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Niccoló and the Bully

I

As I watch the Trump Administration deteriorate into the political equivalent of the Fyre Festival, my thoughts naturally turn to Machiavelli.

Both Niccoló Machiavelli and Sun Tzu would agree that the point of engaging in a campaign of threats is to not have to ever actually deliver on those threats — the point is to intimidate rather than to actually inflict harm. Threats are a bid for power, an attempt to dissuade the victim from ever offering a challenge back to the one delivering threats. And threats, when delivered with a tone of confidence and from a posture of apparent strength, can indeed be quite persuasive to both their target and to third parties observing the power transaction in play when a threat is made.

I’m more familiar with Machiavelli, so his is the work I’m going to quote here. In The Prince he makes no bones about the fact that threats are a principal tool of statecraft. While Trump has not been reticent to make political threats, Machiavelli would be gravely disappointed with the first hundred days of Donald Trump’s Presidency.

 

II

[I]t is impossible for the new prince to avoid the imputation of cruelty, owing to new states being full of dangers. Hence Virgil, through the mouth of Dido, excuses the inhumanity of her reign owing to its being new, saying:

Res dura, et regni novitas me talia cogunt moliri, et late fines custode tueri.

Nevertheless he ought to be slow to believe and to act, nor should he himself show fear, but proceed in a temperate manner with prudence and humanity, so that too much confidence may not make him incautious and too much distrust render him intolerable.

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

Niccoló Machiavelli, Il Príncipe.

In the eighth grade, I confronted a bully. For weeks, he’d been challenging me for my seat on the school bus, humiliating me in front of other kids at school, and otherwise using me as a way of demonstrating his strength and fearsomeness to the other kids. One day he tripped me at the bus stop, and I’d had enough, so I picked myself up while he was snickering at me and said, “All right, let’s go.” All the other kids gathered around in a circle to watch us fight.

He took the first swing, a big roundhouse punch with a big drawback. Even for an unskilled, unpracticed shrimpy eighth-grader like me, it was easy to see it coming and to dodge and counter. I ducked below his swing and popped up again as quick as I could and landed a rabbit punch on the other kid’s mouth.

He immediately turned and ran away. I was actually disappointed: I wanted there to have been more of a fight.

There’s more to my story about the bully, but the interesting thing for today’s purposes is the brief public fight that he and I had. He had prosecuted a campaign of fear and intimidation against me. My rabbit punch couldn’t have actually hurt that other kid all that much. I don’t remember that I even drew blood (though I may have — I just don’t remember it that way). But it unmasked him as vulnerable. He couldn’t handle that, either psychologically or politically, so he ran away.

My own experience is near the root of my great dislike for President Trump. I see much in common between President Trump’s personality and that of the kid who tried to bully me. Of course, it’s hardly a novel insight to call Trump a bully even though he may not quite fit the personality profile exactly. And my own experience is that once a bully is exposed as not being nearly so strong and scary as initially perceived, it’s basically impossible for him to regain the power that the aura of fear once gave him.

 

III

At nearly every turn, at least in matters of significance and political prominence, Trump has demonstrated that his political threats may be safely ignored. Machiavelli counsels that this is a breeding ground for contempt, subversion, and even deposition and rebellion.

A prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred: because he can endure very well being feared while he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from despoiling the property of his citizens, and from their women. … Men love according as they please, and fear according to the will of the prince. A wise prince should establish himself on that which he controls, and not in that which others control. He must endeavor only to avoid being hated.

Niccoló Machiavelli, Il Príncipe.

Of Trump’s campaign promises, the easiest ones for me to remember are: a “temporary” ban on Muslims entering the United States, a wall on the border with Mexico to be paid for by Mexico, and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, something he said would be “so easy.” Trump promised to move quickly on all three of these, and in partial credit to him, he’s tried.

Let’s start by looking at the “Muslim ban.” Not one but two consecutive executive orders have been found unconstitutional, heavily based upon recorded statements of Trump himself openly stating what he really wanted to do: ban Muslims from entering the United States. The first time, Trump withdrew the order rather than defend it; the second order, he got the same result of an injunction against him, based upon his unconstitutional use of religion. As of the time I publish this article, no “Muslim ban” in effect. Eventually, we’ll see what the Supreme Court has to say about the issue, and it’s not a clear prediction either way there.

Another promise Trump made at every rally and debate was to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” When it turned out that this was going to be a harder thing to do than simply saying those words over and over again, Trump put close to zero thought into what the replacement was going to look like, failed to seek consensus on the replacement even within his own party, and instead threatened the members of his own party who weren’t reflexively on board with the idea with primaries. Since the people he wound up having to pressure were members of the House Freedom Caucus who don’t particularly fear primary challenges from their right, they stuck to their guns. Result: Trump backed down and Speaker Ryan pulled the vote. Trump ran away from the fight.

The other centerpiece campaign promise he made was the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico. And Mexico is going to pay for it. An extravagant promise, one which prompted former Mexican President Vicente Fox to find a native English speaker and double-check his translation before saying “No fucking way I’m paying for that wall.” Well, so far President Fox is on the better end of that exchange: Trump threatened to cut off remittances to Mexico only to find that he can’t do that, and when Candidate Trump took a trip to visit with the current President of Mexico, he carefully avoided his demand that Mexico pay for the wall. This demand, it appears, has not been renewed in any meaningful way during actual discussions with actual Mexican governmental officials.

He threatened to declare China a currency manipulator. That would have triggered some substantial responses at the WTO and called into question China’s Most Favored Nation status as a trading partner. Now that we need China to work in concert with us to rein in an aggressive North Korea, he backed off of that, too, breaking a campaign promise in the process.

He threatened to veto the spending stopgap bill if majority Republicans didn’t include startup funding for the border wall in this week’s spending limit vote to prevent a shutdown of the government. Again, not popular with the Freedom Caucus types who wanted to see spending cuts elsewhere to pay for it, so he had to take his threats elsewhere. Then, he threatened Democrats, saying they’d be blamed for a government shutdown if they didn’t agree to defund Obamacare insurance subsidies and Planned Parenthood. Democrats responded by saying, “Hey, do what you’ve got to do, Mr. President,” and Trump once again backed off rather than follow through.

Frustrated with his inability to get what he wanted out of Congress, that very same day he leaked, or had leaked, that he was going to sign an executive order indicating the United States’ intention to withdraw from NAFTA. Two telephone calls later — one from the President of Mexico and one from the Prime Minister of Canada — and that turned into “okay, we’ll renegotiate some key points instead of withdrawing.”

Then, there there was the “sanctuary cities” warning: certain jurisdictions were put on notice that Federal funds might not be sent to them unless they cooperated with Federal law enforcement’s efforts to deport undocumented aliens. That, too, has been shot down as unconstitutional. Now, like the “Muslim ban” order, it’s entirely possible that SCOTUS will reverse and allow the order to go forward. But this is far from certain, even with Justice Gorsuch now providing a fifth “conservative” vote.

Trump’s response to the “Muslim ban” and “sanctuary city” injunctions has been to threaten to “break up” the court that’s given him the most trouble in this arena, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the judges on the Ninth Circuit aren’t going to care a bit about this threat. First of all, even Trump’s biggest fans know it’s very unlikely to happen. But even if  their court is broken into two or three different appellate courts, the existing Ninth Circuit judges know that they’re going to continue being judges on one of those new courts, because the Constitution provides them with lifetime appointments so even if their court is split in two, they’re still going to be making the decisions on whatever new court they are assigned to serve.

Even the thing that actually got him some upward ticks in his approval ratings — shooting a phalanx of Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria that had apparently been used to launch chemical warfare attacks on civilians who opposed the Assad regime — was quickly demonstrated to have done no significant damage to the Syrian military when more air strikes were launched from that same base within 24 hours. And even then, Trump was exposed to have disclosed the strike before it happened to the Russian military, which may well have been the right thing to do (we don’t want to start a war with Russia directly) but nevertheless made the whole missile strike thing look like a double nothingburger with cheese.

I can think of exactly one thing that Trump has gotten done that is of tangible political benefit to him: his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was confirmed. But really, was this such a great accomplishment for Donald Trump? The credit (or blame, depending on your political perspective) for Justice Gorsuch’s seating really belongs to Mitch McConnell, who threw principle and precedent to the wind and flexed his own political muscle to keep that seat vacant for long enough and in the face of what at the time seemed like daunting odds to give Republicans a chance to fill it. McConnell’s gamble paid off, and realistically, wouldn’t ANY Republican President have nominated Gorsuch, or some other judge very much like him?

So thinking back to my junior high school bully — after taking one punch to the face before a crowd, he knew, instinctually, that his gig was up and he’d never be feared or respected again. How many punches to the face has Trump taken in these past three and a half months?

 

IV

What has been Trump’s fundamental mistake? In my estimation, it’s hubris.

It makes [the prince] contemptible to be considered fickle, frivolous, effeminate, mean-spirited, irresolute, from all of which a prince should guard himself as from a rock; and he should endeavour to show in his actions greatness, courage, gravity, and fortitude; and in his private dealings with his subjects let him show that his judgments are irrevocable, and maintain himself in such reputation that no one can hope either to deceive him or to get round him.

That prince is highly esteemed who conveys this impression of himself, and he who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against; for, provided it is well known that he is an excellent man and revered by his people, he can only be attacked with difficulty. For this reason a prince ought to have two fears, one from within, on account of his subjects, the other from without, on account of external powers. From the latter he is defended by being well armed and having good allies, and if he is well armed he will have good friends, and affairs will always remain quiet within when they are quiet without, unless they should have been already disturbed by conspiracy; and even should affairs outside be disturbed, if he has carried out his preparations and has lived as I have said, as long as he does not despair, he will resist every attack, as I said Nabis the Spartan did.

But concerning his subjects, when affairs outside are disturbed he has only to fear that they will conspire secretly, from which a prince can easily secure himself by avoiding being hated and despised, and by keeping the people satisfied with him, which it is most necessary for him to accomplish, as I said above at length.

Niccoló Machiavelli, Il Príncipe.

The President, on his own, can’t repeal and replace Obamacare or indeed any other law. He needs Congress to do that. He can rally his own party in Congress, if his partisans see advantage to themselves in picking up the President’s ball and moving it forward — or if they see risk to themselves in failing to do so. But Trump didn’t have a ball for them to move at all, and offered neither advantage nor the mitigation of risk. What he offered instead was bluster, and that bluster did not match political reality.

Similarly, shutting down the government is incredibly unpopular. It only makes sense to threaten this if you are sure you can pin the blame for it on someone else. A brand-new President, with majorities of his party in both houses of Congress, has nowhere to shift blame. Similarly, Obamacare subsidies are also popular, especially with constituents of Democrats, so Democrats had nothing to lose by resisting Trump’s demands. Indeed, they looked like heroes for standing up to Trump to protect peoples’ health insurance. And they couldn’t lose: the alternative was a government shutdown, for which Trump and the Republicans would take the blame, not themselves.

Without having first maneuvered the political landscape, he had only his own inherent power as President and that isn’t enough under the Constitutional system of checks and balances to carry the day.

The President can’t control the courts; at best, he can, over time, fill vacancies on the courts with judges who seem likely to issue rulings favorable to himself, but he can’t get rid of the judges who are there already and he can’t guarantee that even his own appointees won’t rule against him.

It’s not clear to me that the President can unilaterally withdraw the United States from NAFTA. The negotiation of that treaty was fast-tracked, meaning the Senate pre-approved the President’s negotiation of the deal. Then, afterwards, it ratified the deal, making it the second-highest law of the land, subordinate only to the Constitution. So it appears to me that, at some point although maybe not at the beginning of the process, Congress has to be involved to actually withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA.

The President, on his own, can’t make Mexico give us money for any reason at all. Mexico needs a reason to do that. Trump found out he can’t unilaterally obstruct remittances because that’s a substantial interference with individual private property rights. Since Mexico knew this all along, it’s not a surprise that Mexico never took this threat particularly seriously. Similarly, The President can declare China a currency manipulator unilaterally. But doing so carries a price: the loss of Chinese cooperation in other arenas. Trump was unwilling to pay that price once North Korea acted up with its missile testing. Query if he would have been willing to pay the price of a trade war with China at all, even absent belligerence from North Korea: again, he would have faced objections from at least a large faction within the Republican party, which coupled with reflexive and near-uniform objections from Democrats would have put him at loggerheads with Congress. As it turns out, with other foreign policy concerns mixed with economic concerns — and there are always other foreign policy concerns mixed with foreign trade — Trump again chose to withdraw before ever really entering the fight.

In all of these cases, Trump both overestimated his own strength, and underestimated the cost of acting as he threatened. He seems to truly not comprehend that no one, not even a President, can do politics alone. That’s especially true in a system of government deliberately structured to fragment and distribute power. This mistake is why he failed to seek allies before staking his political markers. He publicly demonstrated  the limits of his power rather than the extent of his strength. Worse, he’s done so early during his Presidency, at a time when what he needed to do was demonstrate that his ability to make things happen politically exceeds the scope of his formal powers.

A bully needs the mystique of being the biggest, baddest, toughest hombre on the block. If he is seen to take a punch, if it is seen that it’s even possible for him to lose, everyone stops fearing him. That, it seems to me, is precisely what is happening now. For the first time since at least George H.W. Bush broke his “no new taxes” pledge and faced rebellion from his own party, the President appears to no longer be the leader of the government. We are effectively leaderless.

 

V

Donald Trump was never going to be loved, by anyone other than the hard core of his support group, representing no more than 45% of the Republican Party and thus about 10% of the people.1 With numbers like that, how’d he get elected at all? He got enough people, in just enough of the right places, to find him less odious than Hillary Clinton, for a variety of reasons. Being thought less bad than the alternative is a very different thing than being loved. His approval ratings reflect that.

And now, no one really fears him. Virtually every time he tries to do something that he can’t do entirely on his own, the political and institutional checks and balances built into our system prove to be too formidable for him to overcome. No one in Congress owes him anything. No one in Washington fears him. Nor anyone in Ottawa, Mexico City, Beijing, Damascus, Moscow, or Pyongyang. He’s tucked tail and ran when rabbit punched too many times now for other political actors to have failed to have noticed this pattern.

So it’s no wonder that he now complains that his job his harder than he expected it to be.

It didn’t get this way by chance. Having lost the ability to effectively make political threats, Trump must surely feel the absence of a fundamental political tool. The ship, in other words, lacks a captain able to administer discipline to the deckhands. Why, then, should they obey his orders?

Here’s the part that chills me as I see North Korea’s belligerence. Trump himself appears to have never read Machiavelli, or at least never understood him. But he has advisors who clearly have. They must surely be advising him that he needs to gain some political strength, as soon as possible. And just about the only thing that Trump has done that has gained him some level of political support beyond his narrow support base has been the missile strike on Syria.Traditionally, the public rallies around the flag when called to war and that reflects in higher Presidential approval ratings.

For myself, though, I’d much rather he didn’t seek political strength by way of a military confrontation with one or more of North Korea, China, or Russia: we’ve had quite enough unnecessary wars for the past sixteen years, thank you very much. What’s chilling to me is that Trump’s people are going to have to be quite a bit more clever than me to see a way other than this to put their President back into a place where he’s perceived as a leader again.

 

VI

This past roughly one hundred days, by the way, was your “honeymoon period,” Mr. President. It’s very likely going to harder from here on out.

 

Image by Metropolico.org Notes:

  1. I compute this by noting that Trump received a total of 14,015,993 votes in the primaries, reflecting total number of people who preferred him to all other available candidate choices, and 136,669,237 votes were cast in the general election, giving us the total number of voters in the United States. []

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Pseudonymous. Practices Law. Lives in Southern California. Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. Homebrewer. Atheist. No Partisan Preference. Likes: respectful and intelligent dialogue, good wine, and puppies. Dislikes: mass-produced barley pop, magical thinking, and insincere people. Follow him on Twitter at @burtlikko, and on Flipboard at Burt Likko.

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272 thoughts on “Niccoló and the Bully

  1. One area where he is winning — or at least, has not been shot down yet — is that he has taken dead aim at the EPA. Ignoring the memorandums and EOs rolling back regulation generally, there have been:

    (1) an EO allowing fast-tracking of environmental reviews for infrastructure projects;
    (2) an EO ordering a review of the EPA’s latest “waters of the United States” rule;
    (3) a proposed budget that cuts one-third of the EPA’s budget; and
    (4) an EO ordering a review of the Clean Power Plan.

    Other environmental rules promulgated by the Dept. of the Interior — eg, the stream-protection rule that effectively banned mountain-top-removal mining — have been rolled back. Several other bills rolling back recent EPA rules are working their way through the process. There’s also the usual batch of court cases involving EPA rules, where the administration can simply choose to not defend the rules.

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    • We’ll see. CO2 is a pollutant unless Congress decides otherwise and McConnell doesn’t have 60 votes. So the endangerment finding is on solid ground; how can the EPA possibly find otherwise in the face of the worldwide work that is reflected in the IPCC papers. If you concede the endangerment finding and attack the CPP, you have to have an alternative.

      The biggest concern to me is that EPA and DOJ will abandon enforcement.

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      • You can forget about CO2 regulations staying in place. If CO2 is a pollutant, we’re all criminals because we all emit it every time we breathe.

        Congress in no way intended for CO2 to be considered a pollutant when they empowered the EPA. They were looking at actual pollutants like mercury and sulfur dioxide, not plant food.

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        • Go read the convoluted mess that is Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA. CO2 from fixed sources is a pollutant that must be regulated when the source would be regulated for emissions of something else, ie, power plants. Two of Roberts, Kennedy, and the four liberal justices has to reverse themselves to change that. Or McConnell has to dump the filibuster on regular legislation so the Clean Air Act can be modified.

          Absent a change in the SCOTUS line-up, the blue states involved in Massachusetts v. EPA will eventually force the Clean Power Plan or some other regulation of CO2 from power plants through. But it might take a long time.

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            • Massachusetts settled that CO2 is a pollutant under the CAA and must be regulated. The new CAFE standards regulated CO2 emissions from mobile sources. The one thing in Utility Air Regulatory Group that all the justices agreed on was that once the mobile sources were regulated, the plain language of the law required that fixed sources also be regulated. Up to that point, the “Kennedy Court” was consistent. Where things got weird was when the Court decided that “any source emitting more than 250 tons per year” of “any pollutant” meant CO2 regulations just for power plants.

              Myself, I think what happened behind closed doors was even uglier: the NE urban corridor conservatives dislike coal for all the other things it dumps into the environment — acid rain, smog precursors, fine particulates, heavy metals — and saw an opportunity to do something about it.

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        • SOx and NOx and mercury are perfectly natural! What makes them pollutants?

          Duh, the dose.

          Atmospheric CO2 in 1800 – 280 ppm per ice core data.
          Atmospheric CO2 in 1960 – 321 ppm per Keeling Curve
          Atmospheric CO2 in 2017 – 409 ppm per same.

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          • Atmospheric CO2 since the Triassic – 1,000 ppm

            You generally want to keep the CO2 level between 1,000 and 1,500 ppm, but anything below 10,000 ppm works great.

            We’re in an ice age, which is very abnormal for the Earth.

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            • Abnormal in geologic terms doesn’t meant that reversion to the mean wouldn’t be awful for human civilization. Beyond that, I’m not sure what reason I have to take this assertion any more seriously than a Kimmi comment. I don’t personally know anything about climate science, but as far as I can tell the vast majority of people who do think we’re in deep shit. Why should I credit your assertion that they’re all wrong?

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              • They’re all wrong due to a variety of factors that include noble cause corruption, group think, institutional bias, mission blindness, the nexus of government/academic funding, and some very primitive human instincts regarding abundance.

                They completely skipped some very basic steps. First, they assumed that any human caused change in the climate must be very bad, not because of any science, but because the change must come as punishment for gluttony and greed, and our moral sense tells us that punishment must be bad, very bad, or else it’s not a punishment. That’s pretty instinctual for primates who used to be prey animals. A species of technological felines would never make that assumption.

                And of course they don’t want to fix the perceived problems (slight warming, slight sea level rise), they want mankind to repent and sin no more. They will viciously attack people for even suggesting solutions other than repentance.

                For example, I can give you a budget figure for controlling the sea level that is $10 billion a year per mm/year abated for pumping sea water 100 meters vertically onto wide areas of the Arctic and Antarctic where it will sit through the next ice age. If the costs are divided up by GDP, the US portion of that cost is about $2.6 billion a year per mm/year rise abated, which comes to 4 inches per century. So to handle a 16 inch rise per century the US share would be $10.4 billion a year added to the budget. The cost would actually be quite a lot lower because those figures are based on the cost of providing commercial electricity, and for a pump you don’t even need an electric generator or a distribution grid. But if you suggest such a scheme the alarmists heads all explode, as the fear they’ve so laboriously cultivated would evaporate, and their climate funding would go to guys in hard hats and flannel shirts that they despise.

                They don’t want a solution. In fact, the worst emitters are given a pass as long as they evangelize, which is why Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio are hailed as prophets even though they fly around in private jets and party on giant yachts and emit about a thousand times more per capita CO2 than the “denialists” they lambaste for destroying the planet, even if those “denialists” live in a tiny, efficient house, walk to work, and grow their own vegetables.

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                  • The “denialists” stand on science and logic instead of wacko religious beliefs about the apocalypse.

                    For example, in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, the temperature goes up 1 C for every 90 miles south. The climate you are terrified of is already here, just a three hour drive from you.

                    The temperature drops 1 C for approximately every 500 feet of elevation change. So for those who live on the hilltops of Appalachia, they can experience the apocalyptic future temperature by going to the bottom of their driveway.

                    But even more to the point, suppose “denialists” could create an artificial environment where the average temperature was up to 12 C hotter than the natural environment. What would “alarmists” do about such places? Why, they’d all decide to live there. The cores of blue cities are about 12 C hotter than the rural red areas. And yet they are full of idiots who think a 2 C rise in temperatures will wipe out civilization.

                    When all is said and done, social scientists will wonder how so many people could believe something so stupid for so long.

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                      • And yet science and logic still say that the alarmists believe in something stupid.

                        It makes lots of emotional sense, but no logical sense.

                        They’re trying to scare us with a very slight warming (we’ve already had 1.5 degrees of it with only benefits). To make sure they scare all of us they say it will profoundly harm almost everyone on the entire planet. That’s absurdly non-scientific.

                        The places where we live, by and large, have random temperatures. Yet if temperature is critically important, there must be an optimal temperature, and ideal climate for a person to live in. Yet they won’t tell us what it is. Is my climate better than your climate? If the Earth’s climate can become worse, due to temperature, then some temperatures must be better than others. But scientists forgot to investigate that. They just skipped that step entirely, which means temperature can’t be all that important. We just deal with it.

                        And the entire problem of human expansion was dealing with cold temperatures, not hot temperatures, because we all come from the African savanna, where our survival advantage was that we have no fur and are entirely covered by sweat glands so we can run at high noon when lions have to hide in the shade.

                        For humans, cold is deadly. Hot is not. That’s why we have the terms “tropical paradise” and “arctic wasteland”.

                        So their first thought was to scare us silly with the coming ice age. The Coming Ice Age: Narrated by Leonard Nimoy. The solution was of course to repent and abandon our industrial lifestyle. That’s always the solution for everything.

                        But then temperatures went up during the solar grand maximum, so they tried to scare us with warmth. Sure, it was an incredibly stupid idea for a species that evolved on the savanna, but they went for it anyway.

                        And the heating they warn about is tiny, a fraction of the artificial heating you get just by living in a city. But since we know a little bit of cooling can cause crop failures and mass starvation, even in historical times, it seems that the entire planet was balanced on a precipice. A few degrees either way, either hotter or colder, and we all die. This even though we live in states whose average climates vary by 39 F. But heck, who said logic had anything to do with alarmism?

                        So magically, the climatologists who grew up all over the Western world realized that the Earth’s ideal climate just happened, by pure chance, to be the exact climate each of them experienced during their childhoods in the 1970’s. What are the odds of that? The climate was not only perfect in the 1970’s, it was perfect everywhere! It was climatopia!

                        But if the climate was perfect everywhere, and all those places had very different climates, then climate doesn’t actually matter until you slam into the Arctic regions. So that’s another logical failure.

                        And then they just kept stacking failure on top of failure.

                        Currently the NCDC in Ashville North Carolina automatically adjusts past temperatures downwards as part of their homogenization algorithms. When new temperature data comes in, it causes ripples in time back to the 1920’s and 30’s. A physicist would call such time travel nonsense, but climatologists consider this cutting edge “science”.

                        And then they build climate models where F does not equal ma, F does not equal Gm1m2/R^2, and all of which overpredicted warming because they’re just wasting CPU cycles to produce the same outputs you can get with an Excel spreadsheet with a simple linear regression to within about 1%. (The MIT model differs from most by using Navier Stokes equations instead shallow water equations, but Navier Stokes equations are invalid if the fluid undergoes evaporation or condensation, the two things that, you know, drive the climate.)

                        As Judith Curry says, climate models are not fit for purpose.

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                        • Cripes this is why there was a march for science. So much wasted effort to ignore what you don’t want to see. The facts don’t match what you want so all of this. The best established facts re: AGW still leave a lot of value questions unanswered and uncertain choices but the rest is tribal.

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                          • I’m the one citing facts. You’re the one who can’t see.

                            How does a 2 C increase in temperatures harm you?

                            You can make all the claims you want, but those will be lies, because you don’t actually care about climate. How do I know this? Because if you get a range of job offers from Boston, New York, LA, Phoenix, Chicago, St Louis, Miami, Singapore, and London, you will look at the salary, benefits, stock options, state and local tax rates, cost of living, real estate market, home sizes, commutes, local schools, crime rates, the arts scene, the bar scene, and utility prices. You will only give the local climate a moment’s thought, and you probably won’t bother to learn what the area’s average temperature is to within 15 C. Those cities have such different climates that they might as well be on different Earths, but you don’t actually care about that because nobody actually cares about climate. It’s all just virtue signalling. ,Mankind has sinned and there is a reckoning hanging over all our heads. We will all be punished. We will all suffer. Many of us will die.

                            If you agree with those last bits, you are part of a religion, not science. When you hear scientists repeat those last bits, they are religious nuts, not scientists practicing something we knew as science. They are no different from earlier Christian scientists who studied the Earth’s wonders looking to understand the perfection of His creation. Everything they saw and thought about Earth’s structure and species was related back to their understanding of the gospels, just as nearly every paper on any subject in ecology or biology today has to give voice to some aspect of climate change or global warming. In 30 years all those papers will make scientists wince and cringe. If you approach every subject to find evidence to support the same silly narrative, you’re not doing science.

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                            • Loss of critical cropland. Ask the Syrians.

                              Death. Ask the French in the last heatwave.

                              Possible loss of habitability of portions of the planet (India and Pakistan look top of the list) due to maximum heat days that exceed the ability of humans to tolerate.

                              Radical redesign of the ocean biosphere, with unknown but possibly severe impact on key fisheries. Its already clear that coral can die off a whole faster than it can settle and grow in new areas.

                              Massive loss of forests in the US, due to a combination of heat stress and beetle infestation.

                              Literally permanent commitment to geoengineering, and that’s only if we stop issuing CO2 and deal only with the problems we know that we will have. As there is no evidence that the Keeling curve is now downward sloping, we’re not actually sure what our total scope of problems will be once we finally get CO2 emissions to zero.

                              btw, putting water on Arctic ice — you really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, do you? Do you have a shred of data to suggest that pumping water onto Arctic ice will result in that ice lasting longer than it would otherwise be expected to?

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                              • Francis,
                                You’re missing the deliberate genocide. The wall’s already built.

                                And Syria? Try Egypt, once one of the middle eastern breadbaskets. One of the first places to have regime change because of global warming.

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                                • Since we can barely measure global warming, requiring calibrated thermometers and well sited instrumentation, how did this something almost nobody can detect cause regime change in Egypt?

                                  And get this. Egypt was a breadbasket during the Holocene climate optimum, when the Earth was a whole lot hotter (by up to 3 C) and the eastern Sahara was a green savanna, not a desert. The early Egyptian art reflects this, showing savanna animals like lions and elephants just roaming around in what is now just drifting sand.

                                  What happened? The Earth started cooling about 6,000 years ago, an event called the Mid-Holocene Transition. More importantly, continuing orbital changes shifted the heat balance and drove the Intertropical Convergence Zone far to the south. This shift greatly weakened the African and Asian monsoons, so the Sahara, the Stans, northern India, and the steppes (central Asia) went from moist to dry.

                                  These regime changes will continue, and occur at roughly 2,500 year intervals throughout the Holocene. We’re now in a period called “neoglaciation”, where glaciers have advanced far from where they were during Roman times, when they had retreated to their minimums.

                                  And throughout almost the entire Holocene, the temperature trend has been opposite the CO2 trend. As CO2 went up, the temperatures went down.

                                  Or just try reading today’s post at Climate etc, which is a blog run by climatologist Judith Curry.

                                  She always has fascinating new papers, such as the one last week that held that hurricane’s are not driven by ocean evaporation, but by feeding off pre-existing atmospheric moisture in a kind of avalanche effect. This new insight may greatly aid forecasts of a hurricane’s path and energy.

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                                  • The Earth started cooling about 6,000 years ago, an event called the Mid-Holocene Transition. More importantly, continuing orbital changes shifted the heat balance and drove the Intertropical Convergence Zone far to the south. This shift greatly weakened the African and Asian monsoons, so the Sahara, the Stans, northern India, and the steppes (central Asia) went from moist to dry.

                                    So let’s see if we’ve got this correct:

                                    You are 100% aware that, *within human history*, small changes in temperature have caused *massive* alterations in habitable area.

                                    Now, your example has slight *cooling* do that, by reducing monsoons and making a desert…but, uh, even if we assume the climate is *perfectly symmetrical*, that obviously means that slight *warming* could, duh, cause monsoons back in those places.

                                    While no one really lives in, or needs the Sahara, you do realize that putting those monsoons *back* into northern India and the stans would kill a fuckload of people with flooding, right? People *build* on rivers, and you can’t just start dumping five times the amount of water in desert mountain areas and expect the rivers to absorb it.

                                    This isn’t something you can lay down an extra layer of pavement to protect against.

                                    Of course, the climate *isn’t* symmetrical, and there are a lot of *other* changes that could happen. For example, the ITCZ could move around *at the Americas*. We still have very little idea of why it’s located where it is located, or why it’s mostly in the northern hemisphere (Logically, it should be exactly at the equator), which means *we do not know what makes it move*. Which, as you mentioned, it has done before.

                                    The rainfall pattern in the US is almost entire based on airflow. Move the ITCZ around, and it entirely changes.

                                    Or, for a related (In that it would probably move the ITCZ) problem, the *thermocline* could move, or shut off.

                                    Seriously, what sort of dumbness is this: ‘Natural climate change, *within recorded human history*, turned a previously inhabitable area into *the largest desert on the planet, completely inhospitable to human life* by altering the position *largest* feature on the planet, the ITCZ, thus changing rainfall massively…and we can ignore human climate change by just raising our harbors slightly. Herp derp.’.

                                    You have also, I have noticed, ignored ocean acidification completely. CO2 is *killing vast amounts of fish*. And, yes, fish will eventually adjust, but the problem is, we need to eat those fish *now*, not in five hundred years when they’ve evolved to the new ph levels and replenished themselves.

                                    But congratulations, you’ve proved we all aren’t going to drown, I guess. Except for those people who get hit with massive monsoons and their rivers flood and *they* drown.

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                                    • But we can try to prevent all these catastrophic natural changes that will occur due to naturally declining temperatures (as we slip into another glaciation period) by pumping out massive amounts of CO2 and methane. What we need is a carbon tax rebate and oil subsidies, or billions of poor and minorities, mostly women, will die when their cities are crushed under miles of ice.

                                      Also, the oceans aren’t acidifying, they’re neutralizing. Ocean pH has dropped from 8.11 to 8.09. The ideal for fish is probably 7.5, but in any event it varies daily by over a full pH point. We’re still in an ice age with abnormally high pH and abnormally low temperatures. The fish are suffering. The whales are suffering. Thank goodness man has developed enough to try and prevent further suffering by getting temperatures up, lowering the pH back into safe ranges, and greening the deserts.

                                      The trouble with alarmists is that they don’t believe in climate changes. They are climate denialists.

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                                        • The oceans have risen tremendously since 1700. Our cities didn’t go under water, they expanded their harbors outward. Look at historical maps of places like Boston Harbor. In an afternoon a man can pile more rocks up than a hundred years of sea level rise can submerge.

                                          Of course getting a leftist to perform an afternoon of physical labor once in a century is the sticking point.

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                                      • But we can try to prevent all these catastrophic natural changes that will occur due to naturally declining temperatures (as we slip into another glaciation period) by pumping out massive amounts of CO2 and methane.

                                        There is absolutely no evidence that we are slipping into another glaciation period.

                                        In fact, inter-glacial periods aren’t that normally that short. 15,000 years is a very quick time. Granted, the *last* one was about that length, but it was very short compared to others. The one before it was 50,000 years, for example.

                                        There is a debate in the scientific community how long we have in this current inter-glacial period, but the debate varies between ‘another 23,000 years’ and ‘another 50,000 years’. There is no indication we are anywhere near another one age.

                                        Moreover, even if we were entering another glaciation, those take *hundreds of years* to start…and haven’t.

                                        It is possible to argue that human-directed climate change has *canceled out* a glacial period, I guess, except two problems: One, again, they take hundreds of years to start, so at best it would have canceled the *very start* of one, and two, that makes human-directed climate change have *larger effects* than currently calculated, which means it is *even more dangerous*.

                                        It’s the difference between someone throwing a baseball at you at 80 miles an hour, and someone throwing a baseball that hits you at 80 miles an hour…that you discover was thrown backwards from a car driving 80, which means it was actually thrown at 160 mph.

                                        I.e., if we really are *stopping an ice age*, the takeaway isn’t ‘Hey, we’re accidentally stopping a disaster, that’s a good thing!’, the takeaway is ‘Holy shit, we can alter the climate *even more* than we thought we could! Maybe we should stop randomly doing that before we break things even more than we already are!’

                                        Also, the oceans aren’t acidifying, they’re neutralizing.

                                        ‘Acidification’ is a perfectly reasonable term to describe *any* lowering of pH, and attempting to argue otherwise is like idiots who argue that there is no such thing as ‘deceleration’.

                                        Ocean pH has dropped from 8.11 to 8.09.

                                        In what time frame? Ocean pH was 8.25 back at the start of the industrial revolution.

                                        And while a change of 0.16 doesn’t seem like much, pH is *logarithmic*. A change from 9 to 8 is *ten times* as acidic.

                                        The ideal for fish is probably 7.5, but in any event it varies daily by over a full pH point.

                                        The ideal for fish is wherever they are currently evolved to live at. There’s not some magical objective number.

                                        And, no the pH does not vary ‘daily’, or in fact at all based on time as far as I know. It varies based on depth and location.

                                        Which is why *specific* lifeforms are evolve to deal with *specific* pHs.

                                        Ocean acidification alters all sorts of things in the ocean, especially the calcifying life…a few of which form important parts of the food chain.

                                        — Edited to conform to commenting policy and clean up italicization. (BL)

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                                        • Maybe we should stop randomly doing that before we break things even more than we already are!

                                          Depends on what the trade offs are. “Making the 3rd world stay in poverty” is a non-starter. Ditto “prevent any economic activity which involves electricity or transportation”.

                                          Anything which leaves me poorer is unworkable, so green energy needs to be cheaper than carbon. As far as I can tell, the value the world puts on removing carbon is basically zero.

                                          No one, including the greens themselves, are behaving as though the world is in danger (the greens aren’t screaming for nuclear, instead we have boondoggles that might pan out in decades or centuries).

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                                            • It’s progress that some Greens are willing to argue for nuclear power, but how much progress?

                                              The Anti-Nuclear Greens are willing (and eager) to protest, march, obstruct, and file lawsuits against nuclear power in an effort to make it impossible.

                                              The Pro-Nuclear Greens are willing to… what? Any of that? Are they willing to publicly shame their fellow greens to the point where they stop? As far as I can tell, the anti-nuclear greens are still running the show.

                                              Until they become sane, we’re going to be building coal plants so we don’t have to build nuclear plants.

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                                              • That’s just absurd. Plenty of projects get built all around this country over the objections of Greens. The only time that they really have any clout are in the rare occasions that the Kennedys or some other wealthy powerful interest is affected.

                                                Really, those poor pathetic downtrodden power executives can’t get nuclear power projects approved because of the enviros? Then fire the SOBs and bring people who can work the problem — California coastal real estate developers, for example.

                                                There was ample time in both Bush administrations to move forward on nuclear power issues, but no one in Congress had any desire to take on disposal. Sure people have an irrational fear of radiation, but it’s the goddamn job of power execs to step up and persuade Congress to cast a hard vote.

                                                (or maybe the real problem is that the nuclear power industry record in Europe is so catastrophically bad in terms of delivering projects on time and under budget that the industry couldn’t get financing here in the US that pencilled out to competitive rates. Perhaps what the nuke industry needs is for the carbon-emitting power industry to pay the true social cost of their waste steam. But only a Democrat would dare do that.)

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                                                • Consider what someone who wants to build a coastal nuke in California has to overcome.

                                                  1) California state law does not allow construction of any new nukes until there is a national permanent spent fuel repository open and operating. The US House has held hearings on funding a revival of Yucca Mountain. They have not dealt with the fact that there is already more spent fuel in temporary storage — casks out in the parking lot at the reactor — than Yucca Mountain’s previous license application would cover. The nuclear industry has been lobbying Congress to quadruple Yucca Mountain’s authorized capacity, because they believe it is politically impossible to ever get another site approved.

                                                  2) The California Coastal Commission has set limits on thermal discharge into the Pacific from power plants — any thermal plant, not just nukes — that would, order of magnitude, add $2-6B to the price of a 2GW thermal power plant that uses the ocean for cooling.

                                                  3) Cooling water in the West has become a limiting factor — see my comment on Blue Castle elsewhere in the thread. California water law is particularly convoluted, but “just outbid everyone else” has not been the policy there for centuries. Air cooling is possible, but costs several percentage points of thermal efficiency, which changes the economics.

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                                                • There was ample time in both Bush administrations to move forward on nuclear power issues, but no one in Congress had any desire to take on disposal. Sure people have an irrational fear of radiation, but it’s the goddamn job of power execs to step up and persuade Congress to cast a hard vote.

                                                  Persuading Congress to pass a hard vote is basically impossible. Nuclear power has the added complication that it’s benefits won’t occur in this election cycle, and probably not even within the political lifespan of the politicians who vote for it.

                                                  Further, Congress is supposed to do this… because it’s Green? The actual solution the Greens want is either boondoggles (which Congress is fine with), or dismantling the economy (which current politicians promise future politicians will do).

                                                  It’s the responsibility of activist groups to push for sane policies that Congress might reasonably do. As long as the Warmists want coal rather than nuclear, that’s what they’ll get.

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                                            • California seems like a tough nut to crack these days. A combination of seismic concerns and the new standards for dumping waste heat into the Pacific killed Diablo Canyon. Neither of those constraints are likely to go away soon. Far more likely is something like the Blue Castle project, supposedly to be built in Utah* and power shipped to California. This is consistent with the California legislature’s instructions to the PUC in SB350 (2015) to look seriously at ways to expand the California ISO’s reach to the entire Western Interconnect, and obtain much more electricity generated out-of-state.

                                              * Blue Castle started with a plan to build a big nuke plant to generate electricity for California; eastern Utah was the closest location they could find where they could get rights to cooling water. Part of the push for wind and solar PV across the West is the lack of available water.

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                                        • Actually Scripps researchers went out and measured ocean pH in a variety of habitats using seaFET sensors. One site off Italy had natural variations in pH of 1.43! A site off Mexico had its pH vary by 0.3 points per hour. The open Pacific had its pH vary by 0.5 points between winter and summer.

                                          They were astonished to find that out, even though the pH of a pond varies wildly throughout the day, too. Evening pH can be a point or more off from morning pH, so it’s important to know when to measure the pH for proper adjustments.

                                          Fish have evolved to cope with rapid, wide swings in pH. They have to, because that’s just the way the ocean works. They also spent almost their entire evolutionary history with much higher atmospheric CO2 levels, and thus a much lower pH.

                                          Also, whales pee in the water. Isn’t that disgusting!

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                                          • Fish have evolved to cope with rapid, wide swings in pH. They have to, because that’s just the way the ocean works.

                                            pH changes are not screwing up fish. (Although, no, fish cannot normally survive the wild pH changes you are insisting happen naturally. I’m sure *some fish* can…but *some fish* can also pull themselves onto land and walk around for a bit. That doesn’t mean we should expect all fish to.)

                                            pH changes in the ocean screw up *calcifying life*.

                                            It screws up the larger shellfish, which probably isn’t going to bother anyone but us, but more importantly it screws up *plankton*. Which is a pretty damn vital part of the ocean food chain.

                                            Although, hilariously, looking *into* this for this post to cite some research, recently, there has been evidence that what is *actually* screwing them up is temperature changes in the ocean due to global warming, and the acidification of the oceans is less relevant. Heh.

                                            They also spent almost their entire evolutionary history with much higher atmospheric CO2 levels, and thus a much lower pH.

                                            And I feel I have to point out: Life makes it through climate transitions. Including the one we are artificially causing.

                                            At the end of all this, there will be life in the ocean. There will be life on land. Things will evolve to fill every niche in every ecosystem, as they always do.

                                            Hell, there will be *people*, we are much too spread out to actually destroy ourselves, environmentally. As long as there is edible life on this planet, there will be people.

                                            The problem is the *transition*, during which *entire ecosystems* get disrupted. For, normally, hundreds of years, although with our ability to manipulate and translate life we can probably *reduce* that.

                                            But ‘Don’t worry, our mass starvation will probably be limited to a decade at a time. Only until we figure out how to make food in different places and get it everywhere’ is, uh, not a particularly useful reassurance.

                                            It’s not helped by the fact that we insist on using all our natural resources *now*, which is going to suck *when we need them later*. I mean, we can all move, right…let’s have fun relocating millions of people and cities to the *new* places we can live, and building farms in the *new* locations, *right as we run out of fossil fuels*.

                                            Nor is it helped by the fact that certain political entities are *totally opposed* to doing anything to help with a reasonable transition because they are completely in denial it is happening at all.

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                                            • pH changes are not screwing up fish. (Although, no, fish cannot normally survive the wild pH changes you are insisting happen naturally. I’m sure *some fish* can…but *some fish* can also pull themselves onto land and walk around for a bit. That doesn’t mean we should expect all fish to.)

                                              I’m not insisting these wild pH swings happen naturally, Scripp’s oceanographers are reporting that they measured the ocean pH wildly swinging – naturally. That’s because apparently the ocean pH swings wildly – naturally.

                                              Like almost all climate alarmists, when measured data doesn’t match a theory, you seek to change the data instead of the theory.

                                              The pH of the open Pacific swings by 0.5 points. Every fish in the open Pacific must therefore cope with that. Since man isn’t make those swings, they must be natural, and that means the ocean pH has probably been swinging like that since fish first evolved. The pH swings on reefs are even larger.

                                              pH changes in the ocean screw up *calcifying life*.

                                              No, they don’t. Virtually every calcifying marine organism evolved under CO2 levels that were 1,000 to 10,000 ppm. They left us layers of shells miles thick, and those deposits were at an ocean pH of 7.8 or lower. I’m sitting on strata filled with trilobites that swam around with an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 4,800 ppm.

                                              The more CO2 in the ocean, the less the pH swings in response to changes in CO2. As CO2 concentrations get really low, the slope of the pH/pCO2 line goes almost vertical, and then it hits a pH of over 11. As CO2 concentrations get high, the slope becomes almost horizontal, with further CO2 changes having little effect on pH.

                                              It screws up the larger shellfish, which probably isn’t going to bother anyone but us, but more importantly it screws up *plankton*. Which is a pretty damn vital part of the ocean food chain.

                                              The plankton are what cause most of the wild surface pH swings. Photosynthesis naturally swings the pH.

                                              Although, hilariously, looking *into* this for this post to cite some research, recently, there has been evidence that what is *actually* screwing them up is temperature changes in the ocean due to global warming, and the acidification of the oceans is less relevant. Heh.

                                              Coral loves hot temperatures. I’m also sitting on strata that has coral deposited when ocean temperatures were far, far higher. We’re in an ice age. Even today, oceans are much cooler than in the Holocene Climate Optimum (which preceded the early Egyptian dynasties), and much below the temperatures during the previous interglacial. If you go back prior to the recent ice age, ocean temperatures were much warmer – and the ocean were filled with coral and other marine shellfish.

                                              What’s killing the coral is global warming alarmists, who keep diving on the best sites to monitor the reef for signs of global warming, so they can spread more panic. Every time they do that they kill immense amounts of coral with chemical contamination from sunscreens, which can bleach coral in as little as four days. But don’t worry, the alarmists insist that sunscreen is still okay because global warming is a bigger threat.

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                                              • I’m not insisting these wild pH swings happen naturally, Scripp’s oceanographers are reporting that they measured the ocean pH wildly swinging – naturally. That’s because apparently the ocean pH swings wildly – naturally.

                                                This whole line of reasoning is completely ridiculous. The temperature in Minneapolis varies about 75 degrees over the course of a year. The fact that it swings so wildly does not mean that we can add 75 degrees to the average daily temperature and have everything continue as normal.

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                                      • Ocean pH has dropped from 8.11 to 8.09. The ideal for fish is probably 7.5, but in any event it varies daily by over a full pH point.

                                        This was clearly not written by somebody who has done a lot of aquarium keeping.

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                              • The Syrian crop failures are a result of natural drought cycles, but primarily by Assad cutting all his underlings loose to make money by pumping down their aquifers in a bid to get rich quick. They abandoned well controlled and coordinated water policy in an arid region. Perhaps instead you should cite California as evidence of global climate catastrophe. Oh wait. It started raining again.

                                The French built hospitals with no air conditioners and windows that don’t open. And again, according to the EPA and NOAA, large urban centers can have 12 C of artificial warming due to the urban heat island effect. If 2 C of warming is catastrophic, why did millions of French people pack into a place with 12 C of warming?

                                India and Pakistan were perfectly habitable during the Minoan and Roman warm periods, and the IPCC has not warned that they will somehow become uninhabitable. You’re citing apocalyptic religious fears, not science.

                                The oceans aren’t going to radically “redesign” except in really bad Hollywood disaster movies.

                                The only threat to the Eastern forests is massive deforestation to make wood chips to ship to inefficient European “green” power plants – to prevent global warming.

                                Our emissions will never get to zero because of China, India, and Africa, which has vast coal reserves that they’ve just decided to use to provide electricity to Africans. If the entire Western World committed suicide tomorrow, CO2 emissions would still continue to increase.

                                And putting water on Arctic ice would work perfectly. It freezes and stays frozen, just as if it had built up during an ice age. In Alaska they make giant ice-climbing structures with nothing more than a pump and a hose.

                                You have a long list of emotional apocalyptic religious fears that are not connected to science, logic, or reason.

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                                      • Your link is a great illustration of apocalyptic religious thinking. First, they projected not 2 C, but 12 C increased temperatures in the coming centuries. We already have 12 C increased temperatures in liberal cities, due to the urban heat island effect, yet sadly, liberals there continue to vote Democrat instead of dying in accord with alarmist climate theories about people dying.

                                        Also, the Earth’s temperature is about 10 C below normal. So how did all this life evolve if hotter temperatures not survivable?

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                                        • George,
                                          Mammals have a hard time surviving if the humidity gets too high.

                                          12 C increased temperatures in liberal cities? NEW YORK CITY is not 53 Degrees Farenheit hotter than Ithaca. It’s Just NOT. Please, either you screwed the pooch with a typo, or you’re so out to lunch I’m going to check out of the conversation.

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                                          • Tell that to the EPA, which posted the 12 C figure. Maybe it’s just more alarmism. More conventional estimates of urban heat island effect aren’t quite that high, but you know how alarmists throw data through a shredder to get the numbers they want.

                                            And mammals are fine with high humidity. Some of them have even adapted to live in the ocean.

                                            The closest to a warm place with few mammals is an island in the monsoon regions that has had all its nutrients stripped by constant rain. It is famous for its carnivorous plants.

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                                            • George,
                                              Care to give me the link?
                                              NeverMIND, apparently you can’t understand the difference between “occasional temporary” and CLIMATE.

                                              “Air temperatures in cities, particularly after sunset, can be as much as 22°F (12°C) warmer than the air in neighboring, less developed regions”

                                              That’s your fucking link? Really? “CAN BE” is not “THIS IS WHAT THE HEAT ISLAND AFFECT IS.”

                                              There are clear marker words there that say “This is the Upper Bound” not the Climatological Average.

                                              Here’s the money quote (same link):
                                              “Elevated summertime temperatures in cities increase energy demand for cooling. Research shows that electricity demand for cooling increases 1.5–2.0% for every 1°F (0.6°C) increase in air temperatures, starting from 68 to 77°F (20 to 25°C), suggesting that 5–10% of community-wide demand for electricity is used to compensate for the heat island effect.2”

                                              About 5 degrees Farenheit. NOT fifty.

                                              That’s a reasonable number (doesn’t quite fit with Pittsburgh, but we’re a pretty green city).

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                            • George,
                              Yeah. You go live in Bangladesh.
                              I PRICE IN Climate Disasters. SO DO YOU. It’s called housing insurance. Well, except if you live in the Gulf Coast, in which case you price in rebuilding your house because you CANT GET insurance anymore.

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                              • You can’t buy climate insurance. It wouldn’t even make sense. What causes the damage are extreme weather events, which thankfully decrease with global warming. That is, if you listen to science instead of apocalyptic fear mongers looking for grant money.

                                The worst hurricanes to ever hit the US were during the Little Ice Age. Some were so intense that they left no standing structures on Caribbean islands and stripped bark off trees.

                                The predictions of increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes didn’t pan out. Empirical observation over the past decades have refuted those predictions. As Richard Feynman said, “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” We had an experiment. The theory was wrong.

                                Interestingly, the theory that hurricanes are driven by surface evaporation is also almost certainly wrong. Thankfully Russian scientists in St Petersburg just figured that out.

                                What global warming predicts is a spreading of tropical heat further toward the poles, decreasing the latitudinal lapse rate that drives intense weather systems.

                                It also predicts that most of the extra heating will occur at night, and toward the poles.

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                        • George,
                          only benefits, he says. Oi vai.
                          95% humidity is fucking deadly, dude. We’ll die last, you know? We are good at leaking heat, much better than the animals.

                          Savannah is DRY, dude. Get enough heat and you’re gonna get the humidity too. And humidity kills. Has killed. Will kill again.

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                          • Then why are the most heavily populated regions of Earth the most humid? Look at a global map of population density. Humans cluster around the equator. We like it very hot and very wet.

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                              • Exactly. The alarmists are planning a genocide. They want to deny the third world the ability to adapt to natural disasters, and deny them the ability to develop like Western civilization did.

                                The alarmist left wants to make them use wind power, even though wind power is virtually useless in Africa and Asia because they don’t have strong steady winds there, making wind power about 10 times more expensive than it would be in Northern Europe, California, the central US, or the Northeast US. If wind power isn’t quite competitive in the areas where it’s cheap, how on Earth will third world people pay ten times more per kWh for it than people in Martha’s Vineyard?

                                What the Third World needs is a mix of nuclear, cheap reliable coal, and abundant oil and natural gas from fracking. What they don’t need is a bunch of pampered elitists deciding that they must be denied the benefits of civilization to “save the planet” for latte sipping liberals who want to do more virtue signaling.

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                                • George,
                                  you are an ignoramus. Perhaps if you could tell me where the wall was already built, I might concede that I was wrong.
                                  But as you can’t, and can’t even tell what the fuck I was talking about, I’m going to leave you to your delusions, and hope you take your own advice and move to Miami. Housing market is going up there, you know.

                                  There’s a sucker born every minute, and you’re worse than the poor saps supporting Solar Fucking Roadways.

                                  Tell me, do you buy guns from the Jackbooted Obama Thugs Commercials too???

                                  http://exxonknew.org/timeline/

                                  You want something from an analyst you’ve heard of? Here’s something. Bloke that pulled all the research was working for the Greens (who you’re right not to trust — even if they were the most anal-retentive political group he’s ever worked for), but he works for RAND too (and has worked for Gingrich and Dole).

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                                  • Let’s avoid the personal name calling. Whether is making ignorant statements or not is evident on the face of his claims.

                                    I would have thought this exchange was played out by now but… Hey, if y’all still have energy for it, as long as you spar cleanly, have at it.

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                            • Then why are the most heavily populated regions of Earth the most humid? Look at a global map of population density. Humans cluster around the equator. We like it very hot and very wet.

                              This is, incidentally, not correct.

                              For one thing, humans do not cluster around the equator. 88 percent of people live in the fricken Northern hemisphere. The line that divides the human population in half is way up at 27 degrees north, aka *Tampa Florida*.

                              More to the point, humans do not live in humid areas. We *won’t* live in deserts (Unless they have oil under them), but we don’t pick humid areas either.

                              There is exactly *one* constant where people live, in fact. It’s a constant that has been true for basically all of human existence, in all cultures: People live next to water.(1) The ocean or sea if they can get to it, otherwise rivers (And rivers going into oceans are where we really want to be.), otherwise lakes.

                              This might, generally speaking, mean we live in more humid areas then would be located by randomly throwing darts at a globe, but it’s not because we like humidity, it’s because we like *water*, and humidity, obviously, is often caused by water nearby.

                              And we *avoid* places that are too humid, *especially* if they are hot. We’ve always avoided rain forests like the plague, for example. There are entire vast stretches in both the middle of Africa *and* South America that do not have people in them, because *they are too hot and humid*.

                              1) There is actually a theory that humans evolved their lack of fur due to living next to and operating in and out of water. The thick fur that other primates have becomes matted with water, whereas we’re at the density of body hair that other partial-water mammals, like seals, have. Whether it’s true or not, we are more suited to water operation than any other primate, some of which can’t even swim.

                              Notable, they *do not* seem to live near water.

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                              • Singapore sits one degree above the equator, is hot all the time (it drops into the mid-70’s for nightly lows, with highs in the high 80’s all year), and it gets over 90 inches of rain a year. It is hot and wet and has a population density of 20,000 per square mile.

                                The tropical coasts of equatorial Africa get over 200 inches of rain and are very densely populated. Also densely populated is the area around Lake Victoria, which sits right on the equator.

                                And of course you have the Mediterranean, parts of the Middle East, and India. Heat and moisture, and lots of it. In contrast, vast stretches of Canada and Russia might as well be uninhabited. Not enough warmth.

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                                • Yes, George, if you *completely rewrite everything you say*, you are correct.

                                  As I said in my post: Humans do not decide to live in humid areas. They decide to live *near water*. This is the hard and fast rule of human civilization, extending across all societies and time: People cluster around surface water features.

                                  People only pick ‘humid’ areas to the extent that being near water *makes* things humid. No one lives in humid areas *without* easy access to water…as I said, there are vast stretches of both Africa and South America that are *extremely* humid, called ‘rain forests’ but do not have standing or running water, and *no one lives there*. (And when they do, they live *at rivers*.)

                                  This is not a complicated idea.

                                  Likewise, the idea that people want ‘heat’ is dumb. People want *room temperature*, they want a climate that is ~80 during the day and ~70 at night. They don’t want below that, and they don’t want *above* that.

                                  You want to claim that’s what you mean when you said ‘hot’, whatever. That is *my* daily temperature *right now* here in Georgia…at the start of March.

                                  And Singapore isn’t densely packed because it’s some awesome place that everyone is choosing to live in Singapore is densely packed because *it is a city*. Take Queens, New York, and multiple the area and people by two and half, and you have Singapore.

                                  It’s just a city that happens to be the entirety of a sovereign nation, so stands way up there on list of ‘population densities of nations’.

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                                  • In the past humans used water not only for hydration but also for aquatic food/resources. We often talk of hunter gatherers but not often do you see someone parse the aquatic resources as a third tier of it’s own.
                                    In the past, calories counted. The ability to sustain the bodies internal temperature for the fewest amount of calories mattered. That had to balance with the bodies ability to cool itself while in action or on the move, so it is best thermally to be a bit cooler than core body temperature but not cool enough to start subtracting calories. The ideal humidity of course would need to be low enough to allow rapid cool down, but no dry enough to quickly become dehydrated or be in constant pursuit of water.

                                    What that results in is easily habitable latitudes. Not that humans didn’t often find resources such as hides and herds that allowed them to live in much colder climates, or genetically adapt to climates that are very much at or above core temperature. It just allowed the development of populations within latitudes favorable for increased populations to flourish.

                                    Global warming may push those latitudes farther towards the poles from the equator. I really don’t know how much all that matters though. The jet stream and ocean currents can change things in a big way. Like in a ice age way.

                                    Not sure what value there is living next to a lake or ocean when you have to chisle two inches of ice off your windshield every few mornings. We may live near water, but damned few of us live on beach front property in the artic or antartic.

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                  • The only people who’ll drown are the ones buried up to their necks in sand for forty years. Sea level rise is extremely slow, and has been going on since the end of the last ice age, when it was very rapid.

                    Boston used to be built right down to the harbor’s water line. Then the sea level rose about 8 inches. But the harbor didn’t get bigger, it got smaller. That’s because it almost impossible for humans to act on the extremely slow timescales of sea level rise. To stay ahead of IPPC predictions, a coastal city needs to lay down about 3 inches of extra asphalt – once every generation. That will take a road crew the better part of a couple afternoons. Once done, their children will grow up, join a road crew, and eventually do the same repaving job for a couple of afternoons. Then their children will grow up and spread three inches of asphalt, and so on.

                    Or coastal cities could just have everybody walk their dogs on the 10-foot wide sea wall. Dog poop would easily outpace the rate of sea level rise. (I once did lots of math on that.)

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        • I have my hopes and doubts but also my cynical side. I don’t think it is that the American public are lazy. Most of us did not vote for Trump but I can see how cultural resentments among aging people produce another freak victory for Trump like he had in 2016.

          On the other hand, if things go down the drain with the economy and other issues.

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        • Remember 2004? The general attitude of the Democrats was something to the effect of “since Bush is president… WE SHOULD RUN A VIETNAM VETERAN!”

          And so they picked Kerry, a Vietnam Veteran, to run against Bush (famously alleged to have dodged the draft).

          I expect Democrats to be similarly insightful in 2020.

          “Hey, we just need to run our own billionaire! Mark Zuckerberg!”

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          • Well some D’s actually believed R’s really respected military service. Hah. But you do know the D’s have primaries and all that. An election thing that chooses the candidate through a complex process involving many factors, not some smoke filled room.

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            • greginak: Well some D’s actually believed R’s really respected military service.

              The Navy twice wanted to court martial Kerry over his activities (wiki: John Kerry).

              Kerry came back from the field and testified (lied) to congress and the public about the atrocities he’d seen american troops commit. He lied to increase his political standing among the anti-war left, sacrificing the honor and public standing of the army to increase his personal influence.

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              • Remember purple band aids. He was a highly decorated combat vet. If you respect military service then just simply respect it instead of ditching it when convenient. You don’t’ have to agree with all the persons other beliefs or actions. But if you say you respect the service then that is simple to do. R’s in general, with some notable exceptions, didn’t respect the service of a vet they disagreed with politically. They put tribe over respecting military service. Again it really isn’t hard to respect mil service and still disagree with that persons political beliefs.

                Yeah his anti war beliefs were not politically correct. That is the real heart of the objection to him. Of course people say they resepct peeps who stand up for their beliefs.That isn’t all that true either.

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                • The issue was that Kerry was a liar and a fraud. His Silver Star was awarded for putting his life at great risk to rescue a soldier who’d fallen off his boat when Kerry gunned the throttle to escape an ambush after another swift boat hit a mine. But there was no ambush. Kerry told the Navy that he’d come under intense machine gun fire from both banks of the river, and that he was under that intense machine gun fire for an hour. The river where that occurred is 200 feet wide and Kerry’s boat was the size of a semi-trailer. It’s just not possible to fire a heavy machine gun for an hour at something the size of a semi-trailer from, about 100 feet away, and not hit it once, but that’s what would have to have happened for Kerry’s version to be true.

                  His “extreme” bravery was leaving the cabin of his boat to go out on deck, fully exposed to the non-existent enemy fire, and where another of his crewman was stationed just out in the open as a matter of course, to pull Ragman out of the water. If Kerry deserves a Silver Star for “exposing himself” for a minute, why didn’t the other sailor get a thousand Silver Stars for being stationed his entire tour at the foredeck’s pintel-mount open gun position?

                  Then, instead of staying with his men to tow back the damaged boat, he bailed on the whole scene because he had a little piece of shrapnel in his butt, which he allowed everyone to believe was the result of the ambush that didn’t happen. The fragment was actually from his own hand grenade which he’d dropped into some poor farmer’s rice jar. Injuries sustained outside of combat and through negligence are not eligible for a Purple Heart, but Kerry claimed one anyway.

                  Antics like that are why his fellow sailors declared him unfit for command.

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                    • Exhibit A baby…Exhibit A. R’s go all in for smearing a vet they don’t like. No respect for service. Tribe over all.

                      Actually I’d say the “Swiftboat veterans” was mostly military veterans as opposed to political activists. Expecting the GOP to “honor his service” when his fellow servicemen held him in contempt seems a little much.

                      Kerry was despised for his actions after the war (the total lack of respect and honor he showed for people who served with respect and honor)… although granted, his actions during the war seemed fine if more than a little rules’ lawyerly.

                      His swiftboating was definitely a hack job, but it was mostly the work of people whose honor he’d dragged through the mud for fun and profit.

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                        • A virtuous hack job???

                          I would use the word “revenge”.

                          Or of course they could have just not attacked his service, but that would have been bad for the Bush campaign.

                          For them, Bush wasn’t the point.

                          The point was making sure Kerry didn’t become President.

                          So tribe… over respecting his service.

                          This is like the guy asking for mercy from the judge because he’s an orphan when he killed his parents.

                          Kerry burned to the ground any idea of “respect for service” by his own actions.

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                  • Kerry saw combat. His political opponent flew around in circles over the Gulf of Mexico. No matter how many duty days he skipped — for all I care the whole issue was ridiculous — he never faced an enemy trying to kill him.

                    So, yeah, when you minimize Kerry’s service in face of Bush’s experience, you exactly prove greginak’s point — you don’t actually care about vet status except when it might be politically useful.

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                    • John Kerry was serving the country in combat while Bush was a drunk. *That* is their military experience, but it’s also not the end of the story no matter how much Dems want to end it there.

                      Kerry came home and burned, to the ground, the concept of “respect for service” while Bush stopped drinking, became President, and then we had 911.

                      Bush didn’t run (even the first time) on maybe, sometimes, flying a plane around between bottles. But Kerry did run on his military record… and I’m not sure what other than his 3 purple hearts and the disrespect the service had for him.

                      Four years later, not-being-Bush would have been enough. Unfortunately Kerry had to run on being John Kerry and describing how he’d handle the remaining issues stemming from 911.

                      Btw someone covered for him. As damning as the Swiftboaters were, it’d have been worse if Bush’s people had put out the video of young Kerry lying before Congress about the war crimes he’d personally seen.

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                      • I don’t disagree with any of that. Having someone who was a major participant in the anti-war movement suddenly promote his military experience was … absurd, for lack of a better word.

                        It is also the case that Republicans are big on the honor-your-sacrifice schtick, which seems to argue that no questions can ever be asked about the wisdom of American military action, until such time as the person at issue is a Democratic veteran seeking political office.

                        This whole subthread is silly anyway; accusing the other side’s partisans of hypocrisy is weak sauce. The whole point of being a partisan is to back your side to the hilt. Politics ain’t beanbag, as someone once said.

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                        • until such time as the person at issue is a Democratic veteran seeking political office.

                          I hold both Kerry and Trump as special exceptions. Kerry because he fully earned the contempt/revenge the Swiftboats felt/gave him. Trump because he doesn’t have any ethics.

                          So… examples other than them?

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                • greginak: Yeah his anti war beliefs were not politically correct.

                  “Beliefs” don’t result in serious efforts to get someone court-martialed.

                  We’re not talking about marching in protest, or throwing away his medals, or publically saying his opinion that the war was wrong, a mistake, evil, or whatever.

                  We’re talking about falsely claiming to be the witness to war crimes.

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                • greginak: Yeah his anti war beliefs were not politically correct.

                  His anti war beliefs…were superficial and unreliable. Like most of his other beliefs. Which is why he didn’t become President. and why his accomplishments as Secretary of State are tenuous and ephemeral.

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                  • I don’t’ really care about his anti war views or how deeply they were held. Kerry is an example of the point i made, so is Max Clealand. Vets who served but R’s brought out the poop hose to smear them. Kerry may be a dork but that doesn’t mean his service shouldn’t be respected. Lot’s of vets had mediocre careers, failures or various character flaws…See McCain, John.

                    That R’s can still bring out poop hose all these years later is special. Hell they went after Tammy Duckworth fairly recently. Wes Clark got poor thrown at him. Almost like any D vet gets their service smeared.

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                      • Well, the main point is that the amount of insight required to be able to see see why John Kerry was not, in fact, the perfect opponent for George W. Bush does not, in fact, appear to have been achieved by the current Democratic party.

                        I don’t have more than anecdotal evidence for this claim, however.

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                      • None of which really relates to my point that R’s don’t really respect military service if they poop all over military service of any D that has served. Kerry had many flaws but an R with the same military record would have been lionized as an alpha male. That is really the entire point and none of the response have done anything to contradict it. Tribe is more important that respecting military service.

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                          • Yeah that is another bit of evidence that many R’s don’t care about respecting military service. They were fine with pooping on McCain’s service…no problem at all with that. So yeah that is another data point which backs up my claim.

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                        • Kerry had many flaws but an R with the same military record would have been lionized as an alpha male.

                          An R would have been court-martialed because he wouldn’t have had political support from the anti-war crowd.

                          And if we’re going to subtract Kerry’s court-martial-worthy actions from his “many flaws”, then I absolutely don’t have a problem with his military record and view it as worthy of admiration.

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                            • Plenty of vets loudly opposed that war. The military wasn’t out there court martialing them all for everything they said.

                              Exactly my point.

                              “Loudly opposing the war” isn’t the same as “giving false testimony to Congress about war crimes you’re claiming American troops are committing”.

                              It’s like how “opposing Trump” isn’t the same as “trying to convince the police you’ve seen Trump personally commit murder”.

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                                • And yet he wasn’t court martialed…

                                  So what? He did everything I said, you’re not even suggesting he didn’t.

                                  You’re also not even suggesting the reason why he did it wasn’t naked self serving ambition, or that the reason he wasn’t court martialed was because of politics.

                                  even you admitted the attacks against her were what…sleazy, underhanded…what was your word.

                                  Revenge driven lies by the people he’d betrayed.

                                  They did exactly to him what he did to them so many decades earlier.

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                    • Benedict Arnold was a war hero who served with distinction. I wonder why nobody tried to run him for President?

                      Kerry faked injuries to get out after only about four months of a 12-month tour. Two of his injuries (which required a band-aid) were self-inflicted due to negligence. Kerry never spent a night in the hospital (not counting an overnight stay on a hospital ship where he typed up a bizarre account of his actions during an ambush), yet he got three Purple Hearts. I once calculated the odds of that and it was something like a million to one.

                      He hated serving on a destroyer where he was a junior officer nobody, so he transferred to Swift Boats to be more like his hero, JFK. But he applied for the transfer when the Swift Boats weren’t going inland, just hanging out off the coast and partying all day.

                      He once shot a child with an empty RPG launcher, and then had his crew return to the spot to film a re-enactment. He showed the film to Dana Delaney on their date. She thought he was self-centered and weird and didn’t date him again.

                      When he found out his fake “war hero” status was politically useless to a Democrat, he became an anti-war activist, meeting secretly in Paris with the head of the Viet Cong, and act for which he could have been executed under the UCMJ, as he was still in the Navy Reserve. His goal was to get the North Vietnamese to release one American POW to himself, so he would have political clout to run for office. If Kerry’s “peace plan” had worked, the rest of the POW’s would of course have probably been shot and buried in the jungle, since they’d have been useless as bargaining chips.

                      And yet the Democrats ran him, just like they ran Hillary, one of the most corrupt and unlikable people ever to run for high office. Next time they’ll probably run a 71-year old fake Indian and wonder why they’re losing the youth vote.

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                      • Yeah Georgie keep digging into wikipedia for all the smears and totally avoid the point i was making. You just can’t leave it alone like you know there is some truth to the larger point so you gotta throw every bit of poo.

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                        • Wikipedia probably based their claims on my research during Kerry’s campaign. He probably hates me – personally. I was posting satellite imagery of the site of his ambush.

                          Among the crews, there is disagreement as to whether there was any incoming fire during the attack. Some say there was intense fire from both banks, some say there was none. But considering that the river was extremely narrow (you could punt a football across it), and none of the boats got hit by any bullets, it’s likely that what some thought was incoming fire was actually outgoing bullets and tracers tearing through the undergrowth, because everybody opened up on the banks just in case.

                          The other swift boat stopped to render aid while Kerry jammed his throttle forward and ran about a mile down the river, abandoning the other two boats, one filled with wounded. That was cowardly. While he was off gallivanting around with Rasman so he could write himself up for a silver star, the crew of the undamaged boat was busy jumping onto the damaged boat to render aid to the wounded, walking around on deck at the ambush site.

                          So Kerry finally comes slinking back and helicopters arrive for the people wounded by the mine, and Kerry decides to abandon everybody for a trip to a hospital ship with hot nurses. After he left, the remaining crews had to spend an hour rigging up towlines at the ambush site so they could tow the damaged swift boat back, at very slow speed, along a narrow river.

                          Of course later Kerry famously claimed that he spent Christmas eve in Cambodia, dropping off a CIA officer while listening to gunfire from the Khmer Rouge.

                          Well, not only is it physically impossible to get a swift boat into Cambodia (the border has concrete pilings so no boats can pass), he wasn’t on a river that went toward Cambodia, and the Khmer Rouge didn’t even exist when he was over there.

                          He might as well have claimed that he dropped a CIA assassin off on the Island of Misfit Toys to kill the abominable snowman.

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                          • Oh so you are the male Kimmi. Ok, i guess we could use one of those.

                            Then how about Trump smear of McCain getting captured/ Of the smears against McClealand. You’re spilling so many pixels to avoid the point. All you have to do is hold military service above tribe. Why is that so hard?

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                            • The point is that you don’t become immune to derision if your military service consisted of being a traitor, a dumb ass, or a threat to your own men through incompetence or sloppiness, or if you spent your time trying to avoid combat. That kind of thing is very important to know about someone seeking office. You’re looking for courage, judgement, leadership, honesty, and loyalty. Kerry failed on all five counts.

                              Ironically, Bush was at a greater risk of death flying an F-102 in the states than Kerry was in Vietnam. By modern standards, those planes were death traps.

                              McCleland was wounded by a US grenade that wasn’t carried in a safe condition, which would have been his responsibility. It was even possibly his grenade. At the time he was heading to party with some buddies.

                              That kind of thing happens in the military. My dad once put a live but unarmed bazooka round into the side of a French chimney – just because he was playing with lighting off a bazooka round. He then figured the owner would have to get somebody to safely remove it. That’s just goofing off. You don’t get points for getting wounded that way.

                              And McCain’s service doesn’t render him immune to criticism, nor does it serve to answer the question as to why he’d stay in a Hilton in Hanoi instead of, perhaps, a much better Trump property.

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                            • Then how about Trump smear of McCain getting captured

                              No one holds up Trump to be the standard for ethics, taste, tact, or good behavior.

                              Trump was criticized for what he did and deservedly so.

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        • Lazy? Trump will have a record in 4 years. We’ll be used to him.

          The insane statements he makes will have been shown to be a style of speaking. There will still be a profound lack of death camps for gays/jews/muslims/etc. Racism will once more have been shown to mean “not a Democrat”.

          He won’t have ended free trade any more than Obama lowered the seas but whatever.

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          • I felt a some unsympathetic pity when I learned about Trump’s statement regarding the Presidency. It turns out that being even an incompetent and corrupt President is hard work. On the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon from the 1980s, they had an episode where the Turtles step into an alternative universe where Shredder does manage to take over the world. World Dictator Shredder is not happy because running the world requires you to do a lot of work and consider many different issues.

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            • That’s usually the problem when a bunch of angry villager types storm the castle and take over. Pitchforks and torches are fun. Keeping the sewers from backing up and making sure the mail gets delivered is a drag.

              I firmly believe that most of being POTUS is not screwing up. Having an opportunity to be “transformative” is rare, but having the opportunity to slip up and cause some department to stop functioning comes a dozen times a day. We don’t know about 90% of the issues that come across their desk because they’re mundane things that we only notice when they stop working. Assuming he doesn’t get us into something serious, I expect the next few years to be a lot of small blow-ups of mundane things we never would have noticed under more competent management.

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            • Baron’s the one to keep your eye on. 10 years from now we’ll all be like “you’ve got to give him credit. How many young guys — he was like 15 or 16 when his father was termed out — take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden — you know, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it. How did he do that? He goes in, he takes over, he’s the boss. It’s incredible. He wiped out his brothers and sisters, he wiped out this one, that one. Wiped out Ivanka, too. This guy doesn’t play games. He’s obviously a pretty smart cookie.”

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  2. Interesting essay. I agree with a lot of it but not completely.

    I am not sure if Trump’s defining characteristic is hubris alone. He certainly has it. It is the hubris of someone who has always gotten by on a larger than life personality and being a character and being praised for it. There was an interesting bit on Slate where Marc Joseph Stern said that Trump had a reputation for being a bit of a “camp” icon in the LBGT community before he ran for President. I can see this. His persona is that of the chairman on the Apprentice combined with his accent.

    But he always had a history of deep bigotry that goes way back to the 1970s when the Nixon administration sued Trump the Senior for racially discriminating in his apartments and Donald Trump was the PR defense. Not too mention the Central Park 5.

    But Trump is also a profoundly ignorant man. I find it plausible that Trump really thought of Congress as being middle managers instead of 435 Representatives and 100 Senators with their own agendas and priorities and independent source of agency including some that are polar opposites from Trump’s agenda.

    There is a part of Trump that needs to be seen as successful and doing well and he probably hates all these failures. But there is also the kleptocratic side of Trump that only cares about making as much money as possible and the Trump family seems to be doing extremely well financially based on this. From Vox:

    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/28/15365438/donald-trump-100-days-kleptocracy

    Corruption changes policy, not always for the better

    This same trend can easily point in darker directions. The Trump family has business interests in the Persian Gulf, and Trump’s foreign policy is moving the United States into much closer alignment with the Gulf monarchies, including deeper involvement in a disastrous war in Yemen and abandonment of any pretense of caring about human rights in Egypt.

    Further from the center of media attention, an eye-opening report by Allan Nairn for the Intercept says that “[a]ssociates of Donald Trump in Indonesia have joined army officers and a vigilante street movement linked to ISIS in a campaign that ultimately aims to oust the country’s president.” The movement includes current and former army officers looking to evade accountability for past crimes during Indonesia’s period as a military dictatorship, but also “Hary Tanoe, Trump’s primary Indonesian business partner, who is building two Trump resorts, one in Bali and one outside Jakarta.”

    In a normal administration, it would go without saying that American attitudes toward civil strife in Indonesia — no matter how misguided — were driven primarily by policy considerations and not by the president’s personal financial interests. With Trump, we have no such assurance.

    There has always been a part of Trump that was out for his own. This part of Trump figured out how to take his Apprentice persona and turn it into a successful campaign for the GOP nomination. The freak and anti-democratic nature of the American electoral college system allowed around 100K votes in three states to make Trump President for at least one term. This Trump sees himself as damned successful and look at how much he is milking it for all it is worth.

    2018 is a favorable map for the GOP. Though it looks like a lot of people are fed up with Trump and Democrats are energized. See the recent special elections in very safe GOP districts. Trump still has support of the GOP base but this will change as things go further and further down the drain. The Democrats were written off for dead in 2002 and 2004 and rebounded in 2006 and 2008 as thing went down the drain during the last days of Bush II.

    The issue though is if both parties end up doing these switches every two to four years. That could make it hard for long-term policy changes.

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    • But Trump is also a profoundly ignorant man. I find it plausible that Trump really thought of Congress as being middle managers instead of 435 Representatives and 100 Senators with their own agendas and priorities and independent source of agency including some that are polar opposites from Trump’s agenda.

      I think that’s actually what middle managers are. But at least the boss can fire middle managers.

      I roll my eyes whenever I hear somebody plans to be a “CEO President.” The president isn’t the CEO of the government. Not even close. It’s more like being a middle manager who has to get managers from other departments to work with you so your department can do its job. And those managers don’t report to you and often don’t particularly care if your department works or fails. And everybody hates you.

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  3. Also Trump’s “fights” with the media might be more of a show than anything else according to Politico:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/23/trump-loves-media-reporters-white-house-215043

    In societies around the world, anthropologists have observed a phenomenon called “ritualized warfare,” a sort of pantomime of battle most famously observed among the Dani people of Papua New Guinea, who would regularly line up in formation to shout insults and shoot arrows at warriors from rival villages with no decisive outcome. The practice results in a lot of noise and relatively little bloodshed, allowing both sides to advertise their courage and vent emotion while avoiding catastrophic loss of human life.

    The practice might look familiar to the new president. On the campaign trail, Trump called the press “dishonest” and “scum.” He defended Russian strongman Vladimir Putin against charges of murdering journalists and vowed to somehow “open up our libel laws” to weaken the First Amendment. Since taking office, he has dismissed unfavorable coverage as “fake news” and described the mainstream media as “the enemy of the American people.” And there’s been a string of symbolic, almost gratuitous little slaps: He not only rejected the traditional invitation to the White House Correspondents Association dinner, but announced the Saturday beforehand that he’d be holding a rally the same night, meaning some reporters will have to skip their own professional event to cover his. Not since Richard Nixon has an American president been so hostile to the press—and Nixon largely limited his rants against the media to private venting with his aides.

    But behind that theatrical assault, the Trump White House has turned into a kind of playground for the press. We interviewed more than three dozen members of the White House press corps, along with White House staff and outside allies, about the first whirlwind weeks of Trump’s presidency. Rather than a historically toxic relationship, they described a historic gap between the public perception and the private reality.

    When he is not fulminating on stage or on Twitter, the president himself has mustered a number of cordial interactions with reporters since taking office, often showing them more courtesy than he grants his own staff. When White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is not labeling the media “the opposition party,” he can be found sending crush notes to journalists to let them know they’ve nailed a story. And when Spicer is not popping off from his podium, he is often busy maintaining old relationships with journalists and building new ones. (Spicer did not respond to requests for an interview for this article or to a long list of questions.)

    What I suspect is that their are two kinds of journalism and they conflict. There is journalism that wants to find the truth and hold people accountable and ask difficult questions but this kind of journalism makes the Powers that Be uncomfortable and does not pay the bills. And then there is mainstream/access journalism which puts on an appearance of being truthtellers but is really about just another avenue to the upper-middle class or above. So it doesn’t rock the boat too hard, has a focus on people who want to look like they are informed but don’t ask hard questions, etc. And you get the fake fights as described above.

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  4. Trump himself appears to have never read Machiavelli, or at least never understood him. But he has advisors who clearly have. They must surely be advising him that he needs to gain some political strength, as soon as possible.

    But that’s one of the quirks of this administration – we don’t know who is advising Trump on a day to day basis, or how frequently he listens to any advice. (There’s also the CW, with some evidence, that he merely acts on whatever the last person who speaks with him told him)

    And thus unknown unknown about advisors is in spite of (and a bit because of) more gossip and palace intrigue stories coming from this admin than any other in living memory.

    It’s also not entirely clear in how much Trump, the combined Michelangelo and Picasso of bullshit artists, actually believes his own bullshit. His frequent ‘hoocodanode?’ about many things provides evididence that he believes a lot of his own BS, but not all of it – and also that wallowing in certain BS for long enough allows the BS to become reality. (But also if he thinks people don’t like a certain reality, he’ll make another for them – which is the essential skill of the con artist)

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    • There’s also the fact that he might be, well, mentally unfit. I’m not talking narcissism. Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.

      Watch an interview of him in the last year compared to one 20 years ago.

      Maybe it’s something else, but 50 year old Trump spoke in complete, fairly on-topic, logically connected sentences. They might have been sentences full of BS, but they were coherent BS. The stuff now is….disjointed ramblings.

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      • I’m less convinced he’s lost of step than we’re just getting a larger sample size. He’s never been not in the media for the past 40 years (that’s pretty much exactly how he is where he is today), but he was never *continuously* in the media as he was for the past 2 years.

        (eta – and he’s been playing in a different league for the past 2 years – even Tebow can hit a home run in the minors)

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    • It’s also not entirely clear in how much Trump, the combined Michelangelo and Picasso of bullshit artists, actually believes his own bullshit.

      Does this really matter? Does it matter with Alex Jones is a full on conspiracy theorist or whether he is just a performance artist as his lawyer said in the custody dispute said.

      There seems to be something in the human mind that really dislike coincidence because coincidence is boring, boring, boring. Two Friday’s ago, there was a substation fire in San Francisco and a lot of power was out across the city for a few hours. There were also power grid issues in New York and Los Angeles.

      The United States is a big country and it is perfectly possible for three major cities to have completely random and unconnected issues with their substations. But that isn’t interesting so I needed to listen to lots of babble/”jokes”/”just wondering” about how they were all connected and intentional. I wonder if enough “wondering”/”joking” about these things causes people to believe in the wild stuff eventually.

      So there seems to be a tendency to go for whatever is interesting, amusing, damages the other side even if it is clearly wrong.

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      • Does this really matter?

        No, it doesn’t. A bullshitter neither believes nor disbelieves the bull he’s shitting except insofar as it achieves the instrumental goal: getting people to act in a way that serves the speaker’s self-interest. Beyond that, Trump is an ignorant, incurious dolt who has no understanding of politics, policy, history, governance or how government functions.

        Nobody knew bullshitting your way thru the presidency could be so hard!

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      • Saul Degraw: Does this really matter?

        As the saying goes, don’t get high on your own supply.

        A Trump that believes in nothing is less troublesome & less worrysome than one that believes in something. As someone mentioned here once, it moves him to a different portion of the von Manstein quad chart.

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  5. About 2020, if we leave aside the very real possibility of a foreign policy clusterf**k that gets people behind the President, whoever he is and whatever he does, in which case all bets are off, here is what I see:
    A. Past Facts
    1. The Dems won the popular vote this time
    2. A lot of Dems sat out or voted for 3d-parties
    3. The EV turned on c. 80K votes in 3 purple states
    4. Hillary had been the subject of vicious attacks for over 20 years
    B. Likely Future Facts
    1. Trump won’t have accomplished much
    2. His core voters won’t care about (1)
    3. But ordinary Republicans will be unenthusiastic because of (1) and will turn out somewhat less
    4. Whoever the Dem candidate is, he or she won’t have Hillary’s 20 years of baggage
    5. Long-term demographic trends continue to run in Dems’ favor
    6. The desperate desire to be rid of Trump will reduce defections to 3d parties and boost turnout

    Am I missing something?

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    • There are cracks on the left, and there’s a real possibility they may only get worse before the next election. Just recently we’ve had crowds chanting “Bernie would have won” at the Perez/Sanders “Unity” tour, Sanders backing an anti-abortion candidate, and Warren & Sanders criticizing Obama’s paid speech.

      A more savvy administration may have found a way to work with some, but not all, of the Democrats to drive a wedge between them. But they may not need his help anyway.

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      • The tension on the left is between those who think progressivism should be extremely focused on economics and those who think you can discuss economics without examining race and racism in the United States. I also suspect Bernie’s endorsement of the Omaha Mayoral candidate would have gone down easier if he had nice things to say about Orstoff in Georgia instead of questioning the guy’s progressive credentials.

        The problem with the general concept of “No Enemies on the Left” is that it translates to “So I am going to put you on the Right.”

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      • A more savvy administration may have found a way to work with some, but not all, of the Democrats to drive a wedge between them.

        ‘Savvy’? An administration that *knew how to tie their own shoelaces* might have been able to do that.

        But they may not need his help anyway.

        The Democrats, since the election and even before, were poised to tear themselves apart. It would have taken *epically stupid* mismanagement from the Republican side and extremely partisanship and a horrific Republican administration that caused everyone to rise as one against it to stop that.

        …oh, heh.

        Seriously, you magically give us the 2004 Republican government right now, under GWB, and the Democratic base and the Democratic establishment would be *at war* with each other. Outright war.

        Hell, you give us the 1992 *Democratic* government and same thing.

        This current government…you know, in the long term, and I know it sounds horrible, but at this point, I’m getting to the point where I’m glad Trump won. We were faced with years of the Democrats tearing themselves apart, the Republican Congress obstructing everything, continuing to make up bullshit about Clinton, and continuing to win on their anti-ACA platform.

        Instead we got this. Yes, it’s going to be a while until we can appraise all the results of this, our standing with other countries, and there are people who are going to be hurt…but it’s unequivocally exposed *all* the Republican problems and nonsense, and *somehow* has resulted in Democratic pols *actually taking a stand and discovering it is popular among the voters*, which bodes well for the future.

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    • This seems largely plausible to me. If Trump runs reelection in 2020, I see his election being a repeat of 2016. Trends are largely continuing in the Democratic Party’s favor but the 80K switch happened in states that are becoming older, white, and more Evangelical than the country overall. This is a problem for Presidential elections. We have seen numerous elections where the Democratic candidates receive more votes than the Republican candidates and the GOP still has a majority in Congress and in State Houses for a variety of reasons.

      The response to this has not been whether the system is set up in a wrong or unfair way but to tell Democrats to suck it and stop being such out of step urban elitists.

      There is also a decades long propaganda campaign that was designed to present the Democrats as out of touch and it seems to have paid in spades.

      There is also the issue about whether white identity politics can override all that you wrote above.

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        • I know a fair number of purple-state districts that went for Obama went for Trump. But was that because John Smith changed his mind or because John Smith stayed home and Fred Jones, who never voted for Obama, showed up? Just how many actual human voters, as opposed to districts, changed?

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    • Am I missing something?

      Maybe that voters increasingly don’t like Democratic policies all that much, in particular Dem economic policy. Bernie exposed that. Trump exposed that. Merely waiting for Trump and the GOP to fail won’t solve that problem.

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      • And adding to that: I think effectively annointing Hillary as the Nominee, given all her personal and political flaws, significantly damaged the Democratic brand in myriad and far-reaching ways. Lots of people really didn’t like her, and the fact that the Dem establishment did undermined whatever trust marginal Dem supporters might have otherwise had in the Party.

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        • “I think effectively anointing Hillary as the Nominee, given all her personal and political flaws, significantly damaged the Democratic brand in myriad and far-reaching ways.”

          Bingo. Hell, I had a lot of respect for Bernie, even though I disagreed with almost all of his positions, but he had the appearance of conviction and integrity. After watching HRC over the last twenty years, it was clear to me that HRC didn’t have any of that.

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          • Damon,
            Yeah. I know some republicans who care a hell of a lot more about integrity than actual policy positions. (and I can at least see the reasoning on that — most folks don’t know what the actual issues of the day are. No to northkorea, yes to global warming).

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            • Here’s the thing though. You need to care about both. One needs to hold the politician’s feet to the fire for the stuff they got elected on AND for them to maintain integrity. I’m stunned that people are willing to compromise on either, except, perhaps to prevent the other side from winning…

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            • So how many is enough to avoid an “anointing”? How is it “anointing”? Does someone or some organization handpick the candidates? Do they restrict the pool in some way?

              I’m trying to figure out who “anointed” and “how”. What action was taken and by whom. Because the only actions I’m familiar with are (1) people choosing to run and (2) people choosing to vote. Clearly there’s some third party here, either preventing people from running or forcing people to vote for specific candidates.

              Failing that, I’m not sure how it’s different from all the other primaries, Presidential and otherwise, where there were just two serious candidates….we must do a lot of anointing.

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              • Annointing might not be the best word, so if that’s your objection a reasonable alternative might be Colluding.

                The DNC colluded to put their thumb on the scale to insure that HRC was the democratic nominee. One could argue that that is well within the purview of the DNC… it seems the DNC is arguing exactly this in court. But I don’t think there’s much doubt at this point that the DNC colluded with the Democratic constituent parts to clear the way for HRC.

                Again, I think one could say that that’s what parties should do…if the Republican party had colluded better there wouldn’t be Trump… but pointing to the # of votes cast for the favored candidate is (potentially) proof of good collusion, not an argument against it.

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                • The DNC colluded to put their thumb on the scale to insure that HRC was the democratic nominee.

                  How? What actions did they take? How many voters did they sway? What did they do in 2016 that they didn’t in 2008?

                  Specifically, I’m fascinated by how they could do this given each state had it’s own independent apparatus for running elections.

                  Other than the debate schedule and the rules for how to tell who won (“delegate counts”), the latter of which hasn’t been changed in decades, the DNC as a whole isn’t that involved in the actual primary election process.

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                    • Ah, yes. It’s a bold claim, Cotton. But sadly, if you go to the transcript — it doesn’t say what the article claims it does:

                      That line wasn’t an “admission” — it was an argument about whether the plaintiffs even had a concrete injury, part of the defendant’s argument about standing.

                      What was said was:

                      then in terms of concrete injury, which was really
                      the first prong
                      , that, again, is problematic, because — and
                      this goes back to your Honor’s question — there is no right
                      to — just by virtue of making a donation, to enforce the
                      parties’ internal rules. And there’s no right to not have your
                      candidate disadvantaged or have another candidate advantaged.
                      There’s no contractual obligation here.

                      See the bolded bit? He’s talking about the three prongs of the standing test. He’s arguing in court that the plaintiff’s lack standing because the mere act of donating to the DNC does not alone give standing to sue in this case.

                      So by “Did you see that the DNC testified in court that they had their thumbs on the scale during the primary?” what I actually saw, when I read the court transcript was “Did you see where the DNC said, in court, that even if they’d jumped up and down on the scale, the plaintiff’s lacked standing to sue”.

                      My god, Democracy is dead. The DNC argued, in open court, about whether someone had standing to sue them.

                      Seriously, that’s the problem with this “anointing” thing. Nobody ever provides evidence.

                      You just tried, and what I got was an article that lied about it’s primary source — or was written by someone who hadn’t read it.

                      It’s like such an unquestioned article of faith among some people that they haven’t ever encountered evidence. just random bits of fact or claims that back up their priors and are thus accepted and never verified.

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                      • morat20,
                        I know a clinton operative.
                        Clinton knew where all the bodies were buried.
                        The DNC systematically purged the voter rolls.
                        If you pull statistics, you’ll find that many more people voted for Bernie on the top line, but for Clinton in the electors. And the electors are the ones who vote.

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                        • It’s not like this song and dance hasn’t happened before. It all ends up pointing to some leaked emails.

                          What’s in them? Some people complaining about Sanders, in April. You know, after he was effectively out of the raise but was attacking the party trying to pretend he wasn’t?

                          Or some emails that floated ideas that…like literally went no where. No planning, no implementation, just…some guy spitballing.

                          And then, IIRC, some emails about potential attack avenues on Sanders from the GOP side — the stuff the DNC would have to be prepared for if he won. You know, the part where any campaign with a hope of winning does oppo research on itself and tries to figure out the best lines of attack on themselves so they can prepare for it?

                          But that’s all it is. Evidence that vanishes once you get past the rhetoric and into the source material.

                          Like Jaybird’s link. If he’d just glanced at the transcript (or heck, even read the quoted bit in the piece) he’d have realized that the DNC “admitted” so such freaking thing. But he didn’t.

                          Who examines evidence closely if they already “know” the truth?

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              • The anointing begins when the candidate (or his/her people) encourage other party leaders to give their support, promise not to run themselves or at the very least not support anybody else. The campaigns that have done this effectively recently are Bush in 2000 and Clinton in 2008 and 2016. They were able to use past loyalties for the next generation, even this sort of dynastic politics is unpopular. The anointment will generate support for “the outsider”(TM), who will almost certainly not win.

                (Mystery to be solved someday, did Jeb try to eliminate potential opposition the way his brother did? If he tried and failed, why did he fail, and should he have dropped-out at that point?)

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                • Interesting point, the Jeb!/Marco? untold story is (probably) a story of collusion gone sour.

                  Almost surely its an entirely different race if one or neither had run. That both ran means that Reince Priebus deserves everything he gets now and in the future.

                  That’s a book I’d be willing to commit Will to read and summarize for me.

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                  • One suspicion is that Marco was below the level of attention and his support as a fellow-Floridian was assumed. Scarborough was above it. The other part of the issue with Marco though is that it seems that he did have a pocket of establishment support that helped his campaign and had Jeb tried to capture them?

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                • The anointing begins when the candidate (or his/her people) encourage other party leaders to give their support, promise not to run themselves or at the very least not support anybody else.

                  Ah, right. So “anointing” is when members of the party who are also elected officials are allowed to support and/or vote for a candidate in their own primaries.

                  I guess President’s up for relection are almost always anointed. Didn’t hear a lot of people being real upset with Obama 2012 for that. Strange. Because man if you were upset about the competition in 2016, you must have been furious about 2012. Did anyone run? Someone must have.

                  So how does the non-anointing primary work? Is every elected Democrat forced to remain silent, less they anoint someone? Not allowed to campaign, raise money for them, anything?

                  I don’t even know how to handle “promising not to run” — I mean, are they not even allowed to decide whether to run or not? Should we have a pre-primary wherein voters vote on who to make run in the real primary?

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          • “Winning the primary by three million votes” is “anointing”.

            One Democrat on the ballot… and the “not a Democrat” alternative who forced his way onto the ballot nearly unseated her.

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            • Are you going to force Cory Booker, John Hickenlooper, and Elizabeth Warren to run in a primary against a candidate they agree with and respect that they don’t want too? I mean I realize this site is a “Hillary Clinton is terrible” zone, but most Democrat’s like and respect Hillary. It took the greatest political talent of a generation to barely beat her in 2008.

              Also, the only way Bernie “nearly” unseated Hillary is if an NBA team who ends up losing by double digits “nearly” won because they won one quarter. The only reason Bernie numbers looks as good as they do is because he continued to run after it was all but mathematically impossible for him to actually win the nomination.

              We could’ve said that say, John McCain nearly unseated Dubya in 2000 if he’d run in every single primary.

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              • Jesse: It took the greatest political talent of a generation to barely beat her in 2008.

                That contest wasn’t a close as the score. Obama chose to try to win the nomination instead of trying to win a lot of votes; in addition, there were a lot of garbage time votes for Clinton.

                And it doesn’t explain how the biggest political imbecile of a generation – of all time, really – barely beat her in 2016.

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                • “And it doesn’t explain how the biggest political imbecile of a generation – of all time, really – barely beat her in 2016.”

                  To boil it down, throwing everything else out, people will vote for an idiot telling them what they want to hear over a smart person either not talking to them or telling them things they don’t like.

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              • That’s the clear gist I’m getting. It was rigged or “anointed”, because she didn’t have enough competition. Clearly through nefarious means, because Clinton, right?

                It’s very circular. The primary was rigged because not enough people ran. How is that rigged? Clearly Clinton made them not run. Why do we think that? Because not enough people ran!

                It only holds together if you first assume nefarious intent, which is what we’re trying to prove.

                Clinton was anointed because not enough people ran, which was clearly because she was anointed and not for any other reason at all. Impossible.

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              • It took the greatest political talent of a generation to barely beat her in 2008.

                Just like Trump did in 2016 (after she had 8 more years to get her act together and starve out any internal dissent.)

                Does that mean that Obama isn’t that great or that Trump is really good at this or both?

                Also, the only way Bernie “nearly” unseated Hillary is if an NBA team who ends up losing by double digits “nearly” won because they won one quarter.

                Adjust Bernie for money, backing, and not being a Democrat, and how well he did looks more impressive, and how well she did looks worse.

                We could’ve said that say, John McCain nearly unseated Dubya in 2000 if he’d run in every single primary.

                Sure. If McCain hadn’t been starved of money and resources he could have, and arguably should have, won.

                IMHO this country is poorly served by these “selected by above” nominations.

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      • I would say you are not fully right with Bernie. Bernie’s problem was always that he never figured out how to reach the base of the Democratic Party which is older people of color. Bernie supporters make up a decent size of the Democratic Party but they are still a minority within the party, not a majority. HRC did have an incumbent advantage but Bernie never figured out how to appeal to most voters over 30 and many non-white voters.

        The Democratic Party might be made up of too many disparate groups because the United States is not a sane political system and the GOP dive to the far-right on social issues causes many people to be Democrats despite not being that progressive economically. There are plenty of upper-middle class people who make more sense as center-right voters but get scared from the GOP because of their lockstep stances on LBGT rights, Abortion, the Environment, and other largely social issues. A sane country would probably have a socially friendly but economically moderate GOP that could compete for the professional class vote in cities like Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, etc. But we don’t have that.

        After all, London is seen as Tory territory more often than it is seen as Labour territory because of the financial jobs and because the Tories have figured out how to downplay social conservatism and bigotry.

        As for Donald Trump, I would say he proved H.L. Mencken’s observations on how Democracy is the system of government where the people get what they want and they get it good and hard. Trump is not draining the swamp and his economic policies are huge boons to the big banks and the rich. Much more so than anything HRC would have done even though she is more free trade friendly openly. But Trump does so with unvarnished racism and bigotry and sexism and lots of people like that.

        The problem for the moderate wing of the Democratic Party is that they say the best we can do is muddle along in this transition time and people don’t like that.

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    • Am I missing something?

      1) The lesson of Bush 2 is it is very hard to unseat a sitting President.

      2) Trump lost about 3% of the GOP vote because he’s insane, in 4 years he’ll have proven that doesn’t matter and he’ll likely get those votes back. He’ll have proven that he’s not building death camps, etc. So he’ll be a lot less scary because he’s been in office for four years.

      3) Trump will be just as vulgar, just as good at throwing shit, just as impossible to embarrass… and this time he’ll have the full backing of the GOP.

      4) The Dems are moving to the left.

      5) The system is showing it’s good at preventing Trump’s crazier ideas and/or that he wasn’t serious.

      6) through 100) Trump is showing signs of returning to his Money! roots and is trying to put in economic growth creating reforms. Yes, they’re going to be self serving, and yes, the socialists in the media will scream he’s helping the evil rich rather than eating them.

      But economic growth buys a lot of forgiveness for a lot of sins. Trump will be the “safe” choice if he shows he gets that no matter how vulgar he is.

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  6. Trump has been a perfect example of what would happen if you just took some random schmoe and put him in the White House. He’d spend the first few weeks learning how all the dumb stuff the government wastes money on actually has good reasons behind it (or, at least, understandable reasons) and he’d spend the next few weeks learning how difficult it was to change even the smallest thing (due to decades of accumulated policy and regulatory decisions about everything).

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      • Oh, I really doubt that. I’ve heard the same “drain the swamp” rhetoric–albeit a bit cleaned up–from PhD holders. “The dang government’s wastin’ money on stupid stuff, why can’t we just get things done like we used to” was a topic of conversation on this blog, jast last week.

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      • I actually thought about it during the last election and decided something kind of scary: If the election were between “President Donald Trump” and “We randomly select an American and swear him or her in as POTUS” I’d be very tempted to pull the lever for “randomly selected American.” I’m fairly risk averse and the tail risk to that is pretty high, but Trump is dangerously below the median in a lot of important variables and only slightly above the median in a handful of other useful variables, so I genuinely don’t know what I’d do.

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        • I think if you put a random person into the White House, they would at least try to “play” President. They would think about what they’ve seen past Presidents do and try to remember what they learned about the Executive Branch in school and then try to perform the role as they understand it. This would be problematic for a host of reasons, but at least their intent would likely be, “I’m going to do what I think it is the President is supposed to do.”

          I don’t think Trump has that intention. I think Trump’s intentions are far more selfish than the average American. Which is why on the few occasion when Trump kinda sorta really had to act like the President, he seems to have grossly bungled them.

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    • To go from private sector to public/political sector is a big jump. It likely takes two years to map the convolution. Even if Trump is skilled in the arts of systems, I give it two years before he can start inacting much change.

      All he could really do is poke a stick in the darkness the first hundred days, and see what pokes back.

      Completely different field of vision from Obama who likely knew the contours of office from working in/around them for years.

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      • Well, without comparing Obama to Trump, one of the more common criticisms from the left was that he hired the Clinton team to run his transition. Which, at the time, we heralded as a wise choice for such a political newbie. It certainly prevented a lot of unforced errors, but I’d suggest that it also set the course and tone for his administration… a course and tone I’m not sure he ever redirected. I joked as a traditionalist that all the cool radical things I hoped for I got not; but the neo-liberal status quo I got thrice.

        So I’m basically agreeing that governing is not the same thing as campaigning, but I’m also pointing out that real changes in direction require years, maybe decades, of work to build a governing faction that changes the direction of a Party and then the country. Regan and (to a lesser extent) boy Clinton did this. W, Obama and Trump didn’t. Trump much less so than the others… there is no Trumpism, only Trump.

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  7. An aside about bullying:

    And my own experience is that once a bully is exposed as not being nearly so strong and scary as initially perceived, it’s basically impossible for him to regain the power that the aura of fear once gave him.

    Let’s be clear here: That statement is entirely true, but hinges on the assumption of the bully *not being as powerful as they present themselves*.

    And thus it, while it is true, it’s not the greatest advice to give children to ‘just stand up to the bully’. Because sometimes bullies *actually are as powerful* as they appear. Sometimes they will punch back. Sometimes they have powerful protectors. Etc, etc.

    This is, of course, not particularly relevant to the situation here, where the bully is Trump, who *should be * somewhat powerful, compared to normal citizens, as the president, but has *absolutely* no idea how to use his power or in what manner, and tries to use it against people he has no power over.(1) So standing up to him is working fine.

    1) Because, again, he is *astonishingly* stupid, which as I’ve said before, is the fundamental problem of this presidency. There’s a lot for ways you can slice it, a lot of ways you can phrase it so it sounds less rude or is more politically correct, but fundamentally, the problem is that Trump is basically an idiot who has gotten through life by inheriting a ton of money and blustering a lot, and isn’t even smart enough to realize his own limitations.

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    • I agree that one who would confront a bully must take an accurate and clear-eyed measure of the bully’s actual power before doing so.

      That said, Trump’s governing style is a lot of bluster and not a lot of action, which strongly suggests that he is a classic bully who uses aggression as a mask over self-perceived powerlessness. More’s the pity, as the Presidency really is a powerful position, one which can be used to great advantage and benefit when the office is held by someone who leads rather than bullies, by someone who has a plan rather than a series of impulses, someone who builds relationships instead of just doing one-off deals.

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      • That said, Trump’s governing style is a lot of bluster and not a lot of action

        Trump is a man of action. His preferred course of action was “the legal system” and his method of utilizing that as a tool of bullying was “I have enough money to never let this drop”.

        He wasn’t very good at it (he ended up settling most of his lawsuits), but the problem is he rarely seemed to notice the losses.

        (Honestly, the only thing that’s ever seemed to hurt him has been the disdain he’s gotten from Hollywood and the NY elites. )

        If you want to make the bully analogy — he’s a bully who really doesn’t feel pain. He’s got a weak punch and is constantly swinging (which means he actually hurts people almost randomly) but he doesn’t feel you punch back, so he doesn’t really stop. (This is all prior to the Presidency).

        As President, his swings are even weaker — it’d be like taking a schoolyard bully, moving it to a dojo with a rule system, and telling him “no hands, this is feet only”. His favorite method of attack is crippled, the rules system constricts him in ways he doesn’t understand (which results in a lot of free points for his appoints when he violates them), and he’s always used his hands — never bothered with kicking unless the guy was already down.

        He’s still a bully, he’s just even more ineffectual because he’s been straight jacketed into a fight whose parameters he doesn’t understand, that foreclose his favorite methods, and against opponents who are on an equal footing.

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    • I think his pure non-partisan stupidity is not given enough attention. I mean, c’mon:

      JOHN DICKERSON: George W. Bush said the reason the Oval Office is round is there are no corners you can hide in.

      PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, there’s truth to that. There is truth to that. There are certainly no corners. And you look, there’s a certain openness. But there’s nobody out there. You know, there is an openness, but I’ve never seen anybody out there actually, as you could imagine.

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      • I’m inclined to blame conservative ideology for that. if you convince your base that the Federal government is so bad that the only important question is whether or not your chosen politicians are tearing the whole edifice down, then you can’t turn around and tell them that they shouldn’t vote for a guy because he has no frakking clue what he’s doing and will run the ship of state into the ground.

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        • I don’t think that’s an accurate depiction of conservative ideology.

          As I’ve said before, Barack Obama’s presidency left a lot of people thinking that a president doesn’t have to be intelligent.

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          • As I’ve said before, Barack Obama’s presidency left a lot of people thinking that a president doesn’t have to be intelligent.

            Is this about Obama confessing he couldn’t help his kids with their middle school math?

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          • As I’ve said before, Barack Obama’s presidency left a lot of people thinking that a president doesn’t have to be intelligent.

            A lot of people believe the earth is flat, so what?

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            • The question was what caused the American voter to devalue intelligence in elected officials. It’s very relevant if the last president appeared to be unintelligent to a great number of voters. I think if we did one of those play-actor things, like the female Trump and male Clinton, people would be shocked at how dim Obama sounds, both in delivery and substance.

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              • People will note, of course, the Pinky, despite having *eight years* of public statements of Obama, has not bothered to quote any of them that make Obama sound dumb, despite Obama giving plenty of interviews.

                Whereas Trump, in addition to being in office only three and a half months, has been somewhat stingy with interviews (And not giving any during the transition)…and yet it is trivially easy to find circumstances where *he* sounds like an idiot and misstates basic things.

                Now, before someone says ‘Obama has more message discipline and better writers, but he’s actually pretty stupid if caught outside those constraint’, let me remind people that Pinky’s premise is that Obama *sounded so dumb that presidential expectations were lowered*, ergo, there *has* to be some examples *of* him sounding stupid for that to make any sense. He can’t just be stupid *in private*.

                There are plenty of lists of ‘Obama gaffs’ out there if you google them. Most of them have to really, really, reach to get to *ten*, including things that are just insensitive, like the time he compared his bowling to the Special Olympics, or him confusing the name of two random people he gave medals to a month earlier, and even a few things that were probably politically motivated *lies*, or at least deliberately misleading.

                You try to make a list of ‘factual errors that make him look stupid’, you get maybe half a dozen, at best. The list: He once said he had visited 57 states instead of 47, he once said Austrian was language, he once said he was in Asia when he was in Hawaii, he didn’t know how to pronounce corpsman, and he called the transcontinental railroad the ‘intercontinental’ railroad.

                That’s it. That’s all the unknowledgeable things he’s actually said in eight years of things I could find. Oh, I’m sure there are a few more, but it’s a pretty damn short list.

                Trump has actually said as many equally dumb things *already*. Just flat out dumb things, like confusing Kim Jong-un with his father.

                Hell, Paul Ryan apparently *duped him* into thinking that there’s some sort of congressional rule that requires Congress tackle health care reform before tax reform, when in reality that was just a political strategy Ryan came up with. But Trump keeps going around talking like it’s some *rule* that he *learned about*.

                He still seems to think that Obama tapped his phones, despite that literally not being possible, and, no , Republicans running around trying to rewrite that statement into something true does not change the fact that *Trump* still seems to think what he clearly said originally: That Obama put a tap on his phone line and listened to him.

                Oh, recently, we learned that he thinks Andrew Jackson would have headed off the civil war. Let’s ignore the fact Jackson was dead already, which is what everyone else has latched on to, and try to figure out why anyone thinks *Andrew Jackson*, the slave-owner and well-noted racist that was a *certifiable lunatic* that ran roughshod over anyone he disagreed with, would be a reasonable negotiator within the tension of the civil war? (I can’t even figure out which side Trump thinks *he would be on*.) How the hell does that make any sense at all?

                Did someone once compare Trump to Andrew Jackson (I can’t even figure out which side that is an insult to…probably both?) and he decided that meant Andrew Jackson was a ‘great negotiator’? If so: Trump, uh, sorry to tell you, but that’s *not* why they compared you to Andrew Jackson.

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                • You’re undercounting his factual errors. You’re leaving out his mischaracterizations of opponents and his trollings. You didn’t mention Recovery Summer, the scandals he hadn’t heard about until he read the paper, the “you can keep your doctor” lie, the Syrian line in the sand, or his changing stories about the investigation into the IRS. But even if you did, you wouldn’t have gotten the point of what I was saying: he sounds like an idiot. He can’t put a sentence together without five pauses. He pouts. He talks about himself a lot. He doesn’t come off as an intelligent, mature person.

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                  • Well actually you have to understand there’s a lot of context and you’re clearly misinterpreting based on partisan slant because you’re racist.

                    Also Trump is worse. Also Bush was worse. Also Reagan was worse. And you can’t point to Clinton as being bad because that’s just BSDI butwhataboutism.

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                  • Interesting… Obama has always struck me as intelligent in sort of an “academic liberal” way, though once he became the primary front-runner in 2007 he moved away from saying some thought-provoking reasonable things to just saying conventional Dem politician things. But i have to admit that I haven’t listened to him much since 2008 — I avoid political speeches like the plague.

                    Who’s the last president who sounded intelligent to you?

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                    • Agreed… my rightist recollection was that he was smart, but that was the problem… Academic Liberal without any meaningful experience… young, naive, idealistic – you know, all the things Hillary campaigned on.

                      Perhaps he means inexperienced vs. ignorant?

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