. #2207
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...=facebook-post

    Do you hear that? That's the sound of Trump permanently wrecking diplomatic relations with the world.
    Yep, let's not undersell this. This statement is nothing short of saying the US has lost the confidence of the G7. Straight up compared Europe's future relationship to the US to their current relationship with Russia.

    The US's sphere of influence just got a lot smaller this week.

  8. #2208
    Speaking of being bored by all the speculation surrounding Trump's ties with Russia, this made me giggle: https://twitter.com/hannahgais/statu...34633160921088

  9. #2209
    Germany's foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel: "Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk,"

    "The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union. The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker."


    Of course Trump thinks he's doing great, really great:

    "Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!"
    — (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017

  10. #2210
    I'm not convinced it's as bad, or that it's as dramatic a departure from the policies of earlier presidents as many are saying. I'm going to play devil's advocate here and spin out some arguments for fun.

    First, there's a big gap between Trump's rhetoric and the actions of his administration. Despite what Trump has said (or, for that matter, what he didn't say, about Article 5), as an assurance to our NATO allies, the US is increasing the number of troops it has positioned in the Baltic states as a deterrent against a Russian invasion.

    Second, a more independent Continental Europe has been in the making for a long time now. Even though Obama was well-regarded by Europeans for his personality and outlook, he wasn't much admired for the policies of his administration. He didn't do much to reverse the damage done to US-European relations as a result of the war in Iraq. In fact, he even exacerbated the situation (failing to act in Syria and therefore doing nothing to staunch the flow of refugees into Europe, spying on European leaders, etc.).

    Third, I'm also not sure that a new arrangement is bad. In fact, many who are critical of American power and its role in the world should prefer this turn of events. America has been the sole guarantor of peace in Europe since the end of WWII, and the arrangement worked, in part, because European countries didn't spend much on their militaries -- and therefore didn't have large militaries. But now the capacity of the US to provide that support is diminishing because of our obligations elsewhere in the world. In response to the limitations of American power, European countries should do more to provide for their own self-defense -- in part, because they have no other choice.

    The result may be the demise of an alignment of the interests and values that currently exists between nations on both sides of the Atlantic. Given how successful the order has been at maintaining peace, it seems like a lot to turn away from. But though there are dangers involved, I think they were always inevitable, unfortunately. The unipolar post-Cold War order will recede, and a new, multipolar order will take its place. The US was never going to be able to be the sole guarantor of stability in such a world -- even on the European continent. (And that's leaving aside that Europe is going to disintegrate no matter what US policy is.)

    TL;DR: it was going to happen for structural reasons anyway.
    Last edited by Eversor; 05-29-2017 at 06:04 PM.

  11. #2211
    The unipolar post-Cold War order will recede, and a new, multipolar order will take its place.
    This seems very bad. Wasn't it a "multipolar order" that preceded the world wars of the 20th century?

    Another point: Entirely apart from USA the country (with all its flaws and imperfections), there also exists the idea of America, and what it means to the world. If the isolationist, Robert Taft wing of the Republican party triumphs over neoconservativism and Reagan, then neoconservatives tell us that we don't have only to worry about the damage wrought to international relations, but also about the deleterious consequences for internal politics abroad:

    Yet even in the face of all these strains and difficulties, German friends of the United States have retained one clinching argument and decisive asset on their side of the debate: a wide and deep public intuition that people highly critical of the United States were probably animated by extremist and illiberal ideas. So long as the Germans most hostile to the U.S. alliance espoused various shades of fascism and communism, then the mighty German middle would cling determinedly to the U.S. alliance as a bulwark of stability and liberalism.
    (OTOH, I seem to remember the neoconservatives possibly being wrong about foreign policy in the past, so perhaps take this voice with a grain of salt....)

    At any rate, I do somewhat find repellent fatalistic rationales like "structural reasons" being given for for the death of something good. My body will soon enough decompose for "structural reasons" (the second law of thermodynamics among them). Coming to terms with that should come pretty late in the progression of whatever illness it is that brings me to that stage.
    Last edited by Reverend Jones; 06-04-2017 at 02:05 PM. Reason: Oops, that was _Robert_ Taft, not William Howard!

  12. #2212
    There was a "fantastic" multipolar order in the United States up until 1865....

  13. #2213
    My intuition is that unified government and the stability it bring tends to bring too much fortune to the Jews for the unexpected losers of society to emotionally handle idly standing by, and consequently feel they have nothing to lose by tearing the whole thing down and unleashing a multipolar hell on earth along racial lines.

  14. #2214
    I mean it was good the United States was there to intervene in the Balkans, right? Even when Germany was to wary to do so.

  15. #2215
    Admiral of Awesome
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    There is a difference between declaring European autonomy and declaring that a relationship with the United States is no longer necessary or beneficial.

    But yes, I'll agree, the collapse of US global influence isn't a new thing.

  16. #2216
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    Ironic when the Cold War nightmare of MiGs patrolling the northern border ends up coming true because Canada won't buy jets from the Us anymore.

  17. #2217
    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    This seems very bad. Wasn't it a "multipolar order" that preceded the world wars of the 20th century?
    It's the usual state of the world. Multipolarity isn't necessarily unstable. If there is a balance of power between the great powers that makes up the poles, it can be peaceful. (Of course, if there's isn't a balance of power, it can lead to war on a global scale.)

  18. #2218
    but what about this...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_History_and_the_Last_Man


    copyright 1992

  19. #2219
    I guess it didn't come true! :p

  20. #2220
    I guess one out of three neoconservative predictions ain’t bad?

  21. #2221
    Or maybe... zero out of three.

  22. #2222
    The number of democracies has declined since the mid-2000s (what some call a "democratic recession"), and the democratic norms within already existing democratic countries have eroded in recent years.

    But I don't think either of those facts undermines Fukuyama's central contention. His argument wasn't that after the Cold War, all countries will be flourishing liberal democracies living in peace with each other. He was arguing that the victory of the West over the Soviet Union demonstrated that liberal democracy was a better form of political organization than communist authoritarianism -- indeed, that it is the best possible form of political organization, the model that all societies should strive for (because it's the "least contradictory" of all the political models, as he puts it, in very Hegelian terms).

    In other words, the collapse of the Soviet Union, for Fukuyama, heralded the victory of an idea, but it didn't bring about the realization of that idea. He didn't think it was inevitable that all countries would become or remain liberal democracies. He acknowledges in the book that just because liberal democracy is the best possible form of governance doesn't mean that countries won't struggle to preserve themselves as democracies.
    Last edited by Eversor; 05-30-2017 at 04:14 AM.

  23. #2223
    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    Or maybe... zero out of three.
    Oh man, do I ever love the illustration for that article. So funny!

  24. #2224
    Fu** you, Yama!

  25. #2225
    ...you alien ass-hole!

    Click image for larger version. 

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  26. #2226
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQKKj_qeOBQ

    Seems weird after September 11th... Even ironic that this comical, fantastical, over-the-top movie about US monuments being destroyed would end with the US being victorious by flying a plane into the bad guys.

  27. #2227
    Incidentally, Independence Day (1996) was one of several disaster movies in the `90s which depicted skyscrapers being destroyed.

    Timestamp from HyperNormalization, about a minute before a montage of such disaster scenes.

  28. #2228
    Damn, that doc seems cool. The band Suicide is a perfect fit for that montage. It's very haunting, watching all those people looking up at something horrific. I'm moved.

    And a voiceover talking about the nihilism of American culture as the camera shows bored people using exercise equipment in a gym is also quite good. I love how cynical it is.

    Still, the people falling out of the Chrysler Building the spire falls to the ground is difficult to watch. Even more unnerving is the idea that before 9/11, it was a fantasy that we wanted, for whatever reason, to indulge in.
    Last edited by Eversor; 05-30-2017 at 07:46 AM.

  29. #2229
    I wonder if it's meaningful (or even true) that most of those disaster movies in the 90s involved aliens or other extraterrestrial threats. If those metaphors offered a visual representation of an anxiety latent within the collective subconscious of American society, it must have been a conviction that, if there were a power that could attack America, it would have to be one that was completely exogenous, not only to the United States, but to the entire international system (because it could only be a power from another world that could rival American might). And that such an attack would also have to come as a complete shock, interrupting the peace and quiet of everyday American life, defying all expectations and virtually impossible to anticipate (again, because otherwise, American power and ingenuity, being unrivaled, would have been able to stop it).

    In 21st century movies and television, the anxiety that is reflected back at us is about an increasingly globalized, integrated world that can't sustain itself as it expands. Boring!
    Last edited by Eversor; 05-30-2017 at 09:49 AM.

  30. #2230
    The movie Independence Day, whose very name evokes the Fourth of July and the founding myth of American Independence (it was, I believed, released on the July 4th as well), plays out an anxiety that's probably resonated in America ever since the Revolutionary War: the fear of a foreign, tyrannical power, ruling over us from afar. I'm not sure whether or not it takes anything away that that's obviously not an exclusively American concern. That's all a bit obvious.
    Last edited by Eversor; 05-30-2017 at 01:19 PM.

  31. #2231
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    Or maybe... zero out of three.
    I think I've found a new publication to hate on. They were, in March, still pushing that "17 intelligence agencies" agreed upon the hacking. What 17 intelligence agencies? You mean that 14 random agencies which had no part in investigating the attacks agreed with the findings of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and a couple private contractors?

  32. #2232
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    I also find it curious that they say the theory of govt involvement in MLKJr's assassination Soviet propaganda. Is there evidence for this? I've never heard this before once, so I find it odd they're stating it as common fact.

  33. #2233
    Lol, good luck doing academic-style research on a subject in which the primary sources for the juciest scoops are either anonymous informants from the intelligence community (which is itself subject to a continuous barrage of disinformation or outright infiltration), or members of the legislature sitting on committees that have been authorized to be briefed on classified information by the spy agencies themselves.

    I should be sorry to respond to accusations of FUD spreading by simply assuming the kind of radical uncertainty that FUD is meant to create... but if you're going to talk about counterintelligence, that's really the name of the game, isn't it?

    I would be surprised if a lot of the information in that New Yorker article didn't come straight from people who work or have worked with the intelligence community, and "know" a lot more than had ever been formally published.

    In other words, just like with proprirary information in the corporate world, trying to do academic research on what is necessarily a deliberately obfuscated oral tradition is going to rely heavily on the credibility of layers of anonymous sources, in a field that is already inherently rife with disinformation.

  34. #2234
    In this case, the particular instance of Soviet disinformation is listed in the Wikipedia article on Active Measures. It cites a book, and notes that the claims were brought to public attention through the hand written notes (which are themselves still classified) of a defecting KGB agent, who had stolen a large archive of KGB history.
    Last edited by Reverend Jones; 05-30-2017 at 02:35 PM.

  35. #2235
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    I'm not convinced it's as bad, or that it's as dramatic a departure from the policies of earlier presidents as many are saying. I'm going to play devil's advocate here and spin out some arguments for fun.

    First, there's a big gap between Trump's rhetoric and the actions of his administration. Despite what Trump has said (or, for that matter, what he didn't say, about Article 5), as an assurance to our NATO allies, the US is increasing the number of troops it has positioned in the Baltic states as a deterrent against a Russian invasion.

    Second, a more independent Continental Europe has been in the making for a long time now. Even though Obama was well-regarded by Europeans for his personality and outlook, he wasn't much admired for the policies of his administration. He didn't do much to reverse the damage done to US-European relations as a result of the war in Iraq. In fact, he even exacerbated the situation (failing to act in Syria and therefore doing nothing to staunch the flow of refugees into Europe, spying on European leaders, etc.).
    I'm curious how you think Obama's inaction exacerbated the situation in Syria.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Third, I'm also not sure that a new arrangement is bad. In fact, many who are critical of American power and its role in the world should prefer this turn of events. America has been the sole guarantor of peace in Europe since the end of WWII, and the arrangement worked, in part, because European countries didn't spend much on their militaries -- and therefore didn't have large militaries. But now the capacity of the US to provide that support is diminishing because of our obligations elsewhere in the world. In response to the limitations of American power, European countries should do more to provide for their own self-defense -- in part, because they have no other choice.

    The result may be the demise of an alignment of the interests and values that currently exists between nations on both sides of the Atlantic. Given how successful the order has been at maintaining peace, it seems like a lot to turn away from. But though there are dangers involved, I think they were always inevitable, unfortunately. The unipolar post-Cold War order will recede, and a new, multipolar order will take its place. The US was never going to be able to be the sole guarantor of stability in such a world -- even on the European continent. (And that's leaving aside that Europe is going to disintegrate no matter what US policy is.)

    TL;DR: it was going to happen for structural reasons anyway.
    What's the real surprise is how quickly and easily it was for Putin to do so much damage to America. I don't know to what extent we can blame Obama for the situation in Europe. As far as I can tell, he spent a good amount of his time pumping the brakes on much of the damage that was already happening as a result of policies set up by past administrations. NSA spying on European leaders predates Obama, though I do agree he didn't do much to stifle their actions. The problem is, Bush, with the Iraq war, did exhaust a bunch of political leverage to get European allies to fight. With the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other destabilization caused by Saudis, or U.N. hamfisted interventions like Libya, we now have the worst terrorist Islamist organization ever leading to yearly terrorist attacks in France, Britain and other places. Not to mention being semi-coerced into hosting U.S. spy operations and being the victim of the same, these consequences vastly strain and exhaust our relations with other countries. Then with the susceptibility of America (and Britain, because England is culturally closer to America than the continent) to ridiculous propaganda and other right-wing delusions, caused basically by the vast greed of people with power, we now have a widening schism between continental Europe.

    Basically, America has stretched itself really far, trying to use Europe for its crusades in the Middle East, spending a ridiculous amount for minor gains. Eventually these alliances wear thin as they're abused.

    So, yeah, in many ways this is the movement of history, because it's the movement of decades of ****ty one-sided policies of America abusing all political leverage for selfish gains. Whether or not there was other historical momentum, maybe, but this is one of the largest factors.

  36. #2236
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    In this case, the particular instance of Soviet disinformation is listed in the Wikipedia article on Active Measures. It cites a book, and notes that the claims were brought to public attention through the hand written notes (which are themselves still classified) of a defecting KGB agent, who had stolen a large archive of KGB history.
    I see the same in many of these Russians who defected, they say a bunch of extremely hyperbolic silly things about what the Soviets were doing. Like, there was that guy who claimed the Soviets had dozens of nukes in suitcases all around America, and then Yuri Bezmenov, who pushed the whole "conservative Christians are the best thing ever" line. Interesting how many of these guys ended up pushing and supporting a more fringe right-wing ideology, maybe that's their perception of what made America good really? Because in the long term it's helped propagate much of the same irrational conservative America-first ideology which led to the Trump crisis.

    Who knows. It's definitely debatable as to how true any Soviet leaks are. Of course they can't all be false. Some of it might be lies to make the Soviets seem more scary, which wouldn't be surprising either.

  37. #2237
    You definitely do need to keep in mind that when you look at defectors, you are selecting for certain types of people. Obedient and objective bureaucrats don't easily switch sides unless deeply provoked.

    In the end I simply treat spy stuff like fiction, which I can't afford not to read in order to understand reality, but which seeks to actively manipulate me. I mean, there is surely a reason why the CIA recruited literary types from the Ivy Leagues. It's all about trying to glean clues while being objective while awash in a sea of fantasy.
    Last edited by Reverend Jones; 05-30-2017 at 07:24 PM.

  38. #2238
    On the other hand, if you work for the KGB, maybe it's simply the courageous people who defect?

    Yet when he began looking into the archives, he claimed to have been shocked by what he discovered about the KGB's systematic repression of the Soviet people. "I could not believe such evil", he recalled. "It was all planned, prepared, thought out in advance. It was a terrible shock when I read things."
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Mitrokhin

  39. #2239
    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    I'm curious how you think Obama's inaction exacerbated the situation in Syria.
    I didn't say Obama's inaction in Syria exacerbated the situation there, I said he did nothing to halt the flow of refugees out of the country, and that that harmed US-European relations. At some point in the course of the war, he could have set up safe zones that would have allowed civilians in Syria to remain safely in Syria without having to leave for neighboring countries, or, in some cases, European countries. One of the losers of American inaction on the refugee problem has been Europe, and that has, in turn, harmed the US: the flight of refugees to Europe has caused all sorts of social problems in Europe, and may even have contributed to the rise of Islamaphobic sentiment and the empowerment of right-wing parties who are opposed to NATO and want to reorient Europe away from the US and towards Russia.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    What's the real surprise is how quickly and easily it was for Putin to do so much damage to America. I don't know to what extent we can blame Obama for the situation in Europe. As far as I can tell, he spent a good amount of his time pumping the brakes on much of the damage that was already happening as a result of policies set up by past administrations. NSA spying on European leaders predates Obama, though I do agree he didn't do much to stifle their actions. The problem is, Bush, with the Iraq war, did exhaust a bunch of political leverage to get European allies to fight. With the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other destabilization caused by Saudis, or U.N. hamfisted interventions like Libya, we now have the worst terrorist Islamist organization ever leading to yearly terrorist attacks in France, Britain and other places. Not to mention being semi-coerced into hosting U.S. spy operations and being the victim of the same, these consequences vastly strain and exhaust our relations with other countries. Then with the susceptibility of America (and Britain, because England is culturally closer to America than the continent) to ridiculous propaganda and other right-wing delusions, caused basically by the vast greed of people with power, we now have a widening schism between continental Europe.

    Basically, America has stretched itself really far, trying to use Europe for its crusades in the Middle East, spending a ridiculous amount for minor gains. Eventually these alliances wear thin as they're abused.

    So, yeah, in many ways this is the movement of history, because it's the movement of decades of ****ty one-sided policies of America abusing all political leverage for selfish gains. Whether or not there was other historical momentum, maybe, but this is one of the largest factors.
    Eh, I'm not quite so accusatory with this as you are (surprise!). To my mind, the larger, systemic changes have less to do with America being self-serving, and more to do with America having to reposition itself as China rises, and a new multipolar order emerges. (Obviously, though, it isn't reducible to that.) A direct consequence of Obama's very reasonable pivot to Asia was fewer soldiers stationed in Europe and a perception among Europeans that America was de-prioritizing Europe, after it had been central to American foreign policy since end of WWII. That left some of Europe disenchanted with the president, concerned about US foreign policy in the future and worried about their own safety. Europeans can complain all they want about American vulgarity, and condemn American actions abroad as moral outrages (G-d knows, they aren't always wrong -- but they aren't always right either, and very often their arguments are self-serving and hypocritical), but they also rely on American military power for their self-defense in 2017. So among other things, one of the more damaging things to American-European relations has been that America's global strategy has involved repositioning its limited resources to another place in the world where it's more useful, and more necessary -- and they don't like that we're leaving, and we don't like, as Obama said, that they're "free riding".

    And, whatever -- Europeans can complain about US-Saudi relations all they want, but their governments are also allied with Saudi Arabia. They are no less "enablers" of Saudi Arabia than the United States is.
    Last edited by Eversor; 05-31-2017 at 02:00 PM.

  40. #2240

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