A Golden Age

Through the narrow lanes of Trastevere a young man, newly arrived from the countryside, carries heavy amphorae uphill from the docks. He will do this all day, every day, for as far into the future as he can contemplate.

No longer needed on a farm where slaves are replacing peasants, he has come to Rome desperate to earn a living. A city bursting with new construction and commerce under Augustus might offer sufficient wages to buy food, at least so long as his body holds up. When his back no longer bears labor, he will succumb to hunger and disease, sinking into the quiet embrace of death probably before age 35.

Tell him that this is Rome’s Golden Age, and he would stare in disbelief. Explain that no collection of humans west of India, including him, will experience greater peace, wealth, freedom and technological achievement for more than 1500 years and he might fly into a rage. That is one of history’s great tricks: A Golden Age is only visible in retrospect.

If this is not America’s Golden Age, it is only because greater achievements lie ahead. Human beings have never built a civilization more wealthy, free, powerful and culturally dynamic. Rather than recognizing our achievements and enthusiastically building on them, we are wracked with manufactured angst.

According to Donald Trump and many others like him, we are pitiable losers, a global doormat. Astride the world, the lone military and economic power on the planet, many insist on a whimpering retreat into sniveling defeatism. Ironically, our own cowardice is the only remaining danger to our security and prosperity. Our failure to recognize a Golden Age threatens to place it in our past.

Few civilizations have ever enjoyed any sustained period in which an armed invasion ceased to be a constant danger. Famine was never more than a season away. Plague always lurked at the margins. Worried about inequality, a tiny fraction of a percent of human beings who have ever lived enjoyed the ability to read or lived in a home without livestock.

Compared to history our poorest are kings, but what about the present?

First, consider our physical security. Americans live in the only country on Earth still capable of projecting decisive military power anywhere else on the planet. In fact, ours is the only civilization that has ever developed that unchallenged capability. No power on Earth can threaten to topple our political structure at home and no power on Earth can confidently challenge our will abroad in an open fight. By any reasonable definition of security we are not only the most powerful civilization on the planet, but the most powerful civilization humans have ever constructed.

Terrorists strike fear into our population, but they pose no threat to our security, our economy, or our way of life. More Americans are killed by flat screen TV’s falling off their walls than by terrorists. Toddlers playing with guns kill more Americans than terrorists. Our terrorist threat is a neurotic mirage.

Economically we remain alone atop a global commercial order crafted to our specifications. Every major commercial venture from Qatar to Quebec must, if it wishes to be competitive, must maintain the capacity to operate in our language, conform to our laws, and trade in our currency. All global commodities are priced in our currency.

For all the talk of a challenge from China, the realities are almost laughable. Twenty years of an unprecedented burst of growth has brought China a per capita income that rivals Albania and a skyrocketing national debt.

A one-party planned economy has borrowed enormous sums of money to build infrastructure constituting an endless bridge to nowhere. Huge planned cities sit empty, while a closed, unrepresentative government struggles to conceal the cracks in the façade. Until the Chinese can build a modern political structure to support a modern economy, they will remain stalled. If they ever develop the political structure necessary to support broad prosperity, they will cease to be a challenger and evolve into a full ally.

Hollywood has been the world’s most potent cultural force for almost a century, but it has already been eclipsed by other recent cultural platforms. Using Internet based technologies Americans have sparked an explosion of human creativity and expression, the overwhelming bulk of it in our language. Our music, films and literature dominate global art and expression.

Consistent with this rising power and influence, our nation is becoming a microcosm of the world. Public school children in some corner of our country speak almost every national language. While other countries struggle to achieve assimilation, Americans are developing a culture of difference. This is the place where the world’s finest build and develop the world’s best. No other nation incorporates such a broad degree of cultural diversity into its mainstream center.

Wealth and achievement have not eliminated struggle. We have not solved every problem. Americans still struggle with issues that undermine our quality of life and defeat justice. That is to say, we have not yet reached the peak of our potential. Like that young man in ancient Rome, the achievements of a civilization may have made life better for us than it might otherwise have been, but life still offers struggles and disappointments. Very few Americans perceive what we have accomplished.

Recognizing our achievements is important not because it makes us feel good or relieves us from the burdens we still face. That sense of perspective is vital as we choose where to invest our energies. This is not a time to retreat. This is not an age of fear or failure. Our struggle to build a freer, more diverse, more prosperous society is working. Seeing what we have accomplished and what lies ahead should inspire us to continue in courage rather than shrinking in cowardice.

Our problems would be the envy of our forebears and remain the envy of much of the world. We should be addressing them with a grateful smile. With the smallest investment of courage and insight our greatest age remains in our future.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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334 comments on “A Golden Age
  1. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Plato argued that persuasive speech, rhetoric, should be restricted to speakers with the appropriate moral qualities. He was not fond of scribes, those who, like me, write for others for pay.

    I found 538’s “perfect Republican speech” interesting. There are slings and arrows about everything from the postal service, minimal wage, international trade, deficits, taxes, budgets… The author is/was a Republican speech writer. He provides foot-notes.

    Here’s a paragraph:

    We’ve got to take a more realistic approach to spending in this country. That starts with taking a hard look at welfare programs that encourage dependency and simply don’t work. We need to act quickly on deficit reduction — we can’t keep kicking the can down the road on tough budget questions.

    Three associated foot-notes:

    1-A “realistic approach” to government spending — and who can be against a realistic approach to anything? — will sound to many people like budget-cutting, small-government fiscal conservatism. But of course, it doesn’t have to be.

    2-You can, of course, “take a hard look” at anything.

    3-Re kicking the can, This is fast becoming one of the most overused clichés in American politics. It sounds like it means tough-love budget cutting or the elimination of programs that are costing too much, but it could just as easily imply some nebulous “addressing” of fiscal issues. It could, in short, mean anything.

  2. 1mime says:

    A good opportunity to pass legislation that focuses on mental health and gun violence is running into trouble because of NRA language inserted in Sen Cornyn,s bill. Hopefully, the troubling language will be either struck or modified so that a major piece of gun legislation that incorporates mental health can become law.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/mental-health-gun-control-nra-216221

    • johngalt says:

      If an organization is actively promoting itself with a catchphrase of “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” then how interested do you think it really is in preventing bad guys from getting hold of guns? It would ruin that narrative, wouldn’t it?

      • 1mime says:

        jG, ask yourself,which side of the political spectrum these horrific shootings come from. I had hoped Cornyn’s bill had a chance…that at last we had suffered enough with all the deaths of innocent children and others to get a meaningful piece of legislation on the books that all could agree made sense. Instead, as long as the people of America allow the nRA to control the legislative process on gun legislation, people will continue to die at the hands of mentally ill and bigoted individuals. I agree wth Pres. Obama, the parents and family of those killed at Sandy Hook, in the parks, on the sidewalks, in our movie theaters, and all places which used to be safe:

        ENOUGH iS ENOUGH. I am speaking to all of you who are responsible gun owners, this has to stop and you need to help end this tragedy.

      • BigWilly says:

        I think if you really knew what you were asking for you wouldn’t ask for it. Of course it’s entirely possible that you do know what you are asking for, which would cause me to wonder about intent.

        The left are swine, you know. They can only be trusted to subvert and destroy. So when an abortion mill gets attacked what’s the first conclusion? Subvert and destroy the 1st and 2nd Amendments. I don’t think the local pastors are lying when they talk about their sermons being censored for “anti homosexual” statements under the HERO type laws, which failed pretty hard I must say.

        Once your state funded psychologists produce proof you will most likely declare all of your political opponents to be unfit to access the gun legally.

        I know this is what you really want to do, isn’t it?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Is “Big Willy” a male?
        If “he” is then he should have no vote and no right to rave on about abortion which is purely a female issue and should have no input from us males – except to support females from males who try and interfere

      • BigWilly says:

        There are other options for fertilization, but the old fashioned way requires a male. Therefore, the product of that union is literally half the male. ???

      • duncancairncross says:

        “Therefore, the product of that union is literally half the male. ???”

        And once it has left the woman’s body the male needs to be involved – and has a right to be involved

        For the period while it is inside the woman’s body he should have no rights at all!

        He does have some obligations in terms of supporting the woman during tat period – if he does not accept those obligations then he has no rights after the birth either

      • johngalt says:

        Once again mystified at the workings of BW’s mind.

      • BigWilly says:

        Calling your handle johngalt and everything you’ve ever published seem to be at odds, if you ask me. Johngalt says “I’m a total asswipe,” which jibes exactly zero with everything, like I said, that you’ve published.

        Which now that you’ve mentioned it, asswipes, I’ve found the strangest yet. Chamomile scented toilet paper.

      • johngalt says:

        My reading comprehension is not improving.

        My choice of this nom de plume had several reasons. A college-era fetish for unworkable libertarianism was not one of them.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Curiously, I remember Boehner talking about how he wanted to address immigration in his time as Speaker, and we all remember what happened. It passed the Senate and never even got a vote in the House, even though we had a Speaker who wanted to get it done.

      Now we have another Speaker who says he wants to get mental health done, and we have a coalition forming in the Senate to try and get it passed.

      I won’t say this is impossible, but if the NRA wants to kill this bill, they’ll kill it, and Republicans, as a whole, will be too spineless and weak to do anything about it.

      • 1mime says:

        Absent demand by the GOP base, it will never happen. This bill spoke to mental illness, a group of people who are frequently involved in these mass killings. Yet, the NRA wont allow any person, no matter their state of mind, to lose their right to gun ownership. The NRA by their obstruction to sensible legislation is responsible for each and every death by a mentally ill person because they continue to insert themselves in the process and obstruct. Sen John Cornyn, I and peaking to you and to any individual who could help but won’t.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        It’s situations like this that bring into sharp focus the reality of what it’s going to take to bring the Republican Party, or at least the essence of what USED to be the Republican Party, back into the American mainstream. Have interest groups like the NRA and others sunk their proverbial fangs so deeply into the GOP that a split is inevitable, via the loss of Republicans to viably compete for the presidency?

  3. Rob Ambrose says:

    Mass shooting at planned parenthood clinic in CO.

    Srsly…..how the F is this not terrorism? I hope they call it what it is……terrorism

    • 1mime says:

      I haven’t seen final report on this, but share your view that this is domestic terrorism. It is sad irony that conservatives have passed law after law to ‘ensure safety, yet how many instances have there been where staff at these clinics have been murdered? Clearly, those who would take lives in the name of saving lives are the very worst of hypocrites.

    • EJ says:

      The CSGV has been tracking this movement since 2008, under the name “insurrectionism.” When read as a single timeline, there’s a remarkable similarity to the now-defunct (and entirely unmourned) Al-Qaeda.

      http://csgv.org/issues/guns-democracy-freedo/insurrectionism-timeline/

      Most Al-Qaeda attacks weren’t explicitly planned by a central headquarters in some cave in Afghanistan; rather they were planned and carried out by local franchises who might have extremely tenuous connections to the centre, or indeed none at all. Most of what the central command did was produce propaganda materials urging their affiliates and lone wolves to attack, content in the knowledge that that was enough. Especially towards the end, Al-Qaeda was less an organised army than it was a propaganda machine designed to encourage others to kill on their behalf and in their name.

      Some propagandists, like Abu Hamza Al-Mazri, were very careful to moderate their words so as to stay just short of breaking the law, allowing them to operate in the open; others preached from Youtube or relied upon authorities not having the cojones to arrest them.

      The similarities are stark.

      It’s also interesting to point out that both insurrectionist terrorism and Al-Qaeda affiliate terrorism seem to have a cult of suicide for their attackers. The Colorado Springs attack has been the first in a while in which the gunman* survived to be arrested, rather than committing suicide-by-cop as part of the attack. It’ll be interesting to watch the trial and see what comes of it. I hope it’s televised.

      In my more cynical moments, I wonder what desperate backpeddling Glenn Beck will indulge in over this. Then I remember that a) I really don’t care what that liar says, and b) he hasn’t been revelant since Trump turned up and stole his lunch.

      • flypusher says:

        Chris has predicted more of this as the demographic shift trends towards less influence for conservative Christians/Whites. You also have the “lone wolf” types, the disgruntled White dudes who think that mass murder is an appropriate way to take out their frustrations.

        The lower class and a lot of middle class Whites do have real economic problems. But they are lashing out at people who aren’t responsible for that.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Good point. In this case, the centralized group pumping out the propaganda that eggs on these terrorists is right wing talk radio, Fox News, and the Republican Party.

        As much as I respect Lifer and as fair and sane as I believe he is, I’m finding it increasingly hard to understand his position on continuing to identify to Republican.

        He must reaaaaaaaaly hate unions to identify with this sociopathic right wing movement in spite of everything they say and do.

      • 1mime says:

        Fly, you are correct about the problems faced by many lower income people, but addressing the larger problem is not their responsibility, it is the Congress’. As long as the GOP allow the NRA to dictate legislative limits, and as long as the GOP base is silent on this issue, they are just as complicit as the legislators who do nothing. NO more excuses. All of these deaths are preventable with proper safeguards.

      • 1mime says:

        Good perspective, EJ. There is so much that demands attention in the gun violence sphere that it’s difficult for the individual citizen to keep up. Accidental? I doubt so.

        In today’s Houston Chronicle, there is an article that lauds an AZ law agency decision to use OSA handguns which utilize rubber bullets in their patrol of the border. Ostensibly, it’s an effort to reduce deaths. These bullets will simply feel like the person has been ” hit with the force of a person swinging a baseball bat or as if punched by a professional boxer “. This is how we measure progress in gun violence in America.

  4. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    Pretty sure Huckabee (and Cruz too?) got the first bite in on this one a while ago during the whole Kim Davis fiasco, but for a pathetic panderer like Rubio, being a copycat is just the next logical step.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/261298-rubio-gods-rules-trump-supreme-court-decisions

    • Creigh says:

      I agree with Rubio, except it’s my God whose rules must be obeyed, not Rubio’s.

      • 1mime says:

        The challenge, Creigh, is keeping religion and government separate. For if we don’t, there is no assurance that ones personal religion will be respected.

        Civilized societies depend upon a system of law, and as members of these societies, we are bound by these laws until they are changed through the regulated process. Each of us has our own moral code whether faith based or secular. But, we still must adhere to law.

      • Creigh says:

        Quite true, Mime. Rubio is struggling with the tension between civil authority and religious authority. Jesus himself gave a not-entirely-satisfactory answer to that one. What belongs to Caesar, and what belongs to God? Disagreements could arise there.

        The Christian theologian C. S. Lewis had an interesting take on this. He was strongly against theocracy (“If we must have a tyrant better a robber baron than an inquisitor.”) because he was suspicious of power, and he felt that the higher the pretensions of power, the more dangerous it was. The inquisitor unfortunately sees any tendency towards tolerance and mercy as weakness.

        I’d much rather see Rubio saying “If you don’t like Roe vote Republican” instead of undermining the legitimacy of Constitutional government of, by, and for the people.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree Creigh. So few people stand on principle.

  5. EJ says:

    Happy thanksgiving to all Americans. Happy Thursday to everyone else.

    • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

      Donald Trump is now making fun/sport of the physical disability of a New York Times reporter… after his spirited defense of his account of New Jersey history that never happened. it is all over the evening news.

      This latest brain dead act of political defecation may actually garner conservative Republicans to defend a reporter from the New York Times.

      Quite the hat trick for the Donald.

      I’m about ready for one of those flat screen TV’s Chris Ladd talks about to fall and crush my head.

      Would have saved me the misery of watching a once viable political party chock full of decent human beings (once?) being brought low by a man pandering to a bunch of slacked jawed, xenophobes who don’t have the decency to get off their lazy a**es and join the Klan who get entertainment value from watching an orange-haired buffoon making fun of a “crippled” guy.

      Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

      • Hi Sir Crow

        It’s NOT the Donald that is the problem
        Yes – he is appalling!

        BUT he is actually better than the rest of the Clown Car

        He is an obvious reptile – the others are far far worse and they try and keep it secret

        I’m not an American but If I was asked to choose among the Republican contenders I would have to say that the Donald is the lesser of several evils

  6. Rob Ambrose says:

    This story kinda fizzled, but its pretty incredible.

    Seems like every time a shooting in a small town that causes close scrutiny, corruption and abusive policing inevitably comes to light. Ferguson. Now Marysville.

    I would wager that this kind of garbage is the norm in small town America.

    If true, that could be an issue. Corruption like this is very destabilizing. Its like a bunch of tinder wood, just waiting for a match to light it.

  7. 1mime says:

    I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving Holiday. Remember: this day comes but once a year so enjoy and remember…no politics at the family table! (Save that for here!)

  8. 1mime says:

    Fifty, ran across this interview about your man Sam Harris in Salon and thought you might like to read it.

    http://www.salon.com/2015/11/25/harris_and_illing_correspondence/?source=newsletter

  9. texan5142 says:

    An old friend is posting on the Chron and as usual he cant help being wrong.

    CaptSternn Rank 32
    Doesn’t look like race had anything to do with it. I think it will be very difficult to convict any officer of murder after watching the video. Remember, it has to be proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and the suspects behavior was one of endangering the lives of officers and others.

    • flypusher says:

      The blind squirrel may have found a nut in that the charge is 1st degree murder, and that requires premeditation. There ought to be the option for 2nd degree murder/ manslaughter/ felony assault/etc. The guy was not an immediate danger to anyone unless he got within stabbing range. Homer’s recent posting describes exactly what the cops should do- contain the suspect, don’t shoot when he’s not coming still you or close to stabbing anyone, use all your other non-lethal options first.

      Maybe the situation plays out that the guy would have given the cops no other option but to shoot. But they weren’t at that point yet, not even close.

      • 1mime says:

        Rob made that exact point a day or two ago. There are “ways” to avoid justice.

      • EJ says:

        Letting the police off the charge may be the stupidest thing they could do. I would remind everybody of what happened in 1992.

        Ugly as the concept may be, if the police are smart then a tactical human sacrifice may buy them the time they need to reform themselves. If they choose not to make this be that sacrifice – if they continue to close ranks through the trial – then I will remind you not only of Los Angeles in 1992 but Haditha in 2005. Won battles sometimes mean lost wars.

      • EJ says:

        Addendum to that thought: does anyone know if the police leadership are even capable of behaving intelligently at this point? Police unions are pretty thuggish organisations and from what I understand, Chicago is no stranger to machine politics. The leadership’s hands may well be tied by their membership.

        Does anyone have knowledge of how the Chicago police force is de facto run?

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer has posted on this police division before. He said it is rotton to the core. The stories are legion coming out of that place….people disappearing….He can speak to it more specifically.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Just a comment here
        Unions do NOT have the authority power or skills to run things – it’s not their purpose
        If a union is running things it is because and only because the management has abdicated that role.
        Bit like your Obama having to try and do things because Congress fails to do them

        Management has all of the authority and legal power
        If it is not doing it’s job then it’s because it does not have the expertise or balls and it should be replaced

      • 1mime says:

        EJ, another thought. It should never be a matter of a “human sacrifice” in order to correct a fundamental problem or avoid a horrific public reaction. If the officer is guilty, he should be charged appropriately….not on a bogus charge that will probably result in an acquittal….and not if the officer isn’t guilty. There are probably more bad people than bad policemen. What is striking this year, is that FINALLY bad police actions are being held accountable. In order to “change behavior”, there has to be better training, better candidates, and consequences to poor choices….just like there is in life for regular people.

        We can truly thank the video phone developers for pushing this accountability forward. I shudder to think how many dead people were murdered by police and never prosecuted because there was no evidence available except the policeman’s word. That used to be enough. Not anymore. Black Lives Do Matter just like All Lives Matter, only, they haven’t mattered enough. The light of day will help get this atrocious problem under control but it will take time. Mandatory wearing of video cams is crucial. President Obama has made limited federal funds available to assist police in launching this but it is now up to each local governing body to make this practice mandatory everywhere and allocate resources to implement it.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime
        I agree about video cameras
        BUT
        There are some questions/procedures that should be sorted
        (1) Battery life
        At present the camera’s do not have enough life to be left on all of the time
        (2) Privacy/Investigation
        Does somebody have the right to talk to a cop “off the record”
        Or should all interactions be recorded??
        (3) Do all police records become public information?
        (4) When do all police records become public?

        IMHO all police records should become public but there should be a mechanism to “hide” specific (and only a small number) for a fixed period

        These points need to be discussed and the agreed answers used as public common policy

      • 1mime says:

        Duncan’you are correct that use of video cameras has to be carefully regulated . The state of Florida has done extensive research and testing on this. I will try to find the article for all to read.

    • flypusher says:

      Even some of the residents of Freeperville concede that it was a bad shoot:

      http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3364804/posts

      But as predicted, there’s your Black on Black violence and welfare plantation red herrings.

    • 1mime says:

      Possibly, but I think Rob made a very astute observation earlier when he questioned why a charge of “murder one” when a lessor charge would have been more likely to not hang the jury. IOW, was the charge deliberately excessive in order to have the officer acquitted?

  10. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Just saw the newly released video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer. It is not a pleasant video.

    A couple of decades ago I was able to spend some time with Chicago cops on a project and we rolled up on an arrest of a guy with a knife in a parking lot. We didn’t get there until all the fun was over, but the dude had some serious drugs in his system, was waving his knife around, and threatening the officers. A group of six or seven officers managed to get him arrested without shooting him.

    There was building surveillance of the parking lot, and a couple of weeks later we saw the video with one of the watch commanders. His officers started out with their guns drawn, but by the end, only two had their weapons out. At various points across the five minute video, the dude lunged at the officers, and rather than shooting, the officers just backed up and circled the guy again. At one point, they even sort of jogged several steps away to keep a decent distance from the dude.

    Eventually, the dude calmed down enough, dropped the knife, and they tackled him. One cop did get an unnecessary kick to the dude’s butt, but no shots were fired.

    With a drugged up dude lunging at a cop with a knife, they would likely have been justified in shooting him, but they didn’t have to shoot him. They COULD have shot him, but they didn’t HAVE to shoot him, and the cops made the decision to back up, run away, and contain the situation without escalating to gunfire.

    No one was really in danger. There were no civilians around to be injured. Just a drugged up dude acting like a fool and disrespecting the cops, but they managed not to shoot him.

    I hope that type of thing happens a hundred times a day and we just don’t hear about it. It certainly didn’t happen that way in the McDonald video.

    • MassDem says:

      A common thread in many of these shootings is that the policemen involved had a record of complaints of excessive force (Jason Van Dyke) or were just plain incompetent (Timothy Loehmann, shooter of Tamir Rice). Yet their unions and their organizations have protected them by failing to discipline them for earlier misconduct. It reminds me of how the Boston Archdiocese “handled” its pediophilic priest problem for decades. There is no faster way to undermine public trust in an institution than by sheltering and protecting miscreants in the ranks. I wish police unions and departments would realize that refusing to discipline the bad apples makes the job so much more dangerous and difficult for the majority of decent officers.

      I deal with teens a lot in my job (substitute teacher grades 7-12), and many of them do not respond well to authority figures. They often make stupid, stupid decisions. It is all part of being a teenager. However, if you show respect to them, work to get to know them, and refuse to be intimidated by them, you would be amazed at how much better your relationship can become, and how many fewer discipline issues you experience (for the most part). I look at many of these videos of police shootings and I see that there was no reason for these young men and women to die.

      There are ways to improve relationships of police and urban youth. Here is one initiative:
      http://www.citylab.com/crime/2015/07/want-better-police-relations-with-the-community-let-local-youth-train-them/399134/

      • flypusher says:

        “A common thread in many of these shootings is that the policemen involved had a record of complaints of excessive force (Jason Van Dyke) or were just plain incompetent (Timothy Loehmann, shooter of Tamir Rice). Yet their unions and their organizations have protected them by failing to discipline them for earlier misconduct.”

        Even worse when you have city officials doing their worst to cover it up. We can see this video only because the courts ordered it. Then you have the extremists in the population who thinks cops can do no wrong. I haven’t yet sampled the online comments for this case, but there were people twisting logic in the strangest ways to justify the Rice shooting, so I don’t doubt the contortions are happening here.

      • 1mime says:

        The Tamir Rice murder will remain in my heart and mind forever. That was injustice at the highest level when a child is gunned down. Tamir had no chance at all.

      • flypusher says:

        Here’s an entry in the rhetorical gymnastics competition, from another forum:

        “He was brandishing a butcher knife in public and refusing to obey lawful orders to drop the weapon.

        Are you saying they should have let him walk off to knife the first person he encountered? Are you willing to be that person?”

        We’ve got an exaggeration of the weapon, and a nice false dichotomy. A solid start, but I think it can be topped.

      • 1mime says:

        That is a great program, Mass. I have read about how it started utilizing retired policemen and coordinating with other relevant agencies. It needs to be replicated everywhere.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      HT, that video is heart-breaking. (I usually try not to watch that kind of thing because I like to sleep at night, but I guess I was feeling a little exhilarated after seeing that video of the rocket being landed and remaining upright.)

      There must be something fundamentally wrong in our policing system.

      Several decades ago I was working for a consulting company in Dallas. The PD there was a client. In our meetings with them, we were told they knew they had “ticking time-bombs” — racially speaking — and did their most effective tool was not assigning those officers to patrol in black neighborhoods. Some tool.

      Maybe if police video cameras become widespread we’ll see the kind of interactions you describe. PDs would be fools not to use such videos in their public relations efforts. Of course, that means ALL videos would have to be available to the public, in a timely manner. A year is too long.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree wholeheartedly that body camereras should be worn by policemen/women. It should be mandatory equipment. The use of them is a little more involved but not in any way diminish their need. (FL did an exhaustive study on use…wish I could remember where I read that article to provide link, but I was surprised at how complicated the body camera for law enforcement could be.)

        One thing I noted when I watched the Chicago dash cam is that the action mostly was out of the vision field. There were several police cars there. Were they also required to have their dash cams active, and if so, where is that footage? Also, the corner store had video and that film has not be made public. My understanding is that in this case, the police union is the one that insisted the film not be made public, reinforcing the argument made above.

        As Fly noted, if you are near an active arrest situation (but far away enough to remain safe), use your video cameras to record the event. It’s a shame it’s come to that, but, it has. Be aware, that police threaten people they see using their phones…making them get way away – which is not unreasonable, but there are prescribed distances set by many states that affect phone video recording. The loooong arm of justice…..

      • 1mime says:

        In my post I questioned why only one video was released from the Chicago shooting when so many police cars were present. Turns out there were 8 cars, and 4 more videos have been released today (The Week reported). Audio was turned off (for some strange reason…..) This situation is looking uglier and uglier as footage trickles out. It is also making the murder one charge look more calculated, yet, the more footage that comes out…(and audio if available…the fact that there is no audio can be no accident)…the more culpable the officer appears.

        This is the kind of police abuse that Black people have been living with for decades. It is why BLM is needed. The justice process is not working for most Black people just as it doesn’t for most poor people. The system is broken.

      • 1mime says:

        Found two studies on law enforcement use of body cameras to share. As expected, both the victim/arrested person(s) and law enforcement benefit from an objective video/audio record of the arrest scene.

        http://www.policemisconduct.net/explainers/police-body-cameras/

        http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-opd-body-cameras-research-20151009-story.html

    • flypusher says:

      White crazy dude or Black crazy dude?

  11. Treeman says:

    Damn Chris….. you really out did yourself this time. Incredible perspective. Some of the best paragraphs I’ve read on the USA . You write beyond your years; please keep doing just what you’re doing.

  12. Shiro17 says:

    Great article today in the NY Times about the reason for the “Republican Creep” throughout all the states and Congress called “Why is my Blue State Turning Red?”

    Hint: The growing number of ‘dependents’ on welfare is freaking out the working and middle classes since they want those people to at least do something to get their benefits. The people actually benefitting? Not voting at all.

  13. fiftyohm says:

    OT, but here goes:

    I’ve not been a fan of Francois (I-hate-rich-people) Hollande. I’ve changed my mind. His handling of the ISIS matter and attempt to build a broad coalition, (including even Pootin’), without invoking Article 5 of the NATO Charter, is absolutely in the right direction.

    Bonne chance, mon ami.

    • 1mime says:

      In this vein, Fifty, what say you to Russia being shot down over Turkey after repeated warnings did not change the flight path?

      • fiftyohm says:

        mime – From what I’ve read, the airspace of a sovereign nation was violated, repeated warnings were given without result, and Turkey shot the aircraft down. As far as I can discern, the Russian pilot sacrificed his aircraft because he was stupid. Tough. If it was an intentional act to probe Turkey’s air defense capability, tough. If it was a test of Turkey’s resolve to defend their airspace, tough. It the aircraft was not actually violating Turkey’s airspace, well – that’s another matter entirely.

      • 1mime says:

        Discussions I have heard report that Putin is warning of “serious consequences”. Yet, Turkish authorities reportedly have the warnings recorded. The area where Putin has chosen to engage in Syria is perilously close to Turkey. Obama has repeatedly pointed out the risk Russia takes with engaging within this proximity.

        Yes, I thought HOllande handled things well, too. He certainly put on his ‘big boy” pants and got after things. The U.S. had been bombing the same area for months per experts, but the domestic search by the Parisian military was well done.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Well, screw Pootin’. He can get on board, or he can face the consequences. I rather doubt he wants to get in a knife fight with western air power. I’m sick of that Alpha Hotel. What’s he going to do anyway? Use nukes? Hardly. That’s all he’s got. Roll tanks into Europe? Doubt that too. He’s got nothing, he’s broke, and the sooner we, (the West), recognize that, the better.

      • johngalt says:

        Good for Turkey for shooting on the Russia plane. Putin’s meddling in Syria has consequences and Russia is not really strong enough to do anything about it.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        What’s Putin gonna do?

        Well, he’ll cut off fuel supplies to the Ukraine. Again. At the start of winter. I guess they better cede him the Crimea.

        http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russias-gazprom-cuts-gas-supplies-ukraine-n469351

        That guy is a menace, the opposite of a force for good. Erectile dysfunction of the worst sort.

    • Interesting that Hollande chose *not* to invoke Article 5 of NATO. One wonders why…

      • fiftyohm says:

        It is interesting, Tracy. Obviously a coalition of the willing, rather than the obligated is better. Either way, he’s on the right track if the West steps up to the plate. If they don’t, that’s a data point too.

      • goplifer says:

        ***Interesting that Hollande chose *not* to invoke Article 5 of NATO***

        What are you supposed to do about the Turks?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Chris – I sort of think the Turks, with their moderate brand of Islam, likely hate ISIS even more than the Kurds. You?

      • Griffin says:

        Err the Turkish government most definitely does not hate ISIS as much as the Kurds do, and the Kurds are more monderate than Turkey. The Kurds have been fighting ISIS since the start, while Turkey tried to stay out of it and even bombed Kurdish fighters who were combatting ISIS. Turkey only started to push ISIS back a bit when they were right on their Southern border and could no longer be ignored.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Errr… ISIS’ brand of Islam would utterly destroy Turkish society. And they know it can be contagious. The issue with the Kurds is territorial, and a relatively small section of the country.

      • Griffin says:

        Of course Turkey knows that but that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to stay out it for as long as possible. Appeasers feeding crocodiles and all that.

      • fiftyohm says:

        I don’t disagree with what you just said, but how does support your point?

      • Griffin says:

        I was just saying the Kurds hate ISIS far more than Turkey does, and are much more willing to fight them on not only territorial grounds but ideological grounds as well. The Kurds brand of Sunni Islam is much more moderate than the current Turkish governments and they are much more keen on fighting ISIS. Turkey wanted to stay out of it for as long as possible, and for the most part still does. Turkey’s only goal is get them off their border, otherwise they’re more interested in bombing Kurdish fighters than ISIS. The Kurds are actively trying to push ISIS even farther beyond “Kurdistan” and would probably try to finish off ISIS if they could. That’s it.

      • johngalt says:

        Invoking Article 5 is the (metaphorical) nuclear option. Appropriate responses can be made without the escalation that would entail.

      • goplifer says:

        The Turks are playing a very complex game here, further complicated by divisions between the Turkish government and the Turkish military – which like the Pakistani and Egyptian military, is an institution independent of the official government.

        No one really knows where the Turks’ interests lie in this conflict, including some people in decision-making roles in Turkey. They faked opposition to ISIS while blocking efforts to stop them right up to the battle of Kobani.

        Invoking NATO as the apparatus for fighting this war means bringing the Turks, with all their conflicting interests and political dysfunction, into the center of the west’s efforts to contain ISIS. I think that’s the main reason no one has taken that step, nor will they.

        And in fairness to the Turks, we don’t know where our interests lie here either. We can’t quite decide how we want this to end, which is the single most important reason it hasn’t ended yet.

      • 1mime says:

        I think its pretty safe to say how the majority of Americans Don’t want it to end. Not another occupation thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent…..for a region in the world that can only be fixed by themselves.

    • 1mime says:

      Fifty, I ran across this Salon interview of your man Sam Harris and thought you might enjoy it.

      http://www.salon.com/2015/11/25/harris_and_illing_correspondence/?source=newsletter

      • fiftyohm says:

        Thanks, mime! As usual, Harris defends his position rationally and adroitly. The position of much of the Left on religious extremism represents a gaping hole in an otherwise consistent worldview that is positively embarrassing. And one, I might add, that is not, nor will be, without consequences.

  14. MassDem says:

    I know you’ve discussed this issue over several days now, but Seth Moulton (US Representative MA 6th district) had a good editorial in the Boston Globe today on the Syrian refugees. The Congressman, unlike others, has personal experience with refugees: he took his Iraqi translator, who had been granted asylum, into his home for several months.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/11/23/seth-moulton-syrian-refugees-are-not-problem-isis-fight/OU0sY6eIx6mMfHjHEjwpFO/story.html

    ________________________________

    But what I really wanted to talk about was the idea of an American “Golden Age”. I agree that right now in this country most of us enjoy a life of plenty unparalleled by any civilization past or present. But as I see it, we are currently living in a multimillion dollar built on a beach on the south side of Nantucket:
    https://www.nantucketchronicle.com/sites/default/files/styles/article-main-image/public/images/articles/29/p4160037.jpg?itok=k0varqoa

    (If you can’t see the image it shows a house falling into the ocean–be very wary of buying beachfront property there! Especially if it is bargain-priced.)

    I read an interesting book a few years back, “Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed” by Jared Diamond. He looks at the reasons for the sudden collapse of several middle-large ancient and modern societies. These societies were often successful for many years, technologically advanced for their time, and until the point of their collapse, economically and culturally stable. For example, the Anasazi society existed in northwestern New Mexico for over 5 centuries until it disappeared over the course of just 50 years. In all of the cases he described, environmental degradation coupled with profound climatic changes (droughts, the Little Ice Age) played a major role in the collapse of every one of these societies. I have wondered if we will meet the same fate. The effects of our lifestyle upon the environment, especially global climate change, exhaustion of soils due to our farming methods, lack of clean water, the immense amount of waste that we generate every day that mostly gets burned, dumped in the ocean or sent to a developing nation–there will be a reckoning for all of this some day, and it won’t be pretty. Unless we change our ways. I know a lot of people believe that technology will save us, but I’m not convinced that we will have anything on the scale needed in time to prevent

    • MassDem says:

      Ugh, somehow I posted this before it was done, but you get my drift. Just to be clear, I am NOT a doomsday prepper. I do compost food & yard waste, and recycle where I can.

    • flypusher says:

      Is Moulton your rep? I like the cut of his jib.

      • 1mime says:

        Fly, you and I live in TX…..not many “Moultons” around here….

      • MassDem says:

        I wish! My rep was Bill Keating, a decent man, but is now Stephen Lynch whom I don’t care for. These were the only two in the MA delegation (all Democrats) to vote in favor of the recent SAFE Act (HR 4038). sigh.

        I think Moulton has a bright future- he’s only in his mid-30s.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Jared Diamond wrote Guns, Germs and Steel, a fascinating look at why white European civilization went on to become so much more technologically superior (and thus, militarily and economically) then the other cultures.

      • texan5142 says:

        Good read.

      • EJ says:

        A very good read. Highly recommended. I haven’t tried Collapse but I’ll pick it up.

      • duncancairncross says:

        I would recommend both Guns, Germs & steel and Collapse
        also “The World until Yesterday” and “The third Chimpanzee”
        I’ve lost my copy of Guns – I think I will have to get the Kindle version
        I haven’t read any of his other books but I think I will have to

  15. goplifer says:

    This is likely to get uglier yet. Five shot by white supremacists at BLM protests in Minneapolis.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/25/us/minneapolis-shooting-protest-police-jamar-clark.html?_r=0

    • texan5142 says:

      Living in Mankato I have been watching this closely.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Apparently they’re releasing that video today or tmr of the shooting death of a black teenager. The officer was charged yesterday with first degree murder.

      Officials are worried the video will “tear Chicago apart”

      http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/23/us/laquan-mcdonald-chicago-dashcam-video/index.html

      Strange times

      • texan5142 says:

        It has been reported that the cop pulled up in his vehicle, got out and immediately open fired on the young man who was more than fifteen feet away. The cops lawyer says he was in fear of his life……such utter bullshit.

        http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-cop-shooting-video-laquan-mcdonald-lawyer-20151120-story.html

        “Within moments of arriving at the scene, Van Dyke jumped out of his squad car with his gun drawn and opened fire on McDonald, city officials have said.”

        “The shooting was captured on a police dashboard cam. The video is said to show the officer firing 16 rounds into McDonald’s body, many as he lay prone on the ground.”

        “I can’t speak why the (other) officers didn’t shoot,” Herbert told reporters from his West Loop office. “But I certainly can speak to why my client shot, and it is he believed in his heart of hearts that he was in fear for his life, that he was concerned about the lives of (other) police officers.”

      • vikinghou says:

        And we’re worried about ISIS?

      • 1mime says:

        The rot is from within.

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        I fear the worst but I’ll reserve judgement till the videos

      • flypusher says:

        I’ll also reserve final judgment pending more info, but I seriously must question the necessary of contining to shoot after he was down on the ground. That sounds like crossing the line.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        This charge and the timing of it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

        This happened a year ago. The DA had this video probably the week after. Its so graphic and obviously criminal that they re worried about “tearing the city apart”….. And yet, they only do the right thing (charge the cop with murder) after they’ve exhausted all legal avenues to keep the video secret.

        If they had won in court and been able to keep the video suppressed, would this officer have ever been charged? I’m skeptical.

        Seems awfully convenient timing, and certainly doesn’t instill confidence that justice is the #1 priority.

        Suppression and cover ups first. If that doesn’t work, THEN justice.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Something else that bigs me……I think they deliberately overcheaged him.

        From Flys link, the video described doesn’t sound like first degree murder to me, and I doubt they can convict on that charge.

        Sounds like excessive use of force leading to negligent homicide, or maybe manslaughter.

        If the jury is only given the option to vote guilt of muder 1, or acquit, they’ll likely acquit. And justice will be denied.

        There IS a crime here. And this psycho needs to lose his badge. But its not murder one, and I’m suspicious of both the timing and the severity of the charge.

        Premeditation is a pretty difficult thing to prove, almost impossible when it’s a cop responding to someone with a knife who, although not deserving to die, WAS a criminal and needed to be arrested.

      • 1mime says:

        I think you have this figured exactly right, Rob. This seems to be a “ploy” and I’ll bet it’s been used before.

      • flypusher says:

        I think that if you have a smart phone or any other device that records video, and you see a police action in progress, you will use that device if you are a good citizen and care about justice.

    • 1mime says:

      Wo – that IS serious, Lifer!

    • MassDem says:

      Armed men also showed up outside a mosque in Irving TX.
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/11/23/armed-anti-muslim-protesters-stage-strange-protest-outside-mosque-in-clock-kids-hometown/

      Fortunately all they did was parade around. I’m concerned that the inflammatory rhetoric against Muslims and BLM groups will lead to more acts of violence.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Can you imagine – IMAGINE – if Muslim Americans exercised their right to bear arms in public outside a church, or football game, or anywhere really?

        These ppl would be calling for drone strikes

      • 1mime says:

        The decision by armed citizens to present themselves at places where high tension exists (Ferguson, Irving, and more) is a breath away from a horrible consequence. This arrogant behavior is being repeated across the face of this nation. I guess for people who feel so “entitled”, the Golden Age is real.

      • 1mime says:

        I received this email from TX State Representative Lyle Larson. It was an informative newsletter and I appreciate Rep. Larson’s efforts to communicate. It did include an interesting update on TX efforts on terrorism, and the creation of a state level program administered by the DPS called “iWATCH”. FYI.

        “In light of the recent tragic terrorist attack in Paris, new questions and concerns about border security and immigration policies have arisen. In the interest of protecting Texans, we agree with Governor Greg Abbott that Texas should not accept Syrian refugees. The cost of illegal immigration has created a huge burden on taxpayers and law enforcement resources. Increasing that burden is simply unacceptable. Additionally, we must ensure that no one who is connected with terrorism is allowed into our state. My office will continue to work with state leadership to ensure our borders are secure and that Texans are protected from all threats of terrorism.

        In that vein, we would like to make you aware of the iWATCH program administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). As we work to remain vigilant with respect to potential crime and terrorist activity in our communities, we encourage you to report suspicious behaviors to the iWATCH website at http://www.iwatchtx.org. The iWATCH program was created as a partnership between communities and law enforcement, and utilizes citizen-sourced tips related to criminal activity.”

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @Rob Ambrose: And yet a group of white supremacists can rally around Cliven Bundy with freakin’ sniper rifles to protest the federal government and some people just shrug their shoulders.

        Maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention, but I certainly didn’t hear anything from our ‘leaders’ at the time about that.

      • 1mime says:

        BTW, I responded to the link in Rep. Larson’s email and let him know that I flatly disagree with his and the state’s decision regarding turning away Syrian refugees. I try to do this when I get an email from any of our elected officials. It’s a little thing, but important for each of us to let them know there are other viewpoints in TX.

    • 1mime says:

      What say you, Lifer, to Rob’s observation about the police officer being “over-charged” in order to hang a jury? I guess the fact that a charge of any kind is forthcoming against the officer is supposed to satisfy justice….but what Rob said indicates a more serious game possibly being played here.

    • Hmm. If the article is correct, I guess we’re talking white/Hispanic supremacists. Go figure.

  16. texan5142 says:

    Shenanigans at work Obj, I could go on, but keep those blinders on, it is all Obamas fault. Tell congress to do the job they were elected to do , that is not Obamas fault.

    Obj says,

    “From a Republican point of view, Obama was the one who would not compromise and tried to take executive action to circumvent laws. He was going to use his pen and phone to take on Congress. Remember? Unfortunately, it did not work out well and any progress that might have been made on immigration stalled out again. “Shenanigans” is an apt word to describe his maneuvers to avoid compromising on issues.”

    National Journal,
    “A year ago today, Demo­crat­ic Sen. Chuck Schu­mer lit­er­ally back­slapped Re­pub­lic­an Sen. John Mc­Cain, and walked arm-in-arm away from a huge gath­er­ing of re­port­ers de­clar­ing a massive tri­umph: passing bi­par­tis­an com­pre­hens­ive im­mig­ra­tion re­form.
    “We all gave. We all took. We all fought. We all smiled. And at the end of the day, we held hands and walked out here to­geth­er,” Schu­mer said at the time.
    Fast for­ward to Thursday, when Schu­mer stood among top House and Sen­ate Demo­crats. Not a Re­pub­lic­an was in sight. And Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id de­cided to quote Na­ked Gun‘s Leslie Nielsen to de­scribe what the House GOP has done with im­mig­ra­tion: “Do­ing noth­ing is hard to do. You nev­er know when you’re fin­ished.”

    http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/01/30/-immigration-bill-stalled-as-republicans-fight-internal-battles

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/boehner-immigration-reform-stalls-because-gop-has-widespread-doubt-about-obama/2014/02/06/233b497a-8f55-11e3-b46a-5a3d0d2130da_story.html

    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/04/25/boehner-mocks-house-republicans-for-stalling-immigration-bill/

    • 1mime says:

      TX, I’m going to have to commit that quote to memory….one of the best I’ve seen in a loooong time! Thanks!

    • objv says:

      Texan and all others, “Doing nothing” about the border is what sunk immigration reform. Remember the 2014 elections? Obama’s moves toward executive action and his unwillingness to tighten security at the border and internally cost many Democrats the election. There was no way that Republican voters would agree to legalizing millions without some type of guarantee that future immigration would be more tightly controlled.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi objv
        Look up some history
        Traditionally one of a new Republican president’s first tasks is to defund the border patrol
        And one of a new Democratic presidents tasks is to increase the funding for the border patrol

        Which makes perfect sense
        The Republican establishment wants illegal immigrants – they work cheap and degrade worker power
        The Democratic establishment wants legal immigrants – they vote Democrat

        Besides what percentage of your “illegals” cross the border as illegals?
        I was under the impression that the biggest number is people who came legally (as tourists and whatnot) and overstayed their welcome

  17. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    Interesting

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-refugee-plan-women-children-families-1.3330185

    OK, hmmm. I don’t get it. If you can’t screen unmarried males, how can you screen others? Also, married people can’t harbor dangerous views? And isn’t it sexist to just assume women can’t want to fight for a cause, use guns and blow themselves up just as well as men?

    The US has some pretty intense screening, but if Canada thinks they can’t properly screen young single males, how can they screen anyone else?

    Gah, the left has become a bunch of appeasers who don’t care about liberalism and the right has become a bunch of xenophobic reactionaries. What were once the fringes now appear to be a large number of people on both sides.

    • flypusher says:

      I get it, it’s profiling.

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        No, profiling is simply subjecting a particular population to greater scrutiny.

        This isn’t profiling, they’re outright banning.

        I will say that there are some limited situations where profiling, with oversight, is okay. If a particular group is more likely produce who you are looking for, then, statistically, it is smart to devote more of your limited resources on that population.

        For example, spending the same amount of resources on a 80 year old person and a 22 year old is stupid – because it’s both wasteful and risky at the same time. The big question in profiling is how far you can go and how much oversight you need before it becomes irrational somethingism and compound the problem.

        All you do by banning is punish the innocent

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s the salient point from The Week post, from my perspective:

        “the U.S. has allowed roughly 800,000 refugees to settle in the country since 2001 — and not one of them has resorted to terrorism. ”

        This says it all for me. 800,000 refugees – not ONE of them has resorted to terrorism. NOT ONE!

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I think it’s risk reduction. Could married men with kids or women be terrorists?

      Of course. But the overhwleming majority of terrorist fit a certain profile (I.e. young, unmarried, no kids) so it seems like a good way to reduce the already very small chances of terrorism into an even smaller chance.

    • Actually, pseudo, it seems like a fairly reasonable approach to the problem. Here are the ‘givens’ in the situation:

      1) ISIS is using the Syrian refugee stream as a means of infiltration into Europe, and would no doubt love to do the same in N. America.
      2) The vast majority of radical Islamists carrying out terrorist operations are young males of military age. (There are some females strapping on suicide vests, but the number is small in comparison.)
      3) Effective screening is nigh to impossible given that there are no remaining civil authorities in Syria (and to the extent there ever were, it’s not like they ever cooperated with western governments in the first place).
      4) We have already experienced murder at the hands of radicalized “refugees” (the brothers Tsarnov in the Boston bombing).
      5) The suffering of Syrian refugees is real and cries out for some form of relief.

      Accepting orphans, unaccompanied women, women with children, and families, whilst excluding unaccompanied males of military age, seems a reasonable compromise in the face of a very real (and already proven) danger. Such a plan is not without risk, but presumably is less risky than taking in all and sundry. Personally, were I the President, I’d put the whole thing on indefinite hold, and/or seek to construct safe refuges for them closer to home. The President’s first duty is to ensure the safety and security of Americans, not the safety and security of Syrians (and without regard to the pitiful nature of their plight).

  18. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    Is it wrong that I’m utterly terrified about a Trump or a Carson getting into power?

    • flypusher says:

      You have lots of company. If we’re lucky, this will turn out to be just one of the painful steps needed to lance the crazy boil.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      There’s a Nate silver article putting everything into perspective (don’t have link).

      In it, he points out that there is currently more people who believe the moon landing was faked (10%) then people who support Trump in these early polls (around 8% of total population).

      Most ppl paying attention thisbfar out are likely political junkies anyways with views that probably tend towards fringy on both sides.

      There’s a massive, massive chunknof ppl who WILL vote that arent laying attention yet and who would never dream of voting for Trump/Carson

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Agreed. Anyone with clear eyes who’s paying attention knows that a Trump nomination not only dooms the Republican Party in 2016, it’ll be an electoral thrashing of epic proportions.

        Cruz is a bit of a different beast, particularly in light of his recent gains in Iowa. Much as it annoys me to admit it, he’s probably the most intelligent, manipulative, and dangerous candidate that we’ve seen pandering to the far-right fringe in this country in a good while.

        Given that the crux of his strategy is to pick up Trump’s supporters after The Donald collapses (an assumption that many, myself included, are beginning to realize was naive), it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not Cruz can garner enough support on his own to win the nomination. Personally, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • 1mime says:

      CArson is history. Don’t know about Trump. Cruz is the one I worry about because he’s one calculating, cold individual. Rubio is also a worry because he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and people like that should spend more time learning before they become President of the U.S. His judgement appears way too wishy-washy as well.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Rubio is a missed opportunity, at least in 2016. I’ve said it before, but in his heart he’s a moderate Republican – one who did some very commendable work on immigration reform before he did a total 180 on it – who has denigrated himself to pathetic pandering to a far-right fringe of his party that votes in primaries and made himself utterly unelectable in a general election.

        If I were Marco and I still had a desire to be president, what I would do is wait it out for a couple of years, try to run for governor in Florida in 2018, serve two terms and do the best damned job I could building a record I could run on, making connections and doing everything I could to restore my credibility among minority groups.

        That is, of course, betting on the assumption that Rubio can make an effective pitch at the time. Honestly and truly, he’s got a lot of potential if he would grow a spine and stick with it. If he would break away from substanceless, cowardly Republican talking points that just talk about cutting taxes and deregulating, he could be a real leader.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, Ryan. Rubio’s a little ahead of himself in this bid for President at this time. Being a governor for a stretch would provide him time to grow in experience and skills. Then he could consider a run.

      • duncancairncross says:

        I agree with 1mime
        Carson would be a worry – but he is gone
        Cruz is the one who is the most worrying (could be the worst) – followed by the other “moderate” candidates
        IMHO Trump would be the best of the bunch – totally horrible but not as bad as the others

      • 1mime says:

        Duncan, I may have to go live in NZ to find anyone that agrees with me! TX ain’t cuttin’ it (-:

  19. 1mime says:

    I will not give up on this. Terrific piece from The Atlantic Magazine about Obama support for actions despite great opposition. I think it is exactly right and it is why I think so much of him as a person.

    Syrian Refugee Issue: “Why is Obama picking a fight on an issue that, according to The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, is a “political winner” for the GOP?”

    “Obama refers frequently to America’s malevolence within. He sees American history as a series of moral struggles pitting Americans seeking equal opportunity and full citizenship against Americans who defend an unjust or bigoted status quo.”

    “Obama clearly sees the current nativist, bigotry-laden, hysteria as such a struggle. He knows he may not win. But he wants future historians to know exactly where he stood. They will. And as a result, I suspect, they’ll record the Syrian refugee battle among his finest hours.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/obama-syrian-refugees/417222/

    • johngalt says:

      Nothing about how Obama has dealt with the Syrian crisis will be counted as his finest hour. He’s botched this from day one. Granted, it is easier to see that in hindsight, but even at the time some of his inaction was a mistake (not drawing the red line at the chemical weapons, for instance).

      That said, this description of his lens on American history is probably right, and probably a reasonable one for a black man (mixed race, actually, which might have been harder) who came of age in the 1970s.

      • 1mime says:

        OK, JG. We usually agree on things, so I am curious. What action would you have wanted O to take on the chemical weapons? Bomb Syria? What about this as a commitment to war? I agree with your second paragraph and fundamentally also agree that Pres. Obama abhors war engagement. That this has influenced his decisions (along with whatever military and intelligence recommendations being presented to him), is clear. I value your opinion and would like to know how you think he should have handled this situation.

      • johngalt says:

        Yes, he should have bombed Syria. Carefully chosen targets of the military and Assad power structure. The Commander in Chief of the world’s most powerful military cannot draw a red line and fail to act when it is breached.

    • His finest hour? Oh, please. Since this is at least nominally a Republican blog (in the same sense that a cat is a dog), perhaps an NR assessment of Obama’s prospects on his final months in occupation are in order:

      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/427522/obamas-most-dangerous-year

  20. Anse says:

    I’ve always thought that prosperity did not require a substantially well-educated population, or even one that is especially highly-skilled in some way. All you have to do is make just enough people feel just rich enough to make them think everything is great, and for people to believe it really is a meritocracy. What’s amusing to me is how often people will call this the Land of Opportunity, the nation of the American Dream, where all you need is your hard work and you can be whatever you want to be…which means like 80-90% of us really and truly wanted to be *average*, steeply in debt, and with hardly enough money to pay for ten years’ of retirement. That was all in the plan! Worked out exactly like I wanted it!

  21. stephen says:

    Found this on The Big Picture Blog
    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-11-23/take-a-moment-to-appreciate-the-recovery
    It supports your view Lifer. Things are better but the distribution of the benefits are lopsided.

    • 1mime says:

      Would that more people based their opinions on facts, Stephen. It is nice that you, as a Republican, are willing to consider and accept evidence-based information that decries the distorted snapshot offered by Republican Party leadership. All of us, regardless of party, need to bring that fair and balanced approach to our views. You are there ahead of many.

  22. Interesting that Augustan Rome is Chris’ straw man for a golden age, given that the seeds of Rome’s decline were planted with consolidation of power in the hands of the Imperator, and the hollowing out of the very republican institutions that led to Rome’s ascendance in the first place. Indeed, the Framers, steeped in classical education as they were, did their level best to design a system of government expressly intended to avoid the abuses that led to imperial Rome, and its subsequent inevitable decline. We mess around with that system at our own peril.

    America’s ascendance on the world stage is largely a happy accident of geography and history. Staying on top is largely a matter of simply not screwing up, which is precisely why it’s so very painful to witness the shenanigans, on every front, of the current administration. There’s very little *any* president can actively do to move the needle in a positive direction, but boy is it easy for a president to screw the pooch.

    As for the notion that, “No power on Earth can threaten to topple our political structure at home and no power on Earth can confidently challenge our will abroad in an open fight,” those are bold words in an era when engineering doomsday virus is within the grasp of any well equipped bio lab, and when unhinged regimes like N. Korea and Iran are approaching full ICBM capability. EMP is no joke, and neither is Smallpox. Just because it *hasn’t* happened doesn’t mean in *can’t* happen, or *won’t* happen.

    • Anse says:

      We’re an empire, too. We just can’t do it quite the same way Rome did. We hear plenty of justifications for military intervention abroad under the rather dubious claim of “self-defense.” We might be attacked by terrorists from time to time, but ISIS is not a threat to us in any substantial way. I’m not saying I opposing fighting them, I’m just saying that most of our global military efforts have less to do with “not screwing up” and more to do with maintaining our global reach. Which is, in my opinion, pretty close to an imperial foreign policy.

      • No, Anse an imperial foreign policy would equate to Iraq’s oil reserves counted in Exxon’s bottom line. An imperial foreign policy would be Ramadi and Fallujah burned to ash and salted, and every Wahhbist within a thousand miles of Mecca impaled on a stake and feeding crows. Heck, an imperial foreign policy would be Muscovites speaking English as their first language. Honestly, we pretty much suck at imperialism.

      • Anse says:

        I totally disagree. I don’t say I understand it completely but our policy in the Middle East has been quite calculated to achieve American interests. We don’t need to connect Iraqi oil directly to Exxon profits to see the logic of maintaining our influence over that oil-rich region. We don’t conquer countries and put our flag down and say, “pay us tribute!” But we are most certainly influencing policies in other countries and playing up internal factional strife for our own benefit. Don’t pretend we don’t. We have a long history of it.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, Anse. There are lots of ways to require that people pay tribute. Last time I thought about this, tribute is earned, not awarded. Our oil exploration has offered much that is positive for the areas it involved, but there is a great deal of harm that has also been done in the interest of profits. We all know the list.

    • 1mime says:

      “It’s very painful to watch the shenanigans of the current President…” Pres. Obama is not perfect but he is head and shoulders above his predecessor, W. Surely, there can be ZERO confusion on that score. The important question is, what could this President have accomplished if he hadn’t been obstructed at every point. We will likely never know. What he has achieved in social changes I am firmly support. Once again, we are at odds, Tracy, which is your right and my own, in this similarly flawed Democracy we call America.

      • 1mime says:

        (-:

        Care to elaborate Tracy?

      • “Once again, we are at odds, Tracy, which is your right and my own, in this similarly flawed Democracy we call America.”

        ‘Tis the spice of life, 1mime! Wouldn’t it be a horrible bore if everybody agreed on everything all the time? Although really, I kinda woulda pegged you for an O’Malley gal. You know, that “unidentified guy” in the pictures with Hill and Bern. 😉

      • 1mime says:

        No, you are incorrect, Tracy. I’m for the competent one. The one that will get the job done.

      • objv says:

        Mime, I see … are you are Trump or Cruz supporter? The Hill is only competent at lining her and family member’s pockets. A person who uses an unsecured server for government business is incompetent.

    • johngalt says:

      You grossly underestimate the complexity of engineering a pandemic virus and, even if it did happen, the US is vastly better prepared to handle it than most other places.

      Ironically, it is the size and power of the federal government that gives it the best chance of stopping terrorist activities or recovering from a natural disaster.

      And if you think the Obama administration is “screwing the pooch,” what on earth must you think about a do-nothing Congress that for six years has aggressively refused to legislate anything? Our government may be bureaucratic, even to the extremes, but we are not within light years of having an imperial presidency, regardless of the rhetoric of the far right.

      • 1mime says:

        As usual, JG, spot on.

      • objv says:

        Mime and JG,

        From a Republican point of view, Obama was the one who would not compromise and tried to take executive action to circumvent laws. He was going to use his pen and phone to take on Congress. Remember? Unfortunately, it did not work out well and any progress that might have been made on immigration stalled out again. “Shenanigans” is an apt word to describe his maneuvers to avoid compromising on issues.

      • 1mime says:

        Believe what you will, Ob. We flatly disagree as to the reasons Obama “had” to take exec. action not to mention the six years of obstruction he faced from day one. I am not going to make any effort to rebut you. It isn’t worth the effort nor would you be receptive.

      • Oh, 1mime. I guess you just bring out the Godwin in me. Hitler “had” to take executive action, too. 😉

      • 1mime says:

        Your Hitler would have felt right at home with the historical record of American presidential executive orders.

        http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/every-presidents-executive-actions-in-one-chart/

      • “You grossly underestimate the complexity of engineering a pandemic virus and, even if it did happen, the US is vastly better prepared to handle it than most other places.”

        You’re probably right, jg. “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”

      • johngalt says:

        Objv, your opinions about who was being recalcitrant about immigration reform is belied by the difficulties that W. had in getting his plan through Congress, blocked by members of his own party who wanted nothing to do with anything that could be characterized in any way as an amnesty.

        Our immigration system is broken and has been for a long time. GOP-controlled Congresses have refused to consider any real-world solutions for almost as long.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I tend to think when all is said and done, Obama and will in general go down as one of the more important and successful presidents in decades. Probably since JFK

      • 1mime says:

        Ah, that depends, Rob. Here in TX history is re-written to reflect the story they want it to be, not how it really was.

        Obama never really got the chance to implement his agenda. Had the Republicans worked with him instead of obstructing him from day one, his legacy would be quite different and, more important than his legacy, America would have recovered more quickly from the Great Recession.

      • johngalt says:

        Ah, I doubt that Rob. I think Obama was for a variety of reasons unable to effectively implement much of his domestic agenda and made some important missteps in foreign policy that (combined with the missteps of his predecessors) will be problematic for years.

        Frankly, Kennedy was inspirational, but rather overrated. His moon program was transformative and the Peace Corps has done a lot of good (mostly to get unemployed idealistic college graduates off their mother’s couches), but he is given a pass on the mess into which we descended in southeast Asia and did not handle the Cuba situation very well. Plus, can you imagine “Camelot” with the media we have today? Bill Clinton was a choir boy by comparison.

      • Griffin says:

        @Rob Ambrose I think he will be considered “above average”, a solid B but not an A. But I have to wonder if in twenty years conservatives will be kicking themselves for not working with him and getting most of their earlier desired legislation through, sort of like how Ted Kennedy’s greatest regret was not taking Nixon’s healthcare plan. The right-wingers have become too gibberingly crazy to notice how many opportunities they’ve missed in the past seven years because they want all or nothing, and they aren’t even sure what the “all” would look like anymore.

    • objv says:

      Tracy, It’s a strange, little, bizarro world Lifer has here.

      I’ve been busy helping my daughter find a house in Durango. Her position was eliminated here in NM, but fortunately, she was offered a job in Durango before she had time to polish her resume and start looking in earnest.

      • Indeed it is, but the natives are mostly friendly, albeit a bit odd. 😉 Glad to hear your girl landed on her feet (although I would expect no less)! I love Durango. I’m jealous!

      • objv says:

        Tracy, my daughter says hi.

        Yes, the Durangatangs are a peculiar lot. I think my daughter will fit right in. She’ll be moving into her teeny, tiny, environmentally compliant house in December, buying organic produce at Natural Grocer’s, and wearing hiking boots most days. The county she lives in is liberal, but at least, she’ll be contributing one conservative vote in the next elections. 🙂

      • objv says:

        BTW, the Star Trek clip is hilarious.

      • 1mime says:

        From what I perceive about Chris Ladd, aka “Lifer”, he offers a pretty big tent. It’s one of the things that I find most interesting and admirable about him and his blog. It’s easy to see how someone who is unused to this concept might find it bizarre. I find it refreshing.

    • 1mime says:

      Well, Hil does have a “tad” more experience than any of the dudes in the final four. Of course, one has to wonder if the electorate that supports this same cast of characters would know competence if they saw it.

      Hillary has many faults, but she will bring good judgement and tons of knowledge and experience to this problem. As you pointed out long ago, Lifer, Hillary will “do no harm”. I’ll take that. Then in 2024 – we can have that good, old-fashioned, barn-storming campaign from both parties with a credible group of contenders. Who knows, we might even get to see a campaign over policy! Wouldn’t that be refreshing!

    • 1mime says:

      Another big point in Hillary’s favor is her clear (and proper) statement that the U.S. should accept Syrian refugees…regardless of public mania on the issue. I think she’s smart enough to distance herself from Obama and her tenure as Sec. of State without appearing duplicitous, because, she is more hawkish than he is and is known as such.

      As the article points out, this is just one poll. Interestingly, Rubio and Jeb are closest to her ranking and Neither of them has her experience. Time will tell if the American public will use their heads in this election……..I’m not at all sure that some have them.

      • duncancairncross says:

        I have a general problem with the fact that the GOP still seems to be putting itself forward as the best party for national security
        After 911 I would have expected the public to laugh at the idea that the GOP is the party of security

      • objv says:

        Personally, I wouldn’t mind if the US took in some Syrian refugees. I don’t know how they would be vetted, but if that could be done to weed out the troublemakers, I’d definitely be for welcoming those who need our help.

        However, I question how open you would be to allowing them freedom of religion. If you don’t feel that a Muslim stewardess could decline to serve drinks, how would you feel when Muslims start to exert their rights? One city in Michigan now has public calls to prayer over a loudspeaker. Would you be OK with that? How about Muslim women and the way they are supposed to be subservient to men?

      • flypusher says:

        “However, I question how open you would be to allowing them freedom of religion. If you don’t feel that a Muslim stewardess could decline to serve drinks, how would you feel when Muslims start to exert their rights? One city in Michigan now has public calls to prayer over a loudspeaker. Would you be OK with that? How about Muslim women and the way they are supposed to be subservient to men?”

        Or how women in the Duggar clan or the polygamous LDS sects are supposed to be subservient to men? Don’t see you objecting to them, do we?

        It’s not as difficult as you’re trying to make it. Your freedom of religion goes as long as you don’t break any laws. As for jobs, you know up front what you are getting into. If the job requires you to do things that violate your religious belief, you need to apply for a different job. Alcohol is anathema to you? Then don’t take a job that requires you to serve it.

        This isn’t rocket science here.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj….I guess I would like to thank you for morphing into the character that if you didn’t exist, we would have to invent you. I’ve suspected these characters are just the many personalities of Lifer he utilizes to generate conversation by inserting absurdity, but you may be the real deal.

        “One city in Michigan now has public calls to prayer over a loudspeaker. Would you be OK with that? ”

        Geez (or Jesus) Obj…if you happen to live anywhere near any one of a few thousand churches in the US with ringing bells, you might have an answer to how tolerant people are to religious calls to prayer…or is it only odd for you when it involves Muslims and not Catholics?

        “how would you feel when Muslims start to exert their rights?”

        Um, aren’t we all supposed to have the freedom to exert our rights? It must be like those uppity gays wanting all those special equal rights that you don’t seem to mind everyone else exerting.

        “How about Muslim women and the way they are supposed to be subservient to men?”

        Geez (or Jesus) again…listen to any number of “Christian” evangelicals and you’ll again see how tolerant folks are of backwards idiots (be they “Christian” or Muslim idiots).

      • flypusher says:

        Looks like the trucking business got in trouble because they had previously allowed the drivers to switch assignments, then did a 180 on that and couldn’t prove in court that not changing that practice would hurt their business. That’s a very important detail to leave out of this discussion. Now they would have been on much better legal footing if they had been consistent.

      • 1mime says:

        I still maintain, that if the Muslim men (or Muslim female stewardess) knew in advance that the job(s) they were applying for required alcohol delivery/serving, and still took the job, they should not qualify for religious rights exception and neither the trucking company nor the airline should have been liable.

        That’s called: gaming the system and it’s wrong.

      • flypusher says:

        “I still maintain, that if the Muslim men (or Muslim female stewardess) knew in advance that the job(s) they were applying for required alcohol delivery/serving, and still took the job, they should not qualify for religious rights exception and neither the trucking company nor the airline should have been liable.”

        That’s the sensible approach. You are informed from the start what the job requires, and if you can’t do any required task because of religious objections, you don’t take the job. But the employers need to be consistent with their policies.

        I recall a story of a woman who was a Victoria’s Secret model, a job that obviously requires that you show a lot of skin in public. She became a born again Christian and decided that it was not appropriate for men who weren’t married to her to see that much of her. Did she sue Victoria’s Secret and demand that she be accommodated? No, she found a different job more in line with her religious views. That’s what that flight attendant who converted to Islam should have done.

      • 1mime says:

        We agree. Where’s all this “individual responsibility” we hear about?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Agree with it or not, a sizable chunk of our Civil Rights legislation specifically addresses accommodations for these issues, and companies are required to make reasonable accommodations whenever they do not impact a business necessity.

        If a small part of an electrician’s job is to climb to the top of a tower in a refinery to replace a lightbulb that goes out once every two years, would it be reasonable for a disabled candidate with a prosthetic leg who cannot climb 120 feet up a ladder to request an accommodation for that work requirement?

        If it is a small, infrequent part of the job and others could do that specific task, then certainly it would be a reasonable accommodation.

        Would it be a reasonable accommodation for an Orthodox Jew applying as a concession stand worker at Texas A&M football games to request having Saturdays off? I’m doubting the NCAA is going to stop playing football on Saturdays, so working Saturdays would seem to be an essential function of the job.

        There was a time when it was argued that being a young female was a business necessity to be a flight attendant. Oddly, it turns out that men and older folks can do that job just fine.

        Regarding the flight attendant who converted to Islam, she, the company, and her coworkers had worked out arrangements (an accommodation if you will) so that she did not have to serve alcohol. One coworker then complained, and the airline refused the accommodation. She had converted to Islam a couple of years ago, and planes were not falling from the sky and passengers were not dying of dehydration. No overly burdensome business hardships were created, but the company then took the accommodation away. Incidentally, the person complaining about her also complained that she “had a book with foreign writings and wore a headdress”, so it is not hard to get a grasp of the person’s perspective.

        If ExxonMobil decides that being an executive requires that you play golf with the boss every Sunday morning, they cannot fire all the Christians who refuse because playing golf with the boss is not an essential function of that job.

        If an operator on an off-shore platform in the Gulf of Mexico is born again and realizes he cannot work on Sundays because he needs to be in church, a 14-on and 14-off shift requirement is an essential function of that job, so we probably can get away without making an accommodation for that.

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, we so rarely disagree, and you do make some good points. My objection categorically – which will always have exceptions….life, you know – is that religious exception/objection is being abused. Obviously, employee/employer conversations during the hiring process should be more specific, and obviously, there are exceptions (such as the man with the prosthetic), but these should be the rare exceptions. The flight attendant should have never applied for a job which requires serving alcohol. She also should have never been hired, so both parties share responsibility here. I guess, more than anything, I am weary of the hypocrisy.

        As for Ms. Davis, doesn’t the Bible have a thing or two to say about divorce? She is in her fourth marriage, which is her business, but which most Christian belief denounces. Honestly, I don’t think this was a principled stand. She could have delegated the duties to her subordinates and pursued the removal of the clerk’s name through the process. She chose to make this a public issue and as far as I am concerned, she should have been given a choice: do your job or look for a new one.

        I can’t believe we’re even still talking about this woman. Promise, it’s my last words on the Davis subject.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        With regard to Kim Davis and her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay people, her case is nothing like that of the flight attendant.

        If it were possible that marriage licenses could have been issued by someone else, it would have certainly been a reasonable accommodation to remove that activity from her job description.

        However, while I think such an accommodation would be appropriate, I would feel compelled to point out to Mrs. Davis that her Biblical prohibitions applied to her not doing gay stuff and did not include a verse about stopping other people from doing gay stuff.

        The flight attendant wasn’t trying to stop people from drinking alcohol. She just did not want to serve it.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Mime, the number of times someone actually asks for a religious accommodation in the US is shockingly small. There just have been a few high profile cases of late, and the biggest difference is that entire organizations (I’m looking at you Hobby Lobby) are alleging that their religious freedom is not being accommodated.

        I seem to be a bit more in favor of reasonable accommodations, and the actual effects of the accommodations have been extremely limited towards US businesses and a tremendous boon to disabled people, religious people, and an assortment of other folks who might not otherwise have jobs.

        Regarding the flight attendant, she converted after she had the job. Everyone seemed to find an accommodation that worked (which is exactly how it happens 99% of the time), but then some yahoo complained.

      • objv says:

        Homer, Mime, Fly, and Duncan,

        First of all, Homer, I’m real; baby, I’m real. (Baby, being a term of endearment and not meant in a derogatory manner.)

        It was not my intent to rehash the stewardess thing, but to make you pause and rethink your attitudes about the religious freedoms that immigrant Muslims would want in this country.

        It would be ironic if they would come here because of religious persecution by other Muslims and encounter what they would also think of as religious persecution by the people of the US.

      • flypusher says:

        “…but to make you pause and rethink your attitudes about the religious freedoms that immigrant Muslims would want in this country.”

        They get the same freedoms everyone else gets. If that’s not good enough, well, no one is forcing them to come here.

    • johngalt says:

      The depressing thing in this link is “below the fold” reporting on a CBS News poll that finds that 70% of Iowa’s likely GOP voters support Trump, Carson, or Cruz, three astonishingly unqualified candidates. In New Hampshire, it’s 52%.

      • 1mime says:

        That is what we’re dealing with, JG. This is what paranoia and hyperbole accomplish in the hands of those who know how to use it. How sad is that? Instead of coming together as a nation, the GOP candidates and Congressional leadership is using this issue as a voter recruitment tool. So far, it’s working.

        Deep breath, follow the Weekly Sift six point plan, more deep breaths.

    • rightonrush says:

      I got a kick out of this dumbarse remark made by Trump. http://politicalwire.com/2015/11/23/trump-attacks-clintons-stamina/ Trump whines about long debates while Ms. Clinton spent 11 hours answering questions regarding BENGAZI.

  23. johngalt says:

    This is a great reminder, Chris. When I hear Trump talk about how to make this country great again, I just shake my head. This is still a great country for all the reasons you mention. Yes, we have some problems, but who doesn’t? Ours seem larger because they are more public. Cleaning up our politics would allow us to begin solving many of them.

    • 1mime says:

      OK, here’s an alternate view to Vickers that speaks to rational thinking by the American public on the ISIL issue and rational, useful actions to confront the hyperbole. Of course, if those who are reacting to the noise would utilize just “one” of the following, the other five wouldn’t be necessary. At some point, responsibility transfers from the perpetrators to the masses following them. In the meantime, those of us who prefer logic can utilize the following strategy at the Thanksgiving family gathering (-: (Just kidding….not the time, the place and probably not the crew to offer a reasoned argument on this issue. Just enjoy the turkey and cranberries and the day.)

      Our country is going crazy and we are right in the middle of it. What do we do now?

      *Don’t make it worse.
      *Disrupt the spread of rumors.
      *Make fantasies confront reality.
      *Call out distractions.
      *Make sensible points.
      *Look for unlikely allies, then quote them.

      For the detail and links therein, go to: http://weeklysift.com/2015/11/23/in-times-of-hysteria/

  24. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    OK, I found this random thing on the internets.

    Sarcastic sitrep

    A highly restricted briefing document on Syria……

    President Assad (who is bad) is a nasty guy who got so nasty his people rebelled and the Rebels (who are good) started winning (Hurrah!).

    But then some of the rebels turned a bit nasty and are now called Islamic State (who are definitely bad!) and some continued to support democracy (who are still good.)

    So the Americans (who are good ) started bombing Islamic State (who are bad) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels (who are good) so they could fight Assad (who is still bad) which was good.

    By the way, there is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is a good thing) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so we have to say they are bad whilst secretly thinking they’re good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter.

    Getting back to Syria.

    So President Putin (who is bad, cos he invaded Crimea and the Ukraine and killed lots of folks including that nice Russian man in London with polonium poisoned sushi) has decided to back Assad (who is still bad) by attacking IS (who are also bad) which is sort of a good thing?

    But Putin (still bad) thinks the Syrian Rebels (who are good) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans (who are good ) who are busy backing and arming the rebels (who are also good).

    Now Iran (who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons and bomb Israel are now good) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad (still bad) as are the Russians (bad) who now have ground troops and aircraft in Syria.

    So a Coalition of Assad (still bad) Putin (extra bad) and the Iranians (good, but in a bad sort of way) are going to attack IS (who are bad) which is a good thing, but also the Syrian Rebels (who are good) which is bad.

    Now the British (obviously good, except that nice Mr Corbyn in the corduroy jacket, who is probably bad) and the Americans (also good) cannot attack Assad (still bad) for fear of upsetting Putin (bad) and Iran (good/bad) and now they have to accept that Assad might not be that bad after all compared to IS (who are super bad).

    So Assad (bad) is now probably good, being better than IS (but let’s face it, drinking your own wee is better than IS so no real choice there) and since Putin and Iran are also fighting IS that may now make them Good. America (still Good) will find it hard to arm a group of rebels being attacked by the Russians for fear of upsetting Mr Putin (now good) and that nice mad Ayatollah in Iran (also Good) and so they may be forced to say that the Rebels are now Bad, or at the very least abandon them to their fate. This will lead most of them to flee to Turkey and on to Europe or join IS (still the only constantly bad group).

    To Sunni Muslims, an attack by Shia Muslims (Assad and Iran) backed by Russians will be seen as something of a Holy War, and the ranks of IS will now be seen by the Sunnis as the only Jihadis fighting in the Holy War and hence many Muslims will now see IS as Good (Doh!.)

    Sunni Muslims will also see the lack of action by Britain and America in support of their Sunni rebel brothers as something of a betrayal (mmm…might have a point…) and hence we will be seen as Bad.

    So now we have America (now bad) and Britain (also bad) providing limited support to Sunni Rebels (bad) many of whom are looking to IS (Good/bad) for support against Assad (now good) who, along with Iran (also Good) and Putin (also, now, unbelievably, Good) are attempting to retake the country Assad used to run before all this started?

    I hope that clears all this up for you !!!

    I think I know what happens. People get through half of that, and then go “F**k this clusterf**k. Let’s just bomb everything”

    PS. What is the point of censoring f**k like that? I see it all the time and it never made sense to me…

  25. 1mime says:

    OT by one blog topic and too provocative to not share:

    Powerful piece in Politico Magazine making the case for an all out assault on ISIL. Very compelling argument which I am certain will gain traction. As much as Obama has tried desperately to keep the U.S. from entering a new war, this may well turn out to be unavoidable. If so, this clearly laid out strategy lays bare the essential effort that will be necessary. Wow.

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/11/obama-isis-strategy-afghanistan-war-213380

    • Griffin says:

      An interesting read but I had a few issues with this piece.

      1) He wants us to fund a basically non-existant moderate Syrian force while somehow ensuring Wahhabists won’t come to power.
      2) He wants to dislodge Assad who, while a bad guy, is a stabilizing force in the region he firmly controls and anger Russia (an ISIS opponent) in the process.
      3) He thinks destroying ISIS right now would reduce their terrorist attacks when their attacks are largely due to them lashing out from them not succeeding at their goals. If we went all out right now and fulfilled their “vision” of a Christian vs Wahhabist war it would probably spark far more attacks before we had a chance to find most of their cells.
      4) He has no end game, unless he thinks we should stay their permanately.
      5) He thinks disrupting the Taliban and staying there for ten plus years was a good idea, when many of those Taliban members are now ISIS members after they fled from Afghanistan and became even more radicalized than before. If we invaded right now and most of ISIS went underground where would ISIS members regroup?
      6) He wants far more air strikes even though our air strikes are mostly limited in order to avoid civilian casualties. If we ramped up bombings and killed more cilvilians it would worsen terrorism in the long run.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        There have been literally dozens of Western military interventions in that wide swath of ME-SE Asia. To name just a few, there was Vietnam (France first, then US) Iraq (1 & 2), and Afghanistan (Soviets first, then NATO)

        Not one of them ended well. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over all this time, its that things in that area are incredibly complex and full of unintended consequences. It seems that secular strongmen (Saddam, Assad, even Gaddhafi) tend to keep Islamic extremism in check, and maybe getting rid of these guys isn’t a wise long term strategy.

        Also, there’s a higher then likely chance that the group you arm and train today are using those weapons and tactics against you tomorrow.

        The Taliban has roots in the CIA supported Mujahedeen during the Soviet invasion, for example.

        I just don’t see how another adventure into that area, while supporting another armed group, is likely to lead to a positive outcome.

        Have we learned nothing in the last 60 years? Its almost like the glory of WWII (the last just war we’ve fought in, IMO) made us become addicted to that feeling, and like a junkie desperatw forna fix, we’ve been sending our military all over the world every chance we get since then, hoping to recreate that original high.

    • EJ says:

      Does… does Mr Vickers think the West won in Afghanistan?

      • 1mime says:

        YES! After all, Mr. Vickers “did” serve under TWO Bushes…..I hope all realize that I am not promoting this idea for many of the reasons Griffin astutely cited. No endgame; US financial and human risk; lack of regional ally participation; etc etc…..BUT, hawks who want war will use Vickers’ arguments to push Pres. Obama at a time when he is already beleaguered and it is clear from this article that the push will be coming from many fronts to mobilize/agitate public opinion.

        And, yes, “W” does feel he won the war – that’s why he continues to be a political recluse! Pretty amazing, but I think we’re going to see more of this.

        Obama has been roundly criticized for the lack of “passion” in his speeches and comments regarding the Paris attacks….he lacked “fire”. My take is that he is incredibly saddened by yet another tragedy and knows how difficult it will be to navigate the political process to do what he thinks and is being advised is the best course of action.

    • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

      Sigh.

      OK, full scale military interventions. Let’s see. A few thousand lives on our side and tens of thousands of lives on the other side. Expensive – need to raise taxes to pay for them if you don’t want to add to deficit and debt. Also, need some way to counter the imperialism narrative that will cause lots more Muslims to be radicalized at home.

      How can a military intervention be done? Short answer. Imperialism. Work with the Kurds, any remaining non Islamist rebels and put a couple hundred thousand coalition troops on the ground. Work with Assad, Iran and Russia to reach a political settlement. Hold land as an occupying force. Train or retrain people to be police. Expect and absorb coalition losses from Guerilla attacks. Invest money in rebuilding and establishment of a stable government. Dig in for a 20 year occupation as a peacekeeping force. Increase taxes to pay for all of this – expect coalition partners to drop out randomly and absorb the extar cost. Don’t try to control local politics and don’t let local Muslim countries assert control either. Last thing we need is a Sunni vs Shia war. Oh, and make this all clear to the public up front so that we don’t do a half assed job.

      I don’t see that happening. If there are going to be boots on the ground, better go all in or not at all

      • flypusher says:

        “I don’t see that happening. If there are going to be boots on the ground, better go all in or not at all.”

        Exactly. That was what screwed things up in Iraq. If you’re going to go the war, you put the country on a war footing. W’s notion that this country could fight 2 wars, but life would go on as normal (“Go shopping! Visit DisneyLand!”), and no new taxes to pay for all of that, was asinine. Some pundits complain of a disconnect between the military and their families and the rest of the nation. Well DUH, if you do what W did in conducting his wars, that’s exactly what you set up. You’re loading all the hardship and sacrifice onto just a small percentage of the population.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, Fly, EJ, Pseudo, Griffin, Rob……I have spent a fair amount of time reading and watching the “rational” people comment on the options regarding ISIL. Except for one man, they all said the best course is limited involvement. The regional interests would like nothing better than to have the U.S. finance and equip this war. THIS is their region. The problem is the same as it has always been….alliances are almost impossible in this area. Turkey is proving to be a real problem because of the intense Kurd issue.,…even though the Kurds are the only people who are making headway. I do think that sooner of later, Obama is going to have to pick his poison and probably tell Turkey adios. They have been an important ally in the past but the new ruler is aiding ISIL….so, we need to find another place to base troops/planes for a limited presence….This is what the rational people say. They also say it is unlikely that ISIL will be beat without an alliance of strange bedfellows. We can’t go it alone and be successful.

    • “If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.” – General Curtis LeMay
      “There are no innocent civilians.” – General Curtis LeMay
      “A weapon is a weapon and it really doesn’t make much difference how you kill a man. If you have to kill him, well, that’s the evil to start with and how you do it becomes pretty secondary. I think your choice should be which weapon is the most efficient and most likely to get the whole mess over with as early as possible.” – General Curtis LeMay
      “…all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you’re not a good soldier.” – General Curtis LeMay

      Q.E.D.

      Until we grok those concepts, we can’t hope to win, nor even break even. We can only lose. We have not fought any war as a war since WWII, with banally predictable results. If we can’t get our head around that, better not to go in the first place.

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, well, lots of people think more guns will reduce violence. Hasn’t happened. Those who believe force will always prevail are usually the ones depending upon it. Force has its place but in a civilized society, one would hope that it would always be a last resort.

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        A distinction needs to be made between conventional war and the mess in the ME.

        Is it possible to destroy ISIS as it exists today? Sure! Hell, Iraq was a foreign policy disaster but was an absolute military success. The US walked over an entire country in weeks with hardly any losses.

        But ISIS is different. It’s based on an idea – a set of ideas. And worst of all, these are based in religious texts.
        And the one crucial thing differentiating this from any other asymmetric war in history is the internet. Information is no longer controlled easily. Propaganda straight to the user.

        The difficult part is not the military part. The difficult part is ensuring the idea won’t keep coming back

      • 1mime says:

        In the discussions I have listened to among ME experts, another huge difference is the intellectual leadership. ISIL has its own banking system, is exploring its own currency, has a ready source of fuel, offers health care and pays its soldiers well. The sad thing is that the U.S. helped create this monster by invading Iraq and dismantling the elite troops who then were welcomed into the new movement. Fly said many posts back that she thought ISIL wanted to establish a functioning society. She was correct. These people are taking a long view, are very smart, and will not be easy to defeat.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Historically a “military solution” has either been:
        Total annihilation – sow the fields with salt
        (Rome and Carthage)
        Or the enemy comes back – if not immediately then in a generation

        It was the fourth coalition that defeated Napoleon

        The one exception to that was the Marshal Plan

        Build them back up fast – spend money and resources to rebuild

        IMHO we have sown the whirlwind – the only way to fix this is to pour massive resources into rebuilding Iraq and Syria
        The barbarians understand this and will try to sabotage such an effort – but we will have to just keep working on raising the standard of life of the people of the middle east without pouring more fuel onto the flames with things like the Blackwater massacre

      • “Yeah, well, lots of people think more guns will reduce violence. Hasn’t happened.”

        Uh, actually, 1mime, crime involving firearms *has* decreased by roughly half over the last 20 years, since concealed carry laws began to proliferate. See, for instance:

        http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/07/gun-homicide-rate-down-49-since-1993-peak-public-unaware/

        and:

        https://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_07.html
        https://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_08.html
        https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_8_murder_victims_by_weapon_2009-2013.xls

        In the same time frame, the number of guns in the US has increased by roughly half:

        http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1679&context=urban_facpub

        And the rate at which Americans are legally purchasing firearms has roughly doubled:

        https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports/nics_firearm_checks_-_month_year.pdf

        (The trend for the year-to-date indicates that 2015 will be another record year for gun sales.)

        Now, I’d be the last to insist that correlation equals causation. Nonetheless, common sense dictates at least *some* linkage.

      • 1mime says:

        Think you’ve got enough links in there Tracy? All I need to know is what has NOT happened since Sandy Hook: NO major gun legislation has been passed by the Republican led Congress. If gun violence is going down, deaths due to guns are not. And, how many deaths due to guns is too many, Tracy?

      • And BTW, 1mime, my personal belief is that violence is seldom the answer, but when it *is* the answer, it’s the *only* answer.

      • 1mime says:

        And I would agree that force is an unfortunate choice that has to be made. If someone I loved was in danger, or I was, I would take all necessary means to defend them and myself. But, first, I would lock the doors and set the alarm.

      • “I would take all necessary means to defend them and myself.”

        Would you, really, 1mime? I ask in all seriousness, because from your past comments I gather that you don’t own a firearm, or that even if you do, you have not taken the time to become proficient with it, or more importantly, learn how to *fight* with it.

        Something tells me “all necessary mean” means something more than you think it means. “Willing” and “able” are not the same thing. Being willing to fight does not mean being able to fight, and it’s too late learn when the bad guy has just kicked in your door. For a serious individual, “all necessary means” necessarily means taking the requisite steps towards being able to defend one’s self (and loved ones) with the most effective tools readily available for the task, namely, firearms. That translates to a CHL, everyday carry, at least some training, and plenty of practice.

        Anyway, TTFN. The reloading bench calls! 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        I’ll never own a gun, Tracy. Never.

      • I will go further than you Tracy
        In order to protect my family I went over 8,000 miles – to live in a society that does not kill each other (as much)

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Sorry, got to jump in here. Tracy, as your link points out ALL violent crimes have fallen, not just gun crimes. I have seen many reasons proposed to explain the fall in all violence, not just gun violence, since the early 70’s. From the rise and fall of crack cocaine to birth control to abortions. But you choose to believe in guns. But, if so, should there be less violent crime in states where it is easier to buy a gun? Probably we would want to count gun owners rather that guns.

        I was going to list some studies that seem to show the reverse of your argument but you have probably seen them and discounted them already. Studies that show higher violence in states with looser gun laws.

        So I ask you, with all the relaxation of gun laws going on in many states, what do you expect to happen to gun deaths in those states. I can imagine an escalating gun culture, more and more guns to protect oneself from armed public. Do you imagine that with everyone having a gun, one will have to be ready to shoot, just in case.

        If we see a trend to more gun violence in those states would you then speak out for change?

      • That’s your choice, 1mime, and fine by me. But don’t say things like, “If someone I loved was in danger, or I was, I would take all necessary means to defend them and myself,” because that’s not what you mean. You are clearly not willing to employ the most effective “necessary means.”

        Instead, say something like, “I trust my life and the lives of my loved ones to chance, and if my loved ones or I am ever attacked by someone intent on doing us harm, then I am content to see my loved ones brutally murdered before my eyes, and then share their horrible and untimely fate.” Because, unless you have an extraordinarily high midi-chlorian count, that’s what will inevitably happen. You and your loved ones will simply end up on a police blotter.

      • 1mime says:

        That is a reprehensible statement Tracy which you have no right to make.

      • unarmed, you are posting the same “blood in the streets” canard that gun grabbers have been yammering about since day 1 of concealed carry. It’s *never* panned out, so give it a rest, please. It just makes you look silly. And yes, I would immediately point you to the correlation of municipalities with the strictest gun control laws (D.C., Chicago, etc.) with the highest rates of violence.

        Actually, I suspect the decrease in violent crime has more to do with general demographics than anything else. Violent crime is a young person’s pastime, and the country is aging as a whole. But I haven’t run the numbers to check the correlation, so I can’t say for sure.

        Then again, before 1995 or so, in most states a criminal could resort to violence with impunity, confident that the targeted victim was unarmed. Now, if you are a bad guy, there’s about a 1-in-20 chance on any given day that your designated victim will demur from victimhood and simply blow your head off. That’s enough make even the dimmest bulb consider a career change.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        I’ll take that as a no.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Rarely does it happen, but I had to turn around, stumble around, and try to find my eyeballs on the ground because I rolled my eyes at TT’s homily to guns and protecting his family that they plumb fell out of my head.

  26. Griffin says:

    On a side note that Dominion book under Goodreads looks interesting as I’m very into Alternate History. It better make good use of King Edward VIII as a Nazi collaborator though, Edward is surprisingly under used as an alt history villain, which is odd considering what an awful, vile, dimwitted person he was in real life. Seriously it was like he was trying to be a living caricature of an aristocratic rightist as drawn by a Marxist, and the fact that he was so close to staying the King of England into WW2 (even if the King was mostly symbolic at that point and lacked real power) is chilling.

    Oswald Mosley too. Though he seemed like more of a straight up nutter than truly “evil”. I’m pretty sure that if Mosley hadn’t been born to money he would have been yelling about the end times on a street corner. Too crazy to take seriously as a villain, though no doubt he would have had prominance in a fascist Britian.

    • 1mime says:

      If you are fond of cunning, diabolical historical figures, consider Thomas Cromwell.

      • Griffin says:

        From what I know Cromwell is a pretty interesting character but he’s not in the right time frame and I confese to not knowing much about him. I was also always under the impression that as bad as he was he was more morally ambigious, did some good the country, and had the excuse of being a product of his time.

        In contrast while many of the WW2 British fascists and those with fascist tendencies make for more clear villains it’s hard to make them interesting because in all honesty they come across as kind of, well, dumb. Try hearing a speech by Lady Astor and it’s clear she’s not playing with a full deck, same goes for Mosley, Edward, etc. This may be because so many of them were coddled Aristocrats who were used to being told they smart by their inner circle (like Donald Trump today).

      • 1mime says:

        I hope you got to see The King’s Speech…. Wonderful movie (review said historically flawed) about the brother who was a reluctant king but turned out so very well. Makes one wonder if the best leaders aren’t frequently those for whom politics is a duty rather than a career (-: This Slate review speaks badly about your friend Edward VIII.

        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2011/01/churchill_didnt_say_that.html

      • EJ says:

        1mime – I take it you’ve read Wolf Hall?

        My favourite alt history villain was always Erich Ludendorff.

    • 1mime says:

      EJ…I have Wolf Hall….but haven’t started it. I’m still graphing out the family tree!

  27. flypusher says:

    Tangentially related to the concept of a Golden Age, how America ranks in various things compared to other nations:

    http://theweek.com/articles/589908/america-still-no-1

    I think our “golden triangle” is severely overweighted at one of the points.

    • 1mime says:

      You and I are reading the same info and coming up with the same conclusion. The only difference my reptilian brain notes is that the golden triangle is severely overweight at multiple points. Is anyone paying attention? Does anyone care?

  28. tuttabellamia says:

    I’m curious as to the level of happiness and contentment in our society in this so-called Golden Age. The more people have the less content they are with what they have, and they become disillusioned. I think Lifer posted a blog entry about people feeling lonely and isolated now that family, religion, and true social interaction are not as central as before. (It might have been a blog entry about his book, about the chapter toward the end, about getting politically involved, and the importance of social capital.) I personally feel that a world with so many electronic gadgets and other “conveniences” that are really burdens is sterile, superficial, and depressing as heck. Things are TOO easy, too accessible, so they have lost their value. Or as I said, they become unnecessary, artificial burdens, all about staying connected at all costs.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I see an Age of Excess, an Age of Overabundance. Yes, so many lower income people have smartphones, which is good, but at the same time I see smartphones as the new opiate of the masses, keeping low income people in zombie mode, oblivious to what goes on around them, lost in a virtual reality.

      • 1mime says:

        So many low income people have cellular phones………..while waiting on the corner for a bus? Doesn’t that contradiction speak volumes to those here? They don’t have cellular phones just because they’re “fun”; they “have to have them” in order to function. Their world is the ultimate part-time world…they have to be in constant contact…..their lives are not typically 8-5, with kids at the Montessori School down the street. More likely, their oldest is watching their youngest, or grandma or aunt or sister….I understand exactly why cell phones are necessary to their existence. It is their lifeline.

        I enjoy the technology I am capable of understanding …. but I have to admit that when good friends or family send me a text instead of calling or coming by, that bothers me. And, I tell them so. Don’t bother at all if it can’t be personal. Other business applications, I’m fine with. They’re a convenience and a wonderful tool for fast contact. I also think cell phones are great for shut ins and those who need the security of a phone in their pocket for safety.

      • flypusher says:

        “…. I see smartphones as the new opiate of the masses, keeping low income people in zombie mode, oblivious to what goes on around them, lost in a virtual reality.”

        Excellent point Tutta. Bread and circuses takes many different forms. But one good thing about these times is that if a person wants to break out of the zombie mode, the means are there. As a nerd, having something Google at my fingertips to satisfy my curiosity about anything, anytime, can make me giddy with excitement.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “but at the same time I see smartphones as the new opiate of the masses, keeping low income people in zombie mode, oblivious to what goes on around them, lost in a virtual reality.”

        I would disagree pretty strongly. There’s a fundamental difference between technology as the OotM then religion.

        Increased access to smart phones (and by extension, the internet and all its information) brings people OUT of the dumbed down stupor that is the GOAL of a tradition OotM.

        Don’t mistake with what you see with what’s going on. I mean, I’m sure SOME people with their faces in their phones a lot are just playing pong or candy crush. But I doubt its the majority.

        The rest of us, while perhaps LOOKING like we’re zombified drones, are using the vast amount of information at our fingertips to socialize, to learn more about topics that interest us, to keep on top of what’s going on in the world around us. If you look at me on the subway right now, you might think I’m playing snakes and ladders or something. But in reality, I’m reading blogs, news articles, having discourse with other humans about politics and sports (including my post here). I’m making plans with my girlfriend about a party we’re hosting next weekend.

        My life is much more dynamic and connected to my real world friends then I ever did before this amazing tool gained widespread use.

        I think the false notion of the older generations that younger people are dumbed down zombies is because they haven’t (in general) be able to tailor the new technology into THEIR previously existing social and cultural practices. For us 30 and below though, we’ve grown up with this stuff (more of less) and so our social and cultural behaviors merged WITH the technology.

        I’m at the older end of the generation dividing line, so I’ve seen both sides. Smart phones didn’t become wide spread until I was in my early 20’s. Older people who don’t know how to use these tools in their lives see young pppl with their nose in their phones and assume these ppl are engaging in some sort of digital masturbation, sacrificing real world ties for whatever weird spell that damn idiot box casts on them.

        In reality, were conversing with far more friends then we ever could, were strengrhing social bonds more then ever before.

        An example: when there was no texting, you had to pick up a phone and dial if you wanted to talk to a friend (or ask a girl on a date or what have you). That takes a relatively large amount of time and energy. Would I do it if I needed to find a date for Fridays dance? Sure. But would I do it dozens of times a day just to ask some decent friends (but not best friends) how there day was? Of course not.

        With today’s technology, I can carry on many conversations with many people throughout the day, thus connecting me with far more then I ever would be.

        A decade ago, if you were looking for a gf, you either had to date one you knew, one a friend knew (who could set you up) or go to a bar or club and hope to findsomeone new. And hope that person was a match. And not crazy etc.

        Now, I can go on tinder, meet someone in minutes who lives in my area and who is at least marginilly interested in me (since I can’t message her if she doesn’t “swipe right” and thus, acknowledges that she finds me at least marginilly attractive) and who is also looking for someone, talk to her for a few hours online to see if we’re both looking for the same thing, and then set up a date.

        That’s how I met my current gf, in fact.

        Can you imagine how much more efficient that is in forming real life connections? You can eliminate the vast majority of “deal breakers” before you even meet once. By the time you meet, if you’ve each passed the others checklist, you know what they look like, what they do, what they do for fun, what they want in a relationship, what they don’t want etc.

        Really, the biggest question marks left are if they have bad breath and if you have a physical chemistry together.

        These weeds out much of the wasted time and bullshit that you used to have to go through just to find someone you wanted to see for a 2nd date.

        So I guess this is just my very long winded way of saying if it seems like we’re stuck in our phones a lot, its because they’ve enriched our intellectual lightweight ves as well and strengthen our real world social ties and bonds. Of COURSE were using them a lot.

        For the most part, the lead to far more direct, real world, personal connections then we would have ever had before. And I would bet the average millennial who “always” has their nose stuck in technology has a much more diverse and dynamic real world social bonding system then the average Boomer who loves to complain about how Millenials are like zombies because of technology nowadays

      • 1mime says:

        This is interesting to this “old timer” but allow me to remind you that digital “match making” simply moves the process from the parents to the persons themselves….which is…a good thing. In other cultures, particularly in the Middle East, marriages were arranged in much the same way, with parents”matching” their children up based upon sufficient homogeneity that the match would produce a happy marriage. Those of us in the West have always found that a rather unusual, backward and controlling process. Now “Tinder” etc do it for you in minutes.
        Amazing! Good for you if it is working for you. BTW, two old geezers in my neighborhood in their 70s met this way on a Christian website. Lots out there!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        PS – I wasn’t referring to you specifically Tut, or any commenter here.

        Just a generalized rant against the “kids these days!!” Attitude that seems really prevalent these days lol.

      • 1mime says:

        I do share Tutt’s concern about lack of conversation between young people and curvature of the spine from all that texting (-:

      • Tutta, in my experience most people don’t experience objective happiness; they gauge their level of “happiness” by comparing themselves to their neighbors. That implies a bell curve of happiness, regardless of material circumstances. I’ve done some mission work in one of the poorest countries in the world (Nepal), and can honestly say that some of the people I met there are far “happier” than the typical semi-neurotic American suburbanite, even though their material wealth is far below what we would call the low end of the economic ladder.

        Happiness is simple: if 1) your creature needs are met, if 2) you have somebody (or something) to love, and if 3) somebody loves you back, it’s all good. If you have items 2) and 3), and 1) is missing or in jeopardy, happiness is a bit tougher, but still readily achievable. Lacking some flavor of 2) (in the form of person, cause, institution, or deity), happiness is pretty much impossible, regardless of how much stuff you have.

    • objv says:

      “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”

      ~Charles Dickens

  29. vikinghou says:

    Here is a NYT piece that is tangentially relevant to this thread. It concerns the perception that lower income whites vote against their interests by supporting the GOP. As it turns out, they tend not to vote at all. It’s rather long but worth the effort.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/opinion/sunday/who-turned-my-blue-state-red.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

    • goplifer says:

      I read that piece this week and it drove me nuts. An entire analysis of voting trends among lower income whites that completely ignores race, completely ignores the geographic divide in that trend (you only find it in the Jim Crow belt) and then blithely attributes the whole thing to turnout without establishing whether turnout patterns have changed in the affected areas (they haven’t!!!).

      Americans are blind to race at almost all levels of our society. It’s bizarre.

      Here are the numbers that show what’s moving low income voters from blue to red: http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2013/09/how-the-gop-is-winning-among-the-poor/

      And here is the mindset that is driving that shift: http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2015/01/democrats-and-the-shadow-welfare-state/

      Fail to address that mindset and lower income whites will continue to flock to Trump’s and ignore Sanderses.

      • 1mime says:

        Fail to address that mindset….Lifer, if the long-term greatest benefit to our democratic society is pluralism, and if we are slowly but inexorably moving in that direction, this low income, pre-dominantly white GOP voter is NEVER going to support Democrats. These people feel threatened by their “station” in life, their chances going forward, and they wrongly assign blame to Democrats for perpetuating changes that continue to place the at the bottom of the class structure. I get that.

        So, what should the Democratic Party do to counter this? Communicate reality more simply and effectively to this group? The Party is not going to change its core value of equality for all, which, if I get your point, is the main threat. Does it simply boil down to messaging?

      • goplifer says:

        1) Make some minimal effort to understand the genuine concerns they are experiencing

        2) Build a message that talks about what has happened to them honestly and candidly, without accusations and condescension

        3) Build a policy template to address their very real needs

        4) Communicate that policy template to them in terms that go beyond a racial divide

        And finally, in all candor this isn’t really my problem. I’m counting on the Democrats’ failure to do any of these things before 2024 to deliver the opening that a reformed GOP needs. I still have a hope that Republicans can build a credible template for lower-income voters across race lines by 2024. And if we do, it’s a whole new electoral map.

        Yes, that’s a stretch, but after next year the whole party infrastructure may have to be rebuilt. Lots of otherwise improbable things will become possible.

      • 1mime says:

        You are correct, it isn’t your problem or responsibility, but I appreciate your effort regardless. We both care about our country, first and foremost, and party second…at least that is my thinking. As the GOP becomes more inclusive, they will need the map you suggest to navigate the same minefield. For what it’s worth, I believe that “effective messaging” is the single weakest aspect of the Democratic Party. They need to kick out Debbie, bring back Dean, and get back to the big plan that was working for them earlier. Then they need to move into the new century. There is a great deal to criticize in the Democratic Party, but the thing that keeps me squarely in its midst are the values of inclusion and equality. I also think they are more adept at managing the economy than they are given credit for.

        I’d like a Democratic Party that would be a worthy opponent of a new and better GOP in ’24.

      • 1mime says:

        I keep reflecting upon your response about the poor flocking to the GOP due to Democrats not understanding, honestly communicating or serving these legitimate needs through real initiatives. I wonder though, if the jobs bill that the Democrats proposed isn’t a real example of outreach to this very group? I have long felt that quality, market-relevant vocational-technical skills programs are critically needed precisely for this reason. Community colleges are filling some of that need, but it’s unfortunate that business and labor management do not work more broadly together for mutual gain in this area.

        Blacks and Hispanics don’t seem to have as much confusion about which party serves its needs best, rather, it is the poor or lower White middle class who are perceived as voting against their best interests. Undoubtedly, Republican vitriol and racism is saving the Democrats from losses in this column more so than any formal initiatives springing from the Democrats. Republicans, meanwhile, have effectively locked up the support from poor, working whites principally because of their messaging – even though I think it is a false narrative. Whatever works, right? What is lost here is that all of these groups of people deserve better than they’re getting from either party yet under the existing two-party system, where else can they go?

        It is wrong is for either party to use the poor working class of people for their purposes rather than in a genuine effort to help them improve their upward mobility. I’d rather that help emerge because it is the right thing to do rather than the politically astute move.

      • Griffin says:

        I remember being annoyed when I saw Sanders giving a speech to a coal miners union (lower class whites in the South that we’re talking about) and he admitted that coal was going to be replaced but they would still be better off with him becuase he supported social security and unemployment insurance.

        That may be true but that’s not nearly enough to get them on your side especially since a lot of them want to cling to coal for as long as possible. he should’ve said he would have a job guarentee for everyone who loses their job, and/or the government would pay for their job retraining while giving them direct subsidies to support them and their families in the meantime. If anything Sanders needs to be MORE economicallly radical (in some ways) to get the lower class whites on his side, as weird as that sounds. And Clinton… she doesn’t have a chance of getting them to vote Blue.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s a great example Griffin of the point Lifer made earlier. Understanding the fear and anger of the coal miners who have mined for generations, and are facing obsolescence, would be a beginning. Offering them re-training and new healthier job opportunities would be the initiative and give miners a “reason” to vote Blue. Poor communication and lack of empathy and intuition for the real needs of people are damning in combination. It’s really so simple and the Republican Party has tapped into this fear and anger deftly. I still don’t think the party gives a flip about these people “except” that they vote….as most motivated people do, whatever their reason. If they did, they’d support affordable health care and safe working conditions.

  30. goplifer says:

    For a little perspective on how bad our national situation actually is, and to stimulate some fine Thanksgiving feeling, how about a few film recommendations for the week:

    Beasts of No Nation: https://www.netflix.com/title/80044545

    Four Lions: http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Four-Lions/70129391

    Darwin’s Nightmare: http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Darwin-s-Nightmare/70038780

    And, while Donald Trump is pretty embarrassing, how bout a reminder of how much we have accomplished socially in a very short time:

    Mississippi Burning: http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Mississippi-Burning/765967

    Brokeback Mountain: http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Brokeback-Mountain/70023965?trkid=135437

    And a surprisingly insightful glimpse of how much more cultural diverse our culture has become just over the past few decades

    The Search for General Tso: http://www.netflix.com/title/80011853

    • 1mime says:

      Thanks for the list, Lifer. I’ve seen the last two, and will look for the others via Netflix.

      One sordid note, (despite the tremendous progress in equal rights for gays), Black churches are still being burned, this month, this year. Couple these racists with the stupid AH patroling Mosques and you have a right nice group of people. Needless to say, these images are broadcast around the world. This is what America looks like to those in other countries.

  31. flypusher says:

    Some humor about handling political disagreements on Thanksgiving:

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/11/snl-has-the-perfect-answer-for-how-to-silence-the-crazy-right-wing-talk-from-family-at-thanksgiving-dinner/

    My solution is to be off playing a concert that day.

    • 1mime says:

      I hope you have added drums to your musical instrument list. This year, it might be cathartic to beat the heck out of something that doesn’t complain (-:

    • 1mime says:

      Lots of articles in the Houston Chronicle today on this move. I find his threat to de-fund these non profit agencies in addition to cutting funding for re-settlement and processing from state agencies, weirdly reminiscent of Perry’s action to cut the budget of the judge who refused to resign. That case, btw, has gone to the TX Supreme Court – I guess it’s the Court of Criminal Appeals which has one Democrat on the 9 member court. I’m guessin’ old Perry will get his final TX Christmas present pretty soon now. The civil court is solid Republican, btw. Not that that would compromise justice, you know………..

  32. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    I’m not much for calling it a “Golden Age,” but I do believe that American’s best days are still ahead of itself, with the right political leadership and a vision that places progress and the people’s best interests ahead of any other.

    Tough to swallow and even a touch naive in this political climate to be sure, but it’s the truth.

    Seeing that people have universal healthcare, making college affordable for all, investing in our infrastructure, lifting our poor and our homeless out of poverty and into the Middle Class, and seeing that our veterans have the quality care that they both deserve and require are all noble goals and worthy of this nation, but these things are only the beginning.

    Tackling the threat of climate change is both an imperative and an unprecedented opportunity. I want to see a day where virtually every home in America has solar panels on their roof, at an affordable cost that anyone can take advantage of. When a young person like myself goes out to buy a home, I’d like it to be a question of when, not if one gets around to implementing all the clean technologies that are available to make one’s life more environmentally conscious and financially sound.

    And, of course, that includes solar panels on cars too so one scarcely has to worry about buying gas ever again.

    Not only investing in infrastructure, but completely reinventing the way we design our roads, our bridges and even our cities themselves will be a big question as we move into the future. Forget these skyscrapers that pierce the sky. Why can’t we have something like this – http://www.thelastnewspaper.com/future-life/futuristic-japanese-sky-city/ – being talked about here in America?

    And what about underwater cities too? That would be awesome. It’s not some childish dream that one just reads about in stories or sees in a movie. We can make such amazing things happen anytime we want to if we work together.

    And, of course, there’s all the wondrous medical innovations and technology that are being developed right now. I want to see a day come when if a person goes blind, they can have their eyes simply recreated – or the relative equivalent, such as a bionic eye – to let them be able to see again. If a person loses a limb, like a veteran loses an arm or a leg during a war, they can have it regrown.

    I want to see dread diseases like AIDS wiped out from the face of the planet.

    I want those abhorrent puppy mills shut down so no dog is every born here in the United States for the sake of profit, and I want laws on the books so that the required intent of any dog shelter, and for other animals as well of course, is to place a focus on adoption, not bearing the national shame of euthanizing man’s best friend.

    And that’s really just off the top of my head and still just a start in and of itself. There’s still so much to do here on Earth and then there’s space and the entire universe to explore.

    • 1mime says:

      Ryan, you and I are kindred souls. Let me ask, however, if you think that the current Republican Party meets any of these “human” goals? (The rabid dogs have gotta go, per Doc Carson…terrible analogy) Without repeating your laudable list, I can state flatly, they do not.

      Therefore, it is up to the Democrats (who are far from perfect but at least they make an effort in the direction you describe) or some “new” party to lead our nation into greatness. An interesting story in The Week, entitled “Is America Still No.1?” has some sobering statistics that outright deny that claim. As I mentioned in earlier posts on this subject, if one measures quality of life by material goods (cell phones on the corner while waiting for a bus….Lifer, that was a diametrically opposed example…) or pricing, the U.S. is no.1. If you measure (as I do and obviously those who study things like this around the world), America is lagging, just as Duncan observed from afar. (One’s view of America may change radically with distance.)

      Here’s a couple of findings in the world-wide study. No doubt there are other studies that say other things. Produce them, if you will. Today, this is what I read in this report:

      “In terms of overall well-being, the organization found, the U.S. is not No. 1. In fact, it’s not even in the top 10, coming in at 15th….For two primary reasons: A lot of Americans are isolated and feel a lack of social connection; and our poor work-life balance. ” Longer work hours (Big business MUST have greater productivity…don’t you dare take that vacation and leave a project on your desk!!! Have a sick child? If you’re hourly, you’re toast. And on and on.) It adds lots of other stats which clearly place the U.S. way down the line.

      The Golden Age is an apparition to many, and may I suggest that all of us would benefit from trying to look at America more honestly. I see many, many problems within our country that subtract from the golden qualities that are real, based around opportunity. Sadly, opportunity in the U.S. is not equal and hasn’t been for a very long time. If you’ve made it happen in your life, kudos. Do most even know those who are not? And, do you think our present political leaders are committed to improving quality of life for all Americans?

      I remain unconvinced. So is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Read the report and see what you think. Maybe I am one of those people Lifer described who cannot see the shining virtues of life in the United States. Maybe, I am wrong. I don’t think so.

      http://theweek.com/articles/589908/america-still-no-1

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        To have it out of the way, as to be as clear as I possibly can be about it, no, the United States of America is NOT No.1 and we are not the greatest nation on Earth. We can be, absolutely, but we aren’t there right now.

        That said however, I don’t necessarily disagree with what Lifer’s saying either, because he raises several valid points. If you look at the state of America through the context of history, we are absolutely, without question, infinitely better off than the overwhelming majority of people who have walked the planet in the entirety of human history. Not bad for a country that’s only been around for a few hundred years.

        The sheer potential of this country is stunning, mind-boggling even. That being the case however, I don’t believe the USA should rightly call itself the greatest nation on earth because we’re doing so much better than all those other people whose bones are nothing but dust now. We have to raise to that title by OUR standards, not by anyone else’s.

        If you can look at this nation, where its children are being slaughtered by gun violence, where we’re still the only industrialized country that doesn’t guarantee a basic level of health care to all its citizens and where, because of sheer stupidity and our own arrogance, we went and destabilized the entire Middle East – an action that will have profound consequences lasting for goodness knows how long – and still call it the greatest country on Earth, then yours is an opinion of quite low caliber and not one I’m particularly inclined to care about.

        As John F. Kennedy said, we are a great country, but I believe we can be a greater country. And until we’ve reached that pinnacle where our potential abounds before us and the entire world looks to the United States again and thinks of what amazing things we’re going to accomplish next, we are not going to rise to the expectations that those who have come before us laid out.

  33. Rob Ambrose says:

    Any nation with fine upstanding citizens like these, willing to courageously patrol outside of mosques with military grade weapons and covering their faces, is indeed going through a Golden Age and destined for great things.

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/11/armed-protesters-stalk-peaceful-muslims-at-texas-mosque-we-want-to-show-force/comments/#disqus

    • RightonRush says:

      Nice to see they were Ted Cruz supporters.

    • Stephen says:

      Kind of reminds me of Klan activity.But hardly surprising. We always have had people frightful and ignorant in our country. Glad to see the Mosques leaders were smart enough to tell their members not to engage so as not to give them an incident they could use for propaganda purposes.

      • flypusher says:

        IIRC, that Muslim community asked the same thing from their members when Geller was doing her trolling. It was two morons from AZ who swallowed the bait and gave her the incident she wanted.

    • goplifer says:

      What a bunch of assholes.

      Can someone please explain to me how the “Islamization of America” took hold as thing people are actually concerned about?

      • flypusher says:

        It’s easy, feeds directly into the reptilian brain, and requires no personal sacrifice. Brilliant!!

      • Creigh says:

        “Can someone explain how “the Islamization of America” took hold as a thing”

        An acquaintance of mine ran briefly for Congress in New Mexico’s 1st district, pretty much 100% Hispanic catholic except for a few Sikhs in Espanola, and one of his issues was Sharia law. I never had the nerve to ask him WTF.

      • flypusher says:

        If you ever get another opportunity to ask, Creigh, inquiring minds want to know.

      • 1mime says:

        Add this inquiring mind, as well, Creigh. Sharia Law? How does one make a living in that field? In NM? No, otoh, I don’t think I want the answer to that…….

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        Because the strange brown people! Duh! Haven’t you seen the news? And I’m taking about the real news. Not the America hating “liberal” news

      • 1mime says:

        I dunno, Lifer. Maybe you could ask: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, et al, not to mention a few spineless House Democrats.

    • 1mime says:

      Probably were the same group of American patriots who patrolled Ferguson…..despicable human beings. I feel sorry for their children and so deeply sorry for the muslims who are being profiled.

    • 1mime says:

      An AP article on proposed gun legislation and its relationship to terrorism profiled an ironic situation regarding gun purchase eligibility for…..people listed on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list monitored by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center. These people number more than 1 million though only 25,000 are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and therefore legally able to buy guns. (Hmm, an interesting question would also be….why are the 25,000 Americans on the terrorism list? Undoubtedly, some are there in error, others?)

      Democrat Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill in February of this year to address this situation and it has yet to be scheduled by Senate Majority Leader McConnell for a vote. In fact, since the killing of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, no major gun legislation has been scheduled for a vote by the GOP run House. The NRA has announced they will oppose Finestein’s bill to ensure that Americans who are wrongly on the list receive due process. Fair enough unless it is a delaying tactic during a time which has otherwise received a great deal of urgent attention about all the “dangerous” Syrian refugees.

      http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/HoustonChronicle/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=SEhDLzIwMTUvMTEvMjE.&pageno=Ng..&entity=QXIwMDYwNQ..&view=ZW50aXR5

  34. jimmyc says:

    Brilliant analysis.

  35. stephen says:

    It is a mix bag. Many things are much better as you said Lifer. But at least in my town most working people have to work two weeks or more just to pay their rent. Many people lack health insurance and therefore health care. State support for going to college is eroding so many students end up with much debt at a high interest rate. And they cannot discharge it with bankruptcy.

    I have done well. Being in the top ten % of income consistently. But it was a constant going to school and improving my skill set my whole working life.My daughter graduated college debt free. But she lived at home, got some scholarships, worked part time, took five years and Dad’s help. But most of her fellow graduates have large debts. This was possible because I could afford to let her stay home rent free and help her pay for books, transportation, and tuition.I know what it is like working yourself out of poverty, having started as a red neck in a poor rural area. This enables me to view some what dispassionately the current situation since I have been on both sides of it.

    I am in the mid-boomer age range so saw the erosion of wages of most of my peers. My skills take creativity, a high IQ to learn to do, the opportunity to get those skills and are not easily importable or out sourced. But as the labour market went national and international those who’s skills did not take special requirements faced downward pressure on wages. White collar jobs not just blue collar jobs fit this situation. This is the darker side of capitalism. Capital owners did not experience down ward pressure but saw their incomes increase. Most workers have experience less and less barter power in the interplay between capital and labour. As Adam Smith wrote about centuries ago no worth is created with out labour. But the divvy up can get skewed towards capital if the market place is not regulated properly so all parts of the market have more or less equal barter power. Government sets the rules for markets and right now it is heavily slanted towards capital. And the well to do like it that way and want to keep it that way. People realize that which is why Trump and Bernie are popular right now. People want someone to change status quo. I thinks racism which exist is not as dominate as some times you portray.

    While I agree that what existed in the past even recent past is much worst than the current situation we still have people in need. For instance my Churches food bank does a brisk business even during the current boom. We still have homelessness. So no I am not satisfied and want to make progress. I think we need to fine tune our capitalistic system, realize that not every problem can be solved with free markets and some socialism is desirable. I also want my government to be paid for and not put on the charge card. I am willing to pay more taxes if that is what it takes. I am a capitalist (having capital in the stock and bond markets) but dislike the crony capitalism currently practice. And would like success to depend less on luck , like in my case, and more on talent and drive.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Seems like a sane and reasonable policy.

      But from what I read, your comments seem to place you at MOST centre right, and probably slightly left od centre with those comments.

      Nobody in the current GOP leadership would show the same sane and reasonableness in their policies.

      You sound like a “RINO” through and through (according to the average GOP’er)

      • Griffin says:

        If Democrats are Bolshevists in wingnut fantasy land what are RINO’s the equivalent of? Meek Mensheviks? Useful idiots? Eurocommunists? These are important questions to ponder.

      • Stephen says:

        “Nobody in the current GOP leadership would show the same sane and reasonableness in their policies.”

        Which as Lifer has pointed out why the possibility of a GOP win in a national election like the presidency is a low probability. Many moderate Republicans like me voted for Obama last election and is I think why he won the very tight 2012 presidential election in Florida. Lifer is right ,started with us we can build a winnable coalition for the GOP, but we have to let the radical fringe go first.

      • 1mime says:

        Stephen, why would you think that this “radical fringe” of the GOP will wish to go anywhere? They are doing just fine where they are……….their little world is just as homophobic, xenophobic, racist and economically secure as possible. They control both houses of Congress, de facto SCOTUS, and 38 governorships and a majority of state legislatures. They control the appointment process for all judicial and ambassadorial positions. This is a pretty impressive laundry list, regardless what “might” happen in future elections. Why would “they” think they are the best thing going ever?

    • 1mime says:

      Well said, Stephen. Very balanced and fair response.

  36. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    I’m bored and have lots of thoughts. I’m going to just throw some random OT questions here.

    1. How far can and should freedom of association and freedom to choose who to do business with be curtailed in the interest of non discrimination in the private sector? What if a business refuses to do business with the following? What about discriminatory hiring practices? What if a business gives special discounts or special higher pay to one of the following? Homosexuals, heterosexuals, men, women, blacks, whites, browns, rich/rich looking people, poor/poor looking people, pretty people, ugly people, people who smell good, people who smell like shit, naked people, people covered from head to toe, people dressed in suits, people in jeans and T-shirt, people dressed in ethnic formal wear, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Americans, nonamericans, Republicans, Democrats, thin people, fat people, people taller than 6 feet, short people, old people, young people.

    2. Will any of the Republican candidates promising to WIPE OUT ISIS ever give an explanation for or be challenged on how they’re going to do it without raising taxes to pay for it OR raising the deficit and adding to debt.

    3. On a related note, will any if the Republican candidates propose a responsible tax scheme that won’t increase the deficit?

    4. What’s implied by the “well regulated militia” bit of the second amendment and that authority does that give to the government?

    5. Is science a conservative or a liberal establishment?

  37. BigWilly says:

    It sounds like dry metal and friction. Maybe like a train breaking under duress. Loud, shrieking, and cutting. Like a bird of prey.

    Or it could sound like this beautiful F13 I’m playing. It resolves perfectly into EMajor. You know. Look into Fernando Sor, it’s great stuff.

    Downstairs they’re keeping waltz alive. Keep the waltz alive, people, and all will be well.

  38. Pseudoperson Randomian says:

    In retrospect, today is generally better than yesterday, but unless we work to make tomorrow better than today, regressions can happen. Regressions have happened before.

    There are three avenues for regression that I can see today.

    1. Concentration of wealth and by proxy, power. The concentration of wealth is a feature if the modern world – not a bug, necessarily. Power could be a problem though. The poor have had it much better than a generation ago – but the rich have it *much* better than a generation ago. Welfare schemes including a universal basic income or negative income tax will help with the wealth problem. However, power can easily kill both positive and negative social mobility, leading to more concentration of power. Mobility, both positive and negative, is essential for societal cohesiveness. What happens to the middle class if all the jobs that pay well are doctors, engineers and lawyers and the the lower skilled ones are all automated or pay little?

    2. Religion. One of the features of the modern world is that it puts greater and greater stress on the scriptures of the three abrahamic faiths. Hinduism *might* be able to adapt because it’s not nearly as rooted in scripture but is based heavily on culture and ritual. Each of the scriptures claims it’s the holy, perfect book and this clashes with the known science and reality of the world in oh-so-many ways. Most people in the western world cope with this using religion to, as lifer put it once, to answer the why of life rather than the what. A bevy of techniques are used to make it do this. Reinterpretation, selective emphasis, ignoring, focus on the big picture instead of the details and probably more. There is also plenty of cognitive dissonance going on. Why exactly do you have to go through all of that just to fit the perfect book to the modern world? Some resolve this by simply asserting that the modern world is sin – to varying degrees. Homosexuality, abortion, and evolution might be what matter to some…others, well, that’s what leads to ISIS. The internet, science and rapid exchange of ideas is only going to make this worse – forcing people to resolve those issues. Some people will tilt towards a literalist/fundamentalist ideology. Others will cause advancing secularization, and fall in religious numbers, and a rise in the number of people no longer treating religion as a *protected* form of idea, leading to more criticism. What happens when people and ideas that are considered holy and held amazing amounts of control and social status are suddenly marginalized? How will those communities react to the loss of their privilege? Will society be able integrate them?

    3. Global warming. This is pretty short. Assuming that we work slowly and cause, say, 10F of warming, what are the results? Storms, droughts, tornadoes, ecological destruction (including food animals), and submerged land? The rich western world will be just fine, throw some money around, put some smart minds to the task and adapt but what does happen when there’s a massive refugee crisis of hundreds of millions from a flooded Bangladesh, or hundreds of millions of people in Africa dying from starvation or millions in the ME dying of lack of water? What happens to global security and order then?

    • 1mime says:

      In American democracy, the checkmate to the corrupting power of wealth has been the existence of a very stable middle class – a group which is in decline. Despite Lifer’s assurances, I am concerned about what is happening to the classes in America and how this will affect Democracy. All of the factors you list, power through wealth, religious extremes and increasing secularization, and the anticipated and possibly unavoidable climate disasters – certainly are tarnishing the golden age in my mind. Either I cannot think broadly enough or I am negative, or I am right as rain. Change is ahead and we may not like the change we get.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        mime sez “In American democracy, the checkmate to the corrupting power of wealth has been the existence of a very stable middle class – a group which is in decline”. That statement implies that we have always had a middle class and it has unnaturally disappeared. My opinion is that we only had a large middle class after WWII. That it was accidental and caused by a convergence of world events. And that we take that recent history as a constant that did not exist before.

        In my limited knowledge of history, the diamond shaped view of the middle class was not there previously. I think about poor blacks moving to north and poor share croppers moving north and west pre-war. I don’t consider the large groups of miners and steel workers, pre-war as being middle class. After the war with the pent-up demand and our production capability still intact the middle class took off. Along with the GI bill and the cold war to goose along spending.

        I certainly may be wrong.

      • 1mime says:

        No, you are correct, Unarmed. The blog topic was the “golden age”, and my comment was meant to refer to that. Sorry I wasn’t clear, but I enjoyed your historical perspective.

        What is relevant, I think, is to consider what value a strong middle class offers to a healthy society – in more ways than purely economic. Mobility or the hope thereof, seems to me to be the linchpin of a vibrant and balanced capitalistic Democracy. When, despite great effort, one cannot progress, that signals (to me) that the process has broken down, at least for those who are in that situation. Lifer argues that this is not the case. He may be correct, however, the trend seems to be heading away the model that he refers to as the golden age – into, what?

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        Weird thought. What part of the spectrum does it place me on if I think a large welfare state ensuring equal opportunity for everyone through poverty elimination, healthcare and education but that it should be funded through a large progressive inheritance tax – possibly at the same tax brackets as income tax? But that the overall tax rates could be lowered this way?

      • Doug says:

        “poverty elimination, healthcare and education…funded through a large progressive inheritance tax”

        How much revenue do you expect to raise through this tax?

      • 1mime says:

        That was not my suggestion, ask the author. I do, however, believe our existing progressive income tax is not scaled to address income inequality. There are many smart ideas in this area, Lifer had one good one with the basic income for all people. I also think the basic wage does need to be raised, but I think it should be tied to the cost of living in the region. There are too many people needing help who are earnestly working and cannot “get there”. Simultaneously, Republicans year after year slash away at the safety net. Could it be “smarter”? Probably so, just as the ACA could be a better plan. Think the Republicans “want” to improve the ACA? Not on your life – literally. Think they have a viable plan in the wings? Not on your life – literally.

        I’m tired of the pandering, posturing, bigotry, racism, inequality, and hyperbole. Does a country in its “golden age” produce candidates for the major party like we’re seeing today? For that matter, do the Democrats? What’s wrong with us that we can’t identify people who are pragmatic, statesmen committed to making America better for all its people?

        Asked and answered.

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        Doug.

        This is rather extreme, I know but it’s just a topic of discussion.

        The idea is that inheritance, just like any other wealth transfer, be considered just another form of income. It’s sort of like how you pay tax on your income, and then pay money to your plumber who then counts that as his income and pays taxes on it.

      • flypusher says:

        “The idea is that inheritance, just like any other wealth transfer, be considered just another form of income.”

        It’s funny that for all the emphasis that is put on working hard and earning your own way, a source of unearned income (an inheritance) is considered sacrosanct and how dare anyone consider taxing it!, but earned income is taxed.

      • 1mime says:

        Of course, the premise for not taxing inheritance is that these dollars have already been taxed. I wish my knowledge of taxes permitted me to make a more accurate refutation of this argument as I know sophisticated people do utilize tax loopholes to circumvent taxation of funds planned for inheritance. The stories are legion about millionaires and billionaires passing on fortunes. There are also some real problems faced by property-rich families whose inheritable assets are not liquid. Like most things financial, it is complicated. Despite being retired, we still pay income taxes among other taxes. I never have objected to reasonable taxation as long as it was responsibly allocated.

      • flypusher says:

        “Of course, the premise for not taxing inheritance is that these dollars have already been taxed. ”

        I’m no accountant, but that’s a flawed premise. $ gets taxed multiple times, all the time. I work and get a paycheck; there’s an income tax on that. I take some of that $ and buy a new dress; there’s a sales tax on that. The owner of the store pays employees, or buys more inventory, or remodels the store, tax, tax, tax. Put the $ in the bank where it draws interest; tax on the interest. Taxes are being applied whenever $ changes hands or is generating more $. The case for excluding inheritance is just an appeal to emotion, as far as I can see.

  39. DFC says:

    Trump’s induction is just the GOP’s rank rage dialed up to 11. The party has no choice now but to provoke its voters in order to hold on to them. Trump presents no solutions and nothing even specific–he just induces more anger.

  40. Griffin says:

    “Compared to history our poorest are kings, but what about the present?”

    Meh I would’ve preferred absolute power over others to clean water. Maybe I have my priotities out-of-order….

    I think our Golden Age will be seen as being from 1946-who-knows-when because even with the Soviets around we were progressing pretty quickly. But many people don’t seem to be feeling the same growth they were from 1940-1970, perhaps because the marginal rate of return on progression is decreasing as our lives get better and we rapidly approach 1 on our Utopia graph.

    • 1mime says:

      I wonder, how many people must be participants in the defined “Golden Age” to qualify it as a golden age? IOW, if only 20% enjoy the benefits Lifer described, for them, life is surely “golden”. For the other 80%, not so much. I’m just crunching numbers in my head and curious if statisticians assign numerical values to eras based upon how many in that time enjoyed (or not) its benefits.

      • goplifer says:

        How many people waiting for the bus down on the corner are carrying a smart phone. Seriously, my grandfather worked a seven day week. Things are vastly better for almost everyone, even those who are benefiting relatively less.

      • EJ says:

        It’s easy to forget how impoverished the past was. Roosevelt said that one of his aims for the New Deal was to make the country so wealthy that every family could afford to eat chicken at least once a week. What would Roosevelt have thought if he had lived to see KFC?

  41. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Just to drag us screaming back to the previous post:

    Passengers (racist bigoted passengers) on two Southwest Airlines flights this week complained this about Arabic speaking men and/or Muslims on flights, and Southwest employees (racist or weak-kneed racist enabling employees) listened to the racist bigoted passengers and denied boarding.

    In one instance, the men were finally allowed to board after the Arabic passenger called the police. In the other instance, the Muslim men had to be rebooked on a different flight.

    Southwest Airlines, rather than saying, “Wow, our folks screwed up and we are going to do extensive training to make sure we do not make this mistake in the future”, said, “Safety is our primary focus, and our Employees are trained to make decisions to ensure that safety, and to safeguard the security of our Crews and Customers on every flight,”.

    The rumors of changing the slogan from “You are now free to move about the country” to “You are now free to move about the country unless you are a scary Muslim” have not been confirmed.

    There are some sad, fucked up people in this golden age of prosperity.

  42. flypusher says:

    “If this is not America’s Golden Age, it is only because greater achievements lie ahead. Human beings have never built a civilization more wealthy, free, powerful and culturally dynamic.”

    This squared, if you are in the half of the population who is female. Women have never had more choices and opportunities than they do in American (and the rest of the West) right now. Of course there is some real worry about some of the more retrograde elements of the GOP trying to roll that back, so CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!

  43. Shiro17 says:

    Here’s one for you: The Democrats keep just enough Mississippi state legislature seats to prevent a Republican supermajority…by winning at drawing straws.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/21/us/mississippi-house-race-comes-down-to-one-deciding-straw.html?_r=0

  44. Nick Danger says:

    Life is good. I may have less upward mobility than my father did, but what mobility I do have is pretty impressive compared with most cultures. The people with the gold make the rules, but it was ever thus, and American politicians still fear getting on the wrong side of the voters. My income may be stagnant, but it’s stagnant at a level which affords a house, two cars, and orthodontics.

    As for the ability to project military power, the British Empire made it a rule to have a navy as big as the next two largest navies. The USA has as many aircraft carriers as the entire rest of the world combined. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_carriers_in_service#Summary

  45. briandrush says:

    Hard to argue with any of this, except that the referent of “we” needs definition. Taking a long historical view, things look rosy indeed, but the narrower trend — say, over the course of my lifetime, which encompasses most of the second half of the 20th century and all of this one to date — is downward for most Americans. It’s upward, I grant you, for America as a whole, but the gains are confined to a tiny sliver of the population, and to the nation as a political, military, and economic entity. “America” is an illusory concept. The “golden age” we have today is one who’s benefits are not available to most Americans.

    Rome’s golden age under Augustus was similar in that respect. The civil wars of the past were ended, the state was flush with Egypt’s stolen wealth, a new governing structure more appropriate to a great empire had superseded the clumsy mechanics of the Republic, and prosperity was everywhere. But by turning his back on Gaius Caesar’s reforms, Augustus also entrenched the Roman hereditary elite and slapped down the pretensions of the peasants, the working class, and the middle class. Rome didn’t have the advanced technology that allows business owners today to get by with less paid labor, but it did have human slavery, and that served much the same purpose.

    For most of us, things are worse than in my parents’ time, not better. That’s true in terms of job security, real income, educational prospects, and upward mobility. What’s more, things are getting worse. If this prosperity and power aren’t shared a LOT more evenly in the near future, the social contract may well come apart.

    Donald Trump knows this, and he also knows that the people he’s addressing don’t have the first idea why this is happening to them. They can easily be persuaded to blame someone different, like Hispanics or African-Americans or Muslims, just as Germans in the hard times of the Depression could be persuaded to blame Jews. It’s an age-old political strategy. But just because his followers are confused about where their problems are coming from doesn’t mean their problems aren’t real.

    • goplifer says:

      People living in the lower and middle income ranges in the United States have never in history had life so good, even compared to just 25 years ago. That is not the popular public narrative, but then again, it never has been.

      Let me repeat this for emphasis. Life in American for ordinary people has never been better.

      There has never been a time when ordinary people looked around and said, “damn, things are really gosh-darned great right now.” That isn’t how our brains work. Look at popular literature across American history and you will see people declaring almost exactly the same litany of dooms that you read now in every decade of our history.

      Look out the window right now. This afternoon.

      We are seven years into one of the most massive economic booms in our history. Unemployment sits at a rate Reagan would have killed for. More Americans finish college than ever before, including the children of minorities and the poor. Food has never been cheaper, not only in recent times, but in all of human history. Just a generation ago barely half of American kids finished high school even in the most prosperous segments of the country. More ordinary and lower income Americans have access to health care, information, education, higher education, travel, entertainment, leisure and , yes, jobs, than ever before.

      We have one desperately struggling segment of our population whose situation has grown marginally worse. Their struggles are an outgrowth of one of our greatest accomplishments. White males over about 40-50 without a college education, especially in rural areas, are perhaps the most troubled population in our culture.

      Why? Because we are in the advanced stages of dismantling the discriminatory social structures that reserved a preferential space for them at the disadvantage of everyone else. They are suffering because, for the first time in American history, they have to compete on a more or less equal playing field with the rest of the culture and the world. And the younger ones coming up without the expectation of playing with loaded dice are on their way to being fine, or at least as fine as everyone else.

      We can do better. A more globally competitive world combined with accelerating technology is creating new demands on the social safety net, but for now all of our worst problems are relatively trivial when placed in perspective.

      We are wired to see problems, not achievements. It is an important evolutionary adaptation, but sometimes it creates damage. We endure the worst damage from that evolutionary glitch when we are winning. We just can’t see it, and sometimes it inspires us to change course in the midst of great accomplishments. It’s a glitch, and we need to develop the capacity to unglitch it.

      • 1mime says:

        LIfer, your glass is definitely “half full”, whereas my “view” is more aligned with Brian’s – however you classify it. I see millions of Americans not participating in the “Golden Age”….they can’t afford health care, must work several jobs and still are not making it, are not able to give their children opportunities they didn’t have, are being locked into unsafe living situations, and the big item, “real” wages for working people is in a documented 30 year decline. Worst of all, the people who could help – our Congress and the Republican Party agenda in particular, continue to deride and defund whatever safety net still remains, sending the clear message that those who don’t achieve the American Dream are just not working hard enough. To which I say, BS. The “times” have changed in terms of skills required for jobs available which is obvious, but the fact remains: these people are doing the best they can and they are not sharing in the “golden age”, nor will many of their children. The reasons are many but that doesn’t change their circumstances and you can’t ignore the numbers.

        You, I, and many others here doubtless live as you describe and our children will as well. I doubt anyone here was given anything and have earned what success they enjoy. That is the American Dream, and I applaud that achievement while recognizing that it not the case for many in America. You attribute their station in life to outmoded discriminatory social structures that disadvantaged everyone else. I have a real problem with that theory given the history of American capitalism being achieved on the backs of hard working people. No one suffered more than people of color, and, for a long time, women, who, btw, still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

        I may be missing your larger point, and I do understand and am appreciative of all America offers, I simply don’t agree with its application across the broad spectrum of America.

      • briandrush says:

        “People living in the lower and middle income ranges in the United States have never in history had life so good, even compared to just 25 years ago.”

        Granted that we are “wired to see problems,” but that’s what objective measures are for, and by most of those your statement is simply not correct. Median real income and social mobility are worse today than they were 30 years ago, while the cost of a college education and of health care have soared. That’s not a subjective perception on my part or anyone else’s. Those are hard numbers.

        We have the potential for this to be a terrific time. We have the technology. We have the wealth. But as long as we see the economy as belonging to a few very rich people at the very top of the tree, and the rest of us receiving benefits only to the extent that we serve those people’s desires and ambitions, that potential will remain unrealized.

      • flypusher says:

        “We are wired to see problems, not achievements. It is an important evolutionary adaptation, but sometimes it creates damage. We endure the worst damage from that evolutionary glitch when we are winning. We just can’t see it, and sometimes it inspires us to change course in the midst of great accomplishments. It’s a glitch, and we need to develop the capacity to unglitch it.”

        That’s what the cerebral cortex is for – to reason and override instinct. But too many people are coasting on their reptilian brains.

        Also that points out why the Garden of Eden myth is a great commentary on human nature, if you take it as an allegory. We ain’t hard wired for paradise, however much we may think we want it.

      • 1mime says:

        May I offer a rather sick pun to your statement, “we ain’t hard-wired for paradise”….

        Jihadists are…………

      • Chris
        You are right – it has never been so good
        BUT – and it’s a big BUT
        In the 50’s – 60’s and 70’s the USA was simply the best place to live for an ordinary working guy or the middle class

        Since then times have changed
        The USA is NOT the best place for anybody except the very wealthy
        The list of countries that have overtaken the USA in living standards for the ordinary people is huge
        All of Western Europe, NZ, Ozz,…….
        Eastern Europe is on your heels (if not ahead)
        Japan?

        Already more than twice the population of the USA have a better living standard

        Is it fixable? – yes the fix would be easy – except that your political system is broken

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “We ain’t hard wired for paradise, however much we may think we want it.”

        Nope. They tried it in the first Matrix and it crashed.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime – well played, Ms. Mime, well played

      • flypusher says:

        Nice bit of dark humor there.

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