Author Topic: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man  (Read 122960 times)

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Offline El Barto

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1925 on: March 12, 2019, 09:59:49 AM »
To the first underlined part, I don't understand the distinction in this context between the acquisition of wealth and the "perpetuation of the ABILITY to acquire wealth". What's the difference between murdering you and your family and robbing your home that same night, and murdering you and your family and returning a week later for the spoils? You know that my main objection to the idea that the American way is 'the best way of doing things' is that by its intrinsic nature it can literally only ever work for one country at a time. It can only be sustained by the constant creation of subservient client states. You live extraordinarily well as a country not because you're all more clever or hard-working than other populations, but because history has positioned you to dictate favourable (to you) terms of global trade. When other countries threaten this state of affairs (perfect example of China/Huawei), you use your power to have the CEO arrested on some bullshit charges. 
I'm largely staying out of this, and Stadler can state his case better than I, but he's right about the perpetuation bit. Your analogy doesn't exactly fit the scenario. Rather than killing the family and robbing them now or later, what we're suggesting is slitting the oldest child's throat and then telling the father we'll be back every week to collect $1000 or snuff another child. My opinion is that morality is a bullshit concept, so how it applies here is irrelevant, but at a practical level acquiring wealth and creating an ability to perpetually acquire wealth are very different things.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1926 on: March 12, 2019, 10:35:12 AM »
All of that is right as rain if you ask me, and there's a real philosophical question buried in there (centering around the idea of "is leadership that is not us still just?"), but I bristle at the notion of "morals" as an underpinning.   I get that it's a very fuzzy line, but I don't see that as a moral question.  I often - domestically - counter moral arguments with an argument centering on basic human rights.  Are they the same thing? I think that's central to the question.   Here in the States, it's common to paint things like "murder" and "pedohilia" and the like in moral terms, but there's a credible argument that says that morals plays no part in that.  It's about rights, and consent.   

To me, human rights are based on what are considered fundamental human virtues and the conditions that best 'accomodate' them. As you said: "The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". It would be odd to create a set of rights based around death, enslavement and misery. If there's a credible argument that suggests otherwise I don't know what it is and would genuinely like to hear it. There will always be grey areas but I don't think the human rights we've developed from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance to the Enlightenment are divorced from considerations of "what is the right and proper way to live?" (i.e moral inquiry).   

But this is probably where we're going to have the biggest disconnect.  I am aware of your point here, and I don't dispute that there CAN be this relationship, but I don't accept that as a given.   Or, if you would prefer, the moral aspect of it is different.   I'll answer the moral question later, but I have a difficulty relying on morals to enforce these types of things.  Perhaps i'm letting current events get the better of me, here, but I see an incredible degree of partisanship, judgment and ridicule over the concept of "moralizing".  I get a lot of pushback on that take ("both sides do it") but it IS different; the entire EXISTENCE of one party here in America is predicated on being morally superior ("On the right side of history") and I find myself in a conundrum.  I'm NOT "on the right side of history", but I feel like I have a decent set of morals.  That tells me that this is not an absolute, and cannot form the basis for an analysis of a society.   If morals can differ from person to person - and the fact that we're asking that question below says they can - then how do we contemplate these bigger issues in our lives?  How do we discuss the stairway, if morals are different from person to person?

I understand your question about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" versus death, enslavement and misery, but that's too literal.  I think one way of looking at this, without introducing the subjective concept of "morals", is that it's about the sovereignty of the human entity.  The presumption is that each human is its own vessel, entitled to their unfettered movement through this world.   EVERYTHING is an agreed to compromise from that premise, and each compromise is the minimum necessary to preserve that sovereignty for each individual.   That is the BASE from which we work from, and everything after that is to be encouraged and promoted, but cannot be DEMANDED.   That's the key here: we can DEMAND that someone not kill, and in punishment we agree that the inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness can be suspended, but for some of the other things we're talking about can only be encouraged and promoted, but cannot (and should not) be punished for opting out.

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You gave a set of scenarios which I'll give my answers to, and would like to hear your own:

"If I get my pistol license, buy a gun, practice for weeks on a range, and then on a certain Sunday go to the mall, stand on the top of the escalator, and pick off people coming up the other way, is that "immoral"? 

A spree killing? To me, yes, that's immoral. In very rare cases it can be 'excused' in some way (Charles Whitman for example, who from the little I've read had as much control over his impulses as a cat killing a bird), but that doesn't make it any less immoral. It's not a 'right and proper' action (my rough definition of a moral action).

"Or is it simply that I've now deprived those people of their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?"

It's immoral in part because you've deprived them of their right to life, liberty and happiness. You've violated the basic set of values on which human ethical thinking is built, and which societies that hope to flourish make a point of safeguarding with a legal framework. 

And here's why I presented this example:  I, too, find it IMMORAL.  I personally feel it is immoral to take another human life with intent. PERIOD.  This includes capital punishment, as well as school shootings.  But one is legal and one is not.  Why?  Why do civilized nations engage in an activity that I find immoral?   Because it's subjective, and the world does not conform to MY moral code (nor should I to theirs).   So we go back to what I wrote above, and talk about that which we can DEMAND of others.   

To clarify (and at the risk of repeating) there is a moral component to all of this, but it is not - and should not be - the DRIVING component.  If you don't shoot anyone out of moral compunction, that's a good thing for our society.  But we cannot enforce that. Yet, we can STILL demand you not shoot anyone.  And at the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, this is becomes important when we move away from obvious examples like shooting people in cold blood or diddling little kids, but where the morals are less indelibly tied to the underlying act.  For example, it's one thing to claim a moral basis for not shooting someone, but what about assisted suicide?  What about owning a gun?  Those are all moral conundrums that aren't easily, or universally, agreed. 

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"If I pick up a twelve year old girl at an elementary school and have sex with her, is that "immoral"? 

Less clear-cut to me and it depends on the circumstances. I'd need to know about the guy/boy, the girl, the history, the culture, and so on. I had to think for a while about this scenario because it's a type of morality (sexual ethics) that I don't feel strongly about at all and consider far less 'fundamental' than the issue of murder. I'm not ready to call the likes of Socrates and Plato 'immoral people' for using catamites. I'd need to know more. And even knowing more, I still don't think I'd be qualified on this subject (sexuality and paraphilias) to make a 'moral judgement'. My answer to this scenario is unsatisfying and wishy-washy, but it's the best I can do.

For the record, I do think that's immoral, but it's a better example - as you point out - of a moral problem that may not be universal to all.   I didn't mean this as a gotcha or anything, but the fact that we have varying levels of "consent" - in North America typically between 16 and 18, but in some jurisdictions can be as low as 12 - tells me that "morals" here is not a sufficient argument to DEMAND behavior of people.    Again, at the risk of repeating, if "free will" (or personal autonomy/sovereignty) is a predicate - as it is for me - then we need to separate what we "DEMAND" from what we "ask".
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"What about if I have my 24 year old girlfriend dress as a 12 year old with the pigtails and what not.   Is that immoral?" 

To me, no, not immoral. And stop hacking my phone. 

HAHA.

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Well this is why I am far less confident on the theme of age of consent, because I don't know anything about the physical effects of sex on a girl of 12 and a woman of 24. But in general I agree, and it's the difference between what is easier to call immoral (for me) and what isn't. For me, an action is unquestionably immoral when it interferes with a person's well-being for reasons of malice and self gain. That's my starting point. From there, it becomes greyer and greyer (animal rights, killing spies and traitors, abortion, capital punishment, the other things you mentioned).

I actually kind of like your sentence in bold, but I think we interpret it differently.  I see it as another way of saying what I've been using "sovereignty" to describe, but some of the things that get cast as "immoral" - and widely accepted as such - don't really fit that.  Is secretly believing that anal sex is bad "immoral" (as I understand it, Canada criminalizes anal sex except as between man and wife and any two persons 18 and older, though, the exceptions don't apply for threesomes and orgies, or if in public.)

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There'll be another post along in a minute tying this in to the main point I want to make about the role of 'morality' in international/political affairs.

I'm both awaiting and dreading that.  :)

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1927 on: March 12, 2019, 10:46:33 AM »
To the first underlined part, I don't understand the distinction in this context between the acquisition of wealth and the "perpetuation of the ABILITY to acquire wealth". What's the difference between murdering you and your family and robbing your home that same night, and murdering you and your family and returning a week later for the spoils? You know that my main objection to the idea that the American way is 'the best way of doing things' is that by its intrinsic nature it can literally only ever work for one country at a time. It can only be sustained by the constant creation of subservient client states. You live extraordinarily well as a country not because you're all more clever or hard-working than other populations, but because history has positioned you to dictate favourable (to you) terms of global trade. When other countries threaten this state of affairs (perfect example of China/Huawei), you use your power to have the CEO arrested on some bullshit charges. 
I'm largely staying out of this, and Stadler can state his case better than I, but he's right about the perpetuation bit. Your analogy doesn't exactly fit the scenario. Rather than killing the family and robbing them now or later, what we're suggesting is slitting the oldest child's throat and then telling the father we'll be back every week to collect $1000 or snuff another child. My opinion is that morality is a bullshit concept, so how it applies here is irrelevant, but at a practical level acquiring wealth and creating an ability to perpetually acquire wealth are very different things.

I'm honestly still not seeing a distinction, as it relates to the point about American imperialism. When I mentioned the acquisition of wealth I didn't mean that one time America pulls off a bullion robbery. It's a constant raping of the world's wealth and resources through the toppling of regimes and installation of puppet governments in sovereign nations. If you've slit the kid's throat and told the father you'll be back every week for more money or you'll kill another, I don't think you've created an "ability" to acquire wealth there. You've acquired it already. Because if the father refuses to pay up, you'll simply kill the kid and take his family's wealth anyway. Maybe I'm being dense here but I truly don't catch what the difference is 'at the practical level' in this context.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1928 on: March 12, 2019, 10:55:45 AM »
To the first underlined part, I don't understand the distinction in this context between the acquisition of wealth and the "perpetuation of the ABILITY to acquire wealth". What's the difference between murdering you and your family and robbing your home that same night, and murdering you and your family and returning a week later for the spoils? You know that my main objection to the idea that the American way is 'the best way of doing things' is that by its intrinsic nature it can literally only ever work for one country at a time. It can only be sustained by the constant creation of subservient client states. You live extraordinarily well as a country not because you're all more clever or hard-working than other populations, but because history has positioned you to dictate favourable (to you) terms of global trade. When other countries threaten this state of affairs (perfect example of China/Huawei), you use your power to have the CEO arrested on some bullshit charges. 
I'm largely staying out of this, and Stadler can state his case better than I, but he's right about the perpetuation bit. Your analogy doesn't exactly fit the scenario. Rather than killing the family and robbing them now or later, what we're suggesting is slitting the oldest child's throat and then telling the father we'll be back every week to collect $1000 or snuff another child. My opinion is that morality is a bullshit concept, so how it applies here is irrelevant, but at a practical level acquiring wealth and creating an ability to perpetually acquire wealth are very different things.

I'm honestly still not seeing a distinction, as it relates to the point about American imperialism. When I mentioned the acquisition of wealth I didn't mean that one time America pulls off a bullion robbery. It's a constant raping of the world's wealth and resources through the toppling of regimes and installation of puppet governments in sovereign nations. If you've slit the kid's throat and told the father you'll be back every week for more money or you'll kill another, I don't think you've created an "ability" to acquire wealth there. You've acquired it already. Because if the father refuses to pay up, you'll simply kill the kid and take his family's wealth anyway. Maybe I'm being dense here but I truly don't catch what the difference is 'at the practical level' in this context.
Well, the best, most current example I can conjure up right now isn't all that good because, frankly, we suck at this now. One option is to knockoff Iraq's leadership, put our people in there just long enough to loot, rape, and pillage everything of value, and then move on to greener pastures. This is of course what we did. The ideal option, which is what we were wanting to do, is to knock off their leadership and make them all love us so they'll continue to give us whatever we ask for. Moreover, wealth here isn't strictly monetary. Access to territory is also a commodity. A friendly vote in the UN. Leverage against regional competitors. These are things worth perpetuating.

I get that you're describing the US as imperialistic, and I agree with you. I'm just pointing out a distinction that you didn't seem to recognize.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1929 on: March 12, 2019, 11:50:46 AM »

I think that if your base assumption is correct - about America and the acquisition wealth - and I don't disagree, though I might add that it's not JUST the acquisition of wealth, but the perpetuation of the ABILITY to acquire wealth (not a small thing), then even the moral basis for assaults on Saddam, Gaddafi and Putin are just versions of the same thing.

To answer your question straight up: yes I do believe the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was immoral.   I tend to believe ANY killing is immoral, at least in as much as it's premeditated.  But that's me.   I'm also not naive; I accept that that standard isn't accepted throughout the world as uniform and binding.  I think there are arguments to be made where killing is justified for the greater good, and I'm thankful I don't have to make decisions of that magnitude. But I'm troubled by the subjectivity of the analysis.   This can't be the first time that this has been undertaken by the Crown Prince, but here it ended badly.  Do we use these events as a more general indicator of a nation's moral curve?   Is the crime here that Khashoggi was murdered, or that the Saudi's did such a shitty job of being discrete? 

I've cut out these 2 paragraphs from your longer message because they cover the main points I want to make.

To the first underlined part, I don't understand the distinction in this context between the acquisition of wealth and the "perpetuation of the ABILITY to acquire wealth". What's the difference between murdering you and your family and robbing your home that same night, and murdering you and your family and returning a week later for the spoils? You know that my main objection to the idea that the American way is 'the best way of doing things' is that by its intrinsic nature it can literally only ever work for one country at a time. It can only be sustained by the constant creation of subservient client states. You live extraordinarily well as a country not because you're all more clever or hard-working than other populations, but because history has positioned you to dictate favourable (to you) terms of global trade. When other countries threaten this state of affairs (perfect example of China/Huawei), you use your power to have the CEO arrested on some bullshit charges. 

The "perpetuation of the ability to acquire wealth" (one of my favourite euphemisms of the week, thank you; it beats anything I could come up with for America's war-mongering in Ukraine and installation of Joe Biden's son as CEO of its largest private oil and gas company) works out great for Americans. Not so great for the people who are waiting around in the rubble for you guys to come and take what you need when you need it.   

Admittedly, I'm going to struggle here, because it's almost inevitable that I will require domestic examples - examples that you might not be as facile with as the international ones - to make my point.  I said there is a difference between "acquisition of wealth" and the "perpetuation of the ability to acquire wealth" (should be on a t-shirt, no?) and the difference is in OUTCOME versus OPPORTUNITY.   I am not naive, nor am I blind to what Hillary and Bernie call "rigged systems" here in the States, but outcome CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be the only means for measuring a system.    Speaking objectivity - "professionally" if you will - I have no beef if China becomes the leading economic power in the world.  I would not advocate stopping them frmo doing so "by any means necessary", provided that the companies and businesses in the United States get to compete, get to participate, and get to forge their way as needed.    What I object to is the tactics.  For them to be such while using stolen intellectual property is problematic.  I personally witnessed this; I worked for an American company that was in a joint venture with a Chinese firm to build a cutting edge... shall we say, "transportation device". The first five or six meetings was all about US sending them our intellectual property for the joint unit.   We got antsy about the nature of the requests (and not least because their technology was the platform, and so ours should have been dependent on theirs) and so when we said "send us yours first", they sent over something like a half-terabyte of information, and almost every drawing and technical document had the "intellectual property reservation of rights" of a primary competitor of our from Europe.   We discretely contacted them and indicated we were in receipt of that information and offered to escrow it until it was determined that the transfer was appropriate.  It was not, and our joint venture was terminated with a matter of days.    The way the global community is allowing them to circumvent the so-called "climate change crisis" so deftly, so completely, but at the expense of the Americans, is problematic.   The way our leadership - on BOTH sides of the aisle - are so ready to be in bed with China while making Russia out to be nothing more than criminals and scoundrels (which may or may not be true) is problematic.   Sorry, Dave, no offense, but Russia is never going to surpass either America or China as the preeminent global economy, and to act as if they are our sole enemy is like eating raw chicken but wondering if the milk used in the bechamel was fresh. 

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To the second underlined point, an argument that asks us to consider the possible benefits of a murder is problematic (as you acknowledge), because I don't know how creative we can be with that. Some cases are perhaps not so troubling (you've read King's 11/22/63, so I don't need to offer examples), but others are. How many times has a violent civil war been sponsored in the name of "freeing a people from oppression"? When the American media was having a ludicrous meltdown a few weeks ago about Maduro "refusing to allow our aid to enter!", I had to wonder to myself: "If Russia had responded to the crisis that followed Hurricane Maria by sending its people over there to give 'aid' to the people, would the US have let them just roll across the borders in their military vehicles? After all, what kind of monsters could ever turn down "aid" for their 'suffering people'?"

My point is, the reasons given by governments for commiting war crimes and theft are often bullshit. There are certainly some cases where killing can be justified in my opinion (guy about to stab a baby gets shot by a policeman, to give a simple example) but if the reason is that it somehow profits a person (or a country) financially, I will need a lot of convincing that that's a sound argument, because I can easily give a scenario (from history) where self-serving wars were justified with the explanation that "If we hadn't done it, those people would have...err, let's see, built a nuclear bomb! Yeah that's it, their wealth was a danger to themselves, it's better that we handle it for them". 

Ah, yes, great minds.  I of course had that very novel - my favorite novel of all time - in mind when I wrote that, painfully aware that King presents a compelling argument that it is not, even as a murder is the central point in the story.  I struggle with this, because the lines become so very blurred.  Nation-states are NOT individuals, they are not people.   I think there is a compelling argument that they don't have morals per se.  War is the obvious example here, but probably a more indicative example is foreign aid.   Is foreign aid a moral act?  An obligation even?  The two largest foreign aid contributors are China and the United States. Roughly 95% of American aid goes to programs like food programs, officially called "official development assistance" (or ODA), but what we can call "welfare" for purposes of this moral discussion. China?  About 20% counts as "ODA", the remaining 80% considered intended for commercial access, and includes donations to countries like Pakistan and Russia (both major contributors of oil to China, and burgeoning commercial partners).    Is this a sign of "morality"?  https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/10/31/560278615/find-out-some-but-not-all-the-secrets-of-chinas-foreign-aid

No commercial enterprise, no stable economy, can exist without fundamental utilities like water, electricity, waste removal, phones, etc.   Is it moral if a country like the U.S. develops the infrastructure of a developing country - to give them the OPPORTUNITY to acquire wealth - then takes financial advantage of that built-up infrastructure to mutual benefit (the OUTCOME of acquiring wealth)?

I think I have a big problem even in talking about this in moral terms let alone deciding whether it IS moral or not.  I - a confirmed capitalist - have gone on record as saying I support single payer healthcare.   Is that some great moral concession on my part?  Nope; it's realpolitik; I know we'll never get consensus here in the States, I know that half-assed programs like the ACA will do more harm than good, and I know that a healthy workforce is integral to our economic survival in the next decades/century, so it's a pragmatic, "neo-capitalist" investment in infrastructure. 

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(Quick side note: have you read Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky? It's about this very question (can murder ever be morally justified?). At the beginning of the novel the young, intelligent student Raskolnikov (his name comes from the Russian word 'raskol', meaning 'schism', as in a schism in the dilemma) decides to murder an old woman to whom he owes money. He reasons that he is young, healthy and can do much good in the world if only his debts were lifted, whereas the old woman is pernicious and useless to society)   

I have; I seriously dated a beautiful woman whose mom was born in the Soviet Union, and who graduated college with a major in "Russian Studies".  As part of my courtship, and among other works (she was a big fan of ee cummings), I read "Anna Karenina" (for a while my favorite book), "Crime And Punishment", and "Dr. Zhivago" (one of the very few books where the movie surpassed the novel).

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To the 3rd underlined part: the crime ought to be that Khashoggi was murdered. It isn't yet, because the Trump Administration keeps on doing everything within its power to suppress the investigation:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47182567

But to assume for a moment that America isn't currently being run by a prostitute for terrorist' blood money, then the crime is that he was murdered. It was also an immoral action (we agree on this). And for me, the American government ignoring this murder because of a "remorselessly transactional and heedless-of-the-facts worldview" (New York Times' terse summation of Trump's barely-believable Khashoggi statement, in which he said he wasn't going to do anything about it because the Crown Prince gives America lots of money) is a further immoral action; one that I am curious to know how American teachers and parents explain to their children if and when they ever ask about it.

But this goes back to the premise of "morals" as what we can ask, versus what we can demand.   Forget about Trump for a second, because I believe that even under my argument he's still a fucking idiot, but what are the demands when an "ask" is disregarded?   Here in the States, we're at the point where a moral failing is grounds for action.  I'm not talking about actual sexual crimes of rape, but rather moral failings like expressing views that some might see as "racist" or "bigoted".  Phil Anselmo is not entitled to an income or a career because some deem him "racist".  I have no beef with the characterization of "racist", but I do disagree strongly with the censoring.   Because it's a MORAL point, and we can ASK that we comport to those ideals, but we cannot DEMAND.   My thoughts do not rise to the level of impeaching someone's right to life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.   As I sit here in a cold basement in Connecticut, if I believe men are superior to women (I do not, for the record, at least not as a matter of gender) or believe that whites are superior to blacks (I do not, for the record, at least as a matter of race) is Kamala Harris impacted in any way shape or form?   I'm not voting for her even if she was Ken Harris, white guy from San Berdoo.   

To bring it back to international politics, do we think this is the first time a political dissident was killed in the name of preservation of a seat of power (that's what I understand this killing to be about).  Are countries OBLIGATED to now foresake any involvement with Saudi Arabia over this?   So all the workers, companies, citizens, tax payers, tax benefit recipients, foreign aid recipients - anyone who could even REMOTELY benefit, benignly, from the ongoing business with Saudi Arabia - are now required to take one in the shorts because of some subjective belief in the power of morals to dicate and drive behavior?  I am troubled by that.  (And to repeat, for clarity, I still think Trump is dead wrong in how he's handling it; there's a realpolitik here too, that allows for the commerce to continue - as it did post 9/11 - without the apparent ass-kissing of Trump. Not only is it unseemly, but I think it swings leverage and power to the Crown Prince and makes the U.S. weak.  Trump doesn't understand this, because he's not used to "deals" having multiple layers.  With Trump I am constantly reminded of a decent chess player that is now playing that game that the nerds on Big Bang Theory play, with the four levels of chess boards, and failing miserably.)

Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1930 on: March 12, 2019, 11:54:47 AM »

 "why should we punish Saudi Arabia?", why not instead ask "Why did we punish Assad? Why did we punish Gaddafi? Why did we punish Yanukovich? Why do 'evil dictators' that need to be 'punished' only ever seem to exist in places that oppose US economic interests?"

This is complex stuff and I have no idea what I'm doing but....I'm not saying America should have "punished" them,  but didn't these leaders indeed commit well documented immoral acts (murder, torture etc.) on their population? Isn't some form of retribution warranted, again maybe not from America who would be hypocritical in doing so as you say.

Yes, if documented acts of atrocity have taken place, I think it's the job of the 'civilised' world to take action against those regimes, if the civilised world wants to continue to call itself that. And this action should be taken without regard to whether our economic interests will be harmed (my 'moral' argument, which I recognise is not a practical one in our world).

There's a crude Russian phrase which roughly translates to "take off the crucifix, or stop getting it in the ass", a reference to porn stars who sometimes wear Christian crosses during decidedly unChristian scenes in their films. The idea is to be honest with yourself about who you are. Don't present yourself as having one set of ideals and principles while doing something that directly contradicts them.

Well, besides loving that new saying I just learned, it's a nice side bar to highlight that in my main posts, it should be understood that it's in my view a debatable point whether the "acquisition of wealth" is de facto immoral.   Do downstream consequences influence that determination?   Is the rising tide in America, that raises all boats (and renders even some of our poorest people to a level that is well above that of other, more struggling countries) justify any of that wealth acquisition? 

Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1931 on: March 12, 2019, 12:10:08 PM »
To the first underlined part, I don't understand the distinction in this context between the acquisition of wealth and the "perpetuation of the ABILITY to acquire wealth". What's the difference between murdering you and your family and robbing your home that same night, and murdering you and your family and returning a week later for the spoils? You know that my main objection to the idea that the American way is 'the best way of doing things' is that by its intrinsic nature it can literally only ever work for one country at a time. It can only be sustained by the constant creation of subservient client states. You live extraordinarily well as a country not because you're all more clever or hard-working than other populations, but because history has positioned you to dictate favourable (to you) terms of global trade. When other countries threaten this state of affairs (perfect example of China/Huawei), you use your power to have the CEO arrested on some bullshit charges. 
I'm largely staying out of this, and Stadler can state his case better than I, but he's right about the perpetuation bit. Your analogy doesn't exactly fit the scenario. Rather than killing the family and robbing them now or later, what we're suggesting is slitting the oldest child's throat and then telling the father we'll be back every week to collect $1000 or snuff another child. My opinion is that morality is a bullshit concept, so how it applies here is irrelevant, but at a practical level acquiring wealth and creating an ability to perpetually acquire wealth are very different things.

I'm honestly still not seeing a distinction, as it relates to the point about American imperialism. When I mentioned the acquisition of wealth I didn't mean that one time America pulls off a bullion robbery. It's a constant raping of the world's wealth and resources through the toppling of regimes and installation of puppet governments in sovereign nations. If you've slit the kid's throat and told the father you'll be back every week for more money or you'll kill another, I don't think you've created an "ability" to acquire wealth there. You've acquired it already. Because if the father refuses to pay up, you'll simply kill the kid and take his family's wealth anyway. Maybe I'm being dense here but I truly don't catch what the difference is 'at the practical level' in this context.

There are degrees of "imperialism".   Is McDonald's - which famously has a branch at the entrance road to Dachau Concentration Camp; I know this because I've been there, but it's also documented in the book "Fast Food Nation", by Eric Schlosser - "imperialist"?  I think they are.   But it's a benign imperialism, and not even an exclusive one.   Please forgive me for the reference, as I do not mean to demean your host country, but I think there is a form of imperialism that leads to things like the "Iron Curtain", and under which people have compromised some of their liberties and rights to pursue happiness (I have family that have done so), which I think deserves attention.  This is not the same thing.  Keeping to the nation-state level, there is a form of imperialism that deserves distinction whereby a separate entity is created that is entitled to their own endeavors, but perhaps owe a debt to their progenitor.  I know there's a word for this, and for the life of me I'm blanking on what it is, but while El Barto claims we just raped and pillaged Iraq, if we hadn't, and they turned into a prosperous capitalist economy that can and does survive on it's own, to the benefit of it's citizens and the world, it's still "imperialism".   I think we have to be careful about using that word and implying it's automatically bad. 

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1932 on: March 12, 2019, 12:27:41 PM »

I understand your question about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" versus death, enslavement and misery, but that's too literal.  I think one way of looking at this, without introducing the subjective concept of "morals", is that it's about the sovereignty of the human entity.  The presumption is that each human is its own vessel, entitled to their unfettered movement through this world.   EVERYTHING is an agreed to compromise from that premise, and each compromise is the minimum necessary to preserve that sovereignty for each individual.   That is the BASE from which we work from, and everything after that is to be encouraged and promoted, but cannot be DEMANDED.   That's the key here: we can DEMAND that someone not kill, and in punishment we agree that the inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness can be suspended, but for some of the other things we're talking about can only be encouraged and promoted, but cannot (and should not) be punished for opting out.

I think the underlined part is where we perhaps differ in our interpretation of how and why rights were formed. You call it a "presumption" that every human has a right to certain fundamental freedoms, but my point is: on what is that presumption based? It wasn't a random decision to make "unfettered movement throughout this world" the foundation stone of human rights. I believe it was arrived at through moral inquiry. Through centuries of discussion and debate about what is right and wrong.  You said that there "CAN be a relationship [between morality and rights]" but you "don't accept it as a given". So then I ask: if rights were not arrived at via a consideration of what is right and wrong behaviour (loosely termed), then how did we come up with them? Who decided that 'freedom' in its various forms would be something protected by the law, and what kind of solid argument did he or she use to convince others to go along with it?

For the 2nd time today I find myself feeling like I'm missing something fundamental here. If I am, please point it out to me, because I'm still not really understanding your point about how human rights could (not were, but at least could) have been arrived at independently of ethical considerations (have I even understood your position correctly? It's possible I haven't). That's not my understanding of how the Greeks and Romans (arguably the founders of Western thought) went about things. Their great lawmakers (Cicero for example) were also philosophers, and their consideration of law went hand in hand with consideration of what is 'good'. To separate these 2 things leaves me confused. I don't understand how a conversation about rights would go if discussion of what is 'good' and 'bad' is not the basis. Help me out there. Not one Platonic dialogue that I've read on the subject of politics and laws doesn't have as its starting place the question of the morally 'right' action. The same for Aristotle's Politics (in fact at the conclusion of his Nichomachean Ethics Aristole stated that a discussion of ethics necessarily leads into politics and law, and declared that his next volume (Politics) should be seen as the 2nd part of a single work). Now I'm not saying Aristotle is the final word on this theme, but the man knew his onions.   

I get the sense (correct me if I'm wrong) that because the standard of morality is different for every person, you have a problem basing things on 'morality'. But to me, morality is a dicussion. It's not a method of coercing people into how to behave. It's a human process, something that we all engage in from generation to generation. I agree with you that moralising is annoying but that's not the kind of thing I'm talking about. Barto described morality as a "bullshit concept" but to me it's just a shorthand way of saying "I think that was a dick move, and here's why", or "That was a decent thing to do, and here's why I think that". Engaging in one of the most essential and beautiful things that humanity, at its best, has always done - discussing with each other what it means to be better as individuals and as a species. I get the impression that when I mention morality, what you interpret that to mean is telling people who they can sleep with, which groups of people they can still acceptably hate, which crapper to use, what kind of language is still ok to use, and all those other things that you blame, rightly or wrongly, the Democrat party for. I'm not talking about that. It's why I said I'm on my least solid ground when the issue is stuff like who a person can have sex with. To me those are questions for doctors (about age of consent I mean). I have no problem if something like homosexuality is a moral issue to a person, and I'm open to listening to their viewpoint, but to me it just isn't. I'm talking about a basic standard of behaviour that hasn't changed from Socrates to now - murder is morally 'wrong'. To abandon that principle, as I feel it has been in the Khashoggi case (to bring this back to where we began), is to abandon the cornerstone of Western ethical thought, in my opinion.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2019, 12:41:33 PM 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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1933 on: March 12, 2019, 12:54:20 PM »
Just a little interjection into the ethics discussion because I simply have to share this.

So if it makes you Americans feel any better about the shitshow going on over on your side of the pond, the UK is also currently experiencing a political meltdown (literally as I write this now). Theresa May's Brexit vote will be in about an hour, and it will fail. Badly. And then all hell will break loose. But that's not what I want to share. It's this, from the BBC's live stream:

"Conservative MP Steve Double says he still hasn't decided which way to vote tonight as "it is between two wrongs, two things I don't want to happen".

He describes the revised deal as "a turd of a deal which is now a polished turd", however adds that, "It might be the best turd we've got."


2 and a half years of wrangling over Brexit and this is the finest, most clear-minded summation of it I've ever read. That it comes from a stuffy, pompous Conservative MP is simply glorious. If this is Trump lowering global standards of political decorum then for the first time I heartily applaud it.
"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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline El Barto

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1934 on: March 12, 2019, 01:08:20 PM »
The Brexit deal reminds me a great of Trump telling everybody during a debate that he already had a wonderful healthcare program that will cover everybody, lower premiums, lower prescription costs, cover preexisting conditions, let everybody see any doctor they want, and cure cancer (probably). When the time comes to lay it out it turns out he had no plan whatsoever. Seems a lot of people over there were convinced that Brexit would be a piece of cake by people who had no plan for how it could actually happen.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1935 on: March 12, 2019, 01:50:19 PM »

I understand your question about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" versus death, enslavement and misery, but that's too literal.  I think one way of looking at this, without introducing the subjective concept of "morals", is that it's about the sovereignty of the human entity.  The presumption is that each human is its own vessel, entitled to their unfettered movement through this world.   EVERYTHING is an agreed to compromise from that premise, and each compromise is the minimum necessary to preserve that sovereignty for each individual.   That is the BASE from which we work from, and everything after that is to be encouraged and promoted, but cannot be DEMANDED.   That's the key here: we can DEMAND that someone not kill, and in punishment we agree that the inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness can be suspended, but for some of the other things we're talking about can only be encouraged and promoted, but cannot (and should not) be punished for opting out.

I think the underlined part is where we perhaps differ in our interpretation of how and why rights were formed. You call it a "presumption" that every human has a right to certain fundamental freedoms, but my point is: on what is that presumption based? It wasn't a random decision to make "unfettered movement throughout this world" the foundation stone of human rights. I believe it was arrived at through moral inquiry. Through centuries of discussion and debate about what is right and wrong.  You said that there "CAN be a relationship [between morality and rights]" but you "don't accept it as a given". So then I ask: if rights were not arrived at via a consideration of what is right and wrong behaviour (loosely termed), then how did we come up with them? Who decided that 'freedom' in its various forms would be something protected by the law, and what kind of solid argument did he or she use to convince others to go along with it?

I don't have a scholarly answer here; I can't really articulate the position of each major philisopher here, but much like most major religions have similar or identical tropes even if the tactical execution in each religion is very different, I think it's an answer in search of a question.   Instead of asking "why or how did we decide this was so?", I think it's not unfair, or unhelpful,  to consider that there's no real substantive argument to say "this human" is objectively better, more relevant, more deserving, more whatever, than "that human", and we then seek to explain why.   Some would pin that on morals. Some would pin that on spiritual or religious grounds.   The Founding Fathers punted on this very question themselves: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I have long argued that the "inalienable" was an important word here, and that the references to "Creator" was not a sop to religion, but rather an implicit rejection of the idea of a human grantor of rights (in this case the king).    In implementing a moral code across a society, how do we do this without reverting back to a human source for those rights?   

I don't want to make this personal, because I think that's part of my premise, that the arguments fail when they are made personal, but what do you do when your morals are challenged by the "group"?   Do you rationalize it?  Do you call the group "wrong"?  Do you self-reflect and decide you're wrong?   

It's a general premise of my position that it allows the most people the most freedom and the most autonomy that they can possibly have.  I do not accept the argument that "well, of course Stadler, it's what you think and you think you're right, so you're no different than the liberal bully denying Louis CK a living".  In fact, I argue against that VEHEMENTLY, becuase the liberal bully does not allow for the existence of those that disagree with him, and in fact, they are specifically arguing against that idea and dismissing those that disagree.   I WELCOME those that disagree.  There is room in my scheme for those that are morally superior, those that are morally inferior, those that are infinitely tolerant, those that are stubbornly intolerant, those that are empathetic pacifists to a fault, those that are sociopathically incapable of any empathy (whether they act on it or not).   

To argue otherwise is to accept that at birth, there is a strata that every newborn falls into, some superior, some inferior, and I can't get behind that. 

Quote
For the 2nd time today I find myself feeling like I'm missing something fundamental here. If I am, please point it out to me, because I'm still not really understanding your point about how human rights could (not were, but at least could) have been arrived at independently of ethical considerations (have I even understood your position correctly? It's possible I haven't). That's not my understanding of how the Greeks and Romans (arguably the founders of Western thought) went about things. Their great lawmakers (Cicero for example) were also philosophers, and their consideration of law went hand in hand with consideration of what is 'good'. To separate these 2 things leaves me confused. I don't understand how a conversation about rights would go if discussion of what is 'good' and 'bad' is not the basis. Help me out there. Not one Platonic dialogue that I've read on the subject of politics and laws don't have as its starting place the question of the morally 'right' action. The same for Aristotle's Politics (in fact at the conclusion of his Nichomachean Ethics Aristole stated that a discussion of ethics necessarily leads into politics and law, and declared that his next volume (Politics) should be seen as the 2nd part of a single work). Now I'm not saying Aristotle is the final word on this theme, but the man knew his onions. 

Well, in part because those works were intending to not just show why something might exist, but why we all should accept them as a part of our fabric.  I'm not at all saying that Plato or Aristotle are wrong, I'm saying that we don't need them to be right.   There's a difference.  I think that all those ideas are positive and ultimately move our society and our existence forward, but are not necessary to do so.   I also think that for the vast, vast majority of people, the "good versus bad" discussion is perhaps the best frame in which to discuss this.   But what happens to the people that don't see things that way.   

Side bar:  I am very convinced that psychotherapy is an incredibly valuable and powerful tool.   But I do not at all believe that it's only power is undoing the fuckups of our peers, our parents, and our partners.  I well and truly believe that there are absolutes - like absolute peace, absolute good, absolute tolerance - which are unattainable.  Whether you want to attribute this to human nature, biology, genetic mutations, there will ALWAYS be people that will be born with the innate sociopathy, or an innate craving for adolescent children (sexually), or with an innate rejection of societal norms like respect for others, or honoring laws and rules.  In other words, we are not just "better education" away from another Hitler, we are not just "compassionate inclusion" away from another Ted Bundy, etc.  Yet these are real people, who clearly have different morals than us, and up to the point that they commit a crime they have the right to adhere to their moral code.    It's clear that "murder" violates the criminal code of conduct, but perhaps randomly fucking girls and "not calling them in the morning" - morally abhorent to some, probably not to someone who is sociopathic - is not that. 

I digressed, because the works of Aristotle and Plato aspire to have people better than that, but fail to account for the fact that that might not be possible.   

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I get the sense (correct me if I'm wrong) that because the standard of morality is different for every person, you have a problem basing things on 'morality'. But to me, morality is a dicussion. It's not a method of coercing people into how to behave.

And yet, increasingly, it is.   Trump denouncing Saudi Arabia and sending $100's of millions (if not billions) of contracts into a tailspin is not a "process" or a "discussion".  It is very much forcing people how to behave.    Terminating people from their jobs because they violated what some want to see as the accepted "moral code" is not a "process" or a "discussion" it is "coercion".   When the discourse is reduced immediately to an ad hominem level - you're "deplorable" if you believe this, you're "part of the systemic racism", or "whitesplaining" if you try to engage in dialogue about why referring to race benignly isn't in fact "racISM", you're not at all interested in dialogue or discussion.   

And this applies to the international arena; you yourself have written about this, and in fact, I think this is in part what you're pushing back on, if I may be so bold to put words in your mouth.  Do you believe that Russia is in fact "homophobic" as a country, and/or society?  Because Hillary sure does, and while I got lambasted repeatedly for using "RUSSIA!" as a meme, it doesn't make it any less true.  Maybe she didn't ACTUALLY lean in to the camera, smirk, and say "RUSSIA!" with a wink to condemn Trump during the debates, but my gosh she might as well have.   

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It's a human process, something that we all engage in from generation to generation. I agree with you that moralising is annoying but that's not the kind of thing I'm talking about. Barto described morality as a "bullshit concept" but to me it's just a shorthand way of saying "I think that was a dick move, and here's why", or "That was a decent thing to do, and here's why I think that". Engaging in one of the most essential and beautiful things that humanity, at its best, has always done - discussing with each other what it means to be better as individuals and as a species. I get the impression that when I mention morality, what you interpret that to mean is telling people who they can sleep with, which groups of people they can still acceptably hate, which crapper to use, what kind of language is still ok to use, and all those other things that you blame, rightly or wrongly, the Democrat party for. I'm not talking about that. It's why I said I'm on my least solid ground when the issue is stuff like who a person can have sex with. To me those are questions for doctors (about age of consent I mean). I have no problem if something like homosexuality is a moral issue to a person, and I'm open to listening to their viewpoint, but to me it just isn't. I'm talking about a basic standard of behaviour that hasn't changed from Socrates to now - murder is morally 'wrong'. To abandon that principle, as I feel it has been in the Khashoggi case (to bring this back to where we began), is to abandon the cornerstone of Western ethical thought, in my opinion.

I read that last paragraph, and I want to slap you on the back and buy you another beer, because I believe all of it. I agree it's a discussion, I agree that it makes us better people (not for nothing, I went back into therapy after my divorce because I just wanted to live more authentically, and while you can dismiss it as wishful thinking, I literally felt my life get better when I started to be more honest (with myself) more pragmatic with others, more noble in my actions, etc.  I am a firm believer in the holistic good that comes of it.  I just can't accept that we can force others to do it, and while you may not mean that, I think it's indelible in how it comes off in general.   We here in the States are all about marginalizing those that don't agree with us, and while it's easy for some to claim being "marginalized" (and they may be right), it's just as often that those who are marginalized are very quick to do their own marginalizing when they get the chance.  We live in an extremely "tit-for-tat" reactive society here, and that's part of our problem.  THAT'S WHAT GOT US TRUMP, and I'm very willing to die on that hill for that argument.   We don't have Trump because a minority of racists figured out how to get to the poll and cast a vote.  We got Trump because we as a general matter - across both parties - cannot elevate ourselves out of ourselves.   

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1936 on: March 12, 2019, 03:21:35 PM »
Quote
I get the sense (correct me if I'm wrong) that because the standard of morality is different for every person, you have a problem basing things on 'morality'. But to me, morality is a dicussion. It's not a method of coercing people into how to behave.

And yet, increasingly, it is.   Trump denouncing Saudi Arabia and sending $100's of millions (if not billions) of contracts into a tailspin is not a "process" or a "discussion".  It is very much forcing people how to behave.    Terminating people from their jobs because they violated what some want to see as the accepted "moral code" is not a "process" or a "discussion" it is "coercion".   When the discourse is reduced immediately to an ad hominem level - you're "deplorable" if you believe this, you're "part of the systemic racism", or "whitesplaining" if you try to engage in dialogue about why referring to race benignly isn't in fact "racISM", you're not at all interested in dialogue or discussion.

But what does any of that (systemic racism, ad hominem attacks, 'whitesplaining', etc) have to do in any way with the murder of Khashoggi (which you seemed to be talking about at the beginning of the paragraph, but then you confused me with the rest of it) and the suggestion that America has a duty to address it? I honestly don't see how Trump is being "forced" to do anything by people having this discussion. The President of the USA doesn't get "forced" to do anything at that level of geopolitics, believe me. If he did, he wouldn't be able to tell the International Criminal Court to go fuck itself.

And I have to address the first underlined sentence, because it obviously triggers me enormously (my fault, not yours, you know I'm sensitive to this stuff and you also know not to take any of it personally). You suggest that people shouldn't be "terminated from their jobs" and "100s of millions in contracts" shouldn't be cancelled because of what "some want to see as the accepted moral code".

So 2 things:

1) Why did you specifically make mention of the large monetary amount ("100s of millions, if not billions") of contracts? How much money is enough to justify murder? If the contracts were worth a combined total of 300 dollars, would it be ok to take action against the murder of Khashoggi?

To be deliberately more emotive, if one day your daughter is travelling in the Middle East and some Saudi terrorists cut off her head, how much money in military contracts will it require for you not to think that the perpetrators should be held to account? Would you feel better knowing that your daughter was murdered so that 10 billion dollars was added to the American economy than you would if she were murdered for $6.70? And will you still contend that punishing the murder and dismemberment of your daughter is merely a case of "what some want to see as the accepted moral code"?

2) You asked earlier why the acquisition of wealth is necessarily 'wrong' (my answer is: it isn't, unless it's acquired by immoral actions such as theft, murder and enslavement). But let's assume it isn't wrong, and that any means justify the ends, so long as the ends are large enough (as implied by Trump's reaction to Khashoggi being acceptable because we're talking billions of dollars, not hundreds). So my next question is: what objection can you offer to the Bolshevik Party of America coming into your home, murdering you and all your family, and taking your wealth from you? At a time when America is terrified of "socialism" because it means the 'forced redistribution of wealth', how is 'nation building' (another great American euphemism) and war-mongering by Conservative Americans anything other than that, and why is 'wealth redistribution' suddenly fine so long as the sums at stake are 1) massive enough and 2) being 'redistributed' in the direction of America (in return for *ahem* some 'infrastructure'. Some awesome 'infrastructure' in eastern Ukraine right now, they've almost put a hospital and a couple of roads back together again. It's good to see the Biden family putting their stolen wealth back to good use over there)?

I'll phrase it this way: imagine 30 years from now, China is the super power and America is a shell of what it was. China decides to invade America, raid your wealth, murder your men, and take your women and children, Apocalypto style (it obviously won't happen but bear with me). Is there any argument you can give me for why there should be an international agreement that such behaviour is wrong and will be punished? Before you answer, consider carefully this essential detail: Chinese workers will stand to gain billions in contracts if their government does this to you. And in return for raiding your wealth and razing your country to the ground, they promise to use 10% of the spoils to rebuild a few bridges and put the electricity back on. Kindly giving America some infrastructure, in other words.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2019, 08:20:42 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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1937 on: March 13, 2019, 07:36:01 AM »
Quick afterthought to the above, or more of a conclusion:

It's my stance that international law does not apply to America. If tomorrow America killed 40-odd civilians, nothing would happen. We know this because it happened in Kunduz. If a US ally used American weapons to kill dozens of children on a school bus, nothing will happen to the US or the ally. We know this because it happened in Yemen. If another country had done these things, there would have been repercussions. But America is so powerful and so wealthy that it is beyond the law. The ICC attempts to investigate the US for war crimes, Trump and Bolton simply tell it to go fuck itself. The UN Security Council tries to hold an important US ally to account - Trump instantly withdraws America from the UN Human Rights Council (he did this in June last year). Sanctions cannot be put on America because it would harm the countries imposing them far more than it would the US. America can do what it wants in this world without any meaningful consequences. Which may have been 'acceptable' in the past, but it isn't now that you've seen fit to put an imbecilic would-be dictator in charge, and God only knows what you've got in store for the world after him.

And so, I toss the idea that America is a country of 'laws' in the garbage. Domestically (what you are talking about, Stadler), maybe so. Internationally (what I am), you just aren't. You invade sovereign nations with absolute impunity. Russia protects its black sea military base in Crimea and you use the full strength of your power to cripple it with sanctions. Hypocrisy of the worst kind. You punish someone for doing once what you do on an annual fucking basis.   

So if the 'legal' standard is out (which it is for me - as I said long ago, the international 'legal' standard is what America creates and demands others conform to, when it's suitable to its interests), I ask: is it at least 'morally' wrong what America does? If the 'law' cannot hold it to account for killing people in a hospital or selling weapons to a regime which then uses those weapons to blow up schoolbuses ("You shouldn't be friends with a GAS KILLING ANIMAL Russia!" - remember that hilarious bit of hypocrisy from your President?), can we at least agree that it's 'not good' to do that? It won't change a damn thing other than restoring a little faith that somewhere in this world of greed and violent self-interest, we still recognise that murder is wrong. And we honour the families of those killed for our greed by acknowledging that it was at least wrong. Or are we just going to accept that, with the decline of American 'leadership' in the world (believe it or not, even I think you were once good at it) we're just going to all be nihilists now?

Sometimes (like now, with these two recent cases of Khashoggi and the baby that Britain didn't give a fuck about in Syria) I feel like the so-called 'civilised' world has lost whatever 'conscience' (for lack of a better word) it may once have had, like its understanding and respect for what is fundamentally decent has just been tossed away and nobody cares enough to salvage it.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2019, 07:44:15 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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline sylvan

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1938 on: March 13, 2019, 07:46:25 AM »
Dave, while I agree with damn near EVERYTHING you're saying, and I'm even having to come to terms with "owning" that as an American, I think it's important to not over-generalize a VERY LARGE group of people based on the relatively few lowest common denominators. That being said, there are plenty of people that lie to themselves about REALITY, but I'm doing best to not be one of them.

Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1939 on: March 14, 2019, 08:07:58 AM »
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I get the sense (correct me if I'm wrong) that because the standard of morality is different for every person, you have a problem basing things on 'morality'. But to me, morality is a dicussion. It's not a method of coercing people into how to behave.

And yet, increasingly, it is.   Trump denouncing Saudi Arabia and sending $100's of millions (if not billions) of contracts into a tailspin is not a "process" or a "discussion".  It is very much forcing people how to behave.    Terminating people from their jobs because they violated what some want to see as the accepted "moral code" is not a "process" or a "discussion" it is "coercion".   When the discourse is reduced immediately to an ad hominem level - you're "deplorable" if you believe this, you're "part of the systemic racism", or "whitesplaining" if you try to engage in dialogue about why referring to race benignly isn't in fact "racISM", you're not at all interested in dialogue or discussion.

But what does any of that (systemic racism, ad hominem attacks, 'whitesplaining', etc) have to do in any way with the murder of Khashoggi (which you seemed to be talking about at the beginning of the paragraph, but then you confused me with the rest of it) and the suggestion that America has a duty to address it? I honestly don't see how Trump is being "forced" to do anything by people having this discussion. The President of the USA doesn't get "forced" to do anything at that level of geopolitics, believe me. If he did, he wouldn't be able to tell the International Criminal Court to go fuck itself.

Now my chance to be confused:  if all you are saying is that we talk about it, then we have no argument.  I took your point to suggest that Trump SHOULD denounce the Kingdom vociferously, and renounce the contracts out of hand (that's what some are calling for).   I'm just pointing out that "discussion" and "debate" are not defined by "outcomes".  I blur the issues, Dave (and I apologize for that) because here, in the States, Khashoggi is a minor issue. I'm sorry, I'm embarrassed for that, but it is true.  It's a minor issue.  And even then, it's only as a way to criticize Trump for the larger point of "alienating his own in favor of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (in my estimation, Putin, the Crown Prince, Kim, and Xi).  Here, EVERYTHING is framed in the context of race.  Even as a white man, there is very little opportunity during the waking day to not be forced to think of race.   EVERY issue is framed in race.  Here in Connecticut, the debate is the legalization of marijuana, and it's largely being framed in terms of race (the people being jailed are "more brown" than... blah blah blah.   The people not getting the benefit of the revenue are "more brown", blah blah blah.  Beto just said this same thing in his coming out speech in Iowa). 

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And I have to address the first underlined sentence, because it obviously triggers me enormously (my fault, not yours, you know I'm sensitive to this stuff and you also know not to take any of it personally). You suggest that people shouldn't be "terminated from their jobs" and "100s of millions in contracts" shouldn't be cancelled because of what "some want to see as the accepted moral code".

So 2 things:

1) Why did you specifically make mention of the large monetary amount ("100s of millions, if not billions") of contracts? How much money is enough to justify murder? If the contracts were worth a combined total of 300 dollars, would it be ok to take action against the murder of Khashoggi?

To be deliberately more emotive, if one day your daughter is travelling in the Middle East and some Saudi terrorists cut off her head, how much money in military contracts will it require for you not to think that the perpetrators should be held to account? Would you feel better knowing that your daughter was murdered so that 10 billion dollars was added to the American economy than you would if she were murdered for $6.70? And will you still contend that punishing the murder and dismemberment of your daughter is merely a case of "what some want to see as the accepted moral code"?

There's no number; I don't mean it in that quantitative way.  I do mean it in a qualitative way.   My kid is at that age.  She's that cute blonde girl (it seems to always be a cute blonde girl, sadly) that always seems to be missing.  She's been to Thailand, she's been to Ecuador, she just went to the Bahamas... and dad panics for the entire time she's gone.   But look; she hasn't been taken (knock wood) and so I can only speak to what my beliefs are.  But in the spirit of "there are no atheists in foxholes!", I would tell you it's the totality of the circumstances.   I have deep, deep sympathy for the family of Otto Warmbier.  But I also think that some of that playing out in the press was political sparring.   I would also say that Khashoggi is not Otto Warmbier or Natalee Holloway.  He's actively and knowingly involved in geopolitical discourse.   

But I say the number because of the few people talking about it, that's what seems to come up.  "Oh, Trump is worried about his deal and not the people".  Well, as is typical in these discussions, the bigger picture is either not recognized or not acknowledged.  Those deals are not cash in the pocket of Trump and his cronies.  Those contracts are an integral part of the economy, an integral part of the reason that Trump got elected, and an integral part of why the standard of living in the States is as high as it is.    Yeah, it's easy to look at that as selling weapons for blood money, but I also look at it as jobs and wages and benefits for easily millions of people when the consequential impacts are calculated.   If you want to put a number on something, use that.   Does a student that wants to "experience" North Korea (and all that entails) outweigh the livlihood of millions of people?  I feel okay saying "no, not on that level". 

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2) You asked earlier why the acquisition of wealth is necessarily 'wrong' (my answer is: it isn't, unless it's acquired by immoral actions such as theft, murder and enslavement). But let's assume it isn't wrong, and that any means justify the ends, so long as the ends are large enough (as implied by Trump's reaction to Khashoggi being acceptable because we're talking billions of dollars, not hundreds). So my next question is: what objection can you offer to the Bolshevik Party of America coming into your home, murdering you and all your family, and taking your wealth from you? At a time when America is terrified of "socialism" because it means the 'forced redistribution of wealth', how is 'nation building' (another great American euphemism) and war-mongering by Conservative Americans anything other than that, and why is 'wealth redistribution' suddenly fine so long as the sums at stake are 1) massive enough and 2) being 'redistributed' in the direction of America (in return for *ahem* some 'infrastructure'. Some awesome 'infrastructure' in eastern Ukraine right now, they've almost put a hospital and a couple of roads back together again. It's good to see the Biden family putting their stolen wealth back to good use over there)?

I'll phrase it this way: imagine 30 years from now, China is the super power and America is a shell of what it was. China decides to invade America, raid your wealth, murder your men, and take your women and children, Apocalypto style (it obviously won't happen but bear with me). Is there any argument you can give me for why there should be an international agreement that such behaviour is wrong and will be punished? Before you answer, consider carefully this essential detail: Chinese workers will stand to gain billions in contracts if their government does this to you. And in return for raiding your wealth and razing your country to the ground, they promise to use 10% of the spoils to rebuild a few bridges and put the electricity back on. Kindly giving America some infrastructure, in other words.

Well, I'm going to turn this around.  I think there is a problem there, but not on the standard or scale you're using.   And bear with me:  I'm not defending Iraq in any way shape or form. I've not been there, and I don't know what the reality is on the ground.  The little first hand experience I have (a guy that was banging my first wife did a year-long tour; before I realized that he was more than a friend, we had this conversation.   Yes, I wrote all that, and no I'm not intoxicated. I know three other servicemen/women that spent time there, including the general that commanded the air wing at the base from which the team that captured Saddam was based.) indicates that it was less than perfect, but not nearly the clusterfuck that the American press portrayed.   But for me, the standard about China, et al., is not economic benefit, but rather, the rights/freedom benefit we talked about previously.     To the extent I support Iraq, it's on the basis of the fact that some of those people voted for the first time ever in their life.  I have, somewhere, a picture of an Iraqi woman, perhaps in her 60's, with an ink mark on her finger, literally risking her life to vote, to have her voice heard.   

Grossly over-exaggerating, if the "invasion" brings more freedom than was there before, I'm more apt to be for it. If there is less, I am not.    If you put the scale of freedom here in the States at, say, 8 out of 10, if that Chinese invasion gives us 9, i have no complaint.  If it gives us a 7 or less, I have a problem, I don't care how many bridges are built.  I get that this sounds somewhat naive; it is.  But I'm trying to get a point across. There are nuances here that could take pages to discuss, and I'm aware of that. 

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1940 on: March 15, 2019, 07:30:52 AM »
Firstly I need to be clear on this point:

"I took your point to suggest that Trump SHOULD denounce the Kingdom vociferously, and renounce the contracts out of hand"

Absolutely not, that's not at all what I'm calling for. I personally couldn't care less if he denounces the Prince or not. My point is: as "leader of the free world" he is obliged to, or else he forfeits the title. As the leader of the country that endlessly moralises to the rest of us about standards of behaviour, and punishes anyone (who is against US interests of course) who breaches them, he is obliged to. As someone who told Russia via Twitter that "you shouldn't be friends with a GAS KILLING ANIMAL", he is obliged to. Otherwise, he makes his country look hypocritical, self-serving and morally-bankrupt. Let's wait and see what the American response is when Maduro (the coup isn't going too well is it?) chops up a journalist. We'll be back to "this evil and abhorrent act is an affront to decency and human values. My Administration has therefore decided to authorise military intervention against this barbaric monster..."

We have spoken a lot in other threads, here and elsewhere, about why America is going down the path it is. A path that leads from the Normandy beaches (what I consider, symbolically at least, to be America's finest hour as its position as an actual leader of the truly free world) and the situation we have today, a kind of decadent nihilism headed by a semi-literate (so ironic that Tucker Carlson used that word to describe Iraqis in that leaked audio 2 days ago, given whose ass he spends half his life kissing) dullard. And of course there is not one, simple explanation, but I think at least part of the reason (the part that I don't think Americans on the whole will ever really talk about as a society, because maybe they don't want to face it) is that you're in denial about who you are as a country. I'm sure that even by writing that, there are people who get their backs up and think "Who the fuck is this foreigner to say who or what America is?", but I'm an observer. I can be wrong, but it's my observation. There is too wide a gap between America's perception of itself and the reality.  You're not the "world's greatest democracy" (your education and health systems are kind of shocking for a country so wealthy, you ought to be leading the world in both but you don't). For me, Donald Trump is what will inevitably happen to any empire when it grows complacent, lazy, self-satisfied, and loses sight of its foundational principles (which, on paper at least, were top-notch, and I don't see the point in having such a great beginning if you're not going to make sure each generation re-learns it).   

Alright, so that was the first point. The other ones I want to address are these:
 
"To the extent I support Iraq, it's on the basis of the fact that some of those people voted for the first time ever in their life.  I have, somewhere, a picture of an Iraqi woman, perhaps in her 60's, with an ink mark on her finger, literally risking her life to vote, to have her voice heard".

Why have you decided that 'democracy' is necessarily the best system for Iraq, and what authority do you (America, not personally you Stadler) have to make that determination for them? If your (Stadler) most bedrock of convictions is that telling other people how they ought to live is wrong, how do you square it with the above quoted sentences? Why do you reject liberals' attempts to destroy you until you accept their interpretation of the 'best way to live', but you can destroy Iraq until they accept your version of the best way to live? I do not want to live in a 'liberal democracy' and I left England at the age of 21 for this very reason. Do I now have to face the prospect of being invaded by America because you've decided I'm wrong and I must live as you do?

And I'd be passing up a golden opportunity for satire if I didn't give my take on your photo of the woman: next year, China invades America. They want to bring your people the freedom to not have to worry about health care. They've decided this is what you need. Freedom is the concern here. Freedom is all. So they trash your country, reduce it to a pile of rubble. Years pass. People start to forget what America was, as happens with destroyed empires (who here remembers the Mongolian empire?). Then one day, the president of America (President Xiu Ying - just as the CEO of Ukraine's largest private oil and gas producer has the wonderfully Ukrainian name of Hunter Biden) declares that there will now be democratic elections. All Americans will now have the chance to vote between the new candidates, Zhang Wei and Chen Liu. An eagle-eyed photograher will snap a photo of an American woman voting in her first ever election with the title "Freedom at last in America! God bless the Chinese liberators".

I have a question for the woman in your photo: can she tell me who exactly the people in her 'election' were? As in, what interests did they represent and who put them on the ballot? It's the same question I had when Obama praised the new "freedom in Ukraine", when he installed the fucking finance minister (!) of the last "corrupt" guy as Ukrainian president.

So no offense but propaganda images of the great American saviours may work in America but they don't work with me. I also saw many images of smiling Ukrainians 'voting' for America's puppet Poroshenko. Now those exact same people flood over here to Russia, exactly to my city because we're relatvely near the border, because they see what their 'vote' created. Next to your picture of the Iraqi woman voting, put another of an ISIS terrorist cutting off someone's head. That was another consquence of your invasion.     

"Grossly over-exaggerating, if the "invasion" brings more freedom than was there before, I'm more apt to be for it. If there is less, I am not".   

First and foremost I acknowledge your mention of the "gross over-exaggeration", and respect it. I also sometimes paint in massively broad strokes but I do it so as to get the overall point across, which I know you're doing here also (and did in the last comment about the photo of the Iraqi woman, so again I meant no offense in my reply to it).

But with that said, I have to follow it up with a similar question to the one I asked before - "freedom" by whose definition (some in the American transgender community want the "freedom" to decide which crapper to use)? Freedom can be a broad term, and to control its definition and application is to control society. Your last government, the Obama Administration (more exactly my old nemesis John Kerry), actually used the word "freedom" when explaining why Russia "must" allow a gay pride parade through the streets of Moscow, even though it is against Russian culture to do that kind of thing. Your 1-10 scale of freedom (again I acknowledge it was a convenient simplification) means nothing until we can start putting words beneath those numbers. What does a country of 6-rated freedom look like, how does it differ to a 7-rated country, and who decides it all? If Russia is rated 4 on the scale, can you invade us to make us a 5, as you did to Iraq?

And finally, if the acceptable criterion for invasion is that it "increases a country's freedom", and if literally every country in this world is "less free" than America according to the definition of "freedom" used by America, then follow that train of thought to its blood-stained corpse-strewn ruin of a destination.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 10:26:33 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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline Adami

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1941 on: March 15, 2019, 07:47:40 AM »
You know Dave, I always hate when you edit your posts. I never know if you've added in another very good point that I need to find, or just changed "shouldnt" to "shouldn't."
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Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1942 on: March 15, 2019, 08:36:44 AM »
My point is: as "leader of the free world" he is obliged to, or else he forfeits the title.

I have to stew on that for a while; my gut tells me that you are right, but my gut is uneasy with that (and no, that's not a reference to Trump).   

Quote
We have spoken a lot in other threads, here and elsewhere, about why America is going down the path it is. A path that leads from the Normandy beaches (what I consider, symbolically at least, to be America's finest hour as its position as an actual leader of the truly free world) and the situation we have today, a kind of decadent nihilism headed by a semi-literate (so ironic that Tucker Carlson used that word to describe Iraqis in that leaked audio 2 days ago, given whose ass he spends half his life kissing) dullard. And of course there is not one, simple explanation, but I think at least part of the reason (the part that I don't think Americans on the whole will ever really talk about as a society, because maybe they don't want to face it) is that you're in denial about who you are as a country. I'm sure that even by writing that, there are people who get their backs up and think "Who the fuck is this foreigner to say who or what America is?", but I'm an observer. I can be wrong, but it's my observation. There is too wide a gap between America's perception of itself and the reality.  You're not the "world's greatest democracy" (your education and health systems are kind of shocking for a country so wealthy, you ought to be leading the world in both but you don't). For me, Donald Trump is what will inevitably happen to any empire when it grows complacent, lazy, self-satisfied, and loses sight of its foundational principles (which, on paper at least, were top-notch, and I don't see the point in having such a great beginning if you're not going to make sure each generation re-learns it).   

I think we're going to diverge widely in the details, but not this American.  No "back up" here.    I'm stepping back from some of the Trump discussions in part over this very point.   Your last sentence is something I've been relentlessly hammering here and elsewhere, and all I get is "we get it Stadler, blah blah blah" and back to the "hey, did you see that Trump misspelled "boobie"?  Fox News!" I've said too many times to count that I don't fear Trump as much as I fear what comes next, because we have shown ZERO reflectiveness, ZERO self-awareness, and ZERO ability to project beyond the immediate, individual and to the broad collective (and no, "living wages" are not "broadly collective", at least not in the way I mean it.)   

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Why have you decided that 'democracy' is necessarily the best system for Iraq, and what authority do you (America, not personally you Stadler) have to make that determination for them? If your (Stadler) most bedrock of convictions is that telling other people how they ought to live is wrong, how do you square it with the above quoted sentences? Why do you reject liberals' attempts to destroy you until you accept their interpretation of the 'best way to live', but you can destroy Iraq until they accept your version of the best way to live? I do not want to live in a 'liberal democracy' and I left England at the age of 21 for this very reason. Do I now have to face the prospect of being invaded by America because you've decided I'm wrong and I must live as you do?

I'm not at all saying that "democracy is best for Iraq".  I'm speaking more broadly, and in fact, I'm fundamentally in agreement with you.  I think that only IRAQ can decide what's best for IRAQ, and they should be able to do that.  You've fundamentally changed my thinking on this Dave, with the little biographical details you've released over the years.  Without blowing smoke up your skirt, you have shown me the light.   Why are you, a died in the wool Mancunian, in Mother Russia?   Because - as I understand it, correct me where I go wrong - you have made the educated and informed decision that the culture, the lifestyle, the framework, the freedoms, the restrictions, are right for YOU.   (And for what it's worth, I've spoken to a handful of people that were behind the Iron Curtain - I have relatives in what is today the Ukraine and Slovakia, and have colleagues in the former East Germany - and while they are grateful for the fall of the wall (the celebrations were not forced) there was some upsides to that way of living that they either miss or would like back.   I don't want Iraq to be "America, Jr.", I want Iraq to be what IRAQI'S want, not what one, relatively small religious sect led by the strongest man says they should be.  If the Iraqis want Saddam then so be it.   Not for us to decide.  We can, though, give them the opportunity to be heard in that regard.  That's what I support.  I've said here, that as much as it's probably not for me, if we vote in 2020 for a socialist government (true socialist, not this comic book version from Bernie Ocasio-Sanders) I'm accepting of that, because it's the will of the people.  I'm not looking to get into the ins-and-outs of what's a "fair" election, but nominally, if you're living where you want of your own free will, you'll not ever worry about any country led by this guy:

   

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And I'd be passing up a golden opportunity for satire if I didn't give my take on your photo of the woman: next year, China invades America. They want to bring your people the freedom to not have to worry about health care. They've decided this is what you need. Freedom is the concern here. Freedom is all. So they trash your country, reduce it to a pile of rubble. Years pass. People start to forget what America was, as happens with destroyed emires (who here remembers the Mongolian empire?). Then one day, the president of America (President Xiu Ying - just as the CEO of Ukraine's largest private oil and gas producer has the wonderfully Ukrainian name of Hunter Biden) declares that there will now be democratic elections. All Americans will now have the chance to vote between the new candidates, Zhang Wei and Chen Liu. An eagle-eyed photograher will snap a photo of an American woman voting in her first ever election with the title "Freedom at last in America! God bless the Chinese liberators".

I have a question for the woman in your photo: can she tell me who exactly the people in her 'election' were? As in, what interests did they represent and who put them on the ballot? It's the same question I had when Obama praised the new "freedom in Ukraine", when he installed the fucking finance minister (!) of the last "corrupt" guy as Ukrainian president.

So no offense but propaganda images of the great American saviours may work in America but they don't work with me. I also saw many images of smiling Ukrainians 'voting' for America's puppet Poroshenko. Now those exact same people flood over here to Russia, exactly to my city because we're relatvely near the border, because they see what their 'vote' created. Next to your picture of the Iraqi woman voting, put another of an ISIS terrorist cutting off someone's head. That was another consquence of your invasion.

I'm not naive; I get that there is a prime opportunity for propaganda here, and I'm not (necessarily) falling for that.   It's far too complicated to cover every nuance each time around.   And I'm also very VERY different from most Americans in that I do not expect any of this to be instant.  The attention span here is about 9.6 seconds, and that's my huge beef with both Trump and Twitter.   Yapping about Trump's latest foible while sitting on the can may have broader impacts, but if you for a second think that the average American is talking about that and not reacting to the tactical point made in that moment, you've been hitting the potato vodka, and ought to take a break. :)   There's a great thread over in the music section about Queen now being the second most popular band in the world behind the Beatles.  And I'm like "Sure; give it about six months and we're back to the big three - Beatles, Zeppelin, Floyd - and Queen will be back to where they were, an iconic, but slightly second-tier band with a passionate yet polarized fan base" (at least in America).   Similarly, I believe - strongly - that we should legalize not just weed, but ALL - well, most - psychotropic drugs, for various reasons.  Doing that would likely sacrifice a generation of abusers as the system calibrates, and while that breaks my heart, I feel that it may be necessary in order to provide for the greatest good for the greatest number of people (all, of course, in the context of my fundamental believe in self-autonomy).    Bringing it back around (since I'm all over the map here): if THIS election is two unknown puppets, fair enough, but maybe that woman likes being asked what she thinks, and won't settle for Saddam telling her what's what next time.   And maybe next time, the man down the street decides he's going to run or challenge the "planted" people.  I don't know what the mechanism is here, exactly, but it's a dynamic process, not a static switch. 

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"Grossly over-exaggerating, if the "invasion" brings more freedom than was there before, I'm more apt to be for it. If there is less, I am not".   

First and foremost I acknowledge your mention of the "gross over-exaggeration", and respect it. I also sometimes paint in massively broad strokes but I do it so as to get the overall point across, which I know you're doing here also (and did in the last comment about the photo of the Iraqi woman, so again, I meant no offense in my reply to it).

But with that said, I have to follow it up with a similar question to the one I asked before - "freedom" by who's definition (some in the American transgender community want the "freedom" to decide which crapper to use)? Freedom can be a broad term, and to control its definition and application is to control society. Your last government, the Obama Administration (more exactly my old nemesis John Kerry), actually used the word "freedom" when explaining why Russia "must" allow a gay pride parade through the streets of Moscow, even though it is against Russian culture to do that kind of thing. Your 1-10 scale of freedom (again I acknowledge it was a convenient simplification) means nothing until we can start putting words beneath those numbers. What does a country of 6-rated freedom look like, how does it differ to a 7-rated country, and who decided it all? If Russia is rated 4 on the scale, can you invade us to make us a 5, as you did to Iraq?

And finally, if the acceptable criterion for invasion is that it "increase a country's freedom", and if literally every country in this world is "less free" than America according to the definition of "freedom" used by America, then follow that train of thought to its smoking blood-stained ruin of a destination.

All fair questions.  I think this part of the conversation might be iterative, in that it can take many forms.  I'm not at all married to any one program, but I think it starts with the opportunity of an individual to choose, based on their fundamental autonomy.   But it all comes down to that autonomy.  I don't at all think that the transgender choosing their bathroom falls into this, because in some cases, their choice impedes the choice of others.   EVERYTHING is a compromise of competing rights.  What I respect most about you, personally, at least as I see it?   YOU took responsibility for your autonomy.  You didn't pull an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and try to force everyone into your mindset and worldview, you - as I remember you saying - packed your shit into the bags you can carry, and FOUND your "happy place" (For those reading this, PLEASE DO NOT reduce this to jingo-ism; this is NOT "America, love it or leave it"; it's more complicated than that).   I've railed on this before; forcing the world to your specifications is not "freedom" and is not "autonomy", because it abdicates an integral part of why autonomy works in a larger society:  accountability.    I don't talk of my disdain for Trump much (certainly not enough for many here) but if I had to use one word to characterize that disdain, it would be "accountability".   

Does this begin to answer your question? 

EDIT:  Blanket comment here:   I'm not John Kerry.  I'm very aware, Dave, of your criticism about "AMERICA'S idea of freedom".  I'm not arguing for that.  Please always keep in the back of your head the underlying premise of the autonomy of the individual.  All this is predicated on that.   I believe country lines are important for various reasons - cultural, heritage, organization, etc. - but I'm not at all married to the idea of "nation-states" as being sacred.   I'm American, but I come - literally 100% - from a sector of the planet that is roughly (this is thumb-nail math here) 1500 or 2000 sq. km., and yet probably encompassed 10 or 15 "countries" over the past 200 years.   My parents' "families" knew each other in the "old country" (interestingly enough, the family names were Americanized the same way; my mom and dad had the same last name before they married. That's how they met.  "Stadler, your bowling lane is open.  Stadler!" and they both showed up.)  I'm keenly aware of the CULTURAL difference, but the arbitrary lines shifting?  Nothing more than an annoyance as I dig back through the tree.  I don't argue these things to "have my way".  I'm not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with balls and more body hair.   Unlike her, or Bernie, or Trump, or Hillary, I don't CARE what the answer is, only how we get it.  Of course I have my opinions, and share them, but my ideas here are not "John Kerry"; my ideas here are "how can we get the maximum amount of people to be able to exercise the maximum amount of rights for the maximum amount of time".   If any given person decides, for themselves, that that equation means living under Kim Jong Un, then provided they take accountability, they ought to be able to do that.  Do you see the difference? 

Offline El Barto

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1943 on: March 15, 2019, 08:51:22 AM »
Your mom should have hyphenated her name. That would have been cool.
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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1944 on: March 15, 2019, 12:45:36 PM »
Your mom should have hyphenated her name. That would have been cool.

Haha, it would have.  :)

Offline Progmetty

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1945 on: March 23, 2019, 03:32:20 PM »
Unrealted; interesting interview with AT&T CEO https://youtu.be/-oMKEXzvq_8
I wouldn't want somebody with 18 kids to mow my damn lawn, based on a longstanding bias I have against crazy fucks.

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1946 on: April 04, 2019, 07:34:46 AM »
Posting this here rather than the AOC thread, so as not to derail it.

Stadler, you asked again why I focus on FOX, and I've tried over the years to explain at enormous length why I do it. If I've failed to make my point then that's on me, but to summarise it once more, I focus on FOX because they are not remotely the same as CNN et al. Not in kind and not in degree. The structure of News Corp is fundamentally different and its function cannot be compared to any other major media organisation. Fox News is not just the statistics you talk about (how many people watch it or click on the site). It is a piece of a vast empire that has overthrown governments, taken money from (and more than once given money to) terrorist organisations, and has its fingers in pretty much every political pie. Rupert Murdoch represents a set of interests who in many ways dictate what American policy will be on everything from war foreign interventions to budget cuts. On the previous page of this thread I posted an exceptionally-researched article detailing the structure of News Corp and how it created the Donald Trump presidency. I'll repost it here. Personally I don't know how any American can read this and not be concerned about their precious "world's greatest democracy":

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/03/11/the-making-of-the-fox-news-white-house

Yesterday, another article was published, also exhaustively researched (this is the kind of thing that should give people faith that proper investigative journlism is still alive in America). When you have time, please at least read this article. You will understand better why I feel the Murdoch media cannot be compared to NBC, CNN, ABC and so on, biased though those companies obviously are. Political bias is the least serious accusation that can be leveled against Murdoch and the interests he represents (I've asked this before and will ask it again: what would be the reaction of all those pious folk who read FOX's fear-mongering, Christian-baiting articles about "MUSLIM PRAYER MATS FOUND AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER!! if they knew which fundamentalist terror-sonsoring Islamist regime was feeding FOX their cash?)

So read it when you have time (it's lengthy). You don't need to respond to it, but at least read it. It'll give more context to any future posts of mine that place an emphasis on FOX News over other networks: 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/03/magazine/rupert-murdoch-fox-news-trump.html
"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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1947 on: April 04, 2019, 09:27:46 AM »
Well, I'm sorry you feel like you've failed; you have not. I understand that aspect of your argument.  I read the first article when you first posted it, and I re-read it again now to be able to speak to it, and I read the second article.

At the risk of sounding like Trump, though, my "gut" tells me that the story is not as pat as that.   From the first article:  "Trump and Fox are employing the same risky model: inflaming the base and intensifying its support, rather than building a broader coalition."  I watch CNN every day.  I see that "model" being played out hourly.   Briana Keiler regularly threatens us with the fear that we're not being informed, that the checks and balances of this administration are whack, that democracy is literally crumbling as we watch.   There's no "coalition" being sought by the editorial content of CNN.  I patently do not watch the opinion content - Hannity/Carlson on Fox, Lemon on CNN, Maddow on MSNBC - as I don't need someone to tell me what my opinion ought to be, and you will not find anyone more troubled by the fact that Sean Hannity is not digging ditches or selling life insurance in Pittsburgh; the guy is a fucking idiot.   From the second article:  "A 2007 study found that the introduction of the network on a particular cable system pushed local voters to the right: the Fox News Effect, as it became known."  Why does that assume that we started at a point of pure neutrality?  Doesn't it follow that if "news outlets have influence" and "humans are influenced by news that backs up their point of view", that liberal news outlets have the same level of bias, and that perhaps we were skewed left, and Fox brought us back more to the center?  Why do we ignore human nature when it doesn't fit our narrative, but focus almost entirely on it when it does?

Not to say I disregard your point.  I'm troubled by Murdoch, and as I have said, Hannity is an idiot, so the fact that our President even TALKS to him, let alone might be influenced by him, is deeply troubling.  But while I agree with your assessment of Murdoch (the two articles don't really go into his terrorist connections, but I trust you on that) I'm really talking about the net impact on the people, and that's not the same thing.    If I'm married to a woman, and she cheats on me with her personal trainer, does it matter that she suffers from narcissim, or lack of personal self-worth, or depression, or that I work too much or that I drink too much?  End of the day, instead of getting help, instead of pushing us into counseling, instead of dealing with the problem, she cheated.     

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1948 on: April 05, 2019, 12:38:45 PM »
In a story that has received next to zero coverage in the American media (that I've seen), the US State Department today revoked the visa of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47822839

I have written about this story before. Late last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened sanctions against anyone on the ICC who dared to investigate any US involvement in war crimes, in particular those for which there is mountains of evidence in Afghanistan (as Fatou Bensouda suggested she was going to do). As Pompeo reiterated today:

"If you're responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you will still have or get a visa, or that you will be permitted to enter the United States. We're prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the ICC does not change its course"

Stay tuned for how the 'country of laws and leader of the free world' reacts next time it suits them to start shrieking about a "human rights abuse" by some pesky government they need toppled.
"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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Online Phoenix87x

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1949 on: April 11, 2019, 05:56:27 AM »
Well, Assange is now in custody.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47891737


Offline Chino

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1950 on: April 11, 2019, 06:20:04 AM »
[Serious] Is this that guy's first time outside in all this time?

Online Phoenix87x

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1951 on: April 11, 2019, 06:42:57 AM »
I don't really know a whole lot about his set up in the embassy, but apparently he had a balcony he could stand on, but besides that it was all just being indoors




Offline Stadler

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1952 on: April 11, 2019, 07:29:44 AM »
It looks more like they arrested David Letterman by mistake.   I'll wait until the DNA evidence comes back.  :)

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1953 on: April 11, 2019, 07:31:33 AM »
"Pamela Anderson is livid with the UK government and is accusing them of being a puppet of American President Donald Trump"

Imagine being in a coma for 20 years and then waking up and reading that sentence.

More seriously, it's much better for him to be removed while Trump is president. Hopefully he'll pull some strings. If he'd been extradited under Obama he'd never see freedom again. My advice to Pamela Anderson (not often I begin a sentence that way) is to recognise that this is the best scenario her 'boyfriend' could have reasonably hoped for.
"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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline El Barto

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1954 on: April 11, 2019, 08:08:24 AM »
More seriously, it's much better for him to be removed while Trump is president. Hopefully he'll pull some strings. If he'd been extradited under Obama he'd never see freedom again. My advice to Pamela Anderson (not often I begin a sentence that way) is to recognize that this is the best scenario her 'boyfriend' could have reasonably hoped for.
Why do you think this? I get that Obama was awful when it came to leaks and whistleblowers, but whether or not Trump goes easy or calls for him to be beheaded is a pretty random thing, and could change numerous times before he winds up in ADX Florence. And we all know that's where he'll wind up.
Argument, the presentation of reasonable views, never makes headway against conviction, and conviction takes no part in argument because it knows.
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Online Phoenix87x

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1955 on: April 11, 2019, 08:59:45 AM »
It looks more like they arrested David Letterman by mistake.   I'll wait until the DNA evidence comes back.  :)

The first thing that came to mind for me was Gollum from Lord of the rings, but Letterman is pretty spot on.

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1956 on: April 11, 2019, 09:58:21 AM »
More seriously, it's much better for him to be removed while Trump is president. Hopefully he'll pull some strings. If he'd been extradited under Obama he'd never see freedom again. My advice to Pamela Anderson (not often I begin a sentence that way) is to recognize that this is the best scenario her 'boyfriend' could have reasonably hoped for.
Why do you think this? I get that Obama was awful when it came to leaks and whistleblowers, but whether or not Trump goes easy or calls for him to be beheaded is a pretty random thing, and could change numerous times before he winds up in ADX Florence. And we all know that's where he'll wind up.

I think that in the same way Trump did a favour for Bibi with the Golan Heights and Embassy stunts, so he might do a solid for Putin here. Trump is impulsive on many issues but I think he recognises that stuff like this is a level of politics that doesn't concern him. Besides which Assange has been pretty clearly on Team Trump from the get-go (or at least rabidly anti-Clinton/Democrats) and Trump tends not to throw his supporters under the bus. Assange is a hero of the MAGA crowd, or at least ought to be. It's possible there's no President Trump were it not for his campaign against Clinton.
"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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline El Barto

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1957 on: April 11, 2019, 10:40:22 AM »
More seriously, it's much better for him to be removed while Trump is president. Hopefully he'll pull some strings. If he'd been extradited under Obama he'd never see freedom again. My advice to Pamela Anderson (not often I begin a sentence that way) is to recognize that this is the best scenario her 'boyfriend' could have reasonably hoped for.
Why do you think this? I get that Obama was awful when it came to leaks and whistleblowers, but whether or not Trump goes easy or calls for him to be beheaded is a pretty random thing, and could change numerous times before he winds up in ADX Florence. And we all know that's where he'll wind up.

I think that in the same way Trump did a favour for Bibi with the Golan Heights and Embassy stunts, so he might do a solid for Putin here. Trump is impulsive on many issues but I think he recognises that stuff like this is a level of politics that doesn't concern him. Besides which Assange has been pretty clearly on Team Trump from the get-go (or at least rabidly anti-Clinton/Democrats) and Trump tends not to throw his supporters under the bus. Assange is a hero of the MAGA crowd, or at least ought to be. It's possible there's no President Trump were it not for his campaign against Clinton.
Far out. All news to me. We don't actually get much Assange coverage over here.
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Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1958 on: April 11, 2019, 11:02:49 AM »
Assange had his own show on Russia Today once upon a time -

https://www.rt.com/tags/the-julian-assange-show/

And the coordination between Kremlin 'hackers' (the euphemistically-named Internet Research Agency, which Mueller brought charges against) and Wikileaks during the 2016 election is well established (I hope the Mueller report gets released because I think there'll be lots of info about how exactly this worked). Assange did great things when he started out, exposing US war crimes, but then he cut a funding deal with  Russia and lost a lot of credibility by becoming a key part of the anti-Clinton campaign while suppressing leaks about Trump. In effect he sold Wikileaks to Putin.

I'm in England this week and don't have much time to post (writing this on my phone, which is irritating) but when I get back to Russia and have more time I'll get into this more.
"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.

"China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump's very very large brain" - American President Donald Trump, September 26th 2018.

Offline El Barto

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Re: P/R side chat thread, v. I am not a number I am a free man
« Reply #1959 on: April 11, 2019, 11:09:42 AM »
There's a flipside to the Trump aspect of this. What Assange did in releasing classified documents is perfectly A-OK. The SCOTUS has been pretty clear and decisive on that. (This indictment is actually for [allegedly] helping [then] Bradley Manning get a password out of an encrypted file.) This protection for the press is actually a very important thing. Yet Trump views a free press as an enemy of the state (not to mention his ego), so he might well have a keen interest in striking a blow here, specifically to undermine those protections.
Argument, the presentation of reasonable views, never makes headway against conviction, and conviction takes no part in argument because it knows.
E.F. Benson