Author Topic: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting  (Read 94237 times)

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Offline Stadler

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1855 on: January 12, 2018, 09:46:53 AM »
Where I would disagree with that is "But I think the $18 billion wall serves a similar purpose to any other infrastructure project." There are no doubt trillions of dollars in infrastructure projects that could be done that would have lasting economic impact beyond the actual building/doing. Just yesterday Bloomberg had an article about the terrible condition the rail tunnels underneath the Hudson River are. The estimate was that if service in those tunnels was lost it would cost this country's economy somewhere in the order of 150 million dollars a day. Putting money towards that (as one of many examples) would still generate all the benefit of doing 18B in construction, but have the added benefit of actually being something useful.

You have no argument from me.  I agree with you 1000% percent.  Maybe 10,000.   Remember, I live in CT (you have to remember how bad the roads and bridges are up here).    But that is a rational prioritization discussion that we have - or should  have - on a daily basis.    It's not as if "immigration" isn't a problem, and the idea that "that wall is not going to solve the problem" is a fair position to take, but not on the order of fantasy, or alchemy.   Surely you see the difference?     I'm not arguing for the wall - I think the wall is a bad decision, and largely symbolic, and a symbol we don't really want to have to boot - but rather for elevating the debate about the wall above standard ad hominem, party politics.   

Interesting that we might one day have "The Statue of Liberty" at the mouth of the Hudson River, and at the metaphorical front door to our country, and "The Wall" along the border to our south, and the metaphorical back door to our country. 

Offline Stadler

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1856 on: January 12, 2018, 09:50:51 AM »
First off, while money isn't a zero sum game, in the political arena it essentially is. One program gets robbed to pay for another. Until last year every tax cut was supposed to be offset with cuts to spending, and earmarks were earned by agreeing to other earmarks. Money in this realm is political capital.

As for the infrastructure comparison, fine. It's another welfare project for the popular (who quite ironically will be Mexican). Let's pay people to build something pointless so we can tout the benefits of our economics. Like Axeman said, there are a ton of projects that we can spend money on that will provide economic stimuli. But hey, let's build a giant dick for the president, instead.

But see what I wrote to Axeman; I don't disagree with you.  I'm not at all arguing FOR the wall.  I think the wall is a dumb idea on that level.  But I don't see how it's anything other than a standard political prioritization question, as opposed to what it seems to have become, yet another way to personally attack a President that we don't see eye to eye with.   

Online El Barto

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1857 on: January 12, 2018, 11:38:44 PM »
As an immigrant of a shithole country myself I feel left out from the president's comments, my country has been a shittier shithole and for longer than Haiati and Salvador ever have been or will be!
I've often compared Trump to Nelson Muntz but he slowly but surely transformed into Eric Cartman. I'm half expecting him to tweet "Screw you guys, I'm going home!", any moment now.
Nah, I'm pretty sure he included yours in the shithole category. I think Africa as a whole was.
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Offline pcs90

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1858 on: January 12, 2018, 11:49:01 PM »
As an immigrant of a shithole country myself I feel left out from the president's comments, my country has been a shittier shithole and for longer than Haiati and Salvador ever have been or will be!
I've often compared Trump to Nelson Muntz but he slowly but surely transformed into Eric Cartman. I'm half expecting him to tweet "Screw you guys, I'm going home!", any moment now.
Nah, I'm pretty sure he included yours in the shithole category. I think Africa as a whole was.

What I'm wondering is, is there any actual recording of these comments? It sounds like something Trump would say no doubt, but the media can more or less claim he said whatever they wish him to have said and not have to provide any actual evidence of it, and lots of people will automatically believe it because they just don't like Trump.

Offline Adami

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1859 on: January 12, 2018, 11:57:06 PM »
As an immigrant of a shithole country myself I feel left out from the president's comments, my country has been a shittier shithole and for longer than Haiati and Salvador ever have been or will be!
I've often compared Trump to Nelson Muntz but he slowly but surely transformed into Eric Cartman. I'm half expecting him to tweet "Screw you guys, I'm going home!", any moment now.
Nah, I'm pretty sure he included yours in the shithole category. I think Africa as a whole was.

What I'm wondering is, is there any actual recording of these comments? It sounds like something Trump would say no doubt, but the media can more or less claim he said whatever they wish him to have said and not have to provide any actual evidence of it, and lots of people will automatically believe it because they just don't like Trump.

The media didn't make stuff up, they just reported it. It was told by multiple high level politicians who were at the meeting. Of course other various politicians denied it. So who knows?

And yea, people who don't like Trump will automatically believe it, and Trump supporters will automatically deny it or defend it.
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Offline pcs90

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1860 on: January 13, 2018, 12:17:08 AM »
And yea, people who don't like Trump will automatically believe it, and Trump supporters will automatically deny it or defend it.
Yep, very true. I am already seeing lots of both sides doing exactly what you said on my Facebook feed. I've seen this with past presidents, but it's definitely getting more extreme each time we get a new one.

Offline portnoy311

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1861 on: January 13, 2018, 03:17:04 AM »
The statements have been corroborated by Senators of both parties who were there.

Offline lordxizor

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1862 on: January 13, 2018, 05:49:23 AM »
The statements have been corroborated by Senators of both parties who were there.
This, to me, is as close to proof as we'll ever get. I fully believe he said it and I think it's a horrible thing to say. But I think a large chunk of Americans will agree with him, as usual.

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1863 on: January 13, 2018, 08:29:21 AM »
The statements have been corroborated by Senators of both parties who were there.
This, to me, is as close to proof as we'll ever get. I fully believe he said it and I think it's a horrible thing to say. But I think a large chunk of Americans will agree with him, as usual.

And yet despite this, the US still believes it's the greatest country in the world?
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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1864 on: January 13, 2018, 08:38:42 AM »
The statements have been corroborated by Senators of both parties who were there.
Yup. When republican politicians blast him for it it's probably accurate. In this case pretty much everybody who was there confirmed it, save for two republicans who neither confirmed nor denied.
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Offline Cool Chris

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1865 on: January 13, 2018, 10:20:55 AM »
My dad's dad came here from a shithole country, and he'd tell you that. That's why he came here.

Some of these countries... do have less than ideal conditions and standards of living. I am not terribly bothered by a statesmen acknowledging the fact. It would be nice if our leaders could sugarcoat things a little better, but we are in a post-tact and diplomacy world. I am also not terribly bothered by him making these judgments on how we should shape our immigration policy (lol America having an immigration policy... I know...). Other countries shape their policy around attracting the best and brightest. For the US it seems to be about letting in anyone and everyone who can't go anywhere else, and since they'll probably vote Democrat, the more the merrier.
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Offline Kattelox

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1866 on: January 13, 2018, 10:55:39 AM »
My dad's dad came here from a shithole country, and he'd tell you that. That's why he came here.

Some of these countries... do have less than ideal conditions and standards of living. I am not terribly bothered by a statesmen acknowledging the fact. It would be nice if our leaders could sugarcoat things a little better, but we are in a post-tact and diplomacy world. I am also not terribly bothered by him making these judgments on how we should shape our immigration policy (lol America having an immigration policy... I know...). Other countries shape their policy around attracting the best and brightest. For the US it seems to be about letting in anyone and everyone who can't go anywhere else, and since they'll probably vote Democrat, the more the merrier.

Of course the common person doesn't care that he called them shithole countries, because they believe they are shithole countries and 'calling it like it is' isn't a problem. Except it is, when you're the leader of a country, when you're the POTUS, you cannot just come out and say things like that. It's the easiest way to push people around the world to radicalization, it offends leaders of said alleged shitholes, and let's not forget, not every country has had the opportunity to ride to glory on the backs of so many groups of people the way the United States has. The entire idea of the United States is to bring together people from around the world who want to strive for a better life, or to at the very least escape what they have at home. (Or, at least, that's the romanticized ideal of it.)

Furthermore, and this is the more important rub: just because a country isn't sitting on massive piles of wealth doesn't make it a shithole. A country isn't defined by its economic status. Anybody who writes off countries as 'shitholes' and 'worthless' and denigrates its people shows they have no desire to learn about history or what the country even does economically. It's just a shitty ignorant generalization that says "yeah, lots of dark skinned people living in huts and sand and jungles, fuck these places."

If all that it takes for a country to be considered a 'shithole' is that they have 'less than ideal' standards of living, that's really sad.
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Offline Cool Chris

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1867 on: January 13, 2018, 11:09:38 AM »
The entire idea of the United States is to bring together people from around the world who want to strive for a better life, or to at the very least escape what they have at home. (Or, at least, that's the romanticized ideal of it.)

Not sure that was or is the case.

I support the rest of your post. But I don't think Trump was solely considering the economic status and standard of living of these countries (far be it for me to speculate on what he thinks).

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Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1868 on: January 13, 2018, 11:28:53 AM »
The statements have been corroborated by Senators of both parties who were there.
Yup. When republican politicians blast him for it it's probably accurate. In this case pretty much everybody who was there confirmed it, save for two republicans who neither confirmed nor denied.

All the 'evidence' I personally need to know that he said it is Trump's own history when it comes to denying things. If a story about him is false, then within minutes of it being reported he posts a torrent of badly-punctuated and misspelt (because he's angry) tweets tirading against the "FAKE NEWS" and starts talking about suing people and having tapes and taking away licenses and whatnot. With his 'shithole' gaffe, it wasn't like that. First he tried flooding his Twitter with other topics, and then - a full day later - he wrote an admirably Orwellian comment stating "the language used wasn't the language used" (this will, in a sense, be technically true, hence his ability to write it; in other words, instead of saying "Why are we letting people in from these shithole countries?", or whatever was reported, he will have said "Why is America letting these people in from shithole countries?" - technically, the language used is different). As denials go it was the most half-hearted, perfunctory one we've ever seen from him, which tells me he said it. If he hadn't, he'd have spent the entire weekend having a meltdown on Twitter, as he always does when a story about him isn't true. 

All of which is yet another example of why his constant live tweeting of whatever pops into his head is unwise from a political point of view. He is an extremely easy person to 'read', which breaks rule number one of being a president.
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Offline pcs90

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1869 on: January 13, 2018, 11:40:15 AM »
All the 'evidence' I personally need to know that he said it is Trump's own history when it comes to denying things. If a story about him is false, then within minutes of it being reported he posts a torrent of badly-punctuated and misspelt (because he's angry) tweets tirading against the "FAKE NEWS" and starts talking about suing people and having tapes and taking away licenses and whatnot. With his 'shithole' gaffe, it wasn't like that. First he tried flooding his Twitter with other topics, and then - a full day later - he wrote an admirably Orwellian comment stating "the language used wasn't the language used" (this will, in a sense, be technically true, hence his ability to write it; in other words, instead of saying "Why are we letting people in from these shithole countries?", or whatever was reported, he will have said "Why is America letting these people in from shithole countries?" - technically, the language used is different). As denials go it was the most half-hearted, perfunctory one we've ever seen from him, which tells me he said it. If he hadn't, he'd have spent the entire weekend having a meltdown on Twitter, as he always does when a story about him isn't true. 

This is why I believe he said it as well. His reaction to this is different than others he has had in the past. And in the Facebook post of his that I saw, he never actually denied saying it either, which he normally would clearly do.
Trump's own reaction tells me more than these senators or news outlets do on the subject; I am pretty sure plenty of Republicans in congress don't like Trump either, so it'd be easy to get some people together to make up something. But we'd have a very different response from Trump if that was the case.

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1870 on: January 13, 2018, 11:46:44 AM »

It would be nice if our leaders could sugarcoat things a little better, but we are in a post-tact and diplomacy world.

You (I mean the USA) may live in a post-tact world, but I can assure you the rest of us (politically) don't. Donald Trump is an anomaly in terms of his behaviour. Theresa May does not speak or behave like that. Angela Merkel doesn't speak or behave like that. Vladimir Putin, Justin Trudeau, Sergio Matarella, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, and all the rest of them - they do not speak or behave like Donald Trump. He is not normal. His brash, piggish, shamelessly ignorant, pandering-to-the-MURKA FUCK YEAH crowd is something which horrifies the rest of us. And while I don't expect anyone in America to start giving two fucks what any other country thinks about them, I write this just to note that what is happening in America now is not what is happening in the world, when it comes to political etiquette and diplomacy. That pig in the White House is uniquely American, he doesn't represent the political world or any shifts in how we behave ourselves when we conduct diplomacy.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 12:01:42 PM by Dave_Manchester »
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Offline Cool Chris

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1871 on: January 13, 2018, 12:04:56 PM »
"Nostalgia is just the ability to forget the things that sucked" - Nelson DeMille, 'Up Country'

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1872 on: January 13, 2018, 01:01:08 PM »
My dad's dad came here from a shithole country, and he'd tell you that. That's why he came here.

Some of these countries... do have less than ideal conditions and standards of living. I am not terribly bothered by a statesmen acknowledging the fact. It would be nice if our leaders could sugarcoat things a little better, but we are in a post-tact and diplomacy world. I am also not terribly bothered by him making these judgments on how we should shape our immigration policy (lol America having an immigration policy... I know...). Other countries shape their policy around attracting the best and brightest. For the US it seems to be about letting in anyone and everyone who can't go anywhere else, and since they'll probably vote Democrat, the more the merrier.
I don't think that's correct. Other countries manage to balance a need for skilled, qualified people with a willingness to take in the downtrodden. The Norwegians Trump admires have a refugee population of 9.1/100,000. Imagine how small that is. Take all the people who fill the US Bank Stadium in a few weeks and ~8 of them would be refugees. In America we have less than 1/100,000, yet we're bitching that in two super bowl crowds there'd be one refugee. Somewhere along the line we've gotten this idea that only people already well off should be allowed to come here, yet the foundation of this country was based on poor people coming here and becoming worth a fuck. We've gone from seeking the homeless, tempest-tossed to allowing only the wealthy, and people think that's a good thing.

I think I posted a while back that based on the points system Trump wants for our immigration policy I wouldn't come close to qualifying. In fact I scored so badly they'd probably expel me if they knew. Yet I'm intelligent, law-abiding to the extent anybody actually cares, I've worked non-stop for nearly 30 years, paying taxes along the way and asking little in return. I should be exactly what people want in an immigrant. Trump wants an olympic medal or the ability to invest 100k. Very few posters here would qualify for immigration to this country. The good news is that I'm really close to being able to live in Jingle's neighborhood. Seems the hosers are nowhere near as stuck up as we are. It sure would be nice to live some place where I was wanted.
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Offline Cool Chris

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1873 on: January 13, 2018, 01:26:08 PM »
We aren't bitching about the number of immigrants, we are bitching about the system, or lack thereof, that exists.

We've gone from seeking the homeless, tempest-tossed to allowing only the wealthy, and people think that's a good thing.

It is a good thing, but aside from that, it isn't about the destitute coming here or not, it is about the destitute coming here and understanding our society and culture and wanting to be part of it. That's my grandfather's generation. That is less what is happening now.
 
I think I posted a while back that based on the points system Trump wants for our immigration policy I wouldn't come close to qualifying.

Immigrants are always going go face higher standards than people who are residents, and those standards are going to evolve. Fair or not, that's the deal.
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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1874 on: January 13, 2018, 02:31:56 PM »
On his latest debacle....
Calling those 3rd world countries shit holes is bad enough. BUT what really bothers me is him saying, "we have enough Haitians, give more more people from Norway". THIS is alarming! That is something the leader of the United States of America can NEVER say. You can debate me if you wish but any argument you bring forth would be silly and you'd fail miserably trying to defend it. Although you wouldn't think so.
Its foolhardy and downright dangerous to use such speech. Period, end of story.

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1875 on: January 13, 2018, 02:57:50 PM »
The good news is that I'm really close to being able to live in Jingle's neighborhood. Seems the hosers are nowhere near as stuck up as we are. It sure would be nice to live some place where I was wanted.

We'd welcome you with open arms ... even from a country with a shithole leader!   :biggrin:
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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1876 on: January 13, 2018, 08:58:08 PM »
Tick, have you been around? I haven't seen that dancing .gif dude lately.

Thank you for addressing a conflict I had in my thinking I couldn't resolve. I was bothered by Trump's comments, but not for the way The WaPo/NYT editorials think I should be. I am not particularly bothered by him considering these places shitholes. That's an opinion and he is entitled to it. And he is even entitled to share it behind closed doors, even if it is not wise to do so. His prioritizing immigrants based on origin is bothering me. I think immigration needs to be curtailed, and I don't mind a merit-based immigration system, and to Barto's point, if you want to come here, work hard, and be an American (that means learn English, adapt to the culture, etc...), I don't see value in placing undue emphasis on where people come from.
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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1877 on: January 14, 2018, 06:51:34 AM »
Well they should send in Anders Breivik (Norwegian) then. The thing is, not only is Trump a douchebag, he is also a LIAR. 'I finished top of my class'. He never did. In fact, he didn't even finish near the top 30% of his school. That and the numerous other lies, tells me everything about the guy.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1878 on: January 14, 2018, 08:29:31 AM »
The statements have been corroborated by Senators of both parties who were there.
This, to me, is as close to proof as we'll ever get. I fully believe he said it and I think it's a horrible thing to say. But I think a large chunk of Americans will agree with him, as usual.

And yet despite this, the US still believes it's the greatest country in the world?

Why are the two things even in the same sentence?  I don't agree with him (though, behind closed doors, I agree with his right to say it; listen to Presidential tapes from Obama back to at least Kennedy and you'd be shocked.  SHOCKED.) and I absolutely believe - at least in promise and idea - the US is the greatest country in the world.   

I don't know that I believe Tick is right, not without a ton of assumptions I'm not willing to make, but I do think that while it's not racist per se, the comment is ignorant in the same way that racist comments are ignorant, and shows a profound lack of understanding of the immigration process and the promise of America.  America is the land of opportunity, not the country club for those that have capitalized on their opportunity. 

What baffles me is the waffling of, well, just about everyone.    We like it when leaders blow smoke up our ass, until it's "politically correct", then we like it when they "talk straight", up until the point at which they offend US, and we get our panties back in a wad.   I think this again points to the failure of us as a people, and the failure to recognize the fact that Trump is an inevitability, not an anomaly.   Of all people, Bono said something in the new interview in Rolling Stone that really captures what I've been trying to say for some time:

"As I've said, big primates [of which Trump is one] have always ruled the environments, and democracy is not the natural habitat of Homo sapiens.   Democracy is a remarkable conceit that depends on an effective new media.  So "fake news" is not a fake threat.  You have a post-truth President leading a post-trust country.  The chilling bit is not that the big primate is quite smart, which he clearly is, but what if he was very smart and less easy to read.   What also should be easy to read are the lessons the left and right need to learn from how this absurdity came about.  It shouldn't take a reality TV star to read the boos and hisses of discontented people ready to roll the dice on business as usual.  We all need to do a better job of understanding where that anger and sense of displacement comes from."

I think immigration, as much as any topic we can name, is where this anger and sense of displacement really rears it's ugly head.   

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1879 on: January 14, 2018, 09:05:03 AM »
We aren't bitching about the number of immigrants, we are bitching about the system, or lack thereof, that exists.

We've gone from seeking the homeless, tempest-tossed to allowing only the wealthy, and people think that's a good thing.

It is a good thing, but aside from that, it isn't about the destitute coming here or not, it is about the destitute coming here and understanding our society and culture and wanting to be part of it. That's my grandfather's generation. That is less what is happening now.
 
I think I posted a while back that based on the points system Trump wants for our immigration policy I wouldn't come close to qualifying.

Immigrants are always going go face higher standards than people who are residents, and those standards are going to evolve. Fair or not, that's the deal.

It's all a circle and a cycle, though, isn't it?  I mean, they'll respect us a lot more - and by extension, learn our language, our customs, and our way of doing business - if we respected them more, and respected ourselves more.  My grandmother was Polish, and spoke fluently until she passed (at 98! Woo hoo for genes!) but the household DEMANDED English around the dinner table.   My dad spoke Polish as a young boy and it was drummed out of him when he went to school, because that's not what "Americans" spoke.  BUT, they also learned about the culture and the country from reading newspapers*, from Americanization programs, from unions, etc.   They didn't learn English any faster than today's immigrants (as studies have shown) but they did understand that "assimilation" was a give and take process, and perhaps required them to give a little more than they - at first - took.

Now? Our immigrants learn about America from reality TV, from the internet, and from stories around the world about our Presidents getting head in the Oval Office, and talking about "strategery". 

* I've long railed against the Stewart's and Colbert's of the world, blurring news and entertainment and comedy, and this is why.   Newspapers had a level of journalistic integrity such that even given the various biasses, you had an understanding of veracity, and that at least you were dealing with real facts even if those facts were assimilated in a particular way.    Stewart and Colbert are held to no such journalistic standards.  Yes, they do their research, but if the bit requires "hard truth" or "a laugh", they get paid for the laugh, make no bones about it, and even Stewart - on Stern and elsewhere - has subsequently acknowledged his part in "dumbing down" the discourse. 

Offline jingle.boy

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1880 on: January 14, 2018, 09:11:08 AM »
I absolutely believe - at least in promise and idea - the US is the greatest country in the world.   

Similar to the old Stephen King proverb... put promise and idea in one hand, and shit in the other and see which fills up first.

Your statement may be true Stads, but of late, the execution of the 'promise and idea' is pretty woeful.  I'm reminded of Jeff Daniels' Newsroom monologue.
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Offline KevShmev

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1881 on: January 14, 2018, 09:48:04 AM »
Is there any other country in the world where this many people try to enter it both legally and illegally to settle down and live?

Sure, there is plenty wrong with this country - sanctuary cities, the broken 2-party system, etc. - but I cannot think of a better one to live in. And remember, I live in Missouri. :lol :lol

Offline Stadler

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1882 on: January 14, 2018, 10:01:39 AM »
I absolutely believe - at least in promise and idea - the US is the greatest country in the world.   

Similar to the old Stephen King proverb... put promise and idea in one hand, and shit in the other and see which fills up first.

Your statement may be true Stads, but of late, the execution of the 'promise and idea' is pretty woeful.  I'm reminded of Jeff Daniels' Newsroom monologue.

Is it really "woeful", though?  Perfect, no.  Room for improvement, absolutely.   I think "woeful" is in the eye of the beholder on this one.   I'm as disgusted by "The Wall" as I am the "ACA", you're not getting me to buy into the Rolling Stone Magazine fantasy that we are in the Dark Ages again.   

The only thing I find "woeful" is our lack of ability to problem solve, and learn from our mistakes.

Offline Kattelox

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1883 on: January 14, 2018, 10:11:19 AM »
Is there any other country in the world where this many people try to enter it both legally and illegally to settle down and live?

Sure, there is plenty wrong with this country - sanctuary cities, the broken 2-party system, etc. - but I cannot think of a better one to live in. And remember, I live in Missouri. :lol :lol

For all the problems Missouri has (I live in Illinois, so not much better) it sure is a beautiful state, at least in the south. Been to the Ozarks several times, particularly in the late fall and winter, and it is a gorgeous trip. At least coming from IL, where it's completely flat and boring. :)
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Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1884 on: January 14, 2018, 01:13:20 PM »
I absolutely believe - at least in promise and idea - the US is the greatest country in the world.   

Stadler buddy, you've known me long enough to know there's not a chance in hell I'm going to allow this comment to be written by you without asking for an explanation. "Promise" and "idea" are such vague and imprecise concepts and I'm going to have to ask you to be more concrete. Your country wreaks havoc in this world on the strength of such meaningless and unexamined terms, so we need to be careful with language here. You know as well as anybody how I feel about your country, so I don't need to spell it all out again, except to say that it is my bedrock conviction that what you've written there is the exact mentality that lends your war-mongering plutocratic leaders the entitlement they need to go marauding around this planet dumping their bullshit understanding of 'liberal democracy' on the world, hypocritically lecturing the world and wrecking countries to create the network of servile client states your country needs to continue living the way it does, all of this sold to a generally dumb and ignorant population as 'liberating' nations they couldn't locate on a map from leaders who last decade were your best buddies but who you've now decided are 'tyrants'. That's the nutshell of the opinion, the larger version can follow depending on your answers.   

Here is how I want you to address my questions. Firstly, there are 2 prefatory matters which need to be dealt with.

1) One of your most common axioms is that "If you need to tell somebody you are X, then you are not X", your idea being that only a tense, delusional, self-conscious and desperate psyche needs to proclaim who and what it is. So with this in mind, what are we to make of the American habit of constantly self-applying the "greatest nation on earth" label?

2) In our many discussions on various moral issues over at MP's forum, what became clear is that you are a believer in the need for a 'universal (or 'objective') standard', at least when it comes to assessing 'good' and 'bad', 'best' and 'worst'. Our innumerable debates about 'good' and 'bad' art have come down to that. So - when you decide America is "the greatest country in the world", which criteria are you using? And at which universal meeting were these criteria agreed upon? I am not doubting that America is the greatest country in the world at being America, but we're talking here about greatest country in general. Which political philosophy, social ideology, cultural heritage and scale of values are we using when we decide that the USA is the greatest? And given these criteria, what research have you done into the histories, cultures, languages, origins, political visions and societies of the 190-odd countries in the world to conclude that the USA is number one? How long did you have to live in those countries and research them before making this conclusion?

I have other questions, once those are dealt with:

3) On the list of greatest countries in the world, who comes in at numbers 2, 7, 16, 29 and 174? And what would the country in place number 29 need to do to overtake the country at number 28?

4) If there is a greatest country in the world, there is presumably a worst. Which is it?   

5) I grew up in England. What, in your opinion, did I miss out on by not being born into America? In what way was my young life experience (which to a child should amount to the accessibility of first class education, health and shelter) 'less' (uneasy term) than that of an American child? What rights, privileges and opportunities were denied to me that American children have access to? And while I'm on this theme, could you also answer this same question but comparing America to Italy, France, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland please.

6) I work in politics and part of the job is looking for ways to improve a society and its vision. If you and I were in a bar now, you representing the greatest country on earth (America), with its history and culture, and me representing England and Russia, with their histories and cultures, and I asked you "Why is the USA better than England?" (the question is acceptably phrased because 'better' and 'worse' is necessarily implied by your description of America as 'the greatest'), how would you answer it?
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 01:38:24 PM by Dave_Manchester »
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1885 on: January 14, 2018, 04:41:05 PM »
I absolutely believe - at least in promise and idea - the US is the greatest country in the world.   

Stadler buddy, you've known me long enough to know there's not a chance in hell I'm going to allow this comment to be written by you without asking for an explanation. "Promise" and "idea" are such vague and imprecise concepts and I'm going to have to ask you to be more concrete. Your country wreaks havoc in this world on the strength of such meaningless and unexamined terms, so we need to be careful with language here. You know as well as anybody how I feel about your country, so I don't need to spell it all out again, except to say that it is my bedrock conviction that what you've written there is the exact mentality that lends your war-mongering plutocratic leaders the entitlement they need to go marauding around this planet dumping their bullshit understanding of 'liberal democracy' on the world, hypocritically lecturing the world and wrecking countries to create the network of servile client states your country needs to continue living the way it does, all of this sold to a generally dumb and ignorant population as 'liberating' nations they couldn't locate on a map from leaders who last decade were your best buddies but who you've now decided are 'tyrants'. That's the nutshell of the opinion, the larger version can follow depending on your answers.   

All fair questions, and part of why I made the comment.  We should all be prepared to defend our arguments at a drop of a hat, so you're right to ask.  I'm going to ask you to remember - in your barely disguised ire :) - that I said "PROMISE" and "IDEA".  And it's not at all lost on me that I am explaining ideas that first arose from a quote from your second favorite musician of all time behind Mark Knopfler.  :).

Quote

1) One of your most common axioms is that "If you need to tell somebody you are X, then you are not X", your idea being that only a tense, delusional, self-conscious and desperate psyche needs to proclaim who and what it is. So with this in mind, what are we to make of the American habit of constantly self-applying the "greatest nation on earth" label?

In the context of a group or community, my axiom stands, but with a caveat.  It gets used WITHIN our country for the craziest of reasons.  Ted Cruz likes to use that little descriptor a lot, and it falls on deaf ears with me, because he usually then tries to shoehorn one specific aspect of his lunacy into that.   So what are we to make?  It depends almost entirely on the speaker.  I don't know that we are LITERALLY the greatest country on earth, but I certainly do believe that we have the capacity for that, and what we say in the commercial world "the runway to get there".  Mostly, you're right; the people throwing that kind of terminology around ARE the delusional, the self-conscious, and the desperate - much like those that like to tell us how "they're on the right side of history" with their politics.  I think here you're rightfully pointing out an American failure, and not anything specific to this phrase. 

Quote
2) In our many discussions on various moral issues over at MP's forum, what became clear is that you are a believer in the need for a 'universal (or 'objective') standard', at least when it comes to assessing 'good' and 'bad', 'best' and 'worst'. Our innumerable debates about 'good' and 'bad' art have come down to that. So - when you decide America is "the greatest country in the world", which criteria are you using? And at which universal meeting were these criteria agreed upon? I am not doubting that America is the greatest country in the world at being America, but we're talking here about greatest country in general. Which political philosophy, social ideology, cultural heritage and scale of values are we using when we decide that the USA is the greatest? And given these criteria, what research have you done into the histories, cultures, languages, origins, political visions and societies of the 190-odd countries in the world to conclude that the USA is number one? How long did you have to live in those countries and research them before making this conclusion?

I've lived and worked in 186 countries, so I am a qualified expert.  :). I think it comes down to one thing for me, and that is, if one has an idea - does not matter what that idea is, be it an invention, a work of art, a political statement, a religious statement, or a career aspiration - absent some specific, unique factor, the best place on the planet to realize that idea is here.  While you can easily dismiss them as "vague", I think there is power in the IDEA of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  We fail in our execution - and those failures will almost always depend on your politics - but again, I think the idea and promise of that is strongest here.

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3) On the list of greatest countries in the world, who comes in at numbers 2, 7, 16, 29 and 174? And what would the country in place number 29 need to do to overtake the country at number 28?

Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, and Burkina Faso.   It's a complex algorithm.

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4) If there is a greatest country in the world, there is presumably a worst. Which is it?   

Syria.

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5) I grew up in England. What, in your opinion, did I miss out on by not being born into America? In what way was my young life experience (which to a child should amount to the accessibility of first class education, health and shelter) 'less' (uneasy term) than that of an American child? What rights, privileges and opportunities were denied to me that American children have access to? And while I'm on this theme, could you also answer this same question but comparing America to Italy, France, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland please.

Well, look, as I hope you can tell, this isn't a computable purely objective statement we're defending here. You know full well I hate the label "greatest", and I'd be the first to argue against this was it not me putting it forth.   "Great", "better", "best" - certainly in the sense of the arts and the subjective - are meaningless terms.   But again I fall back on "PROMISE" and "IDEA".   I'm sure you'd be the first to share that for all the freedom that you have/had in England, you are geographically contained, you are caste-ically contained (is that a word?), you have the presence, the shadow, of a monarchy on your tail and you have the weight of 1000 years of overtly imperial history.  On that last point, you have the imperial footprint of not just regime change, but ownership on six of the seven continents (and for all I know, all seven).   We can debate the merits and the transparency of the PRACTICAL application of the U.S. imperialism, but in it's distilled form - again, not speaking of the failures of humans to implement this - it's providing the opportunity to achieve any things, and all things.  There is also the geography and the capital - in the form of money, in the form of natural resources, in the form of intellectual resources - to achieve any and all of those goals.   

Quote
6) I work in politics and part of the job is looking for ways to improve a society and its vision. If you and I were in a bar now, you representing the greatest country on earth (America), with its history and culture, and me representing England and Russia, with their histories and cultures, and I asked you "Why is the USA better than England?" (the question is acceptably phrased because 'better' and 'worse' is necessarily implied by your description of America as 'the greatest'), how would you answer it?

Honestly, I'd say because we have Margot Robbie and Zack Efron.  Seriously.  Yes, I know she's Australian.  But she came here to see her vision through.  Would we know of either of these beautiful, beautiful creatures but for the open vista that is the United States? 

You once explained your predilection for where you live, and if I may paraphrase, you said something akin to "England may have had more liberties in a general sense, but here I'm left to my own devices, provided I stay in my lane".   I think that's what I would say; do you have to stay in your own lane, or do you get to make your own lane?  Do you get to change lanes as you see fit?  Is your lane infinite, or relatively so?

If I developed an Atomic Bomb in Germany, circa 1940, I had basically one idea as to where it was going and to what it would have been used.   No doubt, the same thing in what was then the U.S.S.R. If I invent a new train technology or a new computing technology in China, the chances of me becoming Musk Xiang Peng, Jobs Tse-Tung are nil.   

One of the things we forget is the arc of history.   I was talking about "phones" with my stepson, and talking about cellphones versus landlines.   There are entire countries that went from nothing to cellphones, because it didn't make sense to take each of the interim steps to get there.   Energy as well; there are many countries in Africa that have a better profile on energy production, because as they industrialized, they didn't have to deal with an existing and entrenched infrastructure that had to be replaced (another word for it is "greenfield").   We are/were a political greenfield here in the States.   

Again, I remind that I am talking about the promise and the idea, not the practical and implementation.  Hopefully we get there, where the two aren't as separate as they are now (though I would also argue that the separation isn't as great as some would say). 

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1886 on: January 14, 2018, 06:16:19 PM »
I don't know how to do that thing where people quote chunks of messages and address them step by step, so I'll need to reply to you in the form of a usual post.

Firstly, I'm still no closer to understanding what exactly you mean when you speak of America's "promise" and "idea". To the extent that you touched on it, I don't see how this is any different to what any other civilised country has. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" - you think England, Italy, Switzerland and Norway prefer to believe in death, enslavement and the pursuit of misery? You wrote that England is "geographically contained". America is spacially infinite? You wrote that England is "caste-ically contained", and frankly I didn't understand that. You're thinking maybe of India? You wrote we have the "presence and shadow of a monarchy" - at which point in that universal meeting I mentioned was it decided that a monarchy is inherently bad? You wrote that there is no better country to achieve anything in the fields of art, science, industry, and so on. On what are you basing that? To use the example of art, if I'm a young Liverpudlian lad in 1967 and I've just seen a lovely meter maid named Rita, are you saying I'd be better off not heading down to London's Abbey Road studio to make a song about her, but should rather head over to America? If I'm an aspiring novelist named Eric Blair but pondering changing my name to George Orwell, should I not take my work to 338 Euston Road London, the largest publishing house in the world, but should rather go to America if I want to achieve my goals? If I'm a film-maker, should I not follow the example of Stanley Kubrick by making my films at Elstree Studios, but should rather do it in Hollywood? If I'm a playwright, should I not show my work at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford but should rather see how I fare in America?

You still have not convinced me that there is anything in this world that I can do in America that I cannot do in England. Or Germany. Or Switzerland. Or Norway. Or rather, you are not convincing me that you are in a position to make this judgement.

All you are giving me are these (still to be defined) terms of "idea" and "promise", but these are airy-fairy politicians' words, the kind of empty rhetorical concepts thrown around by US presidents when they rationalise yet another round of 'nation building' in the safe knowledge that few will stop to scrutinise what they actually mean. England doesn't have an "idea"? Canada doesn't have "promise"? Germany, Sweden, Australia, Russia, Portugal, France, these countries don't have constitutions and manifestos and social visions, these countries don't have their own concepts of the life well lived, the society to be striven towards, these countries weren't going through the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution when America was still an infant? You wrote that if the Soviet Union had developed an atom bomb in 1940 "we all know where it was going and to what it would have been used". This is a bizarre thing for you of all people to write. You're aware that the US dropped 2 bombs on Japan, right? That we all know "where those bombs were going and for what they were going to be used"? And you're aware that the Soviet Union developed weapons more powerful than the United States did? And that, unlike the United States, it never used them? And that the scientists who worked on them went on to make pioneering discoveries in the spheres of astronomy, medicine and mechanics? All of this without nuking another country?

You gave the examples of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk by way of explaining the kind of person that can be created in the USA but nowhere else. So then what becomes of me, a communist, who considers those two people to be absolute non-entities? What do you say to me when I say that I don't hold those two people in anything like the esteem that people of your culture and values do? That the very idea of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk is horrifying to me and my values? That for me, the great men of history are the likes of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, Goethe, Cervantes, Dostoevsky, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Da Vinci, Raphael, Tolstoy, Dickens, Flaubert, Rachmaniniov, et al? That I don't share this American veneration for people who become 'billionaires', and I don't want to ever live in a culture which holds those types of people up as examples of why you're the "greatest country on earth"? I asked you how you would explain to me - personally me - why the USA is better than England. You know my political views, it's why I specifically used myself as an example when I asked you to think how you'd explain your statement. Do you honestly think that putting your Steve Jobs up against my Tolstoy is going to convince me that the USA is the greatest country on earth? 

But let me abandon my principles for a moment and imagine that I do want to be the next Steve Jobs. Are you saying I couldn't achieve that dream in England? That the likes of Cambridge and Oxford Universities wouldn't prepare me, educationally, for being that kind of person, and the British system of industry and commerce wouldn't allow me to become a pioneer in the spheres of science and technology, that 'geographically contained' country which produced the likes of Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, James Watson, etc? 

What I have taken from your post is that you believe, on paper, America to be the greatest country on earth. But of what use to a discussion is 'on paper'? I can say that my country believes that every child should be made a prince or princess and should live a life of purest luxury and shit emeralds on a daily basis, but of what sense is that if always I'm made to say "that's the idea, but of course we fuck it up in practice". We are not politicians in here, we don't need to talk in empty phrases. America is great in its 'idea'? What on earth does that even mean? That's like my saying to the missus "sweetheart, the idea and the promise of what I was doing to you in bed last night was mind-blowingly awesome, it's a pity you dozed through it yet again".

In essence (and this is why I take this theme very seriously, because I have seen first-hand the wars your country justifies to itself because you think you're the "greatest country in the world" and therefore everybody else should live like you whether they want to or not), you haven't convinced me that somebody with my philosophy of life and my vision for how humanity can best achieve what I believe to be its goal is best served by America's "idea" or "promise". All you have done is suggest to me that America works best for America; that America is the 'greatest' in the world at being America, much like John Wayne Gacy was the greatest in the world at being John Wayne Gacy. Which is fine. Why can it not be left there? Why is there always this American obsession with proclaiming itself to be not only the greatest for itself, but also the greatest for the world? If I were feeling blunt I'd term it this way: if you're "the greatest country in the world", why are you so shit at so much? If you're the greatest country in the world, why did your people elect Donald Trump to be your president*?


(*I don't actually want an answer to that, I'm just aware we need to somehow pivot this back to the topic theme).
« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 11:16:45 AM by Dave_Manchester »
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Offline Adami

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1887 on: January 14, 2018, 06:41:03 PM »
Just wanted to pop in and say Im really enjoying this conversation. Thanks so much to Dave for expressing a lot of similar beliefs to me, but better than I can, and thanks Stads for being so respectful and well thought out in your responses. Im gonna go back to reading these now.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1888 on: January 14, 2018, 08:44:43 PM »

You gave the examples of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk by way of explaining the kind of person that can be created in the USA but nowhere else. So then what becomes of me, a communist, who considers those two people to be absolute non-entities? What do you say to me when I say that I don't hold those two people in anything like the esteem that people of your culture and values do? That the very idea of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk is horrifying to me and my values? That for me, the great men of history are the likes of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, Goethe, Cervantes, Dostoevsky, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Da Vinci, Raphael, Tolstoy, Dickens, Flaubert, Rachmaniniov, et al? That I don't share this American veneration for people who become 'billionaires', and I don't want to ever live in a culture which holds those types of people up as examples of why you're the "greatest country on earth"? I asked you how you would explain to me - personally me - why the USA is better than England. You know my political views, it's why I specifically used myself as an example when I asked you to think how you'd explain your statement. Do you honestly think that putting your Steve Jobs up against my Tolstoy is going to convince me that the USA is the greatest country on earth? 

Don't let the deletions mean anything other than saving space.

Look, you're arguing with the choir here.  I understand you fully, and to some extent you're doing a great job of being "me" in the Trump threads.   Seriously, it's how I feel.  Okay, so someone feels like vaguely racist statements are the devil incarnate, and I don't, so somehow I'm the bad guy and "Trump Enabler"TM?  Fuck that.   So I hear you.   And believe me, I don't at all have the arrogance to believe that I am qualified of ANYTHING let alone setting for the philosophical and ideological argument for America as something more than a mere country.   But in the interest of the discussion, let's play...

I think you and I fundamentally have a terminology problem.  As I tried to state, without completely undermining my argument, I don't LITERALLY mean "we are the greatest".  I, like you, believe that is a nebulous, meaningless statement open to too many interpretations.  I don't begrudge you the notion of Elon Musk as, well, whatever you think he is.  I personally don't hold him to any measure of greatness. 

But here's the thing; there is certainly a place for you in Russia.  There would likewise be a place for you here.  Is there a place for Elon Musk - not the person, but the entity that is "Elon Musk" - in Russia?   Could he have achieved what he did - abhorrent as it may be to you - in Russia?   We're not called the "melting pot" for nothing.  We are inundated by the stories that sell papers, but largely, the stories that illustrate the degree to which there is possibility here go untold.   You once had a signature that read something to the effect of the power of democracy is how it handles the most abhorrent of ideas or something along those lines; the point being, it's easy to talk about "free speech" when we're talking flowers and rainbows, but when one wants to try a cogent argument about why one race is subordinate to another, it challenges our commitment to that ideal.  It's painful, but by way of example, the debate we have here about the Confederate flag couldn't be had elsewhere.  In a very real way, "slavery" is our "holocaust".  That's now a restricted topic in Germany, for example.   

I say, with a respect that I'm sure you get at this point, that I don't care that you personally don't get this, or that you personally don't want to live in a society of billionaires, because that is the beauty of the idea, the promise.  You don't have to.  There are no walls keeping you here (metaphorically; you're not here).  We bitch and carp and moan, but the reality is, there are VERY few things I absolutely HAVE to do here in the States.  I may not reap the consequences of the non-action I sow, but let's not let the P/R conversation get too out of whack; we talk a LOT about "first world problems" here.   

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But let me abandon my principles for a moment and imagine that I do want to be the next Steve Jobs. Are you saying I couldn't achieve that dream in England? That the likes of Cambridge and Oxford Universities wouldn't prepare me, educationally, for being that kind of person, and the British system of industry and commerce wouldn't allow me to be become a pioneer in the spheres of science and technology, that 'geographically contained' country which produced the likes of Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, James Watson, etc? 

Jobs' beauty wasn't his educational achievement.   It was his evolutionary vision to bring what used to be a room full of equipment into a device that fit in your pocket, or on your wrist, and doing so in a way that spurned further creativity by others (one of the main criticisms - that Apple is wicked expensive, and only trend-hopping hipster morons buy their products - is also their greatest economic achievement, since it spurns others to innovate in that space).   One of the highest academic honors you can have here in the States is being a "Rhodes Scholar", which is essentially a semester study abroad in England. 

But here's the thing; again, it's not about any one person but the overall promise of success.  On any list of "top schools", of course Cambridge and Oxford are there.   What then?   When you get past the obvious comparisons, Harvard and Yale, we have a whole list of public and private schools that on one level or another, are competitive in that way.   When my daughter was finishing school, she was very smart, but let's say... lacking in the initiative.   For better or worse, though, she wasn't shunted off into a trade school, or, like happens in our military, funneled into an occupation based on a series of test scores.  There are no guarantees here - why we have a P/R forum, since that is where the "inequities" come in - but the options are there.

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What I have taken from your post is that you believe, on paper, America to be the greatest country on earth. But of what use to a discussion is 'on paper'? I can say that my country believes that every child should be made a prince or princess and should live a life of purest luxury and shit emeralds on a daily basis, but of what sense is that if always I'm made to say "that's the idea, but of course we fuck it up in practice". We are not politicians in here, we don't need to talk in empty phrases. America is great in its 'idea'? What on earth does that even mean? That's like me saying to the missus "sweetheart, the idea and the promise of what I was doing to you in bed last night was mind-blowingly awesome, it's a pity you dozed through it yet again".

Again, though, you're talking tactics, and I'm talking strategy.  Your reference to "prince or princess" is failed right out the gate.  When I negotiate contracts, I often have to argue against certain words.   Novice lawyers love phrases like "Contractor will do everything possible to bring the contract in on budget".   And I say, "ok, sounds clear; it's possible to go to the moon, though, because we've done it, six times in fact, with 17 astronauts walking on the moon.  If you believe the hype, of course.  Are you expecting that level of performance?"  And if they say "no", then I have to say "well, then, we need another word, because 'possible' is a big canvas to paint on."  For better or worse, hope is a real, vital, if intangible, thing, and you're asking me to quantify an intangible.  I can no more do that than quantify why it is that John Petrucci - or Mark Knopfler - is so specifically capable on his instrument.   In other threads I steadfastly refuse to agree that things are black and white, simple yes-no propositions.  I believe strongly in the general tenet of chaos theory, where small changes to initial conditions can lead to radically different outcomes (I did a senior thesis in law school on the role of chaos theory principles in the law; got an A+, actually, even though I was generally an okay student).  I believe for every example I give you, you can throw at least one back at me that refutes the theory, but en masse, the best chance for the most prosperity - no matter how you define that prosperity, it does NOT have to be economic - for the most people is here in the States.     

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In essence (and this is why I take this theme very seriously, because I have seen first-hand the wars your country justifies to itself because you think you're the "greatest country in the world" and therefore everybody else should live like you whether they want to or not), you haven't convinced me that somebody with my philosophy of life and my vision for how humanity can best achieve what I believe to be its goal is best served by America's "idea" or "promise". All you have done is suggest to me that America works best for America; that America is the 'greatest' in the world at being America, much like John Wayne Gacy was the greatest in the world at being John Wayne Gacy. Which is fine. Why can it not be left there? Where is there always this American obsession with proclaiming itself to be not only the greatest for itself, but also the greatest for the world? If I were feeling blunt I'd term it this way: if you're "the greatest country in the world", why are you so shit at so much?

But again, you're mixing the topics here.  That a government in one of it's iterations is delusional, or loses the plot, doesn't negate the premise, and for us, as much as the liberals now and conservatives five years ago would tell you different, the world doesn't end as part of that process and progress.   That I - one individual - think there is more opportunity for more people to realize their philosophy of life and vision for how humanity can work in concert with every other philosophy and vision is not at ALL the same thing as the sort of self-agrandizement and rationalization that you are talking about.   Me saying that I believe the opportunity for people and the capacity of people is greatest here is NOT the same thing as Kennedy saying that "Vietnam needs us" or Bush saying "Saddam must go".    If you can't separate the two, then we can't find common ground here. 

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If you're the greatest country in the world, why did your people elect Donald Trump to be your president*?

(*I don't actually want an answer to that, I'm just aware we need to somehow pivot this back to the topic theme).

But I want to answer this; as much of an abomination as he is/might be, the fact that he IS president is actually part of my argument.  There isn't a chance in hell that Trump ever becomes President (or Prime Minister for that matter) of Russia.   Honestly, I don't see a figure like Obama ever achieving that either.   Our system will overcome this.  That we have the capital - monetary, political, systemic - to overcome an Obama or a Trump is in part testament to my assertion.   I have to worry about a lot of things, mostly of my own making (my family's well-being, my health, etc.) but I don't have to worry about the government toppling and losing everything I own in a massive revolutionary regime change.   No, you don't have to worry about that in Britain either,  but then again, in a Parliamentary process, you're not subjected to the pressures and exertions that our system is here, and that comes with plusses and minuses.   

"How did we elect a Trump?"  The same way we elected a Kennedy, and I don't mean that to be facetious.  Kennedy was very much a reaction and a response to the Eisenhower years, which weren't bad, but they weren't all that everyone had hoped they would be.  For various reasons, Kennedy turned out to be all that people had hoped for.  I don't know if that will be the same for Trump.  Everyone, of course, feels like they can view the history while it's still being made, but I sort of consider that a risky proposition.  We're too close to it, and we don't have all the facts.  I tend to think that he will be EXACTLY what was hoped for, but we'll realize that we were wrong to hope for that.  Sounds like a semantics game, but it's not in the context of this discussion.  We need to know and understand why there are Trumps and Brexits and what not, because that is the only way to figure out what the right hope should be. 

Offline Dave_Manchester

  • Posts: 775
Re: Trump's Presidency thread. v 100 days and counting
« Reply #1889 on: January 15, 2018, 06:33:24 AM »
"But here's the thing; there is certainly a place for you in Russia.  There would likewise be a place for you here.  Is there a place for Elon Musk - not the person, but the entity that is "Elon Musk" - in Russia?"

Yes, why not? Russia is (sadly, I should say) only a few places behind you on the list of "most billionaires per country", and many of them are engineers who made their fortunes in the spheres of science and technology.

But I can flip that quesion around - would there have been a place in America for George Orwell? This openly socialist-sympathising writer who was around at the time of the delightful Joseph McCarthy? What about J.B.Priestly, another great socialist writer? How would he have fared in this 'greatest country on earth to realise creative visions'? How did being born in America help all those film-makers and writers who were hounded into silence during that time? Is this yet another of the innumerable times when America "gets it wrong in practice"?

Do you know that the writer who is in my opinion the greatest American prose writer of the 20th century, John Steinbeck, visited the Soviet Union and published a book in 1947 called A Russian Journal? And that he faced extreme problems getting this book published from your free-speech-loving authorities, in part because (here I'm quoting the synopsis): "Steinbeck and Capa portray Soviet people as living in extremely different conditions from those in the reports among the West of the day: life in the cities and the country appears peaceful and very similar to that of other peoples in Europe at the time". Steinbeck's Journal was published in Europe without any problems whatsoever. In America? Not so much. Can't let some first-hand truth get in the way of a propaganda war can we? So again, what has become of the claim that America is the best place to realise any artistic endeavour? No other non-totalitiarian country has the history of censorship and artistic repression that you have.

To again use your own question as a template - would there have been a place in America for The Beatles? That most religiously histrionic of first world countries which was burning their albums and boycotting their work because of a remark about being bigger than Jesus (a melee that lead to a famous show-trial press conference between the band and American journalists at which Lennon and McCartney are visibly fed up with the entire place and its bullshit hypocrisy and feigned hysteria).

You see, you will give me examples of entrepreneurs, but I will counter them with artists. There are reasons why great moments of human civilisation (the golden ages of the Latin poets and the Greek dramatists, the Renaissance, the Elizabethan theatre, the Enlightenment, the 19th century Russian novelists, the Soviet composers) happen when they do. Societies develop conditions in which certain types of personalities flourish. I will not doubt that America is one of the best countries for developing entrepreneurs and technological whizzkids. I do however doubt that America is "the best country on earth" for developing artistic genius. Not historically. And this is my personal priority. 


"It's painful, but by way of example, the debate we have here about the Confederate flag couldn't be had elsewhere"

You mean the debate that happens when one group of people march with torches ostensibly to defend a statue, another group of people gets offended by it, then both groups of people hurl insults at each other and have a ruck while the media politicises the stances of both sides and people take to social media to outline a knowledge of their own history that was, like Grandpa Simpson's, pieced together from sugar packets? Seriously Stadler, what 'debate' are you talking about here? I remember the 'Confederate Flag' debate well, it was all over your media, and it was like watching a bunch of hyper-sensitive children sort out a playground spat using language that would shame a slow child.

And more to the point, why on earth do you think that kind of facing-up-to-history debate couldn't happen elsewhere? Russian schools (at the insistence of the West I should add) teach the horrors of the Purges. They teach Russia's various genocides in Poland and Chechnya. When I was at school, we openly talked about the British Raj's crimes in India. Again I have to tell you - America is not unique in having a culture of free and open debate. Far from it.     


"Me saying that I believe the opportunity for people and the capacity of people is greatest here is NOT the same thing as Kennedy saying that "Vietnam needs us" or Bush saying "Saddam must go".

You're right, it isn't. But my point was, it's the MENTALITY that "we're the greatest country in the world" which directly leads to your presidents being able to decide how the rest of the world will live, and who will govern which country, and how they will govern it. It would be difficult for an American president to say "My fellow Americans, we're actually pretty shit at running the world and our so-called values are not the slightest bit original. Nevertheless, we're going to go dump another one of our beloved 'liberal democracies' on yet another country. Buckle up, Yemen!" If America lost this pervasive notion that you're the "greatest country in the world", it would then become more difficult for you to justify what you tried to do in Kiev, for example, or what you will very soon try to do in Azerbaijan. Saying you're the greatest country in the world implies that you are the standard, the bench-mark, the thing at which all the rest of us should be aiming (or forced to comply with).

I have to actually go do some work now but there may be other things I need to address in your post later.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 11:17:55 AM by Dave_Manchester »
"As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron" - H.L.Mencken, 26th July 1920.