BBO Discussion Forums: Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? - BBO Discussion Forums

Jump to content

  • 953 Pages +
  • « First
  • 808
  • 809
  • 810
  • 811
  • 812
  • Last »
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • You cannot reply to this topic

Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#16181 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-08, 11:48

J Edward Moreno at The Hill said:

A new study finds the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota was a coronavirus “superpreading event” that cost public health agencies $12.2 billion.

Excerpts from study (pdf):

Quote

Large in-person gatherings without social distancing and with individuals who have traveled outside the local area are classified as the “highest risk” for COVID-19 spread by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between August 7 and August 16, 2020, nearly 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts converged on Sturgis, South Dakota for its annual motorcycle rally. Large crowds, coupled with minimal mask-wearing and social distancing by attendees, raised concerns that this event could serve as a COVID-19 “super-spreader.” This study is the first to explore the impact of this event on social distancing and the spread of COVID-19.

Quote

“Now we’re all here together tonight. And we’re being human once again. F*ck that Covid sh*t.” -- Smash Mouth Lead Vocalist Steve Harwell, 2020 Sturgis Concert

Quote

In this paper we document the spread of infectious disease due to a mass gathering conducted during a pandemic against the guidance of CDC. The spread of the virus due to the event was large: we document large increases in cumulative cases relative to the synthetic counterfactual in the county of the event, and the cluster of CBGs in the county and adjoining the county over the entire post-event time period, with larger increases detected towards the end of the time period. Similarly, we find large increases statewide – with increases in the South Dakota cumulative COVID-19 caseload relative to the synthetic counterfactual that were between 3.6 and 3.9 cases per 1,000 population.

We are further able to document national spread due to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, although that spread also appears to have been successfully mitigated by states with strict infection mitigation policies. In counties with the largest relative inflow to the event, the per 1,000 case rate increased by 10.7 percent after 24 days following the onset of Sturgis Pre-Rally Events. Multiplying the percent case increases for the high, moderate-high and moderate inflow counties by each county’s respective pre-rally cumulative COVID-19 cases and aggregating, yields a total of 263,708 additional cases in these locations due to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Adding the number of new cases due to the Rally in South Dakota estimated by synthetic control(3.6 per 1,000 population, scaled by the South Dakota population of approximately 858,000) brings the total number of cases to 266,796 or 19 percent of 1.4 million new cases of COVID-19 in the United States between August 2nd 2020 and September 2nd 2020.

If we conservatively assume that all of these cases were non-fatal, then these cases represent a cost of over $12.2 billion, based on the statistical cost of a COVID-19 case of $46,000 estimated by Kniesner and Sullivan (2020). This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 not to attend. This is by no means an accurate accounting of the true externality cost of the event, as it counts those who attended and were infected as part of the externality when their costs are likely internalized. However, this calculation is nonetheless useful as it provides a ballpark estimate as to how large of an externality a single superspreading event can impose, and a sense of how valuable restrictions on mass gatherings can be in this context. Even if half of the new cases were attendees, the implied externality is still quite large. Finally, our descriptive evidence suggests that stricter mitigation policies in other locations may contribute to limiting externality exposure due to the behavior of non-compliant events and those who travel to them.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
2

#16182 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-08, 16:33

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said:

This report isn't science. It's fiction.

Under the guise of academic research, it's nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis.

Andrew Friedson, Econ professor at U Colorado said:

We estimate that over 250,000 of the reported cases between August 2 and September 2 are due to the Sturgis Rally. Roughly 19 percent of the national cases during this timeframe.

https://twitter.com/...591878957862912

Predictably, some in the media and the BBO Forums WC breathlessly report on this non-peer reviewed model, built on incredibly faulty assumptions that do not reflect the actual facts and data.

At one point, academic modeling also told us that South Dakota would have 10,000 COVID patients in the hospital at our peak. Today, we have less than 70.

I look forward to good journalists, credible academics, and honest citizens repudiating this nonsense.

266,796 is a lot. I look forward to hearing the governor's peer-reviewed estimate.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
0

#16183 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-08, 18:52

Matthew Yglesias said:

Huh, what’s happening in January that makes the GOP want to kneecap the economy starting then?

Victoria Guida said:

Draft Senate GOP legislation would take away the Fed’s ability to make new emergency loans w/coronavirus relief funds after January & reallocate some of the unused $$ backing those programs

(The bill is unlikely to pass either chamber in its current form)
https://republicanleader.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Delivering%20Immediate%20Relief%20to%20America's%20Families%20Schools%20and%20Small%20Businesses.pdf

I guess the idea is to put a lot of stuff like this in bills in addition to a lot of other bad stuff, agree to take out half of it and call it good faith negotiation.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
0

#16184 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-09, 16:17

For the if it looks like a lame duck files via David Rovella at Bloomberg:

Quote

President Donald Trump seemed to understand the severity of the coronavirus threat as he told the nation back in March that it was no worse than the flu. Trump told Watergate reporter Bob Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said in the taped conversation. Some 190,000 Americans have now died from the virus, with worst-case projections for three times that by Jan. 1. Trump’s Democratic rival for the White House, former Vice President Joe Biden, said the tapes show the Republican “knowingly and willingly lied about the threat,” costing “tens of thousands of lives.” Biden called the revelation “beyond despicable.” This latest bombshell comes as Trump faces continuing fallout from reports that he called U.S. soldiers who died in combat “suckers” and “losers,” and his unwillingness to challenge Vladimir Putin over the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny or intelligence reports that Moscow offered bounties for the murder of U.S. military personnel. Also on Wednesday, it was reported that a senior Homeland Security official alleged Trump aides directed him to stop analyzing Russian efforts to tilt the 2020 election because it makes Trump “look bad,” and to downplay the threat posed by domestic white supremacist groups.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
0

#16185 User is offline   johnu 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 4,303
  • Joined: 2008-September-10
  • Gender:Male

Posted 2020-September-09, 18:59

View Posty66, on 2020-September-08, 18:52, said:

Matthew Yglesias

Quote

Huh, what’s happening in January that makes the GOP want to kneecap the economy starting then?


Obvious the GOP doesn't really care if the economy tanks under a Biden administration (since most of them don't really care if the economy tanks under the current administration), but if it is bad for Biden and the Democrats, it must be good for Senate Repugnants. So they will do everything they can to tie the hands of an incoming Biden administration.

We've seen this before. North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan legislatures all passed bills to cripple the powers of incoming Democratic governors.
0

#16186 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-10, 05:41

Matt Yglesias said:

Relatedly, it’s certainly possible that the polls are underestimating Biden by ~2 points or whatever and he’s about to win a generational landslide.

Alex Burns at NYT said:

there are two months left in this campaign, we don't know what's gonna happen, they play the games for a reason, etc. but a lot of collective mental energy is going into sketching Trump victory scenarios rather than focusing on where the race actually stands right now.

I think Yglesias' ~2 points is based on pollsters' assumptions about turnout i.e. more like 2016 than 2012.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
0

#16187 User is offline   Winstonm 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 16,401
  • Joined: 2005-January-08
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Interests:Art, music

Posted 2020-September-10, 06:35

View Posty66, on 2020-September-10, 05:41, said:

I think Yglesias' ~2 points is based on pollsters' assumptions about turnout i.e. more like 2016 than 2012.


Or is it margin of error?
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
0

#16188 User is offline   Winstonm 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 16,401
  • Joined: 2005-January-08
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Interests:Art, music

Posted 2020-September-10, 07:54

These are some of the Trump supporters: from Alex Henderson



Quote

Central to Nazi ideology, Stanton notes, was the anti-Semitic 1902 pamphlet, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and Stanton stresses that QAnon's ideology is a "rebranded version" of that pamphlet.

"QAnon purveys the fantasy that a secret Satan-worshiping cabal is taking over the world," Stanton observes. "Its members kidnap white children, keep them in secret prisons run by pedophiles, slaughter and eat them to gain power from the essence in their blood. The cabal held the American presidency under the Clintons and (former President Barack) Obama, nearly took power again in 2016, and lurks in a 'Deep State' financed by Jews, including George Soros — and in Jews who control the media. They want to disarm citizens and defund the police. They promote abortion, transgender rights and homosexuality. They want open borders so brown illegal aliens can invade America and mongrelize the white race."

Stanton continues, "QAnon true believers think Donald Trump will rescue America from this Satanic cabal. At the time of 'The Storm,' supporters of the cabal will be rounded up and executed. The QAnon conspiracy theory has now spread to neo-Nazis in Germany, where over 200,000 German QAnon accounts infest the internet."




"....true believers think Donald Trump will rescue America from this Satanic cabal". Ever notice that in every gaslight there is an element of religion? Posted Image
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
0

#16189 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-10, 08:45

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) said:

What would the Founding Fathers think of America if they came back to life? Their eyes would surely bug out first at our technology and wealth. But I suspect they’d also be stunned by the deformed structure of our government. The Congress they envisioned is all but dead. The Senate in particular is supposed to be the place where Americans hammer out our biggest challenges with debate. That hasn’t happened for decades—and the rot is bipartisan.

Many on the left think the problem is the filibuster, which requires a supermajority to end debate and enact most legislation. But ending the filibuster would allow political parties to change the direction of the country dramatically with a succession of shifting 51-49 votes. That’s a path to even more polarization and instability. The Senate’s culture needs dramatic change aimed at promoting debate, not ending it. Here are some ideas:

  • Cut the cameras. Most of what happens in committee hearings isn’t oversight, it’s showmanship. Senators make speeches that get chopped up, shipped to home-state TV stations, and blasted across social media. They aren’t trying to learn from witnesses, uncover details, or improve legislation. They’re competing for sound bites. There’s one notable exception: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the majority of whose work is done in secret. Without posturing for cameras, Republicans and Democrats cooperate on some of America’s most complicated and urgent problems. Other committees could follow their example, while keeping transparency by making transcripts and real-time audio available to the public.
  • Abolish standing committees. The Senate is supposed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body, but it operates on about 20 permanent fiefdoms. Dividing legislative work is important, but there’s no corporation that would tackle its problems by creating 20 permanent committees and running every decision through them. The Senate should instead create temporary two-year committees, each devoted to making real progress on one or two big problems. Committees should draw power from their accomplishments, not based on which industries need to supplicate before the gavel.
  • Pack the floor. Serious debate happens only if senators show up. Ninety-nine percent of the time you see a senator talking on the floor, he’s speaking to a chamber with somewhere between zero and two colleagues present. The Senate’s rules privilege the majority, which controls the agenda and floor time. Senators ought to be packed on the floor having real debates. We can do that by changing the rules to allow committees to control some floor time. Elections have consequences, so the majority leader should control the majority of the Senate’s time, but committees should be able to command specific times for specific debates.
  • Live together. A lot of time is spent demonizing the opposition, but most senators can get along quite well. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii is as liberal as the day is long, but he’s my friend. Senators should live, eat, and meet in dormitories when the Senate is in session. It’s hard to demonize people you spend time with every day.
  • Cancel re-election. One of the biggest reasons Congress gives away its power to the executive branch is that it’s politically expedient for both parties to avoid the decisions that come from the work of legislating. Lawmakers are obsessed with staying in office, and one of the easiest ways to keep getting re-elected is by avoiding hard decisions. We ought to propose a constitutional amendment to limit every senator to one term, but we should double it from six years to 12. Senators who don’t have to worry about short-term popularity can work instead on long-term challenges.
  • Sunset everything. For decades Pennsylvania Avenue has been a one-way street, as authority flowed from Congress to the executive branch. When the unelected bureaucracy gets power, it doesn’t let go. We ought to end that by having the Senate create a “super committee” dedicated to reviewing all such delegations of power over the past 80 years and then proposing legislation to sunset the authority of entire bureaucracies on a rolling basis. Does, say, the Health and Human Services Department ever answer for its aggressive regulatory lawmaking? Of course not. Sunset all its authority in 12 months and watch lawmakers start to make actual laws.If that’s a bridge too far, at least ban fundraising while the Senate is in session in Washington. It’s an everyday experience to sit down at a $2,000-a-plate lunch fundraiser and then run over to make committee votes. Lobbying is protected by the First Amendment, but it shouldn’t be the primary focus of senators when we’ve got work to do.
  • Make a real budget. The power of the purse is Congress’s primary lever—and the area where Congress is most unserious. The budget process is completely broken, and every couple of months lawmakers are faced with a monumentally stupid decision: Shut the government down or spend 102% of what was spent last year, with no oversight. It’s an endless series of all-or-nothing brinkmanship fights—continuing resolutions, omnibus spending deals and debt-ceiling hikes. We ought to fix that with two-year budgeting that includes all federal spending, including on entitlements. We ought to end the distinction between appropriation and authorization. Legislation that authorizes federal action should also appropriate the money to pay for it.

These aren’t partisan proposals, because congressional dysfunction isn’t a partisan problem. Lawmakers—Republicans and Democrats—don’t make laws. Over years, Congress made the choice to shirk its duty and cede power to the executive branch. Recovery will be hard, but it’s time for Congress to build some muscle and figure out how to serve the American people by doing our constitutionally mandated jobs again.

https://www.wsj.com/...ts&page=1&pos=1

This feels like a pretty lame list from a guy with Sasse's experience and education. The problem is that the Senate has shifted from a semi-bipartisan focus on making government work prior to 1980 to scorched earth political posturing that makes governing impossible. If that's what the people want well, they're certainly getting it. But why does Sasse or anyone think the Senate represents the people or that any attempt to reform the Senate that doesn't focus on making it more representative can succeed? You wanna fix the Senate? Reallocate it's membership so that states that represent 1% or less of the population get 1 Senator and so on. And use ranked choice voting in states like California, Texas, Florida and New York to pick senators who are more broadly representative of the people in their states.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
0

#16190 User is offline   Zelandakh 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 10,663
  • Joined: 2006-May-18
  • Gender:Not Telling

Posted 2020-September-10, 12:33

View Posty66, on 2020-September-10, 05:41, said:

I think Yglesias' ~2 points is based on pollsters' assumptions about turnout i.e. more like 2016 than 2012.

Against that, most expectations of the electoral college effect is that a 3 point national lead for Biden will likely not be enough to win. The electoral college effect is more than enough to dwarf anything Yglesias might be turning up as an error the other way. Biden certainly has a lead but the race is almost certainly closer than the polls suggest, not clearer.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
0

#16191 User is offline   johnu 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 4,303
  • Joined: 2008-September-10
  • Gender:Male

Posted 2020-September-10, 12:37

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-September-10, 06:35, said:

Or is it margin of error?

Of course there is always the margin of error uncertainty. In this case, I think it should be more about projecting how the undecided will vote. In 2016, the Manchurian Candidate did very well among the undecideds (or looking at it from the other side, Clinton did very poorly).
0

#16192 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-10, 17:48

Jennifer Beam Dowd at Dear Pendemic explains why the authors of the Sturgis COVID study are facing a tidal wave of skepticism.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
0

#16193 User is offline   Winstonm 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 16,401
  • Joined: 2005-January-08
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Interests:Art, music

Posted 2020-September-11, 15:51

The closing paragrphs of Gleeson's amicus to Judge Sullivan in the Flynn case:



Quote

As detailed in my opening brief, Flynn is a close ally of President Trump, who personally pressured the FBI director to "let this go" within weeks of Flynn's crime, who has since repeatedly made clear his desire for Flynn to avoid criminal liability, see ECF No. 225 at 17, 56– 59, and who has expressed a desire to re-hire Flynn within his administration, see Max Cohen, Trump Says He Would Welcome Michael Flynn Back to His Administration, POLITICO (July 15, 2020, 11:08 AM), https://perma.cc/5EG4-CLTQ. Allowing dismissal for these "irregular" reasons would necessarily "implicate this Court" in denigrating "settled, foundational norms of prosecutorial independence." ECF No. 225 at 59.

The Government does not disagree with any of this—presumably because it cannot. Indeed, the Government nowhere even mentions the President's personal lobbying, let alone his virulent attacks on those previously involved in this prosecution. Based entirely on evidence already in the public view, the only coherent explanation for the Government's exceedingly irregular motion—as well as its demonstrable pretexts—is that the Justice Department has yielded to a pressure campaign led by the President for his political associate. This Court need not "exhibit a naiveté from which ordinary citizens are free" by pretending otherwise. United States v. Stanchich, 550 F.2d 1294, 1300 (2d Cir. 1977). It should instead deny the Government's request for leave under Rule 48(a) and proceed to sentencing.


my emphasis

And more about Billy Barr:

Quote

Federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy, a top aide to U.S. Attorney John H. Durham in his Russia investigation, has quietly resigned - at least partly out of concern that the investigative team is being pressed for political reasons to produce a report before its work is done, colleagues said.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
0

#16194 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-13, 08:46

Abraham H. Foxman, director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League said:

Nothing pains me more than to speak up with anguish in the face of this presidential election. But silence is not an option. American Jewry confronts a fateful choice. Another four years of Donald Trump will be nothing less than a body blow for our country and our community.

I must acknowledge the unexpected nature of this statement. For more than half a century, I avoided public positions on electoral politics. When I chose a career working for the Jewish people, I took on a sacred obligation, like so many other professionals, to avoid taking sides in partisan contests — an obligation I carried into retirement.

But there is more than enough evidence Trump is a demagogue and his presidency threatens American democracy.

When our democracy is weakened, and when nativism is stoked, the rights of Jews and other minorities will be diminished too. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen, and Jews know this well from bitter experience.

I respect any American, and any Jewish American, who continues to identify with and support the Republican party, which has made significant and lasting contributions to the Jewish community. And I understand why some of these voters are struggling with their decision.

In my mind, the case is closed. His leadership endangers our democracy, and therefore our community.

My reasoning is simple and stark: Trump’s presidency — in spirit and in deed — has given succor to bigots, supremacists, and those seeking to divide our society. He and his administration dehumanize immigrants, demonize the most vulnerable, and undermine the civility and enlightened political culture that have allowed Jews to achieve what no Diaspora community outside Israel can claim in two millennia.

What’s more, American Jews look beyond our own parochial interests, for we know that our future is inextricably tied to the welfare of others. Promoting tolerance, inclusion, and equality is non-negotiable. Defending immigrants and refugees is an inseparable part of our collective story — and my own, as a Holocaust survivor and a refugee.

We must ask ourselves: Is America stronger, more stable and more caring, than it was before Trump entered office?

For me, the answer is clear. No. I know I am not alone.

Talk to Jewish community leaders in private and read surveys of the Jewish public. After decades of progress, following successive generations of rising metrics of safety and security, Jews are filled with fear and anxiety. President Trump shoulders a good measure of the blame.

Is the president of the United States an anti-Semite?

No. But that’s not the right question.

Has his leadership lifted America? Has it made Jews feel more secure? Is he our best hope for healing our nation and addressing the twin crises of a pandemic and a reckoning with racism?

If anyone needs another reason, look beyond our borders. A stable, credible, influential, revered — and sometimes feared — America has been a force multiplier for world Jewry for decades, often in ways that are most clearly visible to those of us working behind the scenes on behalf of global Jewish causes. Remember freedom for Soviet, Ethiopian, and Syrian Jewry.

Here, too, there is no doubt in my mind that Trump’s failings of character and America’s dismal global standing have hurt Jewish interests.

It is true that Trump has made decisions that many in our community have waited for, including his decision on Jerusalem, which I support. But these decisions have come at the cost of Trump’s frontal assault on bipartisan support for Israel, and some have been clothed in deeply offensive stereotypes about Jews and their ties to the Jewish state.

Our community has an enormous stake in bipartisanship. It is the only way to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry. It is how we built a strong US-Israel alliance.

Indeed, I grew up in an America where Jews were not fully integrated and Washington’s support for Israel was wafer thin. Yet the reality is different now, in large part because leaders of conscience have cultivated and sustained the broadest possible base of support for this agenda.

Trump has damaged that necessary consensus, and we cannot permit Jews and Israel to be weaponized for anyone’s narrow political interests.

We do have reason for hope. I have known Joe Biden for many years, and I have confidence he will restore the equilibrium that has been lost. He has been an ally, and he has repeatedly pledged to aggressively fight anti-Semitism. I am confident he and Kamala Harris will not back down from confronting Israel’s enemies and detractors, even if they emerge within their own party.

I am old enough to remember a world where illiberalism ran amok and dictators held vast numbers of our brothers and sisters hostage, behind Iron Curtains and worse.

And I am old enough to recall a style of Jewish American politics that was more quietist, more hesitant, a politics of a minority too accustomed to keeping its head down.

But thankfully, American Jews left this behind — yet another reason I cannot be silent at this inflection point in history.

Nor can any of us, for the sake of our nation, our people and our world.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
0

#16195 User is offline   pilowsky 

  • pilowsky
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 2,433
  • Joined: 2019-October-04
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Australia
  • Interests:Writing, Learning, History, Politics

Posted 2020-September-14, 00:30

Here's what I think fwiw
AMERICA IS A FAILED STATE


Introduction
In 1992 Francis Fukuyama proposed in the 'The end of history and the last man' that western democratic liberalism had triumphed over Marxism-Leninism as a form of government. The election of the manifestly incompetent Donald J. Trump to the office of President of the United States of America proved him wrong.

This election was only possible because of the Constitution of the United States. This document was put together hundreds of years ago before the existence of the aeroplane, statistics, quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, flight, radar, computing, science and medicine. Yet, elected officials in the United States revere both the document and those that wrote it as "Great men". They talk about them as if they had handed down the ten commandments: they didn't. To suggest that the American constitution has any sort of current validity and is of any use in the modern world is patently ridiculous. Yet neither group wants to touch it. It is a Sacred Object. As Sacred as any Holy text.


This problem of the Constitution being considered Sacred raises the other problem. Fully 68% of the American population believe that a God exists. This means that more than two-thirds of the population are willing to defy rational explanations and logic and instead turn to gut feelings and "oh well, I just have to get on with it" explanations. This is the sort of reasoning that the bible advises us to get rid of when we become adults.

It's right there: passed down from father to son. It's fine to believe in Santa Claus when you are 2 years old. Not when you are 22. A mysterious 20-foot octopus did not create the world and neither did a man in a white coat. You make the world by your actions. So be careful with it. That is what the advice in the Bible means passed down from father to son over the Millenia.


When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Corinthians I:11


Rights in America
Then, we get to "self-evident rights". What a load of bullshit. At one time Americans thought it was a self-evident right that white men should own black men. And that women should not vote. It may interest you to know that for the past 18 months I have disciplined myself never to say to anyone that they "should" do anything. Nor do I aver that any particular method is the only correct way of doing anything. This seems to me to be the sure path to tyranny that America started upon when a bunch of arrogant white men declared that they knew the difference between right and wrong by saying that certain "things" were "self-evident" rights.

Why for example is gun-ownership a self-evident right? This makes no more sense than the right to wear Lycra or to eat an apple on June 15. Why is there a right to free speech? This is complete rubbish. You cannot say whatever you want without bearing any individual or corporate responsibility for the meaning of the words that you say. I am exhausted from hearing Aide-de-Trumps constantly saying "He was only joking" about things that Trump himself threatens to lock people up or file suit for.


Political groups in America
There are two main political groups in America - just as there are in most so-called democratic societies. Just setting aside that it is a ludicrous assertion to refer to a Society as ruptured, unfair, racially divided, segregated and gerrymandered as the United States as Democratic. Vast swathes of the population are unable to access the vote, health care, education or housing. A vast machine of entertainment in the form of religion, sports and social media serves to anaesthetise nearly all of the population while a fortunate bloated few live high on the hog. If America was not a myopic anodyne dystopia before Trump and COVID-19 surely the blinkers are off now. Raya, a Jewish colleague of mine who left the Soviet Union at the time of Gorbachev told me, when I asked, that glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) were not good for Soviet Jews. She said "It just means they can be open about their antisemitism". She said this to me 40 years ago - it's the reason so many Jews left the Soviet bloc in the 1980's. The Soviets didn't complain at all. The United States is no better. The only difference is they are completely unabashed and unashamed of their hatred of everybody. Why was Dirty Harry called Dirty Harry? Not because he got all the rotten jobs - that was the Last detective. No, Dirty Harry's was an equal opportunity bigot.

De Georgio:

Harry hates everybody. Limeys, Micks, Hebes, Fat Dagos, N*ggers, Honkies, Chinks, you name it.

Gonzales:

How does he feel about Mexicans?

De Georgio:

Ask him.

Harry Callahan:

Especially Spics.


I have sad news for you. I'm sure that you can still see this piece of wonderful entertainment any day of the week. Thank you, America for preserving free speech (and guns) in the name of entertainment.



Truth in America
In the American legal system, the truth is completely unimportant. Everyone is entitled to a good defence. Specifically, because of the 4th and 5th amendments Americans have the right not to incriminate themselves, and also have the right to counsel. These principles have become perverted. Now, not saying anything when questioned may be deemed to be suspicious, and if you retain counsel that that is incompetent while someone else retains crafty counsel then you are doomed. Effectively, the more money that you have the more Justice you have and the more truth you get. Until: E Pluribus Unum (from many comes one) you get a President who is 100% truthful all of the time and nobody can touch him even when he is a lying totalitarian who cares nothing about anybody else and never speaks the truth if it serves his purpose not too. Lawyers in America are trained this way. Worse still Americans are anaesthetised by endless television shows into believing that this is a reasonable way of acting.



Governance in America
There is now no effective system of governance in America. At least in the sense that Fukuyama claimed. The Constitutional framework of governance is so fragmentary that it resembles the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. Politicians claim that there are three equal pillars of government. They are wrong. There is no effective government in America. Government is the people. From the people and by the people. In America, vast numbers of people are disenfranchised for many reasons. There are so many levels of government that each blames the other while none achieve what they are meant to.

Federally, the Supreme Court, the Executive Branch, and the Congress are intended to be "Co-equal". This is complete nonsense as current events have demonstrated.

Because so many members of the various parliaments and councils in America have a pre-scientific belief system, they do not understand logical thinking. They don't read books, they watch television. They believe in miracles and God's will. Such people cannot be reasoned with, it is like trying to convince a gate to open by sheer force of mental energy. It can't be done. This is why COVID-19 is such a disaster in the United States. The people in charge do not believe in science.

Meanwhile, in the government, nothing can be done because each branch of government is exactly co-equal. In a normal civilised society, the Executive branch is responsible to the Parliament which represents the people. Remember the people? That's right, "we the people", the fourth arm of government, the ones that are really in charge. And not to forget, the fifth arm, the media in all its forms represented as "free speech" which is the only mechanism by which the people can at all times relate their feelings to the other 4 branches at all times. Never before in the history of Society has the 5th branch been so strong and so ignored.


What is a 'constructive sense'?
What do I mean by a constructive sense? Not the same thing as a bridge or engineering. But almost. A 'construct' is something that is made up and exists only in the mind as opposed to a 'real' thing that exists independently of the mind. A tree exists whether you are there or not, but a song does not. A song requires a mind for its existence. The same is true of God. That is why God is said to be made in the 'image' of man. Not because he looks like a man - that is what a child might think. But because he exists in the imagination of men (and women). God requires, as a concept, man/woman to construct him/her or it otherwise there is no God. This is why animals have no souls. They cannot construct God in the way that humans do, yet they can feel pain and should be treated with respect. God requires 'imagination' just like the song called 'Imagine' by John Lennon. If you do not exist, then neither does God.



Why Fukuyama was wrong
Fukuyama was wrong because he failed to realise that America is not a triumph. The so-called democracy in America is a complete catastrophe. Evil flourishes. The social contract is completely unfulfilled. The top one per cent of Americans holds over $25 trillion in wealth, which exceeds the wealth of the bottom 80 per cent. This is outrageous. 27.5 million Americans lack adequate health cover. A person can be ruined financially in America if they become sick.


In a post-modern world knowledge and facts are not valuable. What is valuable is 'likes', 'shares' and 'crowd-size'. Tragically, these things may be collectible, but like sporting trophies, they are meaningless. They have no tradeable value. Commercially they are worthless. They are not valuable. Who needs your 'likes' except you?


This is the fundamental flaw of any system that has popularity as its touchstone. There is no intrinsic sense of ethics or worth. So long as a large enough group of people 'like' and 'share' your 'ideas'. They are 'important' and valuable. Prima facie, this is just manifestly silly, but despite this, both Donald Trump and before him Adolf Hitler both were elected by so-called democratic systems - obviously, something is not quite right. And that's an understatement. Just saying.


In William Goldings 'Lord of the Flies' a group of children are marooned on a desert island and left to fend for themselves. The story is a thinly disguised parable about the colonisation of New World. It's successes: Australia, Canada, New Zealand. And its most abject heart of darkness Donald Trumps America. One clue that a nation has become a failed state is that its head is a facsimile of reality. In America, this has happened multiple times with the election, in quick succession of Trump, Reagan and Schwarzenegger.

It turns out that despite what you may think, it takes more than just belief and dreams to run a Country. You also need training. You actually have to know what you are doing.


But that's just my opinion...
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
0

#16196 User is offline   awm 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 8,200
  • Joined: 2005-February-09
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Zurich, Switzerland

Posted 2020-September-14, 03:16

Much as I'm usually in favor of blaming religion for things, religion in the US is actually in decline. Pillowsky also ignores that the movement which brought Trump to power is really a world-wide movement that started in Russia and Eastern Europe and has now spread (assisted by Putin's espionage agencies) to some degree in many Western European countries as well as the US.

Marxism did collapse and the movement we're seeing is not really a revival. Marxism depended on large numbers of people believing that an economic theory that didn't really work in practice was actually working. As the gap in wealth between the Marxist countries and capitalist countries grew wider (and as technological advancements made it impossible for the government to completely control the flow of information to its citizens), this became no longer tenable.

What we're seeing now is a new form of government, which we don't have a good name for yet. Maybe Pseudo-Democratic Authoritarianism is a good name. This basically works as follows. At some point in time the people of a country are unhappy (the 2008 economic crisis was a trigger for this in many places, but any possible cause is okay). A movement funded by the country's wealthiest oligarchs takes advantage, gathering popular support by railing against "the establishment" and blaming immigrants or minorities for the general unhappiness. Once in office, the movement takes advantage of weaknesses in the country's legal structure (or enforcement structure) to entrench themselves, making sure they cannot be easily removed in the next election. They maintain the trappings of a democracy, but in practice they are nearly impossible to dislodge. Unlike Marxist states, they do not really try to "control the media" -- instead, the oligarchs create a "fake media" that simply makes up outrageous lies while the leadership demonizes the independent media (calling them "fake news" or insinuating that they are controlled by Jews or some other unpopular group). The effect of this is not so much to convince people as to confuse people -- causing them to give up trying to parse truth from falsehood and decide that every party is just as bad as any other and stop trying to be politically involved. The government's law enforcement arm will reinforce this position by prosecuting (or at least leaking rumors that they are investigating) the leadership of any opposition party, so the population as a whole thinks "they are all corrupt" and doesn't rise against the leadership.

This is Vladimir Putin's sort of government, and has taken power in many former communist states (Hungary is often cited as an example). Similar parties won elections in Austria and Italy. The same sort of tactics may have been involved in Brexit in the UK, and were a factor in the French election (where an authoritarian party finished second in the presidential race) and Germany (where Merkel could maintain power only by forming a coalition with her party's traditional rivals, leaving the authoritarian AfD as the primary opposition). Of course, we see the same sort of government in the USA, where the Republican party under Trump's leadership is doing all the same sorts of things.

The US Constitution obviously has its issues (it's 200+ years old after all) but this particular problem is a quite recent one. And other countries have problems too (Viktor Orban could basically rewrite Hungary's constitution at will after he took power, which isn't a great arrangement either). And Americans have been more religious than Europeans for decades, yet this sort of thing took root first in Europe.

So why is this happening, and why is it happening now? I think there are a few big factors:
- Leadership (both political and economic) no longer feels an obligation to the country as a whole. Some of this is a lack of natural enemies (the cold war is over), some of it is due to extreme aggregation of wealth (a natural process over time, but we had a "reset" for the big world wars that made society more egalitarian), some of it is a set of new economic theories by Milton Friedman et al that preach "greed is good" which was not what business leaders believed decades ago.
- News media has become more fractured and its easier for people who just make stuff up to get a wide following. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) is a big part of this. While this has brought down some old-school dictatorships that tried to truly "control the media" it has enabled the new "confuse the population" approach.
- We've had a series of more complex crisis arise, from global warming to terrorism, where there's no simple solution. This makes it easier to deny reality and shift blame than perhaps it's been in the past.
Adam W. Meyerson
a.k.a. Appeal Without Merit
2

#16197 User is online   cherdano 

  • 5555
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 9,407
  • Joined: 2003-September-04
  • Gender:Male

Posted 2020-September-14, 03:34

I could write a looong post about this (and maybe at some point I will). The main problem above anything else in the US is the deep division of the country, (mostly) between educated and less educated. This is the main driving force of changes of politics across the Western world over the last 15 years; but in the US it is greatly exacerbated by racial divisions, segregated zoning (I spent 5 months in Berkeley in 2019; I am not sure any of the Uber drivers I spoke to lived less than a 40 minute drive away), a distorted electoral system, and a government that is in many ways deeply dysfunctional at any level (even state government in blue states - no, blaming Republicans for "building a subway in NYC is eight times as expensive as it should be" does not compute).

Voting Trump out of office in November is essential, but it's only a start of a looong way to go, and I am not sure the US will. I spent 6 good years in the US, and there is a lot to like about the country; but returning in 2019, I was surprised how relieved I was that it was only a temporary move.
The easiest way to count losers is to line up the people who talk about loser count, and count them. -Kieran Dyke
0

#16198 User is offline   pilowsky 

  • pilowsky
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 2,433
  • Joined: 2019-October-04
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Australia
  • Interests:Writing, Learning, History, Politics

Posted 2020-September-14, 04:10

View Postawm, on 2020-September-14, 03:16, said:

Much as I'm usually in favor of blaming religion for things, religion in the US is actually in decline. Pillowsky also ignores that the movement which brought Trump to power is really a world-wide movement that started in Russia and Eastern Europe and has now spread (assisted by Putin's espionage agencies) to some degree in many Western European countries as well as the US.

Marxism did collapse and the movement we're seeing is not really a revival. Marxism depended on large numbers of people believing that an economic theory that didn't really work in practice was actually working. As the gap in wealth between the Marxist countries and capitalist countries grew wider (and as technological advancements made it impossible for the government to completely control the flow of information to its citizens), this became no longer tenable.

What we're seeing now is a new form of government, which we don't have a good name for yet. Maybe Pseudo-Democratic Authoritarianism is a good name. This basically works as follows. At some point in time the people of a country are unhappy (the 2008 economic crisis was a trigger for this in many places, but any possible cause is okay). A movement funded by the country's wealthiest oligarchs takes advantage, gathering popular support by railing against "the establishment" and blaming immigrants or minorities for the general unhappiness. Once in office, the movement takes advantage of weaknesses in the country's legal structure (or enforcement structure) to entrench themselves, making sure they cannot be easily removed in the next election. They maintain the trappings of a democracy, but in practice they are nearly impossible to dislodge. Unlike Marxist states, they do not really try to "control the media" -- instead, the oligarchs create a "fake media" that simply makes up outrageous lies while the leadership demonizes the independent media (calling them "fake news" or insinuating that they are controlled by Jews or some other unpopular group). The effect of this is not so much to convince people as to confuse people -- causing them to give up trying to parse truth from falsehood and decide that every party is just as bad as any other and stop trying to be politically involved. The government's law enforcement arm will reinforce this position by prosecuting (or at least leaking rumors that they are investigating) the leadership of any opposition party, so the population as a whole thinks "they are all corrupt" and doesn't rise against the leadership.

This is Vladimir Putin's sort of government, and has taken power in many former communist states (Hungary is often cited as an example). Similar parties won elections in Austria and Italy. The same sort of tactics may have been involved in Brexit in the UK, and were a factor in the French election (where an authoritarian party finished second in the presidential race) and Germany (where Merkel could maintain power only by forming a coalition with her party's traditional rivals, leaving the authoritarian AfD as the primary opposition). Of course, we see the same sort of government in the USA, where the Republican party under Trump's leadership is doing all the same sorts of things.

The US Constitution obviously has its issues (it's 200+ years old after all) but this particular problem is a quite recent one. And other countries have problems too (Viktor Orban could basically rewrite Hungary's constitution at will after he took power, which isn't a great arrangement either). And Americans have been more religious than Europeans for decades, yet this sort of thing took root first in Europe.

So why is this happening, and why is it happening now? I think there are a few big factors:
- Leadership (both political and economic) no longer feels an obligation to the country as a whole. Some of this is a lack of natural enemies (the cold war is over), some of it is due to extreme aggregation of wealth (a natural process over time, but we had a "reset" for the big world wars that made society more egalitarian), some of it is a set of new economic theories by Milton Friedman et al that preach "greed is good" which was not what business leaders believed decades ago.
- News media has become more fractured and its easier for people who just make stuff up to get a wide following. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) is a big part of this. While this has brought down some old-school dictatorships that tried to truly "control the media" it has enabled the new "confuse the population" approach.
- We've had a series of more complex crisis arise, from global warming to terrorism, where there's no simple solution. This makes it easier to deny reality and shift blame than perhaps it's been in the past.


A lot of people make this statement: "religion in the (insert your favourite Country) is in decline." It simply isn't true.
Regular church attendance is lower - that's for sure. Belief is as strong as ever.
You only have to watch the way people play bridge to understand that Hope is still well and truly alive.

When Americans say "anyone (born in America) can become President". They really believe it. What they mean is that if they close their eyes and imagine a hairy white man in long robes and ask him nicely then their son/daughter + a bit of money will get into Harvard.
I know it sounds crazy but a solid 20-30% of the population worldwide actually believe this stuff. Even when someone who is clearly as thick as a stick, can't string a coherent sentence together, is a known adulterer, is an obvious con-artist etc etc. agrees to pander to their desire to ban abortion and move the US embassy to Jerusalem that's fine with them. The good Lord will take care of everything else. Unfortunately, what happens is while this maniac is rubbing his legs together and sacking the Treasury with his cronies, the Climate is destroyed strange disease-carrying animals enter the human food chain and a pandemic starts causing the economy to be destroyed.

I hope that makes it a bit clearer for you.

When Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses he meant that literally. To which I would add television is the new opiate. Religion and television are both neurotoxins in the true pharmacological sense of the term. Any time spent engaged in them is time lost doing something useful.
You can add non-mind sports to that list as well. Especially golf - you don't even get fit with golf - it's just walking around - except with Trump - he uses a Buggy Posted Image.

As for leadership that's definitely not the problem. The problem is at the other end. There is a structural problem with American society that does not exist in other 1st world countries. It's as though they're playing Whist while the rest of the world moved on to Bridge 100 years ago. It's time for America to wake up.


non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
0

#16199 User is online   y66 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 5,958
  • Joined: 2006-February-24

Posted 2020-September-14, 07:15

Zeynep Tufekci said:

If we had a functioning government, there would be an emergency distribution of MERV-13 filters, HEPA filters, N95+ masks up and down the West Coast weeks ago. That's the same rating/set-up for COVID, too. There will be long-term impacts on many who cannot filter out the smoke.

This doesn't feel like a big ask of a functioning government which obviously requires coordination between federal, state and local governments. If only we had one.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
0

#16200 User is offline   Winstonm 

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Advanced Members
  • Posts: 16,401
  • Joined: 2005-January-08
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Interests:Art, music

Posted 2020-September-14, 07:23

pilowsky, a nitpick. The self-evident rights were listed in the preamble as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
1

Share this topic:


  • 953 Pages +
  • « First
  • 808
  • 809
  • 810
  • 811
  • 812
  • Last »
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • You cannot reply to this topic

12 User(s) are reading this topic
4 members, 7 guests, 1 anonymous users

  1. Google,
  2. y66,
  3. Chas_P,
  4. spotlight7,
  5. StevenG