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Total number of comments: 978 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:39)

Travis Bickle

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  • Russo-US dog fights over Syria?
    • PS::: In regard to making Democracy actually work, true representation has been foiled in large part due to gerrymandering. If we look past all the crying symptoms we hear everyday to their root underlying causes, this is perhaps the biggest: The GOP has gamed redistricting so as to essentially "choose" their voters, negating the impact of democratic mobilization. (This would be the most important item in a larger "electoral reform" basket of issues).

      Here is an article that gets into the politics of a looming SCOTUS decision that could make all the difference: link to theatlantic.com

      If Justice Kennedy retires too soon, Trump would get to put in one of his stooges and all hope might really be lost. With control over the states consolidated, they might even go for a constitutional conventional, which they would control. Just try to imagine what would come out of that.

      As things now stand, Kennedy alone may be in a position to allow sufficient equity back into our elections for at least nominal democratic representation in the midterms to be possible.

    • Since the 2016 election there have been, I believe, 4 congressional elections. In all of these the Democratic candidate lost, the latest just now in Georgia. Whatever hope exists would come from administrative obstruction until the midterms, when a more substantial congressional shift is possible, but democratic mobilization so far has not been encouraging. It is a race against time in any case, with the odds against survival without enormous damage.

    • This all gets to my thought that it isn't just Trump's bad decisions, mitigated as they are by incompetent execution, but how he seems to willfully inflame volatile situations. Its a pattern, and it seems almost like a strategy to keep us from noticing, while he and the GOP loot the country, directly and through systemic changes.

      Here, combustible materials are being crowded together and he is making sure there is nobody around who can deescalate things. A crisis, effectively created for what purpose?

    • Trump's direct actions have often proven to be incompetent. So, it has become the way he is indirectly shaping the environment for spontaneous disaster that needs to be recognized.

      This is a massive case in point. Trump is "delegating" military decisions in Syria, which could leave local commanders with the authority to escalate a confrontation with the Russians, to heaven knows where.

      Maybe Trump will choose to get this all sorted with Putin in Hamburg, but in terms of a relatively safe and reliable accommodation I'd look instead to his track record.

      How this all ends, nobody can even guess. But to get through his 4 years without a disaster is beyond imagination. Its like letting an entitled 7 year fly a 747.

  • London Mosque attack: Did Trump's Tweets embolden Bigots?
    • Seems to me there is a ocean seperating Trump's mentality from the UK. Their politicians are all solid behind calling this incident out as terrorism, presumably reflecting the people's feelings in general, which were also such as to get Trump to cancel a planned visit.

      This might also say something else: either about how our two systems of political representation differ, or about how the perspective of the two peoples differ. Scarey.)

  • Putin's End Game in Syria
    • It shouldn't be too much for the US to carry the two notions in it's head at the same time that Putin may be a dangerous snake, and that he may also have a reasonable perspective and approach with which to approach the Syrian situation.

    • Yeah, somehow that business never added up. The Iranian proxy story was always a rather threadbare excuse.

      With Qatar there's some reasoning that the pressure is a first step to minimize funding of these groups (conveniently and especially including the Brotherhood, which the Saudi's hate for their own reasons). This could all be some sort of deal with the US along those lines, with the promise to clean up their own act to follow. I stand to be better informed.

  • In March for 1st Time, 10% of US Electricity came from Wind and Solar
  • Top 6 signs Trump Really doesn't like being Investigated
    • So...how would Comey's testimony compromise Mueller? And why can't he use whatever Comey may have turned up? Are you referring to the limitations of his remit, or is there something else? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • It'd work out better in the committee scenario, since he could go where the evidence leads. Trouble is, and someone else can clarify the details, but it seems that investigative subpoenas have to be approved by chairmen, who are mostly Republicans.

      And, given this congress, how bad would Trump's malfeasances have to be to get him impeached AND thrown out?

      The goal should be to keep him on his back foot, if that's possible, and inspire a turnout for the midterms that makes a difference.

      It'll be a tough couple years, even as he waits for some crisis with which to extend his power and agenda, beyond what we can now contemplate or plan for.

    • Consider, perhaps, that for businessmen, particularly of his ilk, one always wants to keep the world of potential opponents off-balance and ignorant. Even if there's nothing to a complaint.

      Consider that the real agenda of Trump and the GOP is economic looting, and systemic restructuring to support that goal.

      In which case, he's distracting us all with one hand, while the other does its dirty business.

  • Obama's last Victory: Syrian Democratic Forces hold Parts of ISIL Capital
    • And, after this becomes an accomlished fact, watch Trump try to take credit for it.

      There are patterns that have emerged that we need to recognize. Not to get off-topic, but a well organized campaign to launch Naomi Kline's new book has just been launched. And its good its being handled so competently. Her piece on The Intercept is particularly direct and pointed about what we need to expect and be prepared for on the home front.

      This business in Syria is interesting and important, but the battle that promises to unfold here, more so.

  • Sorry, Trump, Electric Car sales doubled last Year, dooming dirty Fossil fuels
    • Chalk it up to cynicism (experience) about Trump, but do you think he and his masters really believe their own weak bull shit about letting the sacred Invisible Hand work its magic?

  • Tillerson-Trump Rumble over Qatar shows White House Divisions
    • Good thing I'm not Commander-In-Chief.

    • There was also a story, developed I believe on CNN, that Trump was just improvising with his tweets, and was unaware of the US air base and fleet based in Qatar. This would explain things and is quite consistent with Trump's prior behaviour.

  • UK hung Parliament: Is Trumpism pushing Europe Left?
    • We'll have to see, therefore, if the Trumpeters now attack him as a supporter of terrorism, given he isn't behind Trump. If he isn't for victory he's against it, you see.

      The counterattacks so far have been predictable, but we can expect for them to become absolutely audacious as Trump gets closer to the edge. He isn't as likely as Nixon to just slink back to NYC when it becomes checkmate in 3 moves. At that point I'd expect a Sicilian defense.

  • Did Trump's Climate Disavowal just kill Capitalism?
    • You and Nel, below, alude to antiquated economic thinking, whose inadequacies constitute an important part of our problem.

      Nakedcapitalism.com offers many excellent and well-informed critiques of breaking events, often from a fairly technical economic perspective. It is influential, illuminating, and worth following.

      Apart from valuable debunking, well informed econic thinking is worthwhile for purposes of anticipation. I'm very much looking forward to hearing what the economic upshot of all this might be.

    • The ramifications of this move are enormous. Apart from the environment, and what it means for capitalism that go even deeper than you mention, is its impact on the world order.

      Iraq 2003 was a colossal mistake, but ultimately short term and theoretically something that could be recovered from. Here we'd have to go back to America's repudiation of the league of nations for a worse move. No, its worse.

      How about abdication of the US role in the world, with all its flaws, to the tender mercies of China?

      How about not having the underlying economic strenght to pull out of the next depression, which is coming.

  • Trump, Paris Accords and the End of the American Century
    • Naomi Klein has an interesting piece piece up at The Intercept, which might be seen as trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Or, maybe not. Going with the flow often yields new and better opportunities, whether or not they are forced.

      Aside from his vulgarity, incompetence, and lack of human values, Trump's disruption may yet provide a service. If the effect of repudiating Paris is to brush US obstructionism, masking as leadership, away, it could be for the best. HRC would have stood by Paris, whereas with the US out of the way, a more aggressive agenda might be pursued.

      And maybe, just maybe, this drama is all just a head feign, and Trump will stick with the agreement: that would be the way for him to inflict the most damage.

  • Germany: We Europeans must Depend on Selves, not Trump's USA
    • In the past EU members could just punt when faced with US fecklessness on world issues more important than troop deployments.

      Merkel got her Wake-Up Call during her first meeting with Trump. I doubt the various ministers needed to compare notes after this meeting. Eyes would've met and locked in a shared understanding, and they simply couldn't dismiss the situation with mere eyerolls.

      This may be for the best. The EU may now press on some of these more important issues far harder.

    • Asras--- We appear to have diametrically opposing perspectives, and I'd ordinarily defer to longstanding, direct observation. But the geopolitical imperatives here appear to be too compellingly for Merkel to just bow her head, shuffle away, and hope everything will somehow work out.

      As politicians, she and those before her have had to reflect a psychology that has chosen to regard itself as on perpetual probation. In all matter of concerns with regard to power, policy and leadership, Germany found it more comfortable to defer on such issues to the US, one way or the other. That attitude will at some point die out, even as that older generation fades away.

      Within the EC, a good deal of EU rudderless behavior has in the past been due to Germany not assuming a role appropriate to its position. Germany is not just the beating heart of Europe, but factoring out the UK it could represent much of its torso. (Forgive the limits of the metaphor, which would have France as Europe's head).

      I'd be open to Merkel just flogging red meat, but it did not sound that way to me. It did, indeed sound very, very careful. Careful and deliberate.

      Events often have a way of driving politics, and here the geopolitics and the stakes for Germany and the EU appear too high for business as usual.

    • This string may unravel a relationship that has served to define the European balance of power since WW II. There's no telling where this will end up.

      Merkel could not make this statement in such a deliberate way unless she was prepared to commit Germany to the leadership vacuum, and that's the story here.

      This is because Merkel must think she has the domestic support to do so. Certainly her appraisal would have been the consensus of the other ministers present. It would have been foolish to make this statement otherwise (despite its obvious truth), and she is anything but.

  • Allies Furious as Trump w/draws from G7 Climate Commitment, May leave Paris Accord
    • In the larger scheme quite big and significant news, so if all bold is your intention....

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism
    • You have a point: I thought 110 was IT. Perhaps it bears revisiting the cost of this stuff. Bear in mind, any deliveries must defer to Israel's requirement for a qualitative edge. But there must be a plot/understanding in play. KSA's predilection to fight to last (US) soldier is understood, so that's one place to watch as events unfold. Something deeper must be afoot.

    • Gotta know which Cohen. Leonard, perhaps? Link?

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election
    • Not really knowing what I'm talking about, but making a few defensible observations:

      I'd imagine that $110BM is structured over a number of years, and it takes time to accept and integrate that sort of stuff. The most expensive weaponry would be essential to offset the reality KSA would be the aggressor against Iran. Projecting across the gulf, and facing a big population disparity with a very efficient defensive posture, they will need the most expensive guns available to leverage the forces they do have.

      Increasing conflict, very like kinetic, between KSA and Iran appears inevitable as the economics surrounding oil/gas devolve. This is particularly true with a non-diversified KSA economy, which appears to be on a collision course with negative time and space. As you imply, their actions seem kind of desperate, which suggests what we can increasingly expect.

      War, civil or external, is the endpoint of regime survival imperatives. There is pressure building on Israel and KSA due to Iran, albeit for different reasons, as neither has legitimacy to spare and what they do have is leaking pretty badly. What they also both have is US politicians in their pocket, and in the case of the KSA a lot of money. When an individual or a country lacks any deeper legitimacy, recognized internally and externally, it has to compensate for its vulnerability with the exercise of raw power. They cling to their Guns and Religion (who said that?). In this case, however, either alone or collectively (dragging in the US if at all possible), Israel and KSA will want to neuter Iran, which is far more legitimate and only growing stronger, particularly if it continues to moderate politically and strengthens its ties with the World more broadly. Iran is poised to ascend, legitimately, and that's a serious threat to the poseurs in Israel and KSA.

      Iran is actually making do reasonably well at the moment, despite sanctions, and is stronger for the adversity. Its relationships with the EU/China stand to improve even as Trump seems poised to (perhaps) cut off his nose to spite his face. However, I read that Trump's substantive moves behind the scenes are for the improvement of commercial relations with Iran, which he understands, values and appreciates, notwithstanding posturing as he must for the interests of Israel and KSA. So, from his perspective, selling a lot of guns will be good for the US economy and let them blow up the Gulf in a few years: It'll be good business in a short-sighted way, and that seems to define Trump.

      Keep in mind, Israel chose the time and place of the six day war as Nassar's regional political offense was beginning to gain traction. Note that KSA and Israel have been getting increasingly chummy recently. Sure, Egypt was beginning to bring back their troops from Yemen to the Sinai in '67, which must've pushed the Israeli timetable, but it was the changing political picture which really threatened them.

    • Really, Trump is proving to be nothing more than a simple tool.

      Whereas a guy like Obama would've started out with ambition for some vision, he would find himself, ultimately, just doing his best not to do too much harm. And, by and large, doing what he was told, maneuvering through the limited options available.

      Trump, on the other hand, is a shameless huckster, saying anything to keep driving the big car, forever compensating for his countless inadequacies. To him there is no inconsistency in what he's now doing in Saudi Arabia.

      But, once past his vulgarity, incompetence, and shallowness, Trump really is more like a Reagan, fronting an agenda.

      The difference, and what makes it sadder, is that it isn't even his own.

  • Trump calls Special Counsel a "Witch Hunt": But what is his relation to Russia?
  • Erdogan & Trump: Can the Confict over Syria be Resolved?
    • Interesting assessment, and it could serve to highlight the impact of Trump's 'perfectly legal' conflicts of interest.

      Of course, his intentions would be central to piercing that legal position, at which point we run into his magpie mind (hugely appropriate phrase).

      So, the GOP will back him if he serves their domestic agenda, regardless. That means that sooner or later, very probably sooner, a whole, whole lot of people are going to get unnecessarily killed.

  • "Can you believe the World we Live in?" Trump doesn't understand "Classified"
    • Just think about it: every week a new blow against the US and the institution of the presidency. It's what he promised, right?

      Now, think about how this can possibly continue for rest of his term. This last move sure got our minds off Comey. It's beyond me. Something has got to give.

  • Clapper Lied & Spied, now charges Trump w/ assault on Gov't Institutions
    • Its occurred to me that many of these public posturings really are nothing but sales presentations on those who don't know better. Has anyone ever been convicted of lying here? Yeah, stuff does come out, but it has to have backing to be invited.

      The point is better made by POTUS. Obama and Trump couldn't have more different styles, but once in office they will do what they're told, or pick from the options offered.

      Trump has become the GOP's useful idiot, poised to sell every wet dream they've ever had. For that sort of front man they'll tolerate anything, as we now see.

  • GOP Greatest Single Threat to Mothers on Mother's Day
  • The Sadism of creeping Dictatorship
    • So, what's to be done now? There are plenty of alarmists out there, but they need to somehow penetrate the self-centered ears of an obstinate GOP, otherwise no Special Prosecutor. To this point Comey—whatever one thought of him—was our single remaining check.

      We are now rather quickly reaching a tipping point, beyond which things stand to get ugly, and there may be no turning back from the worst fears of this post. Here's some pertinent informed thinking of the if/thens involved:

      link to theatlantic.com

  • Which Middle East Authoritarian Leader is Trump most Like?
    • Incredibly conspicuous in its absence from immediate MSM, including AJ, reports of the Comey sacking, was the elephant in room of Yates testimony just 24 hours prior. Given the medias negligible attention span, why couldn't Trump have waited a mere week to ax him? On the one hand you have his impulsiveness and incompetence, and on the other hand you have the stink of fear and desperation.

      Or, maybe he's doing stuff like this and his silly tweets in the manner of a pickpocket or magician: distracting his audience with one hand while the other does the real business.

      All along, the judiciary has loomed as the center of gravity for whatever impact his administration might have in the immediate and (very) long term. The story doesn't end with the Merrick/Gorsuch affair. Mitch McConnell and the GOP had put the quietus on a huge number of federal judgeships as well. There's a larger story here some reporter needs to stitch together that I've learned in scraps. But essentially, by a series of senate rules, not unlike those that led to the Gorsuch appointment, the Demos appear to have been outmaneuvered in their influence over this backlog of judicial appointments.

      There's only so much you can blame on the Russians, Hillary.

  • NSAgate: Trump was warned (by Yates and Obama), and yet He Persisted
    • Sounds like you don't have much faith in Business As Usual either.

    • There's no telling exactly how events are going to unfold, but that heat-seaking missile of hubris has been launched and appears locked on.

    • Don't give them too much credit, as these are proving to be bad liars, adding to their general incompetence.

      I also suspect that Pence is a true believer, for better and worse, and it would not come easy to him.

    • Not to disagree with you at all, and she would not be pulling Trumps boners, but would Hillary do anything to drain said swamp? Our thinking needs to go deeper.

  • GOP Rep. Labrador: "Nobody dies b/c they don't have... Health Care"
    • Not to otherwise split hairs for this guy, but *nobody* is turned away at the emergency room. If cornered, he would undoubtably continue to blur the distinction between stabilizing a condition in a crisis and genuine healthcare. He would also sidestep how emergency-room 'healthcare' is the worst sort economically apart from efficacy, and contributes heavily to the runaway costs of the US system.

      What is most troubling, is that guys like this, however, is that they DO know better, as evidenced by how they shade their answers and otherwise steer around the issues. It is not their ignorance that people need to get upset about, but their values and a lack of accountability.

  • Trumpcare is the best Advertisement for Nationalizing Insurance
    • What you don't want to do, were it conceivably possible, is just cave in to the current healthcare industry, making it affordable with defense dollars. They'd just soak up those dollars as well.

      There either has to be a genuinely functioning market, which is inherently impossible due to the vital nature of its services, or regulate it like an essential utility: a single payer system allows provides that control and balance. And variations of that basic solution are in every other developed country in the world.

    • Of course, business practices like accounting must be harnessed to manage the operations within any industry as complex as medicine, and is there even another industry of its complexity?

      The problem is that the efficiciecies of this industry are not kept in check by overly lauded free-market mechanisms and medicine is not just another marketplace, where it possible for a consumer to apply theoretical rational expectations to their purchase practices.

      Instead, it is an industry that has grown by its inefficiencies, and paid for them by gouging people with no choice but to pay WHATEVER price is demanded of them, and which is rarely ever known beforehand.

      Of course, as well, there's nothing in the above you didn't already know, right?

      The question is how to get out of this hole, given the people and parties that profit from this system, and how its inefficiencies are so integrated into the overall economy.

    • It seems glib to say it, but I think TV fills a large cultural, and maybe even a psychological void, in the US.

      Having left the alienating, automobile culture, and having lived in pedestrian cities for the several years now, the difference is stark.

      Fox, especially, mainlines a sort of simplistically plausible source of moral indignation to these alienated souls, which stimulates lifes that have been becoming increasingly barren and futile. And its messages are delivered in the background by TV, passively, slipping by whatever critical thinking capabilities may exist. At a minimum, it will succeed in creating the all-important framing of issues, against which reality is going to have a tough, tough fight.

    • But you won't (usually?) die because of being cornered into using bad software. Healthcare should be understood as a basic human service, like a utility; same goes with the net neutrality.

    • As of a few years ago the US life expectancy was on par with Mexico, with the difference being cost. Things may have changed since 2011 but your point remains.

    • I'm curious about details. Maybe there's a link or you could comment more about Australia. What's the incentive for the private hospitals and doctors if the public option is better than just adequate? What I've seen abroad in these two tier systems is that the public service is strictly limited to a what is genuinely necessary, with nothing elective. There are other problems as well, but it may have more to do with the integrity of the systems in developing countries versus a place like Australia.

  • As Millions March for Climate, Stab in Back by EPA & NYT
    • The point is to look directly at the situation, and the people mentioned, for what they are and what this all means. What's to be done.

      1) They know better, and they. Just. Do. Not. Care. This isn't a matter of persuading or education.

      2) These people are the Usual Suspects, who cannot even be safely described directly, due to their power. Suffice it to say that in foreign affairs they represent the two main flavors of neoconservative.

      3) The current system of government has become corrupted to the point it no longer belongs to The People.

      Now. What to do?

    • We could all stand to be better informed here, and when things simply make no sense its best to question ones assumptions.

      First, these people, as cited, cannot be that stupid. Could it be that they are compromised by industry, but rationalize things with a knowledge that legacy energy is on its last legs and the situation will resolve itself in 20 years by free market mechanisms? While there is a price to pay, maybe they think they can have their cake (bribes) and eat it to. The march 27 NYT quoted Pruit, parsing how it was impossible to measure climate change with "any great precision." It was the sort of BS line one gets from the lawyer of a guilty dependent, who is cornered into questioning his opponents grammar: the guy really does know better.

      Second, why is it that the deeper background and demonstrated allegiances of the people cited so consistent and predictable (do a quick wiki on any of them)? Their ultimate allegiance is consistently only to their tribe and/or sheer power. So, the greater good is simply not part of their values equation. This is something to accept and deal with.

      Third, even when elected, its a mistake to think politicians represent The People. Demo/GOP candidates, especially at the national level, represent corporate and elite interests, and vary only in the style of salesmanship they offer to the masses. Trump distracts people with one hand while doing their bidding with the other; Hillary's style wouldve been different, but she would have to answer to the same masters. House representatives come from increasingly gerrymandered districts, representing ideologically narrow and mindless constituencies on both ends of the spectrum. At best, a minority of eligible voters who do vote cancel each other out, which ordinarily might be a good thing. But at the national level, policy alternatives are out of The People's hands.

      What's to be done is a tougher question, but getting a more accurate read of the realities tends to clarify things and resolve some of the more intractable frustrations before effective action might become possible.

  • Trump's Warmongering on Steroids: But who Supplied the Steroids
    • Keep in mind its only been 100 days. After one factors-in Trump's demonstrated track record and temperament, things might very well get a whole lot worse before he (maybe) decides to reconstitute some sort of conventional administration and just let it run.

      I suppose this would be your point and Tom's: that as a chameleon with no real values or agenda other that his own aggrandizement, Trump CAN turn on a time and become the pale, second-generation photocopy of whatever half-witted, garden-variety Demo/GOP politician you might choose to name. He can then delegate, spending his time tweeting as needed to keep his political (stock?) up, while he and his friends loot the system for all its worth. All he has to do is pick from among all those re-treaded backbenchers now waiting so anxiously in the wings. He seems to have already done so somewhat, judging from this Syrian business.

      The above is the best case scenario. Trump also shows a pattern of redefining his failures, potentially just reconciling himself to muddling through his (single?) term in a (relatively?) benign manner, personal vulgarities and embarrassments to one one side. Dream on. Remember, we have FOUR LONG YEARS of him to look forward to, and if his history is any guide he will at some point be challenged in some way we can not now possibly begin to fathom (HT, Colonel Jessep).

      In fact, his incompetence, failures and frustrations, are bound only to grow, and they are bound to at some unconsciously level irk him to no end. The question then becomes what's going to happen when they become impossible for him or anyone else to any longer deny, or when a real crisis besets him/us (e.g., think of Trump trying to sucker punch North Korea and seeing Seoul razed with a half-million casualties: who would've thunk it?). It's impossible not to see the day (absent a heart attack) when he'll need to blame others in a serious way, given his track record. And I'm not talking about throwing a few generals under the bus. I'm talking about going after internal dissidents and traitors.

      So, is the AG's incompetence enough to bank on, given his history of political prosecution in Alabama? Or can we bank on Gorsuch and the SCOTUS defying him once defining cases on his authority reach that level (and they will)? Maybe; maybe not. We can also look to the foot-dragging of the Civil Service and so-called deep-state. But what will Trump do if the various institutions don't either constrain or give him satisfaction, in order to salvage his all too precious ego?

      The thing that's hard for me to get my head around is the fact it has only been 100 days. As Trump comes to know his toys and prerogatives, and grows in confidence within the insulation of the White House bubble, I wonder what he will do when the crunch, real and/or to his ego, inevitably bears down on him (and us).

  • ISIL Terror-Trolls French Election, Supporting far Right; Will French Fall for It?
    • You're right in your conclusion about the underlying question.

      It was interesting hearing a mainstream US commentators condescending tsk-tsking of the French who "seem to just be getting use to these things.". What really is at issue is perspective, eh?

      One could even haul out various dictionaries and have a nice debate about the difference between terrorism and anarchism, and whether Daesh "qualifies" for an exemption from the former, being a state of sorts. All of which misses the truth of this phenomena and the wisest way for states or individuals to deal with it.

      Especially today we may need to look more to nations like France for such wisdom, if not leadership.

  • The Coming Muslim Century: Bad news for President Bannon
    • Remember Paul Ehlich's best-seller, circa 1970, The Population Bomb?

      Demographics trends are real, but reading them, and seeing the chemistry of the world unfolding just as forcast...fugetabutit.

  • As Leftist Turks Protest, Trump congratulates Erdogan on Authoritarian Turn
    • Cok iyi!

    • There have been several commentators here in the past who were exceptionally insightful about Turkish politics and it'd be good to hear from them.

      What I've found is these waters run deep. Turks ate extraordinarily passionate, proud and patriotic. E is respected even by his detractors as an incredibly shrewd and sensitive politician, so some thinking would be that he will continue to handle things successfully. Or not.

      People usually put their lives on the line when hungry and/or cornered. E doesn't seem so stupid as to force the issue and the economy isn't so far gone. Still, too many people there know better than for us to assume they will just accept things.

      I wouldn't make any assumptions here.

  • Why Population Exchange Fails: Over 100 Dead as Buses Bombed
    • The exchange of Turks and Greeks from Western Turkey and many now Greek islands is another example that did not go so badly.

      Seems to me we have to be careful drawing such parallels. The underlying circumstances are inevitably quite unique.

  • In 3 months, Trump has Charged into 4 Mideast Wars, to no Avail
  • Washington's demonization of Foes jumps Shark with Sean Spicer on Hitler
    • It's interesting how, between very different cultures, The Godfather films resonate. In the US I think we've often become socially atomized, and we tend to ignore or minimize the power and absolute necessity of primordial relationships elsewhere.

      In addition to your observations, I'd also note the underlying competence of Michael and how he assumed the responsibility and weight for doing what had to be done, at least by his own lights. We have to question whether Assad is doing what 'must' be done, or whether he has (inadvertently?) become a monster, as per Diane Keeton's indictment of Michael.

      At that point in the film Michael told her he's just a powerful, responsible guy, like a Senator or Governor; Diane riposted that Senators and Governors don't have people killed; his retort was to ask who was being naive, which is a fundamental question for us all.

      But as to Syria, was it ever anything other than a family business?

  • Russia's not Leaving: Syria is about old-Fashioned Sphere of Influence, not Oil
    • Your final metaphor is a nice one, and seems very apt.

    • The logic and realities here seem to be pretty clearcut. What remains is to discount simple posing to the contrary, as the administration at some level perhaps understands these things.

      However, the impulsiveness that unleashed those missles is not factored in, so all bets remain on the table. While we can reasonably bet on the Russian reaction, what we cannot anticipate is Trumps, personally.

      It was encouraging to see the Nimitz task force heading for Korea, suggesting those missiles were as much a signal to NK as anything else. Which suggest there is some thought going into these decisions, somewhere in the administration.

      Trump is clearly unqualified and dangerous. But, when you've got lemons, make lemonade. If his style and impulses can be managed by more thoughtful people there is hope. It may not hold much for a progressive agenda, but at least for surviving Trump.

  • Sharpening Contradictions: ISIL Strikes Egyptian Christians on Palm Sunday
    • You're selling that consortium link way short!

      Although inspired by Bill Maher, that post is the single best cutting through the historical BS I can recall reading. It puts the last 50+ years of (often) self-delusion into a beautiful perspective that couldn't be more relevant.

      Whenever a person or a country gets all frustrated and cannot understand why-o-why things have all gone to hell, their problem is usually that they have deluded themselves about the reality of things, or have allowed someone else to con them about it.

      It's inevitable that reality eventually always bites the deluded in their ass.

  • Al-Sadr: Russia, America and al-Assad should all get out of Syria!
    • The neocons always seem to find some smooth, reassuring expat/exile with all the answers, who they can feel comfortable with socially, over drinks on the Georgetown party circuit. Toss in an endorsement from the WINEP (aka, the Likud's US branch office) and the fellow can do no wrong.

  • Russia: US attack on our Sovereign ally Illegal
    • Its not now handy to check all your links, but that one to the Guardian was 5 months old.

      Regardless, Putin, of all people, is now in the position of having to handle, for lack of a better word, a spoiled child with a loaded gun.

      Actually, that understates his problem massively. And the circumstances have undoubtedly now been further aggravated by the positive reinforcement being given to T by all sorts of people for his impulsiveness.

    • Volatile as the situation you describe is, it goes through the roof with T and his little hands involved. Obviously.

      What makes it even worse is that Putin cannot back down if T goes for a straight up major naval confrontation, say by dispatching a carrier task force to evict the Russian naval presence.

      When T took office we all knew things were going to go badly, individual political values aside. It was only a matter of when. I was rather thinking he'd arrest Hillary before this sort of scenario loomed. Now that it has (accidentally, since he cannot grasp how foreseeable what follows is), he'll be drawn to it like a moth to fire.

      Dust off those Duck and Cover drills.

  • Trump, al-Sisi and Tightening up the Pressure Cooker
    • In terms of competence, I'm not sure I'd put Trump in the same class as Vito Corleone.

      Still, it looks like we are going to see how our Hood handles his peers. Who knows, he may be effective. Perhaps being less shy about making offers that cannot be refused.

      Think positively, the next President will get to apologize for him doing things others wouldn't dare. One can always hope.

    • The reporting is remarkable here for its lack of context. The same could be said for the fight for Gorsuch on the Supreme Court now shaping up.

      In the case of Egypt, the obsequiousness of US behavior (including direct and indirect foreign aid exceeded only by Israel), commenced with the Camp David peace the US underwrote. Those two accounts need to be viewed as one. To be fair, our behavior and subsidy of Egypt is driven by US fealty to Israel, to keep their Western front docile.

      As for Gorsuch, I just don't get why reporters simply cannot bring themselves to mention the denial of a hearing or vote on Merrick Garland. The GOP hypocrisy begs to be questioned as their leadership now accuses the Democrats of threatening 200 years of tradition.

      In both cases "reporters" simply tee-up prompts for canned responses, avoiding the real issues.

  • The Hundred Days From Hell
    • Love your rhetoric. The sad part is that when read closely and critically it is far, far from an inaccurate summation; quite the contrary.

  • Putin joins ranks of Climate Denialists in support of Trump
    • I've looked into this business with melting permafrost and resulting release of methane, and have quickly gotten lost in the weeds. I'll leave it to some relatively even-handed scientist to sort out and put this stuff in digestible form (hint).

      Amongst all the talk, one can screen out the amateurs and agenda-ladden. The remaining thinking and studies seem to agree the prognosis is already very, very bad, and getting worse. The questions now seem to be around precisely when and how some fully un-anticipatable, yet certainly dire inevitability, is going to unfold.

      There seems to be no credible consensus other than very bad. Prior studies, including from Russia, seem to have angled for setting best and worst case bounds, but in the past this approach has turned out to be too optimistic compared to what actually transpired (I'm thinking here of the pace of temperature increases and icepack melting).

  • Was Michael Flynn Russia's “primary channel of communication with the Trump team”?
    • There is plenty of evidence in his prior words and deeds of "witless."

      Maybe his contributions here have all been organic; don't give him or the Russians too much credit.

    • Comey and any number of smaller things would've made the difference to the election, but not to the country, given how weak HRC and the DNC platform were. The point remains, Russia does not absolve them of the blame.

    • So what? I know we wouldn't want to torture the statutes excessively, to indict Fynn/Trump for negotiating with a foreign power prematurely, when civilians talk politics with foreign officials everyday; especially incoming policy makers.

      What we should be interested in is monetary contributions to Trump by Russia, or strategic coordination of leaks, etc. Then there is this incredible business of Trumps Boy Nunes running to report, and spread disinformation for the White House, while purporting to investigate things?

      No, there's enough genuinely shadey stuff going on to avoid being distracted by amateurism, incompetence, and the DNCs wishful thinking.

      This focus allows the DNC narrative to survive, that HRC would've won but for those dastardly Russians, and allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own inadequacies across the board.

      This sort of thinkinking allows them to avoid facing up to the fact that Trump did not win the election, but that they and Hillary, against all the odds, practically gave the Presidency to Trump.

  • Are Progressives Suffering from Trump Fatigue?
    • Speaking of a Single Payer System and Universal Coverage as a progressive issue may useful, but it distracts us from a state of politics where "conservatives" are willing to cut off their nose to spite their own greedy face.

      Even under Nixon, healthcare was hardly the economic drain on the US economy it has become. And even with that old GOP plan, pioneered by Romney in Massachusetts, the economic stakes were hardly what we now face. Healthcare has become an incredibly drain on the US economy and will only get worse, while delivering results that leave us on par with Mexico in term of longevity. Even for a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, reforming healthcare with some type of single payer model should be an obvious move for their own self-interested financial reasons.

      The underlying problem appears to be that an endemic corruption has permeated even these soulless, bottom-line hearts. US healthcare is no longer a system that needs fixing as a matter of human compassion, but for economic well being. Forget the damned 99%, this is essential for the 1% who now have full access to the Mayo Clinic without blinking and eye (that basic ACA coverage, BTW, is really rather nominal compared to what is to be had by those with real money). The overall economy, and the wealth of the 1% itself, is now being drained indirectly by this runaway healthcare industry.

    • "So, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

      This is hardly a situation that only effects a Progressive agenda: its rampant, prideful stupidity, run amok. There are plenty of very conservative people who are aghast at how things are going as well.

      What we need to look at is how the Trump agenda is being driven by a small minority, empowered by gerrymandering and the FAILURE of the Democrats, or traditional GOP, to field a viable alternative. The question becomes whether the country can find a vision and somehow recover a merely sane footing. There's a real chance that they might consolidate their control, beyond Trump, by focusing on SCOTUS and selective AG enforcement.

      The best chance to turn this thing around is fueled by the backlash to Trumps EOs, and his now evident intent to betray many of those who did vote for him. Even with the absence of a competing vision, this could neuter him. This impact could be felt in the midterms if he does not consolidate his power, as noted above.

      This danger and stakes here reach far beyond parochial Progressive values.

  • It's Class Warfare, Stupid. The GOP crusade against Health Care
    • There's actually more of a prefunctory ad hominem dismissal usually given when the concept is voiced, since its history is a bit pink.

      The phrase is also often appropriated by the Right preemptively, whenever they make a move like this one on healthcare. Its like how Israel has learned to scream as loudly as possible about the Palestinians, at the moment the Israelis instigate new violence. The first thing a pickpocket does when you catch his hand is to start screaming about how you're assaulting him.

      So, whatever else one might day about this administration, one should also add "incompetent", for failing to deploy the indicated invective, as they have in the past.

    • Very insightful. Seems to me this issue is so much more directly important to peoples lives that it easier to track and perceive the underlying realities.

      How things are handled and resolved becomes more telling about Americas fate as a nation than relatively abstract issues, like how ISIS is dealt with.

      Of course, in both cases the question is what the country and its citizenry stand for.

    • Even more succinct and pithy.

    • Nice summary.

    • No plan along theses lines begins to touch the underlying problem of unrestrained, runaway health care costs due a monopolistic system, which cannot in this case be resisted, since we cannot really shop.

      The industry grumbles but makes do because of this reality. Its still business as usual for them under any such plan. Neoliberal economic doctrine falls on its face under theses circumstances, but its easy to understand and self-serving, so the GOP clings to it, even as the industry sucks the blood out of the overall economy.

      Healthcare has to be addressed by a single payer model or you'll get what we've got, going downhill, every time.

  • Daesh/ISIL encouraging Loner attacks to Mask its Death Spiral
    • The intention of these acts, at least when nominally controlled and not the byproduct of some Loser acting-out, is to provoke over-reaction. Not recognizing this particular instance, for example, for what it actually was: hardly even an act of criminality, much less one of genuine 'terrorism'.

      Where such provocations to The System ultimately lead, however, is to the people being constantly on edge, fearful of a guy who uses one too many plastic spoons down at the Burger King. And that's about where we now find ourselves.

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